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What New York’s Public Schools Could Learn From Stuyvesant

The class of students who will enter Stuyvesant High School in 2019 include only seven black students. This isn’t particularly unusual; Stuy, which is the most academically selective public school in New York City, typically admits only a handful of black students each year, and every year there are a few op-eds and some social media outrage about the school’s demographics.

This year, however, criticism of the school seems especially intense following a call by New York Mayor Bill de Blasio to dismantle the city’s elite specialized high schools and during a period of renewed focus on admissions policies in the wake of the Varsity Blues college corruption scandal. Echoing de Blasio’s 2018 condemnation of the specialized schools, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez declared Stuyvesant a “system failure” and an “injustice” in a tweet that received over 50,000 likes. New York Times education reporter Eliza Shapiro tweeted that these “grim statistics” would force officials to confront “segregation” in the elite schools, and Atlantic writer Vann Newkirk tweeted that Stuy’s demographics discredit the idea of an American meritocracy.

In fact, New York’s elite public high schools, which de Blasio and Ocasio-Cortez hope to dismantle, have been major drivers of social and economic mobility in New York for decades. If they are successful in destroying these schools, they won’t succeed in improving education for black and Latino students in any material way, but they will destroy a free public school that provides an elite education to hundreds of Asian-Americans from economically disadvantaged backgrounds every year.

The SHSAT is Blind to Identity

Stuyvesant is one of eight “specialized high schools” in New York which admit students on the basis of their scores on the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT). The test is the sole admissions consideration for admission to the specialized high schools. Stuy has been using exclusively test-based admissions since 1934, and has long been considered one of the best high schools in the U.S.

The multiple choice SHSAT is completely blind to identity. The test form and the computers that grade it don’t know any tester’s race, gender, sexual orientation or nationality. The rich and the poor must face the same examination, and must compete on a level playing field. If there is any bias built into the test itself, its critics have failed to identify it.

Stuyvesant has no development office to exert admissions pressure on behalf of the rich and famous. There are no legacy considerations, and no coaches to bribe. There are no Olivia Jades or Jared Kushners at Stuyvesant. There is also no affirmative action program at Stuy, though de Blasio used his authority as mayor in 2018 to force the expansion of a “discovery program” that provides a pathway into the specialized schools for students from disadvantaged backgrounds who missed the admissions cutoffs. Despite that program, black and Latino enrollment remains extremely low, and Stuy, the most selective of the specialized schools, is nearly 70 percent Asian.

Critics argue that the single test is a poor measure of merit, and that Asians secure an unfair advantage over other groups because they are willing to spend exorbitant amounts of time and money preparing for the SHSAT.  Meanwhile, black and Latino students are disproportionately less likely to take the SHSAT, and many don’t even know about it. However, if Asians have a structural advantage on this test, it doesn’t come from financial resources. Asian-Americans have the highest poverty rates of any racial group in New York, and 44 percent of students at Stuy come from families poor enough to qualify for free or reduced-price lunches.

Criticism of Asian Student Achievement is Racist

The widespread contention that Asian students only outperform other groups on the SHSAT because they prepare unreasonably or unfairly for the test is false and racist. The students at Stuyvesant have repeatedly proven that they’re the highest-performing public school students in the city.

Stuy and Bronx Science have the highest median SAT scores in the city for graduating seniors, by a commanding margin. Nearly 40 percent of NYC’s National Merit Semifinalists are Stuyvesant students, which is impressive considering Stuy competes with both elite private schools like the $51,000 per-year Dalton School and the ultra-selective program for extremely gifted students at Hunter College High School. Stuyvesant students are routinely among the semifinalists and finalists in the prestigious Intel Science Competition, and in several recent years, Stuy had more semifinalists than any other school in the country. Stuyvesant also frequently fields national championship chess teams.

At every opportunity, Stuyvesant students compete successfully against the best students other schools have to offer, and repeatedly demonstrate themselves to be top performers in a range of academic tasks. Yet the school’s critics continue to claim that these students’ only distinction is their performance on a single meaningless test that demonstrates nothing but how much money their parents spent on test prep.

If Bill de Blasio had his way, most of these students would be excluded from Stuyvesant. He wants to replace the SHSAT with a new plan that would allocate a set number of seats at Stuy to each middle school at the city. That would mean that low-performing schools which currently have no top SHSAT performers who can make the cut at Stuy would get the same number of seats as gifted schools and heavily-Asian magnet schools that currently send dozens of top test-takers to the specialized schools. The result of this plan would cut the number of Asians at Stuy by more than half and replace them with black and Latino students.

This plan eliminates a citywide competition because de Blasio knows that on any level playing field, in any citywide academic competition, the same students who currently ace the SHSAT would come out on top. And while de Blasio could leave Stuy alone and create a new school that uses his admissions model, he knows students admitted under his proposed rubric would underperform students selected by the SHSAT on every other relevant metric, and that schools using the SHSAT would be considered better than schools built around his conception of racial justice.

The belief that Asian students are one-dimensional test grinds is pernicious and damaging. This stereotype influences admissions officials at schools like Harvard, where Asian applicants’ subjectively-assessed personal qualities are systematically rated as being inferior to those of members of other racial groups.

In truth, there is no objective measure that identifies a different set of students as top performers. There is no evidence that top SHSAT performers are overrated in any sense. There is no reason to believe that the students with the best scores on this test are not New York’s top students. The only objection to the students who come out on top of the SHSAT sort is that most of them are Asian, and if you have a problem with that, then maybe you are the problem and not these brilliant, hardworking children.   

The SHSAT’s Results Are Supported by Data from Other Tests

The SHSAT has a math and a verbal section, and each section has a median score around 200 and a standard deviation between 45 and 50.

Stuyvesant’s cutoff is usually around 560, which is the 96th or 97th percentile. Bronx High School of Science has a cutoff around 520, which is between the 88th and 90th percentile. It admitted 12 black students in 2019. Based on the black enrollment in Bronx Science and the other specialized schools with similar cutoffs, it appears that only about 35 black students in New York scored among the top 10 percent of SHSAT takers and enrolled at specialized high schools. There may be a few more high-scorers who went elsewhere; private schools have been known to poach high-scoring black students with scholarship offers, but the proportion of top black applicants is very low.

Brooklyn Tech has a cutoff around 498, near the 80th percentile, and Brooklyn Latin has a cutoff around 490. These schools both have significantly higher proportions of black admits — 95 of 1825 students admitted to Brooklyn Tech are black, as well as 57 out of 540 students admitted to Brooklyn. That means there’s a significantly higher proportion of black students in the second decile of SHSAT takers, though blacks are still underrepresented at those schools relative to the proportion of black students in the school system overall.

If the SHSAT reached different results or was worse at identifying talented black students than other objective measures of academic performance, then that would be a strong argument in favor of abolishing it. Unfortunately, the disparities reflected in the SHSAT test are mirrored in the results of every other standardized test.

New York’s state assessments of English and Math skills found that 10 percent of black students achieved level 4 proficiency in English, and 12 percent reached level 4 in math. Meanwhile, a third of Asians reached the highest proficiency level in English, and 46 percent reached it in math.

A Brookings Institution analysis of race gaps on the SAT found that only 2,200 black students nationwide scored above a 700 on the SAT’s math section, the 97th percentile overall. By comparison, 48,000 whites and 52,200 Asians scored above a 700. In order to make up for the shortage of black applicants with top scores, highly-selective schools where the median white admitted student scores at the 95th percentile will accept black students scoring at the 85th.

On the LSAT, the admission test for U.S. law schools, only 5 percent of black students score above 160 out of 180, which is the 80th percentile among the overall set of test-takers. Only 29 black students nationwide scored a 170 or higher on the LSAT in 2004, compared to 1,900 white students. The median LSAT score among students at Harvard and Yale is 173, and the lowest-scoring law schools in the top 10 have median LSAT scores of 169. If they didn’t consider race in admissions, the top U.S. law schools would admit about the same number of black students as Stuyvesant.

A Number of Common-Sense Policies Could Improve Black Representation

The reason that Stuyvesant admits very few black students is not that the admission test or the practice of admitting students on the basis of test scores is racist. The reason Stuyvesant admits very few black students is that very few black students can compete head-to-head with the city’s best Asian students on any objective measure of academic performance.

This is not surprising, because the city’s best black public school students have to navigate around a number of structural obstacles to their progress that top white and Asian students do not have to deal with. Tests like the SHSAT expose the extent to which institutions and policymakers are failing top black students. By trying to abolish the measurements that reveal the underlying problems, or by implementing racial preferences to compensate for the shortage of competitive black applicants in the pipeline, we leave these structural obstacles unexamined and unchanged. None of the admissions reforms proposed for the specialized schools address the real issues that are keeping black students from competing.

