Reopen Schools, and Reform Them

Instead of allowing the pandemic to worsen longstanding inequities, New York could seize on the disruption to fix its broken high school admissions practices at all its schools. Several promising proposals have emerged in recent years. Instead of a single exam, Albany could allow the city to use state test scores, class rank and other measures. These important reforms would require the State Legislature to overturn Hecht-Calandra, the 1971 law that explicitly requires three of the specialized high schools — Stuyvesant, Bronx High School of Science and Brooklyn Technical High School — to use an exam as the only point of entry.

Nobody’s Special PLACE

But if schools are “good” and “bad” based on who enrolls, then what function does a school itself serve?

The SHSAT conversation has crystalized into who is worthy of the “best” education, and who is not. A dyslexic student who excels on projects but not tests; a student juggling multiple caregiving demands; a high-performing student who spends hours at soccer or debate practice — any student who is not laser-focused on preparing for this one test and does not exceed the ever-rising cut-off score — all, under this PLACE paradigm, fall among the undeserving.

NYC, suspend high-stakes admission tests

Yet for years, neither the mayor nor the Legislature — nor anyone in Hunter College leadership — has taken the necessary action to overhaul a system that bases admissions to the most coveted schools on just a test, the SHSAT or the Hunter test. There’s not a single elite college in America that bases its admissions only on SAT or ACT scores, yet New York City’s best high schools make a single, homegrown exam make or break for thousands of students, despite results that worsen segregation.

Will the coronavirus mean the end of the SHSAT? I hope so

I believe the exam should have been eliminated years ago, but this difficult moment in history would be the perfect opportunity to see how a more inclusive set of admissions criteria could work for these specialized high schools without administering the test. The city’s education department should see this as a chance to explore the effectiveness of the other solutions that have been suggested as alternatives to using the SHSAT. While it is not up to the city alone, the city should put pressure on members of the New York State Legislature — who are the only ones that can repeal the relevant law — and push for a waiver to not have to administer the exam this year at least.

SHSBADI at 10: Lessons Learned and the Path Forward

We realized that both the admissions process and the school system had changed from the time of our attendance. Many of us came to Stuyvesant by way of gifted classes in our neighborhood public schools. Until the 90s, gifted education was decentralized, with accelerated SP (“special progress”) and IGC (“intellectually gifted”) classes in local schools giving academically talented kids in every city neighborhood an opportunity to receive instruction in the above-grade level material they would encounter on the SHSAT. Today, that opportunity is concentrated in just a handful of schools.

Close Stuyvesant High School

This 2014 article makes the unusual argument that Specialized High Schools should be closed.

My alma mater, Stuyvesant High School, has been a lightning rod in New York City politics for as long as I can remember. Whenever critics have griped about the way Stuyvesant does business, my inclination has long been to say, essentially, “Screw you.” Going to Stuyvesant is one of the best things to have ever happened to me.

Noguera is exactly right. The politicians and the education experts who are so fixated on the racial balance at Stuyvesant neglect the fact that Stuyvesant is not built to support and nurture students who need care and attention to excel academically and socially.

My son was admitted to a specialized high school. Then the school told us it couldn’t accommodate his disability.

I asked if there was any plan to offer integrated co-teaching in the fall. “Not that we know of,” came the response. I then asked how many special education teachers they had on staff. Despite everything I already knew about Tech and the competitive admissions process to get there, I was still shocked: the answer was two. There were two special education classroom teachers for nearly 6,000 students.

The burden on elite high schools: They must change their cultures to welcome students of all backgrounds

Over the course of our meetings, many students lamented the lack of diversity at our schools, specifically with regard to black and Latino students. They shared that the lack of representation at their schools created environments that bred racism and other forms of prejudice both inside and outside the classroom.

This atmosphere does not foster the inclusivity and diversity that all New York City public high schools ought to embody, and inhibits underrepresented students from experiencing their education as equals. While the paucity of black and Latino and Latina students at the specialized schools is certainly reflective of larger, systemic flaws in equitable access to New York’s education system, their absence also prevents white and Asian students at those schools from receiving an education that lives up to the spirit of Brown vs.

The WAVE: School Scope – Those SHSAT Tests, Part 1

This opinion piece dates SHSAT test prep to the 1950s. Of course, the entrance exam was not called “SHSAT” back then, and there was one exam per school.

When I was an 8th grade student in the 1957-58 school year at George Gershwin JHS, a jewel of a school recently opened on Linden Blvd in East NY section of Brooklyn, male students were offered an opportunity to take an after school class in prepping for the test for Brooklyn Tech, at the time the only specialized high school that went from 9th-12th grade.