A major screwup by the testing company Pearson caused some children to be told they did not make the cut for city gifted programs when in fact they scored high enough to be admitted.

It’s a Friday news dump of epic proportions, at least for the thousands of city families that had their children tested for gifted and talented eligibility this year. Previously, the city had said 9,020 students had scored above the 90th percentile on two tests, making them eligible for admission to G&T programs. The real number is higher, Pearson and the Department of Education said.

Pearson, which has had a rocky road in New York in recent years, is sending a letter to parents that contains a lengthy mea culpa.

“Pearson has an established record in this field and we depend on its professionalism and deep capacity to deliver for the public.  But in this case they let our children and families down,” said Chancellor Dennis Walcott in a statement. “I have told the company’s officials in no uncertain terms that I expect this will never happen again.”

We’ll have a more complete story soon, including numbers of how many families are affected, but for now, here’s Pearson’s letter to parents and Walcott’s public statement.

Here’s Pearson’s letter to parents:

And here’s the statement from Walcott:

STATEMENT FROM CHANCELLOR DENNIS WALCOTT ON PEARSON GIFTED AND TALENTED EXAM ERRORS

Pearson, the company that developed our Gifted and Talented exam, has notified the Department of Education that it has discovered errors in the scoring of the most recent G&T exam.

After an exhaustive review of Pearson’s data, it is clear to us that due to the company’s errors, many students who were recently notified that they did not qualify for G&T now qualify for district programs. In addition, many other students who didn’t previously qualify for city wide programs now do.

All students who were previously deemed eligible for the G&T programs will remain eligible.

Two parents initially brought their concerns to our attention. My team immediately asked Pearson to investigate. Throughout this week, Pearson has been working to confirm the existence of errors, identify how many students were affected and rectify those errors.

I am grateful to the two parents and pleased that the DOE team responded promptly to their inquiries.

Doug Kubach, Pearson’s CEO of Assessment and Instruction, has personally apologized to me in our conversations this week, and extends his apologies to our students and their families.

While I appreciate his apology, it is unacceptable that these mistakes occurred in the first place.  Pearson has an established record in this field and we depend on its professionalism and deep capacity to deliver for the public.  But in this case they let our children and families down. I have told the company’s officials in no uncertain terms that I expect this will never happen again.

Mr. Kubach has assured me that the company is undertaking a thorough and comprehensive review of its quality controls.

We have taken several steps here to mitigate the inconvenience to affected students:

·         Over the next 24 hours, we will notify all the affected families of the errors via email and automated calls. They will subsequently receive their updated scores by April 29th.

·         To give families time to reconsider application decisions, the deadline for submitting applications will be extended to May 10th

·         As was reported earlier this week, there were some score reports that were missing from the original file that we received from Pearson. Four hundred students were affected. We have located the tests and have contacted the families that have been affected.   

I want to emphasize that we are working hard to minimize the inconvenience caused by the errors, and are dealing with the company to ensure that this mistake is not repeated in the future.