New York City’s Gifted and Talented program provides a rigorous, in-depth curriculum to the city’s gifted young minds. Students take classes with similarly gifted peers and are taught by teachers trained in educating and engaging gifted students. The program challenges gifted students to reach their fullest potential and continue learning and growing. In this article, we’ll explore the ten best NYC Gifted and Talented schools.
First, it’s helpful to understand the difference between citywide and district-wide G&T programs. At the 100 district-wide programs, students attend school with mainstream students as well. Classes like gym and art may have mixed ability students, but Gifted and Talented students take academic classes with their gifted peers. These schools offer an “enriched” curriculum, which can vary according to school and teacher.
The five citywide programs are the most selective, and these schools are exclusively for Gifted and Talented students. Instead of an enriched curriculum, the citywide schools have an accelerated curriculum, meaning students study a curriculum that is advanced by one year. These schools accept the best students from all boroughs and offer the most coveted G&T seats.
So what are the ten best Gifted and Talented programs in NYC ? We’ll start with the highly competitive citywide programs.
Citywide NYC Gifted and Talented Schools
New Explorations into Science, Technology, and Math High School (NEST+m)
The only citywide gifted program that serves K-12 students, NEST+m is located in a cheerful two-story building with a central courtyard.
The school fosters excellent relationships with its highly involved parents, with kindergarten parents invited to read with their children at the start of the school day. Students are happy at this school, which boasts extremely high attendance levels.
The elementary school offers opportunities for students to work independently and explore their own unique interests, as well as express themselves through writing and speaking. K-2 classrooms have play areas with plenty of colorful blocks, and students from different classrooms collaborate on weekly enrichment activities like puppetry and cooking.
NEST+m utilizes Singapore Math, a program that blends quick recall of mathematical facts with a complex understanding of math concepts. Lessons are centered around interdisciplinary themes like Central Park, with students studying how to read maps, build bridges, and identify the wildlife that resides there.
The Anderson School
With only 50 kindergarten seats and a handful available for Grades 1-3, the Anderson School is one of NYC’s most demanding and selective schools.
The younger students have “center time” that allows them to shop at a pretend grocery store, play with clay, and explore counting skills using blocks. While students at the Anderson School demonstrate advanced reading and writing skills, the school’s biggest strength is its math program. Teachers effectively blend fast-paced instruction with deep understanding of advanced concepts, and they encourage students to make discoveries and explore unique problem-solving methods. By eighth grade, almost all students have passed the high school algebra Regents exam.
The homework load is heavy but manageable: Kindergarten students are assigned weekly homework packets, and middle school students complete around 2 hours of homework each night.
Perhaps most importantly to parents, the Anderson School has a phenomenal record of getting students admitted to top NYC high schools.
TAG Young Scholars
TAG is the most diverse citywide gifted program, and it is a warm and welcoming school where the principal knows each student by name.
Students wear red-plaid uniforms as they learn engaging lessons in sunny classrooms. The atmosphere is not just warm and engaging, however: Lessons are fast-paced and demanding. The school skillfully blends traditional and contemporary methods. There is a strong emphasis on grammar, spelling, multiplication drills, and Latin classes that teach word roots. On the other hand, kindergarten students learn computer coding and design a restaurant in class.
Teachers combine various math programs to deliver instruction using diverse methods, and advanced math students are allowed to accelerate to a higher grade. For example, an extremely gifted first grade math student can skip ahead to a third grade math class if desired.
Kindergarten students are assigned about half an hour of homework each night. By fifth grade, students are expected to complete 1.5 hours of homework, and closer to two hours are required in middle school. Each student is expected to read at least forty-five minutes nightly.
Brooklyn School of Inquiry
Brooklyn’s only citywide gifted and talented school, the Brooklyn School of Inquiry provides students with a rigorous, progressive education. Teachers are certified in G&T education, and most classrooms have 25 students instructed by two teachers.
The curriculum mixes direct instruction with plenty of hands-on projects and labs, along with extensive opportunities to utilize technology. The school emphasizes the arts as well, offering violin lessons, theater, journalism, and even programs like documentary film-making.
Homework doesn’t begin in earnest until around third grade, and students can call for Town Halls if they feel a concern needs to be addressed. The school’s welcoming, collaborative, and creative atmosphere makes it one of the best NYC Gifted and Talented schools.
The 30th Avenue School
The 30th Avenue School is the only citywide G&T program currently available in Queens.
