The new data came in response to an appeal by seven students who said the recent expansion of Discovery had unfairly denied them seats in the specialized schools. They asked the state commissioner this spring to ensure they get spots and declare the city’s implementation of Discovery unlawful.
For this fall, the mayor has vastly expanded the Discovery program, which offers seats and free summer tutoring to disadvantaged students who score below the test-score cutoff for regular acceptance. The mayor roughly doubled the size of Discovery, to about 500 seats this fall, or about 13% of specialized high school spots in ninth grade. That growth has sparked an outcry from parents who say their high-scoring children were edged out by Discovery students with lower exam scores. The mayor plans for Discovery students to have 20% of seats in fall of 2020. He also restricted eligibility to students from certain high-poverty middle schools.
The petitioners claim the city ignores language in state law requiring that Discovery operate “without in any manner interfering with the academic level” of the sought-after high schools.
Their lawyer, Claude Millman, rebutted the city Department of Education’s GPA analysis last week. He said the average GPA for Discovery students at a school can mask how individuals may have floundered, and their cohorts were too small to draw conclusions. Further, he said their accomplishments didn’t reflect how well a broader group with lower entrance exam scores will do in the bigger program.
The cutoff for Discovery students to get into Stuyvesant for this fall was 471—86 points lower than peers admitted the regular way, city documents said. For Bronx Science, that gap was 61 points. Mr. Millman said such gaps were larger than allowed by state law, which said disadvantaged students “who score just below” the regular cutoffs may enter through Discovery.
Mr. Millman’s clients include an African-American boy, a low-income Asian boy, and a girl who is African-American and Hispanic. He said they would have gotten into specialized schools if the bar hadn’t been raised for regular admission to make room for Discovery students, and the program displaced hundreds of diverse, disadvantaged students with higher exam scores.
The above are excerpts from the full article in the Wall Street Journal. Click here for full article.