The Ivy Coach Daily

August 3, 2011

Stuyvesant and the Ivy League

Stuyvesant, Stuyvesant HS, Stuyvesant High School
Stuyvesant grads attend Ivy League colleges in big numbers. Just check out their school profile. Or did the authors of this particular study not bother?

Stuyvesant and the Ivy League. It’s an association with a long history. But economists at MIT and Duke have found that students who attend competitive public schools that require an admissions exam like Stuyvesant High School, the Bronx High School of Science, and Brooklyn Technical High School do not fare better on exams such as the SAT and on AP exams. In fact, they don’t happen to recommend these schools at all if you think these schools will give you a leg up in standardized testing. They imply in their research findings that schools like Stuyvesant won’t improve your education any more so than a typical public school. We at Ivy Coach strongly disagree with these findings and find the study inherently flawed.

According to the authors of the study on testing results at schools like Stuyvesant (Atila Abdulkadiroglu, Joshua D. Angrist, and Parag A. Pathak), “Our estimates show little effect of exam school on most students’ achievement in most grades. On the other hand, a Boston exam school education seems to have a modest effect on high school English scores for minority applicants. A small group of 9th grade applicants also appears to do better on SAT Reasoning. These localized gains notwithstanding, the intense competition for exam school seats does not appear to be justified by improved learning for a broad set of students.”

The intense competition for a chance to attend a school like Stuyvesant over a typical New York City Public School isn’t justified because they don’t exhibit “improved learning?” What does the SAT have to do with learning? The SAT is an exam one can crack with great test prep. It’s not an exam that’s taught in the classrooms at Stuyvesant and Bronx Science. Stuyvesant and Bronx Science teachers aren’t teaching the SAT during period 2! And do the authors at these prestigious universities (MIT and Duke) dispute that their institutions offer great educational benefits? Well, graduates of schools like Stuyvesant and Bronx Science attend MIT and Duke in much greater numbers than do students from a typical New York City Public School. So are the authors saying that these students aren’t getting exceptional educational benefits at the universities they represent?

Have the authors ever even been inside a New York City Public School? Do they know how many matriculants attend Ivy League colleges from Stuyvesant, Brooklyn Tech, and Bronx Science every year? Do they know how many attend from typical New York City Public Schools? Are they completely oblivious to the backgrounds of the students whom they teach? And, by the way, these students they’re teaching from Stuyvesant likely aced the SAT and scored highly on multiple AP exams.

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