Improving the number of successful black SHSAT takers doesn’t require untangling all the complex factors behind racial achievement gaps in the U.S. or even in New York City. We merely need to look at a few hundred students per year who are already doing pretty well, and try to help some of them become excellent. However, policymakers, particularly the progressive ones who are in charge of school systems in big cities, prefer to focus attention and resources on students who aren’t doing well, at the expense of the ones who are doing pretty well. This is especially true when the students who are doing pretty well and the students who aren’t are under the charge of the same teachers in so-called “differentiated classrooms.”

Sociology professors Syed Ali and Margaret M. Chin, who are authors of a forthcoming book about Stuyvesant, trace the declining numbers of black and Latino students at the specialized schools to the abolition of academic tracking—the practice of grouping students into classes according to ability—in New York public schools. As recently as the 1980’s, all New York middle and high schools, including many highly segregated ones, had honors tracks that offered accelerated coursework to each school’s top performers. When honors programs were abolished due to progressive complaints about racial disparities in the upper tracks, the top performers in mostly black schools were shifted from honors tracks back into classrooms with other neighborhood students, much to their detriment.

In New York’s public schools, more than a quarter of students are considered “chronically absent,” which means they miss a month or more of school each year. Chronically absent students are disproportionately black and Latino, and high concentrations of chronic absenteeism occur disproportionately in majority-minority schools. In the failing “renewal schools” that Bill de Blasio poured three quarters of a billion dollars into, 36 percent of students were chronically absent. Majority-black schools also have disproportionate discipline problems and problems with disruptive student behavior. Black students who work hard and do everything right still fall behind because they are stuck in classes taught by teachers who are busy managing these issues.

Asian and white students in New York are less likely to share classrooms with disruptive students, and the pace of their classes are not set according to the progress by students who miss a day of school every week. In a finding that should not surprise anyone, researchers have determined that high-performing black and Latino students do better when they are tracked into honors classes that aren’t full of clowns and habitual truants. Stuyvesant had over 300 black students in 1975, and it currently has 24. Its admissions policy has remained the same. The city’s public elementary and middle schools—which are supposed to be preparing black students to compete—have changed.

And while tests like the SHSAT and the SAT are mostly reasoning tests, they require certain math and language skills, and lacking a proper educational foundation is a huge disadvantage. Duke University runs a Talent Identification Program (TIP) which administers the SAT and ACT to seventh graders who have scored above the 95th percentile on a state standardized test or an IQ test. Despite the fact that the SAT is taken in eleventh grade by students with a wide range of abilities and the TIP students are all high achievers, the seventh graders have a lower score curve.

The 90th percentile for TIP users is an 1150 on the SAT, which is a 74th percentile score for high school juniors and seniors. A 99th percentile SAT score for TIP students is a 1350, which is a 91st percentile score for eleventh graders. In other words, being four years behind the larger cohort in math and English instruction causes the TIP students to almost disappear from the top decile of SAT takers, even though they’re all gifted. A similar phenomenon might explain the racial score gaps on SHSAT and on college admissions tests if many talented black and Latino students are stuck in slow moving classrooms that are functionally years behind the accelerated courses students are taking in wealthy suburban districts, gifted programs and elite private schools.

Beyond that, the city needs to be more proactive about making sure talented students from disadvantaged backgrounds don’t slip through various cracks in the ramshackle public education system. Ten percent of black students are scoring in the highest category on state achievement tests. That’s the starting line, not the finish, but the school system needs to make sure these kids show up to the race.

The New York Post reported on a student named Sebastian Acevedo, who was told by a guidance counselor at his private Catholic middle school that it was impossible for him to get into Stuyvesant. After his parents—his mother is a clerical worker and his father is a supermarket manager—spent $5,000 on test prep, Sebastian got into Stuy, one of only 33 Latino students citywide to make the cut.

The fact that Sebastian was able to dramatically improve his score with a few months of prep means that there were concepts on the test that he was able to quickly master, but that he hadn’t been taught in his middle school classes. It’s a huge problem that this student hadn’t been identified as gifted previously, and provided with appropriate resources, and it’s unconscionable that he was discouraged from taking the admissions tests for the specialized schools. There may be many other talented students who give up after being discouraged by school officials, or who don’t know how to find outside resources to help compensate for the deficiencies in their schools’ instruction.

If any of those students aren’t being encouraged to take the SHSAT, or are not getting the free test prep resources the city provides, then that needs to be corrected. In the same way that students with disabilities are entitled to individual education programs under the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act, high-performing students need to be assigned to counselors who keep track of their progress and help them navigate the school system’s complicated bureaucracy to get the resources they need to thrive and compete for admissions, both at the specialized exam schools and at the dozens of selective NYC public high schools that use other screening methods for admission.

Public schools in New York and around the country are not organized around the purpose of preparing their best students to participate in competitive admissions processes. That does not discredit competitive admissions; it discredits public schools. And it is not Stuyvesant or the SHSAT that need reforms, but rather, the public elementary and middle schools that are failing to cultivate black and Latino talent.

Daniel Friedman is the Edgar Award-nominated author of Don’t Ever Get OldDon’t Ever Look Back and Riot Most Uncouth. Follow him on Twitter 

Feature photo by Jim Henderson.


  1. The article ends with this sentence: “And it is not Stuyvesant or the SHSAT that need reforms, but rather, the public elementary and middle schools that are failing to cultivate black and Latino talent.”

    It’s depressing to see the same kind of endless and gutless hand-wringing and obfuscation that seem to accompany every occasion of black academic underperformance also appear in Quillette.

    The following stark — perhaps immutable — hierarchy plays out in every single large-sample measured educational outcome and academic testing results I’ve ever looked at:

    (1) Northeast Asian
    (2) White
    (3) Hispanic
    (4) Black.

    You can control for socioeconomic (SES) status all you want, and it won’t make a bit of difference.

    Students from the lowest SES decile for Asian-Americans outperform black students from the highest SES decile on standardized testing. Just take a moment and think about that, and be sure to mention it the next time someone blames poverty for the huge academic achievement gaps between blacks and Asians.

    Or this: White students from the lowest SES decile almost outperform black students from the highest SES decile.

    The bottom line is that these gaps are due either to genes or culture, or, more likely, both. (The two are intertwined.) When will someone have the courage to state the obvious?

    • Jay Salhi says

      Focus on genetics is not helpful. Nobody argues that IQ is 100% genetic.

      “Stuyvesant had over 300 black students in 1975, and it currently has 24. Its admissions policy has remained the same. The city’s public elementary and middle schools—which are supposed to be preparing black students to compete—have changed.”

      Something changed over time that has nothing to do with genetics. Focus on that. Focus on the small number of schools (many of them charter schools) that get better results with black students. Focus on what we can change, not what we cannot change.

      • @Jay Salhi

        You wrote: “Nobody argues that IQ is 100% genetic.”

        First, I never explicitly mentioned IQ. Second, I never argued anything was 100% genetic. I stated that genes and culture likely explain the academic achievement gap.

        The reason that black enrollment at Stuyvesant has crashed has almost nothing to do with “educational preparation” (as the article argues) — that’s the typical politically-correct cop-out. It has to do with demographics, i.e., the quintupling of the number of Asian students in the NYC public school system since the 1970s.

        It’s a tiny percentage of the total number of students in the system who get into the elite specialized schools. The competition has always been fierce. But once you introduce into that system thousands of culturally-motivated and high-IQ Asians — now I am mentioning IQ — you’ve raised the entry threshold much higher. Too high for all but a handful of blacks to reach.

        A person’s score on a well-designed standardized academic test (such as that taken for entry into Stuyvesant) is a reliable proxy for IQ (two studies in the past year alone confirm this for SAT testing). Now, take a look at the overlapping IQ bell curves for the races — specifically, at their extreme right tails where the extraordinarily gifted are located — and tell me how anyone can expect a different racial distribution than that observed at Stuyvesant. The result at Stuyvesant seems about right to me. You can try all the educational interventions you want, but they won’t change anything.

        • Cal says

          @ New Radical Centrism

          I was thinking exactly the same thing you were when I saw the Stuyvesant admissions results. Given the thousands of Asians in the NYC public schools, the percentages of the races admitted to Stuyvesant make perfect sense once you look at the racial IQ bell curves at their far right ends. If readers of this article have never seen these curves laid out on top of each other before, I would recommend they take a look. It’s really eye opening.

