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New York City schools to eliminate entry exam for gifted and talented programs

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    NEW YORK (WCBS) — A big change is coming for New York City’s Gifted and Talented programs for students.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza said Wednesday the city will start phasing out the entry exam.

Critics have said the composition of the programs do not reflect the city’s diversity.

Four-year-old Lexi Eklof of Astoria, Queens will be taking the Gifted and Talented entrance exam this spring. Her mom told CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez many parents feel they don’t have a choice.

“There’s sort of this sense I think in New York that you have to take it just to even be remotely competitive,” Jessica Vale said.

The city announced that this will be the last year it will administer the Gifted and Talented kindergarten test, and will develop new ways of identifying and serving exceptional students.

“It will not be a single test, and we think we have an opportunity to do something so much better that can reach so many more kids,” de Blasio said.

Currently, an administrator tests each child one on one with a verbal and non-verbal exam. Questions include, “Point to the picture that shows the most children,” and “Look at this picture and complete the pattern.”

From about 65,000 rising kindergarteners in the city, some 15,000 4-year-olds take the high-stakes kindergarten test. Then, 2,500 earn a seat in the program.

Karen Quinn from said children who’ve had tutoring or practice tests are definitely at an advantage.

“Is there a chance that someone who is very, very bright won’t do well on a standardized test like this?” Sanchez asked.

“Yeah. These are questions that if you walk in cold they’ve never seen questions like this before,” Quinn said.

Axing the exam has some parents concerned about what the future holds for the Gifted and Talented program and students in it now.

Maud Maron is co-founder of Parent Leaders for Accelerated Curriculum and Education, or PLACE NYC.

“To say we’re going to eliminate programs that have been very successful and we’re gonna reimagine in the seventh year of my mayoralty for some other vague plan is the height of disrespect to parents,” Maron said.

The city will be reaching out to parents, students and teachers as they develop a new program for accelerated academics, which is expected to be unveiled in September.

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