There’s plenty of room between the current Specialized High School admissions proposal and the system we have today. Many advocates have either focused on keeping the SHSAT as the SOLE measure of admissions or replacing it completely.
In the interest of compromise, here are a few improvements to Hecht-Calandra that would help us move towards a fairer and more equitable admissions process without a completely new process.
Compromise on the 7% threshold
The current proposal requires offers to be made to the top 7% of all city schools. But do we have to completely replace the current state-wide system with a school quota?
Instead, we could use 3% or 4% of the top students as measured by state scores and GPA per school. The remaining offers would be given to students regardless of their school.
Keep The Test Compromise
The SHSAT exam can be one of the multiple factors considered in admissions, but not the only factor. That is, a “test optional” admissions system.
To do this fairly, students should be allowed to skip the exam. E.g. The exam can be used to replace your lowest measure, for instance. That way the exam only helps a student but never hurts them.
Have a State Score Minimum
Students who are deemed “Not proficient” by state tests should be disqualified from consideration until those that have are all accepted.
This only affects a very small number of students and seems to be a reasonable requirement for a specialized high school. A student would have to earn a 3 or 4 to be selected.
Require all future changes to the proposal pass City Council
For stakeholders who are concerned about future DoE initiatives. Add a clause that requires future modifications to pass City Council and not State Legislature.
Tie proposal passage with increased seats
Currently, we have 15,000 specialized high school seats. Tie passage of the SHSAT proposal with a substantial increase in seats. Especially in Queens and South Brooklyn.