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Stuyvesant High School
September 7, 2018
‘My place is in a school’: Stuyvesant principal Eric Contreras isn’t stepping down after all
Just days after the new school year kicked off, Eric Contreras told parents and students that he changed his mind.
August 28, 2018
Read what Stuyvesant Principal Eric Contreras had to say about stepping down
It will be up to a new principal to steer New York City’s most prestigious specialized high school through a fierce debate…
August 14, 2018
New data show how few black and Hispanic students benefit from New York City’s specialized high school diversity program
The Discovery program aims to promote diversity by offering admission to students from low-income families who score just below the entrance exam cutoff.
August 3, 2018
New York City released its study of the SHSAT. Here’s why it won’t end the admissions debate.
“This is going to be used as a Rorschach test where people will see what they want to see in it.”
June 6, 2018
The scene at Stuyvesant: Students who’ve succeeded at SHSAT wary of new plan, though some want change
As politicians and parents take sides over a new plan to scrap the specialized high school test, students at the center of the controversy wrestle with the issue.
April 16, 2018
‘So there I was, figuring it out myself’: A Brooklyn teen on why the city’s specialized high school prep wasn’t enough
The prep course offered by the city wasn't impressive, senior Hiba Hanoune writes.
Updated November 3, 2017
Student injured in New York City terror attack returned to school the following day
“Teachers stayed until every child was home, until every parent got listened to, until everyone was deemed safe,” Chancellor Fariña said.
Updated October 31, 2017
‘Act of terror’ unfolds steps from New York City high school, injuring two students
An attack that left eight people dead occurred near Stuyvesant High School in Lower Manhattan. Two students on a school bus were injured.
david and goliath
May 31, 2017
A 16-year-old Stuyvesant student is running for state Senate. Here’s how he wants to improve city schools
School segregation and giving students a bigger role in the policymaking process top his agenda.
March 8, 2017
Only 10 percent of offers at New York City’s specialized high schools went to black and Hispanic students
Only 3.8 percent of offers to attend eight specialized high schools went to black students and 6.5 percent went to Hispanic students this year.
July 27, 2016
Stuyvesant’s new principal is ‘deeply invested’ in diversity. But can he make a difference?
Stuyvesant's first Hispanic principal takes over as the specialized high schools are under increased pressure to diversify.
December 11, 2014
Debate over high school admissions test divides City Council
Last December, city officials said they were working to expand access to the SHSAT, though a test-prep program had shrunk.
December 4, 2014
Black alumni of specialized high schools: SHSAT needs scrutiny, not just defenders
A group of black alumni of the city’s specialized high schools say the alumni coalition calling to retain the current admissions system doesn’t fully speak…
June 9, 2014
City endorses legislative push to diversify elite high schools
Chancellor Carmen Fariña backed a bill on Monday that would require the city’s specialized high schools to use more than a single test score as their student admissions criteria, an effort grounded in the administration’s desire to increase diversity within the eight schools and reduce the emphasis on testing.
March 22, 2014
Fariña shares advice with new principals, but avoids touchy topics
Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña spoke to school leaders who have been in that role for three years or fewer at a conference for new principals at Stuyvesant High School on Saturday. She offered big-picture inspiration and "very granular" advice, attendees said.
March 11, 2014
Few black and Hispanic students admitted to top high schools, adding to calls for admissions rules changes
Few black and Hispanic students won seats in eight of the city's specialized high schools this year, prompting Mayor Bill de Blasio to repeat a campaign trail declaration that the admissions process needs an overhaul.
October 30, 2013
Students at elite high school boycott teacher evaluation tests
Jack Cahn, center, is among the students at Stuyvesant High School who boycotted new tests that the school is using as part of its teacher evaluations. For some high-achievers at Stuyvesant High School, flunking their latest test is no big deal. A group of students at the elite high school in lower Manhattan pledged to opt out of the English tests that were administered today, saying they’re opposed to the exam’s purpose. The tests are low-stakes for students, but they’ll be used to grade teachers on new evaluations being rolled out this year. “This movement is meant to support Stuyvesant teachers in opposing an unfair teacher evaluation system,” Senior David Cahn wrote on the Facebook page he created to encourage other students to join in. Students across the city are taking formal baseline tests this year in many subjects because of new teacher evaluation rules. The rules require teachers to be rated in part by how much their students improve over the course of the year, and schools are using tests this fall as the baseline for determining student proficiency at the beginning of the year.
