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Insideschools staff

Insideschools staff

Wednesday, 07 November 2012 15:03

How to help schools in need

There are at least 43 schools still too damaged by Hurricane Sandy to reopen and many others which lost power and needed supplies. If you or your organization can help these schools, the Education Department has set up a way for you to do so.

The DOE posted a survey on its website asking for assistance from individuals and organizations. Those who can assist may simply fill out a survey, detailing what goods or services they can provide and how soon they can do so. The DOE will match the offers of help to the schools that need it.

Sign up here.


Wednesday, 07 November 2012 14:31

G&T event reset, deadline extended

The Nov. 7 Gifted and Talented information session in Queens, cancelled twice due to storms, has been rescheduled.The new date is Wednesday, Nov. 14 at Frances Lewis High School, from 6-8 p.m. The Nov. 8 session at PS 121 in the Bronx is on. Education Department admissions officials will cover the G&T admissions process for students entering kindergarten, 1st, 2nd grade and 3rd grade in the 2013-14 school year.

Families now have until Nov. 16 to sign up for G&T testing for their children; that's a one week extension from the original Nov. 9 deadline. Most parents will submit the request for testing form online, but others may go to the enrollment office.

Parents who miss going to one of the sesions should be reassured that virtually all of the information covered in the sessions by DOE officials is in the G&T handbook (pdf).

One of the few bits of information not covered, that we heard mentioned at the Brooklyn and Manhattan sessions, was that 4-year-olds will not be expected to "bubble in" their responses. In fact, they are strongly encouraged not to do so. Parents who expressed concern that their children might be shy, or reluctant to go in to a room with a stranger, were reassured that all teachers administering the assessments are well-trained and accustomed to working with small children.

For more information, see the DOE's G&T page.

(updated Nov. 8 with new information)


Thursday, 01 November 2012 16:13

Saturday's SHSAT postponed until Nov. 17

Saturday's specialized high school admissions test, scheduled to be taken by all 9th graders and 8th graders needing special accommodations, has been postponed until Nov. 17, the Education Department announced this afternoon.

One of the sites, Brooklyn Technical High School, is still housing evacuees, and another, Stuyvesant, is virtually impossible to reach by subway.

The DOE announced other changes for anxious 8th and 9th graders applying to specialized and other high school:

  • All weekend auditions, interviews and exams have been cancelled and will be rescheduled
  • Auditions at LaGuardia High School scheduled for Nov. 3-4, will be held the following weekend, Nov. 10-11
  • Auditions at Frank Sinatra scheduled for Nov. 3-4, will be held the following weekend, Nov. 10-11
  • The SHSAT scheduled for Oct. 28 will now be held on Nov. 18

Check the DOE's website for more information. So far the DOE has not changed the Dec. 3 due date for high school applications.

(And, if you, and your children have extra time on your hands, check out some of the volunteer opportunities at one of the 60 schools housing evacuees. Evacuees are still very much in residence. Here's a link:



Friday, 26 October 2012 16:39

Sunday specialized exam CANCELLED

Late Friday afternoon, Chancellor Dennis Walcott cancelled the specialized high school admissions test for Sunday, Oct. 28, citing weather concerns with Hurricane Sandy and "uncertainty over travel conditions." Eighth-graders scheduled to take the test on Sunday now have an extra few weeks to wait before taking the exam, which determines entrance into one of eight highly competitive high schools.The new date for them is Nov. 18.

Saturday test-takers are not affected.

Here's the notice we got at 4:20 p.m.




The test will be rescheduled for November 18

Due to the anticipated inclement weather brought on by Hurricane Sandy, we are cancelling the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT) scheduled to take place on Sunday, October 28. The test is rescheduled for Sunday, November 18.  The exam scheduled for tomorrow, Saturday, October 27, will take place as planned.

Thursday, 25 October 2012 16:17

CCSE: Special ed kids not getting services

Is your child getting the speech, occupational, vision or other therapy she needs this year?

Parents on the Citywide Council for Special Education (CCSE) have been hearing from families whose children are not getting the “related services” they require and they are asking parents to take a survey to get feedback about the problem.

Related services include physical therapy, occupational therapy, vision, speech, hearing, behavioral and assistive technology. They are provided by Department of Education staff or by contracted agencies. If there is a shortage of providers, the DOE is supposed to issue, within 13 days, an authorization - RSA -  to parents allowing them to use an independent provider.

Yet, near the end of October, many children of all ages and types of schools, still lack needed services, according to the CCSE and other special education advocates.

"We're definitely still seeing cases," said Maggie Moroff, special education coordinator at Advocates for Children. She said the delay in services may be attributed, in part, to the DOE's change last summer to contracting with outside agencies rather than hiring service providers directly. "They did it with no notice. It got rolled out badly – there was no communication with parents about what was different and how things got changed."

