Education news. In context.
Are Children Learning
Future of Schools
Future of Teaching
Future of Work
In the Classroom
Movers and Shakers
Sorting the Students
The Other 60 Percent
Who Is in Charge
Find a Job
Republish Our Stories
Code of Ethics
Our news partners
Work with Us
specialized high schools
20 hours ago
I’ve spent years studying the link between SHSAT scores and student success. The test doesn’t tell you as much as you might think.
A standardized test does not predict as well as past school performance, indicating that Mayor Bill de Blasio seems headed in the right direction.
June 19, 2018
Inside a Bronx middle school where students rarely apply to attend specialized high schools
If the plan becomes a reality, schools such as New Venture theoretically have the most to gain. But the proposal would do little to solve the most entrenched challenges that have kept students from schools such as New Venture out of specialized high schools for so long.
June 19, 2018
I fight for integrated schools in New York City. I’m also Asian-American. Mayor de Blasio, let’s talk.
Shino Tanikawa explains why she's concerned about the rollout of the mayor's plan to integrate New York City's specialized schools — and how the process can be salvaged.
June 15, 2018
Amid uproar over specialized high school admissions, Mayor de Blasio suggests adding more seats
The chancellor is “going to come back with a plan in the coming months,” de Blasio said.
By the numbers
June 14, 2018
Where specialized high school students come from (and where they don’t)
Early every school day, private charter buses rumble through the Upper West Side to ferry students from the city’s wealthiest school district into…
June 7, 2018
Cynthia Nixon on specialized schools: ‘We need them to be more racially diverse’
The comments are the most specific Nixon has made about Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to increase diversity at the city’s top high schools.
end of the road
Updated June 7, 2018
Specialized high school admissions bill is on hold until next year, Heastie says
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said he would take up the issue next session, likely stymying any chance that the bill will come before the Assembly this year for a vote.
sorting the students
June 7, 2018
How one Manhattan district has preserved its own set of elite high schools
The laser-focus on specialized schools leaves out hundreds of other schools and programs across the system whose policies also segregate students by race and class.
June 6, 2018
The scene at Stuyvesant: Students who’ve succeeded at SHSAT wary of new plan, though some want change
As politicians and parents take sides over a new plan to scrap the specialized high school test, students at the center of the controversy wrestle with the issue.
one small step for de Blasio
June 6, 2018
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s specialized high school proposal clears one (small) hurdle
A bill to overhaul admissions at New York City’s premier high schools passed the Assembly education committee — but debate over the controversial plan has just begun.
June 5, 2018
De Blasio’s specialized school proposal spurs outrage in Asian communities
Opponents of the mayor's plan rallied outside City Hall on Tuesday.
June 4, 2018
A Chalkbeat cheat sheet: The Specialized High School Admissions Test overhaul
If you are just catching up, here’s what you should know about the city’s plans.
let the games begin
June 4, 2018
In Albany circus, can Mayor Bill de Blasio get specialized high school legislation passed?
Experts and politicians agree that, with less than a month left in the legislative session, the change is unlikely to happen this year but it could happen next year.
Take the test
June 4, 2018
Everybody is talking about the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test. Here’s what it looks like
The test stands at the center of a contentious debate that blew open last weekend over the stark underrepresentation of black and Hispanic students there.
here's the plan
June 2, 2018
After long wait, de Blasio backs plan to overhaul admissions at New York City’s elite high schools
After sustained pressure from advocates, Mayor Bill de Blasio is backing a two-step plan to reform admissions at eight of the city’s elite high schools.
sorting the students
June 2, 2018
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Our specialized schools have a diversity problem. Let’s fix it.
We are living with monumental injustice, de Blasio writes.
question and answer
May 22, 2018
New York City lawmakers press Richard Carranza on paid parental leave, counselors, and school accessibility
Council members pressed the new schools chief on some of the mayor’s spending priorities during the nearly four-hour hearing.
