Wednesday, 18 January 2012 19:47

Do "screened" schools screen out poor kids?

New York City public high schools with academic requirements for entry offer a rigorous education, but admission is supposed to be based on performance, not on income. So why do so few low-income students manage to get in?

A look at two dozen of the city's most elite high schools -- those that require a score of proficient or higher (a 3 or 4) on both the state math and reading exams and those that require a spectacular score on the "specialized test" -- shows a huge discrepancy in who's enrolled, based on income.

About 74% of high school students citywide qualify for free or reduced lunch ($41,348 or less for a family of four) compared with 41% of students at the exam and selective schools.

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Dear Judy,

My child scored in the 90th percentile on the G&T test last year, but didn't get offered a seat anywhere. What's the deal?

Gifted Mom

Dear Gifted Mom,

When dealing with the Department of Education, guarantees can be murky. Read the fine print and adhere to the rules:

Score in the 90th percentile or higher? Yes, you are guaranteed a district seat IF your child is going into kindergarten or 1st grade and IF on your application, you list every G&T option in your district. Ahead of you at the door are siblings of kids already enrolled. They have priority, based on the score they obtain. Then it is strictly by score. If there are more kids at the same score than there are places available, a lottery is held. If your child is one of those who does not get a place after that exercise is completed in all the district G&T programs, then there are two possibilities :

If there are enough kids who did not get placed, then the DOE might (and should) open an additional program. If there are not enough kids for a new program, then the DOE should offer a place in a neighboring district, where there are extra seats.

Some other factors:

If your top priority is for your child to be placed in the G&T program in his/her sibling’s school, make sure that school is your first choice on the application.

Twins, and presumably triplets, etc, are placed together if all are eligible. The twin or triplet with the highest score is the one who stands on the line. When placed, she brings her siblings in with her.

A placement exception request (PER) can be used to keep general ed and G&T students in the same school. In fact, you’d be wise to read the Gifted & Talented Handbook very carefully before submitting the application. There are many ins and outs that could apply to your situation.  

As for Citywide programs, there is no guarantee at all. Highest scorers are placed first, and if your child did not get placed in a citywide program and you did not list all the district options, s/he could miss out altogether.

Don’t get too anxious about placement right now. Keep calm, cool and collected while you help your child prepare for the OLSAT/BSRA tests -- make it a fun exercise and bring a relaxed child to the test.

Good luck!


Published in News and views
Tuesday, 17 January 2012 13:20

About our data

Insideschools aims to provide up-to-date data on New York City public schools. We rely on official statistics and information from the New York City Department of Education (DOE) and the New York State Education Department (NYSED), which monitor most public schools. Charter school data not included in city statistics was provided by The Charter School Center.

Below is a list of our "go-to" data sources, along with the key information each dataset provides. These sources were also used to create Insidestats, a new feature of Insideschools, which seeks to provide useful statistics on New York City’s high schools. See Insidestats section below to get specific information on how we collect and analyze the numbers for Insidestats.

About our data: General information

School name, Address, Telephone Number, Principal name – From the DOE Office of Organizational Data LCGMS Database (updated continually)

Attendance and Data on K-12 Tests, Graduation and College Readiness – From the DOE Progress Report Database (2012-13)

Survey Information from Students, Teachers and Parents – From the DOE Learning Environment Survey (2012-13)

Student Demographics and Enrollment (including free and reduced lunch, percent of English language learners, percent of students receiving special education services, ethnicity) – From the Preliminary DOE School Demographics and Accountability Snapshot (2014)

ELA and Math Achievement Test Scores Grades 3-8 – From the DOE Achievement Test Database (2012-13)

Attendance and Enrollment for New Schools – From the DOE Period Attendance Reporting Database (updated continually)

Average Class Sizes (updated twice a year; if link is broken try searching "DOE class size report") – From DOE Class Size Report Database (2012-13)

Elementary School Special Programs (gifted and talented, dual language, and magnet programs ) – From the DOE Elementary School Directory (2013-14)

Elementary and Middle School Zone Maps - From NYC Open Data School Files School Zones (2011-12)

School Overcrowding and Utilization – From the School Construction Authority Enrollment, Capacity & Utilization Report (2011-12)

About our data: Insidestats

Insidestats is a new tool on Insideschools giving families one easy place to review and compare high school quality and outcomes. The numbers on Insidestats were collected from datasets published annually by the New York City Department of Education (DOE) and the New York State Education Department (NYSED). Some numbers were provided by special request.

