We've made the hard decision recently to leave New York City. We're actually moving out to the Philadelphia suburbs this summer, since my husband has been working in that general region and I can (in theory) work anywhere. The idea is to have more space for our growing family and hopefully let my husband have a bit of a calmer life. So I've been watching with a bit of detachment as many parents I know have had their 4- and 5-year olds take New York City's tests for its gifted programs and over the past few weeks have gotten the results back. (If we'd stayed, Jasper would have been tested next year).
This is a huge city, and thanks to decent outreach, many thousands of children sit for the test. I think it's great that NYC tries to test so many children, and I also think it's great that New York City starts gifted education in kindergarten. In many districts, the idea is that they'll all "even out by third grade" when, allegedly, any benefit gained via hothouse parenting or any gaps created by a less-enriching home environment will have been erased. So that's when you start. But this is patently ridiculous. Any reader of this blog who lives with a highly gifted child knows that their quirks, gifts and struggles don't all come out in the wash as they get older.
The issue is that New York City has not actually created enough seats to accommodate students who meet its definition of gifted. To qualify for the city-wide gifted programs, a child needs to score in the 97th percentile nationally on the qualifying tests. This year, 1,788 children did so. There are only 250 seats in the city-wide programs (there are others in neighborhood schools...but maybe not your neighborhood school). So it is still going to be a scramble.
One can argue about where, exactly, on national standardized tests the cut-off should be set. But it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to create a program that can't accommodate all the children who qualify. When you create fewer slots, gifted education starts to be a reward as opposed to an educational intervention for children who need it. In theory, gifted education shouldn't cost more than any other class, as long as you figure a way to keep class size constant (which you could do by combining grades or in NYC where schools may be close together, combining programs at one of the schools). So it's unclear why the situation is what it is. But hopefully, as this massive school system starts to change in other ways, the powers that be will think about this issue as well.