We realized that both the admissions process and the school system had changed from the time of our attendance. Many of us came to Stuyvesant by way of gifted classes in our neighborhood public schools. Until the 90s, gifted education was decentralized, with accelerated SP (“special progress”) and IGC (“intellectually gifted”) classes in local schools giving academically talented kids in every city neighborhood an opportunity to receive instruction in the above-grade level material they would encounter on the SHSAT. Today, that opportunity is concentrated in just a handful of schools.
Parents spend thousands of dollars, students “study to the test” for years. The most popular ( largest ) SHSAT prep program ( Kahn’s Tutorial ) reportedly charges about $2,500 for an 11-month course.
Michelle Zhang, a freshman at Stuyvesant High School, knows first hand.
“I was in test prep for the SHSAT for three years from when I was in 5th grade to the test,” she said.
Zhang’s parents spent thousands of dollars for her private tutoring, a benefit many students living in majority minority neighborhoods can’t afford.
The students have been studying with instructors from Khan’s Tutorial. The 11 month course normally costs around $2,500. But these classes, for students from low-income homes, are free—thanks to a program called DREAMChasers. It was created by attorney and Bronx Science alum Jason Clark after visiting his old school and noticing the lack of diversity.Confirms Kahn Tutorial’s 2019 prices
The SHSAT is “supposed” to be fair, but here students and parents alike are gushing about a $2,500 program.
And sadly very few of Kahn’s Tutorial students will get offers to specialized high schools after spending that much money.…
This opinion piece dates SHSAT test prep to the 1950s. Of course, the entrance exam was not called “SHSAT” back then, and there was one exam per school.
When I was an 8th grade student in the 1957-58 school year at George Gershwin JHS, a jewel of a school recently opened on Linden Blvd in East NY section of Brooklyn, male students were offered an opportunity to take an after school class in prepping for the test for Brooklyn Tech, at the time the only specialized high school that went from 9th-12th grade.
Powerful testimony on the effect’s of a NYC’s single-measure, high-stakes admissions system.
And how the pressure affected the mental health of a group of 12 year-old students.…
About 40 middle school children—all but one from Bangladeshi immigrant families in the Bronx—sat quietly inside a stark classroom at Khan’s Tutorial in Parkchester on a Sunday afternoon in September. Barely audible from the upstairs classroom were the sounds of children playing at a nearby park as the 12 and 13-year-olds reviewed fractions, greatest common factors and least common multiples.
Still, for Rafsan, one wrong answer meant there was room for improvement. Parents said they can spend up to $4,000 for the year-long tutoring program.
Studies show that almost every student can improve their grades with private tutoring. But when only the rich can afford it — in New York the average cost of private tutoring is $64 an hour, though rates can easily approach and even exceed $100 — it’s no surprise their children are overrepresented in elite high schools and colleges, at the expense of everyone else.
In fact, in New York there is a dedicated tutoring industry just for the Specialized High School Admissions Test, the now-infamous admissions test that is the sole criteria for admission to elite — and wildly racially imbalanced — high schools like Stuyvesant and Bronx Science.
Those involved in the tutoring business believe the deck is stacked because too many smart kids don’t even know about the importance of test prep.
While certain Asian immigrants have created a pipeline of tutoring centers, educators say black and Latino students often don’t have the same networks in their communities.
I was the valedictorian of my eighth-grade class and earned a special honor for never missing a day of school, but that wasn’t enough to help me, or others like me, gain admission into schools like American Studies. Instead, a single specialty test was used to gauge my intelligence, work ethic and worthiness.
The mayor’s proposal to admit students based on a more equitable policy has been met with vehement opposition from people with false presumptions about students like me. Many assume that low-income students of color like me are just “too lazy” to prepare for the exam, and that kids who do better on the SHSAT prove they “deserve” to get in.
Non-SHSAT article that discusses the intersection of culture and single-measure testing.
Related to the Harvard case, test scores for all students should be considered with a grain of salt. Yes, high scores are impressive, but they should be understood in the context of opportunity. It’s also important to note that strong scores are the norm in Harvard’s applicant pool.
Given that test scores are limited in their ability to predict future achievement, and are heavily shaped by race and social class, colleges should consider the value of SAT-optional or even doing away with the test.