The free course prepares for the test which determines admission to specialized high schools where girls of color are traditionally underrepresented


Starting July 10, Helicon Inc., a NYC non-profit organization dedicated to improving math proficiency among women and girls, offers a free Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT) prep course for African American and Latina girls.

The course aims to prepare girls of color, who are particularly underrepresented in specialized high schools, for the new SHSAT that the NYC Department of Education will launch this October.

“Out of the 2,975 students enrolled in eight specialized high schools, only 42 percent are female,” shared Helicon, Inc. on its website. “And of those 42 percent, only 6 percent are Hispanic and only 2 percent are Black.”

Helicon, Inc. was founded in 1999 by high school teacher Allanah Thomas to help women and girls learn the math skills and numbers-related disciplines needed to achieve their academic and professional goals. The stereotype that women and math are naturally at odds not only continues to persist, it seems to remain a self-fulfilling prophecy, said Thomas.

In fact, many women and girls continue to opt out of math-related fields because of a lack of self-confidence, hence they continue to be underrepresented in the fields of science, tech, engineering and math.

“There is data that shows a diminishing population of females within the field of math except for Asians,” said Thomas. “Nobody thinks that women– and particularly women of color– can do math.”

To up the odds for African-American and Latina girls, Thomas’s organization will be offering free SHSAT prep classes to 25 rising 8th grade girls – five each from the five boroughs. The SHSAT, according to the Department of Education, is the sole factor to determine admissions to eight of New York City’s nine specialized high schools.

“I’ve been wanting to do this for over a decade,” said Thomas. “This is a pilot program, which is why I am only taking 25 students. But it is part of a larger campaign I want to launch.”

The 6-week SHSAT prep course will start July 10, and will dedicate three hours to math each day. Class will be in effect Monday to Friday, from 9:00am to 1:00pm. The course is free, but a $50 fee applies to cover classroom supplies and copying.

Specialized High School Admission Test Prep

When: July 10 – August 25, 2017, Monday – Friday, 9:00am to 1:00pm

Where:  The Learning Tree STEM-Arts School,  103-02 Northern Boulevard, Corona, NY 11368

For more information and to register, please click here.


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