Efforts to diversify Boston’s elite high schools spur hope and outrage
Emily Chan is in the sixth grade, the crucial year to get into one of Boston’s three exam schools, which serve grades seven to 12. In the past, the pressure of the entrance test has been intense, and Emily wasn’t planning to apply.
But for the first time in nearly 60 years, students won’t have to sweat through an exam to land a spot. Instead, Emily was invited to apply based on her pre-pandemic academic record. So she threw her name in for all three schools.
The one-year change in admissions policy was prompted by the pandemic and a desire to diversify the selective schools, in which Black and Latino students are underrepresented. For the first time, the city plans to use ZIP codes to place students, along with their GPAs, with priority given to low-income areas.
The move is spurring hope among school desegregation advocates who want the exam schools to look more like Boston’s public schools overall. But the temporary change has also been met with outrage: Some say eliminating the tests could destroy the very backbone and utility of exam schools.
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