August 18, 2020
Dear Members of the PEP Contracts Committee:
This letter is an urgent request for this Committee to inform parents as to the current status of the Pearson contract to administer Gifted & Talented Assessments for the 2020-21 academic school year.
At the June 17, 2020 PEP meeting, this contract was initially on the agenda for approval. At the last minute, this $1.7 million contract was pulled from the agenda, while other contracts costing several hundred million dollars were approved. DOE Executive Director of Contracts and Purchasing Charlette Hamamgian cited Covid concerns for the Pearson G&T contract. By contrast, other contracts were deemed too essential to postpone, as families would require access to these services after the crisis resolves.
At the July 9, 2020 CPAC meeting, Chancellor Carranza was asked by member Leonard Silverman about G&T and other testing plans. The chancellor’s answer was first a terse “No”; he then added that he was focusing on “issues that matter.”
At the July 15, 2020 PEP meeting, G&T Pearson contract was again missing from the agenda, while other contracts on issues affected by Covid were approved. When asked by a parent, Ms. Hamamgian said they were reevaluating the “extension in light of Covid and ongoing discussions of what back to school would look like” and hoped “to bring the extension with a plan back to a very near future panel meeting.”
At the upcoming August 19, 2020 PEP meetings (both for the Contracts Committee and the General Public Meeting), this item remains absent from the agenda.
While we understand the immediacy of planning for school reopening, NYC students still deserve and need the full complement of education programs ranging from special education to G&T. The PEP and DOE must provide transparency and be accountable to NYC families who are facing anxiety and uncertainty for their children’s future education.
Accordingly, a contract to administer the G&T test will not be approved until at minimum the next, mid-September, PEP meeting. The traditional timeline for G&T testing requires families to register for the exam by late October. The lack of clarity and lack of transparency on this issue adds additional stress to families about the uncertainty of the upcoming school year.
On behalf of NYC parents, PLACE NYC urgently requests this Panel to (1) respond to this letter and (2) address this issue directly at the August PEP meeting and inform parents of the DOE’s plan for G&T testing for the 2020-2021 school year. All NYC students have a right to their appropriate education, including accelerated learners.
We look forward to a timely response. Thank you.