Fewer Pupils Qualify for Gifted Programs

The numbers of children qualifying for seats in gifted programs in New York City public schools declined this year, the Education Department said on Friday, though they were still far higher than when citywide admissions testing began a few years ago.

Of the 14,605 children tested this year for admission to gifted kindergarten classes in September, 4,590 scored high enough to qualify, a decrease from the 5,390 who qualified a year earlier, according to data released Friday by the Education Department.

As recently as 2008, only 2,230 students qualified. Since then, there has been a rise in the number of children taking the test and in eligibility. Students must score in the 90th percentile to qualify for gifted seats in their districts, and in the 97th percentile to be eligible for one of the five citywide gifted programs. But because so many children score so high, even most of those who score in the 99th percentile do not win citywide seats.

Last year, the department changed one of the two admissions tests, which are given back-to-back in one session. A major reason for the change was to combat the advantages of children receiving pretest tutoring, but the number of students qualifying still increased. This year, the department changed the way it weighted the two tests, giving equal footing to its verbal and nonverbal sections “to improve the psychometric balance across the two tests,” a spokesman said. <Read more.>

Via Al Baker, The New York Times.