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  1. #1

    Choosing a Good School vs G&T School

    My five year old daughter has been reading since two years old. Her teacher guesstimates that she has a 5th grade reading level. She's also a free spirit; loves to dance and sing. She's a social butterfly and goes up to every kid she sees and starts a conversation at the drop of a dime.

    From what I know of Charter schools, she wouldn't thrive at the regulated and stricter environment.

    I've been looking at the various schools in Brooklyn. I know our chances of getting into non-district schools is small, but because we get 12(?) choices for kindergarten, I'm still looking at schools outside our district. Here is my research to date.

    When I started all this, my goal was to get her into NEST+M or BSI (the other citywide G&Ts are too far). But I've since read that citywide G&T follows the exact same curriculum as all other schools. The only difference is they do it a year early. Is that really true?!?

    Furthermore, I've read that district G&T schools actually have some leeway in determining what the "accelerated" curriculum is. Meaning, that while citywide G&T is just "standard curriculum one year early", the district curriculum can include things like robotics, computer programming, algebra for little kids, etc. If this is true, then one would think that the academics at district G&T schools could potentially be better, more enriched, than citywide G&T schools. Is THAT true?

    Next, if you look at my research, there are non-G&T schools (e.g. PS 748) which are clearly, clearly better than G&T schools. In fact, for the most part, the non-G&T schools are better, by pretty much any metric you care to apply. You've got PS 195 and PS 236 which are G&T, but all the rest of the best schools are non-G&T.

    So when enrolling your gifted kid in a kindergarten, what exactly are you supposed to aim for:

    • The school with better ratings, academics, teachers, and standardized test scores but no G&T program.
    • The school with a G&T program.

    Which one would you pick, and why?

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by caffeine View Post

    When I started all this, my goal was to get her into NEST+M or BSI (the other citywide G&Ts are too far). But I've since read that citywide G&T follows the exact same curriculum as all other schools. The only difference is they do it a year early. Is that really true?!?

    Furthermore, I've read that district G&T schools actually have some leeway in determining what the "accelerated" curriculum is. Meaning, that while citywide G&T is just "standard curriculum one year early", the district curriculum can include things like robotics, computer programming, algebra for little kids, etc. If this is true, then one would think that the academics at district G&T schools could potentially be better, more enriched, than citywide G&T schools. Is THAT true?

    Next, if you look at my research, there are non-G&T schools (e.g. PS 748) which are clearly, clearly better than G&T schools. In fact, for the most part, the non-G&T schools are better, by pretty much any metric you care to apply. You've got PS 195 and PS 236 which are G&T, but all the rest of the best schools are non-G&T.

    So when enrolling your gifted kid in a kindergarten, what exactly are you supposed to aim for:


    • The school with better ratings, academics, teachers, and standardized test scores but no G&T program.
    • The school with a G&T program.

    Which one would you pick, and why?

    GT schools are a lot less regulated than most people think. In fact, there is no audit of the schools (citywide nor districtwide) that they are maintaining any sort of acceleration or enrichment as far as I know. Traditionally, the citywides are suppose to be accelerated one grade level ahead. But I know that there are district wide schools like PS77 Lower Lab that have better standardized test scores than the citywides (this can all be found on insideschools.org).


    So clearly, the entire GT system in NYC is very subjective and there is no monitoring of the system. Each school is very much on their own. And it is definitely worth (as I see you've already done) researching each individual school for what it's worth.


    For me, the attribute I put most weight on is the standardized test scores their students are scoring. Really, the end product is what matters the most to me for my kids.

  3. #3
    One of the concerns with G&T is that it can be too free-form across programs (if there is one), and that there is often some yes, no, and maybe's to each of your questions.

    That aside, I'm curious of the specifics of both of these below, can you elaborate further using exact details/comparisons/lists/whatever as I'm not clear on what you mean by either.

    Quote Originally Posted by caffeine View Post
    My five year old ... has a 5th grade reading level.

    ...for the most part, the non-G&T schools are better, by pretty much any metric you care to apply....all the rest of the best schools are non-G&T.
    Passionate tutor of Elementary School subjects specializing in NY state tests, and the specialized high/middle school tests (SHSAT, Hunter, TACHS/CHSEE, ISEE, SSAT, ERB, ...)

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by GTheadache View Post
    GT schools are a lot less regulated than most people think. In fact, there is no audit of the schools (citywide nor districtwide) that they are maintaining any sort of acceleration or enrichment as far as I know. Traditionally, the citywides are suppose to be accelerated one grade level ahead. But I know that there are district wide schools like PS77 Lower Lab that have better standardized test scores than the citywides (this can all be found on insideschools.org).


    So clearly, the entire GT system in NYC is very subjective and there is no monitoring of the system. Each school is very much on their own. And it is definitely worth (as I see you've already done) researching each individual school for what it's worth.


    For me, the attribute I put most weight on is the standardized test scores their students are scoring. Really, the end product is what matters the most to me for my kids.