October 25, 2013
Two city students are regional finalists in science competition
Impreet Singh, a student at Francis Lewis High School in Queens, is a regional finalist in the Siemens Competition in Math, Science, and Technology, a…
August 30, 2013
Report faults former Stuyvesant principal in cheating scandal
An investigation into cheating at the elite Stuyvesant High School ended with a scathing conclusion: Former principal Stanley Teitel mishandled cheating allegations and downplayed the scandal to officials. Sleepy proctoring and coordinated text messaging helped dozens of students initially get away with sharing final exam questions on their phones during June 2012 Regents and final exams, according to a report by the Office of Special Investigations, which was released publicly this afternoon (but dated Nov. 5, 2012). But it was how Teitel responded once he learned of the incident that "showed an extreme lack of judgement," investigators wrote. News of the scandal struck a chord when it broke last year in part because it happened at Stuyvesant, an ultra-competitive high school that accepts only students who score the very highest on an eighth grade admissions exam. It put a spotlight light on what some students at the school described as a culture of cheating caused by unrelenting pressure to succeed. A first phase of the investigation, finished last year, ended in the suspension of 66 students. Teitel, a 41-year veteran of the school system who helmed Stuyvesant for 13 years, retired in September 2012 amid the investigation into the role of administrators and teachers.
June 14, 2013
Stuyvesant student elections in turmoil after winner disqualified
Jack Cahn (center), who was disqualified from Stuyvesant's student body president election this week, talks with a former opponent, Keiran Carpen (left), and his running mate Remi Moon. A series of seemingly minor campaign violations cost the winning candidate for student body president at elite Stuyvesant High School the election. But with a flair for drama that conjures up scenes from the movie "Election," he isn't giving up. When votes were tallied earlier this week, Jack Cahn won in a relative landslide, 447 votes to 329. But Cahn, a junior, learned he was disqualified late Tuesday night when the school's Board of Elections, a 19-member student body, released the results. Now, Cahn and his supporters, led by a twin brother who is also editor of the student paper, are waging a campaign to have the decision over turned. They are petitioning online, posting updates to Facebook and appealing their case to administrators, despite already getting word that the ruling would be upheld.
October 3, 2012
A Graduate’s Case Against Specialized High Schools
When I was a student studying Japanese at Stuyvesant High School, I remember learning the word for “cram school’: juku. Juku are extracurricular private schools that offer tutorial services for regular subjects in addition to intensive university entrance exam preparation. As a Stuyvesant student, this concept was not unfamiliar to me — spending days, weeks, or even months studying for a single exam that would determine the course of my future. After all, that level of focus was what got many of us into Stuy the first place. At Stuy, students’ study habits really fell into two categories: diligent cramming, or skidding by with whatever means it took to snag a passing grade (granted, there’s passing, and then there’s Stuy passing). My Japanese teacher would deter us from the latter, lazier alternative by snipping off the corners of subpar homework assignments and taping them to the blackboard. “Do not cut corners!” she would chide, and gesture at the little triangles of notebook paper hovering over the chalk as testaments to our indolence. In the wake of a cheating scandal that has propelled my alma mater into the limelight yet again, I can’t help but reflect on the time I spent at the school that boasts an average SAT score in the 96th percentile and makes college feel like a cakewalk by comparison. When Nayeem Ahsan incited his elaborate cheating ring last semester, he knew he was doing a huge disservice to the hundreds of students taking the exam without outside assistance. But by the same token, to the dozens of overachievers juggling theater practice, sports, music lessons, and hours of studying and homework a night, he offered a solution to an otherwise impossible problem — namely, how do you keep your head above water when so many of your classmates are headed for Ivy League acceptance, and your grade point average is calculated to the second decimal? I will not condone cheating. Instead, I would like to paint a picture for the parents of future eight graders who think sending their students into a four-year juku is the only path to success.
