EdCast 142 What’s So Special about a Specialized High School? Alumni Groups Speak

EdCast 142 What’s So Special about a Specialized High School? Alumni Groups Speak


♪ [THEME MUSIC] ♪>>I’M LINDA HIRSCH AND THIS IS EDCAST, A PROGRAM CREATED AND PRODUCED BY EDUCATORS FOR EVERYONE INTERESTED IN EDUCATION. THIS MONTH, EDCAST IS PRESENTING A SPECIAL MULTIPART REPORT ON THE CONTROVERSIAL ADMISSIONS TO NEW YORK CITY SPECIALIZED HIGH SCHOOLS. APPROXIMATELY 30,000 STUDENTS A YEAR APPLY TO THESE SCHOOLS BUT ONLY 6000 ARE ADMITTED. WITH ENTRANCE DETERMINED SOLELY BY SCORES ON AN EXAM KNOWN AS THE SPECIALIZED HIGH SCHOOL ADMISSIONS TEST OR SHSAT, THE STUDENT BODY IS ONLY 10% LATINX AND BLACK. THIS POPULATION IS FAR FROM REPRESENTATIVE OF THE 70% LATINX AND BLACK STUDENTS WHO ATTEND NYC PUBLIC SCHOOLS. THE MAYOR’S NEW PROPOSAL TO CHANGE ADMISSIONS CRITERIA FOR THE SPECIALIZED HIGH SCHOOLS WOULD DO AWAY WITH THE EXAM AND IS MET WITH THE EXPECTED OUTCRIES. EDCAST WILL EXAMINE THE ISSUES SURROUNDING THESE SCHOOLS FROM THEIR PURPOSE TO ADMISSION CRITERIA. WE WILL SPEAK WITH A VARIETY OF STAKEHOLDERS INCLUDING PARENTS, TEACHERS AND ALUMNI. WE THINK YOU WILL FIND THESE CONVERSATIONS ENLIGHTNING AND PROVOCATIVE. NOW ON EDCAST, WHO BELONGS IN NEW YORK CITY’S SPECIALIZED HIGH SCHOOLS?>>IT ISN’T SURPRISING THAT ALUMNI OF THE SPECIALIZED HIGH SCHOOLS HAVE STRONG OPINIONS REGARDING ADMISSION. TODAY WE WILL SPEAK WITH THREE ALUMNI WHO HAVE RETAINED DEEP CONNECTIONS WITH PARENTS AND STUDENTS OF THEIR ALMA MATERS. JOINING ME ARE CHRISTINA ALFONSO, TAI ABRAMS AND LARRY CARY. CHRISTINA ALFONSO SERVES AS DIRECTOR OF THE STUYVESANT HIGH SCHOOL ALUMNI ASSOCIATION. SHE HAS CHAIRED THE DIVERSITY COMMITTEE AND IS A FOUNDING MEMBER OF STUYPREP THAT HELPS STUDENTS PREPARE FOR THE SHSAT. SHE IS ALSO COMPLETING A DOCUMENTARY ABOUT STUDENTS WHO HAVE GONE THROUGH THE ADMISSIONS PROCESS. TAI ABRAMS IS A BRONX SCIENCE GRADUATE AND IS THE FOUNDER AND CEO OF ADMISSIONSQUAD, WHICH OFFERS TEST PREP, MENTORING AND APPLICATION CONSULTING FOR UNDERSERVED STUDENTS. SHE IS ALSO THE AUTHOR OF THE BOOK WHO AM I? A CAREER GUIDE FOR TEENS. LARRY CARY IS PRESIDENT OF THE BROOKLYN TECH ALUMNI ASSOCIATION. HE IS A LABOR LAWYER WHOSE FIRM REPRESENTS UNIONS AND EMPLOYEES WITH DISCRIMINATION CLAIMS. THANK YOU ALL FOR JOINING ME TODAY ON EDCAST. I KNOW YOU HAVE BEEN GREATLY INVOLVED IN THIS PROCESS OF ADMISSIONS TO THE HIGH SCHOOLS. I WANT TO START BY RAISING ONE OF THE POINTS THAT ALWAYS COMES UP AND THAT IS — DO WE EVEN NEED SPECIALIZED HIGH SCHOOLS? I WANT TO ASK EACH OF YOU WHAT YOU THINK.>>WE ABSOLUTELY NEED SPECIALIZED HIGH SCHOOLS BECAUSE THEY HAVE A LONG HISTORY OF EXCEPTIONAL TOP PERFORMANCE OF PREPARING STUDENTS FOR THE STEM PIPELINE. WHEN WE LOOK AT THE DIRECTION OF THE 21ST CENTURY WHEN WE HAVE A LOT OF GLOBALIZED ECONOMIES AND THIS INFLUX OF TECHNOLOGY WE NEED STUDENTS WITH A STRONG MATH AND SCIENCE BACKGROUND. WHEN WE LOOK AT THE SPECIALIZED HIGH SCHOOLS, THAT’S ONE OF THE STRONG SUITS IT ADDS TO THE ECONOMY.>>WHAT WOULD YOU SAY?>>I WOULD AGREE WITH EVERYTHING. I THINK THE PURPOSE OF THE SPECIALIZED HIGH SCHOOLS IS TO GIVE ADVANCED LEARNERS A CHANCE TO BE CHALLENGED AND TO BE ABLE TO RECEIVE HIGHER-LEVEL COURSEWORK AND A HIGHER-LEVEL EDUCATION THAT WILL ALLOW THEM TO COMPETE IN ADVANCED AND TECHNOLOGICALLY CHANGING SOCIETY.