The service magazine is out with a list of "the best public high schools in Boston," which includes such notable Hub schools as Chelmsford, Winchester, Dover-Sherborn, Lynn Classical and Pentucket Regional.
BLS: #1 in reading scores, #1 math scores, #2 in science scores... #10 in the ranking.
The ranking is a weird combination of input (class size) and output (test scores). In theory, smaller class size is a means of maximizing increases in test scores. (In practice, it doesn't make a huge difference, compared to teacher experience and qualification.) Mixing those together merges the idea of "has highest functioning students" and "improves those students who do enter the most." There's no percentage relationship between means and ends, even if Boston Magazine's hired statistician made one up. This is is a goofy chart.
Maybe BLS is far and away the best, because it's doing the best with one hand tied behind their back--top scores even despite the large class sizes on the list. OR maybe shouldn't be compared apples-to-apples with districts that can't choose their students.
Either way, it should be tops or not on the list. It shouldn't be toward the top of this list. And with that--just as we might see in a comparison between schools in districts with widely disparate socioeconomic indicators--we come to understand that we're asking questions as much about the students already existing in the schools as we are about the schools themselves.
Do better, Boston Magazine.
It's the only school on the list that gets to make incoming kids take a test and then only take the top N% of them (it's around 10% of the kids in the district, right?). The other schools have to take all the kids. Talking about MCAS is nonsense. If the kids couldn't pass MCAS, they wouldn't be let into BLS. The other high schools have to let in kids who couldn't pass MCAS.
Given the fact they get to skim the cream, Boston Latin does a mediocre job educating kids. 15% of the kids they send to AP tests blow it? It's like they make them dumber.
It would be nice if Boston had a truly excellent public school, something like Stuyvesant or Thomas Jefferson High. Boston as a city might be too small for that, though. It would have to be regional.
Although I cannot verify the 15% statistic, you are right that every year there are students who score poorly on the AP tests. Unlike other local high schools, if you enroll in an AP level class at BLS, the school forces you to take the AP exam, otherwise you will not receive the GPA boost from taking an AP class.
Couple that with the fact that if you are a senior, and you know the college you are attending does not accept the AP exam you're taking or it doesn't count as credit towards graduation, of course there will be students who pay the test fee and not bother with scoring well on the test. Your time is better spent studying for your in school finals or an AP test that you know will transfer over. Just show up for the exam so you can receive the GPA boost, than leave once it's done.
What I do know is that when it comes to actually taking the test, for the sophomores, juniors, and seniors (that know they can get credit), BLS consistently produces student scores of 5s and 4s, with the only slight exception to this being the languages. This is shown in how many students receive AP Scholar awards, partly because of how well prepared the students are, but also because the students are forced to actually pay for and take the test.
Two years ago, I had an AP Computer Science Test as my first AP test, and I knew that none of the colleges I applied for would let me transfer it for credit towards my major (Bio). So I studied for my other two AP tests, got 5s on those, and bombed the APCS test. Since we also get test waivers for the AP tests, I didn't sink $100 like some other people might have, but that was my approach for taking my AP exams. As a recent student, I know that this was the thinking for many students in the school, and I hope that it might provide some insight into how we approach AP tests.
While a graduating senior may know that the college they plan to attend in the fall doesn’t give credit for a certain AP test, they don’t know whether they might later transfer to another college that would. My son’s first college didn’t give credit for AP Spanish. But he transferred after freshman year, and was very glad he had an AP Spanish score that exempted him from the 2 year foreign language requirement at the new university. I think there were a couple other AP tests where the new university was also more willing to give credit, but the language one saved him the most in terms of semesters of classes.
Just something worth considering, for any senior who is considering not taking, or taking but deliberately bombing, an AP test.
(nemra, I appreciate you sharing your insight, and it’s certainly an approach I’ve heard from students. I just like to share the other side of the story too, in case it helps someone. )
I think you're right, and that the entrance test is the most important factor. But Latin Academy and the O'Bryant are further down the list, so you can see that "some selection" isn't a magically-important factor.
Mostly, my argument is that the ranking system is pretty crappy here.
Um, if you for some reason have the best schools issue from the year kidlet was born, you might be surprised.
Was high school, but I get your point. And Boston Magazine has been pulling this for a long time, and I will never not get annoyed by it (being easily annoyed and all) - at least they've finally admitted JP is part of Boston, right alongside Cambridge and Somerville, so progress of a sort, I guess.
I know WR makes the cut, cuz white people, but if JP was on the bubble, I imagine it's still an uphill fight,
Boston Latin School number 10, balderdash!
I think it was number 46 last year.
We've all been traveling and met someone who said they were from Boston. And when you say, "Oh where?" the answer is never "JP" or "Mattapan" it's always "Andover" or "Stow".
Because nobody outside the area cares or knows about anything other than Boston.
If you ran into someone who lived somewhere within 50 miles of Dallas you would hear "Dallas". If you met someone who lived within 50 miles of St. Louis? "St. Louis".
