Adams & Banks are putting lipstick on a pig: Separate gifted-and-talented classes are bad educational practice that drive segregation

Integration researchers and advocates like us have been recommending for years that all students in all classrooms deserve access to opportunities to challenge and stimulate their learning and creativity. Rather than telling kids that they’re in G&T or they’re out, the city should implement a gifted-for-all approach, shifting to a system focused on differentiation within mixed-ability classrooms, equipping teachers to provide high-quality instruction that includes project-based learning and challenge, and ensuring that there are entry points for all students.

https://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/ny-oped-adams-banks-gifted-talented-20220415-ld2fhxewrjaqrjiu4crc774ile-story.html

Ending the Exploitation of Asian Parents

These days, however, many Asian parents are unfortunately wasting hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on expensive tutoring and preparatory classes. This industry’s sole purpose is to train children to ace standardized admissions tests, which bar the entrance to many magnet high schools and colleges across the country. “Enroll your child, and we’ll virtually guarantee they get into the top schools!” This, of course, is a lie. For example, TJ only has a few hundred openings each year, despite the thousands of kids who apply.

My SHSAT scores didn’t show what I could achieve at Brooklyn Tech

Although I am about to enter my senior year and doing well at Brooklyn Tech, I don’t think my eligibility for getting into any school should be based on one test. In fact, I excel in community leadership and have started my own organization to raise awareness about racism and hate crimes. I get good grades and am an excellent writer, which is how I got accepted to write for YouthComm Magazine. As New York City Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter said during a recent interview with students: “I think there are students who are so gifted and talented in so many different ways.”

Why I Support Reforming New York City’s Elite High School Admissions

The usage of examples of Asian success to justify our current high school system harms all communities of color. This rhetoric reduces the Asian American community to a monolith by focusing on a subset of its population. Educational inequity affects all minority groups, and we need to recognize the ways in which it comes into play among Asian Americans. Our current high school admissions model might appear to favor Asian students—and sure, there are definitely students that benefit from it—but the pushback against reform, couched in praise for industrious minority families, is hurting and dividing the Asian American community as well as minorities as a whole.

The Mayor has shifted blame to state lawmakers. But he can take action now if he wants to.

If the DOE wants to get rid of the test, it can, at least for the majority of specialized schools. At five of eight specialized high schools, the City has the sole authority to end the use of the test for enrollment.

In its place, the City could develop a more equitable model of assigning children to excellent schools—holistic assessments of their capabilities and potential—or they could drop academic tracking altogether, and ensure that every high school class has a diverse blend of needs and talents.

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.