    You've confirmed my worst fears about G&T and the NYC public school system in general. I'm thankful though -- you've freed me from the "G&T or bust" mentality. I really can't in all good conscience wake my daughter up at 5:30am to attend NEST+M if all she's getting is one year acceleration. As someone who did their bachelors in 5 years and PhD in 7 years, I don't even *believe* in educational acceleration. Enrichment? Yes. Acceleration? No.


    The truth of the matter is I will never be able to do all the research necessary to pick out the best school near us. I was wondering if I should focus on standardized test scores rather than the G&T moniker.


    Thank you for the frank discussion!

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by GTheadache View Post
    GT schools are a lot less regulated than most people think. In fact, there is no audit of the schools (citywide nor districtwide) that they are maintaining any sort of acceleration or enrichment as far as I know. Traditionally, the citywides are suppose to be accelerated one grade level ahead. But I know that there are district wide schools like PS77 Lower Lab that have better standardized test scores than the citywides (this can all be found on insideschools.org).


    So clearly, the entire GT system in NYC is very subjective and there is no monitoring of the system. Each school is very much on their own. And it is definitely worth (as I see you've already done) researching each individual school for what it's worth.


    For me, the attribute I put most weight on is the standardized test scores their students are scoring. Really, the end product is what matters the most to me for my kids.
    Quote Originally Posted by GregsTutoringNYC View Post
    One of the concerns with G&T is that it can be too free-form across programs (if there is one), and that there is often some yes, no, and maybe's to each of your questions.

    That aside, I'm curious of the specifics of both of these below, can you elaborate further using exact details/comparisons/lists/whatever as I'm not clear on what you mean by either.

    My daughter learned her alphabet at 1 year, 10 months. She started reading real words at around two years old ... her first reading words were "CAT", "DOG" and "PURPLE". She was reading books at two and half. She just turned 5 a few days ago and reads words like "conquistador", "pinkalicious", and "pterodactyl" with ease. She reads this book like a hot knife through butter.


    Note she does not have the sophistication of a 5th grader. I tried getting her to read The Phantom Tollbooth about 6 months ago. She was able to read the book, but she didn't have the faintest clue about what the book was talking about. She was reading more or less correctly without comprehension. But still. The fact that she could read it at all is pretty amazing.


    I wrote about the details extensively on reddit in /r/Anki.

    But the upshot is that at a year and a half, I discovered that she somehow learned the first few letters of the alphabet from her floor mat. So I made it a point to teach her the alphabet. Midway through the alphabet I wondered what the difference was between recognizing an "A" and recognizing "CAT". They're both just squiggly lines, and in fact, from an existentialist viewpoint, "CAT" is a more concrete, more primitive idea than an "A". Anyone can see that. So, you know that period of time where a kid begins to acquire words at a dizzying pace? I began to give her those words on flashcards. So every time she acquired a new word, it would go onto a flashcard and she would learn how to read it.

    The whole thing was an experiment gone right. I had no idea what I was doing, but it worked.


    I'm now on my second kid. He's 1 year and 9 months old. At this point, he knows the entire alphabet, as well as DOG, CAT, SHEEP, BOJACK, HORSE, MOO, BUTTON. I need to make more flashcards for him. I'll probably throw on HEAVY (he just learned that yesterday), DIAPER, YES, and NO.

    In my experience, words were no harder for my kids to learn than letters.




    As for the other question, I guess you didn't look at my screenshot? Because it seems kind of obvious if you're looking at my spreadsheet.

    If you look at my screenshot, it's pretty clear (I hope) that NEST+M is the top). Then comes BSI.

    Then, let's compare PS 748 to the first G&T school (PS 195, Manhattan Beach). As you go across the row, all you really need to know is that larger numbers are larger than smaller numbers. In other words, in the Great Schools columns, (10 + 10 + 9) > (9 + 10 + 6). Another example: the standardized reading + math scores for PS 748 is greater than the scores for PS 195. So hopefully you're comfortable with PS 748 being a better school than PS 194 Manhattan Beach.

    Again, following my spreadsheet, after the non-G&T PS 748, we have two G&T schools, Manhattan Beach and Mill Basin. Then comes five non-G&T schools, which have BEAUTIFUL reviews by InsideSchools. Then comes 2 G&T schools.

    The conclusion is that life is not as simple as "G&T is better". In fact, it's often the case where the G&T school, overall, is not better than the non-G&T school.

    I urge you to look at my screenshot and see for yourself. The four lowest ranked schools on my list are actually G&T schools!






    One more thought. From GTHeadache's response, I have to confess. I hold more credence for, say, PS 134's "Eagle Class" than I do for, say, NEST+M's accelerated G&T program. Would I send my daughter to NEST+M if I lived in LES? Yeah, I would. Sometimes a school's name alone makes it worth it. But there's no way I'd send my daughter there with a 30+ min commute. I think she'd get a better education at a non-G&T school like PS 682, given that citywide G&T only means a one year accelerated program. As I mentioned, I believe "enrichment" will always win out over "accelerated" every single time.
    Last edited by caffeine; 01-12-2020 at 10:36 PM.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by GTheadache View Post
    GT schools are a lot less regulated than most people think. In fact, there is no audit of the schools (citywide nor districtwide) that they are maintaining any sort of acceleration or enrichment as far as I know. Traditionally, the citywides are suppose to be accelerated one grade level ahead. But I know that there are district wide schools like PS77 Lower Lab that have better standardized test scores than the citywides (this can all be found on insideschools.org).


