Students attending SHSAT exam (205720)
Credit: Contributed

The controversy surrounding New York City’s Specialized High School Admissions Test has been well chronicled in the past decade. One organization wants to provide some assistance to those who normally don’t receive any.

Hudson Guild announced a free SHSAT preparation camp that will run July 5 to Aug. 19 and be open to any New York City student entering sixth through eighth grade. The SHSAT camp is free and will take place every weekday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The funding for this program is provided by New York City’s Department of Youth and Community Development.

Hudson Guild is a Chelsea-based organization that provides services such as low-cost childcare, mental health programs, after-school programs and programs for teens.

The purpose of this SHSAT preparation camp is to give students the opportunity to prepare for the exam that eighth graders take in the early fall for admissions into eight of the city’s specialized high schools. Topics at the camp include mathematics, English/language arts, test-taking strategies and time-management techniques.

“We’re proud of the rigorous and holistic program we’ve created here,” said Ken Jockers, executive director of Hudson Guild, in a statement. “This program fills up quickly every year and we’ve consistently seen students increase their practice exam scores by nearly 25 percent. It’s important to offer this service to low-income families.”

All participants in the program are required to take and attend all seven weeks of classes, and admittance will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Parents should contact Ted Teng at 212-760-9800 (ext. 3035) for details.

Last November, the Community Service Society released a report titled “The Specialized High School Admissions Debate: Moving from Rhetoric to a Research-Based Solution,” which addressed the alleged unfairness of the SHSAT selection process for institutions such as Stuyvesant, Brooklyn Technical High School and the Bronx High School of Science. The report recommended that New York City’s Department of Education replace the exam with the existing state English and Language Arts exam and Math exam because they’re taken by all students with the same amount of preparation.

Earlier last year, a report by the Research Alliance for New York City Schools said that rules for admittance based on criteria other than the SHSAT would moderately alter the demographic mix without lowering the academic achievement levels of students, but wouldn’t change the number of Black and Latino students.