See the list below for the sources and dates of each piece of information on Insidestats. We have also provided links to the original datasets, if available, for those who wish to delve deeper into the numbers.

A note about citywide averages and the color of our apples on Insidestats

Insidestats uses color-coded apples to show how well a school is doing compared to other New York City high schools. Schools that are better than the citywide average on a given indicator get a green apple. Schools that are worse than the citywide average get a red apple. Those that are around the citywide average get a neutral blue apple.

We used a common statistical calculation to determine whether a given school is below average, near the average, or better than average on each data point. This calculation is called a "standard deviation." It allows us to easily see if a number is near the citywide average or substantially better or worse than the citywide average. We used the following curve to assign the apple colors. For each measure, one-third of schools are above average, one-third are below and one-third are in the middle. (The blue section is taller because many more schools tend to be near the average. The blue section is one-half of a standard deviation from the average in each direction.)

Figure 1: A statistical illustration of how our apples were color-coded:

Apples Colors Bell Curve













In some cases, the citywide average was provided by the DOE or NYSED. When the citywide average was not available, we calculated our own citywide averages using the data we had collected. It is important to note that the averages we calculated include only general education high schools and secondary schools in Districts 1-32. We do not include data from charter schools, transfer schools or schools that primarily serve students with special needs (though we do hope to include these schools in the future). Averages have been calculated as “weighted averages,” meaning that we adjusted the averages to account for schools that are much larger or smaller than other schools.

The following table lists each measure on Insidestats, its source, and how the average was calculated. We have included links to the original dataset when it is available. If you have any questions about the numbers, datasets or our calculations, please email Kim Nauer at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Also let us know if you see errors or miscalculations in your school's numbers. We will correct any problems as soon as possible.

Insidestats: Sources and links

Click the linked text in blue to explore the original dataset, when available. In addition, much of this information is available on your school’s DOE website. Click “View More DOE Statistics and Info” on the bottom of each page on Insidestats to see more.


Shared Campus - From the DOE Office of Organizational Data (2013-14)

Students Enrolled - From the DOE School Demographics and Accountability Snapshot (2013-14)

Average Daily Attendance Rate - From the DOE School Progress Report Database (2012-2013; 2013-2014 for schools opened in 2013)

Uniform Policy - From the DOE School Directories (2013-2014)

Metal Detectors - Site surveys from Insideschools and New York Civil Liberties Union (ongoing)

Student Demographics - DOE School Demographics and Accountability Snapshot (2013-14)

Free Lunch and ELL Students - DOE School Demographics and Accountability Snapshot (2013-14)

8th Grade Math/ELA Test Scores of High School’s Students - DOE High School Progress Report Database (2012-13)

Citywide Average: Calculated by taking the average of schools in the Insidestats database.

Middle School Test Scores on ELA and Math exams (for high schools that include grades 6-8) - DOE School Progress Report Database (2012-13)

Citywide Average: Calculated by taking the sum of students scoring 3 or 4 over the sum of students taking the exam.


Number of Students in an Average English Class - From the DOE Class Size Database (2013-2014)

Citywide Average: Calculated by taking an average of schools in the Insidestats database.

Student and Teacher Survey Questions - DOE Learning Environment Survey Database (2012-2013)

Note: Percentages were calculated by combining the percentage of students or teachers in the survey that answered "strongly agree" or "somewhat agree."

Citywide Average: Calculated by taking an average of schools in the Insidestats database.

Percent of Chronically Absent Students – High School Student attendance data provided by the DOE (2012-13); all other grades from the Progress Reports.

Note: Percentage calculated from the number of students missing more than 20 or more days of school year.

