Report: Half of NYC schools with Gifted & Talented classes did not enroll a Black student in the program

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Classrooms across Long Island were empty on Thursday. Check our listings of delayed openings, closures and cancellations to see what’s in store for Friday. Photo Credit: Daniel Brennan

Half of the New York City public schools offering Gifted and Talented (G&T) classes did not enroll a Black student in the program in the 2018-19 academic year, according to a recently published report from the city’s  Independent Budget Office. 

The report comes at a time when the city’s controversial G&T programs, along with the city’s selective middle and high school admissions processes, are in transition. Due to disruptions to last school year caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and longstanding pushback against the programs, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced in February the city would select four-year-olds for the program through a random lottery in May or via preschool teacher recommendations. 

Normally, admissions to the selective program is determined by a single test which de Blasio previously said would be administered one last time this spring. But his efforts to force toddlers to sit for the exam once more was thwarted after the city’s Panel for Educational Policy voted against renewing a contract with the test’s administrators Pearson.

The vote was an uncharacteristically bold move for the PEP, which is normally considered a rubber stamp for the mayor. 

For years, opponents of G&T have said the program perpetuates segregation in New York City public schools in part because the admissions exam does not accurately measure giftedness and is instead a better predictor of demographics. 

The IBO report also found that of those programs with Black and Hispanic students, those students were vastly outnumbered by white and Asian students with 12 programs reported having only one Black student.

Hispanic students make up the largest demographic across all kindergarten programs at 40%, the report says, followed by Black students at 22.9% then White students and Asian students which make up 15% of all kindergarten students respectively. 

Out of all G&T students in the 2018-19 school year, roughly 40% were Asian, 35% were white, 9% were Hispanic and 7% Black. 

The report took an in-depth look at racial segregation within G&T programs at the 78 public schools that offer it given that many of these school separate their G&T students from the rest of the student body.  IBO analysts measured the extent to which a given G&T student in a classroom with a high concentration of students of their same ethnic or racial group and found that isolation was highest for Asian students.

The report found that an Asian G&T student was usually in a program where 58.1% of the classmates were also Asian.