New York City to Phase out its Gifted and Talented Program

Mayor Bill de Blasio has resisted changing the city’s gifted and talented program for nearly eight years. His schools chancellor, Meisha Porter, at his right, helped convince him to overhaul the system. Credit…Anna Watts for The New York Times

Starting the next school year, New York City will cut its program for the gifted and talented. Critics say this program favors whites and Asian Americans students, while enrolling few Blacks and Latino children.

The program currently admits 2,500 students a year out of 65,000 kindergartners citywide. It is a screening test given to 4-year-olds to identify gifted and talented students.

Mayor Bill de Blasio is all for it and says the change will help tens of thousands get advanced instructions instead of just a few. “The era of judging 4-year-olds based on a single test is over,” he said in a statement. “Every New York City child deserves to reach their full potential, and this new, equitable model gives them that chance.”

The city will instead train all kindergarten teachers to provide accelerated learning in which students use more advanced skills such as robotics, computer coding, community organizing or advocacy on projects while staying in their regular classrooms. The city will also screen students going into third grade to determine if they would benefit from accelerated learning in various subjects while staying in their classrooms.

Parents and others are voicing their opinion of the decision—some pro and some anti.

Because of term limits, de Blasio will leave office at the end of the year and much of the work to implement the changes could fall on his successor. But who knows, the next mayor could change the program.

– Ella Breedlove