DOE Preserves G&T Program but Resorts to Subjective Assessment to Admit Students for 2020-21

New York, NY, February 18, 2021– On Wednesday the NYC DOE announced it would replace the use of an objective test with a subjective evaluation system for admission to Gifted & Talented programs. The subjective evaluation system is more likely to disproportionately exclude low-income, minority and immigrant students while increasing the likelihood of mismatching students with schools that can meet their academic needs. Pre-K teachers are not trained to identify accelerated learners and NYC will likely see inequities furthered by this short sighted simplistic admissions process. By unnecessarily delaying the vote on the contract for G&T, the Mayor allowed political grandstanding at PEP members to triumph over the needs of children and families.

Unfortunately the new process still favors highly engaged and knowledgeable parents and families that live in close proximity to a G&T program. This means families who have traditionally not participated in the program (due to lack of availability in local schools and lack of parental awareness of the existence of G&T programs) will likely be left out once again. PLACE NYC continues to encourage the DOE to adopt a universal-screening / opt-out model, and expanding G&T programs in neighborhoods currently lacking them so that every child is assessed and every child who is identified as needing a seat in an accelerated setting can have one. The current shortage of G&T seats, lack of programs in many predominantly Black/Hispanic districts and the continuation of sibling priority under lottery (with no scoring cutoff) will further cement the current demographic representation that is the main criticism of NYC G&T programs.

By preserving G&T this year, the DOE is acknowledging that parents demand accelerated education for students who need and will benefit from these types of programs. All children deserve an education which allows them to thrive and be supported and challenged. We look forward to engaging with the current (and future) Mayor and Chancellor, NYC families and other stakeholders to replace this temporary subjective system with an objective solution that not only will expand access and opportunity, but continues to match students’ academic needs with appropriate programming. It is a moral imperative to identify the academic talent that exists in all NYC zip codes and strengthen the education that all students receive starting at elementary school.