Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A Parent's Plea for Gifted and Talented Student Program at Roosevelt Island Elementary School PS 217

12/2007 You Tube video of NYC Gifted and Talented program from Columbia TV News

The recent New York City Public School controversy over the Gifted and Talented student program has reached Roosevelt Island. As described in the NY Times City Room Page, the New York City Public School system is:
Faced with a deluge of children vying for coveted slots in gifted-and-talented programs and a shortage of top-scoring applicants, ­ Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein said that he intended to change the city’s new, standardized policy for admitting children to the programs.

The chancellor proposed today that students scoring in the top 10th percentile on admissions tests would be guaranteed a slot in kindergarten or first-grade gifted and talented programs; last fall, he announced that only those scoring in the top 5th percentile would be admitted.

The Department of Education said that more than 50,000 students had applied to the programs, up from 13,000 last year....
A Roosevelt Island parent of elementary school age children is trying to help establish a Gifted & Talented student program for P.S. 217 here on Roosevelt Island. She reports:
... There is an effort underway here on Roosevelt Island to garner support for a Gifted and Talented program here at PS 217. We are trying to collect signatures of residents here on the island that would be supportive of a G&T program- and bring this data to the attention of Chancellor Joel Klein.

I do not know how much knowledge you have of the current situation at PS 217. Presently, many parents send their children to G&T schools, private schools, or public schools (courtesy of a friend's address) in Manhattan to avoid what is considered by many to be a sub-par educational experience. PS 217 currently buses in students from other over-crowded schools to fill seats that sit empty at our school. PS 217 is not currently a reflection of our island make-up. I am serving on the PTA Executive Board, and have been making an effort to try to increase enrollment by residents of Roosevelt Island. Many parents have cited the absence of a challenging academic environment, and a lack of a G&T program as reasons why they would not send their child to PS 217. I believe that the presence of a G&T program here on the island would make many residents rethink their children's educational options, especially in the wake of an upcoming tram shut-down in 2009. Most schools in Manhattan (including G&T schools) will not pick up residents here on the island. Many have buses that stop near the tram station-and it will be much more difficult for these individuals to get to Manhattan schools with an over-crowded subway as the only other option. I know for me personally, if a G&T program is not instated at PS 217 in the next two years, our family will move off-island, and into a better neighborhood school-zone.
We currently have 100+ signatures and plan to add many more....
More on the NYC Department of Education Gifted and Talented program:
... provides challenging standards-based instructional practices and highly engaging learning opportunities to children with exceptional capacity or creative talent.

Gifted and talented programs are district-based and begin in either kindergarten or first grade, depending on the district or borough. Generally, district gifted and talented programs in Manhattan and Brooklyn begin in kindergarten and programs in the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island begin in the first grade. There are also three citywide gifted and talented schools, which accept students from all five boroughs.

Establishing a Gifted and Talented elementary school program at P.S. 217 on Roosevelt Island sounds like a great idea. Why would anyone object?

Image of PS/IS 217 from geocities

Here's some additional information on New York City Gifted and Talented education program.
UPDATE - 12:50 PM: There is a poll regarding subject of support for a Gifted and Talented education program for Roosevelt Island's PS/IS 217 located on right side column. Just answer yes or no.

UPDATE - 4/24- I obviously would not pass any Gifted and Talented test based upon my typo in the poll question since I left out the "h" in established. I cannot edit and correct the typo without losing the votes tabulated to date so the poll question will remain as is, error and all. Apologies.

UPDATE: 11/10 - According to NY Times City Room blog:
The City Council will take up the Education Department’s new process for admitting children to gifted and talented programs, at a hearing scheduled for Dec. 16.

An Oct. 30 article in The Times disclosed that under the new process, which based admission to gifted programs on a citywide cutoff score on two standardized tests, the number of children entering city gifted programs dropped by half, leaving some gifted classrooms with as few as eight children....


Anonymous said...

Either I don't understand the logic or I am missing something. The same reasons that were listed above about why attending a district G&T could be hard on families in regards of how to get the kids to the schools apply a hundred times to all the families throughout district 2. Who wants to send their kids to Roosevelt Island for a G&T program? I highly doubt that there are enough qualifying kids on RI alone to fill a Kindergarten grade G&T class room. All in all while I think it would be awesome to have a G&T here on RI I don't think it makes a lot of sense. Therefore I've voted no in the poll on the side.

