New York City to Replace Gifted and Talented Programs


Photo Credits: PBS News

Alexis Briggeman, journalist

Starting in 3rd grade, children sit down and take a 30-minute test that decides whether they are qualified for the California Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) program. This pattern continues until 5th grade when testing for gifted students stops. In New York City a similar pattern ensues however they begin testing in kindergarten and conclude testing in 2nd grade. The NYC school system then administers additional tests in middle school and high school to certain students based on the previous test scores they received when they were young. New York City Mayor, Bill de Blasio, released a plan today to phase out the New York City Gifted and Talented program on grounds that it intensifies segregation and that the test alone is not fit to determine a child’s intelligence.

De Blasio, with only 3 months left of his term, stated that it would be up to the next mayor to continue carrying out these plans. New York City has schools specifically for GATE students and although the New York City public school system is 66% Hispanic and Black, the majority of students attending the gifted schools are Asian, the second most being white, according to the New York City Council website. The reason for this is that wealthier families will pay for tutors to ensure their child’s admittance into a gifted school which leaves less affluent families behind. Junior Maddie Canfield also points out that, “testing at such a young age could create insecurities in some students when they compare themselves to their peers that are GATE students.” This test no longer seemed able to correctly determine a child’s intelligence, therefore reform had to be made.

“Brilliant NYC”, the name for the program de Blasio developed, plans to train teachers to accommodate students in the class who need accelerated learning. In addition, they will stop using exams to test the children’s knowledge, and instead rising 3rd graders will be assessed on whether they need specified higher-level instruction incorporated into their schedule by teacher recommendation and their performance in class. Jumaane Williams, a public advocate stated that “We can’t just rest and rely on the way things have been, we need to have the courage and drive to move forward.”

This plan has not been solidified yet as it still has to be carried out by the newly elected mayor, Eric Adams, but the effects of this plan could be astronomical. As standardized testing like the ACT and SAT are being phased out it raises the question of how effective testing is to determine a student’s intelligence equally and justly. Will these new systems be more equitable than the ones before them or will the wealthy find a way to crack the code again?