September 27, 2012
Complaint targets elite HS admissions process, not just outcome
A chart in a civil rights complaint about the city's specialized high school admissions process shows the acceptance rates for students of different racial groups. (Click to enlarge.) It seemed like a good strategy: To boost the tiny number of black and Hispanic students at the city's most elite high schools, the city this year expanded access to programs meant to prepare eighth-graders for the schools' admissions test. But that approach is fundamentally broken, according to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, which today filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education against the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test. "More tutoring and more test prep is not the answer," said Damon Hewitt, LDF's director of education. "We need a real paradigm shift." The complaint calls for a new way of admitting students to the city's eight specialized high schools. The schools have long screened students by ranking their performance on a one-time exam, a practice that was written into state law in 1972 for the three schools that were then open. But that approach has yielded student bodies that do not reflect the city's demographics — or even the demographics of the students who take the test. Last year, black and Hispanic students made up 45 percent of test-takers, but they represented only 14 percent of admitted students. At Stuyvesant High School, the most selective and least racially diverse, just 25 black and Hispanic students were offered seats.
September 17, 2012
NY Mag looks at Stuyvesant culture in light of cheating scandal
This week's issue of New York Magazine has an in-depth profile of Nayeem Ahsan, the 16-year-old Stuyvesant High School student who helmed the school's recent cheating scandal. Last June, school officials caught Ahsan using his cell phone to help dozens of students cheat on Regents exams, which students must take before graduating. Since then, the city has launched an investigation and threatened many of the students involved with lengthy suspensions. And the school's principal has retired, to be replaced by a former network leader who is also a Stuyvesant parent. In the wake of these events, many GothamSchools readers told us that cheating is more widespread than officials would admit, and expressed suspicions of Principal Jie Zhang's suggestion that the cheating ring was an isolated incident. “I have not been made aware … or have a reason to believe that there is ongoing cheating there," Zhang told reporters in a phone call shortly after being appointed. The magazine piece also suggests otherwise. In addition to detailing Ahsan's methods, which included sharing homework answers, procuring exams given by teachers in previous years, and texting students photos of entire exam booklets during last spring's Regents exams, it describes a culture that encouraged cheating among many. Ahsan said Stuyvesant's educational environment put a premium on high-performance and competition. The structure of his classes often presented opportunities to game the system:
September 11, 2012
Stuyvesant students, parents report mixed messages on tech
The crackdown on cell phones at Stuyvesant High School has extended in some cases to laptop computers and tablets, according to people in and close to the school. With the school year just four days old, parents already buzzed in emails to each other about the confiscations. But school officials are in the process of explaining the abrupt change in the way they plan to handle phones and other electronic devices, and the devices will be permitted under some circumstances, students said today. Monday's confiscations came after Stuyvesant teachers and administrations seized 17 cell phones on the first two days of the school year. While city students have long been banned from bringing cell phones into schools, students at Stuyvesant and other schools where security is generally not a concern say their principals and teachers have usually turned a blind eye to phones that emerge in their classrooms. But after a student used a cell phone to help dozens of students cheat on final exams in June, Stuyvesant's new principal seems to be renewing enforcement. The crackdown has in some ways jolted the tech-savvy community at Stuyvesant, which includes course offerings that often requires extensive work on computers. Students said today that nearly everyone brought a smartphone, laptop or tablet to school in the past and had grown accustomed to using them freely throughout the day. The Department of Education's regulations about school security say that "ipods, beepers and other communication devices" are also verboten. It's the last point, about communication, that seems to have muddied enforcement of the policy at Stuyvesant. Department officials say computers that don't communicate are allowed in schools, and they are passing the message along to teachers at Stuyvesant.
