IBO: Eliminate “Specialized Academic” Bonus to 13 Screened and Specialized High Schools

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.

NYC IBO SHSAT Exam Annual Cost

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.”

NYC Will Spend $15 Million To Increase Diversity At Elite Public Schools

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.

City Announces New Initiatives to Increase Diversity at Specialized High Schools

In 2016 Mayor de Blasio tried a variety of approaches to get more Black and Latinx students into specialized high schools. This included tutoring and outreach costing $15M over 5 years.

None of these initiatives worked in the end. One reason for this is that city tutoring would end up competing with an increasingly aggressive private tutoring industry. NYC’s DREAM tutoring claimed a 10% success rate, but so did the larger tutoring services with thousands of students.

“In my district, many parents pay top dollar for test prep programs, an option lower income families do not always have.