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If your child didn't get the kindergarten spot you asked for, tune in to our InsideSchools Facebook Live on Wednesday, March 29 at 12:30 pm.

InsideSchools' experts Pamela Wheaton and Lydie Raschka will talk about waitlists, how they work and how to keep in touch with preferred schools. We'll alert you of key dates, tell you when waitlists are likely to shift and give you input from parent coordinators and current kindergarten parents who went through this last year.

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If you're one of the 4,800 8th-graders 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.)

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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.

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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. 

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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. 

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Tuesday, 31 January 2017 13:19

Pre-k picks: Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island

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.

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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.

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Tuesday, 31 January 2017 15:21

Pre-k picks: Manhattan & the Bronx

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. 

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Friday, 06 January 2017 12:48

Child turning 4? Apply to pre-k now!

Stay focused, parents of kids born in 2013—the pre-kindergarten application season is in full swing.

You may apply between now and February 24. All applications are considered equally no matter when they are submitted, so there's no benefit in rushing it.

For in-person help, join us at our free event on Monday, February 6, at 6 pm, at Rutgers Community Programs, 236 W. 73rd Street. Sign up here. Our new book, New York City's Best Public Pre-K and Elementary Schools
will be on sale at the event.

Who may attend pre-k

Any child who turns 4 by Dec. 31, 2017 is entitled to attend pre-k in 2017 (a child with a fall birthday may start school in September when he is still 3). Most children attend pre-kindergarten 6 hours and 20 minutes a day, 180 days a year—the same schedule as older children.

What programs are available?

The city doesn't have room in its neighborhood schools for all the city's 4-year-olds. To create more seats, it contracts with child-care centers, private nursery schools, religious schools and community centers. In addition, the city has established freestanding "pre-k centers," which children attend for just one year. While some ordinary neighborhood schools have pre-kindergarten, the bulk of seats are in these other locations. Your child is guaranteed a seat somewhere but there is no guarantee you will get your first choice, or that your assignment will be close to home. No transportation is provided (except for children with special needs and those in temporary housing).

The city offers free directories of all the pre-k programs, updated annually. You may also find a school near your home by searching our website.  The Department of Education is offering pre-k info sessions in January, one night in each borough. See the schedule here: http://schools.nyc.gov/ChoicesEnrollment/PreK/events/default.htm.

How to apply to pre-k

You may apply online through the Department of Education website starting on Jan. 17; in person at a Family Welcome Center; or by telephone: (718) 935-2067. All families who submit by February 24 will get an offer letter in late April 2017 and must accept by early May.

There are many options out there all over the city. Check our profiles, which tell more. We've liked much of what we've seen, especially the new pre-k centers run by the DOE.

Good luck!

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Q: I have gotten accepted into two universities that I like: one is a prestigious private university, the other a prestigious state university. Both are highly ranked but the private university has the advantage in rankings. On the flip side, it is much more expensive and I can't gauge which one has a better science program. I'm torn as to which university I should choose. A college visit is off the table so I don't know what my options are to figure out which is better for me.

A: Choosing where to enroll is a very challenging proposition. You are to be congratulated on having such great options. I will ask you one question and then will give you my take.

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