View Full Version : All NYC Big Change in Testing for NYC Gifted and Talented Programs

10-09-2012, 10:18 AM
From WSJ.com (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444070104578042783816300100.html) by Sophia Hollander:

A new test for admission into New York City's gifted and talented program will account for the bulk of a student's score, upending a testing regime that a growing number of children had appeared to master.

In a broader overhaul than previously announced, the Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test, also known as the NNAT, will count for two-thirds of a student's score, said city officials, who signed a three-year, $5.5 million contract with the testing company Pearson earlier this year. The Otis-Lennon School Ability Test, or OLSAT, which increasing numbers of children had prepared for intensely, will drop to a third of the total from 75%.

City officials hailed the new test as a vast improvement. It relies on abstract spatial thinking and largely eliminates language, even from the instructions, an approach that officials said better captures intelligence, is more appropriate for the city's multilingual population and is less vulnerable to test preparation.

As a result, they expressed the hope that it would "improve the diversity of students that are recognized as gifted and talented," said Adina Lopatin, the deputy chief academic officer for the city's Department of Education. City officials said they were currently compiling data on the program's racial breakdown but students who qualified tended to be concentrated in wealthier districts. Areas such as the South Bronx produced few candidates.

Some experts have raised doubts about the NNAT's ability to create a racially balanced class. Several studies show the test produces significant scoring gaps between wealthier white and Asian children and their poor, minority counterparts.

"The NNAT is advertised as the gold standard ticket that will solve all your problems," said Carol Carman, associate professor in the School of Education at the University of Houston-Clear Lake who has studied the test. "I'm not sure that any test should advertise itself that way."

The shift marks the latest attempt by city officials to address a seemingly intractable problem: How to create equity in the admissions process for its gifted and talented program, which begins in kindergarten and goes through third grade. It is a challenge that persists throughout the system and culminated at the high school level last month. The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund filed a federal civil rights complaint against the city's Specialized High School Admissions test, which decides admissions to elite programs such as Stuyvesant.

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