Documentary Short: A Select Few

“NY1 takes a look at the controversy surrounding the Specialized High School Admissions Test, the exam that students take to get into the city’s elite public high schools.”

These five bright students have been preparing for much of their lifetime, either through additional test prep programs, tutors or intensive courses. For them, it’s a necessary part of their education, and many spend much of their middle-school years preparing for the test.

Everyone has doubts [about] me at school. So I really want to go to this school so that I can, you know, show people that I can put all my hard work and dedication into what I’m doing that I can go to this school.” – Edgar Cadrera

NYC has the country’s most segregated schools; will the city’s plan to change that make its best schools worse?

The old “integration will make our schools worse” argument. A frequent argument after Brown vs. Board in the 60’s makes its return.

“There’s no research that shows that it’s either valid or reliable as an instrument to identify talent,” said Carranza about the SHSAT.  “It’s just a hard test.”

NYC Chancellor

Fair and objective or useless and biased? A Chalkbeat guide to the case for and against New York City’s specialized high school test

There’s no doubt that the exam is a clean-cut way of making admissions decisions — and clarity is rare in the New York City high school admissions system, where sought-after schools can all have different criteria and students are eventually admitted by an algorithm.

But we also know that not all eligible New York City students are taking the SHSAT, and its use shuts out lots of students who can’t afford test prep. Students also have to know how and when to sign up to take it.

Specialized high schools and race

Another overview.  Adds a DoE spokesperson quote.

According to New York City Department of Education spokesman Will Mantell, the citywide average GPA of students in the top 7 percent of their classes is 94 out of 100, the same average GPA of students offered a spot at the elite high schools. Additionally, he said their state test scores are comparable, an average of 3.9 out of 4.5 for the top 7 percent versus 4.1 for those admitted to the specialized high schools.