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Judy Baum

Judy Baum

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Judy Baum, Insideschools' longtime advice columnist, passed away on Dec. 20, 2013. Her columns are archived here, under Ask Judy. Insideschools will continue to answer readers' school-related questions. Email us at info@insideschools.org.

By Judy Baum

Dear Judy,

My son's middle school handed out report cards with errors.  When the errors were pointed out they fixed them promptly.  However, the incorrect info apparently had already gone into ARIS.  The middle school also already sent over the incorrect report card to my son's new high school. I have a report card that shows a performance level for one class of 4, but ARIS shows a performance level of 2 for that class.

I sent an email to the person at the school who handled the report card corrections, but I am unsure how relentlessly to pursue this.   Will anyone care about what ARIS Parent Link says?  Is it possible that it appears elsewhere "in the system" correctly?  How can I even find out?

Should I worry?

Dear Should I worry?

If the correct information does not appear in the ARIS record, you should be concerned. For those who don’t know, ARIS is the database that includes your child’s cumulative academic records, attendance, immunization status, and personal details such as date of birth, address and contact information. Parents get an ID number and log-in instructions from school.  By accessing ARIS, parents can find out how kids are doing in periodic assessments as well as state standardized tests and Regents exams.  ARIS began in the 2005-06 school year, and for most kids, it will eventually include their entire school career.

If you find errors in ARIS you should call the Service Desk at the Department of Academic Support and Performance: 212-374-6646   They will help straighten it out. But on your own, contact the high school as well, especially if it is a large school.  High schools use middle school grades to place kids in appropriate classes.

According to an experienced high school parent who chimed in on our forum, errors in ARIS are not uncommon.  “Many times the information in ARIS is not correct (data entry errors, problems with high school courses taught in middle school that are not generally offered, problems with specialized courses not generally offered by other middle schools, such as Chess, or Photography, or Studio Art, etc.).  I have generally found that emailing a scanned copy of the correct report card, along with a note from the middle school principal verifying that the report card is correct, helps immensely with class scheduling for entering high school students.  Make sure that the principal provides an email address and phone where the high school can reach him/her over the summer.  And be sure to follow up to make sure that the principal did as above.  You can ask to be "cc"ed on the email to your child's high school.”

The DOE now has several “help lines” for parents.  If  the operators don't know the answer, they can direct you to the appropriate person or department.

Check out: Parent Support Line, 718-935-2009. Answers general questions about your school zone, enrollment, pre-kindergarten registration, and gifted and talented programs.

Department of Academic Support and Performance Service Desk, 212-374-6646. Answers questions about ARIS and ARIS parent link, periodic assessments, New York State Standardized Tests.

General information for the public, 212-374-2363. Includes graduates trying to find their student records for schools that have closed.

Parents and guardians of students who live in District 3 on Manhattan's Upper West Side may apply to seven new elementary school magnet programs—if they submit applications by Friday, July 15, 2011.

Magnet schools receive federal funding for three years to attract and engage students by creating specialized programs. They also offer students an opportunity to attend a school other than their zoned school. Each school modifies its name to reflect the theme of the new program.

Not all schools have openings in all grades. For example, PS 87, now named "A School Without Walls," had a waiting list for incoming kindergartners this year, and has only a handful of seats in the upper grades for the magnet program.

Families who wish to apply to a magnet school must obtain a variance, called a Placement Exception Request. They can pick up and submit the form at either the District 3 office, 154 West 93rd Street, or the Borough Enrollment Office, 388 West 125th Street.

See the new magnet programs after the jump.

The Museum Magnet School for Inquiry, Innovation and Imagination (PS 191), 210 West 61st Street. NOTE: Grades 6–8 were formerly known as Hudson Honors Middle School.