>>LARRY?>>I GIVE TWO REASONS FOR WHY THESE SCHOOLS ARE NECESSARY. THE FIRST IS THEY ARE PREDOMINANTLY SCHOOLS FOR THE CHILDREN OF WORKING-CLASS IMMIGRANT LOW-WAGE FAMILIES. THESE SCHOOLS OFFER THE OPPORTUNITY TO GET THE FINEST EDUCATION ONE COULD GIVE AND THEY OFFER THAT OPPORTUNITY IN VERY LARGE NUMBERS TO CHILDREN WHO WOULD NOT OTHERWISE BE ABLE TO TAKE ADVANTAGE AND HAVE THAT EXPERIENCE. THE SECOND THING IS THESE SCHOOLS ARE TRANSMISSION BELTS. THEY TRANSFORM THESE CHILDREN AND PREPARE THEM FOR HUGE CAREERS AND FOR REALLY GIVING BACK TO SOCIETY. BETWEEN THE THREE OF OUR SCHOOLS WE HAVE 14 NOBEL LAUREATES. IN MY SCHOOL THE LIST GOES ON AND ON FOR PUTTING MEN ON THE MOON TO INVENTING THE DIGITAL CAMERA. THESE SCHOOLS HELP THESE KIDS AND THEY ALSO HELP OUR SOCIETY.>>OF COURSE THE IMPETUS FOR THIS CONVERSATION ABOUT ADMISSIONS INTO THESE SCHOOLS IS THE FACT THAT THERE IS A LACK OF DIVERSITY IN THESE SCHOOLS. PERHAPS AT MOST 10% BLACK AND LATINX STUDENTS — THE MAYOR HAS MADE THAT A FOCAL POINT OF WHY HE WANTS TO CHANGE THINGS. WHY DO YOU THINK THERE ARE SO FEW BLACK AND LATINX STUDENTS AT THESE SCHOOLS?>>I CAN START BY SPEAKING TO THE INFORMATION GAP. DESPITE ALL THE PUBLICITY AROUND THE SCHOOLS THERE ARE A SIGNIFICANT GROUP OF BLACK AND LATINO PARENTS WHO DON’T KNOW ABOUT THE SCHOOLS. THEY DON’T DISSEMINATE THE INFORMATION TO THE STUDENTS UNTIL ABOUT TWO MONTHS BEFORE THE EXAM. THAT DOESN’T LEAVE A LOT OF TIME TO GET PREPARED. THE STUDENTS ARE NOT PREPARED WITH ENOUGH GIFTED AND TALENTED PROGRAMS AT THE K-8 LEVEL. BY THE TIME WE GET INTO EIGHTH-GRADE THEY ARE JUST NOT COMPETITIVE.>>I WOULD LIKE TO BEGIN BY DISPUTING THE ASSUMPTION IN THE QUESTION. I CAN SPEAK TO BROOKLYN TECH WHICH 66% OF THE STUDENTS ARE ASIAN-AMERICAN. WITHIN THAT GROUP YOU HAVE 15 DIFFERENT NATIONALITIES. 45 OR 50 DIFFERENT LANGUAGE BASES. MULTIPLE RELIGIONS. IT’S TRUE WE DON’T HAVE BLACK AND LATINO CHILDREN AT THE PERCENTAGES WE USED TO HAVE. BROOKLYN TECH HISTORICALLY FROM 1976 TO 1996 THE MAJORITY OF OUR STUDENTS WERE BLACK AND LATINO. THAT CHANGED BECAUSE THE EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM IN THIS CITY FOR THOSE COMMUNITIES DETERIORATED.>>I WANT TO GO TO THAT FOR A MINUTE. IT IS TRUE THAT AT ONE TIME THESE SCHOOLS WERE MORE DIVERSIFIED. YOU ARE SAYING ONE REASON IS THE LACK OF EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITY. DOES ANYONE WANT TO EXPAND ON THAT?>>I WOULD DEFINITELY SAY THE EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES PARTICULARLY FOR BLACK AND LATINX CHILDREN ARE MUCH DIFFERENT TODAY THAN THEY WERE 20 OR 30 YEARS AGO AND IT’S BECAUSE A FEW DECADES AGO THERE WEREN’T GIFTED AND TALENTED SCHOOLS PER SE BUT IN EVERY MIDDLE SCHOOL THERE WAS AN ACCELERATED CLASS OR WHAT THEY CALLED SPECIAL PROGRESS CLASSES WHERE STUDENTS WITHIN THEIR OWN NEIGHBORHOOD SCHOOLS WOULD BE ABLE TO RECEIVE ACCELERATED COURSEWORK AND BE PREPARED FAR BEYOND THEIR GRADE LEVEL ACADEMICALLY. BECAUSE THOSE NEIGHBORHOOD PROGRAMS NO LONGER EXIST, STUDENTS ARE NOT RECEIVING THE TYPE OF ACCELERATED EDUCATION THEY HAD ACCESS TO A DECADE OR TWO OR THREE DECADES AGO. I THINK IT’S REALLY IMPORTANT TO NOT ONLY RESTORE THOSE CLASSES TO NEIGHBORHOOD JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOLS BUT ALSO EXPAND CITYWIDE GIFTED AND TALENTED SCHOOLS. I THINK SCHOOL CHOICE IS VERY IMPORTANT AND I CAN SEE BENEFITS OF BOTH AS LONG AS A CHILD IS GETTING AN EXCELLENT EDUCATION AND ALSO IF A CHILD WHO IS MORE ADVANCED ACADEMICALLY IS RECEIVING ACCELERATED EDUCATION.