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Insideschools staff

Insideschools staff

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)

Thursday, 27 September 2012 14:29

What to expect at the high school fair

This weekend, Sept. 29 and 30, is the Department of Education's gigantic high school fair from 10 am to 3 pm at Brooklyn Technical High School. Prepare for a hectic day, where you will meet teachers, students and administrators and find out about their schools.

You can attend information sessions several times during the day, led by staff from the Education Department's enrollment office. This will be helpful especially if you're a newbie to the process (and it will give you a place to sit down and take a breather.)

Thursday, 23 August 2012 12:34

New student enrollment centers open

High school students who are new to New York City or who are re-entering city schools after a time away, may register at special enrollment centers opened on Aug. 28 in all boroughs. The centers are open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. through Sept. 14, with the exception of Labor Day.

Elementary and middle school students who have zoned neighborhood schools have to wait until the first day of school, Sept. 6, to register at the school.  In areas where there is middle school choice or no zoned schools, families should go to a registration center.

The centers are designed for new students and students who aren't yet assigned to a school but in the past, enrollment staff has  been able to help some students who needed a transfer or different school placement.

All special education students who have a current IEP (Individualized Education Plan) may enroll directly at their zoned schools on Sept. 6.  Those without an IEP need to go to an enrollment center or to a special education site.

Students must be present to register. And, paperwork, including proof of address is required. See the Department of Education's website for all the details.

See GothamSchools rundown on what's happening at the centers this week as parents rush to register their children before opening day.

Here's a list of the centers:


Theodore Roosevelt Campus
500 East Fordham Road

PS/IS 194
1301 Zerega Avenue (enter on Parker Street)


Brooklyn Tech High School 
29 Fort Greene Place (use the South Elliott Place entrance)

Clara Barton High School
901 Classon Avenue

FDR High School
5800 20th Avenue


A.Philip Randolph High School
443 West 135th Street

The High School for Fashion Industries
225 West 24th Street

Thomas Edison Career & Technical Education High School

165-65 84th Avenue

Long Island City High School
14-30 Broadway

Staten Island:
Michael J. Petrides School
715 Ocean Terrace, Building C



Thursday, 23 August 2012 10:58

Free backpack giveaway to kids in need

The Islamic Circle North America will give away 5,000 backpacks stuffed with school supplies to needy children tomorrow, August 25, in sites around the city.  The giveaway is part of a national campaign to distribute 30,000 stuffed backpacks to children in need of any religious faith.

City Council Education Committee Chair Robert Jackson will be at the launch event on Friday, August 24 from 5pm-7pm at the Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Educational and Memorial Center, 3940 Broadway in Manhattan.
Here's the list of other giveaway dates and places in New York City:
Saturday, August 25
Bronx Muslim Center
702 Rhinelander Ave
Bronx, NY 10462
Saturday, August 25
MAS Sheepshead Bay Community Center
2812 Voorhies Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11235
Sunday, August 26
ICNA Headquarters
166-26 89th Ave
Jamaica, NY 11432
Sunday, August 26
Masjid Taqwa
1266 Bedford Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11216
Friday, August 31
MAS Astoria Community Center
25-15 Steinway Street
Astoria, NY 11103
Click here for more information.
Monday, 20 August 2012 10:30

Poll: Should seniors have a full day?

When school starts on Sept. 6, many 12th-graders will have longer schedules than their predecessors because of a newly-enforced city and state rule. We reported last week that some principals will need to hire new teachers to fill out the schedules of hundreds of seniors who, in the past, would have taken only three or four classes needed to graduate. Others are looking to fill those extra hours with credit-earning activities like community service.

What do you think? Should 12th graders who only need a few more credits to graduate attend a full day of school?

Only 55 percent of eligible teachers received tenure this year, Chancellor Dennis Walcott announced on Friday. This is a huge shift from just five years ago when 97 percent of teachers were awarded tenure after three years on the job.

Walcott said that stricter standards for teachers was the reason that fewer teachers were awarded tenure. "Receiving tenure is no longer an automatic right, and our new approach ensures that teachers who are granted tenure have earned it,” said Walcott in a press release.

Teacher who do not get tenure may continue to teach and, for some, the decision to grant tenure can be extended to the next year. That's what happened to 42 percent of eligible teachers this year.

Principals determine which teachers get tenure, rating them on a four-point scale: ineffective, developing, effective or highly effective.

Even as fewer teachers are getting tenure, more teachers are being hired. NY1 reports that the hiring freeze has eased up for 2012-2013, with many of the new hires coming from the ranks of Teach for America (new college graduates) and Teaching Fellows, a program that targets career-changers.

A scarcity of special education teachers persists. To help ease the shortage, eligible general education teachers who have been "excessed" from their jobs may enter the Special Education Re-Certification Program. That would allow them to teach special needs children if they are working toward getting special education certification at Adelphi University.

Old School New School, a website about high school choice created by public school students went live this week. With colorful graphics and funny videos, it gives pointers to 8th graders about how to apply to high school, never an easy task in New York City.

City teens are invited to the launch party on Saturday, July 28 at The teens worked with the Resilience Advocacy Project, teaching artist Douglas Paulson and the Center for Urban Pedagogy. They also interviewed Insideschools staff to see what we look for High school students investigated the public high school application process and created a website to help other teens understand the complicated admissions system.

Old School New School went live this week and city teens are invited to the launch party on Saturday, July 28 in Manhattan at the Austrian Cultural Forum at 11 East 52nd Street, from 3-5 p.m.  Middle-schoolers especially will have the chance to view the website and some videos and ask questions from students who put it together.

Six teens worked with the Resilience Advocacy Project, teaching artist Douglas Paulson and the Center for Urban Pedagogy. They also interviewed Insideschools staff to see what we look for on our school visits and how we help parents and students navigate the process with our school reviews and slideshows, blogposts and videos.

The launch event is free and open to teens of all ages. Food and beverages provided. Make sure to RSVP by 5 p.m. on Friday, July 27.

Read more about the site and the launch on GothamSchools.