InsideSchools Blog

New Edition: FAFSA: The How-To Guide for High School Students

Our colleagues at the Center for New York City Affairs have published the fall 2020 edition of our popular guide for high school students who are applying to college and beginning their all-important quest for financial aid: FAFSA: The How-To Guide for High School Students (And the Adults Who...

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Best middle school bets: Boroughwide options in Brooklyn

A previous version of this story ran in October 2019. It has been updated with new information for October 2020. While the Department of Education has yet to finalize policies for the Fall 2020 admissions cycle, schools that typically screen for academic performance may have different admissions...

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Bronx middle school best bets

A previous version of this story ran in October 2019. It has been updated with new information for October 2020. While the Department of Education has yet to finalize policies for the Fall 2020 admissions cycle, schools that typically screen for academic performance may have different admissions...

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Best middle school bets: Boroughwide options in Manhattan

A previous version of this story ran in October 2019. It has been updated with new information for October 2020. While the Department of Education has yet to finalize policies for the Fall 2020 admissions cycle, schools that typically screen for academic performance may have different admissions...

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Best middle school bets: Borough-wide options in Queens

A previous version of this story ran in October 2019. It has been updated with new information for October 2020. While the Department of Education has yet to finalize policies for the Fall 2020 admissions cycle, schools that typically screen for academic performance may have different admissions...

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Putting Out The Dumpster Fire Of New York’s School Reopening

This article originally appeared in Urban Matters, a publication by our colleagues at the Center for New York City Affairs at The New School. There can no longer be any doubt that New York City’s plan for reopening schools is falling apart. By insisting that school buildings be opened for...

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New Online Class: How to Support Online Learning at Home

We're thrilled to launch How to Support Online Learning at Home, a free online class for NYC families available on our new community platform, InsideSchools+. It was designed by InsideSchools editor in chief Dr. Tom Liam Lynch, a former education technology professor and parent of a soon-to-be...

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Introducing InsideSchools+

Now more than ever, we need each other. That’s why we at InsideSchools have spent the summer creating a new space to support NYC families in what promises to be an unusual year. It’s called InsideSchools+. We created it because we know NYC families need a lot of support this year. And our team...

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Parents of NY: A well-rounded education is key

John, father of 3, who have attended the following schools: PS 87, PS 75, PS 112 M, PS 206 M, Neighborhood Charter School of Harlem, Booker T. Washington, Computer School, Frank Sinatra, and Stuyvesant. What does a high quality education look like to you? A good school offers a well-rounded...

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Our Plan to Be There for Families in the Fall

Back in early March, we published a new vision for where we wanted to take InsideSchools in the next 1,000 days. Within a week, Covid-19 forced the entire NYC school system to shift to remote learning. So we switched gears too and, for three months, we have provided tons of new content meant to...

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Parents of NY: Teachers need to figure out what is happening at home

Ingrid, mother of 2 (ages 13 and 15) (Ingrid requested no photo or school names) What does a good education look like to you? Teachers and parents need to work together. I am in direct contact with every teacher so I can help my kids at home. At school, my daughter has a counselor who works...

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No Excuses! Every School Should Offer a Virtual Tour

“Now more than ever” is a refrain you hear a lot these days. Now more than ever we need to rethink instruction, teach civics, create a culturally responsive curriculum, to name a few. Here’s one more: Now more than ever every school needs to provide a virtual tour. It’s not a new idea. We...

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"Souls of Our Schools" Are in Need of Healing

As #BlackLivesMatter protests flare up persistently throughout the country, teachers and families who had been mostly concerned about how to sufficiently complete the academic year online now have an unanticipated reality to address in school: widespread civic action in response to systemic...

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Parents of NY: What are the expectations?

Yvonne, mother of 4 (Girls Prep Bronx Elementary & Middle School, Success Academy) "Open communication with teachers is important to me. I want to be able to ask, 'What are the expectations? What does math look like at this grade level?'" "A lot of kids attend grades K-12 and still have to...

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Parents of NY: The key is meeting students where they are

Shanieka, mother of 1 (PS 217 Colonel David Marcus School) “My son has ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and autism, so partnering with the school, being a parent advocate so he can thrive—academically, socially, emotionally, whatever other “-ly” there may be—is important to me. A...

