NY Plans to Expand Diversity from Current 10% in NewYork's Specialized High Schools--Mayor de Blasio

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Schools chancellor Carranza and Mayor de Blasio.

A new plan to make admissions to New York City’s eight testing Specialized High Schools fairer and to improve diversity is being put in place, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza announced.

Only 10 percent of specialized high school students are Black or Latino, despite making up 70 percent of the City’s overall student population. The two-part plan includes:

Expanding Discovery program to help more disadvantage students receive an offer: The Discovery program is designed to increase enrollment of low-income students at Specialized High Schools.

We will immediately expand the program to 20 percent of seats at each SHS and adjust the eligibility criteria to target students attending high-poverty schools. This would be a two-year expansion, beginning with admissions for September 2019. Based on modeling of current offer patterns, an estimated 16 percent of offers would go to black and Latino students, compared to 9 percent currently.

Eliminating the use of the single-admissions test over three years: The elimination of the Specialized High Schools Admissions test would require State legislation. By the end of the elimination, the SHS would reserve seats for top performers at each New York City middle school. When the law is passed, the test would be phased out over a three-year period. Based on modeling of current offer patterns, 45 percent of offers would go to black and Latino students, compared to 9 percent currently; 62 percent of offers would go to female students, compared to 44 percent currently; and four times more offers would go to Bronx residents.

“There are talented students all across the five boroughs, but for far too long our specialized high schools have failed to reflect the diversity of our city,” Mayor de Blasio said. “We cannot let this injustice continue. By giving a wider, more diverse pool of our best students an equal shot at admissions, we will make these schools stronger and our City fairer.”

“As a lifelong educator, a man of color, and a parent of children of color, I’m proud to work with our mayor to foster true equity and excellence at our specialized high schools,” said schools Chancellor Carranza. “With the partnership of the State Legislature, we’re going to live up to what our public schools and what New York City are truly about – opportunity for all. This is what’s right for our kids, our families, and our City.”

Currently, the student population at the eight SHS is not representative of the New York City high school population. Black and Latino students comprise 9 percent of SHS offers, but 68 percent of all New York City high school students. Female students comprise 44 percent of SHS offers, but 48 percent of all New York City high school students. In 2016, 21 middle schools – or 4 percent of all New York City middle schools – comprised about 50 percent of SHS offers. The incoming freshman class at Stuyvesant High School only has 10 African-American students in a class of more than 900.

"New York State has one of the most segregated school systems in the nation. Mayor de Blasio and chancellor Carranza have put forth a bold plan to address segregation and support greater equity at New York City's specialized high schools," said Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa. "The top priority for the Board of Regents is to increase equity for all of New York’s children. By breaking down barriers to entry for black and Latino students and enhancing the Discovery Program to further support students, we are showing our confidence in them and providing a better education for all students."

State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said: "Students learn from each other's diverse experiences. I am confident that this plan will have a positive educational impact for talented students across New York City, and help them on the path to a brighter future. I look forward to working with Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza as they roll out this plan and fight for its success in Albany."

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