In past years, 8th grade students in other schools who had applied for 9th grade at BSGE were put through a similar selection process as prospective 7th graders: a test and an interview. Students were also asked to submit a recommendation, and copies of their report cards and standardized test grades. However, the number of students applying to BSGE for high school in the past several years has increased a lot. Due to the sudden demand, there is no test or interview for those applying for 9th grade anymore. Instead, they are judged and offered admission solely based on their grades in four subjects (math, english, social studies, and science), standardized test scores, and attendance record.
So why is there a sudden increase in applicants? BSGE, which is still a relatively new school, has only become well-known in the last few years. In the spring of 2012, U.S. News and World Report ranked BSGE as the top high school in the state, and #21 on a list of national high schools. This publicity might explain the significantly larger number of applicants. According to BSGE guidance counselor, Tim David-Lang, this year for 9th grade alone “over a thousand students ranked BSGE as one of their desired schools.” This skyrocketing number of applicants would make administering and grading admissions tests very difficult. Therefore, there is no longer an entrance test, and not even a recommendation – BSGE does not have the capacity to go through all of them and rank them. Instead, the “DOE computers create matches.” The number of high school spots available in BSGE is determined by the number of current eighth graders who will transfer from BSGE this year. “Based on the number of vacancies, BSGE will receive what is likely to be only a handful of students as newly entering 9th graders,” he explained. This means that BSGE will have a very low acceptance rate this year, with probably less than 2% of the applicants gaining admission for high school.
Many new 9th graders believe that compared to their admission process last year, the new system makes it unfairly easy for current 8th graders to get in. Last year, 9th grade candidates took a test to get in. “The test was hard, I’m not going to lie,” Khalid Ali ‘16 remembers. With a “no test, no interview” policy, getting into BSGE in 9th grade will be a breeze for anyone with good grades. “It’s easy for someone from an “easy” school to get in,” he added.
The new admissions process raises an interesting question. Are grades from middle school enough to determine whether BSGE is the right school for a student? A 95 in another school will probably not translate to a 95 in BSGE. Previously, with tests, interviews and teacher recommendations, there was more criteria for the school to consider when looking at high school candidates. Now there are only grades, making us wonder how much a single number can tell you about a student.