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The Call Blog: High School Selections Announced; Diversity Lacking At Top-Tier Schools

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After I graduated from I.S. 24 on Staten Island, I attended Susan Wagner High School. I had no choice. I was zoned for Wagner. That was 25 years ago. Today, eighth graders list their preferences and the Department of Education tries to fulfill them. What hasn't changed? Blacks and Hispanics are still struggling to make it to the top of the class. Let's hope that isn't the case 25 years from now.



Eighty-four percent of eighth-grade public school students will be attending one of their top five high school choices this fall. The Department of Education today released the selections for the 77,043 students this week. The DOE says 45 percent received their first choice, and 73 percent will be attending one of their top three.

In addition, students also received admissions letters to the DOE's eight top-tier schools, which require a specialized admissions test. Five percent of those admitted this year are black, while seven percent are Hispanic. During his campaign, Mayor de Blasio vowed to change school admission criteria so that test results weren't the only factor.

Why don't students at the top-performing high schools reflect the diversity of the five boroughs? Should the criteria be changed to address the gap in admissions? Are you pleased with the high school selection process administered by the Department of Education? Was your child selected to his or her school of choice?

Send your thoughts using the link above.



As a teacher who has administered entrance exams at one of those top tiered schools I was aware of the quotas to admit minority students. Many poor white students who were talented and bright were denied admission in favor of minority students who did not perform well.

I later saw the result in the classroom of students who were not able to keep up and became discipline problems and they were channelled into the arts when they would have been better off in automotive training or other programs. I have no objection to any student who is capable, being admitted to a good school regardless of their race or color but reverse discrimination is not the answer.

Susan
Brooklyn, NY



Hi John

I believe the tests should be made a little bit easier so that everyone can pass them, back in the day when i was applying for high school to me the tests were easy. Mayor Diblasio is right about changing the test criteria but the parents need to pitch in and help their children study so they can get into college and become whatever they want to become

Herman
Upper west side



Of course we know why it is that the students at the top-performing schools don't reflect diversity -- it's all part of a conspiracy by those evil white folks to keep anyone who doesn't look like them out of the best colleges and the best jobs . . . and if you believe that, have I got a deal for you on this bridge in lower Manhattan . . . .

Bruce
Upper West Side
Manhattan



Hi John,

It’s as though this mayor just keeps taking on project after project and now we are back to square one with Pre-K and yet we still have a problem with the selection of high schools for the students to submit to schools of their choice. This is just the same thing we are rehashing over again and again. Now I do know and realize that the education of these children are very important to all of us which also includes the people that don’t have any children. To me: In my opinion is that the selection of appointees to the different posts/departments/agencies, etc. are not that qualified to handle these problems that just seem to be mounting out of control. Once again I mention that many from this administration have been in the system before and had the opportunity to vote and change the climate in many ways but they chose not to do it for reasons of their own.

Thank you John,
maxxiee
mp



As a parent of a NYC high school student I know first hand what parents do to prepare their kids for the specialized test. The bottom line is: the majority of students who are accepted into Stuyvesant took a prep test and prep tests and other preparation cost money. These kids receive tutoring, private tutoring which is very expensive. These kids have access to the best prep classes and the best tutors.

Also, NYC education is SEGREGATED, UNEQUAL. I know this first hand because I tried to get my daughter into P.S. 6, a public school in manhattan Madison Ave. on the UES. The school is a zoned school ONLY available to children who live in a 2-4 block radius. This is not only a fact, but a sad fact. This school is only available to the wealthy. It's in a affluent neighborhood and the public school caters to the rich children who live there. How can this be?? These parents have more than enough money to send their kids to any private school they wish, yet they have access to a beautiful, amazing top notch public school to which the poor are not welcome. The poor have access to schools that perform poorly and don't have a quarter of what P.S. 6 has. The poor who live in poor neighborhoods have to go to zoned schools that are considered bad. And, the economically advantaged kids who live in good neighborhoods have access to great public schools and are allowed to apply because the good schools just happen to be where they live.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. So, my answer would be YES there is an unfair advantage for a lot if kids in the NYC school system.

Linda
Chelsea



good evening. i have one child at brooklyn tech and another at stuyvesant. we love in a middle class neighborhood in queens. they worked hard since wlememtary school and attended prep classes at i.s.217 queens where they had to go in one hour early everyday fo months. they are white but thats not why they got in. they studied hard and were prepared. my kids middle school was 95 % minority. so these study programs were available to everyone. lets not punish kids who put in the hard work by eliminating these specialized schools.

V.



I am a graduate of Stuyvesant high school, the university of penn and Harvard Business School. There is nothing inherently wrong with the tests. I would suggest making test prep more available to those who cannot afford it.

Peter from manhattan



Although several mitigating factors were mentioned by viewer (importance of early education, family support), no one has pointed out the obvious: NYC schools are vastly underfunded. Private schools in our information age typically have classes of 12-15 with TWO teachers. Public school classes are funded at 30 to 34 with ONE teacher. Where is the individual attention needed for children to advance? We have a governor who wants to fund preschool programs at the expense of the remainder of schooling. The obvious truth is that more money is needed. No one wants to confront that fact.

