Mayor Bill de Blasio said Saturday he will push to diversify the city’s elite specialized high schools by setting aside seats for minorities who just missed the test score cutoff.
De Blasio announced in an op-ed on the education website Chalkbeat that starting in fall 2019, 20 percent of the seats at the specialized high schools will be set aside for economically disadvantaged students with scores just below the cutoff.
Admission to the eight academically rigorous schools, including Stuyvesant High School and the Bronx High School of Science, is governed by a single test that’s offered to eighth graders in the fall.
Critics have long complained that the reliance on the test leads to a lack of diversity at the schools, which are overwhelmingly Asian and white. About 10 percent of the students at the eight school are black or Hispanic, although black and Hispanic students make up two-thirds of the city’s public school population overall.
Many middle-class parents spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars on tutors to prepare their children for the test.
De Blasio, a Democrat, said he would like to eventually replace the test with a new admissions process using measures such as middle school class rankings. He called the Specialized High School Admissions Test “a roadblock to justice, progress and academic excellence.”
Overhauling the admissions process for the specialized high schools would require action by the state legislature.