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If you're one of the 4,800 8th graders students who didn't get a high school placement last week (or if you didn't like the placement you got) you may want to consider a charter school.

Most charter schools start in the elementary or middle schools gradesand don't accept students in 9th grade—but a few begin with high school and some others have seats for new students in 9th grade. All admit students by lottery. The application deadline is April 1. (Because April 1 is a Saturday, some charters are accepting applications until April 3. Make sure to check their websites.)

Our picks for Round 2 of high school admissions

Written by Laura Zingmond Thursday, 09 March 2017 17:09

If you’re an 8th-grader who wasn’t matched with a high school, you’re not alone. This year roughly 4,800 (out of nearly 77,000) students did not receive a match and will need to apply to high schools with open seats during Round 2 of admissions. Applications are due March 28.

The Round 2 high school fairs are scheduled for March 18 and 19, 11 am–2 pm at the Martin Luther King Jr. Educational Campus. Try to arrive early so you have plenty of time to meet with representatives from each school you’re interested in and with Department of Education enrollment personnel who can answer your questions.

Eighth-graders who are unhappy with their high school match may reapply during Round 2, but be aware that if you are accepted to another school, you forfeit your Round 1 match.

Current 9th-graders who are offered a 10th-grade seat, in the first or second round, will have the option of remaining at their current school. Ninth-graders who didn't submit an application last December may apply now to schools with open seats.

If your child didn't get the kindergarten spot you asked for, try to stay calm. Waitlists at sought-after schools move over the spring and summer. We have seen it happen year after year. Children get offers on a rolling basis as families make final choices. Hang in there.

The city sent out offers for kindergarten seats this week: 49,064 students (71 percent) received an offer to their first choice; 12,897 (19 percent) got one of their other choices and 7,189 (10 percent) were shut out of all their choices. Some received offers to their zoned school even though they didn't list it. 

For the second year in a row, Francis Lewis High School in Queens, a huge, successful neighborhood high school that offers a plethora of programs for all students, got more applications from 8th-graders than any other school in the city, according to data released by the Department of Education this week. Nearly 10,000 (9,890) students applied to the school in 2016—listing it somewhere on their list of 12—including those lucky students who live in the zone and are guaranteed a seat. 

Midwood High School in Brooklyn, with its highly selective medical science and humanities programs, was second, receiving 9,717 applications. Three large neighborhood high schools in Queens—Forest Hills, Bayside and Benjamin N. Cardozo—were third, fourth and fifth on the list of 20 schools receiving the most applications. That's not surprising in a borough where the most popular high schools are over-crowded and operating with multiple start times.

Edward R. Murrow, a Brooklyn giant that accepts a wide range of students, was close behind with 6,977 applicants. 

UPDATE 3/10/17: High school decisions are out! We're impressed by all the supportive words and advice our readers are sharing with each other. Join the discussion in the comments section below and also check out and comment on our annual post of Round 2 picks.

The wait is almost over. High school decision letters will be distributed by Friday, March 10. Schools got the letters Wednesday, but don't expect to receive yours before Friday when many schools choose to hand them out at the end of the day. If your school mails the letters, you may not get yours until Saturday.

Non–public school students should contact the person handling high school admissions at their school to find out their placement. If you're having trouble getting your letter you can always go to your nearest Family Welcome Center to find out your high school match.

All schools—public and private—will have access to students' high school placements via the Department of Education's enrollment system.

Details about this year’s main round decisions have yet to be released, but if last year’s results prove to be a trend, then the majority of students will be admitted to one of their top five choices and close to half will be matched to their top pick. Students who took the SHSAT (Specialized High School Admissions Test) or auditioned for LaGuardia will also find out if they got into a specialized school.

If you are not matched with a high school during the main round then you will have to apply to schools with open spots during Round 2 of high school admissions. Eighth and first-time 9th-graders who are unhappy with their high school placement may also participate in Round 2.

Round 2 high school fairs, where students can meet with representatives from schools with open seats, will be held Saturday, March 18 and Sunday, March 19 from 11 am to 2 pm at the Martin Luther King Jr. Educational Campus in Manhattan.

Stay tuned for more information including our annual best bets list of Round 2 high schools.

Hang in there and good luck!

Updated on 3/6/17 to reflect that high school letters will by handed out at school by March 10 and schools' access to high school decisions via the enrollment system.

By Leila Morsy and Richard Rothstein

As many as one in 10 African American students has an incarcerated parent. One in four has a parent who is or has been incarcerated. The discriminatory incarceration of African American parents is an important cause of their children’s lowered performance, especially in schools where the trauma of parental incarceration is concentrated.

