The Students Trying to Get Ahead in a One-Test System

At Think Prep, a testing outfit near Penn Station, six students bent over desks in a windowless classroom. They’d been there for the past six weeks, Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., studying practice S.H.S.A.T. questions. (The program costs five thousand six hundred dollars.)


The instructor, whose name was Andrew, wiped down the board. He’d attended Hunter College High School, another school with exam-based admissions, though it uses a different test. “It’s a mess,” he said, of the S.H.S.A.T.

My Feelings about the SHSAT & Specialized Schools

I don’t think the standard mathematics curriculum IN MIDDLE SCHOOL CLASSES will prepare a student to successfully get into one of the specialized schools without going to extra math classes (and ELA, probably, but I’m focusing more specifically on the math, because that’s my area of expertise). Now, when I consider the ways in which teachers are prepared to teach and focused on their curriculum development, I would say that most middle school teachers (unless they’re teaching an SHSAT prep course) have never done an in-depth analysis of the kinds of questions on there, and are not looking to embed those questions into their curriculum or deploy them as extension/challenge questions for students who finish early (even though there are actually some questions that could be tackled by kids as young as 6th grade!

Why I Support Multiple Measures of Admission to New York’s Specialized High Schools

First, I support multiple measures of evaluation for colleges, jobs, sports teams and anything else I can think of, why should I support a single test as the sole standard of admission to specialized high schools.
Secondly, at a time when more and more colleges are becoming SAT/ACT Optional, it is in no one’s interest, other than test companies and those involved in data mining, to put so much emphasis on standardized tests. You are not preparing students for higher education by using a single test criteria for top high schools- you are not preparing them for today’s workplace either.

Why Gifted and Talented Schools are the Wrong Approach: To diversify schools, reimagine G&T: A bill to expand segregated programs moves in exactly the wrong direction

But we’ve already tried this, and it didn’t work. Back in 2009, Mayor Bloomberg tried to expand gifted programs and switched from multiple measures to a single test score for gifted admission. The result was actually more segregation, and reduced access for black and Latino students: The percentage of black and Latino students entering such programs in kindergarten was cut in half, from 46% of program entrants to just 22%, while the percentage of white and Asian students climbed from 53% to over 70%.

Educators For Excellence: Open Letter to Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza on Desegregating NYC Schools

Opponents of school desegregation argued in 1977 that “either we have to lower the standards for everybody so the special nature of the schools would disappear, or we would have to allow these students to be subjected to failure.”

It is eerie how today’s opponents repeat these same arguments.  This argument assumes that black and Hispanic students are unable to achieve at high levels because they don’t have access to SHSAT test prep. On the contrary, there is no evidence to support the idea that multi-measure admittance will diminish the quality of any of these schools.

Three charter-school leaders for ending single-test high school admissions: Black and Latino kids can perform at the highest levels

Using a single test to determine admission to the most elite schools is not a sound way to select students. It’s an outdated process that leads schools to miss too many talented students, a single-measure notion that the best colleges don’t even use. The Specialized High School Admissions Test isn’t based on the middle-school curriculum and has never been statistically shown to be a predictor of performance. Many miss the admissions cutoff by tenths of a point.

Any statistician will tell you these test results are unreliable.

Stuyvesant Principal Eric Contreras In Favor of ‘Mixed Metrics’ Assessment Instead of Only SHSAT

Principal Eric Contreras is stepping down, but is in favor of using multiple criteria for measuring merit, as opposed to the single roughly 100 math and English multiple-choice SHSAT.

That makes both the principal and valedictorian of Stuyvesant pro-reform.

Though Contreras told the Journal he is in favor of “mixed metrics” to be used in admissions, his letter does not directly address the current debate engulfing his school community. But he highlighted some diversity initiatives under his tenure, such as a tutoring and mentoring program for students at middle schools that are underrepresented at Stuyvesant and the relaunch of Discovery, a program that offers admission to students who just missed the exam cutoff and who complete summer work.

Specialized High Schools – some comments should not matter

Educator blog post:

The current admissions system is based on a single test, on one day. That’s the way it’s been, for a long, long time. But in 1970 or 1971, someone decided to study the admissions policy for the schools (at that time the Bronx High School of Science, Brooklyn Technical High School, and Stuyvesant High School). The New York State legislature responded by passing the Hecht-Calandra Act, enshrining the existing test in law, and limiting an already limited alternate route (Discovery).