ASSEMBLY VOTES HIGH SCHOOL CURB

This is one of the original New York Times articles reporting on the passage of the Hecht-Calandra law.

New York City Democrats split into emotionally charged camps to day as the Assembly passed a bill designed to limit the Board of Education’s power to alter the city’s four specialized high schools.


The measure passed, 107 to 35, and was sent to the Senate after minority‐group members led the opposition and accused white colleagues of seeking an exclusionary racial quota at the schools.

Admission Test’s Scoring Quirk Throws Balance Into Question

Mr. Feinman had stumbled on a little-known facet of the test: because of the complex way it is graded, a student scoring extremely high on one part of the exam has a sharp advantage over a student with high but more balanced scores in each subject.

“As taxpayers and parents, we should know how the test is graded — not necessarily with an eye to changing it — but certainly as a matter of public knowledge,” said Mr. Feinman, who lives on the Upper East Side.

Segregation Has Been the Story of New York City’s Schools for 50 Years

It’s important to understand the political climate before the NY State legislature decided to pass Hecht-Calandra in 1971. The New York Times does a great job filing in that context.

In 2016, a proposal to send some Upper West Side children — who were zoned for a high-performing, mostly white, wealthy elementary school near their homes — to a lower-performing school, attended mostly by low-income black and Hispanic students, about a ten-minute walk away, was met with vitriol.


A version of the plan — which ultimately impacted a relatively small number of schools — eventually passed after years of negotiations.

Important Technical Features of the SHSAT Exam

Recently @akilbello went over some very important open questions regarding the SHSAT. These remind us of how important it is for the NYC Department of Education to immediately release the SHSAT manual.

Read the lengthy twitter thread here.

NAACP 2012 Case: New York City Specialized High School Complaint

In school districts across the nation, talented African Americans and other students of color are denied a fair opportunity to gain access to the life-changing educational experiences provided by specialized schools for high-achieving students and gifted/talented education programs.  As a result, elite public schools and programs, which provide key pathways to college and then to leadership locally, regionally, and nationally, are among the most segregated.

In too many school districts, these racial disparities result in large part from admissions policies that rely too heavily or even exclusively on standardized tests, even though the three leading organizations in the area of educational test measurement—the American Psychological Association, the American Educational Research Association, and the National Council on Measurement in Education—have concluded that a high-stakes decision with a major impact on a student’s educational opportunities, such as admission to a specialized or gifted/talented program, should not turn on the results of a single test. 

Social Justice Was Always Essential to NYC’s Public High Schools

But here’s where Blumenstein and other critics get it wrong because, although Bronx Science founder Morris Meister was a firm believer in merit-based admissions, it was in the context of seeing science education as integral to a democratic social and political vision. Criticizing reforms intended to make the city more democratic by fossilizing Meister’s original vision is paradoxical.

https://www.tabletmag.com/scroll/272402/social-justice-was-always-essential-to-nycs-public-high-schools

SHSAT History: New York Specialized High School Admission Policies Have Changed Over the Years

new reform movement was launched in 1996 when a report issued by the community-activist organization ACORN branded the high-stake one-shot admissions test a form of educational apartheid. They were supported by Schools Chancellor Rudy Crew, but once again the campaign failed because of deeply entrenched political opposition.

In 1995 the city opened a Specialized High Schools Institute (SHSI), city-run preparatory program that was supposed to even out performance on the SHSAT and make admissions to the specialized high schools fairer, however with the plethora of private tutoring agencies it failed to improve ethnic balance at the schools.

Failing The Stuyvesant Test

In bringing its federal complaint against the Specialized High Schools admissions policy, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (to which I am an unpaid advisor) is challenging both the effect of the test in diminishing opportunities for bright black and Latino youth and shining a light on the arbitrary nature of the admissions process. How peculiar, to have the state legislature determine these procedures! Normally, such technical matters are left to educators versed in psychometrics and professional judgment. Here, a 40 year-old law trumps everything we know and otherwise practice about academic merit.

Missing Pieces of the Discussion Around Specialized High Schools and City Education

The results of this test also appear to be gender biased, as girls tend to score significantly higher on state exams and receive better grades, but score lower than boys on the SHSAT. (Girls were only admitted to Stuyvesant and Brooklyn Tech in 1969-1970.) The test is quirky in other ways and is scored to give extra points to students who do exceptionally well on the ELA or the math section – rather than those students who score well on both subjects.