hero image

With eighth-graders in Baltimore vie for a chance in the city’s best schools, there is a feeling that the admission process of the district is putting those learning at a disadvantage. This comes barely two years after students raised the problem.

Selection process disadvantages English learners

According to a student group organizing a Multicultural and open Society (SOMOS) at Baltimore City College High School, the criteria of determination of eligibility for selection to the best schools in the district disadvantaged students whose second language is English. As a result, despite English learners making around 7% of students in Baltimore they nonetheless account for less than 1% of students at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, City College, Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, and Western High School.

However, officials of Baltimore City Public Schools indicate that they have taken measures to support students learning English. They nevertheless indicate that the evaluation entrance criteria will take some time, and it will be part of the broader examination of acceptance of students to selective schools.

Eligibility criteria to schools need review

Chief of communication and community engagement Tim Hike-Hubbard indicates that they need to look at the whole selection process to the district. He adds that there is a need to fix the whole district and come up with ways of creating equity for all kids.

Although SOMOs agree with this, it nonetheless holds that the district has not shown urgency in responding or adopting necessary solutions to address the disparities. SOMOs students are of the opinion that the formula used to determine admissibility into selective schools is causing the disparity. The formula involves a score made up of standardized test scores of students in Math and English as well as attendance and overall grades.

However, the calculation varies from school to school, and students who want to get into Polytechnic Institute and City Colleges need considerably higher scores to get admission. In 2018, SOMOs established that English learners were receiving low composite scores regardless of having high grades. The district has promised to look at the issue.