The new admissions system will still weigh test results and grades, but, following a model pioneered in Chicago, it will also introduce ways to select applicants who come from poor and disadvantaged neighborhoods.
Under the new system, the applicant pool will be divided into eight groups based on the socioeconomic conditions of their neighborhoods. The admissions team will consider applicants within each group, admitting the top students in each tier in roughly equal numbers.
Brabrand said the more-representative nature of TJ’s newest class will have everyday benefits as students interact in classrooms, in hallways and on the playing field, learning to understand and love people different from themselves. And, he added, these advantages will persist into students’ professional lives.
“These kids are going to be more equipped, with their diverse backgrounds and stories, to really bring a holistic look at the power of science and technology to improve our country and our world,” he said.
“The school bus, treasured when it was serving as a tool of segregation, became reviled only when it transformed into a tool of integration,” Nikole Hannah-Jones writes in a news analysis.
How does the process work? Four-year-olds take a nationally normed standardized test (actually, two tests, the NNAT and the OLSAT, which are supposed to measure reasoning ability and general intellectual aptitude). No bubble sheets: It’s administered in person by an adult. Those above 90th percentile qualify for district programs. Those above 97th percentile qualify for citywide programs.
Those are the technical qualification thresholds. In practice, you need a 99 to qualify for a citywide school and usually something like a 95 to qualify for a districtwide program, though it depends on the district.
Non-SHSAT article that discusses the intersection of culture and single-measure testing.
Related to the Harvard case, test scores for all students should be considered with a grain of salt. Yes, high scores are impressive, but they should be understood in the context of opportunity. It’s also important to note that strong scores are the norm in Harvard’s applicant pool.
Given that test scores are limited in their ability to predict future achievement, and are heavily shaped by race and social class, colleges should consider the value of SAT-optional or even doing away with the test.
The SAT will remain a “norm-referenced” exam, designed primarily to rank students rather than measure what they actually know. Such exams compare students to other test takers, rather than measure their performance against a fixed standard. They are designed to produce a “bell curve” distribution among examinees, with most scoring in the middle and with sharply descending numbers at the top and bottom. Test designers accomplish this, among other ways, by using plausible-sounding “distractors” to make multiple-choice items more difficult, requiring students to respond to a large number of items in a short space of time, and by dropping questions that too many students can answer correctly.