Legislature holds hearings on eliminating specialized high school admissions test

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Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza are looking to make changes to the specialized high school admissions process to make the city's top public schools more diverse.

Many parents say they feel that admission to a New York City specialized high school is a path to success, therefore the admissions criteria for these schools is important to them.

Aside from LaGuardia High School, currently eight out of the nine specialized high schools in New York City rely only on an admissions test called the SHSAT. It assesses knowledge and skills in reading comprehension, writing and math.

Carranza told News 12 the plan to change the admissions process stems from problems with that test.

 “It’s not a valid or reliable test to identify student grit, student tenacity, student academic content to be able to be successful in a specialized school,” Carranza said.
Instead, Carranza said the Discovery Program should be expanded to offer 20% of seats at these schools to students in high poverty neighborhoods who score just below the cutoff point. Then, the schools would phase out the test over three years, and instead allocate seats to top students from each middle school.

Students would be sorted based on their state exams, their grades and their overall ranking in their class.

Camia King Cupid is one of seven black students admitted to Stuyvesant High School this year. For several years, the Stanford hopeful says she’s been attending a program called Bridge to Enter Advanced Mathematics, or BEAM.

Cupid and her mother say the test is tough, but it rewards those who work hard and show academic rigor.

The controversial plan's opponents say the current exam is colorblind and standardized. They claim the proposed admissions process would be too subjective.

The New York state Legislature is holding hearings to get a better understanding of how a change in the admissions process would impact diversity at specialized high schools.

Getting rid of the test would not be possible without approval from the Legislature.

Keep it or scrap it: Debate rages over specialized high school admissions test 



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