"First, a non-trivial share of high-achieving students does not sit for the SHSAT at all. This may reflect a lack of interest, a lack of resources for test preparation, or a poor understanding of their odds of admission."
"Interventions that ensure that well-qualified students sit for the SHSAT—and have adequate resources to prepare for it—could help make the specialized schools more diverse."
"Pathways to An Elite Education"
The Research Alliance for New York City Schools
and Institute for Education and Social Policy
New York City is home to some of the most impressive educational institutions in the world. While the City’s public school system is the largest in the US, only select few of the City’s high schools have gained individual acclaim. A small fraction of the 1,000,000-plus student population is able to attend these high schools.
In recent years, the City’s specialized high schools—historically the public schools with the most transformative impact on student outcomes—have seen their student body demographics become much more homogeneous. This shift follows performance on the Specialized High School Admissions Test (“SHSAT”), as only the top percentile scorers are considered for admittance.
What can be done to help our best public schools serve a population representative of all of New York City?
Roughly a third of the 8th graders applying to the City's public high schools sit for the SHSAT, with only 6% (5,000 students) receiving admission offers. The vast majority of these go to students from "feeder" schools that represent less than one fifth of the total number of middle schools in the City.
Promoting Access to Specialized Schools in New York City ("PASSNYC") will focus our efforts in underperforming areas that are historically underrepresented in SHSAT registration. In so doing, PASSNYC will help pave the path to specialized high schools for a more diverse group of students.