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One year without exams isn't enough to peel away the racism inherent at the exam schools, BLA senior says

Boston Parents Schoolyard News posts a copy of the essay Khymani James wrote as part of his application to Columbia. James is a Boston Latin Academy senior and the student representative on the School Committee, which voted in October to eliminate the exam-school exam for one year due to Covid-19.




And use grammar school grades only to determine admission, how would the admissions people know that grades are standard across schools and across different teachers and that there is no inflation or other shenanigans going on? That is, could they be certain they are really admitting the most talented/hardest working/most ambitious students? Or should admission be by lottery? If by lottery, is that fair to the most motivated students who have worked the hardest so far? And would lottery admissions result eventually in a decline in the reputation of these places, which would no longer be "exam schools" at all but merely "former exam schools"?
Should the SAT's or whatever they call it for college these days also be scrapped?

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there’s already a pretty long list of prestigious schools that have made the SAT optional for admission.

perfect, good etc.

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If BLS follows the Harvard admission model, it will help if your kid rows on the grammar school crew team and takes advanced classes like AP spelling and AP arithmetic (definitely C, not AB). It also helps if the kids parents are BLS alumni or one is President of a large country.

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could they be certain they are really admitting the most talented/hardest working/most ambitious students

Couldn't we say the same about the exam? Who's to say that this exam accurately and consistently finds the most talented/hardest working/most ambitious students, vs, say, the best tutored or the best test-takers, or the ones who happened to have a better breakfast that morning?

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is whether we want our taxpayer-funded elite schools to reward the students who already will do extremely well in life regardless of whether they attend, or if we want this opportunity available to anyone who wants it (and has shown through some measure that they are willing and able to handle it).

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Is the hard part. How would you determine who gets in, eeka? Also remember that "taxpayer-funded elite schools" exist in many wealthy, overwhelming white Boston suburbs and richly reward those who will already do well in life regardless of their academic skills, ambition, work ethic, character, or talents. So all Boston kids are already at a huge disadvantage vis a vis those kids, arguably even the kids from West Roxbury. The exam schools provide a chance, like the one that was provided to the young man who wrote this essay and who most likely performed well on the BLA entrance exam. They provide a chance to compete for future rewards with the suburban rich kids. Would the young man who wrote this essay be going to Columbia if he hadn't attended BLA? And would he have gotten into BLA if it wasn't for the entrance exam? For instance, if entrance was via lottery? Maybe, but quite possibly not.

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Suburban “elite” schools have basic and remedial classes. Exam schools do not. What makes you think your exam student now wouldn’t go to Columbia if he/she went to a “neighborhood” school (if you took away exam schiols) Without exam schools those ap/honors classes go to the neighborhood schools like they do in the suburbs.

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Maybe it would, eventually. I wonder how many kids go to ivies from non-exam BPS high schools now.

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Determine the difference between Andover High and Lawrence High? Or Brighton High and Brookline High?

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Turns out the competitive colleges have staff that do the research and actually tour the schools in their assigned territory, so they really do know the difference between a B at Boston Latin and a B at English High.

One of the advantages of BLS is the parents and alumni association that raises money to (among other things) fund staff and a class Junior year that takes the kids through the whole admissions process. They have an evening meeting where the guidance department brings in a panel of admissions counselors to explain the process (#1-the essay should show who you are as a person so they can get to know you better rather than the perfect cookie-cutter essay on what you think they want to hear.) They have a college fair (in addition to the city-wide one).

Should all the schools have those things? Yep. Are people willing to pay taxes to support that? Nope. Is this a clear and easy thing to fix? Absolutely not. Anyone who says we can right the wrongs with "one simple fix" is selling something.

In order to offer the same classes as BLS, there needs to be economies of scale. You can't afford to hire a Latin teacher for a school if there's only 6 kids who would take it. I support more access to online classes for kids who are at a school that doesn't have an AP or other classes that they want to pursue. I support expanding Advanced Work to more schools (again, you need enough kids, year-over-year to support the faculty position). I support more advanced classes at the non-exam schools.

But it's not one size fits all student's needs.

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imagine the vitriol headed your way if you give some kid at the Beethoven a B, tanking their chances of getting an exam school seat.

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