Toward Greater Accessibility and Inclusivity

Sarah Aldag
SPS Board of Trustees approves application fee waiver and optional testing for the 2021-22 school year
The St. Paul’s School Board of Trustees voted unanimously to waive application fees and make standardized testing optional for students interested in enrolling for the 2021-22 school year. In addition to the two-year tuition freeze currently in effect, the move is a further demonstration of the School’s commitment to greater accessibility, inclusivity, and as diverse a community as possible.  
 
“This is an important time in this country (and in this world) for St. Paul’s School to encourage talented young people, regardless of their economic situation, to apply,” says Rector Kathy Giles. “Our students, alumni, and others have called on us to make change and want to see the actual steps we are taking to make our School more accessible and inclusive. I believe this is one step we can take to deliver on our promise of greater accessibility and inclusivity.”
 
 Dean of Admission Scott Bohan sees the fee waiver as one less barrier to the School’s commitment to a more diverse student population. Currently, domestic students pay $75, and international students $125 to apply. For many families, that cost may be prohibitive and dissuade promising students from pursuing enrollment in St. Paul’s School. 
 
 “For the past few years, the Admission Office has intentionally discussed the accessibility and inclusivity of our admission process,” says Bohan. “We have considered where we travel, the questions we ask on our application, gender identification options, our rating rubric, and many other topics. We have worked to understand the type of students who do well at SPS and how we might consider supporting students from less traditional backgrounds. We have done some good work throughout our community to improve how we invite, enroll, and support a diverse group of students.”
 
Standardized testing is another hurdle for some families who cannot pay for test prep or tutors to improve test scores. According to Bohan, school-based preparation is uneven, with some schools offering practice programs for one or more years. “The process is not the same for all. Those who can take the test three or four times will have a better chance to improve their SuperScore,” Bohan notes. The COVID-19 pandemic adds another dimension to an already uneven landscape, with plans for online test delivery. “For most students, this will mean they are taking the test at home. They will need a laptop or desktop computer, a quiet space for hours, and reliable internet. The experience will be different for kids depending on their resources .” 
 
The School also hired two additional admission officers who will focus on expanding outreach across the country, strengthening existing relationships where the School is already known and opening new avenues in communities where the School is not as familiar. “We hope to introduce more communities and people to the opportunities at St. Paul’s School,” Bohan adds.

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