    So clearly, the entire GT system in NYC is very subjective and there is no monitoring of the system. Each school is very much on their own. And it is definitely worth (as I see you've already done) researching each individual school for what it's worth.


    For me, the attribute I put most weight on is the standardized test scores their students are scoring. Really, the end product is what matters the most to me for my kids.

    GTHeadache, one more question, if you please.


    I understand you completely when you say you go by standardized test scores. That would be any rational person's method if he/she looked into the real nitty gritty of school rankings. I don't know you, but I understand who you may be based on what you wrote. Someone who desperately wants their child to attain two goals: maximal learning and maximal progression (the two are not necessarily the same).


    But one question I have about what you wrote is this: What makes you SO sure that high standardized test scores indicate a great school? Perhaps what you have is a great student body, no? Perhaps those 99% students at NEST+M who got above average reading got that score based on their own abilities, rather than the skill and prowess of their teachers.


    Have you thought of that?


    Honestly, as someone who has spent over a decade and a half in University, I've come to realize that it's not so much the teacher's skill as it is the student's skill, whether the student succeeds or not. So why use the standardized test scores as your metric? Maybe they would've gotten their scores had they gone to some crappy school...

  7. #7
    I am not sure why but I don't see any screenshot and/or links. I'll have to reboot and such as see why it's not coming up; I may have disabled something too to check.

    I don't have up to date school-by-school specifics but it's false to say that G&T as a whole only entails acceleration. For instance, Nest and Anderson do have enrichment too. IIRC they also use what I'll refer to as different/modified math and English (at the least).

    The basic premise of a good school encompasses its student body, parents, principal, staff, vision, curriculum, and related things. Some of it will be chicken and egg. Symbiotic if you will. And sure yes you can put the best students in the worst school too and some can survive well. But I've also seen cases where that has not been the case. There's always a plethora of insights, techniques and artistry to offer all students at any level. And non-optimal teachers and leadership usually will not survive as best as can be and the school will eventually show cracks and problems against its mission if continued both as a whole and within sub-concerns (G&T, standardized tests, etc.)
    Passionate tutor of Elementary School subjects specializing in NY state tests, and the specialized high/middle school tests (SHSAT, Hunter, TACHS/CHSEE, ISEE, SSAT, ERB, ...)

  8. #8
    Caffeine, one point to consider is that when you are looking at District G&T programs, you are looking at data from the school as a whole, not the G&T program. I'm not really familiar with Brooklyn schools, but usually there is one G&T class per grade and 2,3,4 Gen Ed classes per grade. Test scores etc, are reported for the school as a whole. To my knowledge, you can't get detailed information re the G&T program from online sources. If you or someone else knows how to do that, I'd be very interested myself.

  9. #9
    Ok, I'm not sure what happened yesterday but this morning I'm now able to see your file after rebooting and such. I'll take a look.

    Also note that re "follows the exact same curriculum" can be widely interpreted (even be considered vague by some) therefore schools, grades, or even classes can "follow the exact same curriculum" but appear completely different, organic, etc.
    Passionate tutor of Elementary School subjects specializing in NY state tests, and the specialized high/middle school tests (SHSAT, Hunter, TACHS/CHSEE, ISEE, SSAT, ERB, ...)

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by caffeine View Post
    But one question I have about what you wrote is this: What makes you SO sure that high standardized test scores indicate a great school? Perhaps what you have is a great student body, no? Perhaps those 99% students at NEST+M who got above average reading got that score based on their own abilities, rather than the skill and prowess of their teachers.


    Have you thought of that?


    Honestly, as someone who has spent over a decade and a half in University, I've come to realize that it's not so much the teacher's skill as it is the student's skill, whether the student succeeds or not. So why use the standardized test scores as your metric? Maybe they would've gotten their scores had they gone to some crappy school...
    Caffeine, the answer to your question is really quite straight forward if you distill it down to this - if you sincerely feel that students (since you say assume 99% of NEST can do this) can score well on tests based on their own abilities then it should not matter what school your child goes to. Since no matter what school they attend they will achieve the same score on their standardized tests, according to your assumption. Further, if that were the case then we don't even need GT programs out there. Your question really answers itself in that if you think the quality of the teacher & school matters not then you ought to simply send your child to your zoned school and never worry/stress about anything again!

    I (like most parents who send their kid to GT testing) believe that the school I send my kid to certainly does matter. While I do believe in my kid's inherent intelligence (to a certain extent) I also believe that the quality of the teacher & school plays at least as much of a role as their inherent IQ. As such, the only objective metric to measure the quality of the teacher/school currently is the testing results they produce. It's really quite simple.

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