NYC must do better for gifted students

This file image shows teens sitting in a classroom and raising hands to answer aquestion.
This file image shows teens sitting in a classroom and raising hands to answer aquestion. Photo Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures

NYC officials say they want students of all backgrounds to have access to the highest-level opportunities the city offers in public education.

But the most recent mistake in the Gifted & Talented admissions process shows their efforts are lacking.

This year for the first time, about 115,000 G&T handbooks were translated into nine languages. They included information about the process and a practice test that families and pre-kindergarten programs could give to young children. The move to translate the handbooks was overdue and crucial to encouraging a diversity of students to take the test, which they have to apply for by next week.

There’s just one problem: The answer key for the practice questions provided the wrong answers. That meant that teachers, parents, counselors and others can’t prepare the 4-year-old students properly.

The handbooks’ English-language versions were correct. Apparently, the blame for the other versions goes to the Department of Education, but the problem wasn’t with those providing the translations, officials said. It was a bureaucratic error that no one checked — or double checked.

For a city commmitted to resolving inequities, this is a huge, unacceptable error — not only in terms of the actual problem, but also in terms of whom it impacted. Clearly, getting translated handbooks out so officials could tout their existence was a priority. Getting them right was not.

Officials are scrambling to send out corrected handbooks to those who registered for the test. But more attention must be paid. The translation department needs a larger role and more funding. Their involvement here might have avoided this problem. Beyond that, those in charge of testing materials must stop making preventable mistakes.

The deadline for applying to take the test is Nov. 9. Families with children in pre-K through second grade should sign up now. Register at your child’s school, through a family welcome center, or at schools.nyc.gov/giftedandtalented. Let the city know there is demand in every district for these programs. Then the DOE will start getting it right.