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.

Test prep is a rite of passage for many Asian-Americans

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.

Parents Mull Suit Over City Plan to Boost Diversity at Elite Schools

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.

Overemphasizing a Test, Oversimplifying Our Children: An APA Perspective on Specialized High School Reform towards Educational Equity

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.[19] 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.

Assessing the Assessment: SHSAT

Don’t assume that because your student does well in school that they will do well on any other test or in any other setting. Kids who do the best on the test are those who go into confident and prepared. Don’t make assumptions your kid will do well. If you’re thinking of a Specialized High School start looking into the test and preparation in 6th grade. Explore the DREAM – SHSI program run by the DOE or at very least have your child take a practice test to see how they would do on the SHSAT so that you have plenty of time to prepare if you need to.

Pathways to an Elite Education Exploring Strategies to Diversify NYC’s Specialized High Schools (2015)

This brief examines students’ pathways from middle school to matriculation at a specialized high school, and simulates the effects of various admissions criteria that have been proposed as alternatives to the current policy. Analyzing data from 2005 to 2013, we found that while the SHSAT is (by design) the most important factor determining who attends the specialized high schools, it is not the only factor. Many students—including many high-achieving students—do not take the SHSAT at all, and some of those offered admission decide to go to high school elsewhere.

New York City released its study of the SHSAT. Here’s why it won’t end the admissions debate.

Still, the study doesn’t address key questions about whether the SHSAT is any better at predicting student success than the alternative system de Blasio put forward. And it can’t get at the heart of the debate about the importance of diversifying the elite schools.

The study uses data from every single eighth grade student who took the SHSAT between 2005 and 2009, looking at whether a student’s score seemed to predict early success in high school. It finds a relatively strong relationship between SHSAT scores and early high school performance.

Evidence on New York City and Boston exam schools

The current admissions approach almost certainly shuts out many gifted, disadvantaged students. When we rely on parents, teachers, or students to make the decision to apply to a program for gifted students (by, for example, voluntarily signing up for a test), evidence indicates it is disadvantaged students who disproportionately get shut out.

But getting rid of the test is not the answer.  Well-educated, high-income parents work the system to get their kids into these programs. The less transparent the approach (e.g.,

High Stakes, but Low Validity? A Case Study of Standardized Tests and Admissions into New York City Specialized High Schools

This is a study of the admissions process at a select group of New York City public high schools. It offers the first detailed look at the admissions practices of this highly regarded and competitive group of schools, and also provides a window into the broader national debate about the use of standardized tests in school admissions. According to New York State law, admission to these schools must
be based solely on an exam. The exam used is called the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (SHSAT).

Who Wins, and Who Loses, in the Proposed Plan for Elite Schools?

Dr. Caceres, the Bronx principal, said that half of his eighth-grade students already take advanced math and science classes, and have the ability and work ethic to thrive in a challenging school like Bronx Science. His students do not do well on the SHSAT, he said, in part because most of their families cannot afford tutoring. When the results came back this spring, some of the students were so disappointed they cried.

“Don’t you think it’s embarrassing that Bronx Science is in the Bronx and only a handful of students are from the Bronx?”