        • E. Olson says

          Spot on NRC – IQ demographics in NYC have dramatically changed since the 1970s when Asians (avg IQ 103-105) were about 1.5% of the NYC population to today when they are about 13%, while blacks (avg IQ 85) have been pretty stable around 25%, and whites (avg IQ 100) have declined from about 60% to 33%. The relative quality of the black population has also no doubt declined since the 1970s, as two parent black households have gone from about 70% to 30%, and children of single moms invariably have more discipline and truancy problems that hurt their academic performance. On the other hand, there has also been some growth in the number of upper-middle class black families since the 1970s, and their economic success means they are more likely to send their kids to private schools (which also explains the decline in Jewish enrollment in elite public high schools).

          The reverse analogy to this would be a bunch of black kids moving to North Dakota (currently 90% white, 1.5% black), and changing the black percentage in the state to 13%. This would no doubt also drastically “darken” the racial mixture and lower the time needed to qualify for the finals of the 100 meter dash in the high school track championship. It is also safe to say that no amount of training and special coaching for the white kids would be able to overcome the inherent black advantages in sprinting events, which is why there hasn’t been a non-black male finalist in the Olympics since 1980.

          • Jay Salhi says

            Part of the demographic change is Asians replacing working class Jews who these days are no longer working class and more likely to attend private schools.

            What you refer to as the decline in the relative (academic) quality of black students and the reasons for such decline warrant further attention.

          • asdf says

            The note about private school is important. If you are one of the few smart enough blacks to go to Stuyvesant, the wealthy NYC private schools are falling over themselves to offer you a full ride so that they can increase their “diversity” (note these same schools often have an Asian quota). Why grind it out versus a bunch of working class Asians when you can get a full ride as the privileged token at some elite Manhattan private school?

          • Moline says

            A New Radical Centrism – On the subject on race & IQ, I want to compliment you for your comment in Areo a few weeks ago. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a reader’s comment in Areo get as any likes as yours did, and it deserved them. I was going to copy & paste it here so everyone could read it, but there might be copyright issues with that so heres a link to it if anyone wants to read it –


          • Michael Baechle says

            You seem to have stated that, as the percentage of smart people grows, the average IQ of the total population grows (e.g., more Asians with higher IQ’s is raises the collective IQ level more than a stable percentage of blacks with relatively low IQ’s). Nobody can disagree with that assertion. However, you leave untouched two bit questions.
            The first question is, why are Asians “smarter”?
            The second question is, why are blacks “not smarter”?
            You wrote this sentence:..”children of single moms invariably have more discipline and truancy problems that hurt their academic performance.”
            This sentence implies that someone inflicts discipline and truancy upon black students. It seemingly absolves these same students as being the creators of discipline and truancy problems.
            Until progressives start calling things by their right names, problems will be misnamed, and proposed solutions will fail.
            Gifted black students, like gifted white and gifted Asian and Hispanic students, should be lifted out of the chaos and moral squalor of a public educational system which has become a holding tank for indifferent students, and which insists, falsely, that everyone is equal, when clearly, some are quite superior.

          • E. Olson says

            Michael Baechle – IQ seems to be associated with climate, as people’s with the highest IQ around the world tend to come from places with long cold winters. Surviving long winters requires planning and cooperation, which tend to be associated with higher IQ, and mate selection over many hundreds of generations will then tend to favor smarter people because they survive better. Warm weather places and places with no clear geographic isolation tends to mean food and shelter are readily available and less necessary respectively, and shorter lives due to tropical disease and tribal warfare, which favors less investment in children and education, and less need for intelligence. Thus humans tend to be only as smart as we need to be to survive and attract a mate, which varies by climate and isolation.

            Single parenthood is bad for children of all races, but blacks have the highest rate of single parenthood in part because they have the lowest IQ. Single parenthood by itself will not lower the genetic component of IQ, but lower IQ people in the modern welfare state have less incentive to find a permanent mate, and hence tend to have lower IQ children. Lack of a father figures is associated with lower performance in school and more discipline and truancy problems, but lower performance, lack of discipline, and truancy problems are also associated with low IQ. Single parenthood is also a strong predictor of childhood poverty (and possible nutritional deficiencies) and childhood mental and physical trauma, which are all likely environmental causes of stunted IQ development. Thus children of single parent households will more likely have the double-whammy of low IQ parental genes and poor IQ nurturing environments, which means they are unlikely to do well in school.

          • Raisa says

            Why you do not consider Russian Jews, especially 1st generation. Specialized HS s have many of them, especially Stuyvesant and SI TECH

        • hafthor says

          Men seem to have on average higher IQs than women and yet women absolutely dominate academic attainment. Why? And could this be replicated with blacks and whites and asians?

          • @ hafthor

            Actually it’s not true that men have a higher average IQ than women. At mean, or even median, they are basically equal or only marginally unequal. (There’s some evidence that women actually have a slight advantage over men at the mean.) However, at both tails of the bell curve, there are more men –- that is to say, men are more likely than women to be morons and more likely to be geniuses. This “greater male variability hypothesis” is fairly robust.

          • E. Olson says

            hafthor – it depends on what you mean by educational attainment. If you mean high school graduation rates or undergraduate degrees granted, then women attain both in significantly higher levels than men, which could be accounted for purely by the greater dispersion of IQ among men and the minimal intelligence needed to receive a HS or UG diploma. Professional and PhD degrees, where higher IQ is typically required, are pretty even.

            Of course girls/women cognitively mature faster than boys/men, are typically higher in conscientiousness and agreeableness, and most/many elementary to high school teachers are Leftist feminists, and hence curriculum and teachers frequently give preference/advantage to girls versus those fidgety toxic boys through high school. Female preferences for non-physical labor/indoor jobs also means they are more likely than boys to take the college route rather than vocational route after high school. Despite their lesser numbers overall, men still dominate the high IQ majors in college, while women dominate the low IQ majors, thus simply counting degrees doesn’t provide a full picture of the relative cognitive strength. In that sense, blacks perform much like women, in that they tend to not choose or drop out of high IQ majors and instead major is softer/easier topics in college where it is virtually impossible to fail. The link below provides a nice chart.


          • Not quite says


            Men and women have a different distribution of IQs when plotted on a bell curve graph: the IQ scores of women tend to cluster around the average (with less distribution in upper and lower ranges), while male IQs tend to be distributed less around the average and more in the upper and lower ranges as compared with the IQ distribution of women.

            There may well be a small difference between the average IQ of men as compared with that of women. Men appear to have a slightly higher average IQ, with about a 3–5 point advantage over women. However, by examining the sub-tests of IQ tests – in terms of sub-tests and specific cognitive abilities – men and women also differ. Women tend, on average, to be better at verbal abilities and language, but men tend on average to outperform women on numerical/mathematical and spatial cognitive abilities.

            The average IQs of different human population groups who have been subject to divergent evolution in different regions as measured by modern psychometrics is different. You can see the data as organized by region and by nation here:

            It just may very well be that these differences in average IQ between populations have an evolutionary, genetic and environmental explanation, not just a purely environmental one (the blank slate view of human nature).

      • asdf says

        What changed is that NYC got more Asian, and the successful gentrification of NYC from 1975 till today meant more academically competitive families were willing to raise their kids in the city.

      • IQ is highly genetic, Jay. By the time one is in High School, about 50% of the variation is due to heritability. It increases to about 75% by one’s mid-20s. These are just facts. Denial is a river

    • David of Kirkland says

      How hard you work shouldn’t matter to some. Hard workers are just privileged in their minds.

      • E. Olson says

        David – research is increasingly suggesting that personality is largely genetic. The conscientiousness personality trait is highly linked to work ethic. So in a sense, hard workers are genetically privileged.

    • markbul says

      Youve looked at different intelligence science than I have. Jews ALWAYS finish above East Asians in every list I’ve ever seen. And they’re further above Asians than Asians are above White non-Jews. Let’s have a little love for our Hebrew boothers and sisters.

      • D.B. Cooper says


        Jews ALWAYS finish above East Asians in every list I’ve ever seen. And they’re further above Asians than Asians are above White non-Jews.

        Yes, all the data I’ve seen bears this out; although it’s probably worth mentioning this only seems to apply to Ashkenazi Jews. Other populations of the Jewish diaspora (Sephardi & Mizrahi) don’t seem to enjoy a similarly high average intelligence (approx. 112-115). At least this is my understanding of most, if not all, of the research I’ve encountered on the subject.

        While I personally think it’s absolutely legitimate to treat these groups (non-Jewish Whites & European Jews) as two distinct cohorts, it is my understanding that as a matter of standard practice, institutions such Harvard, will instead combine these two groups under a single category of WHITE, when reporting the racial/ethnic makeup of their student body.

