Thinking through gifted and talented education in New York City public schools: One parent’s reflection on the system

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.

Being black at Stuyvesant: Two students on what it’s like for African Americans at the specialized high school

Just because students are intelligent enough to pass a test doesn’t mean they understand people who might be ethnically, racially or culturally different.


That’s what happened to Gordon in his freshman biology class when his lab partner blamed him for the AIDS virus. Or when he was told to “go back to Africa” because he disagreed with some of his peers on the merits of the Specialized High Schools Admission Test (SHSAT).


And both of us have repeatedly heard something along the lines of, “Black people don’t care about education.”


While these stories may seem shocking or anachronistic, they are not unique among Stuy’s black and Latino students.

GET RID OF THE SPECIALIZED HIGH SCHOOLS

Excerpt from an interesting opinion on NYC specialized high schools. Do we need them? Why do we have them?…

The very obvious solution to the specialized high schools’ diversity conundrum is here: get rid of the specialized high schools. They’re an ugly, embarrassing testament to America’s insistence upon inserting hierarchy into all things, including public services for children. What is the point of them? What, exactly, are we trying to accomplish here?


For the New York City Department of Education, the covert purpose of the specialized high schools is to buy the acquiescence of ambitious families in underserved areas: these parents believe that huge swaths of the outer boroughs have no decent facilities for their kids, but the inadequacy of the school in their own neighborhood doesn’t trouble them so much because they’re focused on getting their child into Stuyvesant instead.

An Improvement to the Mayor’s Current Proposal

The mayor recently recommended a new specialized high school admissions procedure. Instead of a single exam, he’d like to identify the top 25% of NYC 8th grade students based on state score. Then from that group, make specialized high school offers to the top 7% of students from every school.

A critic of the mayor’s reform plan is that the plan may make offers to students who are not proficient in either math or English. This is due to the fact that even when we sort NYC students by grade, the top 25% has students who haven’t earned proficient scores.…

De Blasio’s Plan for NYC Schools Isn’t Anti-Asian. It’s Anti-Racist.

The mayor’s plan isn’t anti-Asian, it’s anti-racist. It would give working-class parents — including Asian-Americans — who can’t afford and shouldn’t have to find ways to afford expensive test prep programs a fairer chance that their child will be admitted into what’s known as a specialized high school. True, taking a test prep course doesn’t guarantee admission to such a school, but it does offer clear benefits and is widely understood to be essential to test-takers.

Nor is the plan a form of affirmative action.

NYC chapter of Sharpton’s group looks to scrap elite schools test, in break with longtime ally

“The National Action Network, as a Civil Rights organization, cannot allow nor support ‘elitism,'” the remarks state. “As for the opposition’s position for ‘keeping the test as is and fix all middle schools,’ NAN asks why hasn’t this been done before??! And doing so would take too long. Eliminate the test and fix all the middle schools in the process.”

https://www.politico.com/states/new-york/city-hall/story/2019/05/09/new-york-chapter-of-sharptons-national-action-network-wants-elite-school-test-scrapped-1012807

Testimony regarding segregation in New York City public schools

UFT opposes single measure admissions
The union is on record criticizing and challenging the validity of a single test as the sole criteria for high stakes decisions – such as entrance to early elementary gifted and talented programs or specialized high schools. The proponents of these standardized tests for entrance to competitive screened schools allege the tests are a reliable, objective measure that reinforce the schools’ success and set the standard for academic achievement; ultimately, it’s not broke, so no need to fix it.

New York’s Best Schools Need to Do Better

Another NYTimes editorial opinion.

Many Asian-American New Yorkers have objected to eliminating the exam, arguing that the mayor’s plan would deny admission to hard-working and high-achieving children in their communities. Many alumni at Stuyvesant and other specialized high schools have argued that dropping the test would lead to the admission of students who could not handle the rigorous curriculum. But where’s the evidence?


An admissions policy that is demonstrably unfair shouldn’t be allowed to continue simply because it has worked for certain groups.

I’m an Asian American graduate of Brooklyn Tech. Please don’t use me as a wedge in your education lawsuit

The lawsuit, brought by the Pacific Legal Foundation ostensibly to contest alleged discrimination against Asian American students, targets changes to the city’s expanding Discovery Program. It allows students attending low-income middle schools to receive an offer to one of the city’s elite high schools if they score just below the admissions cut-off on the Specialized High School Admissions Test.

Fortunately, a district judge ruled Feb. 25 that the preliminary injunction the plaintiffs sought to halt the plan was not warranted. But the Pacific Legal Foundation appears prepared to take its case all the way to the U.S.

How private tutoring makes an unequal education system even less fair

Studies show that almost every student can improve their grades with private tutoring. But when only the rich can afford it — in New York the average cost of private tutoring is $64 an hour, though rates can easily approach and even exceed $100 — it’s no surprise their children are overrepresented in elite high schools and colleges, at the expense of everyone else.


In fact, in New York there is a dedicated tutoring industry just for the Specialized High School Admissions Test, the now-infamous admissions test that is the sole criteria for admission to elite — and wildly racially imbalanced — high schools like Stuyvesant and Bronx Science.