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The due date for Gifted and Talented applications for qualifying elementary school students is Friday, April 30. Among the hundreds who submitted comments to Insideschools on this topic, some raised questions and asked us to clarify. Thanks to all the posters who chimed in to answer one another!
Here are a few of the questions and what we've been able to find out:
- Parents reported conflicting information on the applications about whether qualifying kindergartners and 1st graders are guaranteed a seat in a district program. Kindergarten and 1st graders are guaranteed a seat if they list all programs; 2nd and 3rd graders are only placed if there is space available. There is no guarantee of placement in a citywide program.
- At least one parent reported that her district options on the online application were different than those on the paper application. The DOE did not confirm that this was a problem (although they said it might be if the parent had moved or had a different address.) Bottom line: to be safe, compare the options on the paper application with those online. If they are different, double-check with the enrollment office.
- Do children scoring 99 fill all the citywide seats? It is true that while a child scoring at the 97% and above is eligible for a citywide program, there are many more children scoring 99 than there are seats available at the most popular citywide and district programs. When there are more eligible applicants within a percentile than available seats, slots are randomly assigned in that percentile. There is no such thing as a high or low 99%.
- Parents asked about openings in the citywide programs, especially in the older grades. Here's what we found out: Anderson has 50 seats for kindergarten, but about 10 of them will be taken by siblings, leaving 39 or 40 seats for non-siblings. Anderson anticipates two seats open for 1st graders, one in grade 2, and none in grade 3. NEST+M only has openings for kindergarten. TAG has 50 openings for kindergarten and between 12-20 seats for grades 1-3. Last year the lowest score accepted at TAG was 97; however this year the school may accept students with scores lower than 97 as well, the parent coordinator said. TAG is the only G&T program in its district. STEM at PS 85 in Queens has only 13 students in its kindergarten class this year and will take up to two incoming kindergarten classes for next year (depending upon demand.) The Brooklyn School of Inquiry anticipates accepting two classes of 28 kindergartners and will have 3-5 openings in both grades 1 and 2.
- Can you decline a seat offered at one school and be considered for a seat at another school if one opens up? According to the G&T office: "Offers are final and there is no wait list. Parents must either accept or decline the offer of placement."
We'll post further information if we get it. Keep us informed as you get news.
Tour dates for schools that will be offering G&T programs in 2010 are now posted on the Department of Education's website. Click here to see the links for each borough, and for a list of all the programs. Tours are being held this week and next; the deadline for submitting an application is April 30.
A quick look at the DOE's list shows that there are some new -- and returning -- district programs opening up next fall. Many of these are in schools that had programs in the past and still have G&T classes in the upper grades but did not accept incoming kindergarten classes in 2009. (Click here to see a list of 2009-2010 elementary schools with G&T classes by grade.) Some programs -- especially the new ones -- do not have posted tour dates, so check the DOE website for updates or contact the school.
Here's a borough breakdown of G&T programs offering kindergarten classes in September 2010 that do not have kindergarten classes this school year, according to the posted list.
The Bronx: In District 11 PS 153 is back on the list. (Last year they did not have an incoming kindergarten class.) Once again this year there are no programs listed in Bronx districts 7 or 9. (Generally, if fewer than 10 students meet the cut-off score for G&T, no district program is offered and qualifying students go to schools in neighboring districts.)
Brooklyn: In Brooklyn's District 19, PS 677, the East NY School of Excellence, an early childhood school which opened in 2009, is listed with a G&T program. In District 20, a new school, PS 748, will open with a gifted program. In District 22, PS 195, which did not take an incoming kindergarten gifted program last year, is back on the list, while PS 206, which has a G&T gifted class this year, is not.
Queens: PS 153, in District 24, will have a program (although, interestingly, a footnote mentions that the 1st grade class will share a large classroom with another teacher and class.) Programs will also open in District 24 at PS 229 and PS 873/290, a new school set to open in September. In District 25, PS 165 will have an incoming kindergarten (they do not have one this year.) In District 26, PS 115 will have a kindergarten program (this year it only has 1st and 2nd grades). In District 28, PS 144 will have G&T kindergarten.
Staten Island: No new programs are listed.
For more information about the G&T process, check out the handbook.
Do you have additional information to share? Please comment below.
Score reports and applications for students who qualified for kindergarten and 1st grade gifted and talented programs are to be sent no later than today, April 16, according to the Department of Education.Letters will be mailed to eligible students who then must fill out an application for seats in district or citywide programs. Applications are due by April 30. Students won't find out where they are offered a seat until early June -- late in the game for many families who are weighing other options.
