There is a debate on whether there is too many screened high schools in New York City. During the Bloomberg years, the amount of screened high schools quadrupled and about 33% of the high schools screen their students. In addition, the high school admissions program seemed like the wild, wild, west with each screened school having different criteria, making the admission process a bewildering maze of conflicting information fo sort through.
The screened schools are good for the high achieving student who are with other academically proficient students who want to learn; This allows for positive peer pressure to achieve the most of the student's academic potential. Moreover, it keeps middle class families in the public schools, who might otherwise leave the City for the suburbs or enroll in private schools. Further, middle class parents will provide the additional resources that the school request to supplement their budget and provide the academic enrichment that attracts the high achieving student. Finally, The screened schools allows for more advanced placement and honor coursers, which in turn, makes the student better able to be "college ready".
Screened schools help segregate schools by academic ability. Many of the New York City schools suffer from segregation as the high achieving students that live in the neighborhood refuse to go to the local high school and are selected by the screened schools. In addition, the academically weaker performing high schools struggle to retain effective teachers and teacher turnover is much higher. The result is an unstable school environment as students see many of their teachers leave the school and question their own abilities or even blame themselves for the teacher leaving. Furthermore, tracking hurts low achieving students who are relegated to basic skills and few opportunities to take higher level courses. Finally, the student body struggles academically and being smart is a negative where the "cool kids" are the ones that have social skills but little academic ability and most never make it to college.
The screened and specialized schools are not only segregated academically but are racially segregated as well. The specialized schools have a student body that is primarily East Asian and White while the academically struggling schools are located in deep poverty neighborhoods and are primarily Black and Hispanic. Many of the Renewal Schools fall into that latter and is one of the main reasons they struggle academically.
The online newspaper Chalkbeat has a nice article that deals with this issue and you can read it Here.