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Gifted and talented offers see increase in good news (in some districts)

Sixty percent of students eligible for one of the city’s gifted and talented programs were offered a seat for next year, the city said Tuesday. That’s an increase in good news from last year, when just 54 percent of the high-scoring students got offers.

But the numbers show that the disparities that have persisted in the city’s gifted and talented system are set to continue next year. Fewer than 25 kindergarten students received offers in Districts 8, 9 and 12 in the Bronx, and in central Brooklyn’s Districts 16, 19, and 32. Those districts also saw the fewest students meet the city’s new standard for qualifying for the programs.

Overall, about 380 fewer students were offered spots in gifted programs than were last year. But that drop came mostly because fewer students earned eligible scores. This year’s screening test weighed verbal and non-verbal skills equally, and just over 26 percent of children made the cut citywide. Last year, more than 32 percent of children met the standards.

Getting a seat in one of the gifted programs is a multi-step process, though this year it was free of the scoring errors and confusion that delayed last year’s results by a month.

Children who score in the 90th percentile on that screening test may apply to district programs, and children in the 97th percentile may apply to a handful of elite citywide programs, although admission is not guaranteed. Last year was the first year that students weren’t guaranteed a seat, even if they indicated they would attend any program in their district.

On Tuesday, Chancellor Carmen Fariña noted that as a former gifted and talented teacher, she has already made it a priority to increase training for teachers in gifted programs. But she has downplayed the role of gifted programs since taking office at the beginning of the year.

“My children did not go to gifted and talented, and I think they had wonderful educations because their teachers taught all the kids in that class to the highest level,” Fariña said at a forum in Queens in February. She said her “goal would be to have neighborhood schools that provide gifted practices to all students.”