“By increasing the availability of the SHSAT, we would allow our brightest students to flourish, improve our specialized high schools and increase the diversity of students who can take the test,” Sen. Addabbo said.
By Forum Staff
As the City Department of Education continues to try to figure out how to administer high school admissions for the upcoming year, State Sen. Joe Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach) has indicated that he wants to ensure that the Specialized High School Admissions Test remains in place—with some suggested improvements.
Addabbo recently noted that he believes that the SHSAT is a good tool to utilize for admission into New York City’s specialized high schools. Currently under State law, a student’s SHSAT score is the only criterion for admission to these schools. He said that he also understands the frustration expressed by many of his constituents as the DOE looks to alter the admissions process as it calls for greater diversity at specialized schools; but Addabbo reiterated that he doesn’t think that eliminating the SHSAT altogether is the right path forward.
Addabbo said that one area of concern is the costs associated with the test. Although the SHSAT itself does not require a fee, many of the test preparation courses and books are expensive, which could discourage students from low-income households from taking the exam. Addabbo said that these resources should be made more widely available to all students.
“By increasing the availability of the SHSAT, we would allow our brightest students to flourish, improve our specialized high schools and increase the diversity of students who can take the test,” said Addabbo, a member of the Senate Standing Committee on Education. “After that, it is up to the students and their abilities to prove that they can in fact compete for a seat. By combining more widely available and affordable test prep options with adding to the specialized high school admissions criteria, I believe we can provide even more students across the city with the educational opportunity to attend these schools.”
The senator recalled when Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza met with the members of the Senate Education Committee in Albany on May 1, 2018 and spoke of the SHSAT. Addabbo said that at the time Carranza didn’t suggest an elimination of the SHSAT, but the use of “multiple measures” when evaluating a student for admission to a specialized high school.
Of Carranza’s visit, Addabbo noted, “I believe that since many smart students are not good test takers or could have a bad experience when taking the SHSAT, measures such attendance, a GPA, extracurricular activities, volunteerism, or a student’s entire body of work could be considered during the admissions process, in addition to the SHSAT score.”
Addabbo also noted that Carranza stood by Mayor Bill de Blasio about a month after his visit to Albany and announced plans to eliminate the SHSAT.