As another year of testing for the city’s elite specialized high schools passes by, one program continues its push to solve the entrance exams’ largest issue: diversity.
Creative Achievement Success Prep, an organization based in Bedford-Stuyvesant that focuses on preparing students for the Specialized High School Admission Test, announced that it raised $10,000 via GoFundMe this past April to enroll up to 20 students in its program.
CAS Prep offers SHSAT prep and Common Core test prep, as well as ELA and math enrichment. The program is now accepting applications for students who wish to prepare for next year’s SHSAT.
CAS Prep has received attention in the past for potentially providing a community solution to the exam’s diversity issue.
A recorded 44 percent of the students who took the SHSAT in 2015 were Black or Hispanic, and of the students who received offers to attend a specialized high school, only 10 percent were Black or Hispanic. Black and Hispanic students make up 70 percent of New York City’s public school student body.
“In recent years, we’ve seen a frightening decline in the number of Black and Latino children that take and pass the exam for NYC’s specialized high schools,” the specialized high school alumnus who set up the GoFundMe wrote in the page’s description.
Diversity in the city’s specialized high schools has been a source of controversy for quite some time now. In 2014, Mayor Bill de Blasio unsuccessfully pushed state legislators to pass a bill that would allow three of the specialized high schools to consider multiple criteria rather than just the exam, arguing that it would increase diversity. City Council members remain divided on the issue.
The city’s Department of Education announced an initiative to increase diversity at the specialized high schools in June.
The initiatives focus on encouraging more underrepresented students to register for the SHSAT, providing more free tutoring for low-income students and expanding the Discovery Program, which recruits students who scored near a qualifying score on the SHSAT.
CAS Prep bills itself as a community-based solution to help combat the low numbers.
“It is my belief that it is our collective responsibility to ensure that our children are provided with educational opportunities in order for them to grow and reach their full potential,” program founder Sam Adewumi wrote on the CAS Prep’s website under “Philosophy.”
The fall program takes place Saturdays from Nov. 5 to Dec. 17. For more information, go to Casprep.org or email email@example.com.