Increasing Diversity of Specialized High School Participation

The New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) implemented six initiatives to increase diversity in its specialized high schools, one of which focused on preparing 7th grade students for the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (SHSAT) through afterschool programming. Implementation of the initiative was facilitated via collaboration among nine test preparation vendors, School’s Out New York City providers, and host middle schools. Through an independent evaluation of the SHSAT initiative, Hezel Associates contributed to understandings regarding the quality of vendor offerings. Further, implications relating to contextual factors influencing implementation were identified, logistical challenges recognized, gaps in clarity of targeted audiences and outcomes discovered, and necessity for better defined programmatic assumptions surfaced. Conclusions and recommendations resulting from this work allowed NYCDOE to engage in summative decision-making regarding the effectiveness and proximal successes of each partner organization, and the SHSAT initiative more generally.