Mayoral candidates split on role of city’s specialized high schools – The Riverdale Press


There are only nine of them. And they stand at the forefront of academic excellence, as most of them require a standardized test for admission.

No, it’s not the Ivy League. But in the city, these institutions might as well be — at least when it comes to public high schools. 

These specialized high schools are sprawled out across all five boroughs: Three in Manhattan, two each in the Bronx and Brooklyn, and one each in Queens and Staten Island. And with the exception of Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School — which considers auditions and artistic portfolios — they all require prospective students to take the Specialized High School Admissions Test. Some 30,000 junior high students sit for this exam each year, but only a fraction of them will succeed to making it into one of these elite schools.

Two specialized schools call the Bronx home: the High School of American Studies and the Bronx High School of Science. Like their sister schools in other boroughs, the SHSAT is essentially the be-all, end-all to gain admission. And while they’re technically open to every prospective public high school student, a good score is vital to actually enroll.

That’s thanks to the Hecht-Calandra Act state lawmakers passed in 1971. Admission is contingent not only on SHSAT results, but also a student’s personal preference school ranking. But the 50-year-old law has been the subject of tremendous scrutiny over the years, primarily that other admission factors are being overlooked, such as middle school grades