Young Diplomats Magnet Academy (PS 242), 134 West 122nd Street. Grades K–5

The Magnet School for Environmental Stewardship (PS 208), 21 West 111 Street. Grades 3–5

Magnet School for Technology and Multimedia Communication (PS 145), 150 West 105th Street. Grades K–5

The STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Institute of Manhattan (P.S. 241), 240 West 113th Street. Grades K–5

Early Childhood School of Discovery and Design (P.S. 185) 20 West 112th Street. Grades K–2

A School Without Walls (PS 87) 160 West 78th Street. Grades K–5

Are there new magnet programs in your district? Let us know in comments below.

Summer officially started on June 21 and if your vacation plans aren’t fixed, here are some suggestions of what you can do this summer in the city. (Note that some of the sign-ups are time-sensitive!)

Lots of time in the park

The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation offers a range of fitness activities in its more than 1,000 playgrounds in all five boroughs. Playgrounds, some  handicap-accessible, can be stand-alone or located  in parks or school yards kept open to the public all summer. Activities listed are  free and low-cost.  Check out BeFitNYC for physical activities. If it's arts, crafts, music,  and games you are after, consult a calendar of events with listings through October.  You can sort by location, kids’ interest, and parents’ interests  too.  Some  events are repeated daily, some weekly .

Parks swim lessons are so popular that a lottery has to be held for the limited spots. You must register by Friday, June 24, to be eligible for the lottery.  For kids who already know how to swim, the parks offer a range of classes at their pools and recreation centers.   For more information about the swim program call Parks Citywide Aquatics at (718) 760-6969.For general information about Parks & Recreation,call 311 or (212) NEW-YORK from outside New York City.

Lots of reading

Every day is reading day if kids are hooked on books.  It’s fun for you and your child to browse on your own at the nearest branch library where there are also story hours and craft activities.  For inspiration, and to participate in reading challenges, check out summer reading in your branch library (Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island );  Queensborough Public Library; or Brooklyn Public Library

Two other suggestions for reading lists and challenges: Oprah’s list which is age sorted and  American Library Association. age-grade sorted.

Lots of meals

Free breakfast and lunch are offered this summer at hundreds of schools, pools, parks, and playgrounds. All children, 18 and under, are eligible for a meal whether or not they are registered in a New York City public school. Breakfast is offered from 8-9:15 a.m.; lunch from 11 a.m. - 1:15 p.m., Monday - Friday. No need to show an ID to get a meal. Call 311 to find locations near you.

Wednesday's New York Times features an article about new food vendors in many of the city's parks. These meals aren't free, but they may be tastier than hot dogs or pretzels. For example you will soon be able to order a grilled cheese sandwich in Fort Greene Park! Check out the options in this Times article.

Lots of music

What about taking your kids to hear some great free music. Check out  this list of concerts in the parks:

There are sure to be many fun and free activities beyond what these. Please share your suggestions in comments!

Have fun!

Judy

Dear Judy,

Is the summer school program only for students who have not succeeded in the previous academic year? Can a student who wishes to study in advance attend summer school? I’'m a 9th grader, if I attend a 10th science/math course in summer school and complete the course, does that mean in September I can move up to 11th grade courses?  I'm new to the city, and not yet enrolled in a city high school.

Y from student Y

Dear Y,

Summer schools are run by individual schools. It’s the principal who determines who should attend.  In general, principals invite students who failed a course, and especially those who need to pass a course to graduate.  According to the the Summer School Team at the Department of Education,   “While schools can invite students to their summer program for any reason, typically, schools recommend students for summer school if they have not yet met requirements to be promoted to the next grade level.”

This week elementary and middle school students are getting the news that need to attend summer school to achieve a passing score in the state English Language Arts  and math tests in order to avoid being left back.  In high school, promotion from one grade to the next means accumulating a cerain amount of credits per year toward the 44 needed to graduate. There are also five Regents exams to be passed to qualify for a diploma. If kids don't make up failed courses, they may have to wait a whole year before that course and that Regents exam come around again. That's why most of the spots in summer school are filled with kids who are catching up.

