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"Race" in College Applications FAQ & Discussion 12

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Replies to: "Race" in College Applications FAQ & Discussion 12

  • UndeservingURMUndeservingURM Registered User Posts: 51 Junior Member
    @calmom
    A high school does NOT have to be focused on elite college admissions in order to be providing students with a college prep curriculum. A student who graduates from high school and goes on to attend a community college or local 4-year commuter college is not a failure, nor is their high school somehow deficient if many or most of their graduated follow that path.
    Isn't a non-competitive high school that "provides students with a college prep curriculum" just... a regular high school?

    Elite high schools are different from regular high schools because they cater to elite kids, the competitive kids that are trying to get into competitive colleges or careers.

    I can agree that there are many more talented students than elite high schools. The solution would be to create more elite high schools rather than create more regular high schools.
  • calmomcalmom Registered User Posts: 20,106 Senior Member
    edited January 8
    Isn't a non-competitive high school that "provides students with a college prep curriculum" just... a regular high school?

    No. It is a high school with a specialized program geared to an academic focused curriculum-- so, for example, a vocational track would not be an option. The graduation requirements would typically be tied to selective college admissions expectations-- so that may mean stricter requirements than the general high school graduation requirements for the state or district.

    Students do not need to attend elite high schools in order to go to elite college. They do have to attend high schools that will give them the proper structure and advising to qualify for admissions, however. High school graduation requirements do not always track what selective 4-year colleges expect to see -- with "selective" being much broader than "elite".

    There's a big difference between schools where students and faculty (and predominant culture) are focused on the goal of finishing high school vs. the goal of qualifying for college admissions. It's possible for a student to complete a college prep curriculum at just about every high school, but not all high schools are built around the expectation of ensuring that they do.

    So my son had to complete courses and projects in order to graduate from his high school that would not have been required of students at the traditional high school down the road. But he didn't have to meet any particular academic requirements to enroll, and the school philosophically was built around a collaborative and supportive rather than competitive approach.



  • Data10Data10 Registered User Posts: 2,550 Senior Member
    edited January 8
    Likewise, the bottom students at Stuy who are struggling just to keep their grades up are already competing against top students who not only excel in school but at the same time get elected to student council or run a club or two and on the side write a few research papers that win the national science fairs and get published. The difference between the top and bottom students at a school like Stuy is immense, much larger than in a typical high school.
    ...
    And now some politicians think it is a good idea to add even less qualified students to this mix? The top students will still be there, making the differences between top and bottom even greater. How would these new and less qualified students come out feeling confident about themselves?
    SHSAT is a unique test. Compared to other admission tests, it seems to favor students who are skewed in a particular field. For example, to get a SAT score in the range that is typically for highly selective colleges, you need to do very well on both the math and verbal section. However, to get a high score on the SHSAT, you do not need to score very well on both sections. You could have a really high math score and a mediocre verbal score or vice versa.

    Taking steps to reduce the chance that kids who are exceptional scorers in math or verbal do not fall through the cracks and have an opportunity to attend an excellent high school can be a useful goal. However, that does not mean that the scores will be largely predictive of success in high school classes, or that one needs to cross a particular high score threshold to have a good chance of academic success at Stuy. Instead one study found SHSAT score only explained 4% of variance in grades at Stuy. Much of the poor predictive ability related to the extremely restricted range. While a student scoring hundreds of points less than the threshold probably would have a high chance of struggling academically at Stuy, they weren't admitted. Among those who were in admitted, there wasn't much difference in grades between students who were on the score threshold vs somewhat above the threshold, which makes up the bulk of Stuy students.