>>YOU ARE SAYING THERE WAS A KIND OF PIPELINE THAT ENCOURAGED KIDS OF DIFFERENT BACKGROUNDS.>>EXACTLY.>>LAST INTERVIEW, I SPOKE WITH A TEACHER FROM HIGH SCHOOL IN AMERICAN STUDIES. HE MENTIONED THAT HIS SCHOOL AT ONE TIME WAS MUCH MORE DIVERSE THAN IT IS NOW. I WOULD LIKE YOU TO LISTEN TO HIS REASON FOR WHY HE THINKS THAT WAS THE CASE. WE ARE GOING TO LOOK AT THE FIRST PART OF OUR INTERVIEW.>>THE HIGH SCHOOL OF AMERICAN STUDIES WAS FOUNDED IN 2002 AND WE WERE AN AMAZINGLY INTEGRATED SCHOOL. OVER THE PAST 17 YEARS WE HAVE BECOME A MAJORITY WHITE MAJORITY MANHATTAN SCHOOL. WE HAVE LOST DIVERSITY. WE HAVE LOST RICHNESS. WE HAVE LOST THESE GREAT INTERACTIONS BETWEEN KIDS.>>YOU HAD THE TEST IN 2002.>>WE HAD A VERY DIFFERENT STUDENT BODY. NOW WE HAVE A SCHOOL THAT DOESN’T HAVE — THE INTERACTION OF CULTURES, OF EXPERIENCE AND BACKGROUNDS. EVERY CLASSROOM HAS LOST SOMETHING. THAT 7%, I DON’T KNOW IF IT’S THE RIGHT PLAN BUT IT’S MUCH BETTER THAN WHAT WE HAVE NOW. WE CAN’T HAVE A MONOLITHIC SPECIAL HIGH SCHOOL.>>WHAT HE IS SAYING IS WHAT HE SEES AS THE REASON FOR THE LACK OF DIVERSITY IN THE SCHOOL THAT HE’S AT IS TEST PREP AND HE IS SAYING THE AMAZING UPSURGE IN TEST PREP IS WHAT IS CAUSING THIS IMBALANCE. YOU KNOW YOU HAVE HEARD THAT BEFORE. WHAT IS YOUR REACTION TO THAT?>>I DON’T THINK AN INDIVIDUAL GETS TEST PREP AT THE EXPENSE OF OTHERS. I THINK THAT’S A DECISION MADE BY THAT CHILD AND THE FAMILY. THERE’S NO DOUBT THAT TEST PREP MAKES A DIFFERENCE. ONE WOULD BE DENYING REALITY IF YOU SUGGESTED OTHERWISE. THE CITY’S DREAM PROGRAM WHICH GIVES FREE TEST PREP HAS PRODUCED GOOD NUMBERS OF BLACK AND HISPANIC KIDS FOR BROOKLYN TECH. I CAN’T SPEAK TO THE OTHER SCHOOLS. WE ADVOCATE FREE TEST PREP FOR EVERY CHILD IN NEW YORK CITY REGARDLESS OF INCOME. THE CURRENT PROGRAM LIMITS ELIGIBILITY. YOU HAVE TO BE POOR ENOUGH IN ORDER TO GET INTO IT TO. WE THINK THESE ARE PUBLIC SCHOOLS. WE THINK THAT THE PUBLIC FISK SHOULD BE SPENT ON PREPARING KIDS FOR IT. I WILL ALSO SAY THERE IS A LIMIT TO WHAT TEST PREP CAN ACCOMPLISH IF YOU HAVE SIGNIFICANT DEFICITS IN TERMS OF THE PREPARATION THAT SHOULD BE TAKING PLACE IN THE SCHOOLS.>>ANY THOUGHTS TO ADD ABOUT TEST PREP?>>I THINK IT IS OBVIOUSLY HELPFUL. I THINK IS MOST EFFECTIVE FOR STUDENTS WHO ARE ALREADY AT A CERTAIN LEVEL ACADEMICALLY AND THEY ARE ON THE CUSP. I THINK IT HELPS WITH FILLING IN GAPS IN CONTENT AND IT HELPS TO BUILD THE STUDENTS’ LEVEL OF CONFIDENCE. I THINK ALL OF THAT IS IMPORTANT BUT I DON’T THINK BLAMING THE TEST PREP INDUSTRY FOR THE DIFFERENCE IN DEMOGRAPHICS OF THE SCHOOL IS A VERY WISE ARGUMENT BECAUSE TEST PREP ONLY HELPS TO A CERTAIN EXTENT.