For parents whose 4-year-olds are just getting comfortable in their pre-K classrooms, it may seem odd to think about kindergarten. And it may seem especially strange to consider testing your children — even if it’s a test mostly made up of shapes, patterns and pictures.
But it is the time to start. First on the checklist: Register your pre-K students — and those in kindergarten, first and second grades, too — to take the Gifted & Talented test. The deadline is Monday.
Gifted-and-talented programs provide an important educational choice. The curriculum offers more depth and enrichment, teachers with additional certification, and the opportunity to learn with other high-performing children. These classes can engage students in new ways.
But they’re not available to everyone equally. Programs are concentrated in districts where the NYC Department of Education says it sees the most demand, leaving some with far more options than others. And of the five gifted-and-talented schools open to students citywide, none are in the Bronx or Staten Island. Too often, the city’s low-income and minority neighborhoods have the fewest options, even on the district level. But there are gifted students in every school district in every borough. So, taking the test is the first step to broaden the reach.
The city has made strides in publicizing the test and in providing alternatives in districts where too few schools have gifted-and-talented programs. For instance, five schools now offer gifted classes beginning in third grade, relying on a subjective assessment in lieu of a test.
Nonetheless, the Department of Education has to do more to level the playing field. Ideally, students wouldn’t have to register for the exam at all; instead, every pre-K student would take the test, unless parents opt out. Meanwhile, pre-K teachers and administrators should make sure the skills included on the test are covered in classrooms, so children who aren’t taking expensive prep classes have the same chances to succeed.
For now, it’s up to parents to register at schools.nyc.go/ giftedandtalented. That’s giving your child a gift.