    Instead achievement tests were a better predictor of grades at Stuy, as was gender. I expect middle school grades would have been a better predictor of high school grades than any of the above. The students with the lowest grades at Stuy were generally males, rather than generally those with lowest SHSAT. For example, females with average GPA of 85-90 had the same average SHSAT as males with near failing GPA of <75. There was little difference in average scores for all but the top ~10% of grades, which were primarily female. Some specific numbers are below:

    Bottom 11% of Grades -- 88% Male
    Bottom 23% of Grades -- 77% Male
    Top 10% of Grades -- 73% Female

    I haven't seen a mission statement of what the goals are for the SHSAT and Stuy admission policy. If they want to admit students who are most deserving or would get the most positive benefit from Stuy, there are more effective alternatives than a strict SHSAT cutoff. If they want to admit students who will be academically successful and/or won't lose confidence in themselves, there are better ways to do so that have a strict SHSAT score cut-off, such as considering grades, course rigor, and achievement tests. Similarly if the goal is to have racial balance that is a good reflection of the general population, I expect they could increase racial diversity while still admitting URMs who would be as likely if not more likely to be academically successful than other admits by considering additional criteria beyond just SHSAT among those slightly below cutoff admits.

    However, I expect that both looking for highest HS grades and trying to have good racial balance are not the primary goals of admission at Stuy. Instead I expect admission is largely rooted in tradition and a long history of past success with the existing system.

  • websensationwebsensation Registered User Posts: 1,927 Senior Member
    edited January 8
    I categorically believe any student of any race can improve his SAT/ACT test scores significantly regardless of his parents’ education level or income level if he is motivated. I was able to obtain 99.9% level SAT score (one in one thousand level) 6 or 7 years after I immigrated to US when my English level was still poor, and both my parents’ education levels were high school or below high school level; and we were poor also. Knowing that I could not get into any “decent” college with 3.0 gpa, I bought a Barron’s SAT book and studied 1 hour every day for 3 months instead of going out to play sports with my friends. I would like to see any student of any race try that before they complain that they are disadvantaged from getting high test scores because of their income level or their race. I see the lack of motivation and effort as the real problem. I know because I was not very motivated in academic settings.

    I crack up when some people say Asian Americans get higher test scores because many of them go to test preps, but you absolutely don’t have to go to one to get high scores. In fact, I would argue test prep academy is inefficient due to waste of transportation time. It’s not that complicated studying for SAT or ACT. The key is the motivation and effort to improve in something. It’s nothing different than wanting to be a better basketball, runner, boxer, tennis or soccer player. I know because I also played many sports.


  • calmomcalmom Registered User Posts: 20,106 Senior Member
    If that's the case, then what's the point of the test?
  • hebegebehebegebe Registered User Posts: 2,343 Senior Member
    @Data10 said
    SHSAT is a unique test. Compared to other admission tests, it seems to favor students who are skewed in a particular field. For example, to get a SAT score in the range that is typically for highly selective colleges, you need to do very well on both the math and verbal section. However, to get a high score on the SHSAT, you do not need to score very well on both sections. You could have a really high math score and a mediocre verbal score or vice versa.
    Correct. But there is an explanation why, and it goes back to the difference between low ceiling tests and high ceiling tests. Note that I am not defending the way the SHSAT does this, but just providing an explanation.

    The ACT and SAT are low ceiling tests for high school students. Many students get individual section scores of 36s or 800s. It is rarer to get an ACT composite of 36, and even more rare to get a perfect 1600, but these scores appear as well. But most people say anything above 1530 SAT or 34 ACT is good enough for the student to stop testing and focus on other things. Elite colleges look to standardized tests to measure overall competence, not exceptional ability.

    But as explained earlier, the SHSAT is a high ceiling test where nobody has ever scored a perfect 800. Last year's highest score is believed to be a 705. It attempts to measure extreme ability in both English and Mathematics. And it rewards those who have extreme ability in one area, even if they are mediocre in another.
    Taking steps to reduce the chance that kids who are exceptional scorers in math or verbal do not fall through the cracks and have an opportunity to attend an excellent high school can be a useful goal. However, that does not mean that the scores will be largely predictive of success in high school classes, or that one needs to cross a particular high score threshold to have a good chance of academic success at Stuy. Instead one study found SHSAT score only explained 4% of variance in grades at Stuy. Much of the poor predictive ability related to the extremely restricted range. While a student scoring hundreds of points less than the threshold probably would have a high chance of struggling academically at Stuy, they weren't admitted. Among those who were in admitted, there wasn't much difference in grades between students who were on the score threshold vs somewhat above the threshold, which makes up the bulk of Stuy students.
    In my original post on this topic (3499), I said "There are things people can criticize Stuy for. One is whether the SHSAT is the best way to choose a class."

