Published Online: October 28, 2008
Published in Print: October 29, 2008, as N.Y.C. Entrance Exam Questioned

Report Roundup

N.Y.C. Entrance Exam Questioned

“High Stakes But Low Validity? A Case Study of Standardized Tests and Admissions Into New York City Specialized High Schools”

A graduate of one of New York City’s most competitive public high schools has written a policy brief suggesting that the admissions process for those schools may not produce equitable or valid results.

Joshua N. Feinman, the chief economist and managing director of the New York City-based Deutsche Asset Management in the Americas, an investment bank, said there are no studies that indicate the test used for admission to the schools is the best way to get the highest-achieving students.

The scores are also scaled in such a way that students with a very high score in one section and a lower score in the other have a better chance of admission than students with relatively strong performance in both sections, said Mr. Feinman, a graduate of Stuyvesant High School, one of the specialized schools that he cites in his policy brief.

Though he’s not a researcher, Mr. Feinman said he started digging into the issue when his daughter was preparing for the entrance test, called the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test. She is now a junior at Bronx Science, another long-established specialized school in the city. He based his contentions on data given to him by the district.

The other specialized high schools that require the test are Queens College, Lehman College, Brooklyn Technical, City College, Staten Island Technical, and Brooklyn Latin. Admission is governed solely by scores on the entrance exam.

Last year, about 26,000 students took the entrance exam, which is given on one day, with no makeup test allowed. About 5,200 students were offered seats, said Andrew Jacob, a spokesman for the New York City district.

Mr. Jacob said the test’s validity is demonstrated every year by the academic achievement and graduation rates of students at the specialized high schools.

The report is being published online jointly by the Education Policy Research Unit at Arizona State University in Tempe and the Education and the Public Interest Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Vol. 28, Issue 10, Page 5

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