City to End Gifted & Talented Tests for 4-Year-Olds After This Year

Photo by Stephen Harmon.

The gifted and talented tests that children take when they’re four years old will occur in April this year, but will no longer be given after that, the Department of Education said on Tuesday.

The controversial program is popular with Upper West Side parents. But it was seen as contributing to segregation.

“While the test will be scrapped next year, the future of the program is less clear; the DOE plans to spend the next year determining what it might look like through a community engagement process,” NY1 reported.

“For our youngest learners, we must move forward and develop a system that reimagines accelerated learning and enrichment,” NYC Department of Education spokeswoman Miranda Barbot told NY1. “At the same time, we want to honor the fact that families have been planning kindergarten admissions for many months now. We will develop new plans for identifying and serving exceptional students and release them for the next enrollment cycle.”

This is a developing story. We’ll have more on it as we get more information.

NEWS, SCHOOLS | 56 comments | permalink
    1. Arnie says:

      Dismantling the magnet system is a shame. Philadelphia did it in the 1980’s and those schools deteriorated very quickly (I know, I went to one). These moves to make the education system less segregated, while noble, will likely lower the quality of education and drive families from the city. The NYC renaissance was nice while it lasted.

    2. Wendy says:

      I’m so glad my kids are done with school. Richard Carranza is intent on destroying everything good about the NYC schools. Worst chancellor ever.

    3. lynn says:

      If the test is beneficial then why not make it available and adaptable for everyone instead of scrapping it altogether?

      • UWS Mom says:

        It is technically available for everyone but parents of means have more flexibility with their time and are more knowledge about the process, so they are favored. They also are able to act as advocates for their children and/or hire someone to do so. This makes the system slanted. Last but not least the tester’s inherent racial biases when administering the testing. With this age group kids don’t take written tests so it is impossible to separate the test taker from their physical appearance. I’m not an expert but from what little I know this seems to be the issue.

        • lynn says:

          Thank you for the feedback. Years ago I had a coworker who was in an absolute panic about her 4 year old being tested because it would in the long run determine which college she went to, but I’d forgotten about that process.

        • sg says:

          The fact that one set of parents knows more about a topic does not mean they are “favored”. Instead of ruining it for everyone, the objective should be to increase the awareness level.

      • Creative rational productive says:

        A constructive solution oriented question. The answers you got were incorrect. Smearing the group of testers as racist is ironic – if the objective is not to label a group qua being part of the group but rather on individual merit. The fact that Asian kids are described as passing the testing regularly tells you all you need to know about the supposed racism of the testers. Why not keep the G/T program and replace the underperforming schools with charter schools – allow parents to vote with their kids’ feet. Or better yet, give parents a credit for money spent in public school on them and allow parents to choose schools from those that you don’t need to test into. Close the ones that draw least enrollment union or no union howls and replace them with charter schools.

    4. Otis says:

      One more example of progressive bureaucrats destroying the city.

    5. Upper Best Side says:

      Getting rid of the test for kindergarten and starting the G and T program in a later grade is a good idea. Take the test out of the hands of parents and let schools administer to all students. If kids score high enough, let parents opt their kids in to a G and T class at that point. If all students were tested in school during the school day, say in 1st or 2nd grade, you would end up with a more diverse student body in both G and T and general education classrooms.

      • Far Uptown says:

        Except they are not starting at a later age, having removed middle school screens.

        I’m stunned that overnight the entire magnet school system no longer exists. Decades of work put the window. All those talented staff will be gone to the private system or other cities within 5 yrs. In reality affluent parents have choices and they are not going to screw around with education. This will segregate the school system even more and end up being seen as a devastating policy. Idiotic.

        • Josh says:

          Just because a teacher teaches G&T does t make them talented. It is obvious that you are not a teacher yourself. The gifted kids and the better behaved kids or actually the easiest students to teach. A talented teacher is able to combine classroom management with academic prowess. G&T kids tend to either be self motivated or have their parents behind them to provide motivation, further making them easier to teach. And before you tell me that I dont know what I am talking about- I am a DOE teacher who has been teaching both advanced students and general education students for a decade and a half.

        • Upper Best Side says:

          The middle school screens have been removed only for one year so far, due to the pandemic (no state test scores).

