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No exams for exam schools for coming school year under superintendent's plan

WBUR reports BPS Superintendent Brenda Cassellius is proposing a one-year change for Boston's three exam schools: 20% of next year's seats would go to students with the city's top grades, while the rest would be awarded based on students' ranks in each city Zip code - with students in lower-income Zip codes getting first crack.

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I’ll pass

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I think that would be such a shame!! Kids work there a***** off to get into those schools. So sick and tired of people wanting to change this city history due appease others Screw the kids that know what they need to do if they want to go there and let the other kids in that don't work for it. What the hell are we teaching kids if you keep lowering the standards. I went thru BPS in the 80s and I new dam well it wasn't for me My sister went there and studied her a** off and played sports. Now you let less structured kids in and don't respect the surroundings and they disrupt the kids trying to make something of themselves..And enough saying those parents can send their kids to tutoring at a cost. WELL guess what so can you it call a sacrifice for the best for our kids, don't buy the new car or newest cell phone, etc.. OUR KIDS DESERVE BETTER

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Lol.

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they don't have lining and shoulder padding

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I meant by less structure. they (nationality, color, or creed doesn't matter)don't have the drive to succeed in school. AND YES THAT STARTS @ HOME.

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How is taking the best and brightest from each school "lowering standards"?

How is taking kids that have succeeded without parental input of $$$$ to prep them and despite challenges in their educational environment "lowering standards"?

Oh, wait ... your problem is that this lowers wallet fatness and paper bag test standards. Got it.

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in one school may not actually be as academically inclined as the worst student in another school.

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While I appreciate the attempt to diversify the exams school, this is not going to work. After working for the Public Schools of Brookline and sending my child to an independent school, it is clear that white kids are not any smarter than any other race child, but they do have access to tutors. So unless she's going to provide tutors to these students a significant amount of the kids will fail out of the school.

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Historically, Boston has opened access to its exam schools based on two equally weighted factors: scores on a widely used private school entrance exam, and marks received in fifth and sixth grades.

Removing the exam from the equation places more importance on the marks received in fifth and sixth grades.

It's possible for a very smart kid to do better than 99% of test-takers without any tutoring or prep whatsoever; this high score could balance out only reasonably good grades received because the kid doesn't apply himself. Such kids are unlikely to do well at Boston's exam schools, which require tolerance for extreme workloads rather than high intelligence. Above a certain level, intelligence doesn't help you at all with six hours of homework.

Removing the exam from the equation shuts the door to kids like those. In theory, only the kids who really apply themselves for As will now get in. Exiting SAT scores are likely to be lower (seriously, they mostly reflect entering ISEE scores), but retention might actually be higher.

Of course, the system now opens itself more to abuse from certain schools which are rumored to improve their own reputations by giving easy As to kids who plan to go to exam schools. And to homeschooled kids (bumper crop this year, thanks COVID), whose parents can give them an A+ in all subjects no matter what they do. But fear not, Latin worshippers, those kids don't tend to stay long.

I'm sure the main reason Casselius is considering this is to address the glaring imbalance between public and private school kids at this moment: namely, the public school kids aren't in school, and the private school kids are. That would likely show up in test results, even this fall's, tutoring or no tutoring.

I kind of like Casselius' scheme, and have proposed it in the past for the reason that, over time, it will create a new motivation to even out residential segregation. Boston's clever, scheming parents will quickly figure out which zip codes give their kids the best chance of getting in to Latin, and move there.

For me, of course, the real question remains whether Boston will ever establish a school with the caliber of Stuyvesant or Thomas Jefferson.

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that grades in bps mean nothing. if you can read and keep your mouth shut youre going to get an A. its a joke.

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Of course, the system now opens itself more to abuse from certain schools which are rumored to improve their own reputations by giving easy As to kids who plan to go to exam schools. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. More abuse, ha ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.

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If they take the top nth percent from each school, grade inflating schools get no advantage.

Understanding statistics and reading the actual plan will be helpful to you in the future. Sadly, there is no amount of special super duper test prep that will help you with that lack of critical thinking.

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You mean...gentrification? The terrible wave that's sweeping long-time residents out of their nice, friendly, walkable neighborhoods with higher rents? The one that's disproportionately hurting Black and Latinx people?

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the slides and documents about the proposed exam school admissions plan, you'll see that this argument was refuted:

"Approximately 83% of students in exam schools remain enrolled between 7th and 10th grade. Students admitted with an average GPA of B have high
rates of continued enrollment in exam schools, particularly economically
disadvantaged (81%) students."

So these kids can do the work.

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There you go again bringing reality into a political argument. Nobody cares about that, just about defending their long-standing biases.

Direct link to the slides.