September 7, 2012
Dozens of Stuyvesant HS students suspended for cheating
A dozen Stuyvesant High School students will be suspended for as long as two weeks and more than 50 others could face short-term suspension for cheating. The punishments are only one component of the school's renewed response to a broad cheating scandal that broke this summer. Stuyvesant's new principal, Jie Zhang, is also requiring students to sign on to an academic honesty policy, urging the creation of an "honor code," and cracking down on student cell phones. Department of Education officials announced in July that they had determined that 71 students had cheated on final exams, with all but two receiving answers in advance to a city Spanish exam. They said at the time that a student who provided the answers would be suspended and not allowed to return to the school, the city's most elite. They also said more punishments could come this fall but did not say how many students faced suspension. Today, the city announced that the number is 66. Zhang informed the students and their families today about the suspensions, which for some students will start on Monday. A second phase in the department's investigation into the cheating, which is ongoing, is looking at the school's original response. The department did not learn about the cheating until nearly a week after then-Principal Stanley Teitel sent a letter to parents informing them that some students had been punished, and the penalties the school levied did not match those outlined in the city’s discipline code.
August 6, 2012
City picks parent, principal, network leader to head Stuyvesant
In a picture the Department of Education distributed on Twitter, Chancellor Dennis Walcott speaks to Jie Zhang, Stuyvesant High School's interim principal, today. A longtime educator who began her career teaching girls in jail has been named acting principal at the city's most selective high school. Jie Zhang, who led a different elite high school for five years, will be interim acting principal at Stuyvesant High School, Chancellor Dennis Walcott announced today. She replaces Stanley Teitel, the school's 11-year principal, who announced his retirement last week amid an investigation into a cheating scandal at the school. "We are fortunate to have tremendous leaders and talented teachers like Jie Zhang in New York City public schools, and we are thrilled to have her join the Stuyvesant High School community," Walcott said in a statement. Zhang is not actually new to Stuyvesant: She has been a parent there since 2005, when her older child enrolled, and last year she headed the Department of Education "network" that Teitel selected to support the school. Her daughter is a junior. The cheating scandal that erupted in June implicated more than 70 students, giving rise to criticism that Stuyvesant's cutthroat environment encourages students to take shortcuts to success. But in a phone call with reporters today, Zhang said she did not learn about widespread cheating at Stuyvesant as either a parent or an administrator. Still, she said, improving the school's "culture" so that cheating does not take place is her first goal. "I have not been made aware ... or have a reason to believe that there is ongoing cheating there," Zhang said. "However, my top priority is to create a positive school culture that ensures integrity and zero tolerance for cheating."
August 6, 2012
Stuy alum Allon urges changes to school's admissions, grading
Tom Allon speaks about his education policy platform at the New School in May. The sudden and surprising leadership change at Stuyvesant High School is an opportunity to make the school more diverse and less cutthroat, according to a graduate who is running for mayor. Tom Allon, a long-shot mayoral candidate who graduated from the elite city high school in 1980 and later briefly taught there, made the case in a press release sent this morning in response to Friday's resignation of Stanley Teitel, the school's principal since 1999. Teitel announced his retirement amid a cheating scandal and an investigation into how he handled it. “I'm afraid Stuyvesant has become a place where education and knowledge have taken a backseat to testing and grades and hyper-vigilance about college admissions — not unlike the testing and data-driven grading that is crushing the life out of public education throughout America,” Allon said in his press release. Allon suggests that the school switch to an A-F grading system, instead of awarding numerical grades on a scale of 100, which he said encourages students to worry about small swings in their grade-point averages. He also offers a slate of recommendations geared at shaking up the ultra-competitive admissions process, which for decades has been based solely on scores on the city's Specialized High Schools Admissions Test.
