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Today, 10/13/2015
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Inside Schools

Late admission thwarts G&T 4th- and 5th-graders - Read Full Article

Late admission thwarts G&T 4th- and 5th-graders

A few days before the start of school in September, Ilise Alba was surprised to learn via email that her rising 4th-grader had not qualified for gifted and talented admission (G&T). “His teacher’s feeling was that he should be eligible and going to one of these programs,” Alba said. Still, she moved on. After all, it was September: afterschool classes were paid for and her son was set to re-join his friends at the popular PS 101 in Forest Hills, Queens.

Just this past Monday, however, everything changed. A new Department of Education (DOE) email arrived, saying that her son was in fact eligible and apologizing for the confusion. The email included an application, a list of all the G&T programs in the city (rising 5th-graders may only apply to k-8 programs) and a deadline to apply less than 72 hours later. Alba researched schools “on the fly” and applied to several, though she remains frustrated and confused.

“It feels like it’s too late,” she said. “Now that he’s in place and happy a month into school, we’d be taking a huge risk with his grades and with all the emotional issues involved in switching schools." 

The real surprise is that had Alba's first email correctly stated that her son was eligible for G&T, he'd still be waiting for a placement. To date, not a single new 4th- or 5th-grader has been placed in a G&T program for the 2015-16 school year, the DOE confirmed. All final placements, including the one for Alba’s son, will go out early next week, said DOE spokesperson Harry Hartfield. Once families receive an offer, the effect is immediate. “They just show up at school the next day,” Hartfield said.

Historically, 4th- and 5th-grade G&T placements have been plagued by a late start. In the past, state test scores were the sole measure of G&T eligibility for the upper elementary school grades, and since scores aren’t released until August, it left little time to evaluate and place students. After the State mandated that all students in grades 3–8 be promoted according to multiple measures, the DOE has used a combination of test scores, grades and teacher recommendations to determine 4th and 5th grade G&T eligibility. But as far as timing, little has changed.

While Hartfield couldn’t comment on Alba’s son’s particular case, he said that several students’ applications this year were held up by teacher recommendations that weren’t submitted on time. Even then, it’s a mad rush.

“We have to use the information we get and it’s a lot of data to sort through,” Hartfield said. “A lot of families want [G&T placement] done by the first month of school, but there are a lot of logistical issues that make that very challenging. We try to make it as quick as possible.”

Robin Aronow, a consultant who advises parents on school choice, said making kids wait until after the year has started to find a school simply doesn't make sense. "Of course this happens for anyone coming off a kindergarten wait list," she said, "but for first round admissions to be completed in September or even October, after school has started and real academic learning has begun, is inappropriate. If they have to wait for the scores then perhaps they need to use another measure that is available sooner," Aronow said. 

The DOE acknowledged that the process as is puts an undue strain on kids and their parents. “We know kids do best with continuity and we want to give them time to adjust,” Hartfield said. “We will review the process this year going forward to make sure we are meeting the needs of all our students and families.”

Alba hopes for big changes—and not just for her son's sake. "There is no direction, and the time frame is extraordinarily narrow," she said. "We're lucky that keeping [our son] where he is wouldn't be a bad decision, but that's not the case for a lot of kids."

Is your child "gifted"? Sign up for 2016 testing now - Read Full Article

Is your child

If you’re thinking of applying to a gifted and talented program in New York City for your child currently in pre-k to 2nd grade, the time is now: The G&T application season is open and the sooner you sign up, the better your chances are of getting your preferred test date.

The first step is submitting your RFT (request for testing) form either online or in person at your child’s current NYC public school or at a Family Welcome Center (if your child is a non-public school or charter student). All RFTs must be submitted by November 9.

Here's an overview of gifted and talented programming, testing procedures and—as always—advice to help your family navigate the process.

The schools

Each G&T program has its own personality, shaped by its philosophy and the strategies and materials it uses. We recommend taking time to get to know the programs via our school search tool, DOE’s list of schools that offer G&T this year and by touring the school, if possible.

There are two types of programs. 

1. District G&T programs give priority to students living in that district and are housed in neighborhood schools that have space for them. G&T students have their own academic program and classroom, but may join other students for gym, music and art.

