Although well-intentioned, Mayor de Blasio’s proposal to make admissions to New York’s specialized high schools more equitable — by removing the SHSAT and replacing it with a new admissions process based on the students’ rank in their middle school and their results on statewide tests — would lower academic standards.
The argument against a single high-stakes exam is that it is unfair to students whose families cannot afford test-preparation tutors and courses. Instead of removing or changing the test as a solution to the inequity, why not provide economic resources to such families?
Increasing the percentage of black and Latino students in elite high schools is a noble goal, but removing the admissions test is a lowering of the academic bar. When the mayor says that the “new system we are fighting for will raise the bar at the specialized high schools in every way,” it is he who is buying into “a false and damaging narrative.”
De Blasio called the admission process to elite schools “agents of unfairness,” yet his new proposal would remove a meritocratic and objective process and replace it with a greater degree of subjectivity.
Larry Hoffner, retired