“We have 5,000 applicants every year for these schools and NYC is the only school system that uses a single test as the only criteria for admission. All other schools in the nation have multiple measures for admission into specialized schools. They look at what the student has done all year, their GPA, their development. Not a single test that require eighth-graders to go to expensive private cram schools because the curriculum doesn’t include any of the material. Our children are less than 10 percent of the specialized high school student population while Asians are 67 percent.”
The students — members of the school’s Black Students League and Aspira, the Hispanic student organization — recalled painful memories of having heard racist comments behind their backs at school. They reflected on their shared sense of alienation. They said they worried that adults would allow inequities in the system to persist.
“It’s frustrating to see that nobody wants to do anything, until it’s like, ‘Oh no, nobody got it in,’” said Katherine Sanchez, 17, whose parents are from the Dominican Republic.
Now, we’re turning to the experts. In this week’s “Ask the Experts” feature, we reached out to Syed Ali, a professor of sociology at Long Island University-Brooklyn; Zakiyah Ansari, the advocacy director for the Alliance for Quality Education; David Bloomfield, a professor of educational leadership, law and policy at Brooklyn College; and Soo Kim, president of the Stuyvesant High School Alumni Association.
Recently at the district 4 education townhall, Chancellor Carranza was asked a fairly complex question on Gifted and Talented programs.
Parents wanted to know what your vision for G&T education is? Can you commit that G&T education will always be a part of the DOE? What are your positions in terms of access to G&T education both at the kindergarten level, changing the entry points for that, and also possibly changing the SHSAT and the access to the specialized high schools?…
“We used to joke that whoever had the most money to spend on test prep would probably go to Stuyvesant.” That was how Ms. Rahman was introduced to the specialized school debate as a young Bangladeshi immigrant living in Brooklyn.
In high school, she came to believe that the admissions process was about money, not merit. Now, she said, “I feel like that system shouldn’t really exist.”
Madina Touré, New York City education reporter for Politico New York, andClara Hemphill, founder of InsideSchools at the New School’s Center for New York City Affairs, discuss proposals to change admissions policies at NYC’s specialized high schools.
“We’re the only city in America that requires a single test for admission to a public school,” he said. “So I’m asking the question . . . ‘Is that OK?’ I’m asking the question, ‘Is that justice for our kids?’ ”
“You have brilliant black and Latino students . . . if they don’t do well on that test, given one day, for one time period, for one opportunity, if they do not do well they don’t get the opportunity,” said the chancellor, who derided the current system as “neither reliable or valid.”
At Think Prep, a testing outfit near Penn Station, six students bent over desks in a windowless classroom. They’d been there for the past six weeks, Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., studying practice S.H.S.A.T. questions. (The program costs five thousand six hundred dollars.)
The instructor, whose name was Andrew, wiped down the board. He’d attended Hunter College High School, another school with exam-based admissions, though it uses a different test. “It’s a mess,” he said, of the S.H.S.A.T.
Fox news interviews students and other stakeholders about the SHSAT
“It’s not the right way to evaluate a student’s merit,” said Muhammad Deen, no other college uses one single test.
Deen says he came just below the cutoff to get into Brooklyn tech and instead ended up attending a charter school. He and Morales support the Mayor’s proposal to eliminate the SHSAT and instead admit students to the elite schools based on GPA and state test scores.
“It is more of a way of looking at the student as a whole, rather than this one simple test score that didn’t really showcase what a good student is,” Deen said.