NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Department of Education Chancellor David Banks announced the expansion of the New York City public school's Gifted and Talented program.
The program serves elementary school students and will now add 100 kindergarten seats and 1,000 third-grade seats, expanding both entry points to all districts.
Through this expansion and updates to the admission process, the city's Gifted and Talented program will serve every community citywide for the first time. Applications for both programs open on May 31.
"Expanding our Gifted and Talented program to all New York City districts is about giving every child, in every zip code, a fair chance and making sure no child is left behind," Adams said. "We're doubling down on this administration's commitment to our youngest New Yorkers by adding additional seats and removing inequities in the admission process to allow students throughout this city to gain access to accelerated learning. And thanks to this expansion, for the first time ever, there will be a Gifted and Talented program in every school district in this city. This is how we give every young person an opportunity to grow, to learn, to explore their talents and imagination."
Another change is the way students will be evaluated. The contentious test is out, and instead, pre-K students will be evaluated by teachers while second graders will qualify based on their grades.
It's a reverse course from the last mayor, Bill de Blasio, who tried to do away with the program. But this new administration sees an opportunity to grow it.
"Today we move to end the era of scarcity - the era of making families fight amongst themselves for limited Gifted and Talented seats in far off schools," Banks said. "Through this expansion, we are providing more opportunities for accelerated learning to more families, while providing an equitable, fair process to identify the students who will excel with accelerated learning."
The 2022-2023 elementary Gifted and Talented expansion happened after the Department of Education met with a diverse set of parent representative groups and advocacy groups with a dedicated interest in this topic. Based on that feedback, the city came up with this new expansion plan.
The city said they focused on three areas:
1) Expanding the number of seats
2) Creating an equitable screening process
3) Providing an expanded third-grade entry point in every district
"Expanded access to the city's gifted and talented programs is long overdue," United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew said. "Providing seats in every district and expanding options in 3rd grade will enable more of our students to flourish. We look forward to working with Mayor Adams and Chancellor Banks to create the gifted program our children deserve."
Historically, kindergarten has been the initial entry point for New York City Gifted and Talented programs.
For the 2022-2023 school year, approximately 100 new kindergarten seats are being added to the Gifted and Talented portfolio - expanding the program to all 32 districts and bringing the total number of seats to 2,500.
To fill these seats, every current pre-K student will be evaluated by their current teacher for a potential nomination.
Universal pre-K screening takes the initial burden off families and creates access for more children with a more diverse eligibility pool.
First implemented for the 2021-2022 school year, universal screening led to a more diverse pool of students receiving invitation to apply for Gifted and Talented programs.
Students enrolled in non-DOE programs and those not yet enrolled in school will participate in an interview with DOE staff to confirm eligibility.
Families of eligible, nominated children will receive an eligibility letter inviting them to apply before the application opens.
For the first time ever, every district in New York City will provide an additional third-grade Gifted and Talented entry point, amounting to a baseline of one program in every district and a total of 1,000 seats.
Child development research shows that identifying gifted behavior in later grades may provide a more accurate assessment of gifted ability.
Determined by grades in the four core subject areas, the top 10 percent of second graders in each school will be invited to apply to a third-grade Gifted and Talented program.
Using grades in the four core subject areas ensures the DOE is using multiple measures to determine eligibility for the program.
Grounding the screen at the school level will ensure that district programs are representative of the district's population.
Families will be considered for placement at all of their application choices and offers will be made based on district and sibling priorities, as well as seat availability.
Grade three programs will grow to grades four and five in subsequent years.