According to the Wall Street Journal*, one in three students at Newton North is eligible for extra time to take the SATs. The WSJ looked at the percentage of students who are eligible for extra time allowance because of their IEP (Individualized Education Plan) or 504 designations. This is a much higher percentage than at lower-income high schools. You can read a summary of the story in this report from Commonwealth Magazine. 

The Journal quotes School Superintendent David Fleishman saying, 

“Do I think that more than 30% of our students have a disability? No. We have a history of over-identification [as learning-challenged] that is certainly an issue in the district.”

It goes on to say:

In Newton North, the school near Boston where about a third of students are eligible for extra time on college entrance exams, Dr. Fleishman, the superintendent, said virtually every time a student sees a private counselor for evaluation, he or she leaves with a recommendation for a special accommodation. Dr. Fleishman said Newton is working to reduce the number of students who get these.

The article doesn’t break down the percentage of students in Newton on 504 plans specifically but nationally, the average among wealthy school districts is 4.2 percent, compared to 1.6 percent at low-income schools. 

Many of us were disturbed by the stories about rich parents buying college acceptance for their children. The WSJ article and Superintendent Fleishman’s statements insinuate that, here in Newton, we are allowing parents to buy special accommodations to give their children an edge. Is this an accurate depiction?  I’d love to see comments from School Committee members here.

*You need a subscription to get behind the Wall Street Journal’s paywall.