Given the anxieties and aspirations of their target audience of readers, its no surprise that publications like the New York Times and New York Magazine never tire of writing about the concerns raised by New York City’s system of identifying “gifted” students for special gifted programs. Today, the NYT looks at how the city’s gifted assessment serves to lock in educational inequities between low-income children and middle-class and affluent families who can pay to prep their youngsters for the test.
But the core issue here is NOT the use of test prep providers by middle class parents, the validity of the “gifted” designation for kindergarteners, or the developmental appropriateness of the tests used. The real problem is that New York City--and too many other places--use the “gifted” designation as a way to ration access to quality educational opportunities, and that kids who don’t win the “gifted” lottery too often don’t have access to good public schools that enable them to fulfill their potential. The real solution here isn’t changing the way New York identified gifted students--although there may be a case for that--but it’s dramatically increasing the supply of good schools so that all kids--gifted or not--have access to quality public education opportunities.
The opinions expressed in Sara Mead’s Policy Notebook are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.