In an ongoing campaign to trumpet the success of New York City’s less than two year old Universal Pre-Kindergarten program – which, as of this writing, is both over-budget and under-subscribed, especially when it comes to the lower-income families it was promised to help the most – the Department of Education has seized upon a February 2016 report by New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development that concludes:
Attending public preschool is linked to an increase in students taking the admissions test for gifted and talented programs, reducing the disparity in test taking between disadvantaged students and their peers…. The researchers found that compared to students who did not attend public pre-K, the odds of taking the test were 4.8 times higher for full-time public pre-K students, and 3 times higher for part-time students.
As a result, headlines, like this tweet by the NY Daily News, proclaimed: Is your kid enrolled in pre-K classes? If so, they might be on the ‘gifted’ track, new study suggests.
The study suggests no such thing. All it says is that kids in UPK are more likely to take the Gifted & Talented public school test. It says nothing about them qualifying for G&T programs in higher numbers.
It also does not address the fact that New York City already has many, many more children who qualify for gifted programs than there are available seats (to the point where parents have sued the DOE). Even if more disadvantaged students take the test and qualify for a G&T program, that doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily be placed in one. Though, in theory, a score above the 90th percentile makes a child eligible to enter the lottery for a G&T seat, in reality, as the 99th percentile scorers get first pick, then the 98th percentile, and so on… it’s almost impossible to obtain a spot with a score below 95.
In addition, except for the five citywide gifted schools, G&T placement is based on the district you live in. Many minority neighborhoods simply don’t have G&T programs, and if the students try to apply out of district, those seats are quickly filled by local kids. To make the situation all the more complicated, even if the child does secure placement out of district, the DOE won’t provide bus service.
Finally, the reality that multiple middle-class families get their children privately tutored for the G&T test suggests that merely attending PreK is hardly enough to get the job done.
Want to know how preschools really do – and don’t – get your child ready for Kindergarten testing? Listen to two veteran teachers tell all at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xUGx2ngSV9s
And if you want the real inside scoop on test prep both from a professional company and from the woman who literally wrote the book on the subject, listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0cKvkFGXsg