Confirming rumors floating earlier this week, the DOE has just announced that it will guarantee seats in gifted and talented programs in their entry grades to all children scoring at the 90th percentile or higher on the BSRA and OLSAT. The new G&T policy approved by the Panel for Education Policy earlier this year required children to score at the 95th percentile; the PEP will approve the change at a special meeting tomorrow morning, according to a DOE press release. Eligible children will receive preference at their older siblings' school.
Letters go home around April 18, giving parents of eligible students a few weeks to rank programs and assess their chances of admission to citywide programs before their preference forms are due May 9.
According to the press release, the DOE is anticipating offering 2,300 seats for the entry grades for the fall, almost as many as currently exist in those grades. The press release also says that the proposed change will almost double the number of students who qualify for gifted programs. I think it's safe to assume that the DOE decided it wanted to avoid the outcry from families who would have been shut out and from schools that would have lost their gifted programs.
At the same time, it's clear from the DOE's press release that even with this change, some districts might not have enough eligible students to field a gifted program. The PEP tomorrow is expected to approve a reduction in the number of students required for a program, from 10 to eight. Still, the DOE notes that "families that live in districts without sufficient numbers of qualified students will be asked to rank programs in nearby districts."
The change is good news for districts 3 and 22, where schools have been concerned about the prospect of having their gifted programs cut. But it introduces an interesting situation for other districts, such as District 2, where significant numbers of students are expected to qualify but where existing gifted programs are few and far between. This policy revision could hasten a culture change in those districts.