High Schools (14)
Audition schools are among the most popular. Auditions are held in the fall. LaGuardia High School of Music and Art and Performing Arts, one of the specialized schools, is the most selective. Some children prepare for these auditions at the Summer Arts Institute, a free four-week program. When you tour the school, don’t forget to check out the academics. Even a star actor needs to take algebra and biology!
Here are some of the audition schools:
- Talent Unlimited
- Frank Sinatra
- Celia Cruz
- Professional Performing Arts School
- Gramercy Arts
- Brooklyn High School of the Arts
Some large neighborhood schools offer topnotch arts programs and also require an admission. Some examples are:
- Forest Hills
- Fort Hamilton
Next consider: large or small?
Next consider whether you want a school that is large or small. Large schools have more courses, sports, arts programs, foreign languages. But you’ll get more personal attention at a small school, where everyone knows your name. The college office may be better at a small school, because there are so many fewer students to deal with.
Fast-track, or a more relaxed paced? How much homework can you handle? Fast-paced schools may have three or four hours of homework a night, as well as long projects to complete during school vacations. That doesn’t leave a lot of time for fun, but it may prepare you well for college. Other schools believe it’s more important to study a few subjects in depth than to race through the curriculum. Some kids want time for sports, performing arts or simple relaxation. For these students, a school with a more relaxed pace is better. Beware: If you plan to go to college, beware of schools that don’t offer a college prep curriculum. Some schools only offer three years of math and three years of science, for example, while selective colleges require four years of each.
How to appeal
If you are placed at a school that is inappropriate, ask your guidance counselor to file an appeal. While the initial placements are made by computer, human beings handle the appeals. Your guidance counselor may write a letter explaining why you need a different placement: get her on your side.
Reasons for an appeal You'll have the most luck with the following reasons:
Change of address, also known as "transportation hardship" (Your new address is at least 75 minutes distance from school. Or, the school's new address is at least 75 minutes from your home.)
Medical issue - you'll need documentation from your doctor showing that you have a medical condition that could keep you from attending your assigned school.
Lack of appropriate special education services or accommodations at the matched school. Appeals for special needs students are granted primarily for students who need a specialized program that the assigned school doesn't offer, such as an ASD program for children on the autism spectrum, or a District 75 programl.
Data entry error - your guidance counselor made a mistake when submitting your application.
Desire to attend one of the new small high schools (if the school's formation was announced after the official application process)
Safety - you'll need documentation, such as a police report or order of protection, to show why it would be unsafe for you to attend the assigned school.
There is also a category for "other" appeals, a catch-all category where you'll get a chance to explain why you want another school. This is the place to bring up anything that was missing from your first application, such as a big leap in your grades. Or, maybe you'd prefer to stay at your present 6-12 school than go to the school that accepted you. If the school to which you were assigned does not have a college-preparatory curriculum, or advanced academics, that may be grounds for appeal as well.
If you are not placed
Every year, thousands of children are not placed at any of their high school choices—usually through no fault of their own. There simply aren’t enough good schools for all the students who want to attend them. If you are one of the students who is not placed, enlist the help of your 8th grade guidance counselor. It’s her responsibility to make sure you get assigned to an appropriate school. You will need to go to the supplemental high school fair, held in March, and fill out your application one more time. If you are assigned to a school you really don’t like you may appeal.
There are hundreds of other schools in the city from which to choose. You may list up to 12 schools on your application. Some schools, called screened schools, require high grades and good attendance records. Some accept everyone who lives in their attendance zone. Others accept students by lottery.
Some of these high schools, like Bard High School Early College, Townsend Harris in Queens, Hunter College High School and Beacon, are just as selective as the specialized schools. Others accept everyone who applies. Some tips:
- Screened schools care about your attendance. Good attendance in 7th grade is crucial.
- Be sure you are eligible to attend a school before you put it on your list. If you live in Brooklyn, don’t list a school that only accepts Manhattan students. If your grades are poor, don’t list a school that only accepts kids with grades of 90 or above.
- Don’t list a school you are not willing to attend. If you are placed at a school you originally listed, it’s very hard to appeal.
Career and Technical Education (CTE) schools offer students a certificate that demonstrates they have mastered certain jobs skills as well as a regular high school diploma. These certificates are in fields such as agriculture, business and marketing, health occupations and computer technology. Students who may plan to work directly after high school may want to consider a CTE school.
After-school and summer programs that focus on math are a great way to supplement what your child is learning in the classroom.
New York City offers a variety of programs for children who are struggling with math or those who are already excelling. Teens with good grades and a passion for math should consider a summer camp or a college class. Kids who need help memorizing multiplication tables may want to try MathABC.com, a free website loaded with drills. For the math-phobic child who is struggling to catch-up to the math-lover who can’t get enough, here is a list of free and low-cost programs.