    6. Carlos says:

      Screened middle and high schools are critical and we must fight for them. At that point one can differentiate among kids. I am more skeptical about screening four year olds.

      Also, on the UWS, we are fortunate to have a number of excellent zoned schools – many parents at these schools don’t bother with the test or turn down placements. These programs are more important for students whose zoned schools are not as strong.

    7. Sedonim says:

      NO ONE who is familiar with OLSAT/NNAT thinks these tests accurately identify who will need advanced coursework in upper elementary school. NOBODY. It’s way past time to change, maybe to a gifted program in each zoned school, starting in 3rd grade.

    8. Richard Robbins says:

      This is great news. The idea of testing four year olds is absurd, and has contributed to the inequity in our school system. I cannot believe that four year olds of certain races are more gifted and talented than others. Yet the make up of the G&T classes does not reflect the demographics of our community. This makes me believe that some children are getting tutoring or home support in ways that others aren’t, and that these children then get opportunities not available to others, furthering the inequality in our system and our society. (It could also be that many parents of four year olds don’t even know about the test.) I’m not opposed to accelerated learning for children who can benefit (and the article doesn’t say that DOE is getting rid of G&T), but it shouldn’t be determined by a one-hour test given to a select group of four year olds.

      • S says:

        completely agree. a gifted and talented test for a 4 year old is absolutely ridiculous. these tests were purely for the wealthy parents and dummies who thought they would then get to send their kids to a “better” school. rubbish.

        • Juan says:

          Actually, there are several tiers of wealth. The truly wealthy send their kids to private school. The next tier buy or rent apartments in areas with strong zoned schools (such as the 70s and 80s on the UWS) so don’t need G&T. G&T families are often the next tier – often well-educated parents who are still “upper middle class” but live in areas without good zoned schools.

          • Patricia says:

            Good point – it actually isn’t the uber wealthy who benefit from G&T programs – it’s middle level parents of all ethnicities who can’t afford to enter the private school system. Instead of scarping it, they should expand it to an older grade of kids and perhaps expand the metrics they use for the kids. Skin color doesn’t predict G & T kids, and it would be a shame to lose the ability to find gifted kids of all economic and ethnic backgrounds .

    9. Jennifer Johnson says:

      I am a fan of the Montessori method. Let children who are more advanced help children who are younger grasp concepts and learn facts…They say that you don’t really know something until you can teach it.

      • Linda says:

        Gifted children are not responsible for teaching; they are responsible for learning.
        Your athletically-gifted child is not responsible for coaching, your musically-gifted child is not responsible for teaching music, and your artistically-gifted child is not responsible for teaching art.Give the tests at school to every KG and 2nd grader,
        jettison sibling preference,and fund NYCPS.
        and fund piblicschools so that they can improve!

        • Education First says:

          Totally. Your kid goes to school to learn, not be a teacher. Every child learns at their own speed. It’s very difficult for a teacher to have children with all different learning levels in the same classroom without the resources to provide for each group. DOE is not funding schools properly, how is a teacher supposed to help all the different learners. If the program is so great, why not expand it or make this “test” opt-out. Why make families jump through hoops and fight for seats? Make it universal. Good schools abound!

    10. UWS Craig says:

      These G&T tests are less a measure of student aptitude than they are a measure of privilege as evidenced by the demographics of the high-scorers. Specialized high school admission testing should be nixed next.

      • mike says:

        When I went to Stuyvesant, most of us were dirt poor. Do you have any proof for your baseless assertions?

      • Your bias is showing says:

        My mom went to one of these schools, Bronx science. She tested in. Her family was poor as poor – immigrants with nothing but keen on education for their kids. What is the basis for your assertion?

    11. Leslie says:

      The fact is you can most certainly tell if a young child is gifted if only by talking with them, hearing how they speak and their vocabulary. With that said the issue is giving young children in less affluent areas the same opportunity to succeed. That’s where we start

      Programs like Hunter have done this the best. They are independent of the city testing as they’ are supervised the college. But they have created probably the top public and surpass private school in the city which aims to be very inclusive.

      • JerryV says:

        Leslie, My experience is that the population of Hunter students is made up heavily of children of Hunter faculty. I would be cautious of following their “procedures”.

