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Don’t blame the test for the small number of minorities at elite NYC high schools

The class of ninth-graders that in September will enter the city’s eight “specialized high schools” — entry to which is determined solely by doing well on a standardized test — will be substantially less black and Latino than before.

Per Department of Education data, black and Latino kids, who make up almost 70 percent of the school population of about 1.1 million, got only 9 percent of the total admission offers to the elite schools. That’s down substantially from the last two years. Asian students scored two-thirds of the places at prestigious Stuyvesant HS.

Predictably, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s new education boss, Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter, pointed the finger of blame for this demographic imbalance squarely in the wrong direction: at the test itself. “Far more students could thrive in our Specialized High Schools, if only given the chance,” she tweeted. “Instead, the continued use of the Specialized High School Admissions Test will produce the same unacceptable results over and over again.”

But why is that? Nothing about the SHSAT is culturally biased — it doesn’t ask questions about which club to use on an approach to the green if there’s a water hazard or which year comes after Rabbit in the Chinese zodiac or what Navaratri celebrates. Nor can anti-testers say that it unfairly favors rich kids, because the city’s own measures show that Asians have the highest rate of poverty in Gotham.

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