The DOE says it will "soon" post its policy about summer school for students not currently enrolled in a NYC public school. If the rules allow it, you might be able to join a math or science course that others are taking as a make- up.  In that case,  you could earn credit towards graduation when you do enroll.   If there is a Regents exam at the end of the course,  that's another leg up on graduation.

By the way, according to the DOE, kids who live outside of New York City must pay tuition to attend summer school but it is free to NYC residents.  Keep checking the summer school page for the actual guidelines.

Although schools can make up their own summer school calendar the earliest date that it may begin is July 5; the last possible day for high schools is August 16th. Regents exams are held on August 17 and 18th.

If you want to read up more on promotion and graduation standards, including eligibility for summer school, check out the DOE's regulation online.

Good luck.

Judy

Schools and parents from 59th Street to the top of Manhattan Island have banded together in SUN, Schools Unite Network, to promote school safety and to reduce and prevent crime among kids.  SUN uses the internet as an interactive  tool to gather information about crime and other safety issues and alert schools, parents and other community members in real time.

The system allows people who might be reluctant to report incidents to the police, to communicate suspicious activity and youth-related crime through the internet. SUN provides information to the appropriate New York Police Department personnel and reports back to schools  and community stakeholders, detailing actions taken in response to the problem.  In addition, SUN provides safety tips and resources  in its SUN alerts and on its website

SUN is the brain child of Jill Greenbaum who founded  the Police Liaison Group, Inc (PLG),  a nonprofit organization to promote community collaboration in crime prevention.  A project of  PLG in collaboration with NYC Police Department Division of School Safety in Manhattan North, Sun’s overall goals are to promote school safety, reduce and prevent crime, and help kids who have been engaged in crime to turn their lives around.

Recently SUN expanded its reach through a partnership with the NYC  Department of Parks, and is offering information about graffiti reporting and removal, and the consequences for youths who deface public property.

A list of member schools is on the PLG website. Let us know how this is working in your school or neighborhood.


Dear Judy,

My son has been assigned to a high school he doesn't want to attend. How does the appeals process work?

Queens  Mom

Dear Queens Mom,

While the initial high school placements are made by computer, appeals are handled by human beings. If you have not already done so, enlist the help of your son's 8th grade guidance counselor. The guidance counselor is a key player, while an appeals committee makes the  final decision. The counselor is responsible for entering data from the appeals form into the Student Enrollment Management System (SEMS) data base and also adds a confidential recommendation. So get her on board.  It doesn’t hurt to speak to the school that you are requesting, but the decision is not up to them.

In the past, appeals have been pretty successful. In 2008 – the latest year for which we have data – out of 3,722 appeals, 3, 234 were granted.

The Department of Education enrollment office had this to say about the appeals process:

"Appeals are reviewed case by case and determinations are made based on a number of factors including:

  • Reason for the appeal; the strongest appeals are generally due to travel, safety or medical hardship (as defined by Chancellor’s Regulations) associated with the current match, or data entry error through no fault of the family
  • Admissions methods, admissions priorities and eligibility for the program(s) and schools that the student selected on the appeals form
  • Whether or not the student was already considered in previous rounds, and if so, any rank that was already assigned by the program
  • Whether or not the appeals form indicated that the student was willing to be placed in a program other than the one(s) selected on the appeals form, if selected programs could not be accommodated

·         Seat availability"

Travel hardship is usually defined by a commute of more than 90 minutes. Additional reason for an appeal might be that there are unmet special education needs such as a non-accessible site or lack of needed services. You may also ask for a new small school that is opening in September.

Parents and students may also appeal on the ground that the curriculum at the assigned school is unsuitable.  I heard of one case some years ago when a Brooklyn student who could not sing was assigned to Choir Academy of Harlem. That may be an extreme case, but clearly a mismatch between a student’s interests and talents and the school to which he was assigned is a good reason to appeal.

If your appeal fails, ninth grade provides another chance. Ninth graders may apply through the admissions process all over again and with savvy born of past experience, can try for a better placement. Of course, freshman year at his assigned school can turn out to be much better than anticipated, if  your son gives it a chance.  Remember, you have to turn in the appeal to the middle school guidance counselor by June 3rd

Good luck!

