34 thoughts on “The Problem with NYC High-School Admissions? It’s not Just the Test

  1. While her piece is thoughtful and informative (as usual), Gail tends to obscure important distinctions between “specialized” and “screened” high schools. For example, notwithstanding the non-transparency of their admissions policies (and indeed maybe because of them), the % of Black & Hispanic children admitted to the two leading Manhattan located city-wide “screened ” schools (viz., Beacon & Bard) is approx 33.3. Thus, while this is admittedly not close to the ‘complexion’ of NYC, the schools are clearly more “diverse” than their Manhattan “specialized” brethren (aside from LaGuardia) BY FAR. Furthermore, her article does not address the diversity of certain successful ‘secondary’ schools (i.e., Grades 6-12) in Queens such as Global and Scholars Academy. Along that line, Townshand Harris (which has approximately FIVE TIMES the percentage of Black & Hispanic students that Stuyvesant does even though the ELA & Math scores of the kids they admit are virtually identical) could have been addressed too.

    Still, her piece does amply demonstrate that there is a HUGE need for better guidance counseling outside of “the nifty fifty”. That’s why the creation of “parent resource centers” championed, for example by the nascent District One diversity plan, is so urgent.

    • Let’s not distort the facts here: Both Beacon and BARD requires a face-to-face INTERVIEW so they know the race of the kid in front of them. One would have to question the make up of these multi-criteria HS if an INTERVIEW wasn’t done ?

      Regarding Townsend Harris – kids getting offers to Townsend usually are the same QUeens kids getting the optional offers to the specialized HS like Stuyvesant. The ending percentage of Blacks/Hispanics at Townsend are the ones who may not want to travel outside Queens (except for York – Queens has virtually no specialized HS seats). That’s the main reason why Townsend would end up with the same virtually identical ELA/MATH as Stuyvesant and Bronx Science.

  2. And the big question that I always ask is that why hasn’t the NY administration and education board not brought the other 400 schools or more up to college prep?

  3. I live near S.I. Tech, one of the specialized high schools. Hundreds of quiet well-behaved kids come and go every day. No neighborhood disruptions, no police cars out front. No cursing shrieking kids. In the afternoon two city buses pull up and the kids quietly file onboard. Compare that to the chaotic daily scene around New Dorp HS, where 11% of the students have been suspended.

  4. This is an excellent article. One relatively small change that would probably make a big difference would be to have a single, uniform application for all public high schools. Six hundred different colleges use a common application, and those colleges are all run by separate entities. In light of that, it’s hard to understand why high schools that are all run by DOE can’t also have a common application. Also, the DOE should set a few more rules about criteria that schools should not be allowed to consider. For instance, no school should be allowed to consider attendance at an open house as a plus since some families can’t attend open houses because parents have to work..

  5. Remember that the Asian kids going to Saturday schools are also disadvantaged and low income like other minority youth in the inner city. Also you can be of any culture and go to those places. When I was working in a Kumon there were kids from all different cultures.

    • Some Asian kids going to those extra schools are poor, many are not. Let’s not pretend these are all children of waiters or people working in laundries, that is nonsense.

  6. Cox says many of these schools do a better job with their students than other schools. “Our kids are the top performers in their middle schools but almost all of them walk into a rigorous high school” and see other kids are better prepared,” she says.

    This is why all schools should track students. High achieving students would be taught at a faster pace and be prepared once they get to a rigorous high school. Black children in particular suffer from not having a mentally stimulating peer group. More children would be helped with tracking than programs like Breakthough New York.

  7. my family was looking for a form yesterday and discovered an excellent service that has a searchable database . If others have been needing it too , here’s a http://goo.gl/8quF0P

  8. It’s not “choice” when only the top performing students get into good schols. That’s almost as bad as going to your nearby high school. Why can’t there be two tests: one for specialized and over for non specialized? That would make a lot more sense than the crazy process in place.

    • Peter but you just made no sense if it’s a specialized high school it’s there for people with talent and yea they have to do testing to actually get in the school, but why would you say about two test non and specialized there is only one test for specialized high schools and it seems like your saying public schools should have it to but no not true public is for the opening

  9. Even this article is wrong. It is not A+ students going to the specialized high schools. These schools openly state that prior academics don’t matter, attendance doesn’t matter, only the 150 minute test matters. A entire industry has beed created to prep kids for this test, starting as young as second grade!. Totally umreasonable, so why doesn’t the DOE get it right? The same reasom this article doesnt – figure it out!

