Last week, after promising NYC Gifted & Talented results would be available “early the week of April 11,” the Department of Education finally released scores on Thursday, April 14. Despite, in February, doing a premature victory lap touting a New York University study that concluded, “Attending public preschool is linked to an increase in students taking the admissions test for gifted and talented programs, reducing the disparity in test taking between disadvantaged students and their peers,” the actual breakdown of results showed that some under-served areas (see, for instance, Manhattan’s District 5 in Harlem) had less kids qualifying than the previous year.
Of course, actual numbers of children qualified for Gifted & Talented programming is academic as, per usual, there are many, many more candidates than available seats, meaning the majority of those who scored high enough, according to the DOE, to warrant special services… won’t be getting special services. To learn your child’s odds of snagging a Citywide or District G&T seat (and what the difference is between the two), click here. (If this were the bottom of the Bell curve, NYC would be in violation of federal law.)
Seeking to address the lack of G&T programs in predominantly Black and Latino neighborhoods (previously, the argument was that not enough children qualified at the Kindergarten level to warrant opening one), the city also announced that they would, in fact, be launching new G&Ts in the South Bronx and Central Brooklyn. But, rather than begriming with a Kindergarten class, they would kick off in 3rd grade, ironically the age when traditional NYC gifted testing stops. Here, children are potentially gifted only in Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade. So no late-bloomers need apply.
Except in the South Bronx and Central Brooklyn, where, in lieu of the standardized, multiple-choice test other children take, candidates will be evaluated based on “multiple measures, such as academic performance, attendance, curiosity, motivation and being a fast learner.”
This is where it gets really interesting. In the past, NYC had teacher recommendations as a part of the gifted evaluation. But it was discontinued for a variety of reasons, one of which was that teachers perennially underestimated the abilities of students of color. In January of 2016, The Atlantic addressed that issue specifically, writing, “A high-achieving white student is twice as likely as an equally high-achieving black student to get assigned to such a program…. Racialized teacher perceptions may in part explain why educators interpret their students’ behaviors and abilities in inconsistent ways.” In September of 2015, another article asserted, “In many places around the U.S., low-income and minority children are significantly underrepresented in gifted-and-talented programs. This seems to be the case whether the process for identifying gifted children relies on teacher referrals for screening, or on evaluations arranged and paid for independently by parents…. Universal screening leveled the playing field for students who traditionally get overlooked in referral-based systems.”
So, in order to get more Black and Latino students into Gifted & Talented programs, the NYC Department of Ed is going to employ a methodology proven to… get less Black and Latino students into Gifted & Talented programs?
On the other hand, years of research has confirmed that a child’s IQ test at age 4 is meaningless, and you don’t get an accurate result until at least age 8, more likely 10, which would be about 3rd through 5th grade. So why test in Kindergarten? Because that’s where the major G&T program entry point is! Why is it the major G&T program entry point? Because… it’s the least accurate one?
For parents of all races and economic means hoping to get a better grasp of how the system works – and how you can make it work for you – register for a FREE Getting Into NYC Kindergarten workshop to help you prepare for 2017 admissions, here.