Believe it or not, 5th grade parents, it's time to start checking out your middle school options – the first middle school fairs begin October 3.
Different middle schools -- and districts -- have different application processes. There are schools you have to apply to in person, others that you list on an application provided by your elementary school and still others that require auditions and special tests. Sounds intimidating, but it can be mastered.
This month, you should figure out what schools your kid is eligible for so you can make sure to hit the district fair, sign up for a tour or request a test.
Go to the Department of Education's middle school webpage and take a look at the directory for the district you live in. If your child goes to a school in a different district, you are also eligible for that district's schools. Make sure to re-check the site in October when this year's directory will be posted, which will include any new schools. There are lots of schools you can go to that aren't in your district because they take kids from anywhere in the borough, or in some cases, are open to all city residents. All of these schools are listed in each district guide.
The DOE website also includes the dates and locations for this year's district fairs, held from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. throughout October. School tours and open houses take place from October through December. You must contact individual schools to find out tour information. Some schools list their open houses on their websites.
Generally, there are three ways to apply to middle schools.
Choice middle schools
In November, your elementary school will give you a personalized application, which will list all of the "choice" schools you are eligible for, including those that take kids from outside their district. You will rate them according to your preference. One of these schools, Mark Twain School for the Gifted and Talented, is open to students citywide, but you must fill out a Request for Testing Form by October 17 to be eligible.
Some schools require that you apply to them directly. They will not appear on your personalized application and you must contact them directly for application and tour information. They are all listed in the district handbooks. They fall roughly into two categories: those in your district or borough; and a group of Manhattan schools that accept kids citywide and require an exam or audition for entrance, such as the Anderson School or the Professional Performing Arts School. The exam schools require that you submit a Request for Testing Form by October 17.
Charter schools operate by lottery and give preference to students who live in the district where they are located. They will not appear on your personalized application and have different application deadlines but never before April 1.You should call the school for information. Most also have websites. More information about charter schools is available from the New York City Charter School Center.
Any parents out there who have gone through the process and have tips, please make suggestions in the comments section below!