    • I have to laugh bc I kind of agree. I don’t know much about high school admissions but my friend’s son who has very average grades, and is not stupid but not exceptionally bright either, got into Stuyvesant. True story. He goes there now and hates it bc he doesn’t love academics all that much (just not his personality) and would like a little more laid-back environment, but this is the school he got into. I know most of the kids there are very very smart, but makes me wonder how many kids are like him.

      • Stuy alum here. I can vouch for this assessment at Stuy. I found many mediocre students there who though did pass the test, were certainly not doing well in the cut-throat and high-pressure environment of that school. I was similarly unhappy being there. I wasn’t a bad student, but found many of my peers to be dull, uninteresting test-taking machines. Not a good school for independent or critical thinking unfortunately.

  10. When my parents were teenagers (1930s) you chose your HS, so my mother and her siblings went to different schools. In my day (1960s)
    you were stuck with your zoned school unless you got into a special school or gamed the system by taking a course (such as a less-popular foreign language) that wasn’t offered at your zoned school. Now we’re back to choice. Everything old is new again.

  11. Our son with 94 average didn’t get picked in any high school, now second round- no good schools. We have to appeal, dose anybody knows what is the % that we will be successful in appeal? Who should we contact with DOE? The whole family is going crazy- really don’t know what to do, and how we can get our son in to the good school – that he deserves to go to.

    • I know this post is old but I went through the same trouble as your son when I was trying to enroll in HS. I hope everything worked out for him and your family.

    • My guess is that you ranked the most competitive schools at top and they all rejected your son. Had you placed your 8-12 schools as your 1-5 schools you probably would have gotten in. We shot for the moon for middle school and got like our 9th choice. For high school we really thought about where he’d have the best shot to get in that was acceptable and got the #1 choice. We got lucky I suppose. The system is terrifying and crazy. We just happened to survive it this time.

  12. It’s sounds like the Asian kids are coming from another planet. They are as New Yorker as any kids. Why we can’t see what makes them do better. And I am sure all our children can do better if we pay enough attention to their education. Please lets not call any one by their color. Asians has fillings too.

  13. Pingback: NYC high school admissions – opportunity and stress for teens. – WORD.

  14. This whole article is one excuse after another. With adults like these, who needs enemies? C’mon kids. Stop listening to these people. Most have some sort of financial incentive to peddle these SOB (tears) stories. From the paid high school placement specialist to the social justice warrior, they all tell the story from their POV. The truth is, NYC IS A WEALTHY CITY. Go to the best high school you can get into and work hard!! You may not become president of the USA or CEO of a Fortune 500, but you will be able to carve a nice and fulfilling life for yourself IF YOU WANT THAT! This article is incredibly pessimistic and the adults who are talking here don’t know how good this city has it in terms of school offerings. Do they want ME to take the test for all the underprivileged (lazy) families? How much do we need to bend over backwards for people who can’t go out and get what they want? Don’t let this negative talk get you down. It’s really not that hard. I just went through it with my son and it was sosososo easy. The public school process was super easy. We applied to specialized and screen schools. Didn’t even visit or do an orientation because my son was TOO BUSY playing a sport. They are all the same. He got into his #1 choice.

    Yes, the DOE ADMIN IS BLOATED AND STAFFED BY LAZIES. It’s PUBLIC AND ITS FREE and staffed by the cognitively challenged.
    WHAT CAN YOU DO? Put down that cake soda candy bar down, go outside for a walk and pick up a book that looks interesting to you from the free local public libraries that are all over the city. Once you are educated and grown up, come back to the DOE AND KICK OUT ALL THE LAZY DO NOTHINGS WITH LOW STANDARDS and put in the ones who pass an IQ TEST above 100 and are conscientious. In 5 years you will have the best school system. Also, don’t hire people with grotesquely long fingernails. They are afraid of hard work.

