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Two members have penned a letter to Schools Chancellor criticizing Department of Education policies that they argue have decreased the diversity of the city’s gifted and talented (G&T) programs.
“Despite being forewarned by academics, parents, advocates and other stakeholders that the proposed changes would not have the desired effect, DOE proceeded to implement the ill-advised modifications,” wrote Council members , chair of the Education Committee, and Lewis Fidler in the letter.
Part of the problem, the argue, is the department’s admission process for entry level G&T programs, which is based on the weighted average of two standardized tests.
The department defended the “rigorous” two-test admissions process and criticized Jackson and Fidler’s proposals to increase equity and representation within G&T programs. The Council members proposed, among other ideas, setting aside 10 percent of this year’s kindergarten seats in each school district for G&T programs next year.
“The council members propose to dilute standards in favor of a system where large numbers of students who score below the 10th percentile on a national scale would be admitted to gifted programs, and where the accident of a student’s address might determine whether she qualifies as gifted,” said spokesperson Marge Feinberg in a statement. “We won’t allow our teachers to face unwelcome pressure from parents who want their child to be classified as ‘gifted.’”

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