As one of the few companies in the space doing the work to help black and latinx students gain admission into Specialized High Schools and other top NYC high schools, it is only appropriate that we step in to fully educate the community on why these outcomes are to be expected until appropriate measures are taken to solve the problem at it’s core. The problem is not a simple one so the solution is certainly not a simple one either. We need to hit the problem from a number of facets in order to truly impact change.
Here is a thorough break down of the factors causing the number of black students gaining admission into Stuyvesant High School to be so low. I will hold all parties accountable in this article because it is a team effort to help these children gain access to the Specialized High Schools.
Here are the factors contributing to the low numbers:
We have a pipeline problem that is caused by the lack of gifted and talented programs in every school district in elementary schools and middle schools. Under the Bloomberg administration, many gifted and talented programs were taken away with no alternative put in place to challenge advanced learners to move to the next level. Therein lays one of our biggest issues. Without access to accelerate coursework, our best children are virtually excluded from the chance to compete on the SHSAT
All black students DO NOT even sit for the SHSAT. Many parents are uninformed about the Specialized High Schools, the SHSAT and the need to prepare for the content tested on the exam. Additionally, parents are turned off by the lack of diversity and don’t even bother to have their child sit for the exam
Our best students are scooped up by private schools and are groomed for these schools by programs like Prep for Prep, Oliver Scholar and A Better Chance. These programs are extremely rigorous and time intensive, leaving very little to prioritize preparation for the SHSAT. It is a great opportunity for these highly sought after candidates and should be added to the conversation
If a student is in a 6-12 school or a K-12 school that is a Charter School or Public School, parents are not always given information about alternative, more competitive high school options. This leaves parents incapable of making an appropriate, holistic high school admissions decision for their child. School administrators at these schools prefer to retain their best candidates to make their high schools appear stronger. Losing their best and brightest students is not in their best interest so information about more selective high schools are oftentimes withheld from parents in an effort to keep the child at the current school
Information networks are not as abundant in black and brown communities so parents often rely on teachers and guidance counselors to provide them with options for high schools. Unfortunately, guidance counselors and teachers at certain schools DO NOT share information about the city’s most competitive high school programs and oftentimes, make assumptions that the children would not be able to handle the work load. These internal biases cause students and parents to be left in the dark about their true options.
For the black students who took the exam, here is what could have happened:
Some of them do not receive test prep. Their parents may believe that they can show up cold to the exam and do well.
Some students signed up for test prep way too late for it to make a difference
Some students received test prep and did not work exceptionally hard to maximize the opportunity
Some students are just not great test takers
Now, here are the solutions:
Create more Specialized High Schools. There is something special about the schools that should be studied carefully and duplicated. It’s a shame that every year so many talented students have to compete for so few seats. Right now, only 10% of NYC’s high schools do an exceptional job of preparing students for college. Let’s double the number of top high schools!
Improve K-8 educational quality by expanding access to gifted and talented programs to ALL school districts for the elementary schools and middle schools. This way students who are advanced learners can be challenged and moved to the next level. This is how we rebuild the pipeline
Mandate that ALL students take the SHSAT. The students have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Our students have noted exceptional SAT scores as a result of receiving SHSAT preparation with us. We want all students to experience these benefits.
Administer a diagnostic SHSAT in 6th grade to ALL middle schoolers and again in 7th grade to simulate the test environment in advance of the real thing and to help build stamina in the students.
Guidance Counselor/Teacher Responsibility:
Guidance Counselors should get informed about the top high schools in the city and encourage ALL students to get familiar and prepared for admission. Explain to students AND their parents that they will have to APPLY to get into a high school in NYC. A strong application includes 90+ report card grades in 7th grade, 4’s on the 7th grade state exam, excellent attendance and punctuality.
Teachers should identify which students have the potential to be challenged at a higher level and refer them to AdmissionSquad. We would love to work with your students to help move them to the next level. Also, you can give them SHSAT problems to work on in their free time or for homework. We have content we are willing to share for teachers who will partner with us to identify talented students.
Get informed about the top high schools in NYC and the Specialized High Schools. Learn who they are and what they require for admission. You need to do this while the child is in 6th grade so we stay on top of the game.
All students need to take the SHSAT. Parents, it is up to you to sign your child up for the exam and to get them prepared for the exam. Preparation for the SHSAT should start no later than 6th grade. Keep the child a grade level ahead, get them the SHSAT test prep they need to succeed and then sign up for the exam in September of 8th grade.
Sign up for test prep! I cannot emphasize this enough. Your child’s 7th grade in-school curriculum alone WILL NOT prepare them for the SHSAT. Some of the content tested on the exam is a mixture of 8th and 9th grade material. They also need to be able to work well under pressure, as the SHSAT is a timed exam. Common core state exams are not timed. Children need to receive a simulated test environment and be taught the content needed to succeed on the SHSAT. Additionally, when the child returns to school, the exam is a month and half away. There is not much content covered in the 8th grade curriculum that will do the job to prepare students.
The summer before 8th grade should be devoted to SHSAT test prep. There are no ifs, ands or buts about this. This is the last opportunity we have to truly make a difference in your child’s chances and we don’t want to miss out. A short vacation at the end of August could work but July and the first half of August should be focused on SHSAT test prep, finalizing your high school list, attending high school admissions workshops and visiting schools with your child.
Work hard to be a grade level ahead of your peers. If you have friends that don’t want to push toward excellence you may have to distance yourself from them so you can get focused on preparing for your bright future
Start researching the top high schools, college and leading careers to learn more about what it takes to be successful. Check out my book called Who Am I? An A-Z Career Guide for Teens to start learning about 6-figure generating careers and what you need to do to access them! You need a copy ASAP to start learning the hidden secrets for high-level success!
Support AdmissionSquad! We welcome your funding, talent and resources to help expand our company. We need a bigger space to service more students. We need talented instructors on our team. We need mentors to encourage and motivate our students. The funding will help us to hire the team needed to run a school, which is what this is. We have an achievement school and schools require capital to run efficiently.
If you come across a talented student in middle school start sharing top high schools options with them and encourage them to take the SHSAT. Beyond giving them a pat on the back is giving them the tools needed to move beyond their current level of brilliance
Be a champion for academic excellence AT ALL TIMES