The last time around, the letter was a much bigger deal because that’s how the Parent Imperfect found out about Vince’s exam school assignment. This year, when the letter came on Wednesday, it was anticlimactic. We already knew that Connie had been invited to the nation’s oldest public school, which is what we need to know to make a decision about next year.
But the letter is not content to tell us what we need to know. It also gives us Connie’s numerical score on each section of the ISEE test. We have no idea what these raw numbers mean, although it was nice to see that her raw number was more or less the same on each section.
Then came another set of meaningless numbers. The letter tells us that, of the 2009 children who took the test and chose Boston Latin School as their first choice, Connie ranked “X,” taking into account both her test grade and the summary of her grades in fifth and sixth grade that has appeared, as if by magic, there on the page. Again, this ranking number doesn’t mean a lot to us, but we were curious to see that her ranking for BLS was actually “higher” (better) than it was for the other schools. How is that possible? The letter doles out these numbers, but provides no explanation.
In any case, without much discussion, Liz and I decided that we would continue the time-honored tradition of not sharing with our children this ranking. In Vince’s case, that worked fine. He actually asked for this number for the very first time about two months ago. Only three of the 39 students in his sixth-grade class got invited to BLS and these were not kids (including Vince) who were going to rush into school and start comparing their numerical rankings. Liz hid the letter somewhere (in fact, I have no idea where it is) and we sort of forgot about it.
But not all sixth grades (or sixth graders) are alike. Did it slip our mind that we decided to have Connie go to an Advanced Work Class? It seems that the next day, nearly everyone in Connie’s class was talking about their ranking (I must wonder if it was really “almost everyone”). In the more competitive AWC environment, this question of the number took on prime importance for some. According to Ms. Connie, three of the young ladies in her class ranked in the top 16 of all children taking the test throughout the BPS, so she was more than curious about her number. I’d like an audit of those results…
Liz and I looked at each other, suddenly realizing that we should, of course, have talked to Connie about the letter and the number before she went to school the next day. When we sheepishly told her that we had received the letter and, as in the case of her brother, had decided not to share the number, drama ensued.
Would we please not compare her with her brother or assume that because something was the right thing to do with him, it is the right way to treat her? It’s bad enough that she can’t see TV shows, will never have her own laptop and has a phone from some other time that barely does text messages…now we’re not going to give her a chance to be proud of how she did on an important test? Having weirdos for parents is more than a girl can take sometimes.
We wavered before the real (and somewhat justified) emotions of youth denied, but did not give in (at least as far as I know). We apologized for not telling her about the letter the day before, but insisted that nothing good can come of her knowing a number that can only serve to make some people feel better and others feel not so good. The only thing that matters is what schools she has to choose from, right? I could see in her teary eyes that she was ready to go to all of the other meaningless numbers that seem quite important to us, but she spared us that observation.
Why does the BPS feel that it needs to tell this group of parents exactly where their child ranked on the private school admissions test that they use to decide who will go to the only public middle and high schools that have anything like the resources needed to educate adolescents? Why, when so much important information is not shared with parents, does this tidbit deserve to see the light of day?
Now I have to find the letter. With all our focus on the number, I’m not sure we got to the part of the letter that tells us how we need to respond to confirm that Connie will, indeed, join her brother at the nation’s oldest. Once bitten, twice…gnawed.
- The Exam School Choice #10, The Golden Fleece (parentimperfectct.wordpress.com)
- Our school’s got talent: Why pupils’ achievements can’t always be measured by exams (schoolsimprovement.net)