NYC School Testing

by NYC Firm Schools on August 28, 2009

“Nurture Shock,” a new book from the best-selling author Po Bronson, was discussed in a recent NY Times article. The NYC Private School and Gifted and Talented programs were talked about as they related to the entry testing process. How those tests correlate to intelligence and development later on are questioned often.

New York’s big scene comes in a chapter called “The Search for Intelligent Life in Kindergarten,” as the example of what not to do when it comes to school testing. Mr. Bronson and his co-author, Ashley Merryman, present the body of research suggesting that tests administered before kindergarten — like those that determine admission to gifted and talented programs in New York and elsewhere — are far from solid predictors of future academic success.
“It’s a function of brain spurts and brain development,” Mr. Bronson said. “You’re grabbing kids above and below the plateaus, and it’s not really predictive of where they’re going to be down the road.”

While most who discuss the admissions and IQ tests given to pre-school age children understand and accept that these early predictors guarantee nothing in the future, the subject of retesting later on for entry into programs is also being debated.

Anna Commitante, New York’s director of English Language Arts, Social Studies and Gifted and Talented Programs, said “Nurture Shock” made “some very important statements about intelligence not being fixed,” but she argued that New York already recognized that. She pointed out that a few hundred spots are, in fact, available for children to test into gifted classes each year, and that other high-achieving students can join “enrichment clusters,” which meet several times a week and are customized to challenge math or English stars who emerge in later years.

There are challenges all around, but without a more significant change in how students move in and out of gifted and talented programs, Mr. Bronson said, “it can’t be fair.”

Wherever you look or read, NYC Firm Schools and other educational programs in the city seem to have grabbed the fascination of the media.

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