Citywide Average: Calculated the number of chronically absent students in each school and added up the number citywide dividing by the total number of students in those schools.


Class of 2013 Four-Year Graduation Rate - DOE High School Progress Report Database (2012-13)

Class of 2013 Six-Year Graduation Rate - DOE High School Progress Report Database (2012-13)

Note: The Progress Report provides preliminary graduation rate numbers. These numbers may change when the official graduation rate numbers are released in mid-2013.

Class of 2012 Four-Year Graduation Rate - NYSED Graduation Rate Database (June 2013)

Class of 2012 Six-Year Graduation Rate - NYSED Graduation Rate Database (June 2013)

Class of 2012 Advanced Regents Diploma Rate - NYSED Graduation Rate Database (June 2013)

Class of 2012 High School Dropout Rate - NYSED Graduation Rate Database (June 2013)

Citywide Averages Class of 2012: Provided in the NYSED School Level Graduation Database (2011-12)


School College Prep Course Offerings and Outcomes

DOE High School Progress Report Database (2011-12). Dataset includes:

Students taking at least one advanced placement class getting a 3 or better

Students taking at least one college course getting a C or better

Students passing a Regents exam for Algebra 2, MathB, Physics or Chemistry

Students entering CUNY without needing remedial help

Students graduating on time and entering college within 18 months

Citywide Average: DOE High School Progress Report Database (2011-12) when available

SAT Reading and Math Scores - DOE SAT Database (2011-12)

Citywide and Nationwide Average: DOE SAT Summary Report (2011-12)

Student Survey on Quality of College and Career Counseling

DOE Learning Environment Survey Database (2011-2012)

Note: Percentages were calculated by combining the percentage of students or teachers in the survey that answered "strongly agree" or "somewhat agree."

Citywide Average: Calculated by taking an average of schools in the Insidestats database.


Class of 2011 Special Ed Four-Year Graduation Rate - NYSED Graduation Rate Database (June 2012)

Class of 2011 Special Ed Six-Year Graduation Rate - NYSED Graduation Rate Database (June 2012)

Class of 2011 ELL Four-Year Graduation Rate - NYSED Graduation Rate Database (June 2012)

Class of 2011 ELL Six-Year Graduation Rate - NYSED Graduation Rate Database (June 2012)

Citywide Averages Class of 2011: Provided in the NYSED Graduation Database (June 2012)

Team Teaching/Self-Contained Classes - School Demographics and Accountability Snapshot (2011-12)

Citywide Average: Calculated by taking the average of schools in the Insidestats database

Students Spending Day with Non-Disabled Peers - Special Education Service Delivery Report (2011-2012)

Note: While there is no public database for this report, it is available on each school’s website.

Citywide Average: Calculated by taking the average of schools in the Insidestats database

Published in About Us
Monday, 09 January 2012 10:56

Middle class scores fell under Bloomberg

Rachel Monahan of the N.Y. Daily News reports: While Mayor Bloomberg has touted gains for the poorest students, middle-income kids' test scores have failed to improve during his administration.

Published in News and views
Friday, 16 December 2011 15:04

DOE releases 2011 summer school info

Just in time for Christmas, the Department of Education today released 2011 summer school information.

More than 6,000 3rd-8th graders were unnecessarily required to attend summer school in 2011. State tests, given in May, were not scored until later in the summer so schools had to estimate which students might be held back for poor test scores. This year they over-estimated. In 2010, the DOE had the opposite problem: more than 8,500 3rd-8th graders didn’t find out they were required to take summer school until the end of July, when it was too late to attend.

Of the nearly 28,000 3rd-8th graders who actually needed to attend summer school because they scored a 1 or 2 on state reading or math tests, 67 percent were promoted to the next grade. More than a third did not pass and had to repeat a grade.

Published in News and views
Wednesday, 07 December 2011 10:49

City scores flatline on national exams

City students' scores on national reading and math exams have flatlined since 2009, officials announced Wednesday. The surprising news delivered a setback to the Bloomberg Administration, which has consistently trumpeted the positive results of its school reform agenda.