2. Citywide G&T programs are free standing schools. They accept students from all five boroughs with no preference for where you live. The score cutoff for eligibility is higher than that of district programs. There are five citywide G&T programs: The Andersen SchoolNest + m and TAG Young Scholars in Manhattan; The 30th Avenue School in Queens and Brooklyn School of Inquiry in Borough Park.

The tests

The Department of Education uses two assessments to determine G&T eligibility: The Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test (NNAT) and the Otis-Lennon School Ability Test (OLSAT). The NNAT gauges a child’s ability to solve problems and understand relationships by doing things like completing patterns and analogies. The OLSAT is meant to measure verbal reasoning and comprehension through tasks like noticing likenesses and differences, remembering words and numbers and following directions. Like last year, the verbal and nonverbal portions will be weighted equally, each counting toward 50 percent of the overall score. 

In case you're wondering: Children born in 2011, applying for kindergarten, will not have to bubble in their own answers.


When you submit your RFT you will also select your preferred test date and time. According to the DOE website, testing dates range from January 6-31, 2015. Pre-school and non-public school children will be tested on weekends at select school sites throughout the city, while current public school kindergartners through 2nd-graders will be tested at their school during the school day. While the tests are untimed, the DOE advises parents to block off about one or two hours at the testing site. Appointments fill up fast.

(All children must live in NYC at the time you submit your RFT through the time of admission.)

How to prepare

While shelling out major bucks for a fancy prep class is an official no-no, the DOE does encourage parents to “prepare” their kids for the assessment. The online G&T handbook has a sample test for families to review with their kids, and you should feel empowered to do so. Helping your child become familiar with the test’s procedure and question types will give him the comfort and confidence he needs to do his best. Keep stress of any kind out of the picture and remind kids that they are not expected to know the answer to every question.

Keeping everyday interactions stimulating and conversations flowing is probably the best preparation any child needs. Talking about patterns you see, discussing ideas like “more” and “less” and trying to imagine what an object would look like turned upside down or sideways are some helpful activities suggested by the DOE. And of course, a hearty meal and a good night’s sleep on test day will go a long way.

Special needs?

Students with special needs are encouraged to apply to G&T. Having a learning difference or behavioral challenge doesn’t mean a child can’t also be extremely bright (and, for the record, a child who doesn’t qualify for G&T can also be extremely bright!). Insideschools visits G&T programs throughout the city, and we always see students who are receiving special services. 

For test day, if your child has an IEP or 504 plan, he may also be able to receive certain accommodations including a larger print exam, a scribe or a separate location.

English not the primary language?

If your child’s first language is not English, don’t worry: Assessments are also offered in Arabic, Bengali, Chinese (Cantonese and Mandarin), French, Haitian Creole, Korean, Russian, Spanish and Urdu.

Families can select the testing language and note any special considerations when submitting the RFT. If your child requires an accommodation that isn’t listed, call the Office of Assessment at 212-374-6646 or email ServiceCenter@schools.nyc.gov.

The results

In early April, families will get a score report via email (if you submitted an RFT online) and regular mail. If your child qualifies for a G&T placement the DOE will send you an application along with your score report and a list of G&T programs to rank.

Decision letters will be sent out in late May. If your child doesn’t get a seat, she will be placed on a waitlist for all the programs you applied to; if your child does get a seat, he will also be placed on waitlists for all the programs ranked higher than the one that extended the offer.

In order to qualify for a district program, your child must have an overall percentile score of 90 or above; for citywide programs, the cutoff is 97 percent. As we’ve mentioned every year, the number of kids who qualify for G&T greatly outnumbers the available seats. Last year, 7,242 students rising to grades k–3 qualified and applied for a spot, but only about 66 percent got seats. The breakdown for incoming kindergartners showed the best odds with nearly 80 percent of qualifying applicants receiving offers. Still, many more students qualify each year than there are seats available. That means that in reality most citywide offers go to those with scores in the 99th percentile or who have siblings in a program, while in district programs the highest scores win out. 

More questions? There is detailed information in the DOE’s gifted and talented handbooks available online and in hard copy at all city pre-k programs and elementary schools. Families are also encouraged to attend information sessions in the coming weeks across all five boroughs where a DOE official will be on hand to answer questions. For dates and locations, visit the DOE’s Gifted & Talented Events page or see our calendar.

