New Gifted and Talented program admission process begins in New York schools

Children with face mask back at school after covid-19 quarantine and lockdown.
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Families with a toddler enrolled in a New York City preschool can now officially apply for Gifted and Talented program, officials announced Monday. 

Last month, the DOE announced instead of basing admission for G&T programs on a single exam, it would select students via a lottery questionnaire. The, the department says, is designed to help parents identify their child’s strengths and weaknesses, is available through MySchools website or by contacting a Family Welcome Center and are available in nine languages. 

After parents submit their questionnaire, their child’s pre-k teacher will then submit a second questionnaire on the toddler’s aptitude for the program. 

For interested families with a child that is not enrolled in a Pre-K for All program, the department will encourage the to sign up for a seat. If parents end up enrolling their child in pre-k, their new school will decide if the child is eligible for a G&T program based on short remote interview, according to a DOE spokesperson.

If a family does not enroll their child in pre-k, a member of a early childhood team will decide if a toddler is suited for a G&T program after conducting a remote interview. 

“We remain committed to finding a fairer and more equitable way forward to identify and meet the needs of students who would benefit from accelerated learning and enrichment, informed by a citywide engagement plan,” said DOE spokesperson Katie O’Hanlon. “We believe deeply that wide-scale changes are needed to address the racial disparities in who has access to G&T programs and look forward to a long-term transformation.”

The change to the city’s controversial G&T programs’ admission come as a result increasing opposition to use of a single entrance exam and multiple interruptions in the school year due to the pandemic. Critics of the exam say that that single test in not an accurate way to predict a child’s giftedness and that it contributes to the programs’ lack of diversity. 

Initially, Mayor Bill de Blasio wanted to give the entrance exam one more time this spring before changing the program. But that plan was thwarted after the city’s Panel for Educational Policy voted against renewing a contract with the test’s manufacturers during a meeting late January. 

The form for parents will be available until April 9 and families should expect to receive notification on whether their child has been selected to be entered the randomized lottery. Offers for G&T spots will be made in the summer with siblings of students already enrolled in a G&T program given priority for admission, according to the DOE.

In addition, schools with district priorities and diversity admissions initiatives with continue to implement them. 

“Soon, we will be embarking on a citywide engagement plan to hear directly from communities on the future of G&T. We will seek ideas on the type of programming communities would like to see that is more inclusive and best integrates enriched learning opportunities, so that more students can access rigorous learning that is tailored to their needs and fosters their creativity, passion, and strengths,” said O’Hanlon. “This will include seeking input from subject matter experts and stakeholders from across the city.”