Incoming kindergartners and 1st graders who score at or above the 90th percentile are guaranteed a seat in a district program, providing they list every available G&T program on their application. Children who score at or above the 97th percentile are eligible for the five citywide programs but not guaranteed a seat. In the past, only children scoring at the highest percentile -- 98 or 99-- were accepted at the most sought-after Manhattan programs: Anderson and NEST+M.
No word yet from the DOE about how many children qualified for gifted programs this year. Last year 3,231 incoming kindergartners were eligible, 22% of those who sat for the tests. We have yet to see the 2010 district-by-district breakdown although we have heard unofficially from a few districts that have their results.
In District 10, which covers Riverdale and other Bronx neighborhoods, the number of children qualifying for district programs was down from last year, according to Marvin Shelton, a member of the District 10 parent council. He said 73 incoming kindergartners, and 47 entering 1st-graders, qualified. That's compared to 88 kindergartners who were eligible for district programs last year, according to the DOE"s spreadsheet.
In Brooklyn's District 20, we heard, unofficially, that close to 220 incoming kindergartners qualified for either a district or citywide program. That's higher than the 192 who qualified last year. More than 100 incoming 1st graders are eligible for a citywide or district seat.
We've asked the DOE for the statistics on how many students applied for G&T and how many qualified, as well as the district breakdown. We'll post the information as soon as we get it.
For those of you awaiting a letter, let us know when you get it. Please comment below.
A host of parental postings on this blog in recent weeks have included the following concern: “My child has so much homework and gets so little sleep that I feel really sorry for him/her.”
High expectations mean that students will be expected to keep up with what in some cases might feel like a daunting work load, while adjusting to huge schools filled with ambitious classmates and teachers who may not have time to get to know them.
Beyond academics, exciting opportunities exist at the schools for everything from research to sports and clubs, so it’s not surprising for students to feel a little lost and overwhelmed. Some will thrive, despite long commutes and challenging courses. Others will flounder.
7th 8th and 9th-graders will learn if they scored high enough on the SHSAT (Specialized High Schools Admissions Test) exam to win acceptance at one eight specialized high schools in New York City that requires a test (the ninth, LaGuardia, admits students based on an audition.) Getting in is just the first hurdle, though, and many parents and kids will need to do a little more investigating and some soul searching to be sure the school will be a good fit.
There are plenty of articles that describe how good these schools are; US News & World Report, for example, just looked at the friendly rivalry between Bronx Science and Stuyvesant, and noted all the Nobel Prize winners and other luminaries who are graduates of both.
But what’s life really like inside the specialized schools, including some of the newer ones that get less publicity? Insideschools would like parents (and kids) who attend these schools to be honest and post helpful insights.
“Think about what all the pressure does to these kids,’’ the mother of a Bronx Science student told me, noting that her child’s workload has a big impact on family life. The sophomore routinely has two to four hours of homework a night and as much as seven hours on weekends.
Informal conversations reveal that many parents are shocked at the amount of drugs and alcohol at the specialized schools. (In fairness, you may hear this complaint about any high school in the city; what’s different is the parents of these very bright and ambitious kids say they did not expect it to be part of the culture.)
“These kids have already been weeded out [intellectually] but they still have all the curiosity of adolescence, and they while they may not want to talk about the pressure they are under, they might choose adult things like alcohol and drugs for an escape,’’ a Bronx Science parent noted. “They still have immature brains, but they think they can handle it.”
Parents have expressed concerns about the uneven quality of teaching, a concern at all high schools, since the quality of a teacher sets the tone and is considered the single most important factor for student success.
There’s also another question for parents whose children get into the specialized schools but are also weighing other choices: If your child is not oriented toward math and science, where most specialized schools are especially strong, will they get as rich an education? Do humanities teachers care as passionately about literature, history, and the quality of writing? Are the arts encouraged and celebrated? Can creative types flourish with the lab rats?
Are there any parents, or kids, who attend a specialized high school and wished they’d known what they were getting into beforehand? Would the same decision be made? What else can you share with parents and students who are trying to decide?
What can I do if a teacher intentionally lowers my son's grades? He is in the 2nd grade of the gifted and talented class. At the parent teacher conference the teacher said that my son was doing very well - reading on a 3rd grade level, But she did mention some issues with his behavior. When we got the report card, it had only 1's and 2's! We think she intentionally lowered his grades because of his behavior. What should we do? Please advise.
The simplest solution is to make an appointment to discuss the report card with the teacher. Most schools use a uniform report card and use specific standards to decide on grades. That is hard in 2nd grade because there are no state standardized tests on which to base a grade. In 2nd grade, however, there are progress assessments to help the teacher form a judgment.