Because nobody knows the detailed geography of suburban anywhere but their own city - and Boston is one of the few places where people get upset about that.
But I never understood why people just don't take the time to educate about their town. People outside of Mass don't know about these places because instead of saying "I'm from Hull, about 30 miles south of Boston" they just name Boston. I personally love learning about small towns. I also spent my summers in Teaneck, NJ (a small suburb) with family and they never said Newark or Patterson or some other more known city
Because, at a cocktail party/mixer/meet and greet ... NOBODY CARES.
Just the way it is. It simply isn't a high priority to "educate someone about your town" when they live thousands of miles away. Seriously.
Do you want to listen to someone go on and on for half an hour about Lake Oswego or West Linn and how they are different/special and not Portland? What about Gresham or Hillsboro?
I don't mind hearing about these things, but most people? Nope.
The Onion says that LA is hiring, tho: https://www.theonion.com/los-angeles-deploys-buzzkill-task-force-to-brea...
And I have been to many cocktail/mixers/happy hours and business functions. And who in the hell would go on for an hour about it? I literally gave that line that takes two seconds to say. But okay Swirls, keep on keeping on. Wouldn't want you to look uncool to folks who live hundreds of miles away that you probably won't encounter again #ItsAllUhubLove
I thoroughly enjoy meeting people who play the “from Boston” game, they stutter when learning I’m from Boston and ask what part they’re from.
...is that if they don't only come into the city for work and never really go anywhere else besides said job, is that they only drive in for special occasions like to watch the marathon or to ride the swan boats once every two years
me: where you from?
me: where in Boston?
Me: where in Dorchester?
Her (a bit confused). Over by Columbia Station.
Me: my grandmother lives behind St. Margaret’s.
Why can’t they just say 10, 20, 30 miles /minutes from Boston?!? Of course some random person from Iowa won’t know about small towns in MA.
"I'm from just outside Boston."
"Oh, Boston? Cool."
After a while, you stop doing it.
You're in Vermont at a vineyard wine tasting table and people ask where you're from and some dude says Boston and you ask what part and they say Newton or Norwood and you're like, you're not from Boston. I'm from Boston. You don't get to get to claim Boston, the greatest city on the east coast, the birth of the land of the free, blah blah, when you are off living in some lame suburb. Come on. fess up. You're from Natick. It's a big mall outside of Boston. Burns me up, people claiming to be from Boston and they ain't paid their dues. You know of what I speak.
I've heard the "you're not from (city); you live in (a suburb)" in a lot of places.
I always say the further away from home I am, the more I just use "Boston" because nobody knows the suburbs by name. When I'm at home, I'm from "Somerville" or "Ball Square."
literally one town over, can't stop confusing South Boston with the South End.
Was in LA and a girl said she was from Boston. So naturally I ask where since I'm Roxbury born and bred, and this chick says Barnstable *sigh*. Like I tell my Everett partner, if your mayor is not Marty and your police department isn't BPD then it isn't Boston my love
We live in Brookline. I once helped chaperone my son's 1st grade class field trip to George's Island. We walked from the school to the Green Line, rode to Government Center, changed to the Blue Line, rode to Aquarium, bought tickets for the ferry, and rode the ferry (45 minutes?) to George's Island. So now it's kind of a long trip for 1st graders, but technically we're still in Boston. A park ranger got up to give us his spiel. The park ranger started off "So, where are you kids from?" The 1st graders all piped up in unison "Boston!!!". The parents and teachers were all like, "Whaaat??!??" Without missing a beat, the 1st graders piped up again: "Brookline!!!".
I always used to get a kick out of that while spending summers in Martha's Vineyard as a kid.
say that they live in Jersey. Around here, anyone inside 495 claims to be from Boston, but only when trying to pass for cool.
Hoboken is in New Jersey
As in people can say *insert actual town instead of Boston*, Masachusetts
"OK, team, we're close to press time, name a bartender who's either a perky blonde or a perpetual bad boy that everyone wants to sleep with?
Ok, cool, that's our winner. Next category?"
issue, but it didn't really work like that in my section. No food / drink staff, let alone a single writer, can make a defensible choice based on an exhaustive survey of the whole scene. Even in a small greater-city area like Boston, it's too much to take in within a year, never mind revisiting old favorites to see if they're still holding up their standards.
I was writing the weekly On the Cheap column for the Boston Phoenix at my time contributing to BoMag, and still feel good about the awards I suggested and they mostly used for things like modest neighborhood restaurants / bars, traditional Vietnamese joints, street foods and fried chicken. I also had major roles in nominations (and did many of the write-ups) for the annual Best-of food and drink awards issues at The Phoenix, Stuff Magazine, and The Improper Bostonian.
