UPDATE: After a marathon virtual meeting on Wednesday night, the Boston School Committee voted unanimously to eliminate the exam for the 2021-2022 school year for admission into the exam schools – Boston Latin School, Boston Latin Academy and the O’Bryant.
Here’s a letter from City Councilor Ed Flynn to President of Boston School Committee
October 19, 2020 Michael Loconto, Chairperson Boston School Committee Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building 2300 Washington Street Roxbury, MA 02119 Dear Chairperson Loconto, Please note I am writing due to the many calls and emails I’ve received from concerned parents about the recently proposed plan to not use an entrance exam for admissions to our city’s three exam schools for SY 21-22, and instead use grades and zip codes as the admissions criteria. I have also met with District 2 parents virtually over the last several days.
I applaud the Working Group’s efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic to develop a recommendation for the Superintendent, and the plan’s intentionality to address equity and expand opportunities for our Black, Latinx, and low income students and families. While I am supportive of recent decisions aimed at equity- to replace the ISEE with the MAP test, expand Exam School Initiative programs, and administer testing during school hours – I have also heard from many parents who are caught off guard and are distressed by the new plan. Many families and students have already begun to prepare for the entrance exams for months and using zip codes as a determining factor in the admissions process is deemed as unfair to many.
Neighbors have expressed that there may be disparities in how grades are determined at each school. Moreover, although their zip code may indicate a higher median income, parents have relayed that it does not capture the full picture of the socioeconomic and racial diversity within our neighborhoods, with many working families feeling the pressures of gentrification and hanging on by a thread to remain in the city.
I also represent a large Latinx community in the South End, especially in the Ruth Barkley Apartments, Villa Victoria, Methunion Manor, and Tent City. We also have Boston Housing Authority developments located in South Boston with our neighbors at the Old Colony Housing Development, West Broadway Housing Development, and the Mary Ellen McCormack Housing Development. My constituents have communicated to me that they would like more time to consider the proposed changes and the impact on their children and families. I also represent a large immigrant population, including the Chinese community in Boston, many of whom are living in difficult conditions and families with limited English speakers. Non English speaking parents have also expressed concern that they were not offered the opportunity to hear the BPS plan and offer their feedback.
Students and parents have already faced an unprecedented level of uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and this new admissions plan for the next school year injects another level of uncertainty into a process that is extremely important for the future of many students. Based on the feedback that I’ve received, I believe that the MAP exam should still be a part of the admissions process and that we should explore remote testing. Many parents have also expressed their desire for further examination and community engagement as it relates to using zip codes as a critical component in the admissions process.
I hope that Boston Public Schools and the School Committee will reconsider this new plan, provide more time to engage the community and parents further, and ensure that students are given a fair chance in gaining entrance into our most prestigious schools.
City Councilor Ed Flynn
Boston Public Schools Superintendent Brenda Cassellius recommended on Thursday to not use an exam this year for admission to the prestigious Boston Latin School, Boston Latin Academy and the O’Bryant School.
According to WBUR, the decision for recommendation was made by a nine-person task force over the summer. The plan was presented at a virtual school committee meeting on Thursday evening.
So how will students be admitted for the 2021-2022 school year?
According to the plan, 20% of seats would be allocated to students with the city’s top grades. The remaining 80% would be admitted to the schools based on their GPA within their home ZIP code. Eligible students from the lowest-income ZIP codes given first choice.
A pool of eligible BPS students would be created for those who either maintained a B average in school this academic year or who “met or exceeded expectations” on the 2019 MCAS test.
What’s the point of this shift away from an exam?
Well, number one – we’re in a middle of a pandemic and administering a test during disrupted learning is not ideal. The plan also projects a rise of 15 percentage points in the number of seats apportioned to Black and Latino students.
Who makes the final decision?
The Boston School Committee does. They are tentatively scheduled to vote on the proposal on Oct. 21.
Is the exam for these three school gone for good?
As of now, this only applies to student candidates for the 2021-22 academic year for now
Where can I learn more details?
You can read the complete plan here.
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