    The primary fault of using testing is that it doesn't measure a student's work ethic. Students can have great test scores and have no work ethic, and conversely poor test scores and fantastic work ethic. I am not against using other measures, if they are found to better predict performance. What I am against is the blatant political attempt to change the scoring metric with the goal of changing the racial composition.
  • hebegebehebegebe Registered User Posts: 2,343 Senior Member
    @websensation said:
    I categorically believe any student of any race can improve his SAT/ACT test scores significantly regardless of his parents’ education level or income level if he is motivated. I was able to obtain 99.9% level SAT score (one in one thousand level) 6 or 7 years after I immigrated to US when my English level was still poor, and both my parents’ education levels were high school or below high school level; and we were poor also. Knowing that I could not get into any “decent” college with 3.0 gpa, I bought a Barron’s SAT book and studied 1 hour every day for 3 months instead of going out to play sports with my friends. I would like to see any student of any race try that before they complain that they are disadvantaged from getting high test scores because of their income level or their race. I see the lack of motivation and effort as the real problem. I know because I was not very motivated in academic settings.
    Completely agree. I will be full pay even with both kids in college, but I never considered paying for test prep. The only prep each child got for the ACT was the official ACT book and the black book. Both took the test once, and scored high enough that they didn't need to again.
  • uocparentuocparent Registered User Posts: 258 Junior Member
    edited January 8
    I wouldn't classify Stuyvesant as a college prep school though.

    First of all, it's a public school, so funds for counselors, etc. will be a lot more limited than at a private school or charter school, ie: one college counselor for every 2 hundred+ kids, etc.

    2ndly, the student really has to be proactive and independent at times, because they have to be able to navigate the system that is in their school. Ie: they only get to meet with the college counselor once in Junior year, for like ½ hour. They have to be able to speak with the teachers on their own if they have questions about their grades. They have to be able to ask for teacher recommendations when that teacher have possibly one or two hundred students that they teach, etc.

    3rdly, Stuyvesant does not ‘teach’ to the level of the SATs nor pander to the SATs. I believe they teach to as high a bar as possible, and not limited to only teaching to scoring high on an exam. The teaching is not structured around attaining a high score on act/sat exams. (although you’d never know that because the parents and kids are always talking about the sats, sats, sats.)

    So I would say it is definitely not a college prep school. Of course, because of the type of students there, they score pretty well on the exams anyway, and the students are very qualified to be in college by the time they graduate.

    There are other private/charter/magnet schools that are college prep, I’m sure, where you’ll get college credit for the high school classes you’ve taken, and can graduate college in 3 years, or where the counselors know you well, or where placing students in an elite college is the goal of the staff, etc. but I would say Stuyvesant is not that school.

    Sure, I do wish that my son had gone to a private school with all that it implies, but he had to follow his path I guess, so yes, a student can do very well, if not better, at a high school that is not branded ‘elite’ but I’m secretly proud of him that he was able to navigate the behemoth that is Stuyvesant high school.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 73,010 Senior Member
    I can agree that there are many more talented students than elite high schools. The solution would be to create more elite high schools rather than create more regular high schools.

    The effect of early tracking by school instead of tracking within schools is that tracks become more rigid, so that students cannot move between tracks later, and are more dependent on parental motivation relative to their own in terms of placement. In effect, it would be like moving more toward some European systems in terms of limitations, but probably without the benefits, since the non-college-prep track in the US will probably end up just being an inferior track, rather than one optimized to improve preparation for non-college jobs and education.
  • collegemomjamcollegemomjam Registered User Posts: 1,695 Senior Member
    @hebegebe and @websensation I also agree that a student CAN prepare and positively impact their score on their own with free or close to free (buy the book!) resources.

