Proposals to Diversify NYC’s Top High Schools Would Do Little to Help, Study Finds

Gene Demby, NPR, April 3, 2015

New York City’s public school system is vast, with more than a million students spread across thousands of schools. And like the city itself, it’s remarkably diverse–about 15 percent Asian, just under 30 percent black, about 40 percent Latino, and about 15 percent white, with all sorts of finer shadings of ethnicity, nationality and language in that mix.

The city also boasts nine elite “specialized” public high schools–of which the Bronx High School of Science, Brooklyn Technical High School, and Stuyvesant High School are the most difficult to get into. They’re largely considered the school system’s crown jewels, regularly sending students to top-tier universities. The demographics at those schools look a lot different.



The conversation about how to boost the number of black and Latino kids at those three schools tends to focus on their narrow admissions process. There are no interviews, no applications, no required transcripts; whether a student gets in depends entirely on how she does on a 2 1/2-hour multiple choice exam called the Specialized High School Admissions Test.

Critics say that all-or-nothing emphasis on the SHSAT exam hurts otherwise academically talented black and Latino kids who might otherwise get in. {snip}


But a report released last month by New York University found that many of the proposals that advocates have suggested to help bolster black and Latino enrollment at those schools wouldn’t make much of a dent–indeed, the researchers found that they might do the opposite.

“Maybe it was naive, but I thought if you switched to more holistic measures, it would diversify the admissions pool considerably,” said Sean Corcoran, one of the researchers, told Sarah Danville of GothamSchools. But the study found that there is “considerable overlap in students who would be admitted under different rules.”

The researchers wrote that using an alternative admissions criteria–taking some combination of grades, state test results and attendance into account–would “have little effect on the average baseline achievement of specialized high school students . . . but would have large effects on their demographics.”

They found that under the broader criteria, many more girls would be admitted to the specialized schools–at Stuyvesant this year the gender gap is close to 600 students–and more white and Latino students would get offers to attend those schools, and fewer Asian kids would be admitted. But they found that the new criteria would do little to boost the numbers of black kids, and in some cases actually might lower them.

The NYU researchers said that guaranteeing entry to the top students from every high school would make the elite high schools more diverse, but warned that taking that approach would come “at the cost of reducing the average achievement of incoming students.”


The acceptance letters for the upcoming fall school year went out across New York City in March. There were 953 spots in the freshman class at Stuyvesant for fall 2015, the most competitive of the specialized schools. Only 10 black students managed to get in.

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  • Critics say that all-or-nothing emphasis on the SHSAT exam hurts otherwise academically talented black and Latino kids who might otherwise get in.

    If they’re so talented, then why doesn’t their talent show up on the SHSAT?

    The researchers wrote that using an alternative admissions criteria–taking some combination of grades, state test results and attendance into account

    Taking grades into account would lend imprimatur to grade inflation, which is rampant in NAM schools.

    • Olorin

      Because those SHSAT scores are RAYCISS, man!

      They, like, measure rayciss things–science and math!

      Sorry, diversitopians, but if the kid can’t pass the test that has been dumbed down this badly to help dumb kids, then they aren’t “academically talented,” they’re just kids you like and want to see win for your own reasons/motives.

      Grade inflation has been the solution to this for fifty years. It has accomplished nothing but penalizing the bright and crippling this nation’s ability to excel, and its smartest 20%. OTOH, that smartest 20% just shrugs off their obstacles and gets back to being smart and productive. Not whining and b!tching about being oppressed.

      This is like Florida’s and other states’ laws that higher ed has to accept any student in the top 20% of Short Bus High. It’s hilariously awful, because in the end, these kids fall by the wayside…because even dumbed down college requires some modicum of concerted, focused, longer-term effort. According to my friends who watch policy and IT in higher ed, however, the idea is to turn higher ed into gaming, so that everyone can play and win.

      • Luis

        Olorin, I remember in the film “Stand and Deliver” where Jaime Escalante portrayed by Edward James Olmos – Lt. Castillo of “Miami Vice”- tells his Hispanic class that, …”mathematics is the great equalizer”… it doesn’t discriminate.

        Science shows a lot of inequalities. Mathematics is an artificial way of showing things are equal.

    • Charles Martel

      Whitey figured out how to walk on the moon but no one on earth can come up with a merit based tests that blacks can beat anyone on that doesn’t involve short distance running.

      • Speedy Steve

        Oh come now! Africans also excel at complaining, punching old ladies in the face, looting, stealing, chattering incessantly, rioting, and reacting whenever their wax-clogged ears hear words like flicker, quicker, rigor, niggardly, grrrrrr, etc.

    • GeneticsareDestiny

      Taking attendance into account is also a bad idea. Smarter students do tend to have better attendance records, but there’s plenty of intelligent students (the kind who do well on the SHSAT) who have poor attendance records for a variety of reasons, including that they’re bored with school because it’s too easy for them or that they don’t feel safe at school because it’s filled with thugs.

