New York City education officials said eliminating the test for four-year-olds to get into Gifted & Talented kindergarten programs has resulted in more slots for children from low-income communities.

This spring, the city replaced the test used to admit students with teacher recommendations and a lottery. According to the education department, 2,400 students got into the exclusive, accelerated programs this year, out of 10,000 applicants. Offers to students from poorer neighborhoods increased by 42% compared to last year, and programs in low-income communities with seats that usually went unused will now be full.

Officials said District 18 in Brooklyn, which spans Flatbush and Canarsie, saw a 256% increase in offers compared to last year. District 8, which covers Hunts Point in the Bronx, saw a 250% increase.

“This has been a year unlike any other and we are joining in with a more diverse group of families than ever before to celebrate their offers to one of the city’s Gifted and Talented programs,” said education department spokesperson Katie O’Hanlon.

However, only a quarter of the students seeking admission were offered a seat, and O’Hanlon said the administration would begin gathering feedback on how to overhaul G&T soon.

The Gifted and Talented program has long been a flashpoint in debates about segregation in the city’s public schools, and the hour-long test used to evaluate children entering kindergarten was especially controversial. Critics argued the exam was not age-appropriate, failed to measure true aptitude, and discriminated against students with fewer resources.

For the 2019-20 academic year, only 6% of the pre-schoolers accepted into the city’s G&T kindergarten classes were Black, and only 8% were Latino. Officials said they don’t have the racial demographics yet for the students who were offered seats this year.

Pressure to scrap the test had been mounting. In 2019, a diversity task force convened by Mayor Bill de Blasio recommended phasing out the current G&T program and replacing it with something else. Last winter, de Blasio said he wanted to eliminate the G&T test starting next year. But in a surprise move, a city education panel hastened the shift by rejecting the vendor’s contract for the test. Former Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza reportedly resigned after clashing with the mayor over plans to keep the test in place this spring.