where the SHSAT and specialized high schools stand right now

There’s lots of conversation and action (or talk of action) about the specialized high schools admissions test (SHSAT) and admissions to the specialized high schools in the news right now so I wanted to take a moment to share exactly where things stand.

The SHSAT was changed a few years ago and is now 114 questions (57 math, 57 ELA). 20 questions (10 in each category) are field test questions and will NOT count towards a final grade. Kids won’t know which questions don’t count. In the past there were no field test questions at all. The test is now 3 hours instead of 2.5 hours. There are no more scrambled paragraphs or logical reasoning sections. Math continues to have info not yet taught in school.

Last year the mayor decided to expand the number of seat held out for the Discovery Program, which allows economically disadvantaged kids who missed cut off scores the opportunity to take a summer course and earn a seat at a specialized school. The program has been around for decades but only Brooklyn Tech filled seats with it until recently. Last year ALL 8 test in schools had to participate and 13% of specialized offers went to these kids. This year it’s going to be up to 20%, which comes out to 1000 or so seats. There are currently a couple of lawsuits about the changes going on. 

The Mayor, Chancellor, and City Council Speaker want to ditch the SHSAT altogether and there are various plans floating around on how they’d admit kids to the specialized schools. ANY CHANGE to the actual admissions method would take a change in state law. It seems highly unlikely something will happen at the state level quickly enough to affect your kids, as they’re taking the SHSAT in just a few months. But, this Discovery Program change was thrown into the mix at the last second, with many families and administrators unaware it was even happening, so you never know.

I won’t be sharing about the SHSAT and specialized schools admissions fights themselves, but will share info if it directly affects what’s going on with the test this year.