Previously, the NYC Independent Budget Office (NYC IBO) noted that the NYC SHSAT Exam costs the city at least $8M per year in direct costs. This does not include proctors and other indirect yearly costs.
Now, the independent department goes further to explain how the Specialized high schools are given an advantage over other public schools in a new recommendation.
Every year, the New York City Department of Education allocates additional funding to 13 public high schools with “supplementary instruction and assessments, including higher course/credit loads and AP courses.”
In fall 2020, when an admission test was used, just 4 percent of offers went to Black pre-K students, according to data from the Department of Education. That percentage rose to 11 percent when a universal screen was used in fall 2021. Seven percent of offers went to Hispanic students in 2020, compared with 13 percent in 2021.
Asian and white students comprised more than three-quarters of students across all Gifted & Talented programs in 2018-2019, despite being about a third of the overall kindergarten cohort.
Conversely, Black and Hispanic kindergarteners comprised 63 percent of the kindergarten population but only 16 percent of students in Gifted & Talented programs.
The disparity was particularly acute for Hispanic students. Despite being much more numerous across all kindergarten programs (40.1 percent) than Black students (22.9 percent), Hispanic students were only moderately ahead of Black students with respect to participation in Gifted & Talented programs (9.3 percent versus 6.7 percent).
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.
An in-depth report on the state of specialized high schools across the nation.
reformers might do better instead to look to Chicago’s use of area-based geographical tiers. One advantage of this system is that it retains the high-stakes entrance examination but takes inequality into account by having students with similar backgrounds compete against each other rather than pooling students from all backgrounds into one group.
The most radical option is for cities to simply abolish their selective 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.
With support from white, black and Hispanic voters, 57 percent of all New York City voters say other factors should be considered in deciding admission to elite public high schools, while 36 percent say keep the present system which relies on a single test to decide admission.
Support for the “other factors” option is 50 – 43 percent among white voters, 63 – 29 percent among black voters and 73 – 23 percent among Hispanic voters.