Today’s story was prepared by Sarah Perry, MD and is based on an article from The New York Times titled “Equity of Test Is Debated as Children Compete for Gifted Kindergarten”. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/26/education/26winerip.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&sq=children&st=cse&scp=9 In New York City, like many cities around the country, standardized testing is making its way into every classroom. In 2008, city education chancellor, Joel I Klein introduced testing >90% on a standardized test in pre-schools around the city as the sole evaluation tool to place children into gifted kindergartens. In association, there has been a substantial drop in diversity among students in New York City’s gifted programs. In districts in central Brooklyn and the South Bronx, there aren’t enough qualifying kids to open gifted kindergartens. The other change has been the emergence of test prep centers where many economically privileged families opt to pay an average of $1,000 in effort to increase their 4-year-old’s scores. The article shares some opinions from teachers and families regarding their perspectives (some enraged) about this change.
The article discussed the struggles of lower income families and the frustration that this testing has created for them. The journalist also interviews Head Start teachers who prior to 2008 were involved in the selection process as well as two different education experts who suggest that a test will never be impermeable to test prep and thus standardized testing alone as a measure of giftedness will always favor kids with better opportunity. Mr. Klein himself is quoted multiple times as well. The story’s angle has the reader to find that Klein’s highest priority is not a level playing field, but rather a rigorous test that identifies only the most gifted children. It seems if Mr. Klein knew the bend of the article, he may have tried to explain his stance more humanely. Interestingly, there were no experts in the biases that teacher interviews and observations may add to the selection process. That said, it is an important issue affecting many New York City children that may mirror national (and international) trends in educational opportunity inequities, and gives a voice to those often less represented. Consider the following resources:
Office of Superintendent of Public Education (OSPI) - Special Ed. http://www.k12.wa.us/SpecialEd/publications.aspxWA State main website