The Instigator
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The Contender
Con (against)
4 Points

SHSAT's Should No Longer Proceed

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/12/2014 Category: Education
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,791 times Debate No: 48982
Debate Rounds (3)
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Votes (1)




Recently, students have taken SHSAT's and have been declined from schools with only a distance of a few points. Some students who couldn't afford Kaplan classes still received points over 400, however, they were not accepted. Besides education, SHSAT's are producing many other wedge's in the society. SHSAT's should no longer proceed.


I thank my opponent for starting this debate, as the issue was actually crossing my mind the other day.

For those in the audience who are not aware, the SHSAT or "Specialized High School Admissions Test" is an academic examination taken by middle-schoolers in New York City to get into the prestigious High Schools known as "Specialized High Schools".

As I am aware, there have been numerous schools added to this list over the years, but the benefit is the same: Those who score well on the test gain entry into these elite High Schools and in doing so, an incredible advantage in gaining entry into top Ivy league universities. College Admissions officials nationwide are quite familiar with these schools as they represent the best and brightest that New York has to offer. Numerous Nobel Prize winners trace their schooling back to the top three schools on this list; Stuyvesant, Bronx Science, and Brooklyn Tech.

My opponent is of the opinion that because there seem to be some discrepancies in terms of scoring and acceptance, that the test is flawed to the point that it must be discontinued. However, I find that to be a poor argument.

Removing the test would create a severe backlash as these schools would continue to exist. What would my opponent have the schools do? Accept students based on proximity, which is what the usual case is in New York City? The reputation of these schools would be tarnished forever due to the influx of unqualified students zoned based on location. The schools have always existed to help the best and the brightest achieve their full potential, and they have done an amazing job at it year after year. It is not the responsibility of these schools to take under-achievers and make them into passable students. There are plenty of other schools for that.

I will spend the rest of the debate arguing why the SHSATs should go on, why they MUST go on, even if they do have to be tweaked a little, but I have not seen an argument from my opponent yet as to why the SHSATs should no longer proceed.
Debate Round No. 1


Isranaz12 forfeited this round.


I apologize to the audience on behalf of my opponent for the forfeit, as it will make things quite difficult to proceed. I request that the traditional "last round" be extended for arguments instead of just conclusions so my opponent has a chance to set his case forward.

That being the case, I will try to uphold my position as Con by commenting on what I can:

Please refer to my opponent's two arguments:

1) "Some students who couldn't afford Kaplan classes still received points over 400, however, they were not accepted"

2) "Besides education, SHSAT's are producing many other wedge's in the society. SHSAT's should no longer proceed."

My opponent's first contention is that the test is somehow unfair because individuals who did not take the Kaplan test prep were not selected despite scoring over "400".

I need to point out two things:

First of all, a score of 400 does not necessarily mean that they did well compared to the other students. The cutoff for each school is determined by how well the students do against each other year after year. Chances are that "400" just wasn't high enough for people to get accepted because a lot of people scored higher than that.

According to this casual forum post:

The supposed cutoff score last year was 470 for the least reputable of the specialized high schools. The students simply were not prepared enough.


To say that this has anything to do with a particular type of test prep service is absurd. Kaplan is just one out of many test prep programs, and they aren't even the best. Those scoring the test and those in charge of the admissions process have no way to tell which student took what test prep, they can only see the scores. In addition, the admissions process is complicated in that some of the schools require you to list them as a first choice in order for them to consider your score, so if you ranked the top schools as your first choices and you only got enough to get into the lower schools, you won't be accepted by any of them. This is to prevent students who don't *specifically* want to be in a particular school from being there just for the name of being a specialized high school student.

As for my opponent's notion that the SHSAT is driving a "wedge" in society, I respectfully disagree. There are students who, instead of spending their time playing video games, playing in the park, or hanging out, will spend their time working hard and studying to get into these good schools and reap the benefits of attending schools with children of the same nature.

Asian Americans (more specifically children of Asian immigrants) who have statistically been disenfranchised from affirmative action and other minority benefits given to Blacks and Latinos, *depend* on these exams to rise above mediocrity and reach success, despite having little money. Please read this article:

It tells the story of Asian families and their American children, huddled together in small living quarters, working 12 hour shifts 7 days a week, barely scraping by. Acceptance to schools like Stuyvesant, Bronx Science, and Brooklyn Tech are seen as surefire ways to a future of success, a ticket to Ivy League schools, and they often are.

Yes, there are ways that the test can be modified, yes, there is controversy, but no test will ever be perfect. The test is modeled after the SATs and aims to be academically fair. It tests Math and Reading Comprehension, just like the SAT, and these are skills that are required for students to have. Those clamoring for the test to be repealed on behalf of Blacks and Latinos simply because the numbers of those racial demographics are extremely low are claiming a cultural bias.

But to be perfectly honest, why would there be a cultural bias with a test that is 50% mathematics? And wouldn't the Reading Comprehension section be an even bigger hurdle for Asian Americans who do not have the advantage of being minorities with as long-standing a cultural presence as Blacks and Latinos?

The fact is that there is no legitimate controversy. The test is fair and tests things that fairly determine what it needs to. These students need a mechanism by which they can be grouped together with similar students, so that they can continue to achieve the way they need to achieve for their own future success.

This test MUST exist. I invite my opponent to argue otherwise.

Thank you.
Debate Round No. 2


Isranaz12 forfeited this round.


I apologize to the audience for an uneventful debate on an issue that actually does warrant good discussion. I would be willing to debate the same issue with my opponent again some other time.

Thank you all!
Debate Round No. 3
No comments have been posted on this debate.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Geogeer 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro forfeited. Points to con.