Anonymous said...

One more thing I forgot to add. A G&T program is not an alternative for families who think their kids need to be challenged academically. I understand that historically it has been used to avoid the local zoned school for many families. I am glad that the DOE is trying to turn a G&T into a real one (despite the fact that it lowered the cut-off scores for this year's G&T admission). It's not the families who can choose. The kid needs to qualify first.

One last thing: moving for elementary school is ridiculous. PS 217 is not a bad school. It is not a failing school. When I toured I realized that all the bad-mouthing of PS 217 is exactly that. Of course, there are some families out there who will always think that John or Jane are oh-so extremely highly gifted that they will be bored out of their minds in a general education Kindergarten program. Yes. This city is insane!

Anonymous said...

First off, thanks to Roosevelt Islander for covering this issue so thoroughly.
I really did not follow the comments by "anonymous." In one sentence, he/she states "Who wants to send their kid to a G&T program on Roosevelt Island?" and in a following sentence goes on to state that "I think it would be awesome to have a G&T program here...." This seems to represent two conflicting views.
I, for one, am in strong support of a G&T program here on the island, am planning to sign the petition, and encourage other island residents to do likewise.
Clearly, this is the right thing to do for our children.

Anonymous said...

"Who wants to send their kid to a G&T here on RI" was made from the point of view of a district 2 family who does not live on Roosevelt Island. Please, just follow the discussions on forums like or and you'll see that location is one of the most important decision factors in what G&T program to pick. Only very few non-RIers will ever pick PS 217 as a first or second choice G&T program on the application.

The "I think it would be cool" statement was made from my own point of view. It would save us some commute time and headache, of course. I still voted "No" in this site's poll because it is a waste of our energy and DOE's resources to implement a G&T here in 217. There are other ways to improve a school's performance.

Anonymous said...

I think establishing a G&T on Roosevelt Island is a fantastic idea and as a parent of a preK child that I am planning to take off-island for K I am positive that enough on-island children would qualify. In the most recent updates to the G&T proposal, Joel Klein has established a minimum of 8 children necessary to make a new G&T class.

Anonymous said...

Some data to debunk the idea that our Island could not support its own G&T program:

According to the 2000 Census:

Roosevelt Island Population:9,520
Of that population, 2,380 were under 18.

According to there are only currently 453 students enrolled in PS 217 (Pre-K through 8th grade)

It is important to remember the census numbers are from 2000. EIGHT years ago. Before the 500-unit Octagon was built, and before the 425, 455, and 465 buildings were built. There are two more Riverwalk buildings to be completed within the year, and 3 more slated for completion after that.

We HAVE the population to support a G&T program- there is NO question about this. The question is... do we have a school administration that does? To become a G&T school the administration at PS 217 has to apply for the program. Up to this point, they have not.
I support the petition effort.

Anonymous said...

The interesting number would be how many RI kids at the age of 5 are there? I doubt we will get the minimum of 10 to get this started.

Also, as we all know, the G&T letters went out and the DOE created two new G&T classes in PS 111. One of the worst elementary schools in district 2 (academically speaking considering that they draw their kids from housing projects and homeless shelters). Now, that is a school that is in dire need for a boost that a G&T could provide. It happened to PS 11 and PS 116. Neither were great schools back then. 116 is now super popular and 11 is on its way (they have a pool on premises!!!) thanks to the influx of upper middle class folks that care about education and have the money and time to support the school. 217 is doing fine all by itself already. Of course it will never meet all the requirements of all parents, though.

Anonymous said...

My daughter (kindergarten age) scored high enough to qualify for a City-Wide Program for next year. Honestly, I would give up a spot at Anderson,Nest,Lower Lab, or TAG- if she had the option to go to a G&T program here on the island.
I do not want to have my 6-year-old traveling for an hour to and from school. Of course, this is not an option, because there is currently no G&T program at the school- so we are forced to bus her into Manhattan for the education she needs. And yes, this is a "need" for all you anti-G&T advocates out there. You will never really understand this until/unless you have a child that fits into this category.

Anonymous said...

Theresa, my kid is qualified with a 99% composite score for this upcoming school year. I am happy to "bus" her to school and back home for that because I just like the idea that we will be surrounded by folks from other parts of the city. RI is a nice place to be but RI day in day out is a little too much.