Boston exam school task force settles on new entrance requirements that adds poverty indicator

A poverty indicator is being recommended along with a grade point average and exam score as the new admissions process for the city’s prestigious exam schools.

The task force convened by Boston Public Schools to recommend a new entrance procedure reached that consensus Tuesday night, but with many saying they were opposed to the proposal.

The high poverty indicator gives extra points to students attending high poverty schools, homeless students, students in the care of the Department of Children and Families, and kids in the Boston Housing Authority.

Under the recommendation, 20% of invitations at each of the city’s three exam schools will be allocated by a citywide straight rank of the best applicants.

The remaining 80% of invitations will be allocated by straight rank within specialized tiers. Such tiers are sorted by socioeconomic status, including other factors such as homelessness or DCF care.

During a Monday night meeting, it had appeared the task force had agreed on a 100% tier ranking but, citing community feedback and political pressure, some members changed their mind, much to the dismay of other members who said they now oppose the 80/20 recommendation.

“We really don’t agree with this last minute political pressure on the task force,” said Acacia Aguirre, a task force member and parent of a student at the John D. O’Bryant School of Math and Science.

“To me it feels like consensus doesn’t matter anymore,” said Simon Chernow, a task force member and Boston Latin Academy student.

“We had consensus and consensus was taken away from us. That is what happened. And I think it has made this evening fairly challenging for me,” said Zena Lum, a Boston Latin Academy parent.

Rosann Tung, an independent researcher on the task force asked that opposed members be allowed to share their views at the school committee meeting.

The task force will present the recommendation to the school committee on Wednesday night. The committee won’t vote on it until its next meeting in mid-July, and can make changes.

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