Parents hoping to get their little Einsteins into some of the city's 137-odd programs for young and "gifted students" take note: The city has announced that it is now going to institute a uniform admissions test for all of them.
What does this mean, exactly? For all "gifted" programs for prekindergarten through second grade applicants will need to take something called an OLSAT which measures students in four areas (verbal comprehension, verbal reasoning, figural reasoning and quantitative reasoning) AND receive a classroom performance assessment from their teacher which measures six separate concepts (intellectual, academic, motivational, creative, leadership and artistic talent). The test, which is published by Harcourt Assessment of San Antonio, is widely used in other states and is pretty well-regarded so this shift is not necessarily a bad thing. Dona Matthews, from Hunter College, did however bring up one interesting issue:
“Teachers vary tremendously in how good they are in making this sort of assessment,” she said. “A lot of highly gifted kids are not teacher pleasers. Teachers don’t like them, and they don’t necessarily give them good ratings on scales like that.”
To counteract those personal opinions City officials told the Times that "the new admissions process would have controls built in so that any large discrepancy between the test score and the classroom rating would generate additional examination." Mmhmm, we'll believe that when we see it (Harcourt is going to provide training in administering the test for teachers). In any event, the best part of the story to us seems to be the fact that the new test will be available in not only English but also, thanks to city translators, in "Spanish, Urdu, Haitian Creole, Russian, Chinese, Arabic, Bengali and Korean."