New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio wrote an op/ed for Chalkbeat over the weekend that called for changes in how New York City Schools assesses middle school students for placement in their eight advanced placement high schools. He said the high-stakes placement assessment that is used has disproportionately kept black and Latino students from being placed in those high schools and it needs to be scrapped.
I visit schools across this city and it never fails to energize me. The talent out there is outstanding. The students overflow with promise. But many of the smart kids I meet aren’t getting in to our city’s most prestigious high schools. In fact, they’re being locked out.
The problem is clear. Eight of our most renowned high schools – including Stuyvesant High School, Bronx High School of Science and Brooklyn Technical High School – rely on a single, high-stakes exam. The Specialized High School Admissions Test isn’t just flawed – it’s a roadblock to justice, progress and academic excellence.
If we want this to be the fairest big city in America, we need to scrap the SHSAT and start over.
Let’s select students for our top public high schools in a manner that best reflects the talent these students have, and the reality of who lives in New York City. Let’s have top-flight public high schools that are fair and represent the highest academic standards.
He said New York City Schools would start to open more spaces in these high schools for economically disadvantaged students and minority students who missed the cut-off.
Starting in September 2019, we’ll expand the Discovery Program to offer 20 percent of specialized high school seats to economically disadvantaged students who just missed the test cut-off.
This will immediately bring a wider variety of high-performing students, from a wider number of middle schools, to the specialized high schools. For example, the percentage of black and Latino students receiving offers will almost double, to around 16 percent from around 9 percent. The number of middle schools represented will go from around 310 to around 400.
He said he was going to work with the New York Legislature to replace the assessment with a different placement process:
For a deeper solution, we will fight alongside our partners in the Assembly and Senate to replace the SHSAT with a new admissions process, selecting students based on a combination of the student’s rank in their middle school and their results in the statewide tests that all middle school children take.