City Hall will present its Gifted and Talented program reboot in September after gathering community input, officials said Wednesday.
The Department of Education previously announced that it would abolish the single-test entry model for the accelerated programs next year.
But Mayor de Blasio and schools Chancellor Richard Carranza said Wednesday that changes to the current Gifted and Talented structure will extend beyond admissions.
While he offered few specifics pending stakeholder outreach, de Blasio said that digital instruction will likely become a central piece.
“The chancellor and I are fully committed to doing something very different starting in September, with a more individualized approach to education with a greater use of digital options to augment the work of classroom teachers,” he said at his daily briefing.
In a 2019 set of recommendations, the mayor’s School Diversity Advisory Group argued for the elimination of the test and the placement of academically advanced kids into general education classrooms.
“A number of studies have shown that mixed-ability classrooms, which cater to the needs of both general education students and advanced students are beneficial to the students with lower proficiency levels, and do not harm students learning above proficiency levels,” the group wrote at the time.
But de Blasio and Carranza said Wednesday that public engagement will help to determine whatever final changes are made.
The chancellor said he wants to “bring people to the table, to have a conversation about what the research says, to understand historically what folks have wanted in our school system.”
Both men argued Wednesday that the single-test entry format — which is administered to kids beginning at age 4 — is an insufficient gauge of student ability.
Currently, about 15,000 out of 65,000 rising kindergarten families apply for 2,500 Gifted and Talented spots.
“Do you really believe out of 65,000 kids in this city only 2,500 are quote unquote gifted and talented?” de Blasio said.
Critics of the program argue that the single-test benefits those with the means to prep for it and boxes out African-American and Hispanic kids.
Asians comprise 43 percent of all of the program’s seats, followed by whites at 36, Hispanics at 8, and black students at 6.
Supporters of accelerated programs assert that academically advanced city kids should have the opportunity to learn at a quicker pace with equally positioned peers.
They also note that Gifted and Talented offerings were once pervasive throughout the city and benefitted a wider range of students.
PLACE NYC, a parent group that backs these positions, pushed for the expansion of Gifted and Talented programs rather than their contraction in a statement Wednesday.
“NYC families want supportive and diverse classrooms where their child will benefit from academically rigorous instruction while also learning with children from different socio-economic, racial and cultural backgrounds,” said co-President Yiatin Chu.
State Sen. John Liu, who heads the New York City education committee, endorsed offering the exam one more time this year but supported a new assessment of the program.
“Going forward, it also makes sense to evaluate and consider improvements to the system,” he said in a statement. “G&T programs were conceived to accommodate children who are ready to learn faster and allow them to take their talent and run with them.”
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