Judy

Lenny Trerotola introduces the high school admissions process to families of middle school students. (Photo by Erica Baum)

Next year's high school applicants will learn where they have been accepted more than a month earlier than they have in the past, according the Department of Education, which says it has "streamlined" the process to give students their results earlier. The DOE announced next year's admissions timeline at the May high school information meetings for families of 6th and 7th-graders This week's session at PS 166 was packed with parents and middle school students from all over Manhattan who also learned there have been changes in special education admissions.

Lenny Trerotola, head of high school enrollment, emphasized the need for families to make realistic choices to increase the chances that they get a match, adding that schools take a close look at attendance and punctuality. He reiterated several "guarantees" for 8th-graders applying to high school: In  6-12 schools, 8th-graders may stay for high school if they list the school as a choice on their application. For those applying to educational option schools or programs (Ed Opt), which are designed to admit a percentage of high, low, and average students, the top two percent scorers on the state English Language Arts test are guaranteed entry if they list it first on the application. Students who have zoned schools (mostly in Queens, Staten Island, and a few neighborhoods in Brooklyn and the Bronx) are guaranteed admittance to if they list it on their application.

Trerotola announced that the High School Directory will no longer list specific special education services on each school's page. Instead, all schools are expected to serve all students, no matter what disability they might have. He anticipates that parents of special education students will meet with school staff after a child has been placed to design an appropriate program. Parents must approve any revisions to the student's IEP (Individualized Education Plan). Schools see only the category of special ed (SETSS or Collaborative Team Teaching) on the application, not the actual IEP, he said.

Another big change -- all applicants (80,000-plus this year) will receive their match (or the dispiriting news that they did not get one) on the same day in February. That is a big difference from recent years when students who tested into one of the specialized exam school or were accepted by audition to LaGuardia, the specialized arts school, got their acceptance(s) more than a month earlier than other applicants. Next year, students who are accepted by a specialized school as well as another school, must decide which school they will accept before the next (supplementary) round of admission. Students who aren't accepted anywhere, or who are unhappy with their match,will participate in the supplementary round. If a student with a match decides to enter the supplementary round and gets another match, he forfeits his original, main round, placement. But if he does not get a match, he keeps the first one.

Here's the 2011-2012 timeline for high school admissions:
Sept 14- Oct 12" Register for SHSAT exam or auditions at LaGuardia
Sept 23-35" HIgh School Fair
Oct 22-23: Borough Fairs
Oct 29-30: SHSAT
Dec 2: Applications Due
Early February: Main Round results distributed to all students who applied in December
March: Supplementary Round applications due to guidance counselors
April: Supplementary Round results distributed to students.

Parents can get more information and help at HS_Enrollment@School.NYC.Gov or 718-935- 2399  Parents are encouraged to attend summer and fall informational workshops sponsored by the DOE. Dates have yet to be announced.

And, there are more info sessions throughout the month of May. If you attended one, please share what you learned!

Teens who have summer jobs, or are looking for them, should bone up on the requirements for Employment Certificates – formerly know as Working Papers - and start the process of assembling the needed documents. Proposed changes in Chancellor’s Regulation A-250 , will authorize district or Borough Family Advocates to issue the documents when schools are closed and to non-public school students if their schools do not issue them.

When public schools are in session, including summer session, they issue the papers. Each high school and middle school must designate a staff member to handle employment certificates for their own students and inform students and parents of  how to apply. The revised regulation will be considered at the June 27 PEP meeting.

Employment Certificates are required for all students age 14 to 18 who work, but there are exceptions. for certain students and certain types of work so teens and their parents should read the regulation carefully. The application for a certificate can be downloaded, or requested at the student’s school. The application must be accompanied by proof of age, a note from a physician attesting to good health, or outlining limitations based on health, the parent’s consent, and in certain cases, proof of employment submitted by the employer.

