(Chart: Independent Budget Office)
Fueling an ongoing debate about high school admissions, the city’s education data watchdog said today that students who attend specialized high schools are likely to be wealthier than students who attend other high schools.
Just 11 percent of students at the specialized high schools live in the city’s lowest-income census tracts, compared to 30 percent of students at other high schools, the Independent Budget Office said in a blog post today. At the other end of the income spectrum, 22 percent of specialized high school students live in census tracts where the average income is over $81,500. Just 7 percent of students at other high schools live in those areas.
The data point adds fodder to growing debate about how the elite high schools — which include Stuyvesant, Bronx Science, and Brooklyn Tech — select students.
The current system, which relies solely on the Specialized High School Admissions Test, yields a student population that does not reflect the city’s racial demographics. Just 12 percent of admission offers this year went to black and Hispanic students, even though those students make up 70 percent of the city’s eighth graders. Asian students won the biggest share of the offers, at 52 percent, while white students claimed 28 percent, according to numbers the Department of Education released last month.
Defenders of the current admissions process say the single test opens the door to poor but hardworking students, particularly those from Asian immigrant families. The IBO’s analysis complicates that claim.
To increase diversity at the schools, the de Blasio administration wants to replace the admissions exam with a broader set of criteria, a move that would require legislative approval for some schools. But researchers have concluded that considering grades, attendance, and state test scores could actually make the schools less diverse. Indeed, higher-income students are overrepresented at other screened high schools, Insideschools reported in 2012.