The NAACP Legal Defense Fund last week filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s office for civil rights about New York City’s specialized high schools’ admissions process. The complaint alleges that reliance on an unproven test as the sole determinant for admissions leads to disproportionately low numbers of African-American and Latino students at the schools.
The Specialized High School Admissions Test is taken by approximately 30,000 students hoping to gain admission to eight elite high schools in the 1.1 million-student district, including the Bronx High School of Science—but, the complaint claims, the test has never been proved to reliably predict the “knowledge, skills, and abilities essential to satisfactory participation in the programs offered by the specialized high schools.”
The complaint was filed against the New York City and the state education departments and charges that the admissions policies violate Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The racial demographics of students attending the select high schools are much less diverse than those of the district as a whole.
The complaint does not claim that the test itself is biased, but that its ability to predict performance is unproved.
A version of this article appeared in the October 03, 2012 edition of Education Week as Bias Complaint Targets N.Y.C. Admission Exam