The curriculum highlights inclusion, inquiry, and responsibility and is strongly focused on advanced engineering and technology concepts. Students tackle computer coding starting in Kindergarten and begin exploring Lego robotics in sixth grade.
The school provides experiential learning and encourages students to explore and ask questions. Younger students spend time in the exploration room, creatively solving problems using hands-on methods.
While promoting teamwork, projects, and exploration, the school fosters a cooperative culture. Younger students attend morning and closing meetings together, and older students meet four times weekly to discuss concerns and share goals.
District NYC Gifted and Talented Schools
P.S. 166 Richard Rodgers School of the Arts and Technology
P.S. 166 is the most popular gifted program on the Upper West Side, featuring particularly strong arts and writing programs.
Students receive a diverse arts education, learning Mexican folk dances, playing kalimbas (African thumb pianos), and painting in the style of Frida Kahlo. All of these activities are linked to concepts like art history, pitch and amplification, and exploring other cultures.
An extremely high quality of writing is demonstrated by the students here, and teachers work closely with the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project.
Kindergartners explore a variety of enriching hands-on activities during “center time,” and the school’s Parents Association is highly active.
P.S. 33 Chelsea Prep
Students at Chelsea Prep work both independently and collaboratively as teachers encourage them to develop the work habits they will need in order to be successful in college and in life.
The school has a robotics program as well as instrumental music, chorus, theater, and dance. It also boasts a national championship-winning chess team. Students take field trips to the zoo and to museums around the city.
The quality of teaching at Chelsea Prep is considered to be very strong, and most classrooms also have student teachers or teaching assistants to provide individualized attention and assistance as needed. The school’s curriculum is designed to promote independence, analytical thinking, and rigorous content knowledge.
P.S. 77 The Lower Lab School
At the Lower Lab School, students receive plenty of creative instruction and collaborative projects designed to meet the needs of gifted students. Students work half a year to a full year above grade level.
Math instruction is drawn from several progressive sources, including Math in the City, a City College of New York think-tank. Social studies lessons are enriched via community partnerships at each grade level. For example, first graders explore architecture and design with the Center for Architecture, while fourth grade students develop dramatic presentations based on New York history in partnership with Wingspan Arts.
All students take classes on art, chess, music, Spanish, and Latin. Kindergartners are typically reading by December, and parents rave about the school’s small size and comfortable feel.
P.S. 122 Mamie Fay
Mamie Fay boasts a highly engaging curriculum, a strong arts program, and a unique focus on civic awareness.
Reading and writing is emphasized in all classrooms, with plenty of opportunities for interdisciplinary study. As early as Kindergarten, students learn to proofread, edit, and enhance their writing through multiple drafts.
Students take classes in music, dance, and visual arts to promote creativity and well-roundedness. They work with a poet each year to produce an anthology of poetry, and the school focuses on learning that is both rigorous and creative.
The highly effective faculty is a primary reason that Mamie Fay has one of the more sought-after programs in the district.
###P.S. 203 Oakland Gardens
One of New York City’s highest performing schools, P.S. 203 provides students with stable leadership, high expectations, and a talented faculty.
Teachers prepare creative, interactive lessons using SMART Boards, which can be found in each classroom. Each student has access to a computer that is used to create innovative projects and learn about responsible digital citizenship.
Although the curriculum is demanding, students also study a variety of artists and can even participate in activities such as accordion club if desired. The school has won numerous awards and competitions, and parents report high levels of satisfaction.
How to Qualify
Now that you know about the ten best NYC Gifted and Talented schools, how can you help your child qualify for one of the hotly contested seats?
Admission is based entirely on the results of an entrance exam, which consists of two sections adapted from two commonly used intelligence tests, the Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test (NNAT) and the Otis-Lenning School Ability Test (OLSAT). Everything you need to know about the Gifted and Talented entrance exam can be found here.
For pre-K students, the test is administered one-on-one by trained early childhood educators. Questions are read aloud once with no repetition permitted, and children indicate a correct answer by pointing at one of a series of choices.
Don’t overemphasize the test to a pre-K aged child, but do feel free to practice test concepts, as well as listening skills and concentration. You can access practice questions by clicking the button below.
We also have sample questions from every section of the NYC G&T testto review so you can become more familiarized with the question types your child will face.
A bit of preparation, along with plenty of support and encouragement, can go a long way toward helping your child qualify for one of the best NYC Gifted and Talented schools!