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Kindergarten gifted classes more diverse than last year, city says

The percentage of minority students in the city’s gifted and talented kindergarten classes increased this school year from last, according to data the Department of Education released today.

But while the percentages of Hispanic, Asian and multi-racial students all increased, the ratio of black students to the whole class declined by just over one percentage point.

Last year, more than half — 52.6 percent — of kindergartners in gifted and talented classes were white. This year, that percentage is lower, down to 43.5 percent.

The increase in the ratio of minority students to the whole class is a change from the previous year. In 2008, a New York Times analysis of the first class of gifted kindergarten and first-graders admitted under the standardized admissions process showed that the policy had resulted less diversity in admissions, not more.

The number of kindergartners enrolled in gifted and talented classes nearly doubled this year from last, from 874 to 1554 students. (A large increase in both the number of students who took the exam last year and in the number who met the city’s cut-off for admission spurred that jump.)
City officials attributed the increase in diversity to better outreach efforts they said led to a higher number of applicants.

“As our outreach efforts have improved, we have also seen an increase in the diversity of these students. While we still would like to have more diversity, we are encouraged by this progress,” said DOE spokesman Danny Kanner in a statement released with the data.

Below is the full chart DOE officials released to reporters today. Some things to note: the “applicant” numbers reported here don’t refer to the number of students who sat for the gifted and talented admissions test or those who scored high enough to be eligible for the program. Rather, the applicant column here shows only the number of students who tested eligible and then submitted a formal application to one of the city’s programs. The “active” column shows the number of students who actually enrolled.

So these numbers don’t tell us what difference there is between the ethnicity of the students who took the test, those who were eligible for the programs, and those who eventually enrolled. We’ll be asking the DOE for that breakdown. What other information should we be asking them for?

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