New Programs for Gifted & Talented Students
Over 100 parents came out on a chilly evening to hear the latest Department of Education’s (DOE) proposals for their gifted and talented students.
Dr. Marcia Lyles, Deputy Chancellor for Teaching and Learning, Terrence Tolbert, Executive Director for Intra-governmental Affairs, Ms. Anna Commitante, Director of English Language Arts, Social Studies, and Gifted and Talented Education, Marty Barr, Executive Director for Elementary School Enrollment, and John White, Chief Operating Officer of Portfolio Development, were present for the hearing. Parents got a three-minute window to ask questions or make comments.
Dr. Lyles presented the department’s proposal that targets pre-K to 3rd grade. Opportunities for openings in the upper grades will be determined later in the year when tests are administered. The DOE said two tests will be used in assessing who might be eligible for the gifted and talented programs (G&T). The Otis Lennon School Abilities Test (OLSAT) and the Bracken School Readiness Assessment (BSRA) will be given to students whose parents send in the Request for Testing Forms, which can be gotten at local schools or online. Tests will be given at the students’ local schools and those students who score 95 percent will be eligible for gifted and talented programs at the district level. Students who score 97 percent will be eligible for the citywide Gifted and Talented School, located in Manhattan. A test score will be weighted to include 75 percent of the OLSAT, which was first used in New York City last year, and 25 percent of the BSRA, which replaces the Gifted Rating Scale measurement, this year. School officials stressed the importance of having as many students as possible take the test. School officials noted that greater resources and attention would be available to make sure teachers are adequately prepared for the G&T curriculum as well as measurable levels of assessment of both teachers and students, throughout the program.
Key dates in this year’s application process include: December 3-January 3rd, Request for Testing Forms completed. January 22-Feb15th, OLSAT/BSRA testing at school sites for public school students. In late January to early February, testing will be held at selected sites for non-public school students. By March 31st, score reports and application mailings will be completed, By April 23rd, applications will be returned with program choices, and by May 31st, placement offers will be made to parents.
Parents were keen advocates for their children and asked many questions about the level of teaching competence at the G&T program. They wanted to know if teachers were properly credentialed. Parents asked for the possibility of having a citywide facility for the Gifted and Talented program outside the borough of Manhattan. When Mr. Torrence said that they would review this issue, a hearty round of applause by the parents was heard.
Marcia Kolb is a parent who has a child in 5th grade in District 24, in Woodside, Queens in a Gifted and Talented program. She is skeptical about the quality of the proposal and how it will be executed. “I think with everything, they already have their minds made up as to what they’re going to do,” said Kolb. “They don’t take a lot of the stuff that we think is important and incorporate it into their proposal.” The Department of Education is currently evaluating parental input it received in the recent meetings.#