August 3, 2012
Amid cheating investigation, Stuyvesant HS principal resigns
A letter from Stanley Teitel announcing his resignation as Stuyvesant High School's principal was posted on the school's website. Just weeks after a cheating scandal erupted at Stuyvesant High School, the schools longtime principal has resigned. Stanley Teitel delivered his letter of resignation to Chancellor Dennis Walcott at 3:30 p.m. today, according to the Department of Education. Teitel and Stuyvesant were thrust under scrutiny in June after news broke that dozens of students at the ultra-competitive school had received answers in advance to a Spanish exam via one student's cell phone. Teitel sent a letter to parents June 20 alerting them to the cheating and informing them that students suspected of cheating would lose some privileges, such as the right to leave campus for lunch. But the city did not find out about the cheating allegations for nearly a week after that letter went home, and the penalties the school levied did not match those outlined in the city's discipline code. An initial phase of the cheating investigation concluded in early July, with the city requiring 69 students to retake the end-of-year Spanish exam they took in June. When he announced the penalties, Walcott said the next phase would be to examine whether Teitel and his staff followed the appropriate protocol after learning about the cheating.
March 1, 2012
Software-themed school aims to replicate Stuy curriculum for all
Stuyvesant High School computer science teacher Mike Zamansky describes a mathematical problem solving tool to students. In Room 307 of Manhattan's Stuyvesant High School, 23 students spent a recent afternoon copying tables and number trees representing a mathematical problem-solving technique used in graphic design computer software. The students, who all won admission to Stuyvesant by posting top scores on an entrance exam, listened raptly as their teacher, Mike Zamansky, walked them through the complex algorithm behind "seam-carving," a process used in resizing images. Then Zamansky checked to make sure they understood. "No problem? Seems reasonable? or 'Huh'?" he asked, offering students the chance to signal by a show of thumbs whether they understood or needed more help. No one pointed a thumb down. Zamansky has been teaching computer science since 1995, through a program he designed for students to follow from sophomore to senior year. Stuyvesant's program is the only rigorous computer science sequence in the city's public schools and one of the few in the country. Now it is the inspiration behind a new city high school that aims to change that. Founded by an influential venture capitalist with deep ties to the technology industry and a young principal fresh from the city's training program, the Academy for Software Engineering will be the city's first school to focus on software engineering. The goal is to extend the approach of Zamansky's classes — which teach problem-solving, network communications, and programming language literacy — to any student in the city, even if they can't make the cut for Stuyvesant or don't even have a computer at home.
February 29, 2012
In HS admissions numbers, hints of change at selective schools
An earlier timeline for the city's high school admissions process didn't equate to a higher match rate between students and schools. Data released today by the Department of Education about high school admissions show that 90 percent of the 77,137 eighth-graders who applied to high school this year were matched with a school during the first round of the city's admission process, just under half to their first-choice schools. But about one in 10 did not get into any school, roughly the same proportion as last year, when the city induced a flood of applications to top schools by listing schools' graduation rates in the high school directory for the first time. Students who did not get a seat will have to choose from schools that did not fill up in the main round of the admissions process, likely because too few students sought spots in them. The data also reveal at least small strides in two enrollment areas the city has identified as problems. First, the number of black and Hispanic students offered spots at the city's specialized high schools inched upward, although it remains woefully low. Plus, students with disabilities will also get a second chance to win admission to a number of selective schools as part of a city initiative to require those schools to enroll more special education students. The admissions decisions, which schools will begin distributing to students today, come a full month earlier than the city has ever before informed most students about their high school placements. That's because the city shifted this year to a unified admissions schedule for the first time.
March 9, 2011
Parents of minority students criticize culture at top high school
City Councilman Charles Barron criticized Chancellor Cathie Black for failing to condemn a video posted by Stuyvesant High School students that used racial slurs. To Barron's right is Veronica Celestin, the mother of a Stuyvesant student. Parents and politicians gathered today outside of prestigious Stuyvesant High School to condemn what they describe as a pattern of racial exclusion and insensitivity at the school. The group was responding to an amateur rap video that shows four young white men — reportedly Stuyvesant students — using racial slurs. The video emerged after a former student at the school posted it to YouTube. Recently critics have said that the city’s selective public schools don’t admit enough black and Hispanic students, and that the Department of Education hasn’t fully implemented its own anti-bullying program. At today’s event outside of the ten-story school building in Lower Manhattan, several parents of students of color talked about their children’s experiences. Veronica Celestin, whose daughter Breanna found the video posted to Facebook, said they were disturbed by the “racist video.” “This has been a very difficult and traumatic time for Breanna and our family,” said Celestin, reading softly from a typed statement. Another Stuyvesant parent, Ruth Sowell, said that her child sometimes felt unwelcome at the school. Her son, Michael Bucaoto, is a Stuyvesant football player who is bi-racial. “They didn’t treat him as an equal,” Sowell said. “He felt he had nowhere to go.”
