Specialized HS admits from RKA soar

By MIAWLING LAM

Thirty students from the Riverdale Kingsbridge Academy won coveted seats in the city’s nine elite specialized high schools this year.

Data released on Tuesday by M.S/H.S 141 shows the number of students receiving offers to the prestigious schools has nearly doubled within the past year.

Of the 30 students who gained admission to the city’s crème de la crème of high schools, 11 received an offer from the traditional powerhouses—Bronx High School of Science, Stuyvesant High School and Brooklyn Technical High School.

Seven students received an offer from Bronx Science; another three were granted entrance to Brooklyn Tech; and one made the cut-off score for Stuyvesant.

Eight RKA students were offered seats at the High School of American Studies at Lehman College; five were accepted at the High School for Mathematics, Science and Engineering at City College; two at Brooklyn Latin and four at Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts.

In comparison, RKA sent just 16 students to the city’s nine prestigious schools last year and 25 eighth-graders in 2010.

This year as well, one student gained admission to the highly competitive Eleanor Roosevelt High School on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, and another was accepted to The Beacon School on the Upper West Side.

RKA principal Lori O’Mara said of the 196 eighth-graders who sat for the Specialized High School Admissions Test, 15 percent were accepted.

“We are, by far, the number-one Bronx feeder school to the specialized high schools,” she said. “Twenty-six of the 30 acceptances were from the eighth-grade honors classes. This is an acceptance rate of 46 percent for the 63 students in the honors classes.”

She attributed the school’s positive results to the formation of new enrichment clubs including Math Olympiad, a rigorous middle-school math club that pushes students to challenge their thinking; an Art Portfolio Club, where students have the opportunity to work with an art teacher to develop a portfolio; and a Chorus Club, which helps students hone their musical skills.

O’Mara also cited the inclusion of more rigorous reading material in all English language arts classes as helpful in promoting vocabulary development and critical reading skills.

The latest results represent a stunning reversal of the decline in RKA students being offered seats at specialized high schools. However, the numbers are still a far cry from the 150 students the school sent to the prestigious schools in the early ‘90s.

Meanwhile, Riverdale’s tiny Kinneret Day School boasted that 75 percent of its students who sat for the Specialized High School Exam received an offer.

Kinneret Day School assistant principal Simone Nenner said that the High School of American Studies at Lehman College, Bronx High School of Science, Stuyvesant High School, High School for Mathematics, Science and Engineering at City College and LaGuardia High School were among the schools that offered seats to their students.

“We are proud to announce the great achievement our eighth-graders have made this year at Kinneret Day School,” she said.

“A special thank you to all the teachers who motivated our students, set high goals and provided them with an excellent education.”

Admission to eight of the city’s nine specialized high schools are based on the results of the Specialized High School Admissions Test, a competitive exam taken by around 28,000 eighth-graders each year.

The schools that admit students based on these test results are The Bronx High School of Science; The Brooklyn Latin School; Brooklyn Technical High School; High School for Mathematics, Science and Engineering at the City College; High School of American Studies at Lehman College; Queens High School for the Sciences at York College; Staten Island Technical High School; and Stuyvesant High School.

Entrance to the ninth prestigious school, Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, is judged on an audition and a review of academic records.

Overall, 5,360 eighth-graders across the five boroughs this year received an offer based on their test results.

Students from Queens accounted for the bulk of admissions with 1,919 securing offers, followed by those living in Brooklyn with 1,676 and Manhattan with 1,074.

Only 322 students from The Bronx snared a coveted seat this year, compared with 333 last year and 334 in 2010.

As of press time, the number of Bronx students accepted at LaGuardia was unavailable.

The disappointing figures come despite a citywide breakdown showing that Bronx students comprised of 17 percent of test-takers.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said the results were discouraging.

“I am, of course, happy for the Bronx students that have been granted admission to our city’s specialized public high schools,” he said.

“With that said, I remain concerned that the number of Bronx students who are able to take advantage of this opportunity remains far too low, and my office will continue to work to increase the number of borough students in our specialized high schools through our education consortium and other initiatives.”

Admission statistics also show Asians secured a whopping 46 percent of spots while whites were offered 23 percent of the slots.

However, education officials tried to spin the results by highlighting the uptick in blacks and Latinos who were admitted to the elite schools.

Records show blacks received 6 percent of offers and Latinos 8 percent, slightly higher than the number of those admitted in the previous two years.

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