DOE searches for gifted, talented admissions test

City education officials announced this week they plan to look for a new admissions test for public schools’ gifted and talented programs for the 2012-13 school year.

The city said the change does not come because they are unhappy with their current test company, though a number of elected officials have criticized the gifted and talented programs for their lack of racial and economic diversity.

“As the contract comes to an end, we will initiate a competitive bidding process that gives us an opportunity to choose from among the very best assessments of giftedness currently available,” the city Department of Education said in a prepared statement. “This is not because of any problem with Pearson, the current vendor, or because we’re looking for a test that identifies qualities other than giftedness in young children.”

There is one year left in the current contract.

According to statistics from the advocacy and research group Alliance for Childhood, the number of minority students in gifted and talented programs have decreased. Before 2008, 15 percent of the students admitted to the advanced programs were Hispanic and 31 percent were black.

This past school year, 12 percent were Hispanic and 15 percent were black. About 39 percent of the city’s kindergarten population is Hispanic and 27 percent is black.

— Anna Gustafson

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