Inside ICT: Separating fact from fiction - Read Full Article

Inside ICT: Separating fact from fiction

At Insideschools, we’re used to hearing from worried parents. This fall, we’ve been flooded with emails from parents concerned that their high-achieving children have been placed in ICT, or integrated co-teaching, a classroom that mixes general education and special needs students with two teachers. One mother writes:

Today I found out [my son] was put into an ICT class. I have a big problem with this. My son already has reached the benchmark reading level needed at the end of 4th grade… Being in an ICT class, I believe, will only slow him down. What can I do?

Our advice: Take a deep breath. Years of research have shown that educating kids of different abilities together gives special needs students a huge boost and helps their gen ed peers develop important social-emotional skills without sacrificing academics.

Of course, just as school quality varies across New York City, some ICT classrooms will be excellent and some may struggle to find their stride. How well two teachers work together, the level of training and support from the principal, and a school’s available resources are some of the factors that can make or break ICT, says Maggie Moroff of Advocates for Children.

Still most educators and policy-makers agree that ICT serves an important purpose for all the kids in the room—strong students as well as those who need extra help. “When it works well, it’s brilliant,” Moroff says.

For a better understanding of exactly how ICT works, we’ve talked to the experts—parents, educators, advocates and officials—and let them weigh in on some common questions.

What is an ICT, or integrated co-teaching, classroom?

Formerly known as CTT, or collaborative team-teaching, ICT classes are made up of about 60 percent general education students with up to 40 percent of kids who need some kind of extra support, be it for a learning difference, behavioral challenge or physical disability. To reach such a wide range of learners, ICT classrooms have two teachers who work together, and one has a certification in special education.

Why didn’t I know about ICT?

The Department of Education (DOE) has many programs for children with special needs and unless you are an unusually proactive general ed parent, it’s easy to find yourself in the dark. Mark Alter, professor of educational psychology at NYU Steinhardt, says that schools haven’t done enough to educate parents about inclusion classes like ICT. “Parents need to be part of the decision-making, and they need to be informed,” he says.

At Manhattan’s selective NYC Lab Middle School, inclusion is an ongoing conversation, says Parent Coordinator Marilyn Coston. “We are proactive when it comes to our inclusion program and we stand by it.” The school begins talking about its programs on prospective parent tours and offers workshops on inclusion every fall for all parents.

My child is not special needs. Why was he chosen to be a part of a special needs class?

“There are careful considerations to the students being represented in ICT,” says Christina Foti, CEO of special education at the DOE. Often the gen ed students chosen are socially well-adjusted and academically high-achieving kids who teachers believe have a lot to offer their peers with special needs—and vice versa, she says.

Rather than seeing ICT as a negative, parents may consider it a chance to be part of a varied group of kids who all have different things to offer. A child with dyslexia may be a math whiz, for example, while a kid who has trouble sitting still might be a gifted musician. “If kids don’t meet people who aren’t like them they are never going to understand what it’s like to be different,” says Ellen McHugh of the advocacy group Parent to Parent.

My child is bright and was at the top of his class in gen ed. Will being in an ICT class this year slow down his learning?

“All ICT classes use gen ed curriculum and have the same sense of academic rigor as we would expect in any other class,” says Foti. In fact, in some schools gen ed parents clamor for an ICT placement because kids get the benefit of two teachers and more individual attention. “It’s Common Core math,” jokes PS 41 mom Heather Campbell, whose two gen ed daughters have spent several happy years in ICT classrooms. “Do you want 25 kids divided by one, or 25 divided by two?”

Will being in an ICT class “look bad on my child’s record” for high school?

Foti assures parents—and students—that being in an ICT class does not go on a child’s academic record.

How many years can a gen ed student be put into an ICT class?

There is no limit to how many years a gen ed student can be put in ICT, says Foti. Skip Card, parent of a 5th-grader in Manhattan and a former writer for Insideschools who has written about ICT, notes that his daughter has been in ICT classes half of her elementary school years. Campbell’s eldest daughter has been in ICT four out of five years, and her youngest is three for three. They are all gen ed students.

If my child was put into an ICT class is there any way to get out of it?

Before you try to run, you may want to consider the benefits ICT provides, says Foti. “We want our students to be full-fledged citizens of a diverse environment, accepting other kids in a diverse world,” she says. “The idea of getting away from that is nothing I would encourage a parent to do.” If you are still concerned, Foti says, you should talk to your school principal.

