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Specialized high school admissions changing to increase diversity, mayor says

Part of the city's plan to change the admissions process needs approval from the state.

The city seeks to increase the diversity at

The city seeks to increase the diversity at Stuyvesant High School and other specialized institutions. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

Mayor Bill de Blasio and schools Chancellor Richard Carranza announced Sunday a major overhaul of the admissions process for the city’s specialized high schools, with the aim of making them more accessible for minority teens.

The two-part plan makes applying to Bronx High School of Science, Brooklyn Technical High, Stuyvesant High School and the other campuses across the city fairer, according to the mayor.

The specialized test used to select students would be eliminated and the city would expand its Discovery program that places students in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods in specialized high schools.

Only 10 percent of the students at those schools are black or Latino, even though those two groups make up nearly 70 percent of the city’s population, the mayor said.

“Talent takes many forms, but you know what doesn’t allow us to capture all of that and understand all of that? A single standardized test,” he said at a news conference in East New York.

Removal of the Specialized High School Admissions Test, the SHSAT, would require changes in state law; the expansion of the Discovery program does not, and it will begin over a two-year period.

Some critics, including alumni from the specialized high schools, slammed the mayor’s proposals, contending that they did not take into account the high numbers of Asian students who attend them.

De Blasio dismissed the criticism on Sunday.

“This is not anti anyone, this is pro opportunity,” he said.

When asked about the overhaul at an unrelated news conference, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo stressed that there should be additional funding for struggling schools.

“More funding should go to the schools with the greatest need,” he said.


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