My daughter is currently attending a private elementary school in District 2 in Manhattan. We live in Brooklyn, but we want her to go to a public middle school in District 2. And we are also interested in gifted programs. How do I find out about the schools, and the gifted programs, and how do I apply to them?
Dear Puzzled parent,
You have a three pronged problem: applying to middle school from a private school, applying to middle school from outside the district and applying to middle school gifted programs.
Problem number 1: Kids and parents who apply from private school, may have to handle the application without much help from their current school. After all, the private school does not want to lose a good, tuition-paying student. So if your guidance counselor won’t support you, contact the district enrollment offices to get an application.
When you apply, you will need to submit a transcript of prior school records – make sure the current school gives you a copy or sends them directly. Your child may not have taken the New York State standardized tests, so grades and attendance will pull a lot of weight. Perhaps you can get a letter of recommendation from one or more of her teachers to attach to the application.
Problem number 2: Setting your heart on an out-of-district school. The fact that she now attends a private school located in District 2 has no influence. If it were a public school, then you would have the option of applying to a District 2 school as well as your home district school. District 2 is a very popular district with much competition for the best schools and few, if any, openings for students from out of district. To find out more, take a look at the middle school directories, which list the criteria for admission to each middle school in every district that offers school choice. (There are no fairs or directories for districts 26, 27 and 29 in Queens.) Don’t skip the back of the book where you’ll see information on several schools that are open to all city or borough residents. You apply to these schools directly, in addition to the application that you must complete for your district schools. The admission timeline is on the Department of Education website. And there is a calendar of events, including middle school fairs. You still have time to attend some district middle school fairs, including District 2 which, along with many others, is on Oct. 10.
Problem number 3: Applying to gifted and talented schools. Elementary school applicants for G&T in kindergarten -2nd grade take the same test, the Olsat, to qualify, but requirements for middle school vary. In many districts, the selective, screened schools require scores of at least 3 or 4 on 4th grade ELA and math state exams, as well as good report card grades and attendance. Several districts in Queens and Brooklyn do require the Olsat test for admission. For those schools and districts you must request a form to be tested by Oct. 24. The citywide gifted schools, have different requirements, and their own entrance exams, and you apply to those schools directly. Check the websites for Anderson, TAG and NEST +M for the specifics. Some “gifted” programs are in K-8 schools, where elementary school kids tend to stay for the middle grades so there are few open seats for outsiders. When reading the profiles on Insideschools.org and listings of the schools in the middle school directories, you can identify selective schools that may not be formal gifted programs.
There are many angles to pursue. Be mindful of deadlines and be persistent!