Obrian was devastated when he found out he didn’t score high enough on the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT) to attend Brooklyn Technical High School, one of New York City’s most selective high schools. Unlike many of the students who gain admission to the city’s specialized high schools, his family didn’t have the resources to spend thousands of dollars on test prep.
His score on the SHSAT put him just below the cutoff mark for Brooklyn Technical High School. But because of the Discovery Program – which allows students from low-income communities who score just below the standardized test cutoff to earn admission to the specialized high schools – Obrian was able to attend a summer program and then start at Brooklyn Tech his freshman year.
Standardized test scores aren’t a good predictor of whether a student will succeed.
No one knows that more than Obrian, an A-student, track star, and activist at Brooklyn Tech.
65 years after Brown v. Board of Education, segregation in public schools remains a major issue in cities across the country. New York City has one of the most segregated school systems in the country, and some see the controversial Specialized High Schools Admissions Test as part of the problem. At a City Council Oversight Hearing on Segregation in the New York City School System, Students, Parents, Council members, and Department of Education talk education reform.
Nearly 900 students have been offered admission to one of New York City’s most elite public high schools. Only seven of those students are black.
New York Times podcast on the SHSAT issue. Audio program reviews SHSAT history to current politics.
“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
Those involved in the tutoring business believe the deck is stacked because too many smart kids don’t even know about the importance of test prep.
While certain Asian immigrants have created a pipeline of tutoring centers, educators say black and Latino students often don’t have the same networks in their communities.
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
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.
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.