Backing for Admissions Test Used by Elite New York City High Schools

Meanwhile three more colleges go test-optional on admissions.

August 6, 2018

One of the most watched debates over standardized testing and diversity in education has been taking place in New York City. New York City mayor Bill de Blasio has proposed ending a system under which scores on the Specialized High School Admissions Test are used -- alone -- to determine who gets into three public high schools in his city that are among the best in the country: Bronx High School of Science, Brooklyn Technical School and Stuyvesant High School.

The scores on the SHSAT (as the test is commonly called) produce large majorities of Asian American students at the high schools -- and minimal enrollments of black and Latino students. The prestigious high schools make 5,000 admissions offers to incoming ninth-graders. Yet, this year just 172 black students and 298 Latino students received offers. This happened in a city where two out of every three eighth-graders in the public schools are Latino or black.

One element of the debate raised by critics has been what they say is a lack of evidence that the SHSAT predicts success in the high schools. On Friday, the New York City Department of Education released to Chalkbeat a 2013 study on just that question.

The study found that the test predicted which students would succeed in their first two years at the high schools. The study found this was true for students across junior high schools, which are not all of the same quality. As the Chalkbeat article noted, the study did not try to consider whether there might be better admissions systems that might produce more diverse classes. So while the debate is not likely to end, the discussion now has new data.

Going Test-Optional

Meanwhile on the higher education admissions front, three more colleges have in recent weeks announced that they are going test-optional in admissions:


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