NEW YORK (PIX11) – The New York City Council is looking to provide more access and opportunity to New York’s most elite public high schools. It comes after staggering new statistics continue to show Black and Latino students still struggle to qualify for those schools.

The SHSAT, or Specialized High School SAT, is currently the only entrance criteria to get into eight of the city’s most elite public high schools. The concern with this centers around students and parents at middle schools in communities of color not truly being aware of the test.

“These are some of the best high schools in the entire country, and we have so many individuals who are losing access and opportunity to those,” said Councilman Keith Powers, (D) Manhattan.

Black and Latino students make up roughly two-thirds of New York City’s public school system, but only about 9% of students at the elite high schools. Powers said the proposal on how to help fix the disparity has three parts.

First, it would force the New York City Department of Education to offer the test during the school day.

“So students who may not normally take the test because it’s on the weekend or have other distractions, will have access to it right there in the school building where they normally learn,” Powers said.

Second, the council will also look at requiring all middle schools to offer a test prep program during school. And third, there’s a proposal for a pilot program to offer free after-school test preparation.

“My family when I was a public school student did not even take the exam. We did not even know what the exam was,” said Councilman Oswald Feliz, (D) Bronx. “That is the case for many families. So this is a crucial step that will prepare so many students for the test, that will open so many doors for them.”