A new study, Public Pre-K and Test Taking for the NYC Gifted & Talented Programs: Forging a Path to Equity, released by NYU's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, discovered a positive side effect of participating in New York City's public pre-Kindergarten programs: more interest in gifted and talented programs by parents and their children. This unintended outcome is particularly promising because it increases the number of children from disadvantaged backgrounds that want access and compete for a chance to be in advanced academic programs.
According to Ying Lu, the study's lead author, "whether a student attends a public pre-k program is the strongest predictor of whether the student takes the gifted and talented test." Lu continues, "there is a compelling need to create public awareness of educational opportunities to ensure that students from all backgrounds have access to them.”
While participating in pre-K may not be the silver bullet for increasing the equitable participation in gifted and talented programs among high-potential disadvantaged youth, it does point to the importance of educating parents about quality options for their children and the power of access to outstanding content, instruction, and expectations in helping students achieve their full human potential.
New York City should continue its efforts to support talented youth from diverse backgrounds in participating in gifted programs through strategies like informing parents about effective educational opportunities, quality pre-K programs, and even resurrecting sound approaches called for by former Chancellor Rudy Crew like universal screening.
“There are lots of children, children of color, children whose first language is not English, who don't necessarily get access to [gifted programs] for all kinds of reasons,'' Dr. Crew said. Either they never learn about the programs or ''they are not looked at as kids who ultimately could benefit from the program.''
*Disclosure: Dr. Rudy Crew, president of Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, is a member of NAGC's Corporate Council chaired by Norm Augustine, retired Chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin. The Council is working to call attention to the specialized needs of gifted and talented children and to ensure that as nation we leave no talent on the table, especially overlooked talent from under-identified and underserved children of color, English language learners, and pupils from poverty backgrounds.
M. René Islas is executive director of the National Association for Gifted Children.
Editor's note: This is part of a series of blog posts that is collaboratively published every Wednesday by the National Association for Gifted Children and the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. Each post in the series exists both here on Flypaper and on the NAGC Blog.