Mayor Bill de Blasio is planning to phase out the city’s “Gifted and Talented” classes during the last three months of his time in office and replace it with a new “accelerated” teaching model called “Brilliant NYC” in all public elementary schools starting in the fall of next year.
The long-awaited details come over a week past the mayor’s self-imposed deadline after he told a woman who called into WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show” in September that the City would announce changes to the program by the end of the month.
Normally, every year thousands of four-year-olds try to gain entrance into the program by sitting for a single high-stakes test, and typically out of those that apply only about 2,500 are offered admission. But now, de Blasio plans on scrapping the admissions exam for toddlers and instead allowing incoming third graders to undergo academic screens to gauge if an accelerated learning program is right for them.
The new policy will expand accelerated learning programs from 80 to 800 schools with the hopes of boosting the number of accelerated learning students to 65,000. In another major shift, under “Brilliant NYC” students enrolled in an accelerated learning program will remain in mixed classrooms.
“The era of judging four-year-olds based on a single test is over. Brilliant NYC will deliver accelerated instruction for tens of thousands of children, as opposed to a select few,” said de Blasio. “Every New York City child deserves to reach their full potential, and this new, equitable model gives them that chance.”
DOE leadership plan on hosting “community conversations” in all 32 school districts throughout October and November in order to hear feedback from families on the new policy and train the city’s 4,000 kindergarten teachers in accelerated instruction this year with the goal of rolling out a full and finalized “Brilliant NYC” plan in December.
In addition, City officials have promised to hire extra teachers trained in accelerated learning in neighborhoods that traditionally have had little to no “Gifted and Talented” courses.
“This is our blueprint,” said Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter on WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show” Friday. ” We want to hear from parents, community leaders and students. Brilliant NYC is our vision for New York City but I know that when we get out into our communities they will add more.”
Both the mayor and Chancellor Porter have received criticism for not adequately engaging with teachers, families or students for the past year to hear feedback about changes to “Gifted and Talented” despite multiple promises to do so.