Applications for New York City’s gifted and talented program open next month — roughly one year after former Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the program would be phased out and replaced.
Education officials announced Wednesday that parents can apply for slots in the program for their rising kindergartners starting Dec. 7.
The applications will be part of the overall kindergarten registration process, a change from previous years when parents had to fill out a separate application – and secure a testing date for their 4-year-old – to try to help their child qualify for a gifted and talented seat.
Students will be selected for the program based on teacher recommendations and seat availability, continuing a shift from the Department of Education’s pre-pandemic policy that based selections on test scores.
The applications are due Jan. 20.
“This year’s changes to the kindergarten application process will increase access to gifted and talented programming and make the process easier for families,” First Deputy Schools Chancellor Dan Weisberg said in a statement.
Students with siblings already in the gifted and talented program will get priority for admissions. Officials will also prioritize placing students in programs near their homes, according to guidance from the education department.
Education officials are yet to release details for students seeking to enter the program in first through third grade, but the department’s website said more information will soon be provided to parents.
The public schools’ gifted and talented program has long been a flashpoint in debates over equity and integration. Critics railed against the test that had been used for years to sort preschoolers, and noted that only a small fraction of students admitted were Black or Latino. In the 2019-2020 school year, just 6% of kindergartners admitted to the program were Black, and only 8% were Latino.
De Blasio announced plans to replace gifted and talented programs in October 2021, less than three months before he left office.
Last spring, Adams outlined his own vision: the gifted and talented program would be expanded, not extinguished. Adams announced that preschoolers seeking admission would be evaluated according to teacher recommendations instead of tests, continuing de Blasio’s policy. There would be more seats for kindergartners and a new entry point for third graders, Adams said.
While some parents applauded the move, others said the decision failed to solve inequity and segregation within the school system.