Harvard University

Boston Public Schools Consider Shift in Top Schools Entrance Exam

The consideration comes after a Harvard study found the admission tests blocked students of color from attending Boston Public Schools' top exam schools

The interim superintendent of Boston Public Schools is considering a "new shift" regarding the entrance exam required by the district's top three schools.

Laura Perille is looking at replacing the test needed to get into Boston Latin School and two other prestigious institutions in the district, according to the Boston Globe. The possibility came up during Tuesday's city council hearing that looked at school admission policies.

"Boston Public Schools is not making any change to the entrance exam itself," Boston Public Schools Press Secretary Dan O'Brien wrote in a statement Wednesday. "What we are doing is implementing a new shift to provide the exam school entrance test in students' classrooms in the fall of 2019. We believe this is a positive step forward to increase access for all students. Because of this, BPS is not proposing any other changes to the exam for this fall." 

However, discussion about adjusting the exams is nothing new.

A recent Harvard University study determined the admission tests blocked students of color from attending Boston Latin and the two other exams schools, regarded as the city’s best public schools.

The problem, according to that report, starts with the application process. It requires students to take a different test designed for private schools as opposed to subjects taught in a Boston Public elementary classroom. It’s not uncommon for students with funds to take test prep courses, leaving lower-income students at a disadvantage.

Perille tells the Globe, options to attend the exam schools could include another test.

Right now this appears to be just talk. The school department told the Globe that no changes to the exam would be proposed for this fall.

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