Dept. of Ed backtracks on changes to gifted program
By Sarina Trangle
The Department of Education will not end sibling priority for Gifted and Talented Program admissions in the fall.
In October, the department announced it would stop giving special treatment to qualified students with a brother or sister enrolled in the same school where a gifted program was located.
Instead, the DOE said it would offer seats entirely based on merit, as measured by the admission exam, and use family relationships to break ties between applicants with identical scores. The new rule, officials said, would ensure that the brightest students weren’t pushed out of gifted classrooms.
On Dec. 19, the DOE announced it would maintain the sibling priority policy through the 2013-2014 school year because it wanted to spend more time analyzing parents’ feedback on the proposed change.
Children who score in the 90th percentile or higher on entrance exams are eligible to attend the district-wide program, which offers more rigorous coursework than general education at PS 7 and PS 24. Those who score in the 97th percentile or higher are qualified to enroll in the more selective citywide program, which is offered in schools in every borough except the Bronx and Staten Island.
The new admissions policy was welcomed by some parents, including Linda Dunbar Barnes, whose second grader qualified for the district-wide gifted program but wound up in a general education class at PS 24 because the accelerated class was full.
“It’s an issue of convenience versus fairness. If I had several children in my family I might come down on the other side. Because I have an only child, I’m coming down on the side of fairness. But we need to be clear about what the tradeoff is,” Ms. Dunbar Barnes said.
A petition supporting the DOE’s original plan to stop sibling priority has 100 signatures on Change.org.
An opposing petition on the same website has received 640 signatures. It says ending sibling priority may prevent low-income and middle class children whose parents can’t afford multiple commutes from attending gifted classes.