NYC to Cancel Accelerated Learning Program for Gifted Kids

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New York City mayor Bill de Blasio has announced plans to cancel the “Gifted and Talented” accelerated learning program for schoolchildren, drawing praise from those who called the scheme discriminatory and condemnation from those who say it harms hardworking students.

Starting next fall, New York City will stop testing kindergartners for entry into the gifted and talented program, which was the subject of a lawsuit (pdf) that claimed the screens were “racially discriminatory” and fueled racial segregation in the school system.

“The era of judging 4-year-olds based on a single test is over,” de Blasio said in an Oct. 8 statement. “Every New York City child deserves to reach their full potential, and this new, equitable model gives them that chance.”

The gifted program, which faced criticism for enrolling low numbers of black and Latino students, will instead be replaced with a new framework called Brilliant NYC that will leave students identified for accelerated instruction in mixed classrooms but provide them with “extra attention,” de Blasio said during an appearance on WNYC on Oct. 8 with schools Chancellor Meisha Porter.

“The kids who have those special abilities for accelerated learning will be getting a lot of attention, a lot of opportunity to do it, but there’ll be learning with all the other kids,” de Blasio said, adding that Brilliant NYC scheme would ” reach tens of thousands of more kids with accelerated learning.”

Porter said that, under the new program, teachers would be provided with additional training to identify special abilities learners and provide them with “targeted individualized instruction.”

A parent calling into the WNYC praised the move, saying the gifted program created a “two-tiered world that I think needs to go.”

Charleen Ang, a mother of a student enrolled in the gifted program on the Upper West Side, admonished de Blasio’s decision.

By Tom Ozimek

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