Despite these grim odds, young Indians continue arriving in Kota, and the coaching institutes have become a big business, encompassing 300 or so centers that generate $350 million to $450 million in revenue every year, according to one estimate. The largest coaching company, the Allen Career Institute, instructs more than one million students.
“There are two types of students in Kota — rankers and bankers,” Amit Gupta, a coaching-center biology instructor, told me. “One ranker will attract thousands of bankers. This is our modus operandi.
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.
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.
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.
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.