Some teachers and some schools give low grades in the first marking period to give the kids an incentive to work harder. You should find out if that is the policy in your school, or if that was the teacher's intention. And, ask more specifically about what progress measures the teacher used to give him his grades. Bring the issue to the principal if you get no satisfaction.
Your letter implies that the teacher lowered his grades because of his behavior. This should not be - there are two separate issues here. As the teacher of a gifted class, perhaps she has unrealistic expectations. She should know that lots of young boys have trouble settling down in school; they are naturally active and find it difficult to sit still for long. However, if there is a real problem with your son being disruptive or inattentive, you should work with him and the teacher to address the situation.
He will face all kinds of teachers with all kinds of rules and he has to accept that and adjust to them. If you think the overall tone of the classroom is too strict, consider discussing the problem with other parents in the class so that you can bring many voices to the principal for a discussion of the problem.
Good luck for a more balanced assessment in 2010.
As parents seeking enlightenment about the city's public school gifted and talented offerings crowd into information sessions this week (tonight in Queens; tomorrow night in Manhattan), a new private school is recruiting students whose families are able to pay up to $28,000 for a G&T education.
The New York Times reports the opening this fall of the Speyer Legacy School on Manhattan's Upper West Side with 26 students in kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grade. According to the article, 76 children applied for the slots. This contrasts with the 14,822 youngsters who tested for the public programs last year. Of those, 1,345 scored at the 97th percentile or above, qualifying them for 325 seats in citywide programs.
Meanwhile Hunter College Elementary School, open only to Manhattan residents, had 1832 applicants for 50 kindergarten seats.
The assessment process is different for private and public programs, and experts continue to debate the value of testing children as young as 4 years old. However, the demand for such programs is clearly there....will the supply increase? According to the Department of Education, the opening of new citywide programs is still under consideration.
Parents who plan to test their kids for Gifted and Talented programs may attend Department of Education information sessions to learn details about the G&T process, from test to placement. Evening sessions - one in each borough - are held in schools with large auditoriums. Parents generally fill up the seats quickly, so plan to go early. The sessions run from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The first session is tomorrow, Oct. 14, in the Bronx at Roosevelt High School. Next week there are four sessions: In Brooklyn at MS 113 on Oct. 19, on Staten Island on Oct. 20 at New Dorp High School; in Queens on Oct. 21 at Long Island City High School; and in Manhattan on Oct. 22 at Brandeis High School.
Reminder: the deadline to request a ticket to the test is Nov. 6. A Request for Testing form (RFT) is included in the handbook, and you may file it online or at your child's school. You can read the handbook online or pick up a copy at your neighborhood school. Non-public school parents may pick up the testing form and handbook at a Borough Enrollment Office and must file it there. A sample OLSAT test is included.
Handbooks in translations to eight languages will be online soon, according to the DOE. The languages translated by the DOE are Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Haitian Creole, Korean, Russian, Spanish, and Urdu.
Let us know if you plan to go. If you do, please share what you learn about the process!
My daughter just started kindergarten at our zoned school in Brooklyn, which has a wonderful reputation. Last week, we attended the curriculum conference for her class, where the teacher outlined what the kids will learn this year. She told us that kids will learn their letter sounds, and learn to count. Well, our daughter is already reading chapter books, and able to add, subtract, and multiply. I e-mailed the teacher asking if we could sit down to discuss my daughter's situation. She denied me a meeting stating, "I just think that at this point my goal is to now let your daughter's development unfold in the classroom." I was very distraught by this response. I have a 13-year-old stepson, and have never been denied a meeting by a teacher.
Dear Distraught Dad,
Kindergarten teachers are usually more open to parent input than you describe, but it is early in the term. Give the teacher time; she has to learn all about the 25 eager new kids who show up every day. Heed what she said in her e-mail about letting your daughter's development unfold in the classroom.
It's a thoughtful comment, she is going to pay attention to your child, and your child will demonstrate her skills under her watchful eye. She is going to notice the books that your daughter brings to school, and her quick response to numbers. She is going to develop a strategy for her and for other kids in the class with advanced skills, as well as work with those who need catching up.
What if she turns out not to be the ideal teacher I just described? What if she turns out to be an inflexible person who doesn't know how to adjust to individual kids? Make certain to attend the parent - teacher conferences next month, at most schools that will be Nov. 9 or 10, where you will be able to discuss your concerns with her.
By that time, you'll have an idea about how your daughter is progressing and so will the teacher. If there is a problem, she most probably will have heard similar complaints from other parents. If her response is still unsatisfactory, it may be time to organize a delegation to see the principal.
But, think about the remedy you would like. Most schools don't let kids change their classroom and hardly any "skip" kids to the next grade. But, kids who are getting bored or acting out should be challenged with extra work. Perhaps she, and others in the class on her level, can be "grouped" to do more advanced work. Perhaps they could sit in on a 1st grade class during math time, or be part of an after school math or reading club.