        Undoubtedly, this is done for the most innocuous reasons imaginable, such as ease of reference; although a more cynical person than I might suggest that disaggregating these groups would reveal the “actual” percentage of non-Jewish whites attending elite schools. Of course, this is speculation, but if it is the case that European Jews have an exceptionally high average intelligence (112-115) relative to non-Jewish Whites (100), and the data certainly suggests as much; then you would expect European Jews to be overrepresented when aggregated in a single cohort with non-Jewish whites for reporting purposes.

        What does that mean?

        Well, it could mean that at universities like Harvard, non-Jewish Whites are statistically the most underrepresented group relative to their percentage in the general population. What are the chances that non-Jewish Whites makeup even 50% of the total student body at schools like Harvard? What about 40%? Hell, what 30%?

        Of course, in absence of a credible source this is mere speculation, but if this is the case, it doesn’t feel very innocuous to me.

        • asdf says

          Harvard White is 50%, with Unz speculating that half of those were Jewish, which would make whites only 25% of Harvard. Some people disputed Unz’s numbers, but even they would come up with something like 15-20% Jewish, which means that whites are only 30-35% are Harvard. Far lower than their population.

          It’s also why Harvard doesn’t have “room” for another 20% Asians. You can’t bring the white percentage much lower, so a good chunk would have to come out of Jews or NAMs.

          Stuyvesants Jew numbers have more to do with Jews getting richer of the last generation and thus being able to afford elite Manhattan private schools.

    • Edward says

      Indeed. Jason Richwine, in 2009, estimated that Indian-Americans have an average IQ of ~110. Northeast Asian-Americans have an average IQ of 106. Southeast Asian-Americans have an average IQ of 104.

      Immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa had average IQs of 89. Immigrants from Central and South America had average IQs of around 85.

      • @Edward

        Those average IQ numbers for Indian-Americans and sub-Saharan Africans who emigrate to the US are not representative of the average IQs of their native countries. There’s a lot of self-selection going on with both of those groups, and we’re lucky to get mostly the cream of the crop from India and Africa.

        This, unfortunately, is not the case with Central Americans.

    • Eve says

      I would be interested if anyone has statistics on the cut off grades for entry by year? I’m pretty sure the cut off was not 560 in 1977 when I got in? Perhaps that’s why there were more blacks then?

  2. limpia says

    I agree that the higher functioning kids in minority schools and in other schools are ill served by there being no more honors classes. Grouping kids with no thought to their skill levels due to progressive thought is a problem not only in high school, however. For the same reasons, there has been the elimination of what has negatively come to been called ‘tracking’ in the lower grades. As a retired professional in the city schools, I found that when teachers need to teach on many different levels the job of truly teaching the concepts and skills to all groups becomes more unlikely. Often, the lower functioning kids are pushed to the next grade without a real foundation, and it gets worse as they get older. In a class where more time could be given to teaching the same needed skills, would make these students more comfortable, less stressed and more likely to see success.

  3. Gringo says

    A Brookings Institution analysis of race gaps on the SAT found that only 2,200 black students nationwide scored above a 700 on the SAT’s math section, the 97th percentile overall.

    The Brookings article on the math SAT put it somewhat differently:

    We estimate that in the entire country last year at most 2,200 black and 4,900 Latino test-takers scored above a 700. In comparison, roughly 48,000 whites and 52,800 Asians scored that high. The same absolute disparity persists among the highest scorers: 16,000 whites and 29,570 Asians scored above a 750, compared to only at most 1,000 blacks and 2,400 Latinos.

    The Brookings article goes on to state the Brookings estimates are consistent with a paper in the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education.

    (These estimates—which rely on conservative assumptions that maximize the number of high-scoring black students, are consistent with an older estimate from a 2005 paper in the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, which found that only 244 black students scored above a 750 on the math section of the SAT.)

    But when one reads the article, the numbers do not match.The Widening Racial Scoring Gap on the SAT College Admissions Test:

    Let’s be more specific about the SAT racial gap among high-scoring applicants. In 2005, 153,132 African Americans took the SAT test. They made up 10.4 percent of all SAT test takers. But only 1,132 African-American college-bound students scored 700 or above on the math SAT and only 1,205 scored at least 700 on the verbal SAT. Nationally, more than 100,000 students of all races scored 700 or above on the math SAT and 78,025 students scored 700 or above on the verbal SAT. Thus, in this top-scoring category of all SAT test takers, blacks made up only 1.1 percent of the students scoring 700 or higher on the math test and only 1.5 percent of the students scoring 700 or higher on the verbal SAT. …

    If we raise the top-scoring threshold to students scoring 750 or above on both the math and verbal SAT — a level equal to the mean score of students entering the nation’s most selective colleges such as Harvard, Princeton, and CalTech — we find that in the entire country 244 blacks scored 750 or above on the math SAT and 363 black students scored 750 or above on the verbal portion of the test. Nationwide, 33,841 students scored at least 750 on the math test and 30,479 scored at least 750 on the verbal SAT. Therefore, black students made up 0.7 percent of the test takers who scored 750 or above on the math test and 1.2 percent of all test takers who scored 750 or above on the verbal section.

    The Brookings Insitution article states that its estimates “are consistent with” the JCBE article, which found 1,132 black students scoring 700 or above on the Math SAT, compared with the Brookings article that “at most” 2,200 Blacks scored 700 or above on the Math SAT in 2005.

    Something doesn’t add up.

    • E. Olson says

      Gringo – I suspect the disparities are due to the fact that it seems they aren’t just counting high test score students, but are instead “estimating” using “conservative assumptions”, which likely means they are inflating the number of “potential” high test score blacks and Hispanics to offset the lingering effects of slavery, Jim Crow, and racial stereotype test anxiety, etc. Different “conservative” assumptions will no doubt give different estimates, which are likely to be higher than the actual number achieving high test scores.

  4. Gringo says

    Speaking of blacks and the elite NYC public high schools, I am reminded of a conversation I had with my dorm roommate my freshman year, He was a graduate of The Bronx High School of Science. He told me that black activist Stokely Carmichael was a graduate of The Bronx High School of Science,. Wikipedia confirmed this, though it also pointed out he had changed his name to Kwame Ture. Angele Davis attended high school in NYC several years later, but she was a graduate of the Little Red School House, where she became a Commie.

  5. S.Cheung says

    The numbers have obviously been parsed extensively. So as equality of outcomes go, I’m surprised the gender aspect has not yet been invoked.

    • E. Olson says

      SC – the fact that gender hasn’t become an issue can only mean that girls comprise 50+% of the elite school spots.

      • S. Cheung says

        E. Olson-
        that’s the solution then. If the penchant for equality of outcome wrt race somehow prejudices against the enrollment of girls in schools that might set them up for enhanced success later in life in STEM fields, then that would be a good way to pit 2 “outcome” tribes against each other and hopefully cancel each other out.

  6. Chad Chen says

    As usual, statistics provided with this article are used to make sweeping generalizations about “blacks,” as if all blacks have the same scores, and “Asians,” as if all Asians are the same.

    No mention of the fact that policymakers are attempting to address a steep decline in black enrollment at Stuyvesant, from 303 students in 1975 to 212 in 1980, to 147 in 1990, to 109 in 2000,
    to 66 in 2005 to 23 this year.

    • Jay Salhi says

      I don’t follow.

      The article expressly states: ” Stuyvesant had over 300 black students in 1975, and it currently has 24. Its admissions policy has remained the same. The city’s public elementary and middle schools—which are supposed to be preparing black students to compete—have changed.”

      The author argues (persuasively) that the policymakers are attempting to address the steep decline in black enrollment at Stuy in the wrong manner by doubling down on the failed policies that caused the decline in the first place. Rather than admit what they got wrong and change course, the policymakers want to water down merit based admissions. This will increase the numbers at the expense of the quality of education offered by the elite schools.

      The elite schools are not elite because they have more money or better facilities. They are elite because they have brilliant, hard working students. Take that away and they cease to be elite.

        • asdf says

          The Jews got rich enough to send their kids to elite private schools.

          Public Magnet schools are for 1st/2nd generation immigrants whose incomes don’t match their IQ just yet.

