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The DOE's New Gifted & Talented Test: Easier or Harder to Prep For?

For several consecutive years, almost 50 percent of children in certain NYC neighborhoods have managed to score in the top 10 percent on the Gifted & Talented test. In an attempt to level the playing field, the Department of Education has announced that it's replacing one section of the exam—the Bracken School Readiness Assessment, which tests kids on their knowledge of colors, numbers and shapes—with the Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test, which covers visual reasoning skills and abstract logic. The DOE claims this change will make the G&T test more difficult to prep for but is that actually the case?

Supporters of the Naglieri say it's a more accurate assessment of true giftedness since it evaluates how a child thinks, not what a kid has memorized. Also, being non-verbal, it doesn't discriminate against English language learners and could, in theory, help more students of color enter NYC's overwhelmingly white G&T student population.

Experts claim that the Naglieri is also harder to prep for, which means kids from families that can't afford (or choose not) to prep should have the same chance of doing well as their tutored peers. Even if that is true, it hasn't stopped companies like Bright Kids NYC, TestingMom.com, Aristotle Circle and others from selling Naglieri practice materials on their websites.

Having gone through the G&T test process three times with my own children, all I can say is that, while I didn't have them prepped, I did review Karen Quinn's book Testing for Kindergarten. Based on what I read, it seems to me that the Naglieri will be easier to prep for, not harder. The Bracken is based on testing knowledge, so prepping your child requires psychically anticipating any word, shape or color they may encounter. The Naglieri tests a single skill: pattern recognition. Once you teach kids to break that particular code, they should be able to do it on command.

The Naglieri test goes into effect this winter for G&T placement in September 2013. You can find important G&T dates on the DOE's website. Will you be prepping your kid differently this year? Or are you skipping the G&T altogether?