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Friday, November 28, 2014

Gifted test-makers fail local families

By Sarina Trangle
Posted

 

The Department of Education erroneously informed thousands of families that their children didn’t qualify for Gifted and Talented classes, according to a memo released April 19.

The test company, Pearson, miscalculated scores for 13.2 percent of test takers, leading the DOE to inform 2,698 qualified students that they didn’t meet the threshold for gifted classes. Errors prompted the DOE to inform another 2,037 students that they could only apply to their district’s gifted classes when they were actually eligible for the more prestigious citywide program. It’s unclear how many families were misinformed in District 10, which includes Riverdale, Kingsbridge, Marble Hill and Van Cortlandt Village.

After concerned parents contacted the DOE, department officials and Pearson discovered three calculation errors. The educational company said it relied on inaccurate score conversion tables, did not use precise enough age data to group test-takers by birth date and it used a flawed formula to produce students’ percentile rankings,  

Students who score in the 90th percentile or higher are qualified for District 10’s Gifted and Talented Program, which is offered at PS 24 and PS 7 and includes more rigorous coursework than general education classes. Those who score in the 97th percentile or higher are eligible to enroll in the more selective citywide program, which is offered at schools in every borough except the Bronx and Staten Island.

The Press reported last week that the proportion of District 10 students deemed eligible for the prestigious classes plummeted to record lows after the department introduced a test designed to be more equitable for low-income families and those that don’t speak English at home. As the DOE sorts through calculation errors, it remains unclear how many students actually qualified for gifted classes in District 10. Citywide, more children than ever tested into gifted classes after the errors were corrected.

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