  7. Cornfed says

    I have always felt that “smarts”, broadly speaking, is a cultural thing. Whatever a culture defines as most prestigious, that’s what its youth will devote heart and soul to. Perhaps nothing makes an Asian parent prouder than their child being accepted to a prestigious college. That, therefore, is what Asian kids will strive for, and what they are pressured to do. By contrast, kids in the black community most look up to musicians and athletes. I’m old and I recall that this was an issue in the 60s and 70s. I can’t see that this has changed much. From toddler age on, kids understand what the “community” admires most and devote their energy, time and egos to it. To break this cycle is to defy the culture, which in fact is the very identity of most of us. It’s no easy thing. Sadly, the current PC cultural relativism vociferously opposes any criticism of any culture (Except western white culture, of course), and that plays out in schools. so sad that gifted minority students are not challenged and encouraged, all in the name of equality.

    • E. Olson says

      Cornfed – I think your observation is accurate, but the reason for this cultural difference is rarely considered. If you are a black kid with an IQ of 115 (2 standard deviations above the black IQ median of 85), you are in the top 2.5% of smartest black kids. In contrast, a top 2.5% white kid IQ would be 130, Asian kid about 135, and Jewish kid about 140 (assuming a 15 point std. deviation in all cases for simplicity). In other words, this smart black kid is going to be the dumbest kid in his “gifted” classroom.

      Now imagine black parents surveying the situation. Even the smartest black kids are getting killed in school by even smarter white, Jewish, and Asian kids, but a relatively large number of black kids are smoking all the other kids in sports that require speed and strength. 100m dash = all black, long-jump = all black, NBA = 80% black, NFL = 75% black. A relatively large number of blacks also seem to be talented and make it big in the music and entertainment fields (e.g. Scott Joplin, Duke Ellington, Chuck Berry, Sammy Davis Jr, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Snoop Dog, Jay Z, Beyonce, Dick Gregory, Flip Wilson, Bill Cosby, Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, etc.).

      So what should black culture encourage their kids to pursue: academics where even their smartest kids will struggle to compete and might perhaps become a teacher, professor, government worker, sales professional, or manager making $50 to $150K per year, or a sports or entertainment star where they have a competitive advantage and can make millions per year? Of course the problem is only a tiny portion of people become famous household names in sports or entertainment, which means that 99+% of black kids will end up “failing”, and thus achieving an even poorer result than if they had pursued the academic path, because the world needs a lot more teachers, salesmen, and managers than sub-10 second 100 meter dash champions or rap stars.

      • David of Kirkland says

        E.Olson – Then they are making a bad choice. You don’t have to be the top scoring test taker to succeed in life. And hoping to become a star is fine if your kid has the skills, physical and emotional capacity, dedication to hard work and improvement. But most will not be stars, yet go on and do fine or even great things. Einstein wasn’t top of his class.

        • E. Olson says

          David – low IQ people make lots of bad choices, including buying a disproportionate share of lottery tickets, which offer even worse odds than a 6 footer becoming an NBA center.

    • Shamrock says

      “I have always felt that “smarts”, broadly speaking, is a cultural thing.”

      This would only make sense if all blacks the world over share the same culture. Because if blacks in different countries value different smarts, why has no black country developed an advanced society on a par with western or east Asian countries?

  8. Chad Chen says

    The relentless focus on SAT scores, and the bragging rights associated with which racial group produces the greatest number of highest scoring students, obscures the fact that most of these “brilliant” students will fade into obscurity once they graduate from the classroom.

    They will not be leaders of their professions, they will not create new knowledge of lasting value to posterity, they will invent nothing. The fetishization of SAT scores, IQ and other markers of “intelligence” is nearly worthless. There is no close correspondence between IQ, SAT scores and professional or career success.

    High IQ China was a country of grinding poverty until Russians, Germans and Americsns gifted the population with detailed blueprints for modern machinery. China could not replicate the Industrial Revolution on its own.So much for IQ.

    • Jay Salhi says

      “most of these “brilliant” students will fade into obscurity once they graduate from the classroom.”

      Yes, most of them will become engineers, computer scientists, accountants, doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc. You don’t need to win a Nobel prize to have a decent life.

    • Tally says

      Well, just google a list of their alumni.
      You’ll get back a pretty impressive list.

    • E. Olson says

      Chad Chen, please supply us with a list of all the low IQ/low SAT people who have become leaders of their cognitively oriented profession, created new knowledge of lasting value, and invented important life changing technologies. The modern world and the things we value, enjoy, and depend on for our high quality of life are entirely the product of the minds of the cognitive top 10%, with a disproportionate amount of that from the top 1%.

      • Chad Chen says

        You have no idea whether the “cognitive top 10%” are responsible for creating most modern technologies bexause that information is not publicly available. You are guessing.

        We do know, for example, that in law (a cognitively oriented profession that makes celebrities of its leaders), relatively undistinguished students like Earl Warren and Sandra Day OConnor have been far more consequential than the most brilliant Harvard Law graduates and widely cited legal scholars (e.g., Richard Posner, John Roberts). Ditto in the military, where the top battlefield commanders (Patton, Bradley) and logistics experts (Eisenhower) were relatively poor students. Even in physics, the Nobel Prize winners often have lower IQs than the physicists who do not win the prize.

        • E. Olson says

          CC – Sandra Day OConner was consequential for what beside the first woman on the SC? Patton, Bradley, and Eisenhower were very smart, Patton struggled in school because of undiagnosed dyslexia, while Eisenhower’s IQ is typically estimated to be around 130 (see second link). Nobel prize winners have lower IQ than non-winners – like they only have 135 instead of 160?` Still pretty darn smart. Check out the first link for some estimates of the IQs of the 300 famous thinkers/contributors in history.

          • Gringo says

            I find the “Most Intelligent Presidents” link to be, shall we say, debatable. JFK @ #3 w 150.7 IQ? “Avid scholar” whose greatest intellectual accomplishment- Profiles in Courage- was written by Ted Sorenson? Though I would agree that Bill Clinton @ #4 is pretty bright. Anyone who could successfully cram for his law school exams, as he was reputed to do, is pretty bright.

          • E. Olson says

            Gringo – I agree, but again historians and psychologists are among the most Leftist academic fields, and they do the rankings and tend to put the Democrats on the high side. The key thing to take from such estimates is that even the dumbest US presidents have been pretty darn smart.

          • Gringo says

            E. Olson, I would also agree with the article’s overall message that most US Presidents have been pretty bright. For example, George HW Bush was successful in a wide variety of endeavors- pilot to oil field entrepreneur to politics to the wide variety of government jobs he held. And its placing Jefferson and John Adams at #1 and #2- while one might argue which one was the brightest, there is no doubt that both were pretty damned bright.

            I suspect that RFK was brighter- I would say much brighter- than big brother JFK, judging on how well RFK improvised a speech in reaction to the assassination of Martin Luther King.

            George Marshall promoted Eisenhower quickly because he judged ability. Eisenhower’s ability to hold together the Allied coalition in WW2- De Gaulle for one made that problematic- indicated Ike had very good political abilities. Then there is the anecdote of Ike’s press secretary James Hagerty asking Ike how he would handle a controversial subject. Ike’s reply: “Don’t worry Jim, if that question comes up, I’ll just confuse them.” Which he did. Ike didn’t mind being labeled dumb , if playing dumb got him what he wanted.

          • Jay Salhi says

            CC is wrong about Sandra Day O’Connor. She was Order of the Coif (top 10%) at Stanford Law School and made Stanford Law Review. One of her classmates, who shared the same honors, was William Rehnquist. According to unofficial records kept by students (Stanford did not officially recognize class rank), Rehnquist was first in the class and O’Conner was third.

      • gringo says

        @ E.Olson:

        Chad Chen, please supply us with a list of all the low IQ/low SAT people who have become leaders of their cognitively oriented profession…

        I’m not sure if US Senator and Poly Sci Prof would fit your criteria, but here is one such example. Senator Paul Wellstone who was killed a plane crash. Before becoming a Senator, he got a Ph.D. in Political Science and taught at Carlton College -a..k.a. the almost alma mater of Monkee Peter Tork.

        Time: School Testing: No SAT Scores Require.d

        A certain Paul Wellstone of Arlington, Va., scored lower than 800, out of a possible 1,600, on his SAT test. But the University of North Carolina accepted him anyway, and he went on to graduate Phi Beta Kappa. Now he’s a fiery U.S. Senator fighting against the high stakes that attach to standardized tests. “Some students,” he says, “just think and learn in a different way.”

        Most would conclude he achieved above what his SATs would have predicted.

    • peterschaeffer says

      CC, You loose. Bronx High School of Science has produced 8 Nobel prize winners so far. This is the largest number for any high school in the entire world.

    • peterschaeffer says


      “High IQ China was a country of grinding poverty until Russians, Germans and Americans gifted the population with detailed blueprints for modern machinery.”

