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McCann Updates Admissions Policy with Equity in Mind
By Brian Rhodes, iBerkshires Staff
04:18AM / Monday, November 22, 2021
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — In response to state regulations, McCann Technical School has updated its admissions policy to be more equitable and unbiased for all potential students.

"We've gone through and, in an effort to make McCann more accessible, we've taken a look at our admissions policy and revised it," said McCann Principal Justin Kratz. "To both line up with what the state is saying we have to do, regulation wise, and also what we want to do as a school philosophically. We want to give vocational education to as many kids as we can."

Kratz detailed the changes at Thursday's Northern Berkshire Vocational Regional School Committee meeting. The board unanimously approved both the new policy and the new application, which is available online and in paper form.

The new admissions policy, according to Kratz, scores prospective students out of 100 based on four distinct criteria. Grades and attendance are each worth up to 30 points, while discipline and guidance counselor recommendations are each worth up to 20 points.

Kratz said this methodology allows the school to consider more about students than just their grades, making it more fair and equitable to students of all skill sets. The new policy is in line, he said, with what the state wants vocational schools in the state to be doing.

"The reason why we did that is because if there's a kid out there who does really well in some of these other criteria and is just struggling, average wise, we feel like they can still be successful here," he said. "If we get them in the building, we work with them. We provide the supports in the direction that we have here. We could still work with that student, and they could be successful here."

The admissions data team, which reviews the applications and grades prospective students, encompasses many different subject areas within McCann. This diversity helps, according to Kratz, to make the process as equitable as it can be.

"We've put together a team here, and it is representative of every quarter of our building," he said. "Special ed is represented, vocational departments, academic departments, guidance, administration."

Superintendent James Brosnan spoke highly of the work Kratz and others at McCann have put into the new admissions policy. He explained that work to improve the admissions policy has been ongoing for years.

"There's probably 250 to 300 hours worth of Justin's time doing zoom meetings and in-person meetings with all of the other principals and admissions folks all across the commonwealth," he said. "Because every vocational was in this in the one."

Brosnan explained that McCann and other vocational schools across the state have been coordinating to meet state standards for admissions policy. He said not having to work on this alone was a tremendous help.

"When the state said, 'You guys got to do something,' we said 'OK, we'll do it, collectively. We'll do it together,'" he said. "We will share ideas and we will go through it. And while it is daunting to do this, it's really daunting to do it if you're on an island."

Committee Chair Gary Rivers said he is thrilled at how equally the new policy can view different kinds of students. He hopes that this will make prospective students of all backgrounds more willing to apply to McCann.

"It is not slanted toward any one particular skill set," he said. "If you're a real academic kid, it's not that way. If you're a technical kid, it's not slanted that way. So think it's a good document that will invite kids of all ability levels to apply."

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