Cancel SHSAT and G&T!

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We call on Mayor de Blasio to cancel the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT) and the Gifted and Talented (G&T) exams this year.

As COVID-19 cases continue to spike in New York City and across the U.S., requiring students to attend in-person admissions exams and requiring teachers to proctor them in schools across the city is unthinkable. We are living through a crisis. Now is NOT the time to be devoting any money or energy to high-stakes admissions tests that were deeply problematic before the pandemic.

SHSAT

The problems with the SHSAT are well documented. Despite comprising nearly 70% of the student population citywide, Black and Latinx students make up just 10% of students admitted to specialized high schools. About 71% of city students are economically disadvantaged, but at specialized high schools, only 40% are. The racial and socioeconomic disparities are the direct result of the SHSAT, a multiple choice test that significantly advantages students who attend "feeder" middle schools which disproportionately exclude Black and Latinx students and whose families invest thousands of dollars into test prep.

SHSAT testing is scheduled to begin in late January. The city must call it off!

G&T

Big racial disparities also exist in Gifted and Talented programs, of which Black and Latinx students make up just 22%. At the age of four and five students are required to prove their intelligence to test into a more rigorous and resourced educational experience. Getting into G&T requires a one-on-one examination with a teacher, leaving no room for social distancing and continuing to endanger our teachers who have worked so hard through such difficult and uncertain times. A test of “intelligence” at age 4 is actually a test of privilege.

On January 27, the Panel for Education Policy votes on a $1.7M contract with Pearson to administer the G&T exam this year. Tell them to vote NO! You can find their contact info here: https://www.schools.nyc.gov/about-us/leadership/panel-for-education-policy/members

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Amid a public health and economic crisis that has disproportionately impacted BIPOC communities in low-income neighborhoods, we know that limited access to devices and WiFi that disproportionately impact our most vulnerable students, we know that the SHSAT and G&T will be even more discriminatory this year.

Thousands of families in the city are in a vulnerable position financially, which means that many students from low-income families have not had access to paid test prep which are often essential in scoring well on both the SHSAT and G&T test.

Finally, the millions of dollars it will cost the city to administer both tests would be better spent on purchasing and distributing electronics, reliable WiFi, and other educational materials to students in need at this time, which they still do not have despite being in the tenth month of the pandemic.

The answer is clear: The Specialized High Schools Admissions Test and Gifted and Talented testing needs to be cancelled now!