April 16, 2018
‘So there I was, figuring it out myself’: A Brooklyn teen on why the city’s specialized high school prep wasn’t enough
The prep course offered by the city wasn't impressive, senior Hiba Hanoune writes.
April 9, 2018
NYC is expanding a program to boost diversity at its elite high schools. But it isn’t making a dent.
The mayor has taken heat in recent weeks after new data revealed that the city has failed to increase diversity at specialized schools.
March 16, 2018
Pressed on specialized high school admissions rules, de Blasio says he’ll talk to his lawyers
"I'll revisit it because I want to find any form of action I can possibly find."
March 7, 2018
Few black and Hispanic students receive admissions offers to New York City’s top high schools — again
Four years and an entire chancellorship after Mayor Bill de Blasio promised to diversify New York City’s most elite high schools, the schools…
June 21, 2017
City pols’ report questions the fairness of starting new gifted classes in third grade
Most gifted programs start in kindergarten, with admission based on the results of formal tests.
The big sort
May 5, 2017
Extreme academic sorting brings vastly different graduation rates in New York City high schools
High school graduation rates vary by about 38 percentage points among New York City schools, depending on the school’s admissions method. That’s according to…
April 17, 2017
Does gifted education help pave the way to specialized high schools? Here’s what we know
The way Sam Adewumi sees it, the lack of diversity in New York City’s elite specialized high schools is largely a pipeline problem. And…
April 6, 2017
More children took gifted tests in the Bronx and Brooklyn, but the number of children qualifying stayed the same
The number of entering kindergartners who took the test went up 14.5 percent.
March 31, 2017
With diversity still dismal at specialized schools, New York City officials and parents shift focus to gifted programs
One common theme is emerging: The city needs to start earlier if it wants to include more black and Hispanic students in gifted and specialized high schools.
A better way
March 14, 2017
Parents and city officials hope to tackle inequity in gifted education, specialized high schools
New York City's gifted programs and elite specialized high schools are starkly segregated.
running in place
March 10, 2017
New York City expanded its efforts to boost diversity at elite specialized high schools. So why hasn’t the needle budged?
“We need the education department to lead the charge on this one.”
March 8, 2017
Only 10 percent of offers at New York City’s specialized high schools went to black and Hispanic students
Only 3.8 percent of offers to attend eight specialized high schools went to black students and 6.5 percent went to Hispanic students this year.
July 27, 2016
Stuyvesant’s new principal is ‘deeply invested’ in diversity. But can he make a difference?
Stuyvesant's first Hispanic principal takes over as the specialized high schools are under increased pressure to diversify.
making it clear
June 22, 2016
Striking new graphics show which kids go to specialized high schools — and which don’t
Only two-tenths of a percent of seventh-graders, or nine students, who went on to specialized schools came from the city’s lowest-performing 124 schools.
June 15, 2016
New report: Top-scoring black and Hispanic middle schoolers not making it into specialized high schools
Only 16 percent of black and Hispanic students who score highly on state tests make it to the city's specialized high schools.
diversity in decline
Updated March 7, 2016
Even fewer black and Hispanic students win seats at city’s elite high schools this year
Just 4 percent of offers to the eight specialized high schools went to black students, while 7 percent went to Hispanic students.
March 4, 2016
On high school match day, a Chalkbeat guide to high school admissions debates
Most of New York City’s eighth-graders will find out what high school they were matched with Friday — a day of stress, celebration, and a few tears.
April 22, 2015
IBO: Students at elite high schools come from wealthier neighborhoods
Just 11 percent of specialized high school students live in the city's poorest areas, compared to 30 percent of other students, according to the education data watchdog.
March 6, 2015
Fariña: SHSAT should count for some, not all, of specialized HS admission decisions
"What percentage is valid? I certainly think between 60 and 70 percent for the test, makes sense, to keep the test," Chancellor Fariña said.
