On a recent, chilly Sunday morning, children ranging in age from 4 to 6 waited with their parents in the cafeteria of a Brooklyn school. Each wore a name tag.
The kids chatted cheerfully (in several languages) until each was summoned upstairs to be tested for a spot in New York City’s gifted program. Their parents sent them off with hugs and the promise of special treats for doing their best.
When a student is identified as “gifted,” the label is a vote of confidence — as in the indelible Nina Simone song. It also comes with a prize package: extra services, accelerated classes, individualized learning plans. The availability of these services varies widely from district to district. The chances of being identified as gifted also varies — notably, by race.