G&T by the numbers

Gifted and talented offers see increase in good news (in some districts)

Sixty percent of students eligible for one of the city’s gifted and talented programs were offered a seat for next year, the city said Tuesday. That’s an increase in good news from last year, when just 54 percent of the high-scoring students got offers.

But the numbers show that the disparities that have persisted in the city’s gifted and talented system are set to continue next year. Fewer than 25 kindergarten students received offers in Districts 8, 9 and 12 in the Bronx, and in central Brooklyn’s Districts 16, 19, and 32. Those districts also saw the fewest students meet the city’s new standard for qualifying for the programs.

Overall, about 380 fewer students were offered spots in gifted programs than were last year. But that drop came mostly because fewer students earned eligible scores. This year’s screening test weighed verbal and non-verbal skills equally, and just over 26 percent of children made the cut citywide. Last year, more than 32 percent of children met the standards.

Getting a seat in one of the gifted programs is a multi-step process, though this year it was free of the scoring errors and confusion that delayed last year’s results by a month.

Children who score in the 90th percentile on that screening test may apply to district programs, and children in the 97th percentile may apply to a handful of elite citywide programs, although admission is not guaranteed. Last year was the first year that students weren’t guaranteed a seat, even if they indicated they would attend any program in their district.

On Tuesday, Chancellor Carmen Fariña noted that as a former gifted and talented teacher, she has already made it a priority to increase training for teachers in gifted programs. But she has downplayed the role of gifted programs since taking office at the beginning of the year.

“My children did not go to gifted and talented, and I think they had wonderful educations because their teachers taught all the kids in that class to the highest level,” Fariña said at a forum in Queens in February. She said her “goal would be to have neighborhood schools that provide gifted practices to all students.”

What's Your Education Story?

As the 2018 school year begins, join us for storytelling from Indianapolis educators

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy/Chalkbeat
Sarah TeKolste, right, and Lori Jenkins at a Teacher Story Slam, in April.

In partnership with Teachers Lounge Indy, Chalkbeat is hosting another teacher story slam this fall featuring educators from across the city.

Over the past couple of years, Chalkbeat has brought readers personal stories from teachers and students through the events. Some of our favorites touched on how a teacher won the trust of her most skeptical student, why another teacher decided to come out to his students, and one educator’s call to ramp up the number of students pursuing a college education.

The event, 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, is free and open to the public — please RSVP here.

Event details:

5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018
Tube Factory artspace
1125 Cruft St., Indianapolis, IN 46203
Get tickets here and find more on Facebook

More in What's Your Education Story?

School safety

Hiring more security officers in Memphis after school shootings could have unintended consequences

PHOTO: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Tennessee’s largest district, Shelby County Schools, is slated to add more school resource officers under the proposed budget for next school year.

Superintendent Dorsey Hopson earmarked $2 million to hire 30 school resource officers in addition to the 98 already in some of its 150-plus schools. The school board is scheduled to vote on the budget Tuesday.

But an increase in law enforcement officers could have unintended consequences.

A new state law that bans local governments from refusing to cooperate with federal immigration officials could put school resource officers in an awkward position.

Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen recently reminded school personnel they are not obligated to release student information regarding immigration status. School resource officers employed by police or sheriff’s departments, however, do not answer to school districts. Shelby County Schools is still reviewing the law, but school board members have previously gone on the record emphasizing their commitment to protecting undocumented students.

“Right now we are just trying to get a better understanding of the law and the impact that it may have,” said Natalia Powers, a district spokeswoman.

Also, incidents of excessive force and racial bias toward black students have cropped up in recent years. Two white Memphis officers were fired in 2013 after hitting a black student and wrestling her to the ground because she was “yelling and cussing” on school grounds. And mothers of four elementary school students recently filed a lawsuit against a Murfreesboro officer who arrested them at school in 2016 for failing to break up a fight that occurred off-campus.

Just how common those incidents are in Memphis is unclear. In response to Chalkbeat’s query for the number and type of complaints in the last two school years, Shelby County Schools said it “does not have any documents responsive to this request.”

Currently, 38 school resource officers are sheriff’s deputies, and the rest are security officers hired by Shelby County Schools. The officers respond and work to prevent criminal activity in all high schools and middle schools, Hopson said. The 30 additional officers would augment staffing at some schools and for the first time, branch out to some elementary schools. Hopson said those decisions will be based on crime rates in surrounding neighborhoods and school incidents.

Hopson’s initial recommendation for more school resource officers was in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people and sparked a wave of student activism on school safety, including in Memphis.

Gov. Bill Haslam’s recent $30 million budget boost would allow school districts across Tennessee to hire more law enforcement officers or improve building security. Measures to arm some teachers with guns or outlaw certain types of guns have fallen flat.


For more on the role and history of school resource officers in Tennessee, read our five things to know.


Sheriff’s deputies and district security officers meet weekly, said Capt. Dallas Lavergne of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. When the Memphis Police Department pulled their officers out of school buildings following the merger of city and county school systems, the county Sheriff’s Office replaced them with deputies.

All deputy recruits go through school resource officer training, and those who are assigned to schools get additional annual training. In a 2013 review of police academies across the nation, Tennessee was cited as the only state that had specific training for officers deployed to schools.