You can't taste / drink everything, but certain staffers have their furrows or neighborhood lore, so you farm out pieces to them. Many took my approach of trying to direct readers toward worthy contenders they might never find on their own without a semi-pro food geek's obsessive exploratory instinct and time invested. There ain't much new value is pointing out that a $100-a-head meal at certain broadly-hyped, Beard-awarded places will probably be worth your investment (though they all do that, too.) My own prior suspicion as an amateur that ad sales influenced award choices was belied by my experience at all of them. None of my editors were Andelman-style nutsack-polishers for cash. (NB: not trying to shame sex workers, just noting the toil is not undertaken out of actual love.)
I often smile to think about the owners' likely perplexity after one of my reviews or awards was published: "Where did all these white people come from, and why are they all ordering the same six things?" I'd revisit a place a few weeks after a review, and note that they hadn't bothered to post a laminated copy of my rave: they and their regulars didn't read us. (Exceptions: my yellowing 2008 Phoenix review of Taqueria El Amigo is still on their wall, which warms my heart every time I go, ditto my 2007 Dig Boston review of my local, J.J. Foley's Cafe, from when they first started serving food.)
RIP, Poppa B's, Packy Connor's, Pepper Pot, Xinh Xinh, Terrie's Place, Beijing Star, Pupuseria Mama Blanca, O Senhor Ramos, Griyo Lakay, Las Ventas, the original Tawakal Halal Cuisine, Victor's in Saugus, Jasmine Taste of Persia, Lorenz Island Cuisine, Thai North when its menu included traditional Northern Thai cuisine, Trattoria Toscana, Brookline Family in its Turkish era, Jasmine Bistro (Hungarian / French / Balochistani!), and many other family-owned, neighborhood-oriented, often out-of-the-way places I made it a point to review because they all did at least one extraordinary thing that few of my peers or our readers had bothered to notice. (Boston Speed's Famous Hot Dog Wagon, Strip-T's in the Timmy Maslow era, and Rino's Place eventually got broader media attention and long lines, but I gave them their first adoring professional notices.)
Such places are the overlooked backbone of our dining scene -- what makes Greater Boston a far more thrilling place to eat than you might guess if you only dined at the mid-priced to fancy dining places within five miles of the State House that get most of the local food-media coverage. I'm soul-crushed these days, knowing many of them may not survive the current unforgivable, eminently avoidable shit-hurricane in which we now live.
Too bad it's a fallen world.
... for paying attention to this sort of places. (Just the kind of places I always most want to find). ;-)
after they were pressured into eliminating their "Ten Worst" categories.
bad places in old-media Awards issues -- Stuff Magazine was the exception, let me cast occasional shade at the bad, the overhyped, and the fraudulent in their best-of issues for a few years -- so for a brief stretch, year-end annually from 2009 to 2011, I did my own Devil's Dining Awards on my blog. I even commissioned a favorite webcomic artist to do an illustration for it. I wonder how many future readers will recognize the jokey food-trend references in it.
I modeled them on Ambrose Bierce's Devil's Dictionary and Esquire's bygone Dubious Achievement Awards (a lot of joke headlines that don't make sense until after you've read each tem): a mix of heaping praise and blowing raspberries. Here, here and here.
Each is a bit of time capsule now: there's a pre-politics Trump joke in one, and a lot of Boston sports wisecracks that youngsters won't get. Wish I'd done more of them in recent years; it just got impossible to find the time to write stuff for free.
Do they really need to make a list to show us that kids in well-funded school districts that have highly educated, native English speaking, white-collar parents who work 9-5 do better than kids who may be learning English as a second language or have non-native English speaking parents, who are more likely to be working longer hours and not have a college degree, and who live in towns who do not have the same resources to dedicate to their schools? Who would've thought?
How can you keep those people from draining your precious tax dollars if you can't live in a community segregated from them?
My school is only 8th last this year! Major upgrade, tbh.
..... even heard of some of those towns. I don’t think many Bostonians have either.
Do we need a new magazine? A new name for our fair city? What would it be?
gets my vote.
There are already dozens of places informally referred to as "B-Town." Would Boston benefit from joining the ranks of Bloomington, Birmingham, and Brampton?
The argument about what is "Real Boston" and what is not "Real Boston" doesn't even stop at the city limits. There are plenty of people ready to tell folks from Bellevue Hill or Oak Square they don't live in "Real Boston."
Because so many people refer to the Greater Boston Metropolitan Area with the shorthand of Boston, maybe a more geographically limited nickname should distinguish itself from that idea.
When I worked at Indiana University, we had employers calling in to reschedule their interviews because they had gone to Bloomington, Illinois, instead. I'm not sure if any ended up in Bloomington, Minnesota.
than a school like Littleton? No offense to Littleton. I'm sure it's a great school, but it has a fraction of the number of students as BLS and BLS has more higher scores on this list.
Aren't really about rankings.
Every year, Stanford, Harvard, MIT, etc. swap off the top rankings in various lists.
Do you really think the Number 1 school last year is suddenly Number 3 in any way that possibly matters? Or when Number 12 moves to Number 9 and "cracks the Top 10"?
It's all hocus pocus to attract parents' eyeballs.
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