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.
Students from families living in neighborhoods within the South Bronx and central Brooklyn were least likely to attend the famed schools, in a similar pattern to last year, the data show.
An analysis of city Education Department data revealed just seven of roughly 19,875 students from Bronx District 7 landed seats in the elite public schools in 2018.
That’s just .035% of students in the South Bronx district — and the smallest percentage of any of the city’s 32 school districts.
Great news for SHSAT reform advocates:
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.
City data detailing offers by sending schools for 2016 to 2017.
In 2014, Mayor de Blasio was among those calling for change: he said that “the specialized high schools are the jewels in the crown of our school system, but they don’t reflect this city,” and said that he would create a system “of multiple measures to actually understand who are the kids with the greatest potential—and they come from every zip code, every neighborhood—and that’s what our specialized schools will look like in the future.” Today, de Blasio joined the Department of Education in championing its new, test-focused initiatives, none of which expand admissions criteria, and called them “an important step forward” in diversifying the schools.