Eighth graders applying to high schools aren't the only ones who should be mindful of the admissions calendar.  Important dates are looming for students applying to middle schools and G&T programs for the 2011-12 school year.  Here's the rundown for what you'll need to know for the upcoming weeks.

Middle schools

Most districts offer some degree of middle school choice, even in areas where the majority of students attend their zoned school.  Some districts, however, offer a full-choice model offering students few or no zoned school options.  In those districts, students must apply to in-district middle schools by ranking their choices on a middle school application.<!--more-->

According to the Department of Education's admissions calendar, middle school directories will be distributed to elementary school students during the week of October 4. They will also be availableonline. Friday, October 8 is the deadline for students to request to take the Otis-Lennon School Ability Test (OLSAT) for admission to selective schools in districts 17, 18, 20, 22, 24, and 30 as well as to request testing for admission to District 21's Mark Twain School, which is open citywide.

Beginning October 12, the Department of Education will hold middle school fairs in each district that offers school choice.  All fairs will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.  Check the DOE's website for the date and location of the middle school fair in your district.

While fairs are a great way for parents and students to meet with school representatives and to ask questions, they are no substitute for attending a school tour or open house.  Check schools'  websites, or call schools to find out about their tour and open house schedule. Use our advanced search to access school profiles for contact information.  Wondering what questions to ask when you visit? See our tips on what to ask on a school tour. Also check out the DOE's list of Fall 2010 middle school tour and open house dates.

For a full rundown of important middle school admissions dates, check out the DOE's calendar here.

Gifted & Talented Admissions

The Gifted and Talented Information Handbook for students entering kindergarten through grade 2 in September 2011 will be available on the DOE's website beginning October 12.

To schedule a testing date, parents will need to submit a Request for Testing Form (RFT) anytime from October 12 through November 17.

Insideschools reported back in June that 2010-11 may be the last school year that students applying to G&T programs will be evaluated based on their combined performance on the  Otis-Lennon School Ability Test (OLSAT) and the Bracken School Readiness Assessment (BSRA).  The DOE is planning to employ a new G&T admissions test once their current contracts with testing companies end in 2011.