The number of Latino and black students accepted to New York City’s academically selective public high schools increased this year, according to the city’s education department. What’s shocking is that The New York Times reports that the percentage of black and Latino students admitted to the top eight specialized high schools had previously been declining for years.
How does that happen? Admission is based on a single test. The Times reports that 730 black and Hispanic students qualified for entrance to the elite schools, an increase over the previous year. A total of 5,360 students systemwide were offered spots this year based on their performance on the exam out of 28,000 test-takers. Latinos received 8 percent of the offers and blacks got 6 percent. Those numbers are still low compared with the percentages of Latino and black students enrolled in New York’s public schools; Latinos account for 40.3 percent of the district’s overall enrollment, blacks are 32 percent. Last year, the paper reported that 6 percent of the students admitted to selective schools were Hispanic and 4 percent were black. According to the paper, just 51 black and Latino students were admitted to Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan, up from 36 students in 2009.
In many urban districts, admission to a magnet high school offers students the opportunity to experience a more rigorous college preparatory program. But how much do these schools’ demographics reflect the district’s overall enrollment? In many cases, the profiles differ dramatically not only in the racial and ethnic breakdowns but also socioeconomically. While the majority of New York City students are Hispanic and black, enrollment in the elite high schools is predominantly Asian and white.
It’s worth a story to analyze how your region’s academically selective schools’ demographics match up with the overall district. If Hispanic or other students are not proportionately represented, is your district trying to address this gap in any way? Have they figured out the reasons why are more students not being enrolled? And if the numbers are comparable, how has the district achieved that?