A small fraction of offers to New York City’s selective specialized high schools were given to Black and Latino students again underlining persistent racial disparities in the country’s biggest school system.
Black students — a larger share of whom sought admission to the schools for the upcoming year than the previous fall — comprised more than 20 percent of Specialized High School Admissions Test takers while receiving roughly three percent of offers, according to data released by the city Department of Education Wednesday.
Latino students also received disproportionately fewer offers than white or Asian students, making up more than 25 percent of SHSAT participants and just over five percent of offers.
The stark differences are in keeping with the New York City public schools’ legacy as among the most segregated in the country. Intense emotion and debate has swirled around the city’s eight specialized high schools for years, which are largely made up of white and Asian student populations. An attempt by former Mayor Bill de Blasio to reform the specialized admissions process was met with well-funded and well-organized resistance and was ultimately abandoned.
Some critics say the admissions test itself is a significant barrier to entry for Black and Latino students that worsens segregation in the schools, seeking to scrap it from the admissions process altogether. But some Asian families, particularly those coming from poor, immigrant backgrounds, have fought to keep the test in place.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams has repeatedly said he would keep the specialized test, but said as a candidate that he wanted to expand the number of elite schools in the city.
Asian students made up 31 percent of test takers and more than 52 percent of offers. White students made up roughly 17 percent of those seeking entry to specialized high schools, and nearly 28 percent of offers. The breakdown of current SHSAT offers are similar to last year’s.
In a statement accompanying the numbers — which included admissions data beyond specialized high schools — the DOE’s First Deputy Chancellor Dan Weisberg said, “We are thrilled for the nearly 300,000 students who received offers to NYC public schools this admissions season, marking the next milestone in their educational journey.”
The DOE and City Hall declined to comment specifically on the racial disparities in the admission numbers.
Beyond specialized high schools, pre-k offers rebounded slightly from last year, with more than 57,000 offers for 2022, though still lower than the beginning of the pandemic. Another signature of the Blasio education initiative, 3-K, saw the highest number of admissions since 2020 — more than 38,000 offers.