Mary, Manhattan



I love the charter schools (CS) the level of performance along with the educational challenges put before the students. In an effort for Jane or john to compete- and earn admission to the top notch schools; they must be challenged. The CS model teaches the child to search--research and dig for deeper understanding on a specific topic-for example. The fact that they are required to complete assignments over weekends, holidays, and during summer off time is a plus. Parents need to also understand that they too play a very important role in the success or failure of their child.

Tami the Broker-Bed-Stuy



I dare Diblasio and Farina to open free quality test prep programs in the poorest neighborhoods in NYC, and educate the parent. See what will happen!

Omar



The admission system is an outrage . Latino and Black not doing well on these exams is not due to how smart these students are, they are just not as well equipped as other students coming from private school with parents from higher incomes who have been paying from inception for tutors to prep their children for these tests. Considering these statistics, the disparity is not coming from how intelligent these children are because black and latino students are not instrinsically less capable than students from other backgrounds.

For example, I am a student who came from a very infamous public high school. I did very well in school., but competing with students who went to private high schools on the SAT exam was unrealistic. I got into Fordham University through the HEOP program which judged me not solely based on that one exam, but based on my academic performance throughout my 4 years of High School. And now I can proudly say I will be graduating in a couple of months with high grades, higher than more than half of the students currently at Fordham that got in with their high test scores. So students just have to be given a chance and the tools to succeed and I'm sure many well.

People who are blaming the home are wrong because 95% of black students parents are not negligent with their children's education, and not 93% of latino parents. There is a disparity in the resources these children are given to succeed.

A.O.



goodevening. can we please try to stop trying to ruin thw jewels of our education system. i have one child in broolklyn tech and one i stuyvesant. they always studied hard and attended free prep classes at i.s. 217. they had to go in hours early for montha. many other students didnt make the effort and thua were not prepared for the exam. lets not reward anyone for lack of effort. thank you

nikki in briarwood



You have to prepare for the sexily zed exam it measures a specific knowledge base it ALS is geared to the 98 percente. Mention to exclude. Offer broader test prep.

J



Asian students are minority students. The access is there for the achievers. Ask an elderly CCNY grad what he or she thinks of open admissions.

Daniel



Bronx HS of Science, class of 1967 graduate.

The incoming class in September 1967 had minority students who did not score high enough on the entrance exam. These students were required to take summer school classes to improve their academic skills.

All these students who entered under this special program are now in their 50's. They would have graduated in 1970 and after.

So...why not just get yearbooks, find the students, track them down. See what they have accomplished. That is the best way to determine if the admission program to diversify the student population worked.

The results are there if someone tracks them down! See if it worked!!!

Carol



my son graduated from stuyvesant hs in 2002. he attended a Montessori school until age 4 then kindergarten, elementary and junior high school within the public school system. in grammar school he was target as "talented" . he took a test for mark twain jhs in coney island and was accepted. the year he graduated from junior high school mark twain jhs put 65 kids in Stuyvesant. he went to schools that were paying attention and so were we!

Gerard



why not just get rid of the test all together and make ALL schools "top tier". even if the ratio was "equal" in the top tier schools; parents with kids who didn't get in will eventually complain.. then what? just make all schools equal.

Louie



Hi John.

I've been watching and listening....I agree with Craig from Bayside - requirements should not be changed because school loses what it represents the best of the best.

Students should be required to submit portfolios of their best work and any other artifacts they wish to submit, beginning from 6th grade up to 8th grade. If the student wishes to go to a specialized school, he/she needs to work for it and test in, like everyone else.

My opinion.
Thank you,
Silvia
Parkchester, Bx.



Shall we make the exam to become a surgeon easier so that everyone can pass?

Tanya



I was raised in the bronx. very very bad neighborhood in the 80/90's. I grew up on 184th and webster ave. Its as bad as it gets...but my zone elementary school had a gifted program for the people who were excelling. I then went to a specialized program within jhs 118 in the bronx. The school was bad but my program (pace, which still exist) was very good. They prepared us for those specialized tests like nobodys business. Most of us got into Bronx science, stuvesant, and brooklyn tech. Point is...We need more specialized programs..not charter schools

Melvin from the Bronx



I grew up in a low income public housing project. I never took a prep course for the specialized high school test. I attended Bronx Science.

Wife

I grew up in poverty. I never took test prep. I worked very hard. I went to Brooklyn Tech.

Husband



Lowering the admissions standards to the city's elite public schools would not only take away from the quality of these institutions, but would place students who are not ready to handle the schools' rigorous academic standards in a bad position.

Michael
Upper West Side



I know the simplest and most obvious option for most people is a diversity quota, but I think that's not the way to go about doing this. That is a band-aid fix. What we need is reform. Stop judging students purely on quantitative data, there are certainly kids who are bad test takers. Some good first steps would be test prep programs available for free or on some kind of financial aid. Create an equal playing field. Give the disadvantaged the tools they need to be adequately prepared for the test that could ultimately decide their futures.

