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Despite Racial Disparity, Alumni Group Backs Test-Only Policy for Elite Schools

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A group of alumni of eight prestigious public high schools in New York City issued a statement on Tuesday in support of keeping a test as the sole criterion for entry, inserting themselves in a long-running debate over the admissions process and its impact on the schools’ racial makeup.

Some legislators and civil rights groups have blamed the test-only policy for the fact that very few black and Hispanic students are admitted to the eight so-called specialized high schools, in comparison with their numbers in the city’s school system over all. Mayor Bill de Blasio said during the mayoral campaign that the schools should use a broader set of measures for admission, but his power to make that change is limited.

State law mandates that the test, known as the Specialized High School Admissions Test, be the only standard for admission to the three biggest schools — Stuyvesant High School, the Bronx High School of Science and Brooklyn Tech — and an attempt to change that law fizzled earlier this year.

...Two years ago, a group of educational and civil rights organizations filed a complaint with the federal Education Department seeking to have the test-only admissions policy found in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.The complaint is still being investigated. On Tuesday, Rachel Kleinman, an assistant counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc., one of the groups that filed the complaint, said that she had heard from alumni of all eight schools who wanted to see the policy changed.

Read the full article in the New York Times