More intersting tidbits from the slides:

Student preference, as defined by ranking of exam schools, show that over 70% of students living in the three zip codes with the highest median household income prefer BLS, while students in the three zip codes with the lowest median household income show preferences for all three exam schools.

This demonstrates that there is a strong effect of student preference on the economic and racial demographic of BLS.

Current BPS students account for roughly two-thirds of incoming students to Boston’s exam schools, and about 60% of incoming students at BLS. Half of non-BPS (private, parochial, charter, home-schooled) students who applied to exam schools got into BLS, twice the rate of BPS students

That's a pretty impressive bunch of statistics. I am interested in the suggestion that 25% of BPS-educated exam school applicants got into BLS; as per above, not all of those put it first.

Also note, on slide 14, that only pre-COVID grades will be considered.

On slide 19, note "Expand the Exam School Initiative (ESI), beginning as early as 4th grade and running through October of the 6th grade year, focused on academic acceleration in both ELA and math." I wonder if the people who routinely say the main problem is that BPS doesn't educate kids well enough in elementary school will like that.

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Many of the kids in my kids' circle (mostly Black and Latinx folks) select BLA and OB on their applications and prefer them over BLS because there are more students of color and what they perceive as more openness and acceptance. BLS has a "snobby" reputation even among high-achieving kids who plan to go to college. Many of my parent friends who are lifelong Roxbury/Dorchester residents (which I'm not; just last 20 years here) talk aspirationally about hoping their young kids eventually to go to BLA with no mention of BLS.

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At least this is some kind of meritocracy. Still sucks that education is a game of winners and losers, though.

I’m thankful that I don’t have kids. If it takes a village, I sure as hell wouldn’t rely on this one. And I scream from the rooftops about how great Boston is.

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The whole system is sinking.

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ZIP codes are grossly inaccurate for measuring income. A student living in a low-income ZIP may not necessarily be poor, while poor students can also live in high-income ZIPs (e.g. through Section 8 vouchers). For example, a low-income student in Washington-Beech will be part of the 02131 group, which is disadvantageous because it will put them in competition with many middle-class students.

If the goal is reform, the most ideal way to address this problem is at the individual-student level. Obviously, BPS probably doesn't have the resources to collect tax returns from every applicant to the exam schools (as colleges do through FAFSA). A more realistic solution: census tracts, which are slightly better than ZIP codes due to their smaller size. Even the College Board proposed measuring "adversity" by the socioeconomic indicators of a student's home census tract, so if it works nationally, it has to work locally.

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It's an Exam school, that's kind of the point.

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Just raffle off the seats, the results will be the same and BPS could make a few bucks.

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Title says "coming school year", which makes it seem quite distant, but under normal circumstances, for admission in SY2021-22, students would sit for the ISEE (or the new test, NWEA) next month.

Might be helpful to add a line about which group of students this affects - in this case, current 6th graders.

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When will the parents groups start selling torches?

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I bet they go straight to their lawyers.

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How long until Superintendent Brenda Cassellius is forced out?

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Cassellius has touched the third rail of Boston educational policy. She's toast.

It's a catch-22: you can't fix Boston public schools without addressing the problem of the exam schools, including both unequal access to them and their quality. But if you try to change BLS you'll get run out of town.

This means that the problems with Boston public schools aren't all fixable. And it also, amusingly enough, means that BLS falls ever farther behind exam and magnet schools in other cities, like Stuyvesant or Thomas Jefferson.

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Kid - But I've never done anything over a 5K.

Too bad kid. The new super is trying to score points and going after certain groups of people makes them feel better. Now get out there and run.

I am taking bets, you are going to have to wait until June 2028 to get paid out, but the over / under on Class of 2028 graduates from BLS is 270 based on this system.

I hope that everyone does well but messing with a meritocracy that has been in place since really about the 1830's, not 1635, is kind of a dumb idea.

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Here's your bib for the marathon. The rich kids can't even do that 5k that you did, but they get to start 4k from the finish because we paid to drive them there.

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See Below. Your prejudices are racist and outdated. If something comes up about Medford schools, then chime in. Thanks.

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Do you actually know anyone who has taken the exam or has attended any of the exam schools?

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It would be an interesting social experiment, if nothing else, having one class at BLS with higher racial/geographic diversity and lower academic performance compared to all the other classes around it.

But, I think the superintendent's idea will be DOA. Holding an exam in a pandemic isn't impossible. Don't you just have to move the desks six feet apart, and that's it?

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Making schools, actually, public. What's next, nutritious lunches at school?

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in BPS that students/families can choose. The exam schools are to give those students who are more academically advanced a chance to have a curriculum that will challenge them. The kind of curriculum that otherwise would not be suitable for many students who are not as academically advanced or willing to put in hours of homework and studying everyday.

