Apparently, Boston’s elite Boston Latin School is no longer so elite. Here’s why (boldface mine):
The prestigious Boston Latin School is being downgraded in state rankings because not enough white students took this year’s PARCC exams, and a frustrated Mayor Martin J. Walsh is calling on residents to protest the state education board’s decision….
Boston Latin and the Roger Clap Elementary School in Dorchester both fell to Level 2 due to a lack of participation under state rankings today, a ranking that will hold for a year.
“You shouldn’t and you can’t penalize two of the best schools in our district and two of the best schools in the country,” Walsh said, noting Boston Latin is a “feeder school for Harvard.”
But DESE Commissioner Mitchell Chester said Boston schools should have been aware a lack of participation in the exams could lead to downgrades in rankings.
“We’ve been very clear with schools and districts for the last 15 years that we’ve expected full participation and we made that very clear to districts that took the PARCC test,” Chester said at a press conference, saying the statewide assessments provided important information for educators. “I believe it’s quite fair, we gave a lot of notice. Districts that made that choice knew the ground rules.”
…Federal standards require 95 percent of a school’s population to participate in state testing, according to DESE spokeswoman Jacquelyn Reis, or else the school cannot be designated Level 1. Last spring, Boston schools used the new PARCC test instead of the MCAS as their state test.
Under federal standards, 95 percent of a school’s subgroups — which are broken down by ethnic and economic background, among other factors — must participate as well to make Level 1, Reis said. At Boston Latin, 40 white students did not take the eighth-grade math exam this spring, which lowered that subgroup below the required 95 percent.
How exactly are schools supposed to force students and their parents to participate? Students are rightly frustrated with Boston’s schools, and protesting something they feel (correctly, in my opinion*) is harming their education is to be lauded, not penalized.
Another spectacular education reform success…
*As long as the tests have consequences, including reputational, they will be gamed, and thus warp classroom instruction.