Parents at the North End’s Eliot School are fuming over the introduction of the so-called ‘10-point’ penalty placed on some high performing Boston Public Schools in order to level the playing field for entrance to Boston’s exam school like Boston Latin, Boston Latin Academy and the O’Bryant.
The Eliot, which serves many students from East Boston, the North End, Charlestown, the Back Bay and Beacon Hill has for years enjoyed a high success rate of students getting into one of the three exam schools.
Eliot School parents are now arguing the introduction of what they are calling the ‘10-point penalty’ will hinder their child’s ability to get into the top Boston Public High Schools.
The Eliot, and five other schools have been deemed high performing schools with a lower percentage of low-income students than most other BPS schools, so a student at the Eliot getting straight As in 6th or 8th grade hoping to get into an exam school will get 100 points in the exam school admissions system. This score will be used to determine the students eligibility for an exam school seat. The other schools are the Lyndon and Kilmer Schools in West Roxbury and the BTU Pilot School in Roslindale.
However, at all other BPS schools straight A students will receive 110 points. Not only will Eliot School students rank below all other straight A students at other BPS schools, they will also receive fewer points than any BPS student who receives an A- average.
Kelsey Barrett, a parent at the Eliot School, began an online petition hoping to get 1,000 signatures. Once the petition receives 1,000 signatures it will be sent to Mayor Michelle Wu.
“Because of this 10 point penalty, the top achieving students at the Eliot and four other Boston Public Schools will have no access to Boston Latin School, Boston Latin Academy or the O’Bryant,” said Barrett. “The original justification for these 10 points was to offset the higher performance of privileged students on the BPS entrance exam. However, no entrance exam was given last year due to the pandemic. Therefore, for this year’s 6th and 8th grade students, only the GPA will be used. In the absence of an exam, adding 10 points to the GPA scores of all BPS students except those attending five BPS schools serves only to penalize these BPS students. It will unfairly limit the academic opportunities of these students compared to students of similar socioeconomic status at the other BPS schools. I am a single mother with mixed race children in the Boston Public School system, including a 6th grade student. I am writing this petition, together with other concerned BPS parents, asking you (Mayor Wu) to act immediately to suspend the plan to apply a 10 point penalty to the 6th grade students attending five BPS schools that are being alienated by this year’s BPS exam school admissions process.”
Barrett argues the 10 point penalty introduces a systematic bias against the students attending the Eliot and the other four BPS schools.
“The 6th and 8th grade students at these five BPS schools are being penalized because fewer than 40% of students at these schools meet the definition of low income,” she said. “Students at these five BPS schools come from a range of socioeconomic and racial backgrounds. Their access to a middle and high school education at Boston Latin School (and other exam schools) is being blocked by BPS itself, even though BPS, through its lottery system, assigned these students to these schools. This 10 point penalty sends a clear message to my daughter and all students at these 5 BPS schools that the city of Boston cares less about them than the students attending other BPS schools.”
The online petition, which can be found at www.change.org/p/mayor-wu-no-10-point-penalty-for-students-at-boston-public-schools, has already gained over 600 signatures.
“I’m signing this because equity means helping the dreams of marginalized students to provide equal opportunity but it does not mean squashing the dreams of exceeding hard-working students regardless of background in the process,” said Rose-Marie Gomez who signed the petition.
Chris Coche said, “I’m signing because of the lack of transparency in pushing this change in admission through and intentionally putting barriers against students from a handful of schools-schools that due to a lottery system they had no control over where they get assigned.”
Kathleen Chardavoyne, who has closely followed the School Committee proceedings on the new exam school assignment process said BPS knows that the distribution of the 10 bonus points will be unfair.
“Their own simulations show that 568 of the students receiving the 10 high-poverty bonus points are not economically disadvantaged while 131 students who are economically disadvantaged do not receive bonus points (just because they attend the Eliot or one of the other four BPS schools,” she said.