Dylan
UWS



The top four schools may not be as diverse as the city itself, but they actually include high representation of minority students, as this article from the NYT in 2012 shows (below). In fact, white students actually account for a relatively small percentage of the top four STEM schools. The strictly merit-based admissions seems to have allowed talented and hard-working Asian students, who are a minority in the city, a chance to thrive.

-- Jen from Jackson Heights



Leave the tests alone and improve the math and ELA curricula! Over the past 12 years (the Bloomberg/Klein years), students have been subjected to "fuzzy math" and "fuzzy English." The students who get into the top three Specialized high schools now have either had good programs in their schools, or parents who got tutoring for them.

Also, many high-performing Black and Hispanic students are in CATHOLIC high schools (also tested in), or in private schools throughout the Northeast.

Maria,
Morningside Hts.



Why is DeBlazio so opposed to an objective measure of anything? Why must everything be judged based on a racial quotas? Is the mayor saying that all white and asian students take advantage of test prep but none of the black and latino students did? If the mayor so strongly believes in racial diversity, how about limiting the minority population in public housing to make room for more Caucasian and asians? How about the same for welfare? What about having the city boycott the NBA because of the low number of non-black players?

Come on Mr. Mayor, are we really going to have to suffer through 4 years of this?

Norm in Queens



My son is one of the seven students who was accepted into Stuyvesant High School. Prepatory courses are mandatory to master the exam, thus it should be offered to all students non gratis.

Genine



The students at the city's special schools have truly earned their way in. These students are very focused and serious high achievers and they deserve a serious quiet place to learn. Testing may be a main component but I think behavior and deans record may also play a part in this. If you loosen the requirements you will deteriorate and destroy these schools. The educators of these schools do not care of what background the students are they just care that the student meets the requirements. The same satisfaction comes from educating any student, no matter what ethnicity that student may be.

Carlo,
Bay Ridge Brooklyn



What is that black and latino’s are only mentioned as getting some raw deal, they the only poor discriminated minority. What about the asians dare we mention them, being in the library and getting like 8 books at a time, or just winning the spelling Bee all the time.

Karl
Sunnyside Queens



What percentage of those students admitted to specialized high schools are of Asian descent? As a graduate of Science in the 80's I had many asian classmates many of whom English was not their native language. Part of the test measures the ability to perform under pressure, what should be next lower the standards for medical or engineering school? Would you really want your heart surgeon or airline pilot not to be able to perform under pressure? I used to think the cream always rises to the top, but it's clear this administration is trying to lower everyone's standards

Ed
Riverdale



I think it's time we stop trying to continue to lower the bar for our students. Internationally, practically every country is ahead of us in education. At one time a High School Degree was all you needed in life, then all you needed what an Associates Degree, and later Bachelors to guarantee yourself a career. Now we're entering the necessity for a Master's Degree, How long before we lower the bar enough that it won't be enough to distinguish those actually qualified to be employed, from those that only made it because it was made more accessible and inevitably easier?

Adam



The discrimination and segregation starts when children are subjected to standardized tests at age 4 to determine whether they can attend separate, "gifted and talented" programs.

Maggie from Brooklyn



Why don't we find out what the 7% did to get in to the specialized schools.

Jorge from Bayside



Stuyvesant is 47% free lunch and 76% minority. Brooklyn tech is 64% and 77% as well. I think that shows diversity and access for lower income kids.

Jonathan



I think it is crucial that highschools look at grades throughout the year, and even the year before. Some students are not good test takers and should be judged on what they do during the school day.

~Emma from Brooklyn



I find the notion that minority students do not have equal chances of passing the SHSAT insulting. I came to this country at age 17 from a different culture and no English language skills. My daughter worked hard all throughout elementary and middle school and was able to get to Bronx Science. The kids of minority parents have the benefit of their parents and grandparents always living here and I consider that an advantage.

Art
Middle VIllage



When is it time to stop blaming the system, and start blaming home situations such as lack of discipline? The great education gap seems to be between kids who want to succeed and kids who care more about other things. The greatest force that motivated me to continue my education further into college and now a masters program, is and always will be the strict discipline and targeted goals that my parents raised me with.

-Adam, Bay Ridge.



Level the playing field by funding test prep courses for all students. The interview and essay are both too subjective and will also require staff time.

Julie
Jackson Heights



I think that the admissions criteria to the city's top schools should remain just as it is and that the city should not put a student's economic status before test scores.

Michael
Upper West Side



Studies have shown that standardized tests are culturally biased in favor of whites and against people of color. Additionally, the process is biased against financially challenged students because they can't afford expensive prep courses. Using one standardized test as the only criteria for acceptance to anything, let alone a public school, is inherently discriminatory and terrible for education, diversity, children and society as a whole. Something needs to change. There needs to be a much, MUCH broader scope of criteria so that the application process becomes fair and provides access to all who can qualify.

Meryl from Manhattan



John,

From my school experience, I can say that a lot depends on the qualifications of the teacher, how well he or she teaches the subject and how much he or she enjoys teaching. All of my grade and high school teachers enjoyed what they did and were thrilled when their students excelled. If you have a great teacher, the likelihood that the students will do better is dramatically increased.

Joe
Port Richmond, SI

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