Don’t have a job yet? Take a look at Ask Judy and a recent post for some ideas on how to find one.

Dear Judy,

I have several questions about the G&T testing process. First, the DOE lost the test taken by one of my twins and it took a long time to find it. I checked with the school where it was administered and finally got the information that led to the test being located.  Second, I thought that the results of the test were off because one twin did well and the other (who took the test later in the day) missed the cutoff by just a few points. I wonder what I can do to deal with that? I heard from other parents that the accent of the tester may have adversely affected my child's performance. Is there a remedy for that?  I know it is late in the process since applications were due on May 10.

G&T  parent

Dear G&T parent:,

It is late in the gifted and talented testing process so, while it is possible that last minute appeals will be attended to, I wouldn't count on it. In any case, here is some information for you that may also help summer applicants and future test-takers.

If the test is lost and you don't get your results, you can get in touch directly with the school where it was administered. The school should have a record of the test and test-taker and should contact the central office at the Department of Education with that information. You may also call  the Division of Academic Support and Performance service desk at 212-374-6646. Note that G&T is not one of the options given when you reach that number; instead you must stay on the line or press zero. There are prompts for ARIS, periodic assessments, New York State Standardized tests, researchers, and school staff.  You can also e-mail Giftedandtalented@schools.nyc.gov

As for the few points difference in the test results, and the problematic accent of the test-giver: If there were conditions that you believed were not fair or conducive to an accurate test result, you were supposed to report the problem within 48 hours of the test administration. See the Gifted & Talented  Handbook for more information on that.

According to the Department of Education office in charge of G&T testing:  "When a parent appeals the test administration due to a perceived problem with the administrator’s accent, the Office of Assessment investigates the complaint, and, if warranted, retests the student."  Even though it is late in the game, it can’t hurt to call the service desk about the problem. I hear that they are swamped with calls so be  persistent but patient.

We're wondering whether other families encountered such issues during the administration of the BSRA or OLSAT, and how they were resolved.  Please comment below. And we wish all students a happy experience in September.

Judy

Attention high school students: It's not too late to apply for a summer job or internship but deadlines are approaching, so act promptly. Here are a few suggestions.

Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) is open to young people between the ages of 14 and 24. Participants work up to 25 hours a week for $7.25 per hour in government agencies, hospitals, summer camps, nonprofits, small businesses, and retailers.  Applications are due May 27.

Young Adult Internship Program As part of Mayor Bloomberg's Commission for Economic Opportunity, DYCD is providing the most job-ready disconnected youth with short-term paid internships, job placements, and follow-up services.

In-School Youth (ISY) Program provides occupational skills, employment services, and educational opportunities to low-income high school juniors and seniors.

Out-of-School Youth (OSY) Program provides extensive job training and employment services to 16-21 year-olds who are not enrolled in school.

The Apollo Theater Academy Summer Internship Program provides rising high school seniors opportunities to explore administrative and managerial careers in the performing arts and entertainment industries in areas such as programming, marketing and public relations, community outreach, and events management (not performance). There is a weekly stipend. Applications are due May 20.

Borough specific opportunities:

The Bronx : YAIP (Young Adult Internship Program) is a three-month paid internship that includes work readiness and support services for young adults 16-24. Visit www.bronxworks.org

Brooklyn: OBT (Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow) provides on-the-job training/apprenticeship for urban youth in two locations in Brooklyn. Visit www.obtjobs.org

Queens: Elmcor Youth & Adults Activities, Inc. provides various vocational and educational services to young people.  Visit www.eec.sunyeoc.org

Staten Island/Manhattan: The Way to Work, Inc. provides extensive trainings, internships, and job placement services to young people 17-21. Visit http://www.waytoworknyc.org/front.

NYC Ladders for Leaders,  a  program that offers high school and college students summer internships with corporations and businesses in New York City, has already closed its applications for this summer but bookmark it for next summer.

See our listing of Free Programs on Insideschools, and a recent Ask Judy column for more ideas.

Please share your suggestions in comments.