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What EXACTLY Is Gifted and Talented?

The New York Times had an interesting article this week about the new Speyer Legacy School, a private school catering to gifted and talented children where annual tuition is a meager $28,500 for kindergarten. I suppose some people think there’s a need for such a program in the competitive world of gifted and talented but there still remains that nagging question: What exactly is “gifted and talented”?

Yes, that’s a loaded question and depending on whom you ask you’ll probably get a different response from everyone. I’ve heard G&T defined by some parents as “every child is gifted and talented” while other parents claim “only the top 1% of the top 1% (.0001) are considered gifted and talented.” My guess is most people define gifted and talented somewhere in between.

As far as the NYC goes, the DOE defines gifted and talented extremely narrowly: by OLSAT and BSRA scores alone. Is this fair? Is it accurate? Aren’t some children artistically or physically gifted in ways that would not show up on the OLSAT, ERB or Stanford-Binet tests? That’s a valid point but the NYC DOE must define this program somehow, some way. No matter how the DOE chooses to define gifted and talented the critics will come out of the woodwork.

Then there’s the whole naming of “gifted and talented.” Is that really the most appropriate label for such a program that is solely based upon two tests given to a youngster (and in some cases a toddler!) by a complete stranger? Yes, there needs to be some sort of naming convention for the program but how about something like “advanced learners” or “academically inclined” or “children of obsessed parents trying to get their child into the G&T program”? Maybe something that sounds a bit less pretentious and a smidgen more inclusive.

I have to admit when I tell people my child got accepted to the gifted and talented program there’s a little bit of ego (ok, a lot of eg0) and pride when I speak on the topic. After all, it’s all about me — right? Wrong. So, is “gifted and talented” really meant to describe the student or just be a good descriptor to boost a dad’s ego? Being a proud father of a gifted and talented student as defined by the NYC DOE I must admit … well, let me think about it for awhile.

I’d like to hear from other GothamSchools readers on how they define (or despise) the label “gifted and talented.” Should we use another name? Should NYC have yet another private school that caters to the gifted and talented like Speyer Legacy School?

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