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35 Percent of Eligible Kindergarteners Shut Out of City’s Gifted Programs

By Amy Zimmer | June 1, 2017 4:26pm
 G&T offers were sent out Thursday, and 35 percent of eligible 4-year-olds got shut out.
G&T offers were sent out Thursday, and 35 percent of eligible 4-year-olds got shut out.
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MANHATTAN — Of the nearly 4,500 incoming kindergartners who scored high enough on the city’s gifted-and-talented exam to be eligible for a seat, 35 percent did not receive an offer letter Thursday, according to Department of Education officials.

The percent of families who came up empty-handed increased from last year, when 30 percent of eligible students failed to receive G&T seats.

The number of test takers hoping to score a G&T seat for kindergarten increased this year by about 2,000 kids, possibly due to more parents learning about options for gifted programs, experts said.

That said, the number of incoming kindergartners scoring high enough to qualify for a seat was down slightly from last year.

 ► READ MORE: 7 Things to Know About Sending Your Kid to a Gifted and Talented School

The dramatic increase in test takers is likely a reflection of the DOE's efforts to better communicate the gifted test to families of pre-K students, since information is now available at universal pre-K programs across the city, explained Michael McCurdy of TestingMom.com, an online test-prep program that also hosts free G&T seminars for city families.

Also, he noted that this was the first year the DOE held G&T information sessions in each district, as opposed to borough-wide sessions previously.

“[That] allowed more parents to get information they needed to learn more about the G&T program,” McCurdy said.

Several low-income Bronx districts had significant increases in the number of 4-year-olds taking the test, he pointed out.

In the South Bronx’s District 9, for instance, there was a 47 percent increase, while District 7 saw a 31 percent increase.

Still, despite the increase in students taking the test in these districts, the percent of qualifying kindergartners remained flat, McCurdy said.

In all, more than 16,580 4-year-olds citywide took the September exam to get into a kindergarten G&T program, with 27 percent scoring high enough to be eligible for a seat.

Last year, 14,513 4-year-olds took the exam, with 31 percent scoring high enough to be eligible. 

Of those children, 2,366 received offers for the 2,350 kindergarten G&T seats available for fall 2017.

Starting last year, the DOE changed the way it doled out offers, trying to align the number of offers to the number of seats, instead of “over offering” to account for families who would decline offers.

Families that applied but did not receive offers were placed on individual programs’ waitlists, which are managed by the schools.

Families must pre-register at their school to accept an offer by June 16.

As in previous years, District 2 — which spans from TriBeCa to the Village, Chelsea, Gramercy and Upper East Side — had the most test takers vying for kindergarten seats (1,757), the most with high scores (809) and the most offers (339).

Other areas with high-scoring kids included the Upper West Side’s District 3 (396 eligible students), Southwest Brooklyn’s District 20 (315 eligible students) and District 15, which spans from Boerum Hill and Carroll Gardens to Park Slope and Sunset Park (288 students).

There were also new gifted programs added this year in four districts that had none previously: South Bronx's District 7, Crotona Park's District 12, Bedford-Stuyvesant's District 16 and Ocean Hill/Brownsville's District 23. (District 3 also added a G&T program at P.S. 191 for incoming third-graders.)

For these programs, which start in the third grade, families will receive offers later this month, DOE officials said. Students score a seat in these programs based on an evaluation from their teachers rather than the G&T test. 

“We’ll continue to work to ensure equity and excellence for all elementary school students, and Gifted and Talented classes are one option in every district,” DOE spokesman Will Mantell said.