New York elite public schools are not discriminating against blacks

There is a common argument by the left that the admissions process for New York’s nine specialized public schools, which requires that eighth and ninth grade students score high enough on the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (SHSAT), discriminates against blacks.

From Quillette What New York’s Public Schools Could Learn From Stuyvesant

Stuyvesant’s cutoff is usually around 560, which is the 96th or 97th percentile. Bronx High School of Science has a cutoff around 520, which is between the 88th and 90th percentile. It admitted 12 black students in 2019. Based on the black enrollment in Bronx Science and the other specialized schools with similar cutoffs, it appears that only about 35 black students in New York scored among the top 10 percent of SHSAT takers and enrolled at specialized high schools. There may be a few more high-scorers who went elsewhere; private schools have been known to poach high-scoring black students with scholarship offers, but the proportion of top black applicants is very low.


Asian and white students in New York are less likely to share classrooms with disruptive students, and the pace of their classes are not set according to the progress by students who miss a day of school every week. In a finding that should not surprise anyone, researchers have determined that high-performing black and Latino students do better when they are tracked into honors classes that aren’t full of clowns and habitual truants. Stuyvesant had over 300 black students in 1975, and it currently has 24. Its admissions policy has remained the same. The city’s public elementary and middle schools—which are supposed to be preparing black students to compete—have changed.

Low black representation has not to do with blacks not being identified and tutored or being unaware of the test, but rather because the numbers of spots has remained constant but competition has increased, so blacks simply cannot score high enough to compete with Asians, even with tutoring. IQ is not mentioned, but the evidence suggests Whites have at least a 12-15 point IQ advantage over blacks [1], so blacks are already at a big disadvantage if they are competing against against Asians, who have even higher IQs than non-Jewish whites, for these scarce spots. Yeah, the test has not changed, but rather the people who are taking it are smarter.

Someone in the comments mentions:

Students from the lowest SES decile for Asian-Americans outperform black students from the highest SES decile on standardized testing. Just take a moment and think about that, and be sure to mention it the next time someone blames poverty for the huge academic achievement gaps between blacks and Asians.


Or this: White students from the lowest SES decile almost outperform black students from the highest SES decile.

So poverty is not the problem; in fact, as the article mentions, “Asian-Americans have the highest poverty rates of any racial group in New York, and 44 percent of students at Stuy come from families poor enough to qualify for free or reduced-price lunches.”

As further evidence against discrimination, the we can analyze the actual admissions data for 2018, and we find that admissions of blacks is consistent with an IQ of one standard deviation lower than average (85 vs. 100). This suggests the issue is not poverty or racism, but rather a lack of smarts.

As shown above, in 2018, 28-thousand 8th and 9th graders in New York took the SHSAT. 18% (or 5067 students) received offers. Using some stats [2] (assuming a mean IQ of 100 and a sd of 15), this suggests a minimum IQ of around 114 is needed to get an offer for one of New York’s elite public schools, which seems reasonable given these are elite schools,so we would expect the average IQ of the admitted to be higher than the general population.

Only 3.6% of black test takers (207) got offers. This may seem very low, and it is, but it consistent with blacks having an IQ around 15 lower than the average (85 points). If we assume an IQ of 85 for black test takers and a 114 IQ cut-off as shown above, then we would expect only 2.7% of blacks to get offers [3], which is consistent with the data above and not suggestive of racism or discrimination. A more generous IQ estimate of 90 gives an acceptance rate of 5.5%, so the average is 4.1%.

The same statistical IQ analysis is also consistent with Latino admissions.

[1] Race and intelligence

Rushton & Jensen (2005) wrote that, in the United States, self-identified blacks and whites have been the subjects of the greatest number of studies. They stated that the black-white IQ difference is about 15 to 18 points or 1 to 1.1 standard deviations (SDs), which implies that between 11 and 16 percent of the black population have an IQ above 100 (the general population median). According to Arthur Jensen and J. Philippe Rushton the black-white IQ difference is largest on those components of IQ tests that are claimed best to represent the general intelligence factor g.[47] The 1996 APA report “Intelligence: Knowns and Unknowns” and the 1994 editorial statement “Mainstream Science on Intelligence” gave more or less similar estimates.[48][49] Roth et al. (2001), in a review of the results of a total of 6,246,729 participants on other tests of cognitive ability or aptitude, found a difference in mean IQ scores between blacks and whites of 1.1 SD. Consistent results were found for college and university application tests such as the Scholastic Aptitude Test (N = 2.4 million) and Graduate Record Examination (N = 2.3 million), as well as for tests of job applicants in corporate sections (N = 0.5 million) and in the military (N = 0.4 million).[50]