Brown’s Lost Promise: Segregation & Affirmative Action In New York City Specialized High Schools

New York City is one of the most diverse cities in the United States. However, its schools remain some of the most segregated. The crown jewel of the City’s public education system, Specialized High Schools, are among the nation’s top public institutions. But in a city where over 60 percent of children are Black or Latinx, less than 10 percent of the students admitted into these prestigious schools come from these communities. Due to a 1971 New York state law, admission into the Specialized High Schools is granted solely on the basis of a standardized exam, the Specialized High School Admissions Test, which students can opt to take during their eighth grade.

The Effects – Intended and Not – Of Ending the Specialized High School Test

Our findings also lead us to some larger conclusions about flaws inherent in New York City’s entire system of choice in public high school admissions. Because under this system, there is no simple, direct relationship between an individual applicant’s academic strengths and the caliber of the high school she or he ultimately attends. Myriad other factors intervene, including: exposure to and awareness of the application process and the range of high-quality school options available; quality of middle school counseling; ability or willingness to undertake long inter-borough commutes to school; and others. 

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/concern/nyc_government_publications/tx31qk407

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.