March 10, 2022 By Allie Griffin
The Department of Education is pushing ahead with its controversial new admissions process for the city’s top high schools — angering some Queens officials as a result.
Schools Chancellor David Banks announced Wednesday that he has decided against any last-minute changes to the admissions process after suggesting last week that he was considering tweaking it to appease upset parents.
The new policy lowers the academic requirements to get into the city’s most selective high schools in an effort to increase diversity. Students with solid B averages will have the same chance of getting into the top public schools as straight-A students.
The admissions process, introduced by the de Blasio administration in December, places students into four tiers based on their grades from seventh and eighth grade. Students with A and B grades are placed in the top tier and given first priority in a lottery for the seats.
Critics of the change — including lawmakers in Queens — argue that by lumping so many students in the top tier it minimizes the achievements of high-performing students when they apply for a spot in the city’s most coveted schools.
“It is unfair to high-achieving students to be placed in one of four tiers and then be required to enter a lottery to get into the high school of their choice,” Flushing Council Member Sandra Ung said in a statement.
Under the new system, students who have received grades as low as 65 to 75 in some classes can be placed in the top tier alongside those who earn 90s and above in all their classes, according to the New York Post.
Banks has stressed that he inherited the new policy from the prior administration and has recognized the concerns of some parents who are confused and anxious by the changes. Nonetheless, he decided against changing the new policy just days before applications are due to avoid further confusion.
Queens State Sen. John Liu, who chairs the Senate Committee on NYC Education, said Banks took “the easy way out” by deciding to keep the program in place.
“Chancellor Banks rightly notes that the admissions process this year is rife with uncertainty, confusion and anxiety,” Liu said in a statement. “Unfortunately, he wrongly decides to uphold that system, only adding to the frustration and disappointment of parents and students who were hoping to apply to their high school of choice based on their pursuit of excellence.”
The admissions change is expected to increase the number of Black and Latino students by 13 percent at competitive schools, according to the DOE.
It has the support of some parents and educational advocacy groups who want to see more diverse classrooms. However, other parents and critics say it will disadvantage students who studied hard to earn straight As, such as many Asian students vying for a seat.
They say the top group of the four lottery groups has too many students — thus rendering students with the highest grades a smaller chance of getting accepted into their top choices.
Ung said the DOE is ignoring these parents’ worries.
“These changes were made without any input from parents, and I am deeply disappointed to learn today that the Department of Education has ignored the concerns of stakeholders and will go forward with this ill-conceived plan,” she said Wednesday.
The high school admissions deadline is Friday.