The city Department of Education informed parents of students in the gifted and talented programs at PS 203 in Oakland Gardens that they will not be given admission as a group to middle school and will have to reapply to stay in the program.
“The DOE blindsided the parents who have children currently in these gifted and talented elementary school programs,” said parent Sandie Santos. “The parents at PS 203 were just notified this past November, one month before the middle school applications were due, that they were no longer going as a group into their middle school, MS 74, as they did last year.”
The DOE argues the change makes the gifted and talented program more equitable and allows more students to be considered for the program in middle school who were not part of it in elementary school.
The same issue occurred at PS 166 in Long Island City last winter, where students were not guaranteed automatic promotion to middle school as they had been in the past. The Community Education Council in District 30 fought the DOE on the plan and the department deferred the plan to force students to reapply until 2019.
Santos said she’s hoping for a similar outcome at PS 203, but applications to middle school are due on Dec. 13, giving them only a limited amount of time to change the DOE’s mind.
She felt that the DOE also needs to add more gifted and talented classes to District 26, which covers Northeast Queens, noting that over 1,000 students have scored at level 4 or higher in math or English districtwide, but less than 200 gifted and talented seats exist.
“The only equitable solution would be to deal with the real issue and create more gifted and talented middle-school seats for all our high-achieving students, not punish them and leave them without a gifted and talented program,” Santos said. “The DOE should be held accountable, in creating these programs, to find seats for every qualified students not reshuffle and displace them.”