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City officials announced the expansion of the talent pool in the third grade. Above, kindergarten students at Brooklyn School of Inquiry, a citywide gifted and talented school, learn to read the number in November 2016.
Despite sweeping changes promised by former mayor Bill de Blasio to close the gap in gifted programs, the new administration has decided to stick with the status quo.
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For the 2022-23 school year, the Department of Education plans to add 1,000,000 spots citywide for gifted programs that begin in third grade.
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As for the kindergarten program, the city plans to nominate every pre-K student for approval. An official of the Department of Education said that those who attend primary schools in the city can apply for an interview at the district office.
In addition, officials aim to add 100 places in “gifted and talented” kindergartens, so that every district has a gifted program starting at that grade. Some only offer the program starting in third grade, an attempt in recent years to make it more accessible to students in neighborhoods where few have had a history of qualifying for kindergarten enrollment.
Kindergarten admissions will continue to be based on teacher preferences — a change that began during the pandemic — instead of admissions based solely on a preschool test. Education Department officials said the change allowed a different group of kindergartners to enroll this year, but did not respond to multiple requests for statistical information.
In the third round, the top 10% of students in each school will be invited to apply, based on scores in four key areas. Currently, the third grade curriculum is based on teacher preferences and other factors.
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“Through this expansion, we are providing more accelerated learning opportunities for more families, while providing a fair and equitable way to identify students who will succeed in accelerated learning,” Chancellor David Banks said in a statement.
However, the program will continue to recruit a small part of the city’s students. Each year, more than 60,000 preschoolers enroll in public schools. With the expansion, only about 2,500 – 4.2 percent – will be served in donation rooms.
Officials did not provide information on how high school students currently enroll in gifted programs starting in third grade and did not specify how high schools would get gifted programs for third grade students. Assistant Director of Teaching and Learning, Carolyne Quintana, said some of these details still need to be worked out.
De Blasio called for an end to the current model, which segregates students into separate classrooms or entire schools. Gifted classrooms enroll minority black and Latino students as well as those from low-income families, who have disabilities, who are learning English as a new language, or who live in temporary housing. Reform advocates also say that focusing on high-achieving students can make it harder to meet the needs of students in classrooms where many fall behind.
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De Blasio’s plan, called Brilliant C, proposed offering “acceleration” to every student starting in kindergarten and then introducing students to accelerated specialized courses in third grade.
But the outgoing president left the current administration to implement controversial reforms that he criticized as largely ending subsidy programs. Even before the official launch, Mayor Eric Adams made it clear he would take a different approach.
Deborah Alexander, a member of the Queens 30th District Board of Education, said continuing gifted programs is a “priority” for parents like her. Otherwise, it may be difficult for teachers to meet the needs of many students, he said.
He said, “It’s impossible to separate a class with 32 kids. I’m sitting in a class. I don’t think it’s a working model.”, according to Alexander, who is the vice president of PLACE, or Parent Leaders for Rapid Education and Education Program, an advocacy group that is very committed to maintaining the current model.
Gifted & Talented — Kirk Day School
Although next year’s schedule will not be very clear, many changes may be on the horizon. Banks said the administration will begin its public engagement phase regarding the future of the subsidy program. Quintana said the city is also working to improve the instruction that takes place in gifted classrooms and to provide equity in the program.
“It’s probably the most important part for us, in terms of developing this gifted and talented program,” he said. “We are looking for different opportunities, different programs and consistent programs that have standards not only for teachers, but also for administrators, so that we can create something that is really, at least, normal.”
New York is leading the way in introducing gifted programs in kindergarten. Many other districts do not initiate such offerings until later, when assessments can be a true measure of student ability. The growth of the city in the third phase seems to take this into account.
NeQuan McLean, a parent leader in Brooklyn’s District 16, previously fought for his neighborhood to have a donation program. In 2016, the city launched one starting in the third grade. But McLean and other parent leaders quickly changed their minds after seeing it in action.
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He said it created “disharmony in the school,” and that few parents ended up enrolling because it required moving schools.
In an interview before the city announced this year’s plans, McLean said, “It was really an unfortunate disaster for us.” “It didn’t work.”
Allison Roda, a Molloy University professor who advised the previous administration on how to revamp its current programs, said many of the nation’s gifted classrooms — regardless of their starting grade — are segregated. Extending the current model to third grade probably won’t represent classrooms, he said in a previous city interview.
“It’s just about competition, and an ‘us-versus-them’ mentality, and winners and losers,” he said. “We criticized this program as serving a small number of students. and we criticize it. We criticized them for the benefits that students received in all ways, not only in elementary school, but also outside of it, and I think they need to address everything that.”
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Christina Veiga is a New York-based school reporter who focuses on school and elementary school diversity. Contact Christina at [email protected]
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Two parents and two teachers are seeking to overturn the city’s budget, saying city officials did not follow proper protocol before voting. This gifted education article was produced in partnership with The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education. This is part 1 of the series “The Question of Gift Types.”
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At PS 64 Frederick Law Olmsted, in the rich, white north of Buffalo, 22 would-be Arctic explorers struggled with how to build a shelter if their team leader had cold and snow blindness. Unusually for Buffalo Public Schools — where 20% of the student body is white and 46% black — nearly half of the fourth-graders were white.
At PS 61 Arthur O. Eve, on the predominantly Black East Side, 13 first-graders, all of whom are black, Latino or Asian-American, turned paper airplanes into their basement classrooms with a problem-solving lesson. Unlike Olmsted, the city’s top-scoring elementary school, Eve students scored near the city’s worst in math and English in 2019, when less than a quarter of students passed state tests.
The Gift for Eve program was launched two years ago as a way to increase access to White Buffalo’s priceless, requested gifts and giveaways. Buffalo educators hope Eve’s new program will give more children — especially children of color — opportunities for enrichment and better learning.
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However, for two years Eve’s gifted classes were not registered, while Olmsted always lacked a place – last year more than 400 children applied for 65 gifted places. And even though the district has made it easier to apply for gifted classes, Olmsted’s gifted classrooms still stand out like other districts. White families rallied around Olmsted, and defended the new plan for Eve, while communities of color rallied against obstacles, including an IQ test for children at age 4, which experts say has kept gifted education out of reach for children who need it.
At PS 61 Arthur O. Eve on Buffalo’s east side, Sarah Malczewski’s first-grade gifted class is preparing to unveil paper airplanes they plan to fly as soon as possible. Danielle Dreilinger for The Hechinger Report
Buffalo’s struggle to create a cohesive, balanced talent program is on display
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