>>ONE OF THE PROBLEMS — ONE OF THE FACTORS IN THIS PROCESS IS WHEN I SAT FOR THE TEST, THE NUMBER OF KIDS THAT WERE SITTING FOR THE TEST WAS A FRACTION OF THE NUMBER OF CHILDREN WHO SIT FOR THE TEST TODAY. WHEN I SAT FOR THE TEST I DON’T HAVE EXACT NUMBERS BECAUSE BACK THEN IT WAS A SEPARATE TEST FOR TECH VERSUS THE OTHER SCHOOLS. BUT I WOULDN’T BE SURPRISED IF THE AUDITORIUM WHICH HOLDS 3000 MAY HAVE BEEN THE UNIVERSE OF KIDS WHO SAT FOR BROOKLYN TECH. NOW YOU HAVE 28,000 KIDS SITTING FOR THE TEST AND THAT REFLECTS THE FACT THAT THE REST OF THE NEW YORK CITY SCHOOL SYSTEM IS NOT DOING ITS JOB. 28,000 CHILDREN SIT FOR THIS TEST. IT’S AN INDICTMENT OF HOW POORLY THE CHOICES ARE FOR THESE KIDS. SO PART OF THE SOLUTION IS NOT JUST SOLVING THE PROBLEM FOR OUR SCHOOLS BUT FOR THE EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM IN NEW YORK CITY.>>ARE YOU SAYING THAT THEY ARE SINGLING OUT THESE SCHOOLS BECAUSE THERE AREN’T OTHER BETTER SCHOOLS AND IF THERE WERE THEY WOULDN’T BE HONING IN SO MUCH? THERE ARE OTHER SCHOOLS. THESE ARE THE HOT ONES. ARE YOU SAYING THEY WOULDN’T BE INTERESTED IN THEM?>>THERE ARE ABOUT 435 HIGH SCHOOLS IN NEW YORK CITY. ONLY 37 OF THEM HAVE — 80% AND ABOVE. ALL OF THE SPECIAL HIGH SCHOOLS ARE ON THAT LIST. WHEN YOU LOOK AT THAT YOU HAVE 80,000 EIGHT GRADERS AND OF COURSE THE HIGH-PERFORMING ONES ARE ALL GOING FOR THESE 10% OF SCHOOLS IN NEW YORK CITY.>>YOU MENTIONED HOW FEW PEOPLE SAT FOR IT AND I BELIEVE WHEN WE WENT TO SCHOOL THERE WAS A LOT OF TRACKING GOING ON AND KIDS WERE ENCOURAGED TO TAKE A TEST LIKE THIS AND OTHERS WERE NOT AT ALL. NOW WE SEE THAT FEWER MINORITIES ARE SITTING FOR THE TEST ITSELF.>>GUIDANCE COUNSELORS. IS THE INFORMATION BEING DISSEMINATED TO THESE FAMILIES EARLY ENOUGH? IF YOU DON’T HAVE AN INFORMED SCHOOL LEADERSHIP TEAM YOU MISS A WHOLE GROUP OF STUDENTS. THAT’S WHAT WE HAVE SEEN HAPPEN.>>I WANT TO TAKE A LOOK AT SOME FOOTAGE AT AN INTERVIEW I DID WITH THE DIRECTOR OF ACADEMICS AT KAPLAN AND A VETERAN TUTOR. I ASKED HIM ABOUT THE TEST ITSELF. LET’S LISTEN TO WHAT HE SAYS.>>I’VE BEEN TEACHING OVER 10 YEARS. THERE’S A BIG CONTENT PROPORTION. CONTENT, CRITICAL THINKING. WHEN YOU ARE UNDER PRESSURE FOR A LOT OF THESE STUDENTS, IT’S A THREE-HOUR LONG EXAM. STUDENTS AREN’T USED TO THIS. FOR A LOT OF THEM THIS IS A BIG CHALLENGE. BEING ABLE TO MAKE THE RIGHT DECISIONS UNDER PRESSURE AND BEING ABLE TO SAY I UNDERSTAND WHAT’S IN FRONT OF ME AND HOW I CAN TURN IT INTO AN ANSWER IS A BIG PART OF IT. AND THEN ADD ON TO THAT CRISIS PREVENTION. AS A TEACHER THESE STUDENTS ARE SO EXCITED AND THE PARENTS ARE EXCITED FOR THE OPPORTUNITY. THE SPECIALIZED HIGH SCHOOLS IN NEW YORK ARE KNOWN THROUGHOUT THE WORLD. THESE STUDENTS KNOW WHAT’S AT STAKE AND TO BE ABLE TO TELL THEM IF YOU PERFORM ON THIS TEST, I CAN HELP YOU DO THAT. I CAN HELP YOU WITH ANY JITTERS OR NERVOUS FEELINGS YOU MIGHT FEEL SO THAT YOU CAN PERFORM TO YOUR ABILITY. FOR US IT’S HELPING GET THEM PREPARED AND DO THE BEST THEY CAN. IT’S ALL ABOUT COMPETITION.>>LAST WEEK I BEGAN TO THINK TO MYSELF, WOW. THIS TEST IS A LOT OF PRESSURE. YOU ARE HELPING KIDS MAKE DECISIONS UNDER PRESSURE. I DON’T THINK MANY OF US MAKE GOOD DECISIONS UNDER A LOT OF PRESSURE. IT MADE ME QUESTION HOW VALID THE TEST IS. DOES IT REALLY MEASURE WHAT KIDS KNOW OR IS IT A TEST THAT MEASURES HOW WELL YOU PERFORM UNDER PRESSURE? AND HOW TEST PREP CAN HELP YOU CALM YOUR JITTERS. I KNOW THAT ADVOCATES FOR THE TEST SPEAK A LOT ABOUT HOW IT IS A PREDICTOR OF SUCCESS. BUT IS IT ALSO A MEASURE OF COPING WITH STRESS?