Critics slam city's plan to eliminate specialized HS admissions test

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Parents and local leaders gathered in Borough Park Friday hoping to get city officials to reconsider their proposal to eliminate specialized high school admissions tests.

Critics of the plan say there is a better way for the city to increase diversity at specialized high schools.

"The real issue at hand here is ensuring that our children have opportunities for education that get them to a position where they can pass this exam and they can qualify for that specialized school," says Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis.

According to the Department of Education, the proposal would expand the discovery program and phase out the use of single admissions tests as the criteria to get in. As a result, acceptance to black and Hispanic students is expected to nearly double from about 9 to 16 percent. Asian students received more than 50 percent of the offers last year.

Some parents don't think the plan will be fair. They say the city should keep the test scores for admission and not base it on who the student is and where they come from.

"This reform of the discovery program puts a geographic limit in every neighborhood when it comes to the number of students who can apply to the specialized high schools," says parent Phil Wong.

A spokesperson for the Department of Education released a statement saying, "No single test should determine a student's future, and our reforms will expand opportunity and raise the bar at our specialized high schools. Our schools are academically stronger when they reflect the diversity of our city."

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