      Not to mention that this wouldn’t even achieve their goal of getting more blacks into the specialized high schools since blacks have worse average attendance records than whites, Asians, or Hispanics.

  • JackKrak

    In NPR’s world, a city that is 70% black and latino is “remarkably diverse” but any company that is 70% white and asian will be attacked for its lack of diversity (Silicon valley companies headed by leftists excepted, of course).

    • Lewis33

      I had them on at the top of the hour this morning, first 15 min spent wallowing in officer shooting/race, needless to say, click.

  • bv

    They’ll never be able to hack it on their own.

    • And that, my friend, should be obvious to the most casual observer. Of course, not to liberals, though. The phrase, “There are none so blind as those who will not see” comes to mind.

      • Susan

        Even if the liberals see reality, they blame low black achievement on white oppression, racism, white privilege that somehow holds back blacks, racist tests, not eating fruits and vegetables, not eating a proper breakfast, and on and on. Blacks will never be held to any ‘normal’ standards that everyone else must pass.

  • Slightly OT.

    There was an article linked to on Drudge today that claims that NASA thinks we’re only 10-20 years away from confirmation of life “out there.”

    With each passing month, so it seems, we’re finding more and more exoplanets, and with detection methods and technology getting better over time, it’s only a matter of time until we get hard evidence of this. And by “hard evidence,” I don’t mean midnight radio show fantasies.

    What doesn’t worry me is the affect on human religion, spirituality and ethics. I think we can handle it. As a matter of fact, the current Pope and the previous Pope have been sorta greasing the skids to get Catholics ready.

    What does worry me is that when the day does come, it won’t be religion holding us back from making the scientific and technological quantum leaps that one would sensibly think would happen after the official announcement, it will be SJWs.

    The article says 10-20 years. Let’s say 20 years from today, April 8, 2035, we get official confirmation of some sort of extraterrestrial life, though not necessary sentient intelligent life. Once that happens, a lot of people are going to want to do a whole lot of inventing and innovating. Here’s the big hitch: According to Sasha Obama and Malia Obama, the country’s foremost social justice advocates of 2035, not enough of the inventors and innovators are going to be black and Hispanic. Therefore, it’ll all have to be shut down, because racism.

    And also, the frightening and growing power of the KKK and the lingering terbul legusy of slavery, both of which will have only gotten way worse in the 2015-2035 time frame.

    • connorhus

      That’s assuming of course there is still infrastructure and any sort of science programs in the West by 2035. We maybe nothing more than a bunch of scattered fortified communities holding off the hordes by then.

      • Charles Martel

        in 1968 2 movies came out The Planet of the Apes, & 2001 A space odyssey. Looking at videos from die verse cities from the past year its obvious which came true.

      • Alden

        The hordes will stay in the cities waiting fo da gmmmem to rescue them They will get to the inner suburbs but no further

        • connorhus

          That’s pretty much my take on it although I imagine there will be some displaced that try to move into the countryside. Your average city dweller, of the looting variety anyway, couldn’t make it 2 miles on foot and would quiver in fear in the pitch black rural nights.

          • John Smith

            Country folk are armed and it will be pretty obvious that any black face they see doesn’t belong in most parts.

      • Seniorsquadldr

        If we last that long. Negroes never build anything, the excel at destruction. Negroes have destroyed more neighborhoods than all the earthquakes, tornadoes, and hurricanes, combined. The Negro is walking destruction.

    • Finding intelligent life in outer space? I don’t think we need to worry. So far, I am trying hard to find intelligent life here on earth!

    • MekongDelta69

      In 20 years, there may not be any sentient life here’!

  • superlloyd

    ‘Critics say that all-or-nothing emphasis on the SHSAT exam hurts otherwise academically talented black and Latino kids who might otherwise get in.’ What utter nonsense. ‘Otherwise academically talented’ must mean bakkabawl and feetzball skills. Talk about stretching a definition to breaking point.

  • connorhus

    Critics say that all-or-nothing emphasis on the SHSAT exam hurts
    otherwise academically talented black and Latino kids who might
    otherwise get in. {snip}

    So in other words Blacks and Hispanics need an immediate racially activated handicap. Oh wait isn’t that already called Affirmative Action?

    I guess the one for these teenagers won’t group the girls in with the minorities this time?

  • My sense is that “official confirmation” won’t be “contact,” but implicit evidence that photosynthesis is happening on an exoplanet in the goldilocks zone of the star it orbits.

    • Charles Martel

      Yea but it would be funny if we came up with proof that blacks where the stupidest animal to walk on 2 legs in the universe.

