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Ask Judy: Ranking specialized high schools

Thursday, 25 October 2012 10:28
Students bid farewell to their parents before the specialized test in 2011. Students bid farewell to their parents before the specialized test in 2011. Photo by Anna Schneider

Dear Judy,
If Stuyvesant High School is your first choice on the SHSAT exam and your score is below the cut off for Stuyvesant but above the cut off for your second choice, Bronx Science or the High school for American Studies at Lehman College, will you get into your second choice or will priority be given to those students who made Bronx Science or American Studies their first choice even though your score on the SHSAT exam was higher? I've been told by principals at SHSAT schools that if you don't make their school your first choice you will be completely out of luck as priority will be given to students who did so. Please advise.

-- 8th grade parent

Dear 8th grade parent -

Yours is a timely question! Many 8th and 9th graders will be taking the specialized high school exam on Nov. 17 and 18 after a few test dates were postponed by the storm. Students must rank their choices at the test and they won't be able to change the ranking later. It's also a question we get every year. There is always a little confusion, despite the Education Department's best efforts to get the word out.

The answer is: Rank your first choice first.

If Stuyvesant is your first choice and your child scores within the cut off score, he will be placed there. The cut off score is determined by the number of seats to fill. Starting with the highest score, the computer matches kids until no spots are left. If your child did not make it into Stuyvesant, his score will go to his second choice school and so on down the list. Each school's seats are filled according to scores from highest to the lowest. If he lands at his second choice school with a score higher than a person who made it first choice, he will bump that person. And so on. Everyone agrees. Put your first choice first.

The only reason a specialized high school should tell a student to place it first, is if it is truly the student's first choice.

And, for even more confirmation, take a look at the DOE's 2012 Summer Workshop on Specialized High Schools (pdf).

"After all tests are scored, students’ test scores are placed in order from the highest score to the lowest score. Offers are made, in turn, based on:
• student’s score
• student’s priority of choices
• seat availability"

Good luck!

Judy

(updated Nov. 8, 2012)

Last modified on Thursday, 08 November 2012 14:57

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