Degree Type

Honors Capstone Project

Date of Submission

Spring 5-1-2012

Capstone Advisor

Christopher Rohlfs, Professor

Honors Reader

Jeffrey Weinstein, Professor

Capstone Major


Capstone College

Arts and Science

Audio/Visual Component


Capstone Prize Winner


Won Capstone Funding


Honors Categories

Social Sciences

Subject Categories

Behavioral Economics | Economics | Public Economics


In New York City, specialized high schools exist in the public school system to educate the city’s most gifted students. These schools are recognized nationally and have a strong focus on math, science, and technology. Benefits of attending these schools include a competitive peer group, challenging courses, and strong alumni networks. Admission to these schools is determined by individuals’ score on the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT).

This paper measures the impact of attending these specialized high schools on graduation and results on New York State Regents examinations. A regression discontinuity design was used to study seven of the nine specialized high schools, comparing students who scored just above to students who scored just below the SHSAT cutoff score used to determine admissions. Although attending a specialized high school increased the probability that a student received an advanced diploma degree, students who attend one of these high schools performed equally as well on other academic outcomes as students who attended alternative, non-specialized high schools.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.



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