For decades, students who wanted to attend one of the specialized New York City high schools were required to take the SHSAT. “Students in grades 8 or 9 who wish to apply to New York City’s Specialized High Schools must take the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT) and rank their choices of schools in order of preference.” However, that policy may soon change. City administrators announced a new plan to make admissions to New York City’s eight testing Specialized High Schools fairer and improve diversity”
The reasoning behind this decision is not only educationally flawed, but also racially motivated! In a misguided attempt to “equalize” opportunities in the city’s elite public high schools, the Board of Education is putting political motivation before academic integrity. The reasoning:“Immediately expand the program to 20 percent of seats at each SHS and adjust the eligibility criteria to target students attending high-poverty schools.”
Consider other fields of human endeavor that require certain criteria for admission, such as sports. Does the Olympic committee provide different criteria for athletes who fall short of high standards? Does the National Football League allow 20% of those who don’t qualify admission to a team? Why then, apply such methods to academics? Isn’t the abolition of the HSSAT just another form of affirmative action? Wouldn’t a different segment of the student population be targeted for discrimination? Shouldn’t rigor and perseverance be recognized and applauded?
Admission should continue to be based on merit. Allowing entry to 20% of students who fall below the cutoff point is unfair to them, as they may not be prepared for the rigor of these special schools. Nurturing talented, persistent students is the ultimate goal of education. The city and the nation benefit from the intellectual development of academically talented youth. Accepting a percentage of students from any city middle school does not insure equity. Report card grades and narratives are subjective. The best method to determine ability is a standardized exam.