    • I object to your idea of laziness. I am an educated parent who had to go through the high school selection process a few times. It was rough each time. You seem to lack empathy for other people with different situations from yours. The system is objectively confusing and has objective, measurable obstacles for parents who cannot spend time or who are themselves wholly unfamiliar with systems like this one. In other words, it’s tilted. The school choice/Bloomberg “reforms” were meant specifically to tilt the system _less_. That clear, stated goal has not been met. Thus we say the system is failing by its own standards. Call other people lazy. I call you lucky. Try the same process you tried with your kid 100 times and see what happens. Many times your kid (SAME kid) will simply not get in anywhere. Thus the system is arbitrary and opaque, not fair, not a meritocratic one.

  15. This New York City Publuc High School application process is a failed system. My daughter is above 95% average and did not get in to any of her high school choices. It’s a sad day for my daughter and the entire family. She is emotionally wrecked and feels that she is not good enough to have a high school of her choice. She got up 5:00am for the past 4 years to take the school bus at 6:00am to commute daily to school. Such a great sacrifice for nothing. I wish to know who is responsible for the high school placement of these kids. School is suppose to be a learning institution that prepares you for the future but in this case, it’s not. This situation has created unnecessary stress for my child, giving her sleepless nights. What is the use of mental health education and counseling done in school when the source of your problem originate sfrom the school. I wish for the Mayor and all relevant authorities to reconsider this process and try to do a better job in the future. I would like to know what assurance I can give to my daughter that makes her believe that she will get in the second rounds. How is is possible that kids with a 70-80% get in a good high school and those in the top category gets no placement. The whole system is corrupt and needs to be taken care.

    • My daughter also had a 94 average and didn’t get into any of her round one choices. What’s even worse is that one of the schools on her list is also on the round two list. It’s mind boggling how they think this algorithm works so well when so many students with good scores don’t get into any good schools. She has no zoned high school (not that I want her to go to it anyway) but now how will they determine where she goes if she doesn’t get her round two choice? The guidance councilor doesn’t even know the answers to my questions when I call to ask.

  16. My heart is broken for your daughter and mine too. My daughter had an A average in the top honors class in her middle school in the 7th grade, satisfactory state test scores and she is also a very talented dancer. She was not accepted to even one school that she applied to and I don’t know what to tell her or how to explain. I reviewed the list of Round 2 schools and they are schools I would never dream of allowing my daughter to attend. This is extremely sad. I was conducting research and came across this old article. I don’t know where to turn. If anyone has any suggestions I would appreciate it. I think a good NYC public school provides excellent preparation for life. I was so looking forward to this process ending and now we are back to square one. We are a Black American and Puerto Rican family from the Bronx where quality education is so limited. I dread having to send my daughter to Catholic school but what else can be done?

  17. Pingback: Which are the very best methods for educational creating?

  18. The comment above about the conduct of children attending two schools in Staten Island is important and indicative of what parents value and what is driving their choices and standards. Parents don’t want to send their kids to schools with violence. They also want to avoid schools with working-class children/families. Middle-class parents desperately want to avoid the working-class. Some working-class parents see school as a way for their kids to escape their class. When I say “class” I don’t only mean wages and wealth. I also mean educational attainment. Financially poor but educated parents count as middle-class in the above comment. They are terrified of the idea of sending their kid to a place with majority working-class kids. But the outcome of sending a middle-class kid to a working-class school is unclear: it’s not necessarily the case that that child won’t go to the exact same college she would have gone to had she attended a “better” (more upscale) school. A lot of this struggle is about identity and has nothing to do with education or outcomes. Very little has to do with finding the right fit for the kid. The trouble is, most of our citizens are not middle-class, so most of our schools will never be “good” in the eyes of middle-class parents. In the past, much of this struggle was about race, and still is, but now it is tilting more toward class. What I want to know is, what happens to a child of two educated parents who send their kid to New Dorp HS? There is abundant evidence that integrating students helps the ones coming from less well educated households. Does it hurt the ones coming from educated ones, the kids whose parents are struggling to avoid integration by class at all costs? In the long run, this struggle is part of what keeps our nation among the most unequal on earth, with little class mobility, less than Europe nowadays, and much less than what even we achieved decades ago.

    • New Dorp high school is pretty middle class, I think you are pointing to the wrong example. And it actually does pretty well on state tests. And while it is reflective of Staten Island diversity (it is 52% white), not so much NYC.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *