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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Open doors to challenging academics

Challenging classes can help many students -- not just the "gifted" -- excel, writes Vincent Dotoli on Fordham's Flypaper. He heads Harlem Academy, a private, nonprofit K-8 school that turns achievers into high achievers.

"Our students enter with median baseline scores in the 74th percentile, a level that would generally miss the mark for gifted admissions," he writes. "By eighth grade, their median scores reach the 90th percentile, achievement that opens a door to top secondary schools and ultimately to college. Among the students in our four most recent classes, 98 percent went on to four-year colleges, including Carnegie Mellon, Howard, NYU, Princeton, Tufts, Wesleyan, and Yale."

Dotoli has advice for Mayor Eric Adams, who plans to expand the G&T program in New York City. The mayor plans to add more seats in kindergarten, add a third-grade entry point and shift from sole reliance on an IQ test for admission.

He suggests using a variety of tools for identifying students who could benefit from challenging classes. IQ tests may be skewed, but so are teacher recommendations and grades, writes Dotoli. "Standardized tests can identify potential a teacher might miss," especially if students are compared to their socioeconomic peers.

As Fordham's Michael Petrilli writes, educational equity requires excellence. Children from low-income families need "excellent instruction, excellent curricula, excellent teachers, excellent tutoring, excellent enrichment" to achieve their full academic potential.

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