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New York City Schools Chancellor Calls On State To End Specialized High Schools Admissions Test

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The results are in following the Department of Education's Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (SHSAT) and some say it's the test that's not making the grade.

The results show the percentage of Black and Latino students receiving offers is down again. CBS2's Hazel Sanchez reports Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter is calling on the state to eliminate the test.

Tenth grader Maelena Vega took the SHSAT when she was in 8th grade. Her artistry landed her a coveted spot at LaGuardia High School, but her testing score earned her an offer at one of the elite eight high schools that require the SHSAT.

"I think it's unfair, the test itself. Because it used to be just a test of the knowledge you already had. But now so many kids are prepping for it, that it's like you have to prep to get a good score on it at all," said 10th grader Marlena Vega.

The Dept. of Education says, this year, more than 23,500 eighth graders took the SHSAT - fewer than last year.

4,262 students are being offered a seat at a specialized high school based solely on the exam scores.

53.7% of the offers are going to Asian students, while offers to Black and Latinos went down again.

Tai Abrams' non-profit group Admission Squad helps 5th though 8th graders in underserved communities prepare for the SHSAT.

"Because of the pandemic, we lost a lot of our best talent," Abrams told Sanchez.

"We also had very limited information being distribution through these communities and what it resulted in is a decrease in the number of Black and Latino testers overall. This in and of itself caused many students to not even take the exam, much less place into these schools," Abrams said.

Ross Porter wants the state to stop requiring the exam. Parents advocating for accelerated learning said the Dept. of Education must to better.

"The DOE is both failing in their effort to increase outreach, which they promised everybody they were going to do, and they're failing to educate students well enough to do well on this test, and that's inexcusable," said Maud Maron from Parent Leaders for Accelerated Curriculum and Education NYC (PLACE NYC).

This year, 20% of the offers to specialized high schools are reserved for students from the Discovery summer enrichment program who scored below the SHSAT cutoff score.

During the pandemic, the city offered a remote option for the DREAM Program, a free after-school program that prepares students for the test. 3,600 eighth graders took part compared to 4,200 last year.


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