Reopen Schools, and Reform Them

Instead of allowing the pandemic to worsen longstanding inequities, New York could seize on the disruption to fix its broken high school admissions practices at all its schools. Several promising proposals have emerged in recent years. Instead of a single exam, Albany could allow the city to use state test scores, class rank and other measures. These important reforms would require the State Legislature to overturn Hecht-Calandra, the 1971 law that explicitly requires three of the specialized high schools — Stuyvesant, Bronx High School of Science and Brooklyn Technical High School — to use an exam as the only point of entry.

New York’s Best Schools Need to Do Better

Another NYTimes editorial opinion.

Many Asian-American New Yorkers have objected to eliminating the exam, arguing that the mayor’s plan would deny admission to hard-working and high-achieving children in their communities. Many alumni at Stuyvesant and other specialized high schools have argued that dropping the test would lead to the admission of students who could not handle the rigorous curriculum. But where’s the evidence?

An admissions policy that is demonstrably unfair shouldn’t be allowed to continue simply because it has worked for certain groups.

Closing gap at specialized high schools

Ultimately, the city has to do more to improve educational opportunities for everyone, not just the admission process to the top schools. More middle schools need to be high-achieving ones, more gifted programs are needed in the younger grades, and the city should add more specialized high schools, too.

There’s no guarantee that the city’s plan will close the gap. But if city officials think boldly, they could transform these schools into places that give all students the opportunity for something special.

Best schools shouldn’t be determined by a test

Kaplan Inc., is probably one of the most famous companies students turn to when they need help taking a test. Their preparation courses for tests like the SAT and ACT are part of an industry worth hundreds of millions of dollars (if not in the billions). In fact, the company offers a prep course starting at just under $1,000, and tutoring for $2,600.

If the SHSAT is simply about testing someone’s knowledge of information they should have already learned, why are test prep organizations such big business?

NYT Editorial Board: It’s Time to Integrate New York’s Best Schools

New York’s elementary and middle schools do not prepare children for the test, all but ensuring that students seek out extensive test preparation. Many Asian and white students have done so for thousands of dollars apiece. Black and Latino students are likely to walk in with little or no test preparation.

Of all elite public high schools in the country, only New York’s use a single exam for admission. Researchers and others have said this approach is less predictive of success than grades, particularly for black and Latino students.