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Elite Entrance Exams Schools Overrated, Study Concludes

entrance exams, stuyvesant

It's not that elite schools make smart kids stupid, it's just that they don't make them much smarter.

Bad news for those who laid out thousands to get their kids into an elite preschool which would then put them on the course for getting into an elite grade school that would then land them one of the coveted seats at an elite high school (because how else would your kid get into an elite university?).

A new study shows that kids who attend the best of the best public schools in Boston and New York, where students are granted a spot based on entrance exam scores, aren’t getting all that smarter by the time they graduate.

The National Bureau of Economic Research study looked at the three oldest schools of this kind in New York — Brooklyn Technical, Bronx Science and Stuyvesant High School. What they found was that even though the overall scores were still high by any standards, compared to how well they did when they started, students make only modest gains on state and national achievement tests.

The bottom line: these kids would have been fine just about anywhere.

None of which is to say these are bad schools and that the kids don’t learn anything, obviously. But it does raise the question: do reasons for attending these schools match the goal of attending them. If it’s simply to maintain a kid’s smarts and give her an opportunity to be around smart people, well, these schools certainly offer that. If it’s for bragging rights, that’s still on the table too! But if it’s to take super smarties and make them super-duper smarties, that’s not necessarily happening.

The study found similar results in Boston’s exam schools, the Boston Latin School, the Boston Latin Academy and the John D. O’Bryant High School of Mathematics and Science.

Did you attend one of these schools? Do you hope your kids will? Is this study a relief to you or do you feel like it’s missing the point?
Photo: scubasteveo via flickr
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