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Answering Parent Questions About NYC Gifted & Talented Admissions 2021 (Part #2): Remote Evaluations, Waitlists & More

Last week, we answered the most immediate questions about how Gifted & Talented admissions will work for September 2021.

This week, we dig deeper into the details.

Question: Do we know if teachers at private daycares/early learning centers that are not DOE affiliated will be able to evaluate, or only pre-K for all? What about families currently in out-of-town pre-schools?

Answer: Only UPK teachers will be able to evaluate their students, whether on-site or remotely. All others, including those who have left town but still hold an NYC address, will be evaluated remotely by a member of the Department of Education’s Early Childhood team.

Here’s what’s interesting about this: The main argument against using a standardized test for all students versus teacher recommendations is teachers know their students better. (It ignores years of research that such subjective evaluations historically undercount gifted students of color.) 

A test, the theory goes, only assesses how a student performs in that given moment. (And it is true that from the ages of 3 to 10, a child’s IQ score can go up or down as much as 15 points. In some studies, of those deemed gifted in Kindergarten, only 27% still qualified by 3rd grade.) A teacher who has had time to observe a child over a longer period of time in various situations should have a better sense of their actual abilities.

Except that, this year, few children have been in school full-time. Even the majority of those enrolled in a Pre-K For All program have been learning remotely. So how good of a sense can any teacher have of a child’s true potential?

Add to that all of the children who will be assessed by a total stranger from the EC team — also remotely — and how can anyone pretend that this will be anything close to a level playing field?

Oh, and here is a fun little detail: If your child is a non-English speaker, you can request that they be interviewed in their native language remotely. But if your child is in a UPK program, then they will be evaluated by their teacher — whether the teacher speaks the child’s native language or not. Though we don’t yet know what will be on this questionnaire, in the past, vocabulary was a major element of the scoring process. How will a teacher who doesn’t speak the child’s native language be able to gauge their verbal abilities?

Finally, the DOE assures parents that if their child isn’t currently in a UPK, they can still sign up for one!

NYC Pre-K enrollment is currently down 13% for a program where demand has never matched what the Mayor claimed it would be, leaving empty seats in multiple buildings. What a clever way to boost enrollment — and the funding that comes with it. (Follow the money and see where it goes….) 

Question: My child is not in preschool, but did qualify for Hunter round two this year. Is there a chance that the qualification for Hunter’s second round could be used as the “recommendation” for the G&T lottery? 

Answer: Absolutely not. A test given by a licensed psychologist for admission to one of the most highly regarded gifted programs in the country could not possibly be as accurate as a bureaucrat with a checklist over Zoom. (For the record, I have worked with multiple families where children who qualified for Second Round at Hunter failed to make the public school G&T cut-off, and vice-versa. No one, including the original test makers, claim that these assessments are in any way predictive of anything. Or consistent.)

Question: What about siblings?  Under the testing regime, any sibling who tested above the threshold was admitted without participating in the lottery.  So what now?

Answer: Just get a recommendation, and you are in the first priority group for admission to your older child’s school! No need to hit either the 97th percentile for citywide admission, or the 90th for district. This year, it’s one size fits all!

Question: So what happens to kids who are now in Kindergarten and haven’t tested before? What about the new families who have moved into NYC since that time who may be interested in G&T? Are they automatically disqualified from being considered for the seats that may be open in 1st, 2nd or 3rd grades? That certainly does not seem to be an inclusive and unbiased approach.

Answer: They will not be considered for admission to higher grades.

Question: Will current K students still have an opportunity for a g&t placement if they already received an offer last year for K?

Answer: If you accepted your offer last year, you will be considered for any programs where you were still waitlisted. If you were offered a seat last year and turned it down, you will not be considered for that seat again.

Question: If our kid was waitlisted at a Citywide, but we took them off waitlists once we got a District placement would they still be considered? Or is it only for those who were waitlisted through the end of enrollment in October? 

Answer: Only those students who were still on a waitlist as of the end of October will be considered. If you took yourself off a waitlist before then, you will not be.

Question: My son is currently in a district G&T program. Last year he had a qualifying score for citywide, but did not make it into a program (we applied to NEST). Would he be put back onto the waitlist for NEST using his score from last year, or would we have to reapply for it this year with his score from last year? Would we need a teacher reco, or just his score? Does it matter that he is currently in a district G&T?

Answer: Students currently in a district G&T will be considered for citywide placement. You do not need a teacher recommendation, just your score and waitlist number from last year. You do not need to contact the school to express your interest. According to the DOE, they will reach out to you if there is a spot available for your child.

Question: What about kids who were waitlisted for entry into 3rd grade for 2020? Are they considered for fall 2021 entry into 4th grade?

Answer: No. Third grade is the last entry point. After third grade, no one in NYC is either gifted or talented.

This is the information we’ve been able to compile so far based on your queries. We’re sure there are still families with more questions. Leave them in the Comments below, and we’ll see what we can do to get you answers!

What do you think?

2 thoughts on “Answering Parent Questions About NYC Gifted & Talented Admissions 2021 (Part #2): Remote Evaluations, Waitlists & More

  1. If they’re giving sibling priority and there’s no test, doesn’t that in effect mean that all the G&T K spots will be taken by siblings? Do we really think there’s anything that is going to *disqualify* a younger sibling from getting recommended? Especially if they’re in a Pre-K program, I imagine the parents would be lobbying HARD to make sure the recommendation is favorable…

  2. My daughter is currently waitlisted at NEST in a decent position for Kindergarten entry. If she doesn’t make it in this year, will her position remain for entry next year?

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