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Just When You Thought NYC Gifted & Talented 2021 Couldn’t Get More Absurd…. Parents Tell All!

A month ago, I asked: Where Is the Equity? Different Students Face Different Tests for NYC Gifted & Talented School Admissions. The current state of affairs is so absurd it even got covered nationally.

Qualifications letters went out on June 4. When I notified my mailing list about it, a parent wrote back, “It’s so weird. My kid’s teacher said she voted “yes” for the nomination, but she and I both never heard anything about this. I contacted DOE and asked about it and no one got back to me. Am I the only one?” Later, they updated me, “I actually emailed DOE directly and got an answer back right away! They told me my daughter is in the lottery system. But as we all know, it doesn’t mean that it guarantees a G&T seat somewhere.”

Other’s experiences ranged from one mom who told me, “My son was moved to the lottery, but seems like everyone I know was. Especially with the notifications coming while the kids are still in school. No teacher wants to deal with the parents calling them,” to one who revealed, “Would you believe my child automatically got a letter that states she is eligible for the gifted and talented after I called (today) to say no one contacted anyone after I submitted the application? She was not interviewed, her teacher as of today has not gotten any forms but yet she is eligible. She is eligible only because she lives in NYC and was born in 2016 because what else do they know of my child really?”

This prompted a dad to wonder, “We got the thumbs up.  If we receive a seat in the lottery, I am trying to process how this is a G/T program. It seems like a regular class repackaged as G/T.”

As we’ve covered previously, NYC doesn’t have a Gifted & Talented curriculum. Citywide programs are accelerated by one year, while district programs are “enriched.” Even before the test was eliminated, parents have lamented that there is little difference between a General Ed and a District G&T program, since they use the same curriculum. 

That’s why I feel utterly confident stating that any child can do the work available in NYC’s allegedly “gifted” classrooms, and that the program should be open to any family that requests it. (Don’t assume that every family will, as evidenced by the mom interviewed below.)

Based on the parents who’ve reached out to me, the number of “yes” nominations seem to outnumber the “no’s” about twenty to one. 

The latter came about either because the process wasn’t completed. As this mom wrote, “I applied in April. I didn’t answer the emails that I received re: scheduling an interview.  I should have. DOB reached out 2-3 times to schedule the interview. I received a letter of ineligibility today.”

Or due to a technical screw-up. “My child didn’t (get in) and apparently her private school teacher nominated her but who’s to say she did/didn’t? When I took her for registration at her public K school, the assistant principal interviewed her and at the end told me she should be 100% nominated for G&T. The system sucks!”

A fellow parent agrees. “I am just so upset and defeated to see how this gifted and talented game played out. I was not a fan of the old method but with that being said it worked better than this method because at least my child would get an opportunity to take the test. In this scenario my child or myself was never contacted, the teacher in the DOE school never got any information to fill out. My child was never even a contender. How is this more fair than previous years? This is a disaster and more of a way to disregard students you don’t care to serve. At least before they all got to take the damn test if they registered. This is shameful on the DOE and I know they don’t give a damn because they are shameless.”

The DOE has yet to release how many children qualified for the G&T lottery. In past years, about 16,000 applied, about 4,000 made the cut, and about 2,000 received offers. This year, I would expect closer to 5,000, maybe even 10,000 kids to make the cut. Add that there is no longer a difference between those who scored above the 97th percentile and qualified for a Citywide school versus those who scored above the 90th percentile and qualified for a District program. Previously, two-thirds of those who tested highly enough for a G&T seat didn’t get one. Expect the odds to be much, much worse this year. 

Also in previous years, students could test for a G&T spot not only in Kindergarten but in 1st through 3rd grades, as well. This year, that is no longer an option. Schools intend to fill those upper grade seats from applicants who were waitlisted in 2020.

But, wait! Here’s another wrinkle:

So the DOE continues to amaze us (not a compliment)! My husband brought the mail in and the envelope had a G&T placement for my daughter who will be going to 3rd grade. The placement for her was in a district 3 school that I did not have on my radar – The Riverside School for Makers and Artists. I received a letter for my daughter in French (she goes to a French dual language school), and another letter in English for another student! In the meantime, I told my friend and she got a letter for her daughter in French and an English version which has my daughter’s name! My friend lives in Queens and I live in Manhattan! Our daughters go to the same school in district 3. They mixed up everyone’s letters! The letter says my daughter was selected based on her grades from 1st grade and 2nd grade (this year). I had selected the Lower Lab school when she was in 1st grade and had done her G&T test. And here’s the icing on the cake – the due date for applying was June 14th, 2021! We received the letters today June 15th, 2021!!!!!

This parent isn’t the only one:

Yesterday we received a letter from DOE notifying that based on our daughter’s grades (all 3s & 4s) from last two years (she’s in grade 2), she qualifies to apply to 3rd grade G&T program at The Riverside School on 62nd St. From my quick research it seems to be kind of a magnet school & they try to boost their results. We received the letter yesterday (6/15) and the deadline to apply is 6/14 – do the math… Is it an official G&T program? Could you please comment on what’s going on here? And how can it be G&T if it’s enough to have all 3 & 4 to qualify (a far cry from 90th percentile for regular G&T.

I wrote about this initiative back in 2016 when covering the school rezoning of the Upper West Side:

Fully aware that it’s going to take more than just a brand new state of the art building on West End Avenue to attract middle-class families to a school that was once labeled “persistently dangerous,” the DOE has upped the ante.

Starting in September of 2017, PS 191 will offer a Gifted & Talented program. This is a suggestion proposed by the PS 199 petition that argues their parents are “entitled” due to the years they spent paying taxes. The new G&T won’t be one that begins at the Kindergarten level, which would require going through the city centralized process outlined here, but one that starts in 3rd grade and doesn’t use standardized test scores, but instead employs grades and teacher recommendations to determine admission.

This is similar to a methodology recently utilized to bring new G&T programs to underserved schools in Brooklyn and the Bronx. The same methodology that’s been proven to identify less Black and Hispanic children than other assessment methods.

So, to summarize: This year, G&T nominations will be based on teacher recommendations and parent interviews. Except when they’re not. The only entry point will be Kindergarten, except when it’s not. Upper grade entry will be based on previous year’s waitlists. Except when it’s not.

Just when you thought G&T 2021 couldn’t get more absurd… Not!

What do you think?

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