Search News & Views
By Judy Baum
We are in the process of searching for high schools and all the schools my child is interested in have a Level 3 or 4 on state exams for their entrance criteria. My child missed a 3 by one point on the ELA and received a 4 on the math, however he has perfect attendance and grades in the 90's. What can we do if he is only interested in the schools with the higher score? The schools that require a 2 for entrance are a bit intimidating to him because they have metal detectors and/or are in buildings with multiple schools. Please advise.
Dear Worried Mom
Selecting schools for the high school admission application – finding schools that are a good fit for your child, that you can get to without too much travel, that both you and he like – is a stressful situation. Remember, even a "double 4 kid" might not get into the school of his dreams. So concentrate on the possible.
My daughter just started as a freshman at a specialized high school and came home the first day convinced that she will never like this school or be comfortable with the fit. She is interested in transferring to a smaller school that fosters creative and analytic thinking, community, and independence. My question is: How and when can a parent "know" that her child and the child's school are not well-matched? How would you advise proceeding?
Her father and I are concerned that if we wait too long to explore other options, any transfer spots for which she might qualify will be filled, that we will let he in for serious misery, and that she will just refuse to go to school (which she has threatened to do). On the other hand, it seems premature to conclude after a very short trial (today was her 4th day here), that we are dealing with a square peg/found hole situation, and not just an advanced case of what my mother would have called "the jitters."
I would also like to hear from other parents in this situation. My guess is that there are quite a few of us!
Sincerely, Freshman Mom
Dear Freshman Mom,
I put your question to a number of people – the mother of a high school student who did transfer after freshman year, a mother of two graduates of specialized high schools, a mother of an 8th grader who is researching schools right now, and the 8th grader himself. Here’s what the student had to say: “No one is going to like school the first day.” That is more or less what the others had to say as well. It takes time to adjust to any new situation and 9th grade especially is a huge change in a kid's life.
High School Goal Weekend – that’s what the Department of Education, Agency for Children’s Services and New Yorkers for Children are calling an extra effort to give a leg-up in the high school admission process to kids in foster families. The weekend coincides with the High School Fair, September 29 and 30 at Brooklyn Technical High school, in Fort Greene. AFCS is seeking volunteers, 21 years of older, to guide 7th and 8th graders through the choice of high schools and the application process.
My granddaughter is three years old and my son and daughter-in-law are beginning to hunt for a pre-kindergarten for September, 2013 when he will be four years old. Can you offer any suggestions?
Your family is lucky to have an involved grandparent – I can see you are ready to research the field. There are a few steps that will lead you to the program that is right for your granddaughter and there is plenty of time to carry them out. However, be forewarned: Not all four-year-olds actually get a slot in a public school pre-kindergarten. Last spring 30 percent of the applicants were without a seat after pre-kindergarten acceptance letters went out. Although some seats opened up and parents could continue to apply over the summer, there are no guarantees.
Pre-k applications are last on the admissions line. In 2012 applications were due April 10 for programs located in public schools. The 2013 admissions calendar is not yet set but you can sign up on the Education Department's website for updates. As long as you meet the deadline, acceptance does not depend on when the application was submitted. For pre-kindergarten in community organizations such as Y's or Head Start programs, admission is on a rolling basis. You apply directly to the CBO and there may be additional requirements and in some cases, fees.
How can my 8th grade son study for the Specialized High School Admissions Test? We are new to the city and don’t know how to proceed. We have heard that you need a tutor and don’t know how to find one, or if there is time for tutoring.
Dear Bewildered Mom,
Many students postpone prepping for the SHSAT until school starts, so it’s not impossible for your son to begin now. In the two months he has left before the October test, he will have to juggle his homework with sessions by a paid tutor or devote regular time to a study program of your own devising. In the first case, there is a lot of money involved -- upwards of $100 per individual session, less for group sessions. In the second case, lots of self-motivation is required, plus a small investment in study guides.
You can find many private tutors by searching online. There is a website that offers recommendations by parents at Parents of New York Teens, services such as Partners with Parents, New York Academics and of course, the well known Kaplan, which also offers some free diagnostic tests and seminars around the city.
I'm in 10th grade going into 11th and i would REALLY like to transfer out my school. The school isn't challenging enough, there are a lot of gangs involved, and the curriculum is horrible. There have been MANY deaths in my school. So I would like to know if it's possible i can transfer out before school starts and if so, what do I need to make it happen.