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Now everything will be fair. The exam schools will be dumbed down to the level of every other shitty school in the Boston Public School system. How dare we actually recognize and advance Boston kids who show exceptional academic talent. Maybe instead of scrapping exams, the BPS should scrap the needless busing program that costs us over $100,000,000 a year. Maybe that money could be spent on the indoctrination, I mean, the education of students instead of shuffling them around the city for no reason. They might prevent or slow the coronavirus from spreading with a neighborhood school plan as well. It can’t be a healthy thing to bus kids all over the city when there’s a pandemic happening.

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When white folks had separate water fountains and bathrooms

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I know that might shatter your belief system, but since you didn't go to BLS, you don't understand and probably never will.

It doesn't matter if you were half Cambodian half Ecuadorian girl growing up at Bromely Heath or a 100% horse faced great grandson of a bunch of farmers from County Kerry living in a Victorian behind the Channing Church, you work, you get rewarded. That's it. Was there a social promotion grade for somebody in 8th grade math? You bet, but work hard and get rewarded.

There is a party line amongst people that you can only get into Latin and the other schools if somehow you pass through the 8th grade dances at Holy Name. That is being incredibly disrespectful to kids from all neighborhoods of the city who work their arses off there. There were rich kids from Beacon Hill and poor kids from Dorchester who dropped out because they couldn't hack it. There were rich kids from Beacon Hill and poor kids from Dorchester who made it.

The HFW system pays off. Hate to shatter your stereotypes.

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Merit does not equal your parent's ability to spend money to rig the system in your favor.

Merit does not mean higher test scores anyway, let alone your parents' ability to invest in getting you really good ones.

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Do you have a study showing us that students from all socioeconomic backgrounds have an equal chance at getting into the exam schools?

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You didn't. Where's your study?

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Have you been following the news that you're commenting on about how minority and lower-income students don't have an equal chance of getting into the exam schools? Which is why they're scrapping the method they've been using?

You're really just a troll at this point.

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Out of the 405 members of Boston Latin School's 2016-17 incoming class, 43 - or 10 percent- of students came from one school, Holy Name in West Roxbury. 43 out of 51 students in Holy Name's 2016 graduating class were accepted to BLS. 69% of the Holy Name students who applied had A+ averages. (https://www.wgbh.org/news/2017/09/05/local-news/boston-public-school-stu...)

"In 2019, nearly 20 percent of Boston Latin students were from West Roxbury, compared to 3 percent from Roxbury and 0.7 percent from Mattapan." (https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/02/22/metro/sacred-cow-bostons-educatio...)

With statistics like these, the only question should be why did it take so long to come up with a more equitable admissions policy that rewards hard-working students across the district.

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Ah, so you don't care for Holy Name students.

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Work hard. Get Rewarded. Don't Work, Don't Get Rewarded. It's called life.

I love when the Too Stupid To Get Into Latin crowd chime in about equity and things being fair. Life is not fair. Life's what you make it.

Perhaps some of your children, and a lot of other children, are just blockheads better suited for something else than the Third Declension or translating Plato's Republic.

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that 70% Holy Name 6th graders are the best and the brightest? And it says a lot about your views of exam schools and all the other public schools when you write things like "too stupid to get into Latin". Do you really think you're so special John?

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i also went to BLS, and unfortunately this is what they teach you. this guy's comments sound like most of what i was taught there. they spend more time trying to convince you to buy into their ridiculous meritocracy ideology than they do actually teaching their subjects.

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I had heard there was a racket like that going on, but it’s nice to have some facts.

If more than 2/3 of the kids at a school get an A+ average, then “A+” is just what that school calls a C.

Another tactic Boston could use to combat blatant cheating like that is re-baselining grades for each school. Colleges do that.

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is that at least the way most colleges do it, it takes into account both the overall curve of grades given at the school and the relative difficulty of getting high grades at the school (unless this has changed since I worked in admissions, which is quite possible). At some schools that are deemed through various measures to be "less rigorous," students have their grades cranked down a few notches even if the school isn't inflating grades relative to other students. Grades then end up being lowered from a lot of students in overcrowded underfunded schools. This is in addition to admissions practices such as AP/IB/honors classes being given more weight, but with no consideration for students from schools where these aren't offered or very few are offered.

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Who’s turning back the clock? We have a 90% minority school system. Why is there busing?

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That's nice, dear. Now go make fishy a cup of coffee.

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Cofeve moment? You not making sense has stepped up a notch here.

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She knows a lot more about Boston Latin School than you do, what, with living in the city for a few years for college before moving to a suburb to raise a family.

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She wasn't replying to you.