New York City has a wealth of opportunities for students who are looking to pursue their interest in science outside of the classroom.
Science can help a child learn new words, sharpen observational skills and re-engage a disinterested learner. Find ways to get your child outside or working in a lab in the summer. From environmental science to engineering or technology, there is a science program for every student.
Summer High School Internship Program @ NOAA's Center of Excellence in Remote Sensing Science and Technology
With its wealth of museums and cultural institutions, New York City has many opportunities for students interested in the arts.
There are programs with a focus on visual arts, theater, instrumental music, choral music, and museum work. From free art classes to museum internships to theater summer camp, there are lots of ways to learn about and practice art outside of the regular school day.
Students interested in the history, politics, journalism and other subjects in the humanities may choose from an abundance of free programs in the city.
Programs include the Model New York City Council, an apprenticeship with the Museum of Jewish Heritage, and a 26-week Black studies program at the Schomburg Center. Practice writing, public speaking, and critical thinking skills in one of the city’s many free humanities programs.
Get homework help, prepare for college, or work with an academic mentor at one of the city’s free academic prep programs.
These programs include the well-known Posse Foundation’s college-prep program or the College Now program at CUNY.
Students in special education?
Students who receive special education services and are unable to pass the Regents examination may take the Regents Competency Tests, known as the RCT (this is referred to as the "Safety Net") if they enter 9th grade in or after September 2001 and prior to September 2011. In addition, for students who enter 9th grade in or after September 2005, a grade of 55-64 may be considered as a passing score on any Regents exam required for graduation. However, in both of these cases, students will only earn a local, and not a Regent's, diploma. This policy applies both to students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and students who were, but are no longer, in high school special education.
The law states that the majority of students who receive special education services should be prepared to earn regular high school diplomas. However, for a small minority of students, an IEP diploma option is also available. An IEP diploma is not as useful as a regular diploma; for example, you cannot try to enlist in the military services or attend even a two-year college with an IEP diploma. An IEP diploma certifies merely that a student attended school and completed IEP goals. An IEP diploma should not be a goal for students with the potential to meet graduation standards. Students who get IEP diplomas are entitled to stay in school to work toward a regular diploma or GED until the age of 21. Students with disabilities can also be prepared for the GED but cannot be forced to pursue that degree instead of a regular diploma.
If you are not sure whether your child is being prepared for a local, Regents, IEP, or GED diploma, look on page 9 of his IEP. If the IEP says he is tracked for a local or Regent's diploma, talk to the supervisor or assistant principal of special education to make sure he is earning the credits he needs and being prepared for the graduation exams. If the IEP says he is tracked for an IEP diploma, but you think your child should be able to earn a regular diploma, you can request a review meeting and/or use your due process rights. It might help to seek the advice of an advocate or attorney.
You should be focusing on the type of diploma your child is to earn way before he arrives at high school; as soon as your child is enrolled in school, you should be ensuring that he gets access to the regular curriculum and assistance necessary to meet the standards applicable to all children in his age group, unless his cognitive ability will not allow him to do so. Children who miss out on important instruction in the early grades may not be able to catch up later. Please see our page for more information about special education services.
Transfers and alternative schools
How to transfer
If you are unhappy in your high school, you may want to transfer. Unfortunately, the Department of Education doesn’t make it easy. If you are a 9th-grader, your best bet is to reapply to another school for 10th grade.
After 10th grade, transfers are generally granted only in cases of emergency. (The same goes for midyear transfers.) You’ll need a note from your doctor or a police report that demonstrates your health or safety is at risk if you stay at your current school.
If you move during high school and you end up with a very long commute (more than 75 minutes each way), you may claim a “travel hardship” and transfer to a school closer to home. Get your guidance counselor to help, or go to a borough enrollment center.
If you have other reasons for leaving—you are simply miserable, or you have failed lots of courses, or you need to take care of a family member—transfer alternative schools are another option. These are designed for students who have been unsuccessful at traditional schools. Transfer schools sometimes accept students midyear. They tend to be very small. You apply to these schools directly—not through the regular high school admissions office. Some transfer schools are demanding, academically challenging schools that prepare students for college. Others focus on the basics: just getting kids to graduate.
You are entitled to attend school until you graduate from high school or turn 21 years old. Some schools will encourage older students to leave and take a GED (general educational development) test, but it is your right to work for a regular Regents diploma, which is more valued than a GED.
The Department of Education has a webpage that explains how to transfer high schools. Find it here. In its' directory of schools and additional ways to graduate, the DOE lists referral centers (PDF) to help kids who want to transfer to an alternative school or program.
