FAIRNESS TO GIFTED GIRLS: ADMISSIONS TO NEW YORK CITY’S ELITE PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOLS

A SHSAT research paper published in the Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering.

Jonathan Taylor
Hunter College Gender Equity Project

ABSTRACT

The use of test scores in school admissions has been a contentious issue for decades. In New York City’s elite public high schools, it has been particularly controversial because of disproportionate representation by ethnicity. Underrepresentation of girls has received less attention. This research compared the predictive validity and gender bias of the admissions criterion, the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT), with that of seventh grade GPA, a possible additional criterion.

SHSAT Assembly Testimony: Race, Gifted & Talented, and Tracking in NYC: Dr. Roda, et. al

Below are some excerpts from Dr. Roda’s paper on SHSAT, gifted and talented, and tracking in NYC.

In particular, our research-based recommendations, described below, call on the Chancellor and Mayor to phase out G&T programs and replace them with equitable and integrated desegregated schools and classroom settings with culturally responsive and sustaining curriculum. We also strongly recommend that the city eliminate test-based enrollment screens at the elementary, middle, and high schools across the city and replace them with a more holistic approach that includes diversity targets.

IBO: Do a Larger Share of Students Attending the City’s Specialized High Schools Live in Neighborhoods With Higher Median Incomes than Those Attending the City’s Other High Schools?

Students in the specialized high schools came from census tracts where the median household income averaged $62,457 compared with $46,392 for students in other high schools. (All dollar amounts are reported in 2012 dollars).

If we rank the census tracts by their median income and then divide the tracts into equal fifths (quintiles), we observe large differences between the share of students in specialized high schools and other high schools from each quintile.

https://a860-gpp.nyc.gov/handle/gpp/2699

AERA Position Statement on High-Stakes Testing

The American Educational Research Association is the foremost and most respected national educational research society. Below is their opinions on using high-stakes testing in admissions.

This position statement on high-stakes testing is based on the 1999 Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing. The Standards represent a professional consensus concerning sound and appropriate test use in education and psychology. They are sponsored and endorsed by the AERA together with the American Psychological Association (APA) and the National Council on Measurement in Education (NCME).

NYC selective high school admissions uproar a symptom of a much bigger problem

Multiple studies have found no difference in college enrollment, college quality or graduation rates of kids who just barely met the test score cutoff for selective public schools like Stuyvesant and those who just barely missed the mark and then attended more ordinary public high schools, Valant said.


Valant would like to see selective schools drop their test-in requirements and instead award admission to a set number of top-performing students from every district or system middle school. The resulting classes would be more diverse and formed with anobjective, open access measure of long-term performance.

Admissions Overhaul: Simulating the Outcome Under the Mayor’s Plan For Admissions to the City’s Specialized High Schools

Demographic Changes. IBO compared the demographic composition of the specialized high schools under each of the three scenarios with the actual demographic composition of the ninth grade class in specialized high schools in 2017-2018.14 We found that:
More black and Hispanic students would get offers. Under the top 7 percent scenario, the share of black students receiving offers would increase by five times and the share of Hispanic students receiving offers would increase by more than four times compared with the share of those groups that actually attended a specialized high school in 2017-2018.

The problem with high-stakes testing and women in STEM


Overall, the correlation was a loose one. Test scores predicted only 20 percent of the variation in students’ GPAs.  In other words, students with the same test high scores had wildly different GPAs at school the following year. At first glance, the test doesn’t seem very good at discerning A students from B students. Seventh-grade GPAs were twice as likely to predict ninth-grade achievement than test scores.


“People say the SHSAT is objective and that grades are unreliable,” Taylor said. “Schools and teachers have different subjective grading standards and grades are all over the place.

Overemphasizing a Test, Oversimplifying Our Children: An APA Perspective on Specialized High School Reform towards Educational Equity

The SHSAT is misperceived as an objective, and “colorblind” tool to measure merit. However, an expansive body of research reveals that school screening policies that do not consider race or socioeconomic status do not reduce, but rather contribute to further “stratification by race and ethnicity across schools and programs.”

[…]

In the field of testing, known as psychometrics, a single measure like the SHSAT violates the universally accepted norm and consensus in favor of multiple measures.[19] Having a single-test as the admission policy in no means takes into account the wide range of diverse experiences of all students and their families in New York City.