high school fair report

It was business as usual at Brooklyn Tech today; crowded, noisy and hot hot hot! It was also awesome. Thanks SO much to the wonderful educators, students, school security officers and DoE Enrollment officials (and my husband who is a school search widower)! I know a lot of you are now freaked out and just plain tired, but I feel very optimistic and energized!

Here are some take-aways:

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ch-ch-ch-changes for public high school admissions

The one big thing that is changing in the HS admissions procedure for the fall 2014 admissions season is that 2%ers (students who score in the top 2% state wide on the 7th grade ELA test) will no longer be given a guaranteed entry to an Ed Opt program. In the past if you were a 2%er and you listed an Ed Opt program as your number one choice, it was a GUARANTEED entry. Sorry, no longer.

Now there are NO guarantees of any placement in the entire Doe admissions process from prek to high school. Oh well, that's life in the big city.

See page 5 of the current DoE HS Directory

No Citywide G & T at PS 20 in Brooklyn

PS 20 will no doubt weather its troubles, but it is sad news for children who tested into the citywide gifted and talented program. One less option is always a sad story. Many parents saw the placement of a citywide program, which would consist of a single class on a grade, into an existing school as a curious move on the DOE's part. Considering the three citywides in Manhattan are full schools (although petite) it enables the teachers and administrators to build school wide programs especially designed for this end of the special needs spectrum. I would imagine that the school wide staff development geared to G&T would be invaluable and help produce fine and sought after programs.

The city has for years placed single G & T classes in general ed schools and although the talented teachers that lead these classes have toiled in solitude (one on a grade) they have done a fine job. It seems to me that the citywide program is serving a different purpose. I believe that was the thinking of the many parents that left their northern Brooklyn neighborhoods in droves to seek out Brooklyn School of Inquiry. Insideschools has reported that because of the huge popularity of the school that they will be adding a third kindergarten to the school and only opening one first grade class.

So, were Principal Keaton's troubles the reason that the program has closed? Was it the fact that it looked like this program, that had been given special development and attention at other schools, a seeming afterthought at PS 20? Was it a lack of focus and expertise in gifted and talented education that put parents off? We won't know. The DOE has a challenge finding the resources, the location and the educators to pull off this kind of program. I think that they have made a great bet in Donna Taylor and Brooklyn School of Inquiry.

Brooklyn School of Inquiry

This is information from the Brooklyn School of Inquiry's brochure.
"Within our self-contained classes, you'll find enrichment and a variety of accelerated teaching styles geared toward children with superior intellectual potential."

Their Philosophy: "Brooklyn School of Inquiry believes gifted and talented students require a curriculum of diverse content and great depth to realize their full potential. We are committed to the whole child: our goal is to balance the social, emotional and academic development of our students in an environment that nurtures creativity and fosters divergent thinking. We believe parents play a crucial role in the daily life and long-term growth of their children's school. It is through this vital home/school connection that we will partner with parents to build a sense of responsibility in children about the importance of attendance, punctuality and homework. Together, we will create a community that values sensitivity and respect for others. We support the development of self expression through dance, theatre, music, painting and drawing. Collaboration with many New York City cultural institutions enables us to promote the arts both in and outside of our classrooms."
The Academic Curriculum: "differentiated integrated curriculum, infusing Science, Social Studies and Literacy into thematic studies shaped by the New York State Framework for Grades K-8. The studies will include independent and group hands-on projects to foster questioning and the development of critical thinking skills. Math inquiry will involve interpreting, organizing, and constructing meaning of situations using mathematical models to develop number sense. Homework is a logical extension of the school day and serves to reinforce the skills, techniques, and information learned during school hours."
Language Arts: reading in all genres, and "writing projects including poetry, realistic and historical fiction, feature articles, comic books, interviews, persuasive essays and literary analysis and criticism." Readers and Writers Workshop.
Mathematics: "The curriculum is aligned with the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics standards. The goal is to help students learn to apply mathematics to everyday life and the world around them and to become confident by communicating and reasoning mathematically, both verbally and in writing." City College Math in the City Contextual Investigations.
Social Studies: "Students explore their communities and study world and American history and culture, within thematic interdisciplinary units that integrate language arts, music and the arts."
Science: "Our hands-on discovery approach invites students to theorize, hypothesize, observe and draw conclusions using the F.O.S.S. differentiated kits."
Social and Emotional Curriculum: "our counseling program is designed to be preventative an developmental. Guidance counselors will see students on an individual basis as well as during classroom lessons where they'll teach skills and share information in small-group settings.
The program will also include:
Preventive and Developmental Social and Emotional Counseling Program, SENG Model (Gifted Parent Group), Technology Education, Chess Instruction, Arts Integration, Academic Intervention and Enrichment Program.

The description of the different subject areas is similar to the regular citywide curriculum, and programs that are present in many quality general ed schools in Brooklyn. The difference will probably come in the level of support (including developmental and emotional) and the method and rate of acceleration within these programs. If I get any more specifics I will pass them on.

New Brooklyn Citywide G and T schools

According to insideschools blog the new citywide gifted and talented schools that we have been waiting for since last fall have been announced. Two of them will be located in Brooklyn. The Brooklyn School of Inquiry in Bay Ridge (correction: Bensonhurst) will be able to accommodate two kindergartens and two 1st grades next year. The TIER program at PS 20 will have space for one kindergarten and one 1st grade next year. If the citywide G&T policy remains the same the number of students attending likely depends on the number of children who score at the 97th percentile and above whose parents decide to send them to this program.

The Brooklyn School of Inquiry will be housed in a brand new building at 50 Ave. P in Bay Ridge (correction: Bensonhurst). It will open with kindergarten and 1st grade students in the fall and eventually go through 8th grade. The school will incorporate "looping" where a teacher follows a class for two years. According to Pamela Wheaton from insideschools.org Donna Taylor will be the principal. "She is an experienced teacher of gifted classes (she taught in the G&T class at PS 230 in Brooklyn) and is now doing a residency at the Anderson School." It sounds very promising.


The Technology, Inquiry, Enrichment and Research (TIER) program will be housed in PS 20 in the same building as Arts and Letters Middle School in Ft. Greene. It will also enroll kindergarten and 1st grade next fall and is planned to grow to 5th grade. A site is being sought for eventual middle school expansion (correction: "The Department of Education is working to identify nearby middle schools where students in these programs can continue after fifth grade.") The TIER program will be a part of PS 20 with Mr. Keaton as its Principal.

It looks like there will be another school located in the Ave. P building. Rather than being a G&T program, it is a CTT model school. The Academy of Talented Scholars will accept children into kindergarten and 1st grade next year and grow to 5th grade. They will develop skills through inquiry and project based learning, schoolwide enrichment for all students and differentiated instruction through Technology and Arts. Families interested in applying to the school should contact the Brooklyn Borough Enrollment Office