  • George Lortz

    I happen to have attended Stuyvesant H.S. back in the late 60’s. At that time, the school was predominantly white and Jewish. The test to get in had been in place for decades, with changes only reflecting the times. Back then, it was also all male. Females were only admitted starting in 1971-72. Here is a prime example of what diversity gets you from this institution—Eric Holder was in the class of 1969.

    • Yes, but at least since Eric Holder was admitted to an integrated school, he did not grow up angry or resentful against White people and he learned to love this country and respect our values….okay, sorry, I can’t keep typing; I am laughing too much!!!

      • Earl P. Holt III

        STOP: You’re killing me…

      • jaye ellis

        Eric Holder fits a rather unique, interesting “profile”:

        That of a mixed race male who attended elite, Liberal?heavily Jewish academic institutions.

        This type does not rub shoulders with the Black Black American lower class males, but he feels a need to “lead them” to get the the things he pretty much has and it’s all somehow a huge plot by White people to deny the Black masses in poverty the things he as a higher IQ mixed race person can do, can achieve.

        Also, these mixed race leaders of the Black masses, get power for themselves by positioning themselves as the leaders of the oppressed Black masses.

        As a rule, mixed race males are extremely hostile to White people, look to compete with, humiliate White males, have sex with as many White females as possible.

        Examples that fit this profile are:

        Brian Gumble

        Harry Belefonte

        Silas Lynch (Birth of a Nation)

        In contrast, mixed race females are way, way less hostile – as they know of the dangers, racial realities of the lowest class, Black Black males.

    • Ed

      Did you know him?

    • Alden

      So was admitted in fall of 1965 and did as well as the other Stuvystant freshmen

      • Olorin

        I think you’re touching on something important here, Alden, in your reply to George.

        One thing I saw as a university teacher was that many of the black and Hispanic kids who came in had a highly inflated notion of their intelligence and capacities. That was because they were judging themselves by their families and communities. An IQ of 110 put them in the top 4% (for blacks) or 10% (for Hispanics)…whereas a full 30% of whites fall above that level.

        Doing well enough on the SHSAT to get into Stuy or Brooklyn Tech would be an unusual thing for a black kid. For a white or Asian kid, not so much–more than one in three would have a shot.

        So imagine Eric Holder’s simmering resentment that that gifts that made him an incredibly gifted black man…made him only a rather average-bright human being in a white society. Imagine the resentment he would feel seeing so many of his classmates being so much smarter (and probably not having as big an ego about it).

        It’s easy for me to imagine that this would flip around to him wanting to keep himself special…by making himself a savior of his dimwit people, while getting even with whites who were born smarter.

    • Illidan Stormragge

      I graduated from Brooklyn Tech in 2011. Got into all colleges of my choice. The school is considered to be in decline, compared to where it was 2 decades or so prior. The other two elite schools are considered to be better but probably face some similar issues. Back in the day Brooklyn Tech was also all male but that doesn’t mean much seeing how few females there are today anyway.

  • Any system that relies on competency for admissions is going to “handicap” black students. They just aren’t genetically equipped to cut it. When are we going to admit that…I will say it for the one thousandth and first time…(drum roll, please.)..”the fifty year social experiment is over and the results are in”..

    • Deacon Blue

      Unless that competency is basketball/football ability of course…

      • jambi19

        Any one ever wonder why sports media is always preaching on and on and on about how we need more black QBs more black coaches, but never seem to be upset about ZERO ZERO white running backs/WRs/DBs ???

        • RaySist27

          Yeah I noticed that too. They don’t ever complain about too few Hispanic, Asian, or Arab players either. Nor do they complain about too few black kickers. I wonder why.

  • MekongDelta69

    Sorry pal. I went to Stuy when it was normal (when dinosaurs roamed).

    You need an IQ, not skin color.

    P.S. Notice the use of the oh-so-PC use of “she,” instead of “he” in this joke of an article.

  • Earl P. Holt III

    It will be a delicious irony when all those leftist dilettantes in New York discover their daughters are getting shoved around in the halls because they won’t date outside their species, and when their sons tell them they are getting “rolled” for their lunch money by 18 year-old Freshmen…

  • TomIron361

    Just keep the entry exam and don’t have black and Hispanic kids take it. Have them get in solely by quota and have them separated from the Asian and White kids who earned their way in. That way the minorities can say they go to a top tier HS. At least that way, standards can be kept up.

    • Susan

      That’s the way college admission works.

  • Deacon Blue

    So much for the meritocracy and color blindness of admissions testing. Are we supposed to think that some groups are more “meritorious” of admission before they even sit for the exam? All this will do is pull down the right side of the bell curve, the + 2SD, mode, and mean will all shift to the left and the skillset/education that the “generic student” graduates with will be diminished. Awesome. Where do we sign up for this grandiose idea? I can’t think of a more egalitarian, fair manner to award admissions to a magnet school other than by standardized testing for say, math or science or humanities or whatever the magnet is. Additional, soft, subjective bull is non sequitur. That little Quantumavious grew up in an “economically” disadvantaged area with a single mother 14 years older than he is, in a neighborhood that is rife in narcotics trade and violent crime has ZERO impact in “Quanties” ability to understand Newtonian Physics and Linear Algebra. The ability to “see” and understand higher math and from personal experience, even chemistry like Organic Chemistry, is due far more to IQ and abstract/strategic thinking than where and with whom you lived/grew up with.