In a statement, the CCSE said they hoped the collected data will identify why related services are not being performed, whether it is
"due to a shortage of therapists in a related field such as speech and language, OT, PT ... confined to a specific borough or District(s) or perhaps, a function of a more systemic problem unrelated to the therapists and specialists who work with children in need of services."

Families whose children have IEPs can take the survey here.



Tuesday, 23 October 2012 11:52

Does your school recycle? Take a survey

NYC H2O is a small educational nonprofit, run by a former NYC teacher, that offers programs about New York City's water and environment including educating teachers and school staff about recycling. The group is conducting its second citywide survey of recycling in the public schools and would like to know how your school is doing.

Last year's survey showed that while about three-quarters of the city's schools have some sort of recycling effort, there was uncertainty about what was being done with the recyclables. Some teachers reported that paper discarded in blue recycling bins was actually tossed out with trash.

Take the survey here and let NYC H2O know how your school is doing with recycling.



Thursday, 18 October 2012 15:41

Park Slope parents see rezoning plans

Close to 200 parents and neighborhood residents heard Carrie Marlin, director of planning for the Education Department, present proposed zoning changes for popular Park Slope schools on Wednesday night at a meeting of the District 15 Community Education Council. Joyce Szuflita of nyc school help was at the meeting. Here's her rundown.

District 15 Community Education Council President Jim Devor said rezoning discussions began two years ago around the collaboration between District 13 and District 15 to build a new and larger building in the Gowanus neighborhood to house PS 133. PS 133 was re-located to a small Catholic school building, St. Thomas Aquinas, while construction is underway on the new building which will open in fall of 2013 and will serve students from both districts.

At the same time, two popular Park Slope schools, PS 107 and PS 321, were becoming overcrowded and conversation began about rezoning those schools.

Top-scoring, low-income 6th graders may be eligible for the Education Department's DREAM - Specialized High School Institute (SHSI), a nearly two-year-long course which prepares middle school students to take the specialized high school exam in 8th grade. The application process begins this month.

Eligible students should hear now from their principals about whether they qualify for the course beginning in January 2013. To be considered for the SHSI, students must meet income guidelines based on free lunch status, have scored at a Level 3 or 4 on 5th grade state reading and math exams and have at least 90 percent attendance in the 5th grade. The 22-month-long course includes after-school and Saturday classes which begin in the second semester of 6th grade and last until the date of the test, in October of 8th grade. There are summer sessions as well.

The Education Department sent a list of qualified students to public schools enrolled in the Universal School Meals (pdf) last week.  Principals must distribute income verification forms to eligible students, along with a letter to parents introducing the program. Other public schools will get a list of eligible 6th-graders in November.

The program takes place in 18 districts around the city and is free. All participants get a metrocard for travel to classes, meals and course materials. In areas where there are more applicants than spaces available, a lottery will be held.

The specialized high school exam has come under increasing scrutiny this fall, after the NAACP filed a complaint last month with the federal government charging that the test effectively discriminated against black and Hispanic students who are under-represented at the schools. A Times editorial today pointed out that many middle schools fail to prepare students adequately for material covered on the exam and that students who gain admission to specialized schools come from families who provide them with prep courses and tutors. Last spring, the DOE said it newly expanded the DREAM program to help bridge that gap.

See the DOE's DREAM webpage for details. For questions, contact

(updated with new information, Oct. 17)

Friday, 12 October 2012 10:43

Open slots for tots in pre-kindergarten

There is still time to get your four-year-old into a free pre-kindergarten program. Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn yesterday urged parents of children born in 2008 to sign up by Oct. 31 for open seats at public schools or at community organizations which offer half and full day pre-k.

The DOE estimates there are several thousand open seats. Half-day programs last 2.5 hours and full day, 6 hours. Some community centers offer even longer hours for a fee. A district by district listing of schools and CBOs that are likely to have vacancies is updated weekly, on the Education Department's website.

Call the school or CBO directly to find out about openings.


Tuesday, 09 October 2012 12:15

SHSAT sign-up; borough HS fairs

Wednesday, Oct. 10 Friday, Oct. 12 is the deadline for 8th and 9th graders to request a "ticket" to take the Specialized High School Admissions Test or audition for LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts.  If you haven't done so yet, tell your guidance counselor that you want to take the exam for entrance to one of the eight exam high schools or to the ninth specialized high school, LaGuardia.

This weekend, Oct. 13-14, there will be a high school fair in every borough offering a chance to meet with students and staff from most high schools in each borough. The fairs run from 11 a.m to 3 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday.

Bronx: Theodore Roosevelt High School

Brooklyn: Edward R. Murrow High School

Manhattan: Martin Luther King, Jr. High School

Queens: Francis Lewis High School

Staten Island: New Dorp High School

Before you go, check out our video, "Making the most of the high school fairs." And for more information, there are resources online from the information sessions at the September citywide fair.

(updated 10/11/2012 with new due date)