Thursday, April 30, 2009

Magnet Admissions Process Changes

Race will no longer help determine who gets admitted to magnet schools in Pittsburgh. The city's school board last night approved a new system that takes race out of the equation. That's in order to comply with a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision barring school districts from considering race in student placements.

Superintendent Mark Roosevelt says it was time to revisit Pittsburgh's system, anyway. He says the old system was based on the idea that a certain number of slots should be reserved for African-American students... but at some schools, the African-American population already exceeded that number of slots.

Roosevelt says the system the district has adopted is still expected to generate diverse school populations. It uses a weighted lottery. Students who, for instance, live close to a particular school, or participate in the district's free/reduced price lunch program, will have greater odds of being admitted. Roosevelt says a weighted system was used at the new Science and Technology Academy, and he's pleased with the results.

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