By the numbers
March 5, 2015
Share of black, Hispanic students offered specialized high school seats remains low
Few black and Hispanic students won admission to eight of the city's specialized high schools this year as their admissions process faces continued scrutiny.
March 5, 2015
New report challenges de Blasio’s strategy for upping diversity in specialized HSs
Nixing the SHSAT would increase the share of white and Hispanic students admitted, reduce the share of Asian students, and in some cases reduce the share of black students.
December 11, 2014
Debate over high school admissions test divides City Council
Last December, city officials said they were working to expand access to the SHSAT, though a test-prep program had shrunk.
December 4, 2014
Black alumni of specialized high schools: SHSAT needs scrutiny, not just defenders
A group of black alumni of the city’s specialized high schools say the alumni coalition calling to retain the current admissions system doesn’t fully speak…
December 1, 2014
As Council mulls diversity bills, elite high school alumni groups defend admissions policies
The New York City Council’s next education meeting is 10 days away, but one agenda item has already touched off a formal repudiation. Alumni groups from…
August 20, 2014
High school admissions interviews perpetuate inequality, but they don't have to
Middle schools need to do everything possible to help students who come from low-income backgrounds prepare for high school admissions interviews, knowing they’ll be competing against students from middle- and upper-class backgrounds who often have more experience with high-stakes interviews.
June 20, 2014
In student video, American Studies teachers support admissions changes
Teachers and students at many of the city’s specialized high schools haven’t been shy about voicing their opinion about proposals to change the single-test admissions…
March 11, 2014
Few black and Hispanic students admitted to top high schools, adding to calls for admissions rules changes
Few black and Hispanic students won seats in eight of the city's specialized high schools this year, prompting Mayor Bill de Blasio to repeat a campaign trail declaration that the admissions process needs an overhaul.
October 28, 2013
NAACP Legal Defense Fund recommends an SHSAT replacement
The city should screen students for its seven specialized high schools holistically, rather than by using only the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test, the…
October 3, 2012
A Graduate’s Case Against Specialized High Schools
When I was a student studying Japanese at Stuyvesant High School, I remember learning the word for “cram school’: juku. Juku are extracurricular private schools that offer tutorial services for regular subjects in addition to intensive university entrance exam preparation. As a Stuyvesant student, this concept was not unfamiliar to me — spending days, weeks, or even months studying for a single exam that would determine the course of my future. After all, that level of focus was what got many of us into Stuy the first place. At Stuy, students’ study habits really fell into two categories: diligent cramming, or skidding by with whatever means it took to snag a passing grade (granted, there’s passing, and then there’s Stuy passing). My Japanese teacher would deter us from the latter, lazier alternative by snipping off the corners of subpar homework assignments and taping them to the blackboard. “Do not cut corners!” she would chide, and gesture at the little triangles of notebook paper hovering over the chalk as testaments to our indolence. In the wake of a cheating scandal that has propelled my alma mater into the limelight yet again, I can’t help but reflect on the time I spent at the school that boasts an average SAT score in the 96th percentile and makes college feel like a cakewalk by comparison. When Nayeem Ahsan incited his elaborate cheating ring last semester, he knew he was doing a huge disservice to the hundreds of students taking the exam without outside assistance. But by the same token, to the dozens of overachievers juggling theater practice, sports, music lessons, and hours of studying and homework a night, he offered a solution to an otherwise impossible problem — namely, how do you keep your head above water when so many of your classmates are headed for Ivy League acceptance, and your grade point average is calculated to the second decimal? I will not condone cheating. Instead, I would like to paint a picture for the parents of future eight graders who think sending their students into a four-year juku is the only path to success.
