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Changing admission policy at specialized NYC high schools will dramatically change ethnic and racial makeups: study


A proposal to change admission policy at the city’s specialized high schools would dramatically change the racial and ethnic makeups of these schools, according to a new study.

But the new policies would affect some students more than others.

The mostly black and Hispanic students who get seats at the specialized schools under the admissions shakeup would see the biggest changes in the students they're surrounded with, the report from the Center for New York City Affairs found.

The new plan isn’t “a simple matter of winners and losers, like a lot of people assume,” said Nicole Mader, a senior research fellow at The New School. “It’s not a zero-sum game.”

Mader noted that student test score data is an imperfect measure of school quality and doesn’t predict how individual students would fare there.

De Blasio proposed scrapping the specialized high school test last year to diversify the schools, which enroll small shares of black and Hispanic students. He suggested instead admitting the students with the top grades at every city middle school. The proposal is stalled in Albany.

Researchers used 2017-18 enrollment data to forecast how school demographics would have changed if the mayor’s plan went into effect last school year.

They were able to predict which schools students would’ve attended if they didn’t get into a specialized school because almost all students apply and get matched with traditional public schools in addition to specialized ones, which use a completely separate application process.

The mayor’s plan is “a way of actually bringing meritocracy to a small portion of the high school choice system,” Mader said. “What it’s not able to do is balance the playing field for the rest of the 480 schools.”