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Reading the Tea Leaves, NYC Schools in the Fall

According to a new survey by USA World News and Ipsos of over 500 K-12 teachers and 400 parents of K-12 students, 20% of teachers said they are unlikely to return to the classroom in September, concerning some that there’s a flood of resignations on the horizon. And 60% of parents said they would...

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Empathy Makes Education Possible--Online and Off

Sometimes, it can be hard to know just how well remote learning is going in the city. Parents might see what happens for their own children, but not for others. Stories emerge on both ends of the quality spectrum, with some teachers excelling in the new model while others hardly logging in at...

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Parents of New York: Does everyone feel welcome?

Parents of New York is an occasional post sharing the stories, ideas and perspectives of parents or caregivers with children in the New York City public schools. It is inspired by the popular Humans of New York website and book but is not connected to it. If you are interested in being...

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The Governor, the Foundation and the Pandemic

When Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that New York would partner with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to “reimagine” education in the state, it took many by surprise. One contacted us expressing her concern: “I’m concerned about top-down administration and these kinds of decisions that I...

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Why NYC Needs a Virtual Public School

Originally published in the New York Daily News. Gov. Cuomo has enlisted the Gates Foundation to do a statewide reimagining of public education in light of what we’ve learned from the coronavirus pandemic. That will take time. Here’s an innovation we could implement right now: Create a citywide...

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A Year Without Admissions Screens?

Next year’s high school application season will be unprecedented. High schools that screen applicants won’t be allowed to look at this year’s attendance records, and there will be no standardized test scores or numeric grades for the Spring 2020 semester. While some schools may adapt by using...

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What NYC Can Learn from the World About Reopening Schools

New York City is one of the world’s largest school districts. As officials and families grapple with what it means to reopen schools in September, there’s a lot to be learned not just from other urban districts or states, but also countries. In a report issued by UNESCO, the World Bank, UNICEF...

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Teach Civics to All, in School and at Home

“We need to start teaching civics again,” is a common refrain these days. And for good reason. There’s nothing like a pandemic to help us realize the impact of our individual and collective actions as well as our responsibilities to ourselves and our communities. Recently we made the case...

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Will Schools Be Safe to Attend in the Fall?

In a recent op-ed, teachers union leader Michael Mulgrew argued that schools will need significant health testing upgrades if they are to open in September. He wasn’t just musing generally. He was being specific: “In September, medical personnel need to be available at every schoolhouse door to...

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Teaching Statistics is Now More Important Than Ever

According to the 2020 High School Directory, only 132 out of 427 high schools (not including charters) in the city offer instruction in statistics. Among them, 113 offer Advanced Placement (AP) statistics, which covers college-level material; the rest offer statistics or quantitative reasoning as...

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Restless Kids? Boredomdomdom to the Rescue

Recently, as NYC school’s chancellor Richard Carranza played his guitar and sang to celebrate Arts Day, artist Hervé Tullet uploaded the 7th in a series of short videos called Boredomdomdom. Tullet—illustrator and author of many children’s books, including the New York Times bestseller “Press...

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How Well Does Your Child Write?

In a recent opinion piece, former NYC Deputy Chancellor Phil Weinberg and journalist Peg Tyre argue that with homeschooling sweeping the nation, it is becoming apparent that young people aren’t being taught writing. As they put it: Why do students write so poorly? Mostly, it’s because they...

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What About School Gardens?

“How are we getting the garden to the kids?” This was the question that gardening teacher Kimberly Beazer and garden coordinator Sherri Sandfort-Semon asked themselves during a two-day scramble to pack up and leave school grounds, for distance learning in March. As the two staffers most...

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How Lists are Helping My Child Learn at Home

We’ve struggled as a family to balance learning and working from home. There is a pandemic underway, which is something I try to remember when my frustration boils over. Things changed, though, last week when we created a simple tool and ritual. It’s a list. Before you stop reading at the...

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Should You Take a Covid-19 Gap Year?

With the coronavirus pandemic disrupting the last few months of high school for the Class of 2020, college campuses closed indefinitely, and the possibility of additional outbreaks in the fall, more seniors than ever are considering postponing their college acceptance for a year or choosing a...

