Where are the gifted programs in New York?
Unfortunately, we don’t have a comprehensive listing of gifted programs in New York State. New York City does have a few programs you can check out. For more information about the NYC area: Visit Hoagies Gifted Education Page. Also, you may want to consider calling the NYC Public Schools Hotline: (718)482-3777 for suggestions.
For districts outside of the city, both public and private, e-mail us and we’ll try to put you in touch with board members or AGATE chapters who may be able to help. Word of mouth is alive and well in New York State!
Where can I get my child tested?
There are several ways you can get your child tested to determine levels of giftedness.
If your child is entering kindergarten or you have just moved into a new school district in New York State, your local public schools may be able to provide testing services either through a gifted specialist or school psychologist.
If this is not an option, then seek an outside independent counseling service in your area, preferably one that has psychologists who specialize in gifted issues.
Another option is to contact your local BOCES (Board of Cooperative Educational Services) to find out if they have a gifted specialist on staff. If so, this person may be able to offer suggestions or recommendations.
What is Kindergarten Screening?
Every year all students who are new to a school district must be screened for potential giftedness and potentially handicapping conditions. This is a requirement under New York State education laws and often takes place in kindergarten.
There is no prescribed method for this screening. Many districts tend to use what is recognized as a “kindergarten readiness” test. It typically asks children to perform tasks such as simple cutting, identifying colors, and recognizing their names. Some include asking children to bounce a ball or skip. Obviously none of these tasks would identify a child as being gifted academically or artistically.
If after a screening, a child were identified as potentially gifted, the law requires that parents and district superintendents be notified. It does not require that a program be provided. Only if a potentially handicapping condition exists, must there be further investigation and provision of program.
Giftedness in young children is identified by many characteristics. Gifted children do not need to possess all of these traits. They include: large vocabulary, good problem-solving abilities, rapid learner, good memory, long attention span, sensitivity, compassion for others, perfectionism, lots of energy, prefers older companions, wide range of interests, early or avid reader, good with puzzles, mazes or numbers, mature for age at times, curious, pursues one area of interest and finally, questions authority.
It is just as important to identify gifted children early, as it is to identify those with disabilities so that their needs will be considered when offering them a program. In fact, some gifted children may also be learning disabled and should have both their strengths and disabilities addressed. Once a child has been identified as already reading, it is not necessary to spend time on letter recognition. Similarly, if a child can perform addition and subtraction operations, counting and number recognition will not teach him anything new. Gifted children respond best to a curriculum that offers a pace and depth of instruction compatible with the child’s ability to learn. They typically do not perform well when there is a great deal of review and repetition built in to the program.
Many teachers have not had exposure to classes in which they were taught about gifted children. There is no specific course requirement as part of undergraduate education. A teacher typically can only get that information on a graduate level or in an undergraduate program if the instructor is so inclined to provide it. Some teachers are reluctant to identify children as potentially gifted because they might be wrong. Others may not feel comfortable about what to provide that child with once the child is identified. Still others are afraid to go beyond the present curriculum because it will pose a problem for the next teacher.
If you feel your child may be gifted and the school district has not advised you that your child was identified, it is important to advocate for that child. If your child has read more complex books or completed more difficult math than he is being asked to do at school, then it is important to sit down with the teacher and present the books and math work to the teacher. Simply saying that your child reads, without some indication of the level at which he is reading, is not helpful. Bring many examples of the types of things your child enjoys doing in order to give the most complete picture. Good luck!
Does New York State mandate gifted education services?
Unfortunately, we do not have a mandate for gifted education here in New York State. What the law simply requires is that every public school district test to determine who the gifted are in their population. However, the law is silent about what districts must do to provide services for the gifted in their schools.
For more information about gifted education in New York State visit the New York State Education Department web site. Also visit the Gifted and Talented link to keep up to date on gifted issues within NY State.