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I had completed the third and fourth grades at a public school, in New Haven, with which she had been distinctly dissatisfied.

For decades, admission to these schools has traditionally been based on an exhausting exam called the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT).

(A limited version of this provision is already in place in some high schools.)

Many educators have recently made the point that specialized high schools account for only about six per cent of seats in the city’s public high schools, so reforming these schools hardly comes close to solving the problem.

“Putting aside the issue of élite high schools, there’s a severe shortage of high-school seats period,” Stanley Ng, a former lower Manhattan representative for the Citywide Council on High Schools, told me.

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