Mayor Bill de Blasio has opposed the test essentially on the ground that it lets in too many students of some races and not enough of others. But a just-made-public 2012 study shows that the test does indeed identify the students who are most likely to succeed at their studies.
In the debate over the test for New York City’s elite high schools, one question had seemed to be unanswered: Whether there was evidence that the exam was a good predictor of how well students would do at the schools.
But on Friday, the city’s Education Department released for the first time a study it had commissioned in 2013 that showed a strong positive relationship between doing well on the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test and high school academic performance.
Metis Associates, a research firm, studied five groups of eighth graders who took the test from 2005 to 2009 through their first two years of high school, using metrics such as grade point average and scores on the Regents examinations and Advanced Placement tests to measure performance.
The study found the mean G.P.A. for students who scored high enough on the test to be accepted to one of the specialized high schools was 3.036 in their first year compared with 2.387 for students who were not accepted to the specialized schools. Similarly, the mean scores for accepted students on Regents examinations ranged between 82.59 and 93.41 across various subjects. The mean scores for students not admitted ranged from 68.69 and 79.16.
A spokesman for the city’s Education Department said the study was commissioned after the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc. and other groups filed a civil rights complaint in 2012 saying the city lacked evidence showing the SHSAT was “a valid test of skills and knowledge.”
As always, I remind everyone that you are not doing students any favors, no matter what their race, by admitting them to academic programs where their academic credentials put them toward the bottom of the class. Students learn more in programs where they are competitive with other students. See Want to Be a Doctor? A Scientist? An Engineer? An Affirmative Action Leg Up May Hurt Your Chances and A “Dubious Expediency”: How Race-Preferential Admissions Policies on Campus Hurt Minority Students.