NYC delays top high school entry exam date announcement for 2nd straight summer
The Department of Education has again delayed the announcement of a date for the specialized high school admissions exam — testing the patience of parents and students preparing to take it.
“It’s nonsense,” said Jean Nicholas, whose daughter plans to take the test that determines entry into eight of the city’s top schools. “My child has been studying for this for years. It’s not acceptable to do this.”
Normally, the test date is provided in a handbook distributed to parents in early June.
But for the second year in a row, those materials had no date and no further guidance has been provided.
Last year, kids had only a few weeks between the announcement of the test date and its administration in January. Prior to the pandemic, the exam was usually given in early November.
“There are thousands of students trying to get into the very same schools that Mayor de Blasio sent his kids to,” said Frances Kweller, founder of Kweller Prep tutoring. “He’s making it impossible to plan. There are close to 30,000 students taking this test.”
De Blasio has been outspoken in calling for an end to the single-test admissions system.
Kweller said parents are again frustrated by the delay, arguing that it hampers their ability to plan ahead.
Nicholas’ daughter, Amy, who is enrolled in Kweller’s program, said the lack of clarity takes a toll on kids studying for the exam.
She launched a change.org petition Wednesday.
“I’ve been working really hard on this for years,” she said, noting that her sister went to Bronx Science and now attends Yale. “Having a date allows you to mentally prepare. It’s really frustrating not to know when it’s going to happen.”
The city has cited the upheaval caused by COVID-19 for the consecutive postponements.
“Testing will take place later this year and we look forward to providing exact dates in the fall,” said DOE spokesperson Katie O’Hanlon.
Attorney Marc Held, who filed a suit last year to force the city to schedule the test, rejected that defense and said he’s prepared to take legal action again.
“With schools opening in-person in September, there is no reason why the specialized high school exam cannot be administered,” he said. “Parents are concerned that similar to last year, this year will be filled with disingenuous attempts to hold the exam in a timely manner, if at all.”
The test has become a bitter political flashpoint in recent years, with opponents arguing that it provides a narrow measure of student talent and has resulted in minimal black and Hispanic enrollment.
Backers say it provides a raw assessment of preparation and has served as an educational foothold for many low-income immigrants.