Must be tough to believe that everything is about you and that white men are persecuted by not being believed just because they are white men.

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How many more Anon racist comments are you going to let through?

Just checking, since this is one of many over the last few weeks.

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uses the adjectives "too stupid" and "blockheads".

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He's been letting through your signed racist comments for years.

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Why not stop creaming off the top students from their neighborhoods to send them to exam schools and instead invest in the curricular advances that would allow EVERY high school in BPS to have highly motivated high-achieving students as part of their student body? And those students can still access rigorous and advanced curriculums within their own neighborhood schools, thus allowing every student in those high schools to have peer examples of excellence to help motivate their own achievement? And create opportunities for students who are not considered globally "gifted" but have specific interests/talents in certain subjects to access advanced courses in those areas with their "exam school-caliber" peers, while still getting the remedial support they need in course areas where they are struggling?

We spend so much time comparing BPS outcomes to those of suburban high schools. But has anyone ever stopped to consider that the concept of a separate "exam school" for advanced students doesn't exist in suburban districts? Yet somehow those students aren't "pulled down" by being in the same buildings as their less academically-gifted classmates...

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For the same reason surgeons work in a hospital, instead of one in every corner convenience store. At some point in life, people end up grouping by ability and interest, rather than putting everyone together by local geography.

The top high schools in the country are magnet exam schools. They're better than almost all non-magnet suburban schools. Boston is lucky to have them when the suburbs don't.

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further up the chain, please look at the documents presented at the School Committee meeting lastnight -- you know, the actual data. In the slides and documents about the proposed exam school admissions plan, you'll see that this argument was refuted:

"Approximately 83% of students in exam schools remain enrolled between 7th and 10th grade. Students admitted with an average GPA of B have high rates of continued enrollment in exam schools, particularly economically disadvantaged (81%) students."

So these kids can do the work.

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That kids who can get good grades don’t drop out? I would expect that number to be around 100% no?

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some attrition due to family moves, circumstances, etc... And I don't know what is considered normal attrition. But plenty of people have used the argument that public school kids are underprepared and can't do the work, and this statistic refutes that argument.

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It says students admitted with a B average stay enrolled at the same rate as the general student body, not students who maintain a B average while at BLS.

Granted, that's students admitted with a B average who scored well on the exams, and it's possible B students in general would fare worse, but this idea that exams are the only way to figure out which students "show exceptional academic talent" and can handle the workload at BLS? It's not supported by the data I've seen.

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I don’t know any kid that received an invitation to BLS with a GPA of B. That just has not happened in my children’s times. You need the A or A+ averages to even be considered for your top rank exam school.

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Next cancel all civil service tests for police and fire and hire based on zip codes.

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That would work.

They aren't exactly ruling out a ranking system, just changing it to not involve a measuring instrument that is regularly gamed by rich people.

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aspiring Latin students from Milton, Brookline, Newton, etc? Asking for a friend.

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Their parents will rent an apartment in a lower income zip code. Problem solved.

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BLS won't be what it used to be. As an alumnus from a poor background who had grinded through the six years there, it makes me very sad to see the lowered standards.

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My grandfather grew up in Chelsea but he went to Boston Latin in 1925. I often wonder how he could go there.

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The three exam schools are there to educate our best and brightest. These schools are the shining points of light in the BPS. Any change which lowers the bar defeats the entire purpose of the schools.

P.S. if you take away the exam, then are they still going to be called "exam schools".

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How does going with class rank lower the bar?

Seems to me that it just screens out the wallet testing effect.

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You're making a leap from doing away with exams to lowering the bar for admissions. They are not automatically the same thing, and the data I've seen suggests the connection is much more tenuous than most would assume. Entrance exams are not controversial just because they're unfair (even though they are); there are also serious doubts about whether or not they effectively measure what they claim to measure.

It seems like people claim to be upset about "any change which lowers the bar", but since it has not been established that the proposed changes would lower the bar, the opposition seems to be to merely "any change." Sometimes change is good. If the point of the schools is to educate our best and brightest, and the current system keeps many of those students out for reasons unrelated to their individual ability, a change could be completely in keeping with their mission.

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No need to exaggerate. If you want to find the actual best and brightest, they have better options than BLS.

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Thinks this is a one year plan, you're just kidding yourself. Once this is implemented, they never revert back to testing. NEVER!

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Once the exam is gone, it’ll never come back.

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are worried about grade inflation in certain schools, they would want a standardized test to show whether those "inflated" grades are accurate.
If they want more black and Hispanic students in the exam schools, then start working with them starting in kindergarten. By the time they are in fifth grade, if they are not at grade level or advanced level, it would be very hard to get any student up to speed where they can compete with students who have had educational advantages throughout their earlier elementary years.

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