Boston Public Schools officials said that a program with advanced learning classes would be cancelled over concerns that the classes served disproportionate racial groups.
The program known as Advanced Work Classes was intended to serve high-performing students in the fourth, fifth and sixth grade. Students are encouraged to study their subjects in a deeper and non-traditional manner.
School officials became concerned when a report showed that the program was disproportionately serving white students, and underserving black and Hispanic students.
The district analysis found that more than 70% of the students in the program were white or Asian, while nearly 80% of the students in the district are Hispanic or black.
“This is just not acceptable,” said School Committee member Lorna Rivera in a school meeting in January. “I’ve never heard these statistics before, and I’m very very disturbed by them.”
Rivera cited one finding at one school that showed the program included 60% white fourth graders though a majority of third graders are black or Hispanic.
Superintendent Brenda Cassellius told WGBH News on Friday that they would put the program on hiatus over the racial findings.
“There’s been a lot of inequities that have been brought to the light in the pandemic that we have to address,” Cassellius said. “There’s a lot of work we have to do in the district to be antiracist and have policies where all of our students have a fair shot at an equitable and excellent education.”
Students would be eligible in the program if they scored high on a test in third grade. Of those, participants were chosen by lottery. Officials said 453 students were invited to the program last fall, 143 students applied and 116 enrolled for the 2021 year.
Cassellius said students already enrolled in the program could continue, but it would be phased out for fourth and fifth grades.
Here’s more about disparities at Boston public schools:
Disparities in the Boston Public Schools