A Single Score No More: Rethinking the Admissions System for New York City’s Specialized High Schools to Preserve Academic Excellence and Promote Student Diversity

This paper gets a few of its core premises wrong. The SHSAT exam does NOT strongly predict academic performance nor ability. Papers put its validity at 20%. Which basically means it’s only predicting 20% of what makes a student successful. GPA comes in at about 40% as a comparison.

Unlike Mayor de Blasio’s plan, this Note’s proposal would preserve the SHSAT, for evidence shows that it accurately and strongly predicts academic success in high school. However, unlike the present system which relies solely on the exam for admission, my proposal would evaluate students based on four factors measuring academic performance: (1) SHSAT score; (2) GPA; (3) rank in eighth grade graduating class; and (4) rank among eighth graders citywide.

In contrast to de Blasio’s plan and the current admissions system, this proposal would also consider diversity as an explicit fifth “plus” factor. For this diversity factor, applicants would submit a short essay describing how they would uniquely contribute to the SHSs based on their characteristics, backgrounds, skills, talents, and experiences. Evaluating applicants based on different measures of scholastic achievement, in addition to SHSAT score, would help balance the admissions system, so that the academic integrity of the SHSs is maintained. Because using the SHSAT as the sole admissions criterion has disadvantaged Black and Hispanic/Latino students, this multi-factor plan promotes student diversity in the SHSs, as it allows students with different strengths, abilities, and contributions to be evaluated and weighed against each other.

The author does argue multiple-measures, which is good. But I doubt that an actual subjective “diversity” score will fare any better than the mayor’s plan.

Still, I recommend it if you’re interested in a legal argument on the topic


PDF: https://www.nyulawreview.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Consolo.pdf