Boston schools superintendent clarifies exam school admissions test comments

Boston Public Schools superintendent Brenda Cassellius.
Boston Public Schools superintendent Brenda Cassellius. Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

Boston Public Schools superintendent Brenda Cassellius issued a statement Thursday regarding comments she made a day earlier on the high costs of administering the admission test for the city’s exam schools and whether a less expensive exam could be used instead.

Her comments Wednesday on WGBH radio raised questions about whether the school system would replace the long-controversial Independent School Entrance Exam, which she said cost the district $140 per student. The school system pays the fee for all students in the city regardless if they attend public or private schools.

The test, which is not aligned with the school system’s curriculum or state learning standards, has been criticized by civil rights advocates for putting black and Latino students at a distinct disadvantage to get into the exam schools, while giving well-to-do students whose families can afford private test programs a leg up.


On Wednesday, Cassellius emphasized she was not calling for eliminating an admission test altogether.

The following is Cassellius’s statement.

“As superintendent, it’s my responsibility to ensure every student has access to an excellent education. That is why I am reviewing every decision and finding every dollar to maximize our efforts to close existing opportunity gaps.

I have never shied away from complex conversations about equity and will continue having them with everyone who has a stake in the success of our students. I have had initial conversations with the leadership of the local NAACP and will continue meeting with them, and with parents, community members and everyone who cares deeply about Boston Public Schools.

Boston is a great city with incredible potential. Addressing inequities in our system is necessary if we truly want to be nation-leading. I’ve said it will take ‘all hands on deck,’ which will also mean taking the long view, engaging in continued respectful dialogue and bringing all of our best thinking to the table.”


James Vaznis can be reached at james.vaznis@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globevaznis.