      Wow is that far off. Starting around 1980, China abandoned real communism and adopted (de facto) capitalism. Western (plus Japan) technology has been available to all countries for a long time. Only some countries have been able to use that technology to build highly advanced nations.

      At this point, all of the “Chinas” (Singapore, Macau, Hong Kong, Taiwan, the PRC) are all highly advanced and prosperous (the PRC is getting there) nations. By contrast, Brazil is not.

      For a nation to be successful, it needs an incentive oriented economic system (as in capitalism, not socialism) and education oriented people. China ranks very high on both counts.

      • Chad Chen says

        My main point remains that the boasting about high SAT and IQ scores at Stuyvesant, and linking these to a hierarchy of races is misguided.

        Note also, that for at least the last three hundred years, Brazilians have enjoyed higher incomes per person than Mainland China.

        The current GDP per capita figures are Brazil roughly $10,800, China $7,500. The Brazilian advantage used to be greater until recently.

        Singapore, China, etc are not capitalist societies in any meaningful sense of the word, since all land and most housing are owned by the state, and the government owns or controls most business enterprises, directly or indirectly.

        • Peter Schaeffer says

          CC, Wow. Just wow. The 2017 per-capita GDP of China was $16,700. Brazil was $15,600. The Heritage foundation publishes an economic freedom index. Singapore gets a 89.4 (number 2 in the world). Brazil gets a 51.9. The USA gets a 76.8. China (the PRC) gets a 58.4. According to Heritage, Hong Kong and Singapore have the highest levels of economic freedom in the world.

          • Chad Chen says

            Your freedom index for Singapore is nonsense.

            I just told you the government of Singapore owns nearly all the land, nearly all the housing, and either directly — through state owned enterprises– or indirectly — through its sovereign fund — controls most economic enterprises. That is not free enterprise capitalism. It is more like Stalinist state capitalism.

          • peterschaeffer says

            CC, From “Economy of Singapore” in Wikipedia. Quote

            “The economy of Singapore is a highly developed free-market economy. Singapore’s economy has been ranked as the most open in the world, 7th least corrupt, most pro-business, with low tax rates (14.2% of Gross Domestic Product, GDP) and has the third highest per-capita GDP in the world in terms of Purchasing Power Parity (PPP). APEC is headquartered in Singapore.”

            Is Singapore perfectly capitalistic? No. Is it more capitalistic than virtually every other country in the world? Yes. A useful (and important) note is that Singapore appears to have the most capitalistic health care system in the world.

    • peterschaeffer says

      CC, Around 1952, Anne Roe studied 64 extremely prominent scientists. They averaged a verbal IQ of 166 and a math IQ of 154.

    • Asenath Waite says

      @Chad Chen

      “There is no close correspondence between IQ, SAT scores and professional or career success.”

      Actually there is a close correlation between IQ and SAT performance, and I believe IQ has been demonstrated to be the strongest single predictor of life success, with conscientiousness being second.

      • Chad Chen says

        There is no careful or reliable study demonstrating any close relationship between SAT or IQ scores on the one hand, and technoligy creation, leadership of the key professional and scientific bodies, etc, on the other.

        Stop making things up. If you know of such studies, name them. The 87 lb weakling from Asia with a very high IQ usually disappears into obscurity after graduation and is never heard from again.

        • E. Olson says

          CC – I believe technology guys like Bell, Edison, Marconi, Watson, Hewlett, Packard, Moore, Grove, Gates, Jobs, Bezos, Page, Brin, Thiel, and Musk were likely to have very high IQ scores. Please list some similar “big name” figures in history or from today who you believe had middling or low IQ scores.

          • Chad Chen says

            You have no idea what the IQ scores of any of these people are. You are making stuff up. Many of these people are college dropouts who never proved themselves in the classroom.

            Did you know Charles Darwin, arguably the greatest scientist in Western civilization, had to take an easy degree at the University of Cambridge because he couldn’t do the mathematics required to pass the so-called Tripos? Look it up.

            There is no linear relationship between IQ scores and career success.

          • You missed Nicola Tesla, who invented radio. Patents granted to Marconi were, uhm, political.

        • Asenath Waite says

          @Chad Chen

          Here is one study from 1999 showing strongly positive correlations between general cognitive ability and occupational status (0.51) and extrinsic career success (0.53). See Table 2, page 637 of the attached pdf if you want to verify this. Abstract:

          The big five personality traits, general mental ability, and career success across the life span

          Timothy A Judge, Chad A Higgins, Carl J Thoresen, Murray R Barrick. Personnel Psychology; Durham Vol. 52, Iss. 3, (Autumn 1999): 621-652.


          This study investigates the relationship of traits from the 5-factor model of personality (the Big 5) and general mental ability with career success. Career success was argued to be comprised of intrinsic success (job satisfaction) and extrinsic success (income and occupational status) dimensions. The most general findings were that conscientiousness positively predicted intrinsic and extrinsic career success, neuroticism negatively predicted extrinsic success, and general mental ability positively predicted extrinsic career success. Personality was related to career success controlling for general mental ability and, though adulthood measures of the Big 5 traits were more strongly related to career success than were childhood measures, both contributed unique variance in explaining career success.

          PDF link:

          And here is a link to a review article which provides examples of many more studies with similar findings. It demonstrates an even greater correlation between IQ and success than between parental socioeconomic status and success:

          • Asenath Waite says

            @Chad Chen

            An excerpt from the review article I linked above:

            “…childhood socioeconomic indicators, such as father’s occupational status and mother’s education, are related to outcomes, such as grades, educational attainment, and eventual occupational attainment, even after controlling for the remaining variables in the Wisconsin model. The average beta weight of SES and education was 0.09. Parental income had a stronger effect, with an average beta weight of 0.14 across these three studies. Cognitive abilities were even more powerful predictors of occupational attainment, with an average beta weight of 0.27.”

            So these studies suggest that being intelligent is an even better predictor of positive life outcomes in adulthood than coming from a wealthy family.

          • Chad Chen says

            I have not read your study, but a correlation coefficient of 0.51 between cognitive ability and occupational status means that cognitive ability explains about 25% of the variation in occupational status. That is NOT a strong correlation.

            You woukd expect some correlation anyway because high cognitive ability can get you the connections and the credentials to get a good job, even if you are a total muck up.

        • Peter Schaeffer says

          CC, The relationship between IQ and professional success has actually been studied to death. Type ‘correlation IQ professional success’ for a vast assortment of studies of this kind. See ‘Intelligence and socioeconomic success: A meta-analytic
          review of longitudinal research’ for a meta-study.

          • Peter from Oz says

            Peter S

            I agree with the main thrust of CC’s argument, which you have just given support even if you meant to refute it.
            If high IQ people succeed, they will do so no matter what school they attend.

          • Asenath Waite says

            @Chad Chen

            “I have not read your study, but a correlation coefficient of 0.51 between cognitive ability and occupational status means that cognitive ability explains about 25% of the variation in occupational status. That is NOT a strong correlation.”

            Well, it is though. Very strong, in fact. No other single characteristic shows a stronger correlation, including the wealth of one’s family. Not sure what else to say here. Maybe read the study?

      • Peter Schaeffer says

        AW, According to what I have read conscientiousness outranks IQ in importance. However, conscientiousness is very hard to measure. By contrast, IQ is easy to measure.

        • Asenath Waite says

          @Peter Schaeffer

          Not according to the study I linked (general mental ability 0.53 correlation with extrinsic career success as compared with only 0.41 for conscientiousness) but there may be other studies that show different results.

          • Asenath Waite says

            @Peter from Oz

            “I agree with the main thrust of CC’s argument, which you have just given support even if you meant to refute it.
            If high IQ people succeed, they will do so no matter what school they attend..”

            This was the main thrust of Chad Chen’s argument? He was arguing that IQ is irrelevant to success.

          • Chad Chen says

            The scholarly article I was referred to does not address the question of whether there is a strong relationship between high IQ and technology creation or leadership in the key professions.

            It only discusses statistical correlations berween general mental ability (“intelligence”) and career success. It estimates the following correlation coefficients between measures of mental ability on the one hand and (mostly self-reported) income (0.20), and (mostly self-reported) occupational status (0.43).

            It also cites another study claiming a correlation of 0.51 between intelligence and job performance, although I have no idea how you accurately measure job perfirmance for a study like that.

            Not impressive. Most of the variation in income, occupational status and job performance is NOT explained by variations in mental ability.

          • Asenath Waite says

            @Chad Chen

            OK, well. Read the review article I linked or search pubmed for other articles relating to the correlation between intelligence and career success. If decades of scientific evidence supporting a strong link between IQ and achievement in life isn’t convincing to you then I doubt anything else I have to say will be. Salutations and kind greetings to you and yours.