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What’s a fair grading policy in a time of crisis? Tell the DOE

New York City has yet to issue guidance or how to handle Spring report card grades –whether it's numerical, letter-based, pass/fail/incomplete or some combination. Here’s your chance to weigh in. Community education councils throughout the city are conducting a survey asking parents what...

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Unhappy with Kindergarten Placement? Here's What To Do

If your child didn't get the kindergarten spot you asked for, try to stay calm. Waitlists at schools move over the spring and summer. We have seen it happen year after year. Children get offers on a rolling basis as families make final choices. Hang in there. The city sent out offers for...

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Let’s Be Honest, This Isn't Really Online Learning

Yes, teachers are trying to teach online. Yes, students are using web-based tools to engage with school. But we mustn’t mistake what we are observing for online learning. It’s not. I say this because, if the feedback I am hearing from teachers and families is to be believed, no one is...

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What the DOE's Remote Learning Survey Will and Won't Answer

A month after students in the city started learning remotely, the DOE is checking in with families to see how it’s been going. They want all parents as well as students in grades 6-12 to take this short, anonymous survey by Friday, May 1st. We encourage you all to do so. It will help the DOE...

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Should NYC Public Schools Have Websites? Many Don't.

NYC public school websites should not be optional because, as the pandemic has shown (and some city schools have already figured out), a website can be much more than a marketing tool. Done well, the website can serve as a central hub for distance learning, providing parents and students with...

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What Will September Look Like? Perhaps Not What You Think

In their recent letter to families, the mayor and chancellor committed to a “stronger” September than ever when school re-open. I, like many parents, long for that day when children can return to their schools. My son misses his friends. He’s getting tired of his parents day in and day out. Of...

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June Regents are Cancelled. How Many More will Graduate?

The New York State Board of Regents recently announced the cancellation of all Regents exams this June in the wake of school shutdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic. As long as a student passes any courses that culminate in Regents exams this June (or subsequently in summer school), or was...

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What You Can Learn From a School Website

A good school website tells you what you need to know about a school without even stepping inside—a reality we now face until schools can once again open their doors for tours. The Department of Education has a page for every school and, while it includes important information, such as the...

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Top 20: Large Neighborhood & Small Selective High Schools are in Demand

Large high schools with enrollment of at least 1000 continue to be in demand as they comprise more than half of this year’s list of the 20 high schools with the most number of applications, according to Department of Education (DOE) data provided to InsideSchools. The list does not include the...

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A Hotline Where Students Are Helping Students

IntegrateNYC is a student-led nonprofit in New York City that advocates for meaningful education reform. In the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, they launched a hotline for young people to call or text in order to get information and support. It’s a phenomenal achievement. I had the pleasure of...

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The Art of Looking the Other Way During What Used to Be Spring Break

Today would have been the first day of Spring Break for NYC schools. Instead, we attempt to continue with business as usual. During a global pandemic. As a dad, I’m struggling. When I shared news that all—not just some—of Spring Break was cancelled with my son last week, I found myself trying to...

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In Case You Missed It

At InsideSchools we’ve been busy providing support to parents, teachers and students during these hectic and challenging times. In case you missed them, here’s a round-up of posts we published in recent weeks in response to our readers’ requests for help. Admissions September may seem a long...

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High School Admissions: 7th-graders start researching your options now

High school admissions season doesn't kick off until September, but if you’re a current 7th-grader, you should start exploring your options this spring to avoid a last-minute scramble. The big benefit of starting your search early is that you have the time to cast a wide net. There are over 400...

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Introducing our Elementary School Guided Search

Applying to kindergarten in New York City can be daunting. What’s the difference between a district and a zone? A program and a school? It may surprise many to learn you can apply to up to 12 different kindergarten programs. Now, InsideSchools has a new tool to help parents find an elementary...

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Meanwhile, the Magnolias

As our spaces feel smaller and distance learning begins to lose any sheen of novelty it may have had, it is uplifting to see buds give way to blossoms and blooms in the city. It also occurred to me, as I walked at a proper social distance, in the park, that I knew the name of every flower and...

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How Toilet Paper Can Help You Teach Math at Home

I was coaching a middle school team of teachers last year when I observed a 7th grade math class. The teacher, whose name for the life of me I can’t locate in my notes, was remarkable. Her approach was relatively simple. She wrote a problem on the board. Students had five minutes to solve it....

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