Specialized High Schools Solutions

The SMF believes the Specialized Admission policy should remain intact to maintain high standards and ensure an objective and unbiased enrollment process. We believe in advocacy to preserve the admission policy and to maintain high standards at the schools.

The low number of Blacks and Hispanic students at these schools can be attributed to many factors, but the most glaring problem is the broken pipeline to these schools. Over the past 20 years honors classes, particularly in Black and Hispanic communities, have been dismantled leaving no options for promising students to develop. In 2017 only 2% of Black seventh graders were able to score proficient in math on the annual state assessment tests, compared to 17% for Whites and 23% for Asians. Improving schools and returning honors classes for under-represented minorities will assure an equal opportunity for all.

Specialized High Schools Summary

Specialized High Schools - NYC Specialized High Schools known as Stuyvesant, Bronx Science , Brooklyn Tech and five others are nearly 100 years old and are the most successful public high schools in the country. 14 Nobel Laureates are counted among their alumni. Admission to these schools have always been through a competitive examination known as the SHSAT.

SHSAT - The SHSAT is a validated math and english exam. Students who score the highest have their choice of schools until all (approximately 5000) seats are filled. In 1971 a State law mandated the examination and the exam was standardized for all schools. The examination policy has been praised for being objective, unbiased and preventing favoritism, cronyism, and discrimination.

Discovery Program - The State law also permits a Discovery Program that allows disadvantaged students who are just below the cut off for admission to be admitted after enrolling in a summer program.

Diversity - Over the years, these schools have served students of all ethnicities and in particular those from lower income families who see these schools as a pathway to greater opportunities. Up until the 1970's these schools were majority White, in the 70s, 80s and 90s Brooklyn Tech, for example, was majority Black and Hispanic. Presently the majority of students at these schools are Asian Americans. Up to 60% of the students at these schools qualify for free or reduced priced lunch.

Issue - The Mayor believes there should be more Black and Hispanic representation at these schools and believes the admission test is preventing this. The Asian community feels their students gained entry as all students have in the past and the Mayor's proposal to change the criteria is targeting them and is discriminatory. Alumni feel that using criteria other than the competitive exam will lower standards and prevent the classes from moving at an accelerated pace. They also feel that alternative admission policies such as using multiple criteria opens the enrollment process to manipulation.