          • peterschaeffer says

            AW, I have thought about this a bit and I think this question (what is more important intelligence vs. conscientiousness) has no answer. Basically, we could only answer this question (about what is more important) if we had some mechanism for comparing the “same” amount of intelligence vs. conscientiousness. However, intelligence and conscientiousness can’t be measured in the same way (or at least I don’t think they can).

            To use an analogy, say we are measuring electrical resistance. We can measure the resistance of two otherwise identical rods, one made of copper and the other made of lead. In this case, the comparison is easy and precise.

            To be more specific, I think you would agree that huge difference in IQ is more important than a tiny difference in conscientiousness. The reverse is also true. A huge difference in conscientiousness is probably more important than a tiny difference in IQ.

            So at the extremes, the comparison is easy. However, what if the “amounts” are more equal? How do we know that we are really comparing the same amount of each variable?

            One possible approach might be to compare one SD (Standard Deviation) difference in intelligence vs. conscientiousness. That’s not a crazy idea. However, does one SD in each domain represent the same thing?

            Actually, the most interesting point (to me at least) is that conscientiousness used to be considered to be a virtue (even a moral virtue). Of course, conscientiousness is still correlated with success. However, contemporary culture regards conscientiousness as wicked/sinful/evil/etc. That may be the most important point of all.

  9. Andrew Worth says

    Anyone know of a breakdown of the black students getting into Stuyvesant by origin? Going on the data that I’ve seen on African American vs Caribbean vs African academic success, I’d expect those black students getting into Stuyvesant to be overwhelmingly not African American.

    • Jay Salhi says

      Given that there are only 7 such students, how meaningful would the data be?

      • Anonymous says

        Those seven do NOT include the affirmative action students – so the real number is more – but they don’t seem to want to provide an actual figure.

      • Andrew Worth says

        Jay Salhi, maybe the intake over the last decade?

  10. E. Olson says

    “In a finding that should not surprise anyone, researchers have determined that high-performing black and Latino students do better when they are tracked into honors classes that aren’t full of clowns and habitual truants.”

    Translation: high-performing black and Latino students do better when put in classes full of smart/disciplined white and Asian students.

    • Jay Salhi says

      @ E. Olson

      The author does not go into detail in this article. But I’ve seen a previous article where he explained it. His argument is that predominantly black primary schools in New York used to put the better students in honors classes away from the trouble makers. A lot of those schools did away with that system such that gifted black kids got stuck in the same class with kids who had no interest in learning, with predictable results. Primary schools that were predominantly Asian or Jewish on the other hand, tended to maintain the practice of honors classes for the gifted.

      • E. Olson says

        Jay – I understand and agree that this was a mistake, but the reason they did it was because there were too few blacks in the “honors” classes (i.e. “racism”), and probably also a mistaken notion that taking smart black kids and putting them into “regular” classrooms would somehow provide a role model for the less bright black kids to emulate. It is always easier to dismantle gifted classes/schools than it is to increase the number of gifted students to fill them, especially when the academic gifts are not equally distributed among different ethnic/racial groups.

        The entire problem is one of mistaken (PC) attributions. “Good” schools are invariably good because they enroll good students, not because they are magically able to transform stupid/lazy students into smart/energetic students. On the other hand, “bad” schools are bad because they invariably have mostly bad students, and these bad students also have the “magical” ability to hamper the educational achievement of good students unlucky enough to be assigned to “bad” schools. School choice helps because good students usually have good parents, who will attempt to put their kids into good schools if they have the financial means and/or ability to choose schools.

  11. Anonymous says

    1) First of all – it is slightly annoying that the author talks almost exclusively about Stuyvesant as if Bronx Science were chopped liver.

    Bronx Science tops planet earth in Nobel Laureates with seven physics and one chem winners. Stuy comes in fifth behind James Madison High School in Brooklyn.

    As a Bronx Science graduate, I scored high enough to get into either school with lots of points to spare and I chose Bronx.

    2) Second, the author makes mostly good points. Of course, to be PC he has to explain why so few blacks are passing the test.

    He is obviously correct to observe the bad conditions that most black ( and Hispanic ) kids have to deal
    with – namely troublemakers who disrupt the classrooms and make learning difficult. The lack of discipline is a huge and serious problem which comes from the very top of the DOE, and the politicians.

    That said – even solving the problem of classroom discipline wouldn’t be sufficient to create statistical equality – to understand why- you would have to read “The Bell Curve”.

    • peterschaeffer says

      Anonymous, you are entirely correct. Bronx Science was the best high school in NYC (and perhaps the USA and perhaps the world) for many decades. Bronx Science has produced more Nobel prize winners than any other high school in the world.

      For some reason Stuyvesant has become more prominent than Bronx Science in recent decades. I don’t know why (I don’t live in or near NYC). I have heard a rumor that a Stuyvesant graduate donated $300-400 million to build a new campus for Stuyvesant. Perhaps that is true and the reason Stuyvesant has become more notable of late.

      However, historically it was absolutely Bronx Science (with Stuyvesant not even being mentioned). See “The Birth of a New Institution” in the Yale alumni magazine. The article is about Yale’s efforts to keep highly talented NYC kids out and the ultimate end of that policy (ended by Kingman Brewster). Bronx Science is mentioned repeatedly in the article. Stuyvesant doesn’t even show up.

      • a bee ee? says

        Bronx Science alum here. Stuyvesant has become more prominent than Bronx Science entirely due to its location. Back when I went to Science (in the mid 60s), it drew most of its students from the Bronx, and indeed many of us even lived close enough to walk to school. The Bronx Jewish population from which it drew is nearly non-existent today (especially among those of high school age), and the borough is almost entirely non-white minority, and as we’ve seen, they aren’t contributing students to the school.

        Back then a number of my intrepid classmates braved lengthy commutes from the furthest reaches of Queens and Brooklyn, and a few gamed the system, coming in from Westchester and using their grandparents’ Bronx addresses. Today the Bronx provides far fewer Science students, and Queens far more. In fact, there are dedicated buses (at $2K per year) bringing students from Queens over to the school.

        Given all that, it stands to reason that a place in Stuyvesant, with its location accessible to far more students, would be sought after much more than one at Bronx Science.

  12. Rev. Wazoo! says

    The efficacy of grouping students by their ability to participate in a particular level of a class in any one discipline becomes so blindingly obvious in foreign language studies that it can’t be ignored or suppressed for ideological reasons. Put beginners studying German – or English as a second language – with those who can already read a newspaper in the target language and the problems are immediately evident.

    The same is true in math or English As A First Language; either the beginners are over their heads, bored and learn little or the advanced ones are unchallenged, bored and learn little. Typically, in the compromise of teaching to an ‘average’ level, both occur to the detriment of both groups so instead we use ‘tracking;’ grouping students with similar levels of competence.

    Conflating competence with talent is at the heart of the problem this article addresses.

  13. Joseph Ducreux says

    There is free test prep for those who are so inclined:

    The reason that Asian children do well is that statistically they are more likely to come from two-parent families. 65% of black children are in single parent (most likely the mother) while 16% of Asian children are in single parent (most likely the mother) homes.,870,573,869,36,868,867,133,38,35/10,11,9,12,1,185,13/432,431

    Also, culturally, Asians promote education in their children while in the black community, doing well in school and speaking properly can be seen as “acting white” and result in social ostracizing.

  14. Asenath Waite says

    So if someone of any race has graduation from Stuyvesant on his/her resume, a potential employer will know that that actually means something concrete about the person’s academic prowess. Obviously something must be done to stop this.

    • E. Olson says

      AW – Don’t worry, the mayor is working on it.

  15. asdf says

    Obviously, tracking should come back, and it benefits kids of all races.

    Beyond that, blaming elementary/middle schools for Stuyvesant’s demographic just makes it somebody else’s problem and encourages a different kind of dumb solution.

    What are these elementary/middle school supposed to do about low black IQ? Will blaming them for something they can’t control succeed in any way? What dumbass educational reform that will close the gap (there seems to be a new counterproductive piece of nonsense every 5-10 years) will we foist on these schools in lieu of gutting Stuyvesant.

  16. Farris says

    Herein lies one of the problems with SJWs and their obsession with fairness. Fairness is simply too vague. Is fairness based upon the results or the process. Which is more fair a test for which everyone is free to study and the top performers reap the best rewards or a result that matches a predetermined representative notion of fairness?
    Equal access infers a level playing field for all but not necessarily an equal result. The solution is not to guarantee a result but rather to find ways to assist capable persons of meeting the standard.
    I would be curious to know how many of the black students who achieved admission were of Nigerian descent. In my region children of native born Nigerians are consistently among the top performing students.

