MANHATTAN — It's getting harder for the city's 4-year-olds to qualify for the elite citywide gifted and talented programs, according to data the Department of Education released Monday.
Just 10 percent of 14,794 of preschoolers who took this year's test earned a score of 97 or above, enabling them to apply for a kindergarten seat in one of the five programs that take kids from across the city. That's down from 13 percent last year.
Still, the odds of getting a seat in one of these coveted programs will remain tough — since the 1,511 eligible students will compete for 325 seats. Usually only children earning in the 99th percentile have a shot at a seat.
"It’s critical that every student gets a fair shot at these unique programs, and that the gifted and talented test is accessible to all our students and their families while maintaining the same high standards," DOE spokesman Harry Hartfield said in a statement.
The DOE expects to change the test in the future — and had solicited bids for a new exam — but are delaying any changes for another year, school officials said, noting they extended the contract for testing giant Pearson.
Overall, 29 percent of pre-schoolers qualified for a G&T program, whether citywide or district (which requires a score of 90 or above). That was down from 31 percent last year.
"Even though there were a slightly lower percentage of kids going into kindergarten who qualified there still is big shortage of G&T seats available for both citywide and district wide programs," said Michael McCurdy, of the test prep company Testing Mom.
But he was pleased to hear the DOE would be using the same test again next year.
"It's good new for parents who have a child re-taking the test or taking the test for the first time," he said.
Manhattan's District 2 — stretching from TriBeCa to the Village and Chelsea to the Upper East Side — had 121 students that scored 99 on this year's tests, the highest in the city. Still, that number was down sharply from last year's 207 top scorers in District 2.
Queens' District 24, which includes Long Island City, Corona and Elmhurst, was the only one to see an increase in students scoring 99, from 21 students last year to 30 this year.
The application deadline for a seat at a G&T program is Apr. 23, according to the DOE.