First, I have to tell you, it is not easy to get a transfer. You will need to be very persistent. Keep in mind the saying: "if at first you don't succeed, try, try again." You must apply for a transfer at the nearest enrollment office.
According to an email from the central enrollment office at Tweed: "Families can visit an enrollment office over the summer to speak with a counselor about a high school transfer (through August 23). They do not have to wait to visit a temporary registration center at the end of August."
You need a very good reason for the change-- usually health, safety or travel hardships. You said there is violence and there were deaths at your school, so that would seem to be a safety concern, but usually they want a person to be the victim of crime in order to grant a safety transfer. However, you should try. Also explain your need for a better more challenging curriculum -- that might get their attention. Chancellors Regulation A-101 covers transfers on pages 7-9.
The fate of 24 "turnaround schools” keeps turning around. Now the Department of Education says they will keep their original names. This is probably good news for neighborhoods used to Herbert H. Lehman High School (did anyone ever say the H part?) or John Dewey High School. They are now spared mouthfuls like Throggs Neck High School at the Lehman Campus or Shorefront High School of Arts and Science at John Dewey Campus. Remember what Skip Card had to say back in May?
But it is confusing news for those using the current Directory of NYC High Schools for their high school search and applications. It’s the new names that appear there. Insideschools has a solution: if you type in the new name on our school search feature, the old one will show up! (And here's an idea: what about limiting school monikers to three words or less the next time around? What's wrong with naming a school after a respected public leader?)
More guidance for the affected schools will be forthcoming. According to a letter to principals from Elaine Gorman, the DOE official in charge of the initiative: "In regard to the High School Directory, please know that you will receive further direction on next steps. We will work closely with you and the Office of Student Enrollment to ensure that information about your school is accurate and distributed appropriately."
We're not convinced that students won't be confused!
Read all about the current status of the 24 schools in GothamSchools.
Hi, I saw there was a bill passed to make kindergarten mandatory in NY, but never heard if it was signed into law. It also appeared to move the K cutoff date to December 1 from December 31, which could be a wonderful thing for my December boy. Is it happening?
The mandatory kindergarten legislation you were referring to, Assembly A9861 (and its counterpart in the Senate S7051) was signed last week by Governor Cuomo. When it gets published, it will be found in Chapter 157 of the laws of 2012, but you can read it in the legislation form until then.
Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s office championed this initiative and, according to her office, a better description of the legislation is that it, “lowers the compulsory age for school to five.” That’s the simple part. The more complicated parts of implementation have to do with some still unresolved issues: The cut-off date for entry to kindergarten, and an “opt-out” provision.
New York State Education Department today released the results of the April 2012 grade 3-8 math and English Language Arts (ELA) assessments, showing that students in New York City improved by about three percentage points: 46.9 percent of city students met or exceeded the reading (ELA) standard (up from 43.9 percent last year), and 60 percent met or exceeded the math standard (up from 57.3 percent last year). The gap in performance between black and Hispanic students and their white and Asian peers persists although all groups posted slight improvements.
Scores, and keys to interpreting test results are on the State Education website, but parents will have to wait to see their own child’s results, which the DOE says will be posted the week of July 30 in ARIS. Watch for the announcement.
According to the state Education Department, the average scale scores on this year’s exams in both ELA and math are slightly higher than 2011 in most grades, and there is a small increase in the percentage of students across the state who met or exceeded the standard on both exams, meaning they scored a 3 or 4 on a four-point scale.
Statewide, 55 percent of students met or exceeded the reading standard (an increase from 52.8 percent last year); 64.8 percent met or exceeded the standard in math (up from 63.3 last year).
Summer is underway, but some kids remain at loose ends. There is still time to put some fun and structure into July and August with a variety of free city programs that are just getting started!
Reading every day is the bottom line recommendation to keep kids skills up-to-date and incidentally to enjoy the wonders of new worlds and ideas. The three NYC public library systems feature reading challenge programs, story hours and craft activities. And it's fun to browse through the stacks and pick a week's worth of reading. Check out summer reading in your branch library in Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island; Queens Library or Brooklyn Public Library.
Two great resources for finding the right book for your child's age or grade are Oprah's list and the American Library Association.
Practice Makes Perfect has a small but innovative program for students about to enter 5th grade who are in need of support. They get help from high-achieving 9th graders who are, in turn, mentored by college students. Down and up the scale, kids benefit from extra study and advice and friendship. Contact Jahn Jaramillo (347) 371-0904,