    I remember in my undergrad years we had a student who grew up in some rural part of India in my college. This guy never had shoes, running water or electricity until he came to the USA. You want to talk “disadvantaged background?” Yet somehow, he managed to breeze through some of the more difficult “weed out” STEM course at the undergrad level and was known as the “curve buster.” He got it because he is genetically wired to get it. You can’t rewrite genetics as much as the liberals so wish you could.

    Maybe in the future there will be some miracle drug like in Stephen King’s Lawn Mower Man we can feed to low IQ Blacks to make their median IQ’s increase by 20+ points? But until such time?

    Magnet schools that excel in the sciences and math should based admissions solely on science and math ability as demonstrated by examination.

    Anyone disagree? If so, state your piece and case here.

  • Lexonaut

    “… otherwise academically talented …”

    Is that like “differently abled”? Do they get five from two plus two and this is good because it’s diverse? What am I missing here?

  • jambi19

    Identifying intelligent life is the game changer. Finding amoebas, choloroplasts and arthropods will be a fun little novelty that MAY interest the masses before preseason football starts.

  • Augustus3709

    There should be government subsidies for home-schooling. This would be a good part of a political platform.

    • jaye ellis

      We need new private schools. Successful home school parents should become paid private school teachers in new private schools teaching other people’s children.

      Not everyone can home school.

      • Augustus3709

        That would be the ideal model for a small community. In fact, it’s like coming full circle, back to the schoolhouse in the town, the way modern schooling was developed in the first place, before it became a monolithic intellectual slaughterhouse.

        My point was that taxes should assist in these local schooling endeavors. Why should just the huge lumbering public school system get all the funding?

        This should be pushed for politically. Education subsidies for local schooling.

      • Illidan Stormragge

        We have private schools in NYC that are better than these elite public schools, only these prep schools are freakishly expensive and only senators, doctors, and moguls can afford them.

  • martinstuart

    This would be funny if it were not so tragic. We cannot discuss parenting because that is racist.

  • falskog

    Asian invaders pushed us out, Whites should leave those schools to Asians, let them marinate there

    • journey

      Would believe the whites left for private schools, especially at those IQ/intelligence levels. The Asians are more than likely lower or middle class. They are the fortunate ones in not being put in the other camps, I mean schools.

  • superlloyd

    Hahaha. No matter how they twist the rules they cannot accommodate more blacks as blacks fail on every metric. They are simply beyond help.

  • Light from the East

    System cannot change inherited characteristics, especially when you have large number of people.

  • Speedy Steve

    SHSAT. O Gawd! Maybe it should be renamed the Special High-school IQ Test.

  • Seniorsquadldr

    How many times must, “We the People”, be told, “Negros can not compete intellectually with any other racial group”. Apartheid is the only humane way. Let Negros compete with other people who “Look Like Them”. Some of them will then, have success.

  • journey

    It appears diversity has hit a Morton’s Fork dilemma. Nature wins again. This is after wasting trillions to defy nature.

  • carriewhite64

    Generally, no one assigns students advanced placement classes. In every school I know of AP classes are electives, so whose fault is it if minority students don’t choose to take them?As for your second paragraph, you know the answer to that one! Dumbing down AP classes.

  • Susan

    Everyone with any intelligence knows that it’s not possible to turn an 85 IQ (or lower) into 100 or above. Nothing will ever improve until school systems & blacks admit that blacks are what they are, and stop trying to force square pegs into round holes. No matter how the admission policies are finagled, blacks (as a race) will never, ever be smart.

  • Illidan Stormragge

    I went to Brooklyn Tech (white male). Kind of sad that it’s considered a top school. It’s not bad and is heavily science / math oriented and rigorous by modern standards but it still had a sizable number of students with poor behavior and that couldn’t study worth a damn when I was there. Visiting bathrooms at certain hours you could find kids skipping class smoking weed. You’d find some degree of bullying, mostly verbal. The hours are long in the school for no apparent reason. Asians boost the scores and study hard to get into top schools but by themselves do not make the school elite in my opinion. Also good luck finding girls in any of these elite schools. I remember my junior and senior year courses were like 80-90% male.

    Bronx Science and Stuyvesant are better but I think you’ll also see similar problems mentioned. I think all of these public schools used to better decades ago. I think the true elite schools in NYC are those prep schools like Trinity that have 40k tuition, with 50% graduating getting into Ivies.