Rise & Shine: The reality of testing 4-year-olds for gifted programs

Good morning! 

What’s it really like to screen a 4-year-old for one of the city’s gifted programs — the very programs that a diversity task force is recommending phasing out? One Brooklyn teacher, Melanie Kletter, recalls giving the test to wiggly young children who often had trouble focusing and who sometimes broke down in tears from the stress of it all. What was clear, she said, was that some children, thanks to test prep and other factors, had a clear advantage over their peers. “Even years after administering these tests,” she writes, “I have philosophical misgivings about the entire process.”

We also spoke with Chancellor Carranza, who praised Hydra Mendoza, the education department’s outgoing deputy chancellor. Mendoza announced Monday that she would be stepping down after just a year on the job. She is headed back to California, where her family lives and where she has accepted a new position, which she declined to reveal. “From a perspective of parents trusting us, it’s a world of difference that Hydra has led,” Carranza said. “We’re working regularly with parents — not just telling parents, ‘This is what we’re doing.’” 

And New York’s Board of Regents announced Monday a two-year timeline for making its recommendations on diploma requirements. Policymakers will be considering, among other issues, the future of the state’s longstanding high school exit exam.

Thanks for reading!

-Gabrielle Birkner, Story Editor


LITTLE ONES, BIG TEST This New York City teacher tested 4-year-olds for gifted programs. Here’s what she learned. Chalkbeat

HEADED WEST Hydra Mendoza is leaving her job as the education department’s deputy chancellor for community empowerment, partnerships, and communications. She will return to California, where she has a new job.  Chalkbeat New York Daily News New York Post

NEW TIMELINE Over the next two years, state policymakers will scrutinize New York’s high school graduation requirements — and make recommendations for what needs to change. Chalkbeat

COVETED SLOTS The competition for seats in New York’s gifted programs and test-in schools speaks to “a lack of faith in the quality of education in other parts of the system,” writes Jelani Cobb. New Yorker

UNDECIDED But will Mayor de Blasio eliminate gifted programs, as his school diversity task force is recommending? He isn’t saying just yet. NY1

ON HBO Coinciding with the 18th anniversary of 9/11, a new documentary looks at the horror of that day through the eyes of students at Stuyvesant High School, situated just blocks from where the Twin Towers once stood. NY1

NEVER FORGET A new state law requires schools in New York to observe a moment of silence on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. New York Post

THREATENED Law enforcement on Long Island is investigating firearm and bomb threats against Suffolk County schools. Wall Street Journal

AGAINST THE BAN Opponents of a new state ban on religious exemptions from school-mandated vaccinations protested Monday in Albany — with some shouting, “No school, not cool!” Newsday

WHAT’S WORKING A new radio series, “The 50 Year Fight: Solutions For Closing The Achievement Gap,” looks at promising ways to improve academic outcomes among students of color and those from low-income families. NPR