What if a student’s special needs cause problems for the others?

While you will find all types of students in ICT classrooms, most gen ed parents worry about behavior. “There’s no such thing as a classroom that has no behavioral issues,” says Campbell. “But, I think ICT programs are especially well positioned to deal with it and to make it a learning experience.”

“Kids without IEPs have probably been just as much of a problem for my daughter, and overall those problems have been blessedly few,” echoes Card.

While finding innovative solutions should be an inherent goal of any ICT class, not every school or classroom has the tools and experience to make the model succeed. If you feel strongly that the situation isn’t working and your school is unresponsive or unable to help, Foti urges parents to contact the DOE’s new BFSCs (Borough Field Support Centers), created to offer support and supervision for NYC schools.


Stay tuned for more coverage of what’s working and what isn’t in ICT classrooms across the city.

School Book

How Squeezed Are the Schools? We May Get a Better Picture - Read Full Article

Critics have long said that the city is using the wrong metrics to decide how much space schools actually have to serve students. On Tuesday, the Department of Education announced it will make revisions to the Blue Book, a 475-page document released annually that inventories how much space schools do — or don't — have.

The problem with the Blue Book is that it didn't take into account building design or the needs of the students. For example, until last year, it counted trailers as part of a school's capacity, even though trailers are supposed to be temporary. And it didn't account for common space, like gyms or cafeterias.

Inaccurate reporting has meant that the city hasn't gotten a full picture of how squeezed the schools are. 

Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration had convened a working group to examine the Blue Book, and six months ago, they submitted recommendations to the mayor and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. 

"They certainly were aware that the Blue Book numbers were flawed," said Shino Tanikawa, president of the Community Education Council for District 2 and a co-chair of the Blue Book working group. "The debate was over how to fix it and how far to go."

Of the 13 recommendations submitted to the city, the Department of Education will adopt seven. Key among them is recognizing the need for schools to designate and account for private counseling space in elementary and middle schools, and allocating a minimum of two cluster rooms — spaces for subjects like art or technology — to even small elementary schools with a student population under 250. 

Other recommendations adopted by the city have to do with gathering better data from principals on the common spaces they have and how many students with disabilities or English Language Learners are at each school.

However, the city did not adopt a recommendation to align Blue Book calculations to the smaller class sizes required by the Contracts for Excellence law passed in 2007. 

As a candidate for mayor, de Blasio had said that he would prioritize reducing class sizes, and would comply with the Contracts for Excellence class size targets. Advocates on the working group pushed hard for this change, contending that the Blue Book must reflect these goals in order to document how many classroom seats the city truly needs.

"Certainly for me and for many of us, the class size issue was the biggest issue that we felt would have the greatest impact on bringing us to painting an accurate picture of reality and making sure that all kids got access to an adequate education — hands down," said Lisa Donlan, president of the Community Education Council for District 1 and a member of the working group.

City education officials said reducing class size was still a shared goal.



Community Education Council 3 is please to invite you to join our Town Hall with Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina on October 28th, 5:30-7:00pm
PS 191 the Museum Magnet School, 210 W 61st St.

The council is asking for your input!
We would love to ask your questions of the Chancellor.  Please submit questions for the Chancellor below.  The council will find representative questions to ask. 

HS Senior Community Service Opportunity
 2015-16 Member of CEC3


Community Events

2015 District 3 Meet & Greet

Wednesday October 14, 2015

5:30 P.M.

Joan of Arc Building

154 West 93rd Street, NY 10025

Hosted by:

Ilene Altschul, District 3 Superintendent & Community Education Council 3

CSD3  2015-16 Events


Upcoming Events

Wednesday, October 14
District 3 Meet & Greet
5:30 PM - 6:30 PM

2015 District 3 Meet & Greet

Wednesday October 14, 2015
5:30 P.M.
Joan of Arc Building

154 West 93rd Street, NY 10025

Business Meeting
6:30 PM - 7:30 PM
Joan of Arc Building
154 W. 93rd St.
Special Calendar Meeting
7:30 PM - 8:00 PM
presentation on Contracts for Excellence funding
Joan of Arc Complex
154 W 93rd Street

District 3 Common Core Parent Survey

Encuesta para padres del CEC3 del Distrito 3, sobre estándares básicos comunes

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Kristen Berger

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