New York City Changing Academic Admissions Policies To Combat Segregation In Specialized Schools

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Brianna Lyman News and Commentary Writer
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Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Friday that the city will change how selective middle and high schools admit students in a bid to combat racial inequity.

The city has eight specialized high schools, including Stuyvesant, Brooklyn Tech and Bronx Science, that require a specialized test to get admitted known as the Specialized High School Admission Test (SHSAT). The standardized test will remain in place, according to NY 1.

However, the city announced that middle schools will not use academic records, auditions or other screening assessments to evaluate and admit students, pausing the screening through 2021 admissions. If a school has a surplus of applicants, then the city will reportedly use a lottery system and randomly pick students for admissions.

High schools will still use academic screenings, but will use scores from the previous academic year since public schools did not give grades during the past school year, according to NY 1. Geographic priorities will also be eliminated for high school students, a process that gives preference to students who live within the same district where the school is located.

De Blasio celebrated the changes in a tweet Friday. (RELATED: New York Police Accused Of Violating ‘The Rights Of Protesters’ During George Floyd Riots, City Authorities Say)

“THIS is how we rebalance the equation, close the COVID-19 achievement gap, and ensure there is fairness for our kids, especially those living in the neighborhoods hardest hit by this crisis.”

School Chancellor Richard A. Carranza said the changes will make the city “fairer.”

“These adjustments to middle and high school admissions respond to the challenges we face as a system. Simplifying the process and making our city fairer is the right thing to do for our students, families and schools.”

During the 2018-2019 academic year, black and Hispanic students made up 67% of the city’s students, according to the New York City Council. However, black and Latino students made up only roughly 10% of specialized high schools during the same academic year, the city council reported.

In 2019, only seven black students were offered admission to Stuyvesant High School despite there being 895 open freshman slots, according to The New York Times. At the Bronx High School of Science, only 12 offers were made to black students that same year, according to the report.

“New York City public schools remain some of the most segregated in the country,” the council stated.

Low-income students are also reportedly underrepresented at the specialized schools, with some lacking resources to prepare for the SHSAT, which has a prep course that can cost upwards of $1,000.

Asian and white students make up a majority of specialized high schools, according to the city council.