      • Carlos says:

        Hunter’s test for elementary school is extremely arbitrary. They take a holier than thou attitude about it but it is not really finding gifted kids, because it is not possible to know if a four year old is gifted. Plus it is very expensive.

        The kids who enter Hunter for 7th grade dramatically outperform those who have been there since K, even though the kids who have been there since K have theoretically benefitted from the wonders of the Hunter education for all those years.

      • Josh says:

        The test to get into Hunter is separate from the city, and also costs about $400 per student because it is administered by a child psychologist. Yes you can get financial aid for it, but you have to jump through hoops for it. So I would say it is not the best example.

    12. District6 says:

      How is this supposed to provide more equitable access to these high performance schools if with the same stroke it eliminates them?

    13. NN says:

      G&T testing doesn’t really test for child gifts or intelligence. It tests for parental involvement and resources, and the child’s ability to jump through hoops obediently. These are not predictors of intelligence but they are great predictors of children who will be less disruptive and therefore produce a quieter and more orderly classroom, in which they will all be able to learn better despite NYC’s outrageously large class sizes. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

      If we want to fix NYC public schools we need to give them more space and more teachers. Or in other words, more money. Anything else is just rearranging deck chairs.

      • chuck d says:

        You nailed it.

      • mike peccavi says:

        Why do you say that NYC schools need more money? The city’s budget per pupil = $31,000 per year, twice what the suburbs spend. Meanwhile, less than have the money actually reaches the school the rest stays at the level of DOE. Perhaps money has to be spent better?

    14. Wijmlet says:

      K-12 education should be improved for all New Yorkers.

    15. RK says:

      Don’t eliminate advanced learning! Change the admission process. Start the g&t later 2-3 grade and make sure there are such programs in all zip codes. The average level of NYC public education is ridiculously low. We are setting these kids for failure in this global world and increasing the advantage of private schools (the very wealthy). Who gains from deteriorating public schools and fewer opportunities??? The black and brown kids? Really?

      • Gilligan says:

        That makes sense in theory. But the problem with all of this is that 2/3 of the kids on the UWS get stuck in crappy schools, so if you wait until 3rd grade to test kids in those schools, they are likely to already be way behind. It’s sad to say, but there are schools on the UWS that have been bad for decades and will be bad for decades to come. The kids suffer, and making everyone ‘equal’ by eliminating G&T programs (or applications to middle school, or the SHSAT) only gets rid of good schools and makes the rest of them mediocre or worse.

        • UWS Dad says:

          You are correct in that there are definitely underperforming schools on the UWS. The problem is that no one at the DOE will recognize this fact. They would rather make a host of changes at the upper levels (middle school, high school, etc.) without addressing the root of the problem. Many of our elementary schools are failing our students, yet the DOE will keep claiming that all of our district schools have something to offer everyone.

          • Capitalism says:

            If underperforming schools would allow parents to vote with their feet and join charter schools… but it’s a monopoly stranglehold by the teachers union. Capitalism – and accountability – is effective when allowed to operate. No wonder charter schools and private schools do better – the market is merciless – the teachers union has no such check. Or more aptly a blank check.

    16. Andrew says:

      Getting rid of a program that tests 4 year olds is fine, it’s more a measure of how well kids have been prepared and obviously favors rich people. But on the topic of Carranza, he was 2nd choice to begin with and has been in over his head from day 1, hopefully whomever becomes mayor this year will get rid of him and bring in someone who has actual ideas on how to improve things, not just a desire to dismantle what currently exists.

      • charles back says:

        Liberal parents become very conservative when it comes to the welfare of their own children. Who can blame them?

        Goodbye to the NYC public schools.

    17. JerryV says:

      Early identification of gifted and talented children is essential for our society. We all are politically equal but not intellectually equal. Gifted children come in all genders and in all races. I suggest that teachers in pre-school and kindergarten become responsible for identifying such children.

      • Josh says:

        The issue is that most of the students who get into the G&T program are not gifted but have rather been coached. The system is flawed.

    18. chuck d says:

      Anyone who ever went through the process with their children knows it was a sham to keep our educational apartheid going. Go witness one sometime, it is shockingly white and asian.

      What it really does, though, is excuses the under-funding of the school system in general. It would be completely unnecessary if we would just spend the money to hire more teachers, more specialized teachers, and have smaller classrooms.

      Instead we have private schools that function as country clubs for the wealthy conservatives, G&T for liberal strivers, and feral schools for the rest

      • UWSparent says:

        There are 16,000 children in G&T classes out of 1,100,000 NYC public school students. G&T classes are a rounding error. My child is in a G&T class on the UWS. It’s like the United Nations. The diversity is incredible. Children whose parents are Indian, Chinese, Korean, German and on and on, all in one class of about 30 kids. (The food on cultural heritage days is amazing!) The common thread is that the parents believe that it’s the best education a child can receive in NYC short of private school. And it is. And yes, many of them pay $3,000 or $4,000 to have them tutored for the exam. But since private school is $55,000 per year (for 13 years…per child…before college and graduate school), it’s an incredible bargain. Are all the kids gifted? Certainly not. It’s a silly system and should be reformed, but it is practically inconsequential given the numbers involved. Eliminating the program will fix none of the problems that plague the NYC public school system, and those 16,000 students (again, a very diverse group…but not black or brown or socioeconomically diverse) will simply leave the city.

        • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

          reply to UWSParent:

          $3,000 to $4,000 to tutor a 4 year old for an exam? diverse but “not Black and Brown and not socioeconomically diverse”?

          I would say you just unintentionally indicted the G&T system. But i give you props for being honest about what is going on.

          • UWSparent says:

            Not unintentional at all. It’s ridiculous, but also totally inconsequential given the numbers of students involved.

      • mike says:

        What proof do you have that schools are underfunded? NYC spends $31K per pupil per year, twice as much as the suburbs spend, and 5x more than the tuition that Catholic school which my nephew attends in NYC charges. Perhaps the money is inefficiently spent?

    19. Nicholas M Archer says:

      “controversial,” “contributing to segregation,””community engagement,” “reimagine”…what nonsense.

    20. MiddleClassTaxpayer says:

      The wealthy already have their choice of private schools. This move just pushes more middle class out of the city. Those parents will buy a place in Chappaqua or Armonk and send their kids to the highly rated public schools there and you will only be left with the private school parents and everyone else who could not afford a house in the burbs.

      • GoodCall says:

        Yep, this is what I will be doing in about 3-5 years time.

      • Sarah says:

        Median home value in Chappaqua is nearly a million. In Armonk it’s closer to a million and a half. If you’re buying a home there, you aren’t middle class.

        Love the assumption that of course *your* little darlings will be gifted. If it were simply a matter of inherent aptitude that would hardly be assured, now would it? Almost as if some other factors are involved.

    21. Anon says:

      “For our youngest learners, we must move forward and develop a system that reimagines accelerated learning and enrichment,” NYC Department of Education spokeswoman Miranda Barbot told NY1.

      That sounds nice but do they have a plan for this new system that reimagines accelerated learning and enrichment? If not why dismantle to old, admittedly flawed, system in favor of …..nothing.

    22. stu says:

      There are numerous nuances to this issue. But note that a large percentage of the G&T kids are not from affluent families, but rather from middle class families who cannot afford private schools and want to stay in the city for professional and social reasons. The families we know who took part in the process did not provide their kids with special tutoring or classes. Rather, these are families that value good education and stress reading and learning in their homes. Are they brighter than other kids? Maybe. Maybe not. But I can tell you that without the G&T program, these kids are truly bored and suffer in the regular elementary schools on the UWS, and many families do eventually move out of the city because their kids are not challenged outside of the G&T program, and they need a better public school system. This move will chase more of these middle class families out of the city, no question.

      • I’m stunned that overnight the entire magnet school system no longer exists. Decades of work out the window. All those talented staff will be gone to the private system or other cities within 5 yrs

    23. Christine E says:

      So after all the drama of relocating PS452 from a shared campus with the Anderson School (a K-8 G&T for kids scoring 99%+ on the G&T test), DOE effectively is phasing out the Anderson School.
      If only DOE could plan ahead (*gasp*), PS452 never would have had to move.

    24. C. Crawford says:

      As a former teacher, I can attest to the fact that teaching is focused on the “middle” of the class with a little extra extended to the top and bottom students. So, the higher the top and/or the lower the bottom, abilities of the students, the slower the progress of the entire class.