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BPs Adams, Diaz: Brooklyn and Bronx kids deserve equal access to Gifted & Talented school programs

Report Recommends Expanding Programs, Testing and Test Prep

June 22, 2017 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. released a report on Wednesday outlining their proposals to eliminate disparities in gifted education in New York City. They presented their findings at Tweed Courthouse alongside task force members Steven Francisco (left) and Geneal Chacon (rear). Photo by Erica Sherman/Brooklyn BP’s Office
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Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. released a joint report on Wednesday outlining their proposals to make admission to the city’s Gifted & Talented (G&T) programs and specialized high schools more equitable. 

Admission to gifted programs in kindergarten, first or second grade can increase the odds of getting accepted to selective middle schools and high schools. Black and Latino students have been far less likely white and Asian students to test for and be accepted into the competitive programs, however, though the city is working to change this.

“When it comes to gifted and talented education in New York City, the math does not add up. Our analysis clearly shows a historical inequity in delivering high-quality educational opportunities to students across the five boroughs,” Adams said in a statement.

In March, parents testified at hearings in Brooklyn and the Bronx about their experiences in trying to get their child into the city’s G&T programs.

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“Access to gifted and talented programs and specialized high schools can no longer be allowed to be dictated by one’s ZIP code; parents who live in Belmont and Brownsville should expect the same grade-A programming and enrichment as parents in Tribeca,” Adams said. 

Most G&T programs end in the 5th grade, though some continue through 8th grade. 

Blacks and Hispanics are also underrepresented in the city’s eight elite specialized high schools. Less than 10 percent of the students at the schools — such as Brooklyn Tech and Stuyvesant High School — are black or Hispanic, though these groups make up almost 70 percent of the population. Admission is based solely on the results of one high-stakes test.

To increase fairness, DOE announced in January it was altering the specialized high school test by removing a section called “scrambled paragraphs,” which is likely to be taught only by private tutors. The test will be longer and retain the same level of overall difficulty.

In an attempt to increase diversity at the lower level, elementary schools across the city were invited to participate in a pilot program for students applying for the 2017-18 school year. This year, Brooklyn School of Inquiry in District 20 (Borough Park, Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights) will give priority to applicants eligible for Free Reduced Lunch for 40 percent of their seats. The children must still score at the same high level on the test.


Report’s Recommendations

Recommendations in the joint report include requiring that all communities have equal access to G&T programs in kindergarten; that all students in public pre-K programs be tested for G&T programs; that every student who qualifies for a G&T program be given a seat in their community; and that K-8 and middle school G&T classes be expanded across the city. 

The report also recommends that DOE provide free busing across boroughs at the elementary level to provide better access to G&T programs; that all students have access to free or reduced-cost test prep for the specialized high schools; and that a single test not be the only source of admission to the specialized high schools. 

The report (which can be found at is the work of the borough presidents’ Gifted & Talented Education Task Force.


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