Our findings also lead us to some larger conclusions about flaws inherent in New York City’s entire system of choice in public high school admissions. Because under this system, there is no simple, direct relationship between an individual applicant’s academic strengths and the caliber of the high school she or he ultimately attends. Myriad other factors intervene, including: exposure to and awareness of the application process and the range of high-quality school options available; quality of middle school counseling; ability or willingness to undertake long inter-borough commutes to school; and others.
Students in the specialized high schools came from census tracts where the median household income averaged $62,457 compared with $46,392 for students in other high schools. (All dollar amounts are reported in 2012 dollars).
If we rank the census tracts by their median income and then divide the tracts into equal fifths (quintiles), we observe large differences between the share of students in specialized high schools and other high schools from each quintile.
The fact that the test changes so frequently with no impact on the quality of graduates from the specialized high schools also argues against the utility of the exam as a necessary factor in that success.
Great news for SHSAT reform advocates:
With support from white, black and Hispanic voters, 57 percent of all New York City voters say other factors should be considered in deciding admission to elite public high schools, while 36 percent say keep the present system which relies on a single test to decide admission.
Support for the “other factors” option is 50 – 43 percent among white voters, 63 – 29 percent among black voters and 73 – 23 percent among Hispanic voters.
Lawmakers considering Mr. de Blasio’s proposal have faced a backlash from the specialized schools’ alumni organizations and from Asian-American groups who believe discarding the test would water down the schools’ rigorous academics and discriminate against the mostly low-income Asian students who make up the majority of the schools’ student bodies. (At Stuyvesant, 74 percent of current students are Asian-American.) The push to get rid of the test, which requires approval from the State Legislature, appears all but dead.
Case 1:18-cv-11657-ER Document 50 Filed 01/17/19
Some interesting sections from the full declaration.
Deputy Chancellor for Early Childhood Education and Student Enrollment in the New York City Department of Education (“DOE”). As such, the DOE Office of Student Enrollment, which among other things is responsible for enrollment in the Specialized High Schools, reports to me
The Chancellor, the decision-making group, and I were in no way motivated by a desire to harm Asian-American students or to limit the enrollment of Asian American students in the eight Specialized High Schools.
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.
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.
Vito LaBella, president of the Christa McAuliffe Parent Teacher Organization, said that if parents decide to forge ahead, the federal suit would challenge this set-aside plan. “It’s discriminatory,” he said. “I do believe our children would no longer be allowed to partake in Discovery.”
Currently the small Discovery program is available to disadvantaged applicants citywide. The mayor says he can make this change because the 1971 law on admissions at these high schools allows for a Discovery program of some sort.
The SHSAT is misperceived as an objective, and “colorblind” tool to measure merit. However, an expansive body of research reveals that school screening policies that do not consider race or socioeconomic status do not reduce, but rather contribute to further “stratification by race and ethnicity across schools and programs.”
In the field of testing, known as psychometrics, a single measure like the SHSAT violates the universally accepted norm and consensus in favor of multiple measures. Having a single-test as the admission policy in no means takes into account the wide range of diverse experiences of all students and their families in New York City.