Lackluster Results for Push to Increase Racial Diversity in City’s Elite High Schools

Leslie Brody, Wall Street Journal, March 8, 2017

Among more than 5,000 students who scored high enough on an admissions test to win a seat at one of New York City’s eight “exam” high schools for the fall, 194 are black and 330 are Latino.

Data released Wednesday showed the number of black students who won a spot at the eight high schools dropped from the previous year, despite the city’s steps to increase racial diversity by expanding outreach and test preparation. Last year, 210 black students got offers.

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Critics of the admissions process have long argued it is unfair to judge teenagers by a single test score, and it would be better to use an array of measures. Supporters say the test is the most objective method and changing it would hurt the schools’ excellence.

City Department of Education officials noted the number of Latino test-takers jumped to 6,614 from 6,070 last year. But the tally who got offers rose by only 10 students.

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The city says 27,853 students took the test, and 5,078 got offers at one of the eight exam schools. About 53% of the offers went to Asian students, 28% went to white students, 7% to Latino students and 4% to black students.

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Nearly 68% of the city’s students are black or Hispanic. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said Wednesday’s data showed the city is not doing enough to nurture gifted students in every neighborhood, and called for more programs to serve them.

“Today’s announcement illustrates just how deep the chasm is between different communities in our public education system,” he said.

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