Four Point Plan includes doubling number of citywide Gifted & Talented Schools
Adding 6,000 new seats to district programs

City Hall – Today, Speaker Christine C. Quinn was joined by Council Committee on Education Chair Robert Jackson, Council Members, education advocates and parents to present her 4 point plan to reform New York City’s gifted and talented system so that the program is more representative of the New York City public school population and that there more seats for children that qualify for the program. Speaker Quinn also announced ways to make the application and admissions process easier for all families.

Specifically, Speaker Quinn called on the Department of Education to:
1. Increase total number of Gifted and Talented seats across the city;
2. Use local norms to assess qualifications for district programs;
3. Align parent notification timing with private/parochial school deposit deadlines; and
4. Move toward multiple measures of assessing giftedness after kindergarten

“This new plan will allow the Department of Education to take important steps immediately to ensure all children across the city have an equal opportunity to be a part of gifted and talented programs,” said Speaker Quinn. “There are gifted, talented and promising children in all neighborhoods in all five boroughs, and the City needs to do a better job of identifying these children and providing the resources to accommodate them.”

Speaker Quinn presented her plan the Red Room at City Hall and was joined by Council Members Stephen Levin, Maria del Carmen Arroyo, Jumaane D. Williams, Oliver Koppell, Julissa Ferreras, Ruben Wills as well as Professor of Gifted and Talented Education at Teachers College Dr. Jim Borland, Co-founding Member of Parents’ Alliance for Citywide Education Joli Golden and Dr. Angela Moses of the St. Paul Community Baptist Church and Executive Director of the organization E.D.I.F.Y. (Empower, Develop & Improve Families and Youth) .

Increase the Number of Gifted and Talented Seats Across the City

Speaker Quinn proposed increasing the number of district program seats available, and ensure that there are at least two full kindergarten sections of gifted and talented classes in every district. The plan would add approximately 6,000 seats to district programs.

The Speaker called for doubling the number of K-8 citywide programs so that there are two citywide schools in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx, three in Manhattan, and one on Staten Island. Currently, the Bronx and Staten Island have no citywide gifted and talented schools. This would add approximately 2,700 seats to citywide gifted and talented schools.

Use Local Norms to Determine Eligibility for District Programs

Speaker Quinn proposed the DOE determine eligibility for district programs using local norms, where all students scoring in the 90th percentile or higher qualify for programs in their district. Currently, eligibility for both citywide and district programs is determined using citywide norms.

Speaker Quinn also outlined her plan for DOE to do extensive outreach to leaders in communities currently underrepresented in the gifted and talented program through partnerships with community based organizations, religious institutions, medical providers, preschools, and other child care programs.

Speaker Quinn set a goal of increasing the number of students taking the tests in all underrepresented districts each year by 800-1200 children.

Move toward Multiple Measures of Assessing Giftedness
Speaker Quinn called for the DOE to fill under enrolled district gifted and talented kindergarten classes with students who are recommended by kindergarten teachers across the district. She also proposed filling seats in any grade opened through attrition with students recommended by teachers.

Additionally, Speaker Quinn proposed additional gifted and talented class sections for students in older grades in established gifted and talented programs and fill those sections through a process that includes multiple measures including teacher recommendations, parent observation, portfolio review, and test scores.

Improve the Timing of the Process and Communication with Families

Speaker Quinn called for the acceleration of the admissions notification timeline so families know if their child is eligible for gifted and talented programs before the deposit deadline at independent and parochial schools. This year, families found out on April 6th about whether or not their child scored the minimum score to qualify for gifted and talented. However, deposits at many private and parochial schools for kindergartners were due on February 15th and are non-refundable.

There will be some costs associated with an increase in the number of students being tested in currently underrepresented districts. Currently, the DOE pays approximately $243 per student for this assessment. Additionally, there will be costs around opening new schools, which the DOE does annually and already budgets for. Based on FY 2013 numbers, the average total cost of opening a new school is approximately $311,699 total after the entire phase-in.

“The DOE’s current system for handling the Gifted & Talented admissions and placement process is inadequate. As it stands now, the G&T demographics pool is not reflected of the talent and high achievement that is found in students across the city,” said Council Member Robert Jackson, Chair of the Education Committee. “The proposed four point plan put forth by the Speaker increases the capacity of this program to cater to the needs of eligible, talented students city-wide. The addition of more seats, the use of alternative assessments for entry and streamlining the application for parents helps maximize parents’ opportunities to access programs that will ensure their child’s academic success.”

“These are practical and positive proposals that New York City parents can also be supportive of,” said Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, Chair of the Assembly’s Education Committee. “I am happy to work with Speaker Quinn on these proposals, just as we did with mandatory kindergarten legislation.”

“When we create pathways to success through our public education system, the benefits will reverberate throughout the community,” said Council Member Jumaane D. Williams. “I believe this to be true for expanding our city’s gifted and talented programs to reach the untapped potential in communities of more color. There is a forty percent gap between the percentage of black and Latinos in our overall student population versus that in our gifted programs. We all know that every child, regardless of racial background, has the same capacity for greatness, so it is our responsibility in government to close this gap. I may not be where I am today without the education I received at the Philippa Schuyler Middle School for the Gifted and Talented and Brooklyn Technical High School, where I had teachers that worked with my Tourette’s syndrome and ADHD to cultivate my potential. I am happy we are starting a conversation on how to open the door to high-level learning for every child through a holistic and targeted approach.”

“I want to thank Speaker Quinn for her understanding and commitment to ensuring every child in our City receives a strong academic preparation,” said Council Member Maria del Carmen Arroyo. “We need to recognize that there are gifted and talented children in every neighborhood and ensure that we’re doing everything we can to identify those children and push and challenge them to reach their maximum potential. My children were afforded the opportunity to attend a gifted and talented program in District 7 in the Bronx. The program exposed them to learning experiences that prepared them to succeed academically in their higher learning years.”

“The DOE needs to be more effective in the application and admission process for their Gifted and Talented program,” said Council Member Helen Foster. “These proposed changes will ensure that all communities in New York City get a fair chance to be selected.”

“By increasing the number of Gifted and Talented programs, many more New York City children will get the education they need to excel in the classroom and become leaders in our community,” said Council Member Annabel Palma. “I applaud Speaker Quinn for putting together a plan that will help more children reach their full potential.”