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Queens Chronicle

Grades are better predictor than test

Last-ditch push in Albany to end SHSAT includes ‘success’ study

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Posted: Thursday, June 27, 2019 10:30 am

New data released last week by the Department of Education claims the controversial Specialized High School Admission Test does a poor job predicting how well students do in school.

Middle-school grades and performance on the state math/ELA tests all students must take are a better indicator of future success, it said.

The report came out just as a new law ending the exclusive use of SHSAT results for admissions to the city’s eight elite schools was making its way through the state Assembly.

“This is yet more data that shows a single test doesn’t capture the full talent of students, and isn’t the best predictor of success,” said Doug Cohen, a spokesman for DOE.

“Our plan to eliminate the SHSAT expands opportunity for the highest-performing students, and students who excel in the classroom and on state tests will excel in the specialized high schools. We must eliminate the test now.”

The legislative session, however, ended before the bill could come up for a full vote.

But the proponents for eliminating the use of the three-hour test called it a victory that the bill sponsored by Brooklyn Assemblyman Charles Barron (D) passed the Education Committee on a 16-12 vote.

The study looked at seventh-grade students in the four years between 2014 and 2017. (Students usually apply for admission early in eighth grade so their grade point averages for that year are not included.)

It compared students’ GPAs and performance on mandated state tests against their performance in ninth grade, after entering one of the specialized high schools.

Then it compared students’ scores on the SHSATs (usually taken in eighth grade) against grade performance in ninth grade.

“SHSAT alone predicts 4 percent of the variation in 1st year GPA at specialized HS. Using GPA and ELA/Math score together predicts 36 percent of the variation,” according to an analysis of the data.

“Seventh grade test scores and grades are a better predictor of high school success than the SHSAT,” it concluded.

But the timing of the report’s release just as the Legislature was about to take up the issue was being sent to the floor was widely questioned.

Critics of the mayor’s plan to increase black and Hispanic enrollment by ending the SHSAT called the study “flawed” and “invalid.”

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