2018-08-29 / Features

Include Additional SHSAT Funding In State Budget


NYS Senator Tony Avella stood with parents and schoolchildren to call on Governor Cuomo to include funding in next year’s state budget for SHSAT test prep to address the diversity issue that is plaguing New York City’s Specialized High Schools. NYS Senator Tony Avella stood with parents and schoolchildren to call on Governor Cuomo to include funding in next year’s state budget for SHSAT test prep to address the diversity issue that is plaguing New York City’s Specialized High Schools. NYS Senator Tony Avella stood with parents and schoolchildren on August 23 to call on Governor Cuomo to include funding in next year’s state budget for SHSAT test prep.

Avella, a staunch supporter of keeping the SHSAT, wants to address the diversity issue that is plaguing New York City’s Specialized

High Schools. Instead of abolishing the test, Avella believes that educating children at the lower grades will provide them with the tools necessary to succeed in the later grades, thus setting them up to better succeed on the test.

That is why in 2016, Avella, along with NYS Senator Jeff Klein, led the fight that resulted in the Senate and Assembly allocating $2 million in state funding to assist students in underrepresented middle schools in passing the SHSAT.

Avella is calling on Governor Cuomo to include funding for the DREAM Program – the program that focuses on test preparation.

The DREAM Program is comprised of two initiatives, the DREAM-SHSI and the DREAM summer/fall intensive. In DREAM-SHSI, students are chosen based on both academic and family income requirements. In the summer/fall intensive, students are recruited based on the school district they attend. In the summer/fall intensive, students from lower-performing school districts are eligible. Avella believes by funding the DREAM Program, it would increase diversity from districts where students would otherwise not receive test prep.

“The end goal in including funding for the DREAM Program is to both save the test and increase diversity from lower-performing school districts,” said Senator Avella. “By allocating funds to test preparation, students will be better prepared for their future because they will have received the proper educational support earlier in their life. That is why I am calling on Governor Cuomo to allocate $10 million to the New York City Department of Education’s DREAM Program.”

“DREAM-SHSI is a successful program that fills the void left by the dismantling of non-test honors programs that used to exist in the New York Public School System. Until non-test honors classes can be widely restored in the public school system DREAM will be an essential resource to help under-represented minorities prepare and do well on the SHSAT. Spent properly these funds will develop the abilities of promising students from under-represented areas so they can apply on an even playing field for a seat at these important rigorous STEM schools. Fixing the pipeline to the Specialized Schools is an effective and equitable solution that all stakeholders can agree with,” said David Lee, education committee chair of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance of Greater New York.

Ed Seto, former Superintendent of District 20 in Brooklyn, said, “I agree 100% with Senator Avella. The test is not the problem.”

“Test preparation and enrichment actually foster learning and improve educational outcomes to the benefit of all students engaging in it, including those who ultimately are not successful on the SHSAT. Test prep essentially is just studying. Instead of being scorned by some it must be encouraged and facilitated financially where needed,” said Jon Roberts, member of CoalitionEDU.

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