New York City’s elite high schools admit students who excel on a 2 1/2-hour exam. A majority are Asian-American. Only 12 percent are Hispanic or black. The teachers union and a group of Democratic legislators want to use multiple measures, including grade point averages, attendance and state tests in addition to the current admissions exam.
Advocates of the bill say using one test favors students whose parents can afford tutoring to prepare for the test.
However, at six of the schools, at least 45 percent of the students come from low-income families, according to the city.
Many of the high-scoring Asian-American students come from immigrant families.
The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Simcha Felder, hopes to add subjective criteria such as essays, community service, interviews and extracurricular activities.
Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, also backed a holistic review. “If it’s good enough for Harvard and Yale it should be good enough for the students of New York City,” he said.
Political support is weak, reports the New York Times.
Mayor de Blasio, whose son, Dante, attends Brooklyn Tech, said last year that the test should not be the only way to qualify for the elite schools. But he hasn’t come out for the bill yet.
Alumni groups are opposed.
While expressing support for increasing minority enrollment, in ways like providing them with more test preparation, Larry Cary, president of the Brooklyn Tech Alumni Foundation, said that the existing system was simple and had “a number of benefits,” including “no favoritism, no bias, whether intentional or subconscious, no politics.”
There may be political support to revive the “Discovery” program, which gave intensive summer help to students who just missed the score cutoff to help them qualify by September. The program lost funding due to budget cuts.