End admission tests
Sep 18, 2019 | 6043 views | 0 0 comments | 597 597 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dear Editor,

Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza announced that he's eliminating the first round of a complex admission process for secondary schools, but this is a halfway measure that won't work.

Instead, scrap the entire process and restore a simpler system that was used until 17 years ago.

Throughout the 20th century, admission to nearly all of the city's public high and middle schools was based on the district system. After completing elementary education, students were assigned to the next level school closest to their home.

In my case, I graduated from P.S. 164 in 1951, went to JHS 157 in Rego Park for the next three years, and then attended Forest Hills High School. All were a relatively short distance from my home.

That changed under Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Then-chancellor Joel Klein introduced a competitive admissions process for all middle and high schools. Students applied to the school of their choice regardless of its location.

A computer algorithm determined admission based on grades, standardized test scores and seating availability at 400 different schools. Only New York City’s eight specialized high schools are exempt.

Klein aimed to give students more choice in their education and hoped that competing for student enrollment would improve the performance of all schools. That didn't happen.

Instead, top quality schools like Forest Hills High School are now overcrowded, while poorer quality schools have empty seats. It's an ineffective imbalance.

Students and their parents face fierce pressure applying for college, they shouldn't have to face similar pressures getting into middle and high school.

The decision by Carranza to end the first round of the process is an admission that the current system is failing. He must dump the entire competitive process, except for the eight elite schools, and restore district-based school placements.

This will result in more balanced enrollment and a better education at all of our city's secondary schools.


Richard Reif

Kew Gardens Hills
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