Pilot schools stack the deck

Eight of Boston’s 10 “pilot” high schools — quasi-independent schools created to compete with charters — have set admissions barriers, reports the Boston Globe. Pilot schools have been hailed for superior performance, but it’s not clear how much is due to screening out unsuccessful and unmotivated students.

The pilot high schools, run by the public school system, often demand student transcripts, teacher recommendations, and essays from applicants, practices more common in private schools, a Globe review of admissions policies has found.

Boston’s superintendent and others say the hurdles fly in the face of the pilot schools’ original purpose, which was to show that given more freedom in budgeting, teaching, and hiring, they could produce higher test scores with the same pool of students. The goal was to have traditional Boston public schools then replicate the success.

Pilot students earn higher grades and are more likely to go on to college than students at traditional high schools.

Some charter schools also require parents to come to an informational meeting or students to write about why they want to attend the school, but the Globe found no pattern of charters enrolling higher-scoring students.

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  1. I’ve unfortunately not heard of these schools. I’ll have to keep an eye on them as I’m curious to see how the findings continue to pan out.

  2. Oklahoma City has a similar set of schools. Here they are called specialty schools. One middle school and another high school only take students scoring in the top 20%. (Charters by law in Oklahoma can not qualify the students they accept by test scores or grades.)

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