The number of Black and Latino students offered admission into one of New York City’s eight specialized high schools dropped from 11 to 9 percent this year compared to last year’s numbers, Department of Education data shows.
This year, about 23,500 eighth grade students took the Specialized High Schools Admission Test, which is normally administered in October and November. Department officials reported Thursday fewer students took the high-stakes entrance exam last fall compared to years stating the decline could be related to a pandemic-related drop in public school enrollment by 43,000 students.
It is unclear how many students did not sit for the exam due to lack of access to the exam caused by the pandemic.
Out of the students that sat for the test, a total of 4,262 were offered a spot in a specialized high school based on their exam scores this week with 383 went to Black and Latino students. Last year, a total of 4,265 offers were made to incoming ninth-graders with about 470 made to Black and Latino students.
Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter called on Albany to repeal a state law, called the Hecht-Calandra Act, which requires admission to the high schools to be based on a single exam.
“I know from my 21 years as an educator that far more students could thrive in our Specialized High Schools, if only given the chance. Instead, the continued use of the Specialized High School Admissions Test will produce the same unacceptable results over and over again, and it’s far past the time for our students to be fairly represented in these schools,” said Porter. “The State law that requires the City to administer the exam must be repealed so we can partner with our communities to find a more equitable way forward, and do right by all of our children.”
Out of the 749 students offered a spot at Stuyvesant High School next year, only 8 were Black and 20 were Latino, according to DOE data. Officials say 20% of seats at each of eight testing specialized high schools will be reserved for a student from a Discovery program, a program for students who score below the SHSAT cutoff score claiming the number of Discovery program seats has risen from 250 seats in 2018 to 800 seats this year.