April is a big month in New York City public schools. It is the month when parents are both notified about whether or not their child scored high enough to qualify for a Gifted & Talented seat, as well as what General Education public school their child has been assigned to.
Unfortunately, in NYC, many more children qualify for a G&T program than there are places. As a result, parents of bright children turn to other options, such as charter schools, magnet schools, private schools, and dual language programs.
The below post was first published in 2009, but it is just as relevant to parents today, trying to decide about the best school fit for their child.
On August 25, 2009, The New York Times published an article on the book, Nurture Shock, by best-selling author Po Bronson.
NYT columnist Susan Dominus wrote:
New York’s big scene comes in a chapter called "The Search for Intelligent Life in Kindergarten," as the example of what not to do when it comes to school testing. Mr. Bronson and his co-author, Ashley Merryman, present the body of research suggesting that tests administered before kindergarten - like those that determine admission to gifted and talented programs in New York and elsewhere - are far from solid predictors of future academic success....
One meta-analysis the authors cite found a 40 percent correlation between testing in prekindergarten and scores at the end of the second grade....
We all know parents who view their children’s results on New York’s two entry tests for gifted and talented programs as determinative events in their lives. Anyone not quite so obsessed would still sit up straight around the part where the authors say that "of all the districts we surveyed, none flouted the science like New York City."
Parents of children who test gifted in New York City have a variety of schooling options to choose from. It is the goal of the NY Gifted Education Examiner to explore all of these options from three perspectives: that of the available schools (particularly highlighting less well-known programs, public and private, around the city), that of the parents, and that of the students.
To that end, we kick off our series with the interview of a parent who decided to send his child to their local, General Ed school, despite her qualifying for a District 3 G&T. (All interviews are anonymous in order to protect the privacy of the families who have so generously agreed to share their expertise, but the veracity of their reports were independently validated.)
Examiner: You were offered a seat in a District 3 G&T program, but decided to send your child to your local school, PS 84. What was the thinking behind your decision?
PS 84 Parent: As we started the whole school search process, we were focused on getting our daughter into a G&T program. She made the cut, but not with a high enough mark to place her in one of our preferred schools. In order, they were: PS 163, 166, and 9. Instead, she was placed in PS 145. At the same time, we always liked our local school, PS 84 - in fact, we liked it a lot and thought it was a school on the rise with a great principal. Then PS 84 offered a dual language French track. Since my wife speaks French we went for it and are glad we did.
Examiner: How has PS 84 succeeded in keeping your child challenged and involved with school? How have the teachers juggled children of different abilities in one classroom?
PS 84 Parent: I think our daughter has been challenged. Kindergarten asks more of kids these days then in my time. Back then, we weren't even expected to know the alphabet. Now they are learning to read and doing actual math. Plus, it's half in French - so yes, she's been plenty challenged.
Examiner: What do you think could be added to the current program to make it better? What are some aspects you wish you could change?
PS 84 Parent: I wish the class size was a bit smaller. Our daughter's class had 29 kids in it. At first, all the parents were panicking. But then it all turned out OK. For starters, the French track attracted a really great group of nice kids with committed, smart parents. Also, the class had a TA so there were two adults in the classroom. Even so, if I had to pick a drawback, I'd still say class size. Over the next few years, there will probably be some attrition. On the other hand, only one kid that I know of from my daughter's kindergarten is leaving the program for first grade.
Examiner: Would you recommend PS 84 to other parents facing the choice between it and G&T?
PS 84 Parent: Yes, I would, especially if you believe in dual language education. The dual language Spanish at 84 is also very good. It really depends on what a parent wants for their child.
To learn more about your NYC Kindergarten options, check out "Getting Into NYC Kindergarten," the book that covers it all! Buy it on: