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TC’s Abrams Refutes New York Times Story About NYC’s Selective High School Admissions

Samuel E. Abrams, Director of the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education
Samuel E. Abrams, Director of the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education
In a detailed explication of the New York City high school admissions process, Sam Abrams refutes the conclusion in a March 10 New York Times story that 10 of the city's high schools are more selective than Yale.

Abrams explains in his analysis, posted on the web site of the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education (NCSPE), that the Times story confuses the city's matching process with a conventional college admissions process. Whereas college applicants can be accepted to multiple institutions, each New York City eighth-grader is matched with only one high school (unless the student takes an exam or auditions for a spot at one of the city's nine specialized high schools and is admitted, in which case, he or she would have two or three options).

Because of New York’s matching system, each student is counted only once in overall acceptance rates at city high schools, making the acceptance rates appear lower than even those of the most selective colleges. The Times doesn’t take this into account (or the fact that nearly 6,000 students opt instead for spots at specialized high schools) and accordingly makes the city’s high schools seem far more selective than they really are.

Abrams, the director of NCSPE and a former veteran teacher and administrator at a New York City high school, writes that the implications of this misinformation are significant. “It causes parents and students undue stress," he writes. "It stands to discourage guidance counselors from urging students to apply to schools appearing so selective, lest they fuel unrealistic expectations. And it leads commentators to draw the wrong conclusions about the city's schools.”

Published Thursday, Apr. 20, 2017

Samuel E. Abrams, Director of the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education
Samuel E. Abrams, Director of the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education
In a detailed explication of the New York City high school admissions process, Sam Abrams refutes the conclusion in a March 10 New York Times story that 10 of the city's high schools are more selective than Yale.

Abrams explains in his analysis, posted on the web site of the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education (NCSPE), that the Times story confuses the city's matching process with a conventional college admissions process. Whereas college applicants can be accepted to multiple institutions, each New York City eighth-grader is matched with only one high school (unless the student takes an exam or auditions for a spot at one of the city's nine specialized high schools and is admitted, in which case, he or she would have two or three options).

Because of New York’s matching system, each student is counted only once in overall acceptance rates at city high schools, making the acceptance rates appear lower than even those of the most selective colleges. The Times doesn’t take this into account (or the fact that nearly 6,000 students opt instead for spots at specialized high schools) and accordingly makes the city’s high schools seem far more selective than they really are.

Abrams, the director of NCSPE and a former veteran teacher and administrator at a New York City high school, writes that the implications of this misinformation are significant. “It causes parents and students undue stress," he writes. "It stands to discourage guidance counselors from urging students to apply to schools appearing so selective, lest they fuel unrealistic expectations. And it leads commentators to draw the wrong conclusions about the city's schools.”

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