From SchoolBook by Anna M. Phillips:
Two of the city’s eight elite high schools are in the Bronx, but most of the schools’ students are from everywhere else.

For years, the Bronx High School of Science and the High School of American Studies at Lehman College have drawn most of their enrollment from the other four boroughs, especially Manhattan and Queens, which send many students to the city’s specialized high schools.

The Bronx, which has the highest percentage of poor households, sends the fewest, a fact that has prompted Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. to propose an overhaul of the schools’ admissions policy.

Mr. Diaz said he believed that basing admissions solely on the results of one test taken by thousands of eighth graders each year had excluded too many Bronx children who are academically gifted, but whose families cannot afford the private test preparation classes that wealthier families pay for.

In a report Mr. Diaz is releasing on Wednesday, he recommends that children performing in the top 5 percent of each Bronx middle school be automatically permitted to enroll in one of the specialized high schools, and that the city open more of these elite high schools in his borough.

And instead of basing admissions decisions solely on students’ test scores, the schools should consider applicants’ grade-point averages and personal essays, the report recommends.

Of the roughly 4,700 Bronx eighth graders who took the specialized high school admissions test this year, 322 scored high enough to be admitted, a 7 percent success rate. In Manhattan, 32 percent of the students who took the test received an offer to one of the elite schools.

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