And of course, don't forget the importance of play. There are numerous studies that show a relationship between play-- pretend and social --and cognitive development. Maybe a remedy you should seek should include more opportunities for imaginative play. At home you can enjoy the fun of playing with your daughter while helping her continue along her fast learning track.
If this scenario sounds too pat, and your daughter is showing signs of acting out or losing interest in school, get the guidance counselor involved. Some schools have grade leaders, reading specialists, or coaches who are there to support teachers and, hopefully, to support you.
One other option: consider applying to a Gifted & Talented program for next year. The request for testing forms are online now and, if she is scores at the 90th percentile or above, she will be guaranteed a slot in a district G&T program for 1st grade, assuming you rank all the options in your district on your application. However since her current school is well-regarded, your family might prefer the convenience of attending the neighborhood school over traveling across the district for a G&T program. In that case, she might be better off, sitting tight where she is. Since she is a fast learner, she is likely to thrive anywhere!
Students who score at the 97th percentile or above are eligible for citywide programs, but last year, because of the large number of students qualifying, only children scoring in the 99th percentile or above were admitted to NEST +M and the Anderson School. To gain admission to the new Brooklyn School of Inquiry, a score in the 98th percentile was needed. Only at TAG and the new STEM Academy at PS 85, in Queens, was a score at the 97th percentile sufficient.
The DOE said last year they planned to open additional citywide programs in the Bronx and Staten Island for the fall of 2010. No decision yet as to whether these programs will actually materialize for next fall. According to DOE spokesperson Andy Jacob they are still looking at that question.
"Our goal is to keep expanding the citywide programs," he said. Starting new programs would depend on "being able to find a site near enough to public transportation and be[ing] confident that we have enough demand." He did not rule out the possibility of opening a second site in Brooklyn or Queens. (Last spring a citywide program was planned for PS 20 in Fort Greene but that program was canceled after the principal was accused of assaulting a teacher and not enough families applied for it.)
As for the district programs, overcrowding may have attributed to some popular schools not taking an incoming G&T kindergarten class this year. Those include Manhattan's PS 116, and in Brooklyn, PS 217 and PS 195 in District 22 and PS 185 in District 20. Neither PS 153 in Maspeth, Queens, nor PS 153 in Coop City, which are both long-standing G&T sites, took in a new class this year.
Meanwhile, there are some rather surprising additions to the list of new G&T programs: PS/IS 217 on Roosevelt Island and PS 33 in Chelsea. A few schools once again accepted a new G&T kindergarten class, after not doing so for a year, such as PS 3 in Bedford Stuyvesant.
Certain districts lag far behind in the number of children testing and qualifying for G&T programs. Five districts did not have enough students registered to open new G&T kindergarten classes this year: Districts 7 and 9 in the Bronx, and Districts 16, 19, and 23 in Brooklyn. Data about how many students qualified in each district was released by the DOE last spring, and analyzed on GothamSchools.
"We have to have a minimum number to actually open a program," Jacob said. "If we can't open a class in a particular district, students are given a placement in another district." Kindergartners and 1st graders who test at or above the 90th percentile are guaranteed a seat somewhere.
We asked the DOE where children in those districts ended up. Students from Districts 7 and 9 in the Bronx were assigned to Manhattan schools, including the district program at TAG, PS 98 in Inwood, or PS 153 in
Morningside Washington Heights. Those who stayed in the Bronx went to either PS 182 in District 8 or PS 214 in District 12.
Students who arrive in New York City too late to apply for G&T may test for in the summer. According to the DOE, only 25 students tested for kindergarten and 1st grade seats over the summer - and 14 of those qualified and were offered seats.
We've heard about overcrowding in some G&T programs, including the kindergarten class at PS 132 in Williamsburg. That school added a para-professional to help teach a class of 29 students. Other programs may be under-enrolled.
We'll keep you posted as we get updates. Let us know what's happening in your school.
Is your 4-year-old gifted? Talented? If so, now is the time to start thinking about having him or her tested for the public school gifted and talented programs. This week the Department of Education posted the admissions timeline, as well as an updated list of schools that currently have G&T programs.
Test information and parent handbooks for incoming kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd-graders will be online as of Oct. 7, according to the DOE. Materials will be available in elementary schools the week of Oct. 13. You must register for the test by Nov. 7. There is a different process for children in older grades.
The DOE will hold information sessions to explain G&T programs and the admissions process in each borough; the first is in the Bronx on Oct. 14, and the last will be in Manhattan on Oct. 22. See the DOE's website for details.