Parent Pamela Conte discusses class rankings during Thursday night’s Haverhill School Committee meeting.
Gifted students are being disadvantaged by Haverhill High School’s participation in the Haverhill Early College Program with Northern Essex Community College, parents told Haverhill School Committee members last night.
Parents complained honors and advanced placement students—representing the top 20 percent of learners—are losing class rankings to “middle of the class academically” Early College participants. Parents reported advanced students saw “drastic changes,” reducing student rankings by as much as “20 or more spots.” Parent Pamela Conte said students only recently noticed the impact.
“They noticed that the kids who were in the top 10 had all dropped down, and there were kids in there now that hadn’t been in there before. And then the kids seemed to figure out who are these kids and why did they suddenly drop in to these higher spots. They started to realize they were kids that were participating in the Early College program,” she said.
Colin Norton told the school committee the policy prevented his son from being accepted into Boston University.
“I actually met with the dean of admission at Boston University and, in reviewing Zack’s transcript, they looked to take the top five percent from most schools—they are very, very selective—and that was the reason he gave me that he was denied admission.”
Scully said class ranking is not typically a factor in deciding whether a student is accepted at a major university. He did not say whether he would make any changes to the program.
Conte, making a comparison between Amesbury’s and Haverhill’s Early College programs, wondered if Northern Essex placed pressure on Haverhill to adopt the ranking system. She added, honors students have been denied admission to the Early College offering.“They indicated to her, well no, you know this isn’t for your daughter because your daughter is in a higher percentage of the class. She’s an honor student. This really isn’t a program for honor students,” Conte said.
School committee members said the Education Reform law prevents them from interfering with Superintendent James F. Scully’s decisions on the matter. School Committeemen Paul A. Magliocchetti and Shaun Toohey said they are further prohibited by the state Ethics Commission from participating in the debate since the commission acknowledges there is a financial interest because class rankings potentially impact scholarships.
In a statement, Northern Essex Community College says class weighting is up to individual school districts.
“Northern Essex partners with many local high schools, offering programs like the Early College Program, which are designed to be sure students are prepared to succeed in college. We’re very proud of our Early College Programs which address college affordability, college preparedness, and college completion.
“In addition to Haverhill High School, Northern Essex has partnerships with Amesbury High School, Newburyport High School, Methuen High School, Pentucket Regional High School; Triton Regional High School; Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School; Lawrence High School; Phoenix Academy, Lawrence; High School Learning Center, Lawrence; Sanborn Regional High School, and Timberlane Regional High School.
“Choices about weighting Early College classes for purposes of class ranking are made by high schools, and NECC does not participate in those decisions.