Gifted and Talented
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The Department of Education ended the suspense around the city’s accelerated Gifted and Talented program Tuesday night, announcing that the single-test entry system will end after this year.
Parents have been clamoring for answers on the coveted programs that admit kids based on standardized exam scores beginning at age 4.
Backers say they give academically advanced kids the opportunity to learn at an appropriate pace and serve as an educational springboard.
Detractors counter that the admissions model favors families of means who are better able to prepare for the test and that the exam serves as a poor marker of talent in young children.
After months of uncertainty, the DOE revealed that it will offer the test this year and discontinue the current admissions format beyond that.
“This will be the last year New York City administers this kindergarten test,” said agency spokesperson Miranda Barbot. “For our youngest learners, we must move forward and develop a system that reimagines accelerated learning and enrichment. At the same time, we want to honor the fact that families have been planning kindergarten admissions for many months now.”
The racial makeup of the city’s Gifted and Talented programs is central to the debate over its future.
As with most of the city’s competitive academic offerings, Asian students make up the largest proportion of enrollees.
They account for 43 percent of Gifted and Talented students — followed by whites at 36 percent, Hispanics at 8 percent, and African-Americans at 6 percent.
Critics argue that the programs are not reflective of the city’s larger racial portrait and need to be remade.
Overall, 40.6 percent of all kids in the nation’s largest school system are Hispanic, followed by blacks at 25.5 percent, Asians at 16.2 percent, and whites at 15.1 percent.
While Gifted and Talented programs were once commonplace across the city — including in low-income areas — they contracted sharply beginning in the 1990s.
Past beneficiaries have called for a restoration of advanced offerings at more city schools rather than their elimination.
Others who support accelerated learning argue that the programs should remain intact while the admissions system undergoes reform.
“We believe there is a better way,” Barbot said. “We will spend the next year engaging communities around what kind of programming they would like to see that is more inclusive, enriching, and truly supports the needs of academically advanced and diversely talented students at a more appropriate age.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio and schools Chancellor Richard Carranza are likely to address the controversial move in a joint appearance Wednesday morning.
With de Blasio set to exit the mayoral stage next year, further retooling of the Gifted and Talented program will fall to his successor.
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