    I have paid for my kids to have tutors in part because it forces them to do the practice tests. I do think their tutor is great, but I wonder sometimes if just practicing on their own might have gotten them just as far. Or almost.

    With that said, my highest achieving child did manage to score well on the AP Lit exam without having read most of the books and she swears it's because her SAT tutor taught her some strategies that she applied on the AP exam, whatever those were.

    So there might be some "tricks" or strategies that work for some kids, but overall I think the repetition from diligently studying/practicing and really analyzing what you got wrong and why (if you can do this on your own, and some can) can really help you bump up your score.

    I have a friend who is in search of the perfect tutor. She is onto her third or fourth now because he feels her daughter isn't getting the "strategies" she needs....I can't help but think maybe the daughter is just not capable of the score she wants. She should keep trying of course if that's what she wants to do and she may get her score up, but if she does I suspect it will be more from just having exposed herself to so many practice tests more than it will have been the tutor.

    @websensation that's great that you were able to score so high from teaching yourself. I'm actually more impressed with your work ethic and diligence than your ability to score high. Not everyone has that self motivation and I'm sure it will serve and has served you well.
  • OHMomof2OHMomof2 Registered User Posts: 12,081 Senior Member
    When I hear about kids spending hundreds of hours studying for the SAT/ACT it makes me wonder what they could be doing instead that would actually enrich their lives in some way. It's the system, I get it, but it still seems like the time could be better used.

    Then again, my kid did some test prep (few hours total in HS I'd say) and it's maybe somewhat useful to know strategies for better educated guesses and so on. Maybe only useful for later tests like the GRE, though. She didn't have a single multiple choice exam in college.

    I'd say the main benefit of the prep was a good score for college admissions, and that's about it.
  • collegemomjamcollegemomjam Registered User Posts: 1,695 Senior Member
    I often think the standardized testing is a complete waste of time and feel badly that it's yet another hoop the students have to jump through. Like taking the most rigorous classes available, getting A's, balancing all of your ECs, working, etc. isn't enough on its own. But by the same token, I understand needing some kind of "equalizer" for lack of a better word....yet all of these schools are becoming TO. But still so many students apply with scores even to the TO schools. It's definitely a game and I agree I'm not sure how productive it all is and if there isn't a better way.
  • 19parent19parent Registered User Posts: 140 Junior Member
    @bluering your comments are hurtful to a lot on this forum (and I don't believe are true)

    "To many Asian american parents, the parent-child relationship is secondary to the success of the child."

    Wow, I don't even know where to begin. I think this is a very harsh comment and one I have not experienced. My daughter goes to a school with over 50% Asian and they are the most active, caring, and involved families. And it isn't just academics. While the relationship may look different to you, I would not interpret this as the parent-child relationship being "secondary".

    I read somewhere that the single most important factor at helping to determine the success of a child at birth is having both the biological mother and biological father together.

    Sheesh, what is your source and in what context? Please realize this may include a variety of family types that have nothing to do with the topic. As the single adoptive mother of a different race child (who does very well, by the way), this comment on a board such as this spreads a lot of misinformation.
  • collegemomjamcollegemomjam Registered User Posts: 1,695 Senior Member
    @19parent thank you for sharing your thoughts and for the feedback not only to the poster but to the whole thread. I think it's very important for people to communicate so that we help erase negative stereotypes, even if it is just one or two people at a time, it's definitely part of the solution to the broader problem of racism.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 73,010 Senior Member
    OHMomof2 wrote:
    When I hear about kids spending hundreds of hours studying for the SAT/ACT it makes me wonder what they could be doing instead that would actually enrich their lives in some way. It's the system, I get it, but it still seems like the time could be better used.

    I would not be surprised if the students spending hundreds of hours studying for the SAT/ACT were prepping very time-inefficiently (in terms of spending a lot of time prepping for a small score gain), so that they are consuming/wasting time that could be used for something else in their lives.
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