  17. Andrew Worth says

    As far as I know there has never been an experiment performed that tests how much the development of intelligence as measured by IQ is influenced by Charles Cooley’s Looking-glass self. There is certainly evidence that other arbitrary labels we attach to people: given names, star signs, do influence how people label others, how people see themselves and the development of their personalities.
    Does living in a black skin vs a white skin alter how wider society sees someone, and more importantly how people see themselves? Would this self perception alter the life choices and a persons self belief, leading to white skinned people on average having more confidence in their own innate academic ability, black skinned people having less confidence in their innate academic ability, but more confidence in their own athletic abilities? Creating self-fulfilling prophesies?

  18. markbul says

    Linda Gottfredson did some great work knocking down an effort to implement a new police exam that was created by a committee to make it discrimination-free. In order to get the ‘correct’ results, the new test would have set the literacy level to pass the test at the second percentile. That is, only 2% of people would have failed the test. Essentially, in order to get black cops, they deliberately eliminated ALL intelligence requirements from the test, and ended up with something like ‘do you like pudding?’

      • Asenath Waite says

        @E. Olson

        Congratulations, Olson. You just made lieutenant.

        • E. Olson says

          Thanks AS, but when do I get my pudding?

  19. Colonel of Truth says

    It’s certainly possible – but seems for more complex, and unnecessary, than a simple genetic answer. If the self-perception theory were correct, why would Africa as a continent have produced, throughout history, so few contributions to civilization (including written language, numerical systems etc). Were they always so plagued with self-doubt?

    • Andrew Worth says

      If you look at the geography of places that have produced the great civilizations of the past you see cradles of civilization, with the emphasis on “cradles”, each society that developed into a great civilization was to some degree isolated, protected, from the peoples around it by geography, this semi-isolation both protected the increasingly wealthy developing civilization from plunder and served to create national identities, if you look at Europe, East Asia, Japan, South Asia the geography is broken up by mountains and sea, if you look at the Americas the Aztec and Inca civilizations were also protected from their neighbors by terrain.
      If you then go and look at languages where civilization developed you get large geographical blocks with people speaking the same language, helping to build large blocks with a common identity. But when you look at Africa there are no inland seas, there are no mountain ranges to speak of, in Africa languages flow from one to the next across the continent, the only part of Africa that was geographically semi-isolated from neighbors was north Africa with the Mediterranean to the north and the Sahara to the south. In Africa even small countries are ethnically diverse, with a huge number of small tribes each occupying a small area.
      It takes a large group of people sharing a common identity living without a continual threat from neighbors – stability – to build a civilization.

  20. sestamibi says

    Daniel Friedman reaches the same conclusion that Jeffrey Flier did in his earlier Quillette article on this subject, and while I can’t say I disagree, I think that educational quality enhancement also needs to happen at New York’s neighborhood high schools as well.

    As I pointed out in my comment to Dr. Flier’s article, back when I went to Bronx Science (the mid 60s), it was not unheard of for applicants to take formal test prep, but it was unusual mainly because our families could not afford, but also because there was no stigma attached if you didn’t make Science or Stuyvesant and had to attend Taft or T. Roosevelt or DeWitt Clinton or Columbus or any of those other schools named after presidents. Many of the graduates of those schools went on to college and successful careers beyond. I am sorry that Sebastian Acevedo’s parents had to spend $5,000 on test prep that they really couldn’t afford, but I’m glad it worked out for him and wish him all the best in life. If the alternatives weren’t so bad, they wouldn’t have thought it necessary.

    • asdf says

      Test prep doesn’t increase scores appreciably. Asians are victims of the test prep industry, not beneficiaries.

  21. A NYC Parent says

    Thank you for writing this article and making these astute accurate points. As a NYC Public School parent of a G&T 1st grader at one of the Renewal Schools you mentioned, I have concluded that it’s the grade standards to which our children must adhere, that’s the problem. Grade standards are too low. Aka Common Core are doing a huge disservice to NYC children.

    I’ve witnessed my own child in a strictly taught Grade standard class and she was bored out of her mind, acting out in ways I had never seen before. Our daughter switched to the above mentioned Renewal School’s G&T program whose overall school philosophy is “Let’s see how far you can learn!” (Surpassing grade standards) and my daughter is back to her normal self – learning at her speed and loving school & life.

    I don’t know what New York State’s Grade Standards were in the 1960s, 1970s, And 1980s, but I think politicians should review them and compare them to Common Core. Also note what was the average class size for each grade.
    And then improve in a real tangible way.

    As for chronic absenteeism, the NYC DOE needs to give the janitorial staff more support to clean and sanitize schools, so children are less apt to get sick. My daughter has missed two weeks of school due to illnesses (Coxsackie virus and the flu & pneumonia). And 90% of my daughter’s class caught the flu in the course of two weeks.

  22. Kevin Herman says

    To be perfectly blunt one of the the things holding back black students from the sort of academic achivement necessary to get into a school like stuy is there on average lower IQ’s. To ignore this in this type of discussion is dishonest. Not saying there arent other factors.

    • Peter from Oz says

      I suspect the major problem isn’t IQ, but the fact that in black culture being educated is not highly valued.

    • Chad Chen says

      Nearly all the comments are about IQ and race so there is no chance that these factors are being ignored, even if they do not make the MSM every day. In fact, it is because most whites and Asians obsess about IQ and race that sone enlightened leaders offer additionsl ideas.

      James Heckman is a Distinguished Professor in Economics at the University of Chicago who won a Nobel Prize in 2000. His research shows that PERSONALITY traits trump IQ in major life outcomes. So sll the bragging and boasting about superior Asian and white IQs at schools like Stuyvesant and Bronx High should be put in perspective.

  23. I graduated from Stuy in 1970. It is interesting to now see the disparity in enrollment and the fact that there were 300 black students in 1975 is interesting. I never noticed (perhaps I was color blind). The early 70s were, of course, a time when students entered high school in the 10th grade rather than the 9th grade which now seems common. This article closes with blaming the prep work done in junior high and perhaps that extra year in junior high school could be part of the solution, but that too is a system problem. Regardless of the reasons one fact is immutable… dumbing down the entrance requirements to bias admissions one way or another is a recipe for failure.

  24. Eve says

    It would be interesting to analyse the cut off scores over the years – I entered in the 1970’s and I’m pretty sure the cut off was not 560. I imagine it has moved up over the years as the school has become more known. Perhaps that is why more blacks entered then.

  25. Ron Liebermann says

    I don’t know if this post will be allowed, but I’ll give it a try. The term “academic performance” can mean many things. For some, it means high intelligence. For others, it means more of a philosophical outlook. In either case, the students who are sent to Stuyvesant are being railroaded, no less than the kids who aren’t. Oh sure, they will take advanced classes in math and science; and maybe even philosophy. But they will never, ever, be allowed to question the system.

    Why do we pay taxes? Who gets the money? What if we didn’t pay taxes? Believe me, those questions will never be asked at Stuyvesant. Instead, students will be steered toward the holy grail: STEM. This “scientific” curriculum completely sidesteps the question of what life is all about. And it also eliminates the question of culture. It’s a fake education.

    Which brings me to the next point. America is an Anglo Saxon country. Not an Asian country. Yes, I know, we are supposed to be pluralistic; but there’s a limit. Everyone has been indoctrinated into the PC culture so thoroughly that it has now become a moral crime to even discuss the subject of race. But discuss it we must. If our institutions of higher learning lose their Anglo Saxon roots, then there is a danger that the whole world will lose its freedom. No country teaches freedom like America. China sure as hell doesn’t. The same goes for Japan, and the rest of the world.

    So in order to preserve our heritage of freedom of expression, and inquiry, we will have no choice but to limit the number of black and Asian kids who enter our schools. Those two groups have no intellectual tradition of liberty; in fact they spring from communistic societies. If it were up to me, I would require that elite High Schools and Universities in America be 90% Anglo Saxon; and 70% male. This would ensure that our culture, mores, and traditions will be preserved, and handed down to the next generation.

    The other option is to continue in our present direction: Bigger government, more political control, atomization of society, and finally, collapse.

  26. Randy Guthrie says

    It is against NY State Law to use racial info for the elite public schools. The legislature saw what happened at City College and made sure it would not happen again. Times were different 50 years ago.

  27. tommy mc donnell says

    de Blasio doesn’t want to do away with the specialized schools because of racism. he wants to do away with them because they are among the few new York city schools where the kids actually learn something. remember it is a communist’s job to destroy the existing order.

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