February 11, 2011
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.
The numbers are even more concerning in the schools that are the elite of the elite. This year, 12 black students earned spots at Stuyvesant High School, which is actually an improvement over last year when 7 students received offers.
In total, 5,404 eighth graders earned seats at one of the city’s eight specialized high schools that admit students purely based on their scores on the SHSAT (Specialized High Schools Admissions Test). A ninth specialized school, LaGuardia High School, auditions students for its music and arts programs. It offered seats to 962 students, about a third of whom also received offers from one other specialized school.
The Department of Education would not release the range of scores earned by students accepted to individual schools. Students are often able to figure this out on their own by comparing notes with classmates.
A spokesman said that releasing each school’s lowest score would give future applicants the impression that some schools are easier to get into than others, causing some of them to aim for schools they believe will accept them rather than the schools they really want to attend. As an example, he cited Brooklyn Technical High School, which is one of the city’s most popular elite high schools, but is also so large that it admits students with some of the highest scores and some of the lowest.
Students have until February 28 to accept an offer.