By ADEDAYO PERKOVICH, age 10

According to Insideschools, more than 25,000 students compete for 5,000 spots at each specialized high school in NYC. PHOTO: Jeff Pioquinto, SJ
According to Insideschools, more than 25,000 students compete for 5,000 spots at each specialized high school in NYC. PHOTO: Jeff Pioquinto, SJ

Eight of NYC’s nine specialized high schools use only a single score from one exam to determine admissions. “I don’t think that these tests are the best gauge of a student’s intelligence,” says Genene West, a graduate of Brooklyn Tech, a specialized high school.

According to the non-profit organization, Insideschools, more than 25,000 students compete for 5,000 spots at these schools, which are considered the “best” high schools in the city, and pathways to “top” colleges. “Tests shouldn’t be the way kids get into NYC elite schools,” said Mayor Bill DeBlasio during his mayoral campaign.

The NAACP and other organizations filed a federal complaint, stating that this policy denies admission to students of color at high rates. Others, like former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, find nothing wrong with the situation. “You pass the test, you get the highest score, you get into the school,” said Bloomberg. “No matter what your ethnicity, no matter what your economic background is.”

However, critics have pointed out that while some families can pay to better prepare their kids for the test with tutoring, those living at lower income levels cannot. “I think all the test really tells us is who has had the best preparation for the test. Many students spend months being tutored just for that test,” says high school teacher Alan Duffy.

As this debate grows and joins the nationwide high-stakes standardized testing discussion, students, parents, educators and politicians face the challenge of making sure that all kids are educated and evaluated on a level playing field.