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Two elite Buffalo public schools revisit admissions standards

Hi everybody. It’s Deidre Williams here just following up from last week’s committee meetings at the Buffalo Board of Education.

There were developments we didn’t have time to get into because of the fire alarm that abruptly ended the meeting.

Before that happened, the principals of City Honors and Olmsted 156 talked about how they are loosening their admissions requirements for kids who want to get into two of the most competitive high schools in the district.

Until now there have been seven requirements but now going forward there will be six.

City Honors will get rid of its standardized essays, while Olmsted will drop the creativity tests.


City Honors Principal William A. Kresse and his counterpart at Olmsted, Michael Gruber, said they based their decision on the fact there is no need to inconvenience parents and students with the tests because the students who perform well on them are the same ones who perform well on the other admissions tests.

"It’s really not making a difference," Kresse said of the essay test that was dropped at his school. "After studying the testing process for the past few years, it became very evident that the standardized essay component was now replicating the more rigorous New York state ELA component which was putting families at an inconvenience for no good reason."

Dropping the creativity test at Olmsted - which has grades five through 12 - eliminates the expense of paying people to administer it and the costs of sending the completed exams to California for scoring, Gruber said.

"We were giving the creativity text and still getting the same information from parents and teachers," Gruber said. "So we figured, why duplicate it?"

The remaining criteria areas at City Honors are:

  • cognitive ability assessment
  • New York State Math scores
  • New York State English scores
  • grades
  • attendance
  • teacher recommendation.

In addition to the same cognitive ability assessments and the Math and English state test scores, the remaining criteria areas at Olmsted are:

  • Parent recommendation geared around academic achievement, creativity and perseverance on tasks
  • Teacher recommendation focused on the same items as the parent recommendation
  • High school grade point average of 85.
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About School Zone

Denise Jewell Gee

Denise Jewell Gee

Denise Jewell Gee joined The Buffalo News in 2007 and currently covers education and suburban schools. She also writes a column for the City & Region section and previously covered government in Erie County and Niagara Falls. Gee graduated from Boston University with degrees in journalism and political science.

@denisejewellgee |

Tiffany Lankes

Tiffany Lankes

Tiffany Lankes joined The Buffalo News in 2013 and primarily covers the Buffalo Public Schools. She has written about education since 2003 at newspapers in Florida and New York. In 2008, she was a nominated finalist for The Pulitzer Prize. Lankes is an Amherst native and graduate of Sacred Heart Academy and Syracuse University. She started her journalism career writing for the News’ NeXt section.

@TiffanyLankes |

Sandra Tan

Sandra Tan

Sandra Tan has been a cityside reporter for The Buffalo News since 2000 and currently covers the Buffalo Public Schools beat. She previously covered the Williamsville school district and was a full-time education reporter for five years prior to joining The News. She graduated from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.

@BNschoolzone |

Deidre Williams

Deidre Williams

Deidre Williams began working for The Buffalo News in 1999 and currently covers Buffalo Public Schools. She formerly was a suburban reporter on the Northtowns beat and has been a cityside reporter covering communities since 2004. Williams has a mass communications degree from Towson University.

@DeidreWilliamsB |