NYC Bar: Eliminate Competitive Admissions to NYC Public Elementary & Middle Schools

Equal access to educational opportunity and racially and economically integrated public schools are central goals of the SDAG and the larger civil-rights community. These goals cannot be achieved unless the New York City Department of Education eliminates competitive admissions to its elementary- and middle-school programs and schools.

In the elementary-school context, New York City provides separate Gifted & Talented (“G&T”) schools and in-school programs for young children who score above a certain level on what is known as the “G&T test.”[3] The decision to have a child take the G&T test is made by the parents – rather than by educators – often before a child has entered the public school system. Most children do not take the test or cannot obtain a seat in a program even if they are eligible.[4] In the middle-school context, competitive admissions take the form of school-specific criteria limiting admission based on academic “merit” and perceptions of behavior. These assessments are based necessarily on the performance of students in fourth grade when students are eight and nine years old.

Admission to the City’s official G&T programs in elementary school typically involves testing of children who are four years old. Chancellor Carranza has observed correctly that screening children in this way is “antithetical” to public education.[5] The Department of Education should work with administrators, teachers, Community Education Councils, School Leadership Teams and other groups with parent representation to eliminate screens for admission to elementary and middle schools and programs.[6]

The City Bar believes competitive admissions to elementary and middle school must be eliminated for the following reasons:

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