>>I THINK OF COURSE TO AN EXTENT IT IS A MEASURE OF HOW WELL STUDENTS COPE WITH STRESS. THERE HAVE BEEN STUDIES ON THE EFFICACY OF THE SHSAT ONCE THE STUDENT GETS TO THE HIGH SCHOOL AND THE META-STUDY SHOWED THAT IT WAS A VERY GOOD INDICATOR OF HOW STUDENTS WILL PERFORM ONCE THEY ARE IN A SPECIALIZED HIGH SCHOOL.>>LET’S TALK ABOUT SOME OF THE PREP THAT EACH OF YOUR SCHOOLS IS DOING. LET ME START WITH YOU. I KNOW BROOKLYN TECH HAS A PREP PROGRAM.>>FOR FIVE YEARS WE HAVE HAD A PILOT PROGRAM WHERE WE GO OUT TO UNREPRESENTED MIDDLE SCHOOLS IN BROOKLYN THAT USED TO SEND US A LOT OF STUDENTS 20 YEARS AGO AND DON’T ANYMORE. THE BUILDINGS ARE STANDING BUT WHAT’S GOING ON IN THOSE BUILDINGS IS NOT THE SAME. AND WE IDENTIFY KIDS OF PROMISE. WE HAVE TO TALK TO TEACHERS, GUIDANCE COUNSELORS, PARENTS. IT’S A SIGNIFICANT EFFORT. AND THEN WE PROVIDE A TWO-YEAR PROGRAM WITHOUT COST WHERE WE INTRODUCE THEM TO STEM SUBJECTS. AND THEN WE ALSO GIVE THEM FREE TEST PREP BECAUSE I THINK IT’S UNFAIR IF WE GET THEM EXCITED ABOUT COMING TO THE SCHOOL AND THEN WE DON’T HELP THEM GET IN.>>WHAT KIND OF RESULTS DID YOU HAVE?>>WE HAVE HAD EXCELLENT RESULTS. FOR THE STUDENTS WHO COME TO BROOKLYN TECH THROUGH THE PROGRAM, A MAJORITY ARE EITHER BLACK, LATINO OR FEMALE. WE CONSIDER IT A PROGRAMMATIC FAILURE IF WE GET ONE OF OUR KIDS INTO STUYVESANT WHICH IS WHAT HAPPENS OCCASIONALLY.>>TELL US ABOUT STUYPREP.>>IT STARTED AS A SMALL COHORT AND NOW WE HAVE GROWN. LAST SUMMER WE HAD 75 STUDENTS IN THE PROGRAM AND WE ARE HOPING TO HAVE A SIMILAR NUMBER DEPENDING ON FUNDRAISING. LAST SUMMER WE HAD FIVE STUDENTS ADMITTED TO A SPECIALIZED HIGH SCHOOL. WE HAVE ONE STUDENT WHO IS ATTENDING STUYVESANT NOW AND SOME OF THE OTHER STUDENTS ARE EITHER AT BROOKLYN TECH OR THE HIGH SCHOOL FOR MATH SCIENCE ENGINEERING AT CITY COLLEGE. I WANTED TO SPEAK ABOUT THE RANK ORDER SYSTEM. THERE IS MORE CHOICE IN TERMS OF THE SPECIALIZED HIGH SCHOOLS. EVEN IF A STUDENT HAS A SCORE HIGH ENOUGH TO GO TO STUYVESANT AND SOME MAY CHOOSE A DIFFERENT SCHOOL AND THAT COULD BE BASED ON PERSONAL PREFERENCE OR EVEN GEOGRAPHIC. MANY OF THE STUDENTS IN OUR PROGRAM CAME FROM BROOKLYN. SOMETIMES IT JUST COMES DOWN TO A MATTER OF CHOICE IN THE RANKING.>>YOU HAVE YOUR OWN COMPANY THAT YOU FOUNDED. TELL US ABOUT THAT.>>WE PROVIDE ACADEMIC ENRICHMENT IN THE FORM OF TEACHING THE CONTENT. THEN WE MOVE INTO THE TEST PREP PHASE. WE PROVIDE PARENT WORKSHOPS SO PARENTS ARE ARMED WITH THE TOOLS TO PREPARE. WE HAVE MENTORSHIP EVENTS WHERE WE PULL STUDENTS FROM SPECIALIZED HIGH SCHOOLS TO COME IN AND SPEAK TO OUR STUDENTS. IT’S A VERY HOLISTIC APPROACH. WE PROVIDE STUDY SKILL SUPPORT. I JUST BELIEVE IN THE PROCESS OF GETTING READY FOR A SPECIALIZED HIGH SCHOOL BECAUSE IT JUST TRANSFORMS THE STUDENT. TAKING THAT AWAY TAKES AWAY AN OPPORTUNITY FOR A CHILD TO REALLY BE COMPETITIVE.>>JUST PREPARING FOR THE TEST HAS AN ADVANTAGE. DO YOU BELIEVE THAT THE TEST SHOULD BE THE SOLE CRITERION FOR ADMISSION? WHICH IT IS RIGHT NOW.