Staten Island: 718-273-3225
Other ways to graduate
A number of programs are available for older students who need to work during the day or who want to return to school after dropping out or who need to work during the day. Some high schools offer child care to enable young mothers to attend school while their babies are looked after. The Department of Education website has an extensive list of these alternative programs. For more information, call the District 79 Office of Student Support Services (917) 521-3639 (4360 Broadway, 4th Floor, New York, NY 10033).
The Office of Adult and Continuing Education offers GED preparation, English as a second language and career education programs for adults who are 21 years of age or older. Call (917) 521-3789.
Discharges and involuntary transfers
Your school administration may suggest that you transfer to another school if, for example, you can’t keep up with the academic work. However, the school may not force you to leave except in very limited circumstances. You have the right to tutoring or counseling that will help you be successful in your current school. If your school wants you to leave and you want to stay, look at the regulations for an “involuntary transfer” before you agree.
In some cases, a child who has been suspended for bad behavior may be transferred to another school against his wishes. If you lied about your address when you enrolled, you may be transferred to your zoned school.
It is wrong for a school to discharge a student when the student or parent objects. And it’s illegal for a school to discharge a student between the ages of 17 and 21 without parental consent and appropriate exit-interview procedures. Schools are supposed to notify students and their parents of the right to attend school until the age of 21.
All students in New York state must earn 44 credits and pass five Regents exams with a score of at least 65 to graduate. Each semester-long course is worth one credit. Some specialized and alternative schools have additional requirements, as does the Advanced Regents diploma.
Advanced Regents diploma
8 English (R)
8 English (R)
8 Social Studies (2R)*
8 Social Studies (2R)*
6 Science (R)*
6 Science (2R)*
6 Math (R)*
6 Math (2R)*
2 Foreign Language
6 Foreign Language **
1 Health Education
1 Health Education
4 Physical Education
4 Physical Education
7 elective courses
3 elective courses
(R) Regents exam required; (2R) two Regents exams required.
* Student may substitute a senior level course in technology for a third year of science or math.
** Students may complete five math or five Career and Technical Education (CTE) credits in place of additional language credits.
In the past, New York City offered a local diploma for students who were unable to complete the requirements for a Regents diploma. For those entering 9th grade after 2008, the local diploma has been eliminated except for certain students receiving special education services.
Students must pass five Regents exams: English, math, global history, U.S. History and science, with a score of 65 percent or more.
To earn an Advanced Regents diploma, students take additional credits in a foreign language, pass an additional Regents exam in science (at least one course should be in life science and one in physical science), and pass a second Regents exam in math. An advanced Regents Diploma with Honors may be issued to students who receive an average of 90 percent or more on all Regents exams. Adjustments are made for students taking a sequence in career and technical education or the arts. More information on the Career and Technical Education sequence can be found on the New York State Department of Education website.
Students who fail to pass a Regents exam may appeal if they score within 3 percentage points of 65 percent and have met the following criteria:
- Take the Regents exam in question twice
- Score within 3 points of the 65 percent passing score on that exam, up to a total of two exams
- Have a course average in the subject under appeal that meets or exceeds the school's passing grade
- Present evidence that they have taken advantage of academic help provided by the school in the subject
- Have an attendance rate of 95 percent for the school year (except for excused absences) during which they last took the Regents exam under appeal
- Be recommended for an exemption to the graduation requirement by their teacher or department chairperson in the subject
English language Learners
All students designated as English language learners by the Department of Education must pass the Regents English Language Arts Exam to receive a regular high school diploma. However, those students who enter the U.S. in 9th grade or later may take other required Regents examinations in their native languages if the translated exam is available and if the test is taken within three years of when they entered the U.S. The other required Regents examinations are available in Spanish, Chinese and Russian. Oral translation is provided for students if a version of the test is not available in their language.
What to look for on a tour
It's a good idea to tour a school before you apply. Some schools offer daytime tours, when you can see classes in action, while others give “open houses” in the evening. Although daytime tours are best, you can tell a lot about a school even from walking through an empty building. Safety is everyone's first concern. Metal detectors, signs announcing "no weapons allowed" and locked bathroom doors are troublesome signs. Friendly security guards are a good sign. Look for lots of books in classrooms and student work on walls. Bare classrooms are a bad sign, although in a large school many teachers of different subjects may share a classroom and may not post work. Desks in rows signal a traditional school, where the teacher does most of the talking. Desks in a circle or in groups signal a school where kids are expected to have speak up and work together in groups. Either approach can work well, but some kids need the structure of a traditional school, while others relish class discussions.