The National Assessment for Educational Progress is a set of exams administered every two years to the nation's 4th and 8th graders and is considered the gold standard for measuring academic achievement. The 2011 results had city officials scrambling to explain the results.

Department officials noted that there has been significant progress among 4th graders since Mayor Bloomberg implemented reforms in 2003, and they emphasized that city students kept pace with or improved compared with the rest of the state over the past two years.

Published in News and views
Tuesday, 22 November 2011 20:28

Parents say DOE mandates hurt Music School

The departure of half the core teaching staff at an elite Upper West Side elementary school has roiled parents who worry test prep is destroying the school’s creative spirit.

In July, close to half of the parents at the Special Music School signed a letter decrying the “apparent shift in school culture” and the new principal’s leadership.

 “This is not the same place it was three years ago,” said a 3rd-grade parent, who like most interviewed, asked to remain anonymous for fear of negative repercussions for their children. “There’s a lot of talk about data and test prep, and I didn’t used to hear that.”

Published in News and views
Wednesday, 16 November 2011 11:03

What is the Common Core?

Parents attending parent-teacher conferences this week may be hearing talk about the “Common Core” and wondering just what it is. At a Department of Education presentation in October, David Coleman, founder of the Grow Network and one of the authors of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), declared, “If you do this work [aligned with Common Core standards] then you’re ready for college.”

In short, the CCSS is not a curriculum but a set of standards defining the knowledge and skills that students from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade need to master each year to be prepared for the next grade, and ultimately college or work. Creating common academic standards across the country was a state-led initiative, involving a coalition of governors and educators. The actual standards were developed by teachers, administrators, experts and parents.

Modeled after successful programs in the U.S. and abroad the Common Core standards are meant to provide teachers and parents with a shared understanding of what students are expected to learn. One aim is ensure that kids who move across city or even state lines end up in schools with the same information being taught.

Published in News and views
Tuesday, 25 October 2011 12:17

Ask Judy: My daughter needs help in math

Dear Judy,

My daughter scored below a 3 at the State test for math. She is in 5th grade and not doing well with math. I requested to put her in the extended time help period but was told that the school only has extended day for ELA. I was told that there is something called Academic intervention and I asked for that. Is the school not obligated to provide extra math help for those who do not meet the standard requirements? How can I ensure that the principal will provide her with extra math tutoring? Is there any other department within the DOE that I can contact if my daughters school does not offer the help I requested?

Bronx Mom

Dear Bronx Mom,

Yes, indeed there is a requirement to provide academic intervention services for kids who score in the level 1 or 2 range on standardized tests. Like many policies these days, it is up to the principal to put it in place. I imagine that budget shortfalls have a lot to do with reducing the service, but that should not stop the principal from providing help to a student who needs it. Since you have already spoken to the principal, do what the DOE recommends: contact your school's network leader. The network leader is listed on your school’s online report card.

Published in News and views
Tuesday, 11 October 2011 11:10

Standing room only at G&T info session

A standing-room-only crowd greeted Department of Education presenters at the first of six Gifted & Talented information sessions, held Oct. 5 on the Upper West Side.  It was a "friendly, lively and through description of the G&T application process," according to Robin Aronow of School Search NYC, with three DOE representatives speaking for more than an hour, and answering parents' questions for another half-hour.

Virtually all of the information presented is detailed in the G&T Handbook, hardcopies of which were available that night (before they ran out) as well as on the DOE's G&T webpage. The handbook describes the process, includes frequently asked questions, an admissions timeline and a practice OLSAT (Otis-Lennon School Ability Test) by age. The OLSAT is one of two measures that will be administered to children applying for kindergarten through 3rd grade, along with the BSRA (Bracken School Readiness Assessment). The DOE will be looking for a new assessment next year when the current contract with the testing company, Pearson, expires.

There are three G&T sessions remaining: Oct. 11 in Queens, Oct. 12 and 18 in the Bronx and Oct. 18 in Brooklyn. Is it worth attending? Probably not, if you read the handbook carefully, but if you like to hear information directly from the enrollment office or have additional questions, you might benefit.

Published in News and views