>>I DO.>>WHY?>>IT IS A MECHANISM FOR ALLOCATING ADMISSION TO THESE SCHOOLS. WE HAVE 28,000 KIDS WHO APPLY, 3500 SEATS. WE OFFER 5000 ADMISSIONS KNOWING THAT 1500 KIDS WILL SELECT NOT TO GO TO A SPECIALIZED HIGH SCHOOL. BEYOND THAT IT IS A COMPETITIVE EXAMINATION. IT’S BASED ON MERIT. THIS ELIMINATES FAVORITISM. ELIMINATES SUBJECTIVITY. THE ALTERNATIVE TO THE SPECIALIZED HIGH SCHOOL EXAM IS TO TURN THESE SCHOOLS INTO SCHOOLS LIKE THE OTHER 30, SELECTIVE HIGH SCHOOLS THAT EXIST WHERE SUBJECTIVE QUALIFICATIONS ARE EVALUATED. POLITICS CAN PLAY A PROCESS. AND WE DON’T BELIEVE THAT’S A FAIR SYSTEM. THE SECOND THING I WILL SAY IS THAT WE HAVE 450 HIGH SCHOOLS IN NEW YORK CITY. WE HAVE 30 OR 35 HIGHLY SELECTIVE EDUCATIONALLY ENRICHED SCHOOLS THAT DON’T USE THE TEST. WE HAVE EIGHT OUT OF 450 SCHOOLS THAT USE THE TEST. IN A PLURALISTIC SOCIETY, WE CERTAINLY HAVE ROOM FOR EIGHT SCHOOLS THAT USE THIS MECHANISM TO ALLOW KIDS TO GET IN. I HEAR TIME AND TIME AGAIN SOME KIDS DON’T TEST WELL. WELL GUESS WHAT, SOME KIDS DO.>>ALL RIGHT.>>I AGREE WITH EVERYTHING THAT LARRY SAID. I CAN SEE THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ARGUMENT THAT SOMEONE COULD HAVE A BAD DAY. I THINK LOOKING AT THE OTHER OPTIONS IT IS STILL THE MOST FAIR BECAUSE THE TEST DOESN’T MATTER WHO YOU ARE, WHO YOUR FAMILY IS TO PEOPLE TALK ABOUT GAMING THE SYSTEM BUT THERE IS NOWHERE TO PULL STRINGS.>>TEST PREP THEY SAY IS GAMING THE SYSTEM SOMEWHAT.>>I THINK THE TEST HAS BEEN SHOWN TO BE A VALID PREDICTOR OF SUCCESS OF THE SPECIALIZED HIGH SCHOOL AND THEY HAD CHANGED THE TEST TO MAKE IT REFLECT THE CURRICULUM MORE CLOSELY. I THINK THERE HAVE BEEN STRIDES IN MAKING THE TEST A MORE FAIR TEST FOR STUDENTS WHO ARE TAKING IT.>>YOU KNOW THE MAYOR’S PROPOSAL IS TO DO AWAY WITH THE TEST AND HAVE ADMISSIONS TO THE SPECIALIZED HIGH SCHOOLS BASED ON THE TOP 7% PERFORMERS IN SEVENTH GRADE LOOKING AT THEIR GPAs ACROSS ALL THE MIDDLE SCHOOLS IN THE CITY AND HOW WELL THEY DO ON THE ELA AND MATH EXAMS FOR THE STATE. WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THAT PROPOSAL?>>MY BIGGEST CHALLENGE IS THAT ALL MIDDLE SCHOOLS ARE NOT MADE EQUAL. WE HAVE SEEN STUDENTS COME TO OUR PROGRAM WITH 95% AVERAGE AT ONE SCHOOL VERSUS AT ANOTHER SCHOOL. SO MANY SCHOOLS THAT MAY NOT BE AS RIGOROUS. THOSE GRADES DO NOT EQUATE IN TERMS OF THE QUALITY OF STUDENT YOU ARE GOING TO GET.>>I WANT TO GO TO JONATHAN ONE MORE TIME BECAUSE HE HAS AN OPINION ABOUT HOW WELL STUDENTS CAN DO EVEN IF THEY DON’T PASS THE EXAM.>>ALL IT DOES IS MEASURE THEIR ABILITY TO TEST. WE HAVE STUDENTS WHO WE KNOW WHEN THEY COME IN CAN GET HIGH TEST SCORES. WE DON’T KNOW WHAT THEIR WORK HABIT IS. WE DON’T KNOW HOW CREATIVE THEY ARE. WE DON’T KNOW HOW HARD THEY WORK. IF YOU TOLD ME THAT YOU HAD A MIDDLE SCHOOLER SOMEWHERE — THAT RARELY GETS ANYBODY INTO A SPECIALIZED SCHOOL — MAYBE THERE’S REAL DISADVANTAGES IN THAT SCHOOL BUT A STUDENT IN THAT SCHOOL GOT TO THE VERY TOP OF THAT SCHOOL. I CAN TELL YOU THAT THAT KID WORKS HARD AND WHEN THEY COME TO US WHEREVER THERE ARE ACADEMIC GAPS, WE CAN — WITH THAT APTITUDE WE CAN REALLY MAKE THE DIFFERENCE.