G&T exam to be replaced by teacher evaluations, lottery for this year

Admission to the G&T programs will rely on teacher evaluations and a lottery system for next year.

In lieu of the contentious Gifted and Talented exam for this coming school year, the city announced this week that it will move to a model in which preschool educators identify students to be entered into a randomized lottery for seats.

In January, Mayor de Blasio announced that he would be changing the admission model of the city’s G&T programs, which are determined by a high-stakes exam administered to children as young as 4. 

Starting March 8, families will be able to submit a form expressing interest in enrolling their child in kindergarten G&T programs. Then preschool teachers will complete a questionnaire that will determine whether each student will be eligible for the randomized lottery that will ultimately determine admission.

Siblings of students in schools with G&T programs will have priority for admission, as has been true in the past. 

For families who are not yet enrolled in a prekindergarten program, the Department of Education suggested that interested families should sign up for a seat in a program now in order to complete the assessment. If families are not interested in doing that, then they can still apply for a slot by holding a virtual interview with the DOE’s Early Childhood team.

The announcement concludes several weeks of uncertainty about how the city would admit kindergarteners into the program in the final year of its current iteration. Every year on average, there are a combined 2,500 G&T kindergarten seats for around 15,000 applicants, according to the DOE.

The mayor’s plan to administer the exam one last time before overhauling the G&T programs was disrupted by the Panel for Educational Policy, a mayor- and borough president-appointed body, which voted against the city’s test contract with Pearson education service.

De Blasio has said through the spring and summer, parents, elected officials and city stakeholders will hold an “intensive public engagement process” that will determine the future of the program. He and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza stressed that they intend to create programming that is more inclusive, focused on enrichment opportunities and incorporates the new technology that has become a central part of public schooling during the pandemic.

The mayor’s move away from the G&T exam model follows the recommendations of the Schools Diversity Advisory Group, which released a 2019 report detailing racial disparities in the programs and recommending the exam’s eventual removal.

The question over what an alternative to the programs would look like remains largely open-ended.

But the process won’t go forward without resistance. Pro-G&T expansion advocates have already mobilized against the DOE’s announcement over the admission standards.

“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,” read a statement by PLACE NYC, a group that has advocated maintaining academic screens across the public school system.

Parents who are interested in applying for the G&T programs next year can find out more information about submitting a form of interest at schools.nyc.gov/enrollment/enroll-grade-by-grade/gifted-and-talented.

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