New York City to expand Gifted and Talented program but Scrap Test

Mayor Eric Adams on Thursday unveiled a plan to expand the city’s gifted and talented classes for elementary students and eliminate the ...


Mayor Eric Adams on Thursday unveiled a plan to expand the city’s gifted and talented classes for elementary students and eliminate the controversial admissions test for good. free for 4 year olds in an effort to address concerns that the program has harmed low-income and black and Latino students.

Under Mr. Adams’ plan, the city will add 100 seats to the current 2,400 for kindergarten students in the program and an additional 1,000 seats for third-graders.

the city-wide admission test, which has not been offered since fall 2020, will be replaced by a screening process in which pre-kindergarten teachers nominate students who apply to participate in a lottery. Applications for the program will open May 31 for the 2022-23 school year.

“It’s time for all of our students to have access to classroom programs that develop their full personality and full potential,” the mayor said at a press conference Thursday.

By expanding the program and eliminating admissions tests for good, the mayor and his school’s chancellor, David Banks, hope to address what city officials have recognized for years: the gifted and talented program has contributed to the racial segregation of classrooms.

Although 70% of students in the city’s school system are black and Latino, about 75 percent of students enrolled in gifted classes are white or Asian American.

“Expanded access to the city’s gifted and talented programs is long overdue,” Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, said in a statement.

But there are concerns the plan won’t go far enough to address the program’s flaws, such as the small number of places for the city’s more than 70,000 kindergarten children and the few entry points into the program.

There were about 1,900 kindergarten children and about 90 third graders accepted into this year’s gifted program, according to Nathaniel Steyer, a spokesman for the Department of Education, in a school system that serves more than a million of students.

And some officials have questioned the value of the gifted program itself. “Intensifying a curriculum that segregates students, often along class and racial lines, is a retrograde approach that does nothing to improve the quality of education for the overwhelming majority of our students,” he said. New York City Comptroller Brad Lander said in a statement. .

Advocates for gifted and talented programs also had some concerns.

“Overall, we are keeping the program, we are expanding it where there are no programs, I think this is great news,” said Yiatin Chu, the co-founder of Parent Leaders for Accelerated Curriculum and Educationa group founded by white and Asian parents that supports gifted and talented schools.

But Ms Chu, who has a fifth-grade student who is not part of the Gifted and Talented Students program, said the plan had flaws. Not enough seats were added, she said. And immigrant families would still like to see a “more standardized and less subjective” way of assessing children, she said.

Under the existing program, kindergarten students who pass the citywide exam enter a lottery to enroll in their school’s accelerated program or, if their school does not have a program, they try to enroll in a school that has one.

The programs are seen by many parents as a pipeline to competitive middle and high schools in the city and an alternative to struggling district schools. The city operates a pilot program allowing third-graders to apply to participate in the program, but not in all districts.

Critics of the existing program – where admission normally depended on a test – say it has kept too many black and Latino children out and weakened some mainstream schools by sometimes displacing the strongest students and teachers to gifted and talented programs outside their districts.

Simply expanding the program is unlikely to increase diversity, “especially when there have not been details and guarantees that these 1,000 places will reach a more diverse group of students than what we have seen in the past,” said Halley Potter, senior fellow at the Century Foundation, a think tank.

Ms Potter said city officials have spent too much time focusing on how to allocate a very small number of seats to a very small percentage of the student population, and that it would be better to figure out how to “make possible enrichment and acceleration”. options that exist in mixed-ability classrooms across the city.

The citywide test – first instituted under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg over a decade ago — places low-income families, many of them black and Latino, disadvantaged, because many live in districts that don’t have gifted and talented programs or can’t afford test prep for their children.

In the years since the test was introduced, gifted programs in predominantly black and Latino neighborhoods almost gone in many areas of the city. Yet Manhattan’s District 2 – one of the city’s whitest and wealthiest neighborhoods – in 2021 had almost twice as many gifted programs as there are in the entire Bronx, the city’s poorest borough.

The test has become so controversial that an advisory board that helps the city administer it rejected the most recent test Last year.

Before leaving office, former mayor Bill de Blasio pledged to eliminate gifted program and replacing it with a program that offered accelerated learning for students later in elementary school. Below his projectthe city is said to have trained about 4,000 educators to accommodate students with different learning abilities in their general education classrooms.

But Mr. Adams pledged during his mayoral campaign to retain the gifted and talented program, citing the importance of making accelerated learning available.

The plan unveiled Thursday is in line with what the mayor promised during the election campaign: cancellation of the admission test and expansion of the program.

Under Mr. Adams’ plan, teachers will assess their pre-K students and then decide whether to nominate them for the program. The process was first used in the 2021-22 school year after the advisory board rejected the latest test, and it has led to a more diverse pool of students receiving invitations to apply, said officials.

In fall 2020, when an admissions test was used, only 4% of offers went to black pre-K students, according to Department of Education data. This percentage increased to 11% when a universal screen was used in the fall of 2021. 7% of offers went to Hispanic students in 2020, compared to 13% in 2021.

The percentage of offers for Asian students decreased by 8% between 2020 and 2021, and the percentage of offers for White students decreased by 3%.

The selection process for the 2022-23 school year will be the same as for the 2021-2022 school year, according to a spokesperson for the Ministry of Education.

Few details were available on exactly how the selection process for pre-K students works, but education officials said teachers will assess each child based on what the Department of Education has defined as a a number of gifted behavior indicators such as persistence and curiosity.

Research shows later assessments of gifted ability can be more accurate than earlier ones, officials said, which is why 1,000 places have been added for rising third-graders.

Under the new program, each district in the city will have at least one gifted and talented program for third-graders, officials said Thursday.

The top 10% of second-year students from each school will be invited to apply. The invitation will be based on their grades in the four subjects: English, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies.

Application for both programs opens May 31. Students are then entered into the lottery.

Placement will be decided based on the district, parent preference, where the siblings attend school, and space availability.

On Thursday afternoon, several parents in the Bronx waited to pick up their children at PS 11 Highbridge. Many were happy to hear that the program would return, but worried about the lack of educational resources in the borough.

Maileng Payano, 33, who has two children, said she was in favor of student recommendations by teachers who “spend eight hours a day with them and they know them very well and can know who can actually participate”.

Pamela Ward, 38, a community liaison worker and mother of four, waited to collect her son as a group of children poured out of nearby PS 126, happily carrying sacks of Easter-themed gifts.

“A lot of kids at this school are gifted and talented,” Ms. Ward said, but “they don’t bring the programs to this community. They don’t have the same opportunities later in life because of that.

Her youngest is heading to pre-K, and she hopes he gets the chance to participate.

“Just give every child an opportunity,” she said.

In Chinatown, Hannah Chen, 38, expressed concern that the recommendation-based model leaves too much room for discretion.

“If the teacher doesn’t like our child,” said Ms. Chen, who has a child in the gifted program, in Mandarin, “then we can’t do anything.”

Téa Kvetenadze and Haidee Chu contributed reporting.

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Newsrust - US Top News: New York City to expand Gifted and Talented program but Scrap Test
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