Paul Reville On Boston Shool Committee Nixing Exam Test

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The Boston School Committee decided unanimously to ditch the exam schools admission test for one year due to the challenges presented by administering an exam during a pandemic.

The new plan instead will rely on grades, MCAS scores, and ZIP codes to determine eligibility and acceptance.

While the School Committee accepted the new plan 7-0, former Education Secretary Paul Reville told Boston Public Radio Thursday it is an imperfect solution to the problem.

“It’s not going to go away as a controversy,” said Reville. “This is a flawed plan, but any plan would be flawed in these times. To get a fair calculation of merit in the absence of a tool that applies to all students … to do that in this environment of coronavirus is impossible to do, so they’re settling for the next best thing.”

The newly-approved system reserves the first 20 percent of seats at Boston Latin School, Boston Latin Academy and the O'Bryant School of Mathematics for Boston students with the highest pre-COVID grades in BPS, charter, private and religious schools in the city. The remaining 80 percent would be offered in rounds based on grades in individual zip codes, starting with those zip codes with the lowest median incomes.

Paul Reville is former Secretary of Education and a professor at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education where he also runs the Education Redesign Lab. His latest book, co-authored with Elaine Weiss, is “Broader, Bolder, Better: How Schools and Communities Help Students Overcome the Disadvantages of Poverty.”

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