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The Upper West Side Relief Act of 2008 (Or: More on Gifted Admissions in NYC)

Upper West Side kids face obstacles, folks - sometimes there are two Bugaboo strollers blocking their path to the Elephant Playground at 76rd and Riverside. Joel Klein recognized their struggle against adversity, and gently tweaked the gifted and talented admissions rules to open the door of opportunity for all (Manhattan) kids.

Make no mistake - NYC's poorer community school districts lost out under the new gifted and talented admissions process. On Monday, I discussed the change in gifted seats by district, but some readers asked for the overall percentage of kids in each district that are classified as gifted.

Let's look at the numbers for this school year first. We see that some districts, like Brooklyn's District 22 or the Upper West Side's District 3, have very high proportions of students in the entry grade classified as gifted (23.8% and 13.8%, respectively). On the other end, East Harlem's District 4 and the South Bronx's District 7 have no students in the entry grade classified as gifted.

Percentage of Students Classified as Gifted and Talented in Entry Grade, 2007

I then estimated the percentage of students that will be classified as gifted in the entry grade if all students matriculated in gifted programs. These estimates are necessarily imprecise in two ways - first, because all students will not enroll in NYC gifted programs and thus we will overestimate gifted populations in districts with high private school sending rates, and second, because the true cohort size is not available, so the best we can do is use this year's cohort size as the denominator. Caveats aside, these estimates do offer insight into the effects of the new gifted policy.

What we see in the map below is that Districts 2 and 3 in Manhattan have especially large increases in the proportion of students classified as gifted - from 13.8 to 22.3% in District 3 and from 7.1 to 15.2% in District 2. Hence, the Upper West Side/Manhattan Relief Act of 2008. And as expected, the districts with higher proportions of free lunch kids have fewer kids classified as gifted in both 2007 and 2008, but many of these districts fall further back because of the GT policy change. (See Robert Pondiscio's post for implications.)

Percentage of Students Classified as Gifted and Talented in Entry Grade, 2008


You can find the full figures for 2007 and 2008 below. Overall, the big winner in entry grade seats is Manhattan, and Brooklyn and the Bronx lost the most.

On behalf of all Manhattan residents, I'd like to thank the Department of Education for helping us pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. It's rough out here!


Percentage of Students Classified as Gifted and Talented, 2007 and 2008



on behalf of alot of D2 parents, we say no thanks. Many of our schools do not have G and T programs and never wanted them. Ditto the parents in these schools. I have heard from the superintendent of D2 about how difficult it is going to be to double the no. of G and T seats in the district, esp. given the extreme overcrowding in so many schools.

We say boo!

We should be looking at the admission criteria for fairness, not the result. It's like implying that the NBA is not fair because most players are black, when you should actually look at whether teams are picking the best players available.

So...do you have any data to show whether GT programs are picking the best students available? Can you show that students who are not admitted to GT programs outperform those who are admitted?

Hi Leonie, From the application rates, it does seem like D2 parents want G&T programs - from my estimates (which are an overestimate since many applicants will end up going to private school, and my denominator is coming from this year's enrollees in D2), the D2 application rate is 48%.

And Dave, I have trouble applying the idea of "best players" or "best students" to 5 and 6 year olds. All of these students did not have the same opportunity to become the "best students," and thus I don't believe that affluent high scoring students students are more "deserving." It seems likely that we're cheating high potential kids in poor areas of the city out of the enriched educational opportunities to which UWS and UES kids have access.

Are the percentages perhaps skewed in the wealthier districts because only kids who are potential G&T are going to enroll in public school?

If I had an average-ability child, there's no way I would send him/her to public school in NYC. I'd either go the private school route or move out to Westchester/Fairfield/Bergen-Passaic/etc. However, if I had a kid who might qualify for one of the handful of decent programs like Hunter or Anderson, it's a whole different ball game.

Hi Crimson Wife,

Certainly Districts 2 and 3 have higher proportions of K-8 kids attending private school (based on the 2000 Census, District 2=43%, District 3=32.2%), but the socioeconomics of the districts - rather than a dramatically lower probability of enrolling in public school given that a child is not gifted - probably explain the skew.

Here are earlier maps and posts on private school enrollments:




Since District 15 in Brooklyn's numbers went up, would they offer new G & T classes in the same schools or open brand new ones?

Will parents be ranking schools? Couldn't everyone end up at the school? Will they prioritize by your address?

How unfold?


I don't know how they're going to proceed, but here are the details from the DOE press release:

If a child scored at or above the 90th percentile, the family will also receive an application and instructions to rank available programs according to their preference. Applications must be postmarked by May 9. In order to be guaranteed a seat in one of the district programs, families must rank their preferences for all the programs in their districts. If a child scored at or above the 97th percentile, the family can also apply to one of the three citywide programs. Families that live in districts without sufficient numbers of qualified students will be asked to rank programs in nearby districts. The DOE will match students to programs based on their test scores, their preferences, and seat availability. If students meet the eligibility criteria, they will receive preference at the gifted program that their siblings attend. Families will receive their children’s placement information in early June.

Final locations for 2008-09 gifted programs will depend on the complete test results, the demand for particular programs among eligible students, and feedback from principals, Community Education Councils, and parent leaders.


Most dramatic on the UWS, but not limited to there.

my 4 yr old scored in the 99 percentile on the bracken and 40th percentile on the OLSAT. I gave her the practice test months before and she aced it. Two weeks later I gave her the same test and she flunked it...BIG TIME! I decided not to give it to her again. This was her first test. It doesn't really matter because I know that no matter what she'll be fine in any school, BUT why such a gap? She does so well in school that her teacher puts her in charge sometimes (funny, I know!)

Comments are now closed for this post.


Recent Comments

  • CTMQUERY: my 4 yr old scored in the 99 percentile on read more
  • Jonathan: 1,2,3,25,26,28,31... Most dramatic on the UWS, but not limited to read more
  • eduwonkette: Ginger, I don't know how they're going to proceed, but read more
  • ginger brownie: Since District 15 in Brooklyn's numbers went up, would they read more
  • eduwonkette: Hi Crimson Wife, Certainly Districts 2 and 3 have higher read more




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