>>THIS IS THE KEY ARGUMENT FROM THE OTHER SIDE. THERE CAN BE STUDENTS WHO DON’T PASS A TEST BUT IF THEY RANK IN THE TOP 7% IN THEIR SCHOOL AND THEY DO WELL ON THE STATE EXAMS THEY ARE SHOWING A WORK ETHIC AND A DESIRE TO LEARN AND EXCEL THAT WILL ALLOW THEM TO DO WELL IN THE SPECIALIZED HIGH SCHOOLS. WHAT’S YOUR TAKE ON THAT?>>NOT ALL MIDDLE SCHOOLS ARE CREATED EQUAL. STUDENTS THAT MIGHT BE IN GIFTED AND TALENTED SCHOOLS ARE GETTING A VERY DIFFERENT EDUCATION THAN STUDENTS IN SOME OTHER JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOLS.>>ONE THING THAT IS NOT TALKED ABOUT IS THERE IS A POPULATION OF STUDENTS IN THE SCHOOLS THAT DO STRUGGLE AND A LOT OF TIMES IT’S BECAUSE SOME OF THOSE GPAs OR HOW THEY PERFORMED IN THE SHSAT WASN’T ENOUGH OF A DETERMINANT OF HOW THEY WOULD PERFORM. THAT GOES BACK TO THAT EDUCATION NOT BEING STRONG ENOUGH TO PREPARE THEM FOR THE SCHOOLS.>>I HAVE TO ASK THE KEY QUESTION. IF WE DON’T LIKE THE MAYOR’S PROPOSALS AND WE WANT TO INCREASE DIVERSITY IN THESE SCHOOLS, WHAT DO YOU RECOMMEND?>>WE HAVE ISSUED AN ENTIRE PLAN RECOMMENDING TO THE CITY AND APPROACH TO RESOLVING THE PROBLEM. WE BELIEVE GIFTED AND TALENTED HAS TO EXIST IN EVERY DISTRICT. WE THINK IT HAS TO BE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR GETTING IN HAVE TO BE BASED ON THE DISTRICT’S ANALYSIS, NOT A CENTRALIZED ANALYSIS. WE TALK ABOUT HAVING ACADEMIES OF EXCELLENCE FROM FOURTH GRADE THROUGH SIXTH GRADE. WE TALK ABOUT HAVING — IN THE SIXTH GRADE. WE TALK ABOUT FREE DREAM PROGRAMS AND WE TALK ABOUT WHAT HAS TO HAPPEN IN TERMS OF MAKING THESE SCHOOLS WHAT THEY NEED TO BE.>>ANYTHING QUICKLY TO ADD?>>I BELIEVE IN THE DISCOVERY PROGRAM. I BELIEVE MORE ACCESS TO FREE TEST PREP IS VERY IMPORTANT. PART OF THE REASON WE HAVE THIS PROBLEM IS THERE AREN’T ENOUGH GOOD HIGH SCHOOLS. LOOKING AT THE SCHOOLS THAT DON’T HAVE ENOUGH SEATS FILLED CLOSING THEM OUT AND OPENING A SCHOOL WITHIN THE SCHOOL, LET’S CREATE MORE SPECIALIZED HIGH SCHOOLS THAT EITHER USE THE EXAM OR ANOTHER SET OF CRITERIA.>>REFORMING GUIDANCE COUNSELOR EDUCATION FROM AS EARLY AS THE SIXTH GRADE AND REALLY FIXING MATH EDUCATION, BECAUSE WE KNOW THAT MAKES A HUGE DIFFERENCE.>>THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING ME TODAY IN THIS REALLY IMPORTANT CONVERSATION ABOUT ADMISSIONS SPECIALIZED HIGH SCHOOLS.>>THANK YOU.>>DON’T GO AWAY. WE WILL BE BACK WITH A SPECIAL WRAP UP ON GETTING INTO THE SPECIALIZED HIGH SCHOOLS. ♪>>IN THIS THREE-PART SERIES ON ADMISSION INTO NEW YORK CITY SPECIALIZED HIGH SCHOOLS, EDCAST HAS DEFINED THE ISSUES WITH INPUT FROM A BROAD SPECTRUM OF VOICES. WE EXAMINE THE SPECIALIZED HIGH SCHOOLS ADMISSIONS TEST. SPOKE WITH A TEACHER AT A SPECIALIZED HIGH SCHOOL AS WELL AS A COMMUNITY ADVOCATE FOR DIVERSITY WHO WAS ATTUNED TO THE NEEDS OF THE ASIAN-AMERICAN COMMUNITY. WE ALSO MET WITH ALUMNI REPRESENTATIVES FROM STUYVESANT, BRONX SCIENCE, AND BROOKLYN TECH FOR THEIR VIEWS ON IMPROVING DIVERSITY IN THESE SCHOOLS. CONTROVERSY HAS SWIRLED AROUND THE SPECIALIZED HIGH SCHOOLS FOR MANY YEARS FROM CRITICS WHO QUESTION THEIR VERY EXISTENCE TO THOSE WHO QUESTION WHO ATTENDS AND SELECTION CRITERIA. ADVOCATES OF THESE SCHOOLS BELIEVE THAT GIFTED STUDENTS DESERVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO RECEIVE AN ACCELERATED