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The New SHSAT Exam

the new shsat exam

If you’re confused about all the discussion around the SHSAT Exam and the proposed changes to the application process, please read the following article below. Comments are welcome.

The controversy surrounding the potential changes to the SHSAT has NY Public Schools and parents of middle-schoolers consumed with anxiety and worry. The SHSAT exam has been consistent for the past decade until Mayor De Blasio proposed to change the way students are accepted into New York City’s elite Specialized High Schools. De Blasio explained how these Specialized High Schools need to be more diverse with their student population, so students of different ethnicities have an equal chance of acceptance. This change would eliminate the SHSAT exam and implement the acceptance of only the top students from every public middle school. For those of you unfamiliar with Specialized High Schools and the intensity of the SHSAT exam, an article written in the NY Times explains, “New York City has nine specialized high schools, which offer a more rigorous curriculum than most other public high schools in the city. The schools are intended to serve the needs of students who excel academically and artistically, according to the Department of Education. The schools are:

• Bronx High School of Science

• The Brooklyn Latin School

• Brooklyn Technical High School

• High School of American Studies at Lehman College, in the Bronx

• High School for Math, Science, and Engineering at City College, in Manhattan

• Queens High School for the Sciences at York College

• Staten Island Technical High School

• Stuyvesant High School, in Manhattan

The ninth school, Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music and Art and Performing Arts, on the Upper West Side, uses student auditions and academic records, not SHSAT scores, to determine admissions. In order, to get offered a seat to one of eight elite Specialized High Schools, the student needs to receive a minimum score out of 800 on the SHSAT exam, which is known as the cutoff score. Such scores vary each year for every school and are never officially released to the public. However, based on information from past students and parents, the cut-off scores for the last 5 years for Stuyvesant, Brooklyn Tech, and State Island Tech were…

Stuyvesant: 562(2013), 559(2014), 556(2015), 552(2016), 555(2017)

Brooklyn Tech: 483(2013), 486(2014), 483(2015), 482(2016), 486(2017)

Staten Island Tech: 503(2013), 506(2014), 508(2015), 508(2016), 515(2017)

To give further background on the SHSAT Exam, there is an ELA (English Language Arts) section and a Mathematics section. Each section is made up of 57 questions. Changes to the ELA portion of the exam have been implemented this year to test students more on what they learn in school. The Revising/Editing section of the ELA portion will have 9 to 11 questions instead of 20 and the Reading Comprehension section will have 46 to 48 questions instead of 37. According to an update released by the NYC Department of Education, “…in past years, all reading comprehension texts were informational texts. The Fall 2018 test will include the following: 3 to 4 informational texts that may include any of the subgenres students should have experience within middle school; some of these texts may contain supporting visual and/or quantitative graphics,1 to 2 literary prose texts, which may include any of the subgenres students should have experience with in middle school, and 1 poem. Each text will have 6 to 10 questions associated with it.” One of de Blasio’s proposed changes is to eliminate the SHSAT exam entirely from the admissions process for Fall 2019. If this change is approved by the Legislature, then students will be accepted strictly from their middle school class rank and their statewide standardized test scores. The second proposed change would have the city, “set aside 20 percent of seats for low-income students who score just below the lowest cutoff score. Those students would need to complete a summer session called the Discovery program, created in 1972 to give disadvantaged students who were not offered a seat at a specialized high school a chance to earn a spot.” In theory, these changes do not sound too catastrophic. The intention behind this proposal is not meant to be malicious, it is to simply stress that every child deserves a fair chance to succeed in the academic world. As described earlier, this exam tests the student’s ability to think comprehensively, both linguistically, and mathematically. 

JM Learning Prep offers an SHSAT course that can be taught in a one-on-one “private” setting, a small group setting with two to four people, or a class setting, depending on your preference. Our learning center consistently follows the news for updates related to NYC Education, which allows us to customize our programs accordingly. When there is a change or a proposed change, we make sure to inform our clients about it and then implement it into our courses. At JM Learning Prep, we believe that you can only make the right decision when you have the right information, and we are here to help.

Works Cited

1. “How Would Mayor De Blasio’s SHSAT Plan Affect Your Middle School?” NY Daily News, NEW YORK DAILYNEWS, 25 June 2018,…/nyc-middle-school-shsat-data…/

2. Blint-welsh, Tyler. “What Is the SHSAT Exam? And Why Does It Matter?” The New York Times, The New York Times, 21 June 2018,…/what-is-the-shsat-exam-and-why-does-it-ma ….

3. Lee, Christopher. “The Battle Over Elite High Schools.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 6 June 2018,…/op…/specialized-high-schools-new-york.html

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