September 27, 2012
Complaint targets elite HS admissions process, not just outcome
A chart in a civil rights complaint about the city's specialized high school admissions process shows the acceptance rates for students of different racial groups. (Click to enlarge.) It seemed like a good strategy: To boost the tiny number of black and Hispanic students at the city's most elite high schools, the city this year expanded access to programs meant to prepare eighth-graders for the schools' admissions test. But that approach is fundamentally broken, according to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, which today filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education against the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test. "More tutoring and more test prep is not the answer," said Damon Hewitt, LDF's director of education. "We need a real paradigm shift." The complaint calls for a new way of admitting students to the city's eight specialized high schools. The schools have long screened students by ranking their performance on a one-time exam, a practice that was written into state law in 1972 for the three schools that were then open. But that approach has yielded student bodies that do not reflect the city's demographics — or even the demographics of the students who take the test. Last year, black and Hispanic students made up 45 percent of test-takers, but they represented only 14 percent of admitted students. At Stuyvesant High School, the most selective and least racially diverse, just 25 black and Hispanic students were offered seats.
August 6, 2012
Stuy alum Allon urges changes to school's admissions, grading
Tom Allon speaks about his education policy platform at the New School in May. The sudden and surprising leadership change at Stuyvesant High School is an opportunity to make the school more diverse and less cutthroat, according to a graduate who is running for mayor. Tom Allon, a long-shot mayoral candidate who graduated from the elite city high school in 1980 and later briefly taught there, made the case in a press release sent this morning in response to Friday's resignation of Stanley Teitel, the school's principal since 1999. Teitel announced his retirement amid a cheating scandal and an investigation into how he handled it. “I'm afraid Stuyvesant has become a place where education and knowledge have taken a backseat to testing and grades and hyper-vigilance about college admissions — not unlike the testing and data-driven grading that is crushing the life out of public education throughout America,” Allon said in his press release. Allon suggests that the school switch to an A-F grading system, instead of awarding numerical grades on a scale of 100, which he said encourages students to worry about small swings in their grade-point averages. He also offers a slate of recommendations geared at shaking up the ultra-competitive admissions process, which for decades has been based solely on scores on the city's Specialized High Schools Admissions Test.
April 1, 2011
A change in admissions policy transforms HS prep program
Responding to criticisms of a program created to diversify the city’s elite high schools, school officials are highlighting a surprising fact: The program no longer gives special preference to the black and Hispanic students it was built to serve. The city launched the Specialized High School Institute in 1995 to help get more black and Hispanic students admitted to schools such as Stuyvesant and Bronx Science. Black and Hispanic specialized high school applicants who attended the institute have been more likely to get in than those who didn’t attend. But fewer black and Hispanic students have gotten that chance since a 2007 lawsuit forced the city to give equal access to the program to all students. Department officials drew attention to the policy change after the Daily News reported last week that fewer black and Latino students who completed the program last year scored high enough on the city’s high school exam to be admitted to elite schools. Indeed, the new policy appears to have transformed the makeup of the institute. Between 2009, when students admitted prior to the policy change completed the program, and 2010, Hispanic enrollment dropped by more than half, from 414 to 155, while Asian enrollment more than doubled, from 156 to 481.
February 11, 2011
Racial gap persists for city's specialized high schools
Today's the day that guidance counselors distribute envelopes to eighth graders with news of whether and which of the city's top-tier high schools opened the door for them. But for minority students, the news continues to be grim. Combined, white and Asian students account for 70 percent of the students admitted to elite schools like Stuyvesant, the Bronx High School of Science, and Brooklyn Technical High School. Hispanic students make up 6 percent of those admitted and black students 5 percent. The remainder, 18 percent, come from private or parochial schools and racial data for them was not available. Despite repeated statements of concern from city officials about the tiny number of minority students earning entry to top high schools, the numbers have only declined in the last three years. In 2009, 744 black and Hispanic students earned seats at specialized high schools. This year, 642 made it in. Meanwhile, the number of minority students sitting for the exams has increased. Black and Hispanic students now make up a greater percentage of test takers than they did in 2009.
In your inbox.
How I Teach