February 11, 2011
Racial gap persists for city's specialized high schools
Today's the day that guidance counselors distribute envelopes to eighth graders with news of whether and which of the city's top-tier high schools opened the door for them. But for minority students, the news continues to be grim. Combined, white and Asian students account for 70 percent of the students admitted to elite schools like Stuyvesant, the Bronx High School of Science, and Brooklyn Technical High School. Hispanic students make up 6 percent of those admitted and black students 5 percent. The remainder, 18 percent, come from private or parochial schools and racial data for them was not available. Despite repeated statements of concern from city officials about the tiny number of minority students earning entry to top high schools, the numbers have only declined in the last three years. In 2009, 744 black and Hispanic students earned seats at specialized high schools. This year, 642 made it in. Meanwhile, the number of minority students sitting for the exams has increased. Black and Hispanic students now make up a greater percentage of test takers than they did in 2009.
March 10, 2010
Finally Doing Something about Specialized High School Admissions
The woefully small percentages of black and Hispanic students at the city's specialized high schools is not a new development, but that doesn't mean we can't do something to change it. Here's my suggestion: The Department of Education should adopt a proportional admissions plan for the exam schools that would offer admission to the highest-scoring students from each of the neighborhoods of the city. An idea whose time has come In 1995, then-Chancellor Ramon Cortines lamented the declining percentages of black and Hispanic students at the city's specialized high schools. At the time, the numbers were actually better than they are now: Bronx Science's enrollment was 10.7% black and 9.2% Hispanic; Stuyvesant's was 4.8% black and 4.3% Hispanic. In 1996, ACORN (well before its recent collapse) published a report, entitled "Secret Apartheid II: Race, Regents and Resources," that analyzed enrollment numbers at Stuyvesant and Bronx Science, the two most selective schools.
December 3, 2008
How Stuyvesant High School became coed
As Elizabeth noted, it’s high school admissions season in New York City. The test that determines who gets into the city’s elite high…
August 6, 2008
The Summer Arts Institute at Stuyvesant High School
Second in a series on free summer opportunities for New York City students. Read the first post about the Manhattan School of Music Summer Music Camp. Vocal music students practicing at SAI. On a recent July morning, in a classroom at Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan, master vocal music teacher Jayne Skoog asked her students to pause. "Put your hand here for a minute," she instructed them, placing her hand on her ribcage. "Put your hand right here." The students placed their hands over their own chests, studying how air should move in and out of their lungs as they sing. Down the hall, Joe Bartolozzi was teaching an advanced music theory class, animatedly illustrating a point about tension and release with a joke about a pianist playing "Amazing Grace" and stopping just before the final, resolving chord. Bartolozzi let his students feel that tension as he finished the story - then played the chord, allowing everyone in the room to experience the release firsthand. Meanwhile, upstairs, students were scattered around teacher Jan Juracek's photography lab. Two worked together at a computer, using Photoshop to merge a student's self-portrait with a photograph of the New York City skyline. Juracek sat nearby, helping another student edit a digital photo. A small group sat sprawled at student desks, flipping through photography books and their own portfolios. On the floor, students assembled what appeared to be a poster-sized contact sheet: they explained that it's a collaborative piece they are creating, bringing together each student's self-portrait on the theme "THE ARTS: A Lens to the City." This theme is shared by the seven studios of the Summer Arts Institute, a free, four-week intensive arts program for New York City public school students entering grades 8-12. In addition to vocal music and photography, the studio programs include instrumental music, dance, drama, visual art, and film.
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