CURRICULUM AND BE PLACED IN A CHALLENGING ENVIRONMENT IN WHICH THEY INSPIRE AND LEARN FROM EACH OTHER. QUESTIONS REMAIN — WHAT IS THE MOST VALID AND RELIABLE INDICATOR OF PERFORMANCE IN THESE SCHOOLS? CAN A MULTIPLE-CHOICE EXAM TRULY IDENTIFY WHO WOULD DO BEST AND CAN A NEW CRITERIA SUCH AS SEVENTH-GRADE GPAs AND SCORES ON STATE EXAMS ACCURATELY DISTINGUISH BETWEEN STUDENTS WHO COULD EXCEL IN SUCH A DEMANDING ENVIRONMENT? AS THIS SERIES HAS SHOWN, OPINIONS ARE STRONG AND DIVERSE. EDCAST HAS SOUGHT TO EXAMINE THE CONCERNS SURROUNDING ACCEPTANCE INTO THE SPECIALIZED HIGH SCHOOLS. ULTIMATELY WE HOPE WE HAVE RAISED AS MANY QUESTIONS AS WE MAY HAVE ANSWERED. THANK YOU FOR JOINING US FOR THIS IMPORTANT CONVERSATION. SEE YOU NEXT TIME ON EDCAST.>>WE’D LIKE TO HEAR FROM YOU. PLEASE SEND YOUR THOUGHTS AND COMMENTS.>>DO YOU SEE ANY ADVANTAGES?>>FOR ME THE BIGGEST ONE IS WHEN SOMEONE ASK ME WHERE I WENT TO HIGH SCHOOL, THEY’RE DAMN IMPRESSED.>>THAT IS NEW YORK AND LOS ANGELES. ♪ [THEME MUSIC] ♪

9 thoughts on “EdCast 142 What’s So Special about a Specialized High School? Alumni Groups Speak

  1. All I hear are excuses and more excuses…is this school relevant?…how about Black schools and colleges – why are they relevant…segregation ended🤷‍♂️…let’s challenge strong minds for our future…

  2. The student population that get into Stuyvesant HS is not reflective of the entire student population of NYC because it accurately reflects something else entirely. It reflects those academically-inclined students that are more likely to succeed in a rigorous program like Stuyvesant HS and in college beyond. I have personal knowledge of this as I am an alumnus.

  3. I think instead of trying to get rid of the shsat we should look at bettering all the other normal schools in nyc. A lot of them are very bad schools, some have 60% graduation rates. Leave the specialize highschool and improve our schools in general.

  4. You need intellectual capacity to comprehend. Some people have it, some don’t. The races are not created equal, and that’s not racist, it’s scientific.

  5. In my viewing experience, all black commentators claim that AA is justified. Are they really that deficient in intellectual capacity? I don’t hear a lot of Lainos complaining and demanding.

  6. 8;38 this lady keeps telling Less diverse more diverse…etc… She did not listen to the gentleman who said in Stuyv.HS the 66% so called "Asian group" has lot of diversity in itself. 45 diff languages ..so many religions, many countries… So WHY does that lady keep telling the school is less diverse? What? only Black and Latino population only can be defined as ingredient of diversity?

  7. why is this becoming an issue? You have all the resources which is free to use. Everybody has access to it. The problem is the student themselves who are not trying hard enough to compete. I don't think they are being denied that opportunity. I think it has something to do with the culture. Asian culture focus more on education. Parents are pushing their kids to perform well in school. They work hard for it and it's just fair for them be admitted to a specialized HS.

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