NYC will eliminate gifted and talented school program that opponents say segregated students

City officials say the new policy will allow all kindergarten students access to accelerated learning, which the mayor says will provide an equitable model for children to “realize their full potential.”

The program, named Brilliant NYC, will remove the test given to 4-year-olds before they enter kindergarten to identify “gifted and talented” students, and instead implement an accelerated education model at fall 2022 which will serve approximately 65,000 students. kindergartens, according to the Department of Education (DOE).

“The era of judging 4-year-olds based on a single test is over,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. “Brilliant NYC will provide accelerated education for tens of thousands of children, as opposed to a select few,” he said.

“Every child in New York City deserves to reach their full potential, and this new fair model gives them that chance.”

The current gifted and talented program admitted 2,500 students based on test scores, many of whom were predominantly Asian American and white, according to the DOE.

For years, students, advocates and some educators have argued that the city’s gifted and talented scrutiny is polarizing and has not helped existing debates about the unequal and discriminatory treatment of black and Latino students.

New York’s public schools are among the most segregated in the United States, according to the UCLA Civil Rights Project. In an updated analysis using data from 2018, a report published this year found that New York maintains its place as the most segregated state for black students and the second most segregated for Latino students, behind California.

Segregation is blatant in New York. In the city’s public schools, 74.6% of black and Latino students attend a school where less than 10% of students are white. Additionally, 34.3% of white students attend majority-white schools, according to the DOE.

Earlier this year, students and advocates filed a complaint against state and city defendants who “challenge racial hierarchies in public education and assert their right under the New York State Constitution to an education that identifies and dismantles racism.”

What happens next

Admission to the program was based on a test score and the availability of seats in the program, and not all children who scored high enough received offers, the DOE explained. But this structure is coming to an end as every kindergarten will now have access to accelerated learning.

Students currently admitted to the gifted and talented program will continue their elementary education in their current program, the DOE said.

Under the new plan, students entering third grade will be universally screened to assess whether they qualify for personalized accelerated education, but will remain in mixed-grade classes, according to the DOE.

Robin Kelleher, an elected parent from District 2told the New York Times on Friday that de Blasio’s announcement looked like a “political stunt” and that the mayor would leave a pile of “bloody broken bone fragments” for the next mayor to clean up.

Eric Adams is the Democratic candidate for mayor of New York.

According to the TimesAdams endorsed maintaining gifted and talented classes while increasing them in low-income neighborhoods.
This idea has been questioned by researchers, but is popular with some parents, including black and Latino families who want more gifted options, the Times reported.
During an appearance on by Brian Lehrer weekly request on the mayor’s show on Friday, de Blasio defended the plan.

“We respect the parents who have worked hard to prepare their children for a test which I think was a mistake in the first place, but which exists, he said. And we do not want to take away from people who have obtained something thing, that’s why we’re eliminating it.”

Adams spokesman Evan Thies told CNN that Adams “will evaluate the plan and reserves the right to implement policies based on the needs of students and parents, should he become mayor. Clearly, the Department of Education needs to improve outcomes for children in lower-income areas.”

Under the new plan, accelerated instruction will include learning through projects focused on real-world problems, including in part, robotics and coding for community organizing and advocacy, according to the DOE. .

Officials plan to train all 4,000 kindergarten teachers in this accelerated education, hire new teachers who have already been trained, and launch expert teams in the boroughs to support its implementation. The DOE also plans to expand schools with the accelerated program from 80 to 800.

The DOE said it plans to launch citywide forums in all 32 districts in October and November to get community feedback, before rolling out the plan in December.

“As a lifelong educator, I know that every child in New York has talents that go far beyond what a single test can capture and the Brilliant NYC plan will uncover their strengths so they can succeed” , said Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter.

Porter also appeared on Brian Lehrer’s show to answer questions about the new plan.

“That moment is about making sure that you don’t have to cross district lines, that you don’t have to step out of your neighborhood, but that your neighborhood schools can actually provide the support services the type of learning your child needs.

CNN’s Artemis Moshtaghian contributed to this report.