Diversity is just one step — equity and inclusion are another story
Increasing the diversity in Boston’s exam schools is a commendable and important goal (“Dropping entrance test adds to diversity,” Page A1, May 8). Still, it’s important to remember that the ultimate goal is equitable education. Overall, despite how difficult it’s been, getting kids of color and economically disadvantaged kids into Boston’s exam schools is far easier than ensuring that they succeed once they get there. Access is only the first step toward success.
Using grades rather than test scores seems more equitable. It obviates the discrepancies caused by test prep courses and other advantages of social and economic privilege. But the A student from an underserved school may not have had the same education as an A student from a wealthier one. What supports will there be in the exam schools for kids whose skills and frame of intellectual reference are not yet up to the expectations of these more rigorous institutions?
Similarly, prioritizing by ZIP code does indeed increase access for underrepresented groups. But will the faculty and curriculum reflect their experiences well enough for them to feel comfortable enough to thrive?
Diversity makes a great yearbook picture. It is not of much value, however, without substantive and systemic changes leading to true equity and inclusion.
The writer is a retired teacher and school diversity, equity, and inclusion facilitator.
Task force needs plan to meet students’ needs and promote excellence
As a parent who served on two Boston Public Schools student assignment task forces and whose two children attended BPS from K through 12, including Boston Latin School, I am concerned that abandoning admissions exams will cause many families to abandon BPS, fundamentally change exam schools, and lead to many students who are most in need of advanced work not having their needs met, to other students failing or dropping out, and to hundreds of vacant exam school seats.
The exam school task force must not let what happened in the 1980s to the Advanced Work Class (for grades 4 through 6) happen now to exam schools. More than 100 AWC seats were left vacant some years, white students scoring in the 97th percentile were denied admission, and up to half of admitted students in some classes had scores qualifying them for remedial reading.
Students denied admission to an exam school or to their preferred exam school should be allowed to take an entrance exam this summer and, based on their ranking, fill vacancies or transfer between exam schools this coming school year. The task force must develop a long-term plan that meets the needs of students and promotes excellence.
Douglas C. Johnson
Will some vote with their feet? Maybe, but they can go right ahead
The idea floated in the article that “some parents and admission consultants” suspect that more exam school applicants might turn down offers of acceptance this year already proves that the ZIP-code-based system is working.
The quote from one such consultant says it all: ”I have a number of families who got a seat at the exam schools and have decided to turn it down, because they no longer have faith in the system.”
If the system in question is white supremacy, then thank heavens the faithful are making their way to the exit.
The writer is a BPS parent of three.