Two policies have been mostly responsible: an increasingly punitive sentencing policy, including prison terms for violent crimes that have increased by nearly 50 percent since the early 1990s; and the declaration of a “war on drugs” that has included severe mandatory minimum sentences for relatively trivial victimless drug offenses. The incarceration explosion is primarily an expression of our race relations and of the confrontational stance of police toward African Americans in neighborhoods of concentrated disadvantage. (The incarceration rate of middle-class African Americans has declined and makes no contribution to the rapidly rising rate of incarcerations.) Young African American men are no more likely to use or sell drugs than young white men, but they are nearly three times as likely to be arrested for drug use or sale; once arrested, they are more likely to be sentenced; and, once sentenced, their jail or prison terms are 50 percent longer, on average.

Educators have paid too little heed to this criminal justice crisis. Criminal justice reform should be a policy priority of educators who are committed to improving the achievement of African American children.

Children of incarcerated parents suffer serious harm. It is tempting to think that these consequences are attributes of disadvantaged children, independent of parental incarceration. But careful studies of the effects on children have accounted for these attributes. Children of the incarcerated have worse cognitive and non-cognitive outcomes than children with similar socioeconomic and demographic characteristics whose parents have not experienced incarceration.

Pre-k picks: Manhattan & the Bronx

Written by Lydie Raschka Tuesday, 31 January 2017 15:21

It's gone from famine to feast in recent years: Parents once faced with too few pre-k options may now wade through a world of choices. Let us help you narrow the list with some promising new programs and schools we can recommend in every borough. Note: If a great program is hopelessly oversubscribed we didn't include it here.

Applications for pre-kindergarten for children born in 2013 are due Feb. 24. (Charter schools have separate applications. The Common Online Charter School Application closes on Saturday, April 1 at midnight.)

Popular programs, especially in public schools, have many more applicants than seats. We've limited our picks to programs that are most likely to have space for children living outside the school zone or who aren't siblings of current students. Still, it doesn't hurt to apply to a program where space is tight: If you're not matched in this first application round, your name will be automatically put on a waitlist for all the choices you listed above the one you got. Be patient. Spaces frequently open up even in the fall. 

Pre-k picks: Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island

Written by Lydie Raschka Tuesday, 31 January 2017 13:19

Got a 4-year-old? Now's the time to apply to pre-kindergarten. We've compiled a list of best bets, based on our visits and intel on schools most likely to have space. Before reading on, see more details about the process on our post, Pre-k picks: Manhattan & the Bronx

BROOKLYN

Fort Greene, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Vinegar Hill
In District 13, in the heart of Bedford-Stuyvesant, PS 3, a school noted for its dedication to the arts, has five pre-kindergartens and even had space for out-of-district students last year. It has a great outdoor play area, a garden and it offers after school until 6 pm. We can recommend PS 54, an up-and-comer with space that has a great STEM curriculum. Kids run their own composting program. Just a block from Fort Greene Park, PS 67 has a vibrant, play-based program in a school that's on the upswing. A few blocks away in the DUMBO–Vinegar Hill area, PS 307 has some great perks, including a STEM magnet grant and a Mandarin Chinese teacher. The sparkling new pre-k center at Dock Street has 72 seats, and all did not fill in its first year: on a recent visit there were only 55 children enrolled. Consider PS 133, a lottery school which offers Spanish dual language in pre-k. It's also open to residents of District 15, but priority goes to low-income students and to those learning to speak English.

Winter is the perfect time to think about summer activities for children. In fact, deadlines are coming quickly for many of the city's free programs. Summer is a great time for children to explore a new challenge or continue to sharpen their areas of strength.

Not sure how to find the right program? InsideSchools offers a guide of more than 100 free and low cost, summer and year-round programs for children.

Here are a few samples from across our five subject areas of math, science, arts, humanities, and academic prep to help you navigate your way to a summer of fun for your child.

Learn about your public school options from Clara Hemphill, InsideSchools founder. She is offering two free workshops in Manhattan next week and presenting her new book, NYC's Best Public Pre-K and Elementary Schools.

Come to the Upper West Side on Monday, Feb. 6, at 6 pm for the workshop at Rutgers Community Programs at 236 W. 73rd Street. Sign up here.

Or, come to the Word Up Community Bookshop/Libreria Comunitaria, 2113 Amsterdam Ave. in Washington Heights, Thursday, Feb. 9 at 7 pm.  

Hemphill will talk about the changes in public schools over the past 20 years and offer tips for finding a good school for your child. The book is based on more than 150 visits to public pre-k & elementary schools in all five boroughs by the InsideSchools staff.