FAIRNESS TO GIFTED GIRLS: ADMISSIONS TO NEW YORK CITY’S ELITE PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOLS

A SHSAT research paper published in the Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering.

Jonathan Taylor
Hunter College Gender Equity Project

ABSTRACT

The use of test scores in school admissions has been a contentious issue for decades. In New York City’s elite public high schools, it has been particularly controversial because of disproportionate representation by ethnicity. Underrepresentation of girls has received less attention. This research compared the predictive validity and gender bias of the admissions criterion, the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT), with that of seventh grade GPA, a possible additional criterion.

The problem with high-stakes testing and women in STEM


Overall, the correlation was a loose one. Test scores predicted only 20 percent of the variation in students’ GPAs.  In other words, students with the same test high scores had wildly different GPAs at school the following year. At first glance, the test doesn’t seem very good at discerning A students from B students. Seventh-grade GPAs were twice as likely to predict ninth-grade achievement than test scores.


“People say the SHSAT is objective and that grades are unreliable,” Taylor said. “Schools and teachers have different subjective grading standards and grades are all over the place.