MaST Back on School Board Agenda, This Time for Admissions Process

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The county Board of Education will review the application and selection process for students hoping to attend Marine Science & Technologies Early College High School (MaST) at its regular monthly meeting Wednesday, Nov. 6.

If the new process is approved as presented, it will radically change the criteria on which students are admitted. No vote will be taken tonight.

Reviewing the application process was one requirement the board set when they approved the opening of MaST in July after a weeks-long battle between that entity and supporters of the school.

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In May, the board voted 3-2 to close the school, initially citing a lack of state funding, then questioning the purpose of the school, its target population and its potential effect on the county’s traditional high schools.

Learn more about MaST’s near closure

According to the resolution, the board will specifically be looking at whether MaST is “adequately recruiting and admitting students in the categories of ‘at risk’ and ‘first generation college students'” and preparing them for futures in maritime-based fields.

After the resolution was made, a team compiled by the school system redesigned the application process. The revised system is much more comprehensive than the current one in three key ways.

First, it outlines the application and admissions process in detail from start to finish, and provides step-by-step instructions on how potential students are to be screened.

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The current system does not outline an application and admissions process, relying on a more qualitative than codified approach to admissions.

Second, it specifically requires that MaST admit students proportionally from each of the three high school districts. There are 50 slots available each year, and students from any county distract can apply. However, the number of students admitted from each district must be proportional to the average daily membership (ADM) of the incoming 9th grade class. ADM is a method of measuring a student population.

The current system does not specifically require admissions to be divided proportionally among the three high schools, which vary greatly in student body size.

Third, it dramatically re-weights the points-based admissions rubric, shifting it away from academic performance and toward recommendations.

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The proposed system awards applicants up to 125 points based on four components, three of which are personal recommendations from school faculty or staff. College exposure and desired area of study round out the rubric.

The current system weighs 10 components equally, awarding each applicant up to 100 points. Those components are focused primarily on academic performance, but include discipline history, attendance and family college exposure too.

These changes have the potential to radically change the “type” of student admitted to MaST.

In the revised system, personal recommendations make up 60 percent of the total points. The current system does not award points based on recommendations, but takes them into consideration anecdotally.

College exposure is weighted more heavily in the new system – 20 percent of the total points compared to 10 percent.

Finally, the new system introduces desired area of study and gives it a 20 percent weight. The current system does not consider an applicant’s desired area of study.

The two rubrics are presented below:

The current MaST admissions rubric
The proposed MaST admissions rubric

Though no vote is on tonight’s agenda, the board could vote on the new process as early as December, depending on the amount and types of changes requested of the revision team.

As for now, MaST is almost exactly three months into its second year and serves 100 students in grades nine and 10.