Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Gov. Cuomo: please call off the SHSAT, absolutely critical especially during a pandemic.

The letter below was sent to Gov. Cuomo on Monday via his webform; feel free to send your own thoughts on the matter.  

November 23, 2020

Dear Governor Cuomo, 

We, the undersigned organizations and individuals, write to request the issuance of an Executive Order to suspend the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (SHSAT) for the specialized high schools in New York City. 

The Hecht-Calandra Act requires that admissions to the specialized high schools be solely and exclusively determined by scores on the SHSAT, which is administered by the NYC Department of Education usually in late October/ early November every year.  Nearly 30,000 students take the SHSAT for approximately 5,000 seats across 8 specialized high schools. The test is administered on campus at these schools.  Obviously this year with the pandemic and particularly now with the increasing infection rates, in-person testing is infeasible and the DOE has not announced how it plans to administer the test. 

The Mayor hinted at offering the SHSAT online at the weekly radio address last week. However, not every student has access to an adequate device or reliable internet connectivity, making the online option discriminatory. In addition to the inequitable access to the digital platform, many of our students are traumatized by the pandemic, having lost loved ones to the disease, facing a new economic reality resulting from parental job loss, or living with the anxiety of a parent who is an essential worker. These traumas disproportionately affect historically marginalized students.

Because the Mayor does not have the power to change the admissions to the specialized high schools, we call upon you to issue an Executive Order suspending the SHSAT this year and allowing the Chancellor of the NYC DOE to develop an alternative method of admissions to the specialized high schools. And given that our estimate of the costs for test administration is approximately $3 Million per year, suspending the SHSAT is also prudent in the face of the fiscal crisis.  We believe this is the only equitable path forward.  



Alliance for Quality Education

Class Size Matters

Coalition for Asian American Children & Families (CACF)

Community Education Council District 14

Community Education Council District 16

Community Inclusion & Development Alliance

Education Council Consortium


El Puente

Families for Real Equity in Education (FREE)



MORE-UFT (Movement of Rank and File Educators)


NYC Opt Opt

S.E.E.D.S., Inc. <www.seedswork.org>

Teens Take Charge


Anonymous said...

A vocal minority sounds out, but it takes a wrong position. If teens don't have devices, that's an easy solution. Utilize the computer labs at every public school. There is time for the city to make sure those computers work and hire proctors to oversee the test. We are in the modern world where teens are more than competent in using technology, so why are these groups using the "lack of devices" as an excuse for canceling an exam?

Anonymous said...

I understand the issues many people have with the SHSAT and I don't disagree with them.

But if you say you are going to do something in a given school year, families make plans around that, and you have to follow through and do it. Thousands of families have planned around the SHSAT taking place this year -- kids have spent hours practicing for it. Moreover, asking the 8 SHSAT schools to agree on a resonable alternative screen when it's already November isn't realistic, especially this year.

The TACHS test was successfully given online just a few weeks ago; the DOE can easily find out how the Diocese made sure all kids who wanted to had access to it.

In a regular year, multiple versions of the SHSAT are given in several sessions over 3 days (2 weekend days an 1 in-school) day. You can offer it online and in person and allow families to decide which is the better option for them without compromising the test. And having some families choose the online test will make it easier to do it safely in person. It's normally administered in fairly large high school buildings, not necessarily the SHSAT schools.

I'm fine with replacing the SHSAT with a reasonable alterntive screen. Next year, or the year after, with proper time to develop and implement the change and with advance notice to families who will have to plan for it.

Your open letter to the governor seems more opportunistic than genuinely concerned with students' health or the integrity of these top schools. I hope the governor sees through that.

Anonymous said...

Suspending the SHSAT would deprive 30,000 students mostly low income, minority and immigrant from having the opportunity to learn and advance together. The pandemic is an excellent example of why we need advanced STEM learners so we can create the healthcare workers to take care of patients and researchers to develop vaccines and treatments. With an infection rate of less than 1% in public schools there is no reason why it should not be given live in class. Those who signed this petition have no children who desire to take the SHSAT and are merely depriving other students which they have no standing to do. These groups are neither healthcare professionals nor educators.
Students and parents who are eager to take the exam are clamoring for a date. These are the voices that should be heard. All others have no standing.

Anonymous said...

All of the specialized high schools are about 85% minority. Why do these groups want to take opportunity away from people of color who will go into diversify the colleges and workplaces they are working towards.

Padres Latinos said...

As a Hispanic parent this is the worst thing you can ask for. Keep the SHSAT!!!!

Padres Latinos said...

Its ashame that you want the SHSAT abolished. It's a fair exam for children of all races. As a Latino you're doing a disservice to us.