I testify today in support of Council Member Cornegy’s Intro 1347 which would require the Department of Education to include materials about the gifted and talented (G&T) exam and programs along with universal Pre-K information.
I have recently formed a gifted and talented task force along with my colleague, Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams. Parents have informed our task force of several disturbing trends. First, parents state that they have not received or have had to proactively seek and request the informational materials about the Gifted and Talented Programs and the exam. Our task force has even heard testimony about teachers not being informed about the test. This is unacceptable.
Parents have unequivocally expressed to the task force that we must do a better job at disseminating information about Gifted and Talented programs because we have a communication issue in our schools.
This bill seeks to address that crucial issue.
We need to increase the numbers of students taking the test in socioeconomically disadvantaged areas, and the first critical step is through better communication about the programs and testing.
We should ensure appropriate materials are widely disseminated, and in multiple languages.
Gifted and talented students should be challenged in programs that push them to excel and learn. Our task force has heard again and again that a rigorous curriculum is required for success on the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT) and in high school, and we need to do everything we can to make sure students get the skills they need. Gifted and talented education is a key piece of this educational puzzle because it provides academic rigor for young children that paves the way for later success.
For instance, anecdotal testimony to our task force from many alumni of the specialized high schools in New York City points to their and their peers’ gifted educational experiences in New York City public school prior to high school as pivotal in allowing them to excel later in life. The later achievements of New York City Gifted and Talented program alumni include success on the SHSAT, in high school, at the country’s best colleges, which accept students from New York City’s Specialized High Schools, and in their careers.
We need to correct this problem of poor communication about gifted and talented programs and testing immediately, and we need to make best efforts to inform parents about the test so that their children can have a chance at a gifted and talented education and the later successes that flow from a challenging early education.
Additionally, our task force is reviewing options for casting a wider net with gifted and talented testing based on research and anecdotal testimony. Making information about the test more widely available is a sensible incremental step.
The low numbers for Black and Latino students in gifted programs (less than 30 percent of the G&T population, although they comprise 70 percent of New York City students) may be explained in part due to the communication issue that parents have articulated to the task force.
No parent should be deprived of information about gifted and talented programs. In order to ensure students from all neighborhoods get access to gifted and talented education, we must make these programs well known. Council Member Cornegy’s legislation is a great first step towards making this happen, and I urge the City Council to pass this piece of important legislation.