‘Gifted’ kids may squeeze out others at local schools

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District 10 schools may be faced with overcrowding come fall, because of the number of students competing for seats in local gifted and talented classes. 

One-hundred-and-three kindergarteners earned seats in district-wide programs with scores of 90 or above. Forty-six first graders, 26 second graders and 19 third graders also tested in. 

The two local district-wide programs are at PS 24 in Riverdale and PS 7 in Kingsbridge. According to Community Education Council President Marvin Shelton, PS 24 provided 25 kindergarten and 25 first grade seats last year. PS 7 offered 28 seats in both of those grades, but was unable to fill all of them. 

If those numbers stay the same, there will be significantly fewer District 10 seats than kindergarteners who tested into the G & T program. If last year’s pattern holds, with more parents choosing PS 24 over PS 7, it is likely that PS 24 won’t have enough seats to meet the demand. 

Of the students who are zoned for District 10 and who are eligible for the district-wide program, 42 kindergarteners scored 97 or higher to make them eligible for the city-wide G & T program — along with 15 first graders, eight second graders and seven third graders who made the cut.

Potentially, this could ease the strain on the district programs, but because more kindergarteners tested into the city-wide program, according to news sources, some fear that even students who could be eligible for the more rigorous classes will attend district schools. Another reason they may opt to stay in the district is that there are no city-wide gifted and talented programs in the Bronx. 

“They have very few citywide seats. The chances of actually getting into a citywide program are remote,” said Damian McShane, former Community Board 8 chair, current CB 8 member and an organizer for Parents for Enrichment, which advocates for more gifted and talented choices. 

Overflow in the gifted and talented program could result in over-enrollment in a school’s general education classes. If, for example, PS 24’s gifted and talented program were filled with students who make it into the city-wide program and wouldn’t otherwise attend PS 24, it is likely to leave those who tested into district-wide programs looking for seats in the schools’ general education classes. 

District 10 Community Education Council President Marvin Shelton said that “could lead to a capping situation where PS 24 cannot absorb the students that are zoned for PS 24.” 

“There may be a day when the department may consider removing the district’s gifted and talented program out of PS 24 due to overcrowding,” he said.

City-wide district and talented programs are located in Manhattan at New Explorations into Science, Technology and Math, in District 1, TAG Young Scholars, in District 4 and The Anderson School, in District 3. There is one located in Brooklyn’s District 20 called the Brooklyn School of Inquiry and one in Queens’ District 30, called STEM. The fact that there are none in the Bronx has been a point of contention in the past. 

The Department of Education announced that it was planning to open a citywide program in the Bronx in 2010, but still has not done so. Such programs have been added in Queens and Brooklyn. 

Mr. McShane said he does not believe the Department of Education is truly committed to the program based on what he characterized as its sub par efforts in attracting students to test for it. However, many more students tested for, and got into, the program this year than last.   

“Clearly, interest isn’t waning,” Mr. McShane said, adding that a city-wide program in the Bronx would mean all students who qualified for gifted and talented classes would find a seat in one. 

Placement offers will be given out to families the week of Monday, May 21 and the deadline to accept or decline is the week of Monday, June 4.

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