As New York struggles to make gifted admissions equitable, one Bronx family searches for a way in

Jul 17, 2013 by

By Jennifer Dev

Tanya Duprey was seated in the cafeteria of P.S. 54 in the Bronx on a Saturday last January. Her daughter Allison, 4, sat next to her with paper and crayons, drawing a picture of a spiky purple caterpillar with neon orange hair.

Duprey has a habit of biting the side of her lip when she’s nervous, but now she was also smoothing her dark bangs down over her face every few seconds. “It’s so nerve-wracking. Now that they’re about to call her in, I’m like, did we do enough?” she said.

Duprey shows daughter Allison how to play a game on her tablet. (Photos by Jennifer Dev)

Duprey shows daughter Allison how to play a game on her tablet. (Photos by Jennifer Dev)

Along the other tables in the lunchroom, more anxious parents waited for New York City Department of Education officials to call their children in to take an exam. They were all hoping for a highly coveted spot in New York City’s gifted and talented kindergarten program, and the 45-minute test would determine whether their children would make the cut.


Requiring 4-year-olds to take standardized tests is a relatively new development in New York City, one begun in 2007 to standardize gifted and talented admissions citywide. Previously, the process varied from district to district and could include in-class assessments, interviews, and teacher observations. The tests were meant to create fairness and uniformity in allocating seats for the 2007-2008 school year, but when the evidence suggested they had had the opposite effect, the city this year instituted yet another new test. Allison was among the first to experience it.

White and Asian-American children, as well as children from the wealthiest New York City districts, were always disproportionately represented in gifted programs, but in recent years Hispanic and African-American children and children from poorer schools districts have seen their chances of getting in even further reduced.

In the 2012-2013 school year, according to the D.O.E., Hispanic children comprised 41 percent of New York’s elementary student population but held only 12 percent of the total gifted seats available in both the citywide schools and district programs. Likewise, African-Americans made up 24 percent of the school population but held only 15 percent of the gifted seats. By contrast, Asian students made up 16 percent of the school population and held 32 percent of the gifted seats, and white students made up 17 percent of the population and held 38 percent of the gifted seats.

via As New York struggles to make gifted admissions equitable, one Bronx family searches for a way in | Hechinger Report.

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