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New Entry Exams For City Gifted-And-Talented Classes Show Little Change In Results

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The city used a new test this year to determine which students qualify for gifted elementary school programs but it seems students' odds of getting in did not change much at all. NY1's Education reporter Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

In Manhattan's wealthiest neighborhoods, thousands of pre-school aged children sit for tests to qualify for gifted and talented classes. Last year, more than half of them scored well enough to be judged gifted by the public school system. In many poor neighborhoods, hardly any children qualified.

Seeing it had an issue on its hands, city officials changed the test this year. Now, 75 percent of a student's score is based on a test that claims to measure abstract thinking.

Officials hoped it would lead to more diversity, but results released Monday showed no notable change.

"The same districts that previously sent most of the kids to gifted programs are sending most of the kids to gifted programs. These tend to be wealthier districts, districts where Caucasian and Asian-American kids predominate," said James Borland of Teachers College. "And the poorer districts, the districts that mainly serve children of color, there are very few children proportionally who are in gifted programs."

In the two school districts that cover most of Manhattan below 110th Street, 1,288 children, or 47 percent who took the test, qualified for gifted kindergarten classes,

In East Harlem, only 14 children, or 15 percent of those tested, qualified.

In the South Bronx, seven children qualified as gifted, which is just 10 percent of the few who tried.

"There are two possible conclusions from this data. One is that kids from wealthier districts are more gifted than other kids. The other possible conclusion is that the Department of Education is doing something seriously wrong. I think it's the latter," said Borland.

The tests are supposed to be a fair measure of students' "intellectual abilities," but many parents admit to signing their children up for private tutoring and other, often very expensive forms of test preparation.

The Department of Education had hoped the new test would cut down on that, saying it was supposed to be harder to prepare for. But test prep companies claimed they could prepare children for the new test and the results seem to show they may have been right.

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