The Education Department's new directory of the city's 413 high schools, and 705 programs, delivers an official hit to the autonomy of "audition" schools in selecting their future students.

A few months ago, parents and administrators were furiouswhen the DOE assigned both general and special education students who did not audition to selective arts schools. The 2013-14 high school directory clarifies that policy, among others. 

On page 5 of the directory, which went home with rising 8th graders last week, an astericked note next to the admissions methods for audition schools explains that the DOE's Office of Enrollment reserves the right to place students in audition programs if the school has not ranked enough students to fill their seats. That's a change from the admissions policy stated in last year's high school directory on page 8 which said: "You must audition to be eligible for admission."

"The revised screening policy at audition schools had been in place prior to this year, and based on feedback, we wanted to be even more public about it. We always want to build on our record of transparency in our admissions and enrollment policies," said DOE spokesperson Devon Puglia. 

Parents are often confounded by the complex admissions process and have frequently accused the DOE of a lack of transparency in how students are selected. The new directory includes an expanded explanation of admissions priorities on page 4 that should help students better understand their odds of being accepted at a school.

In another change, for the first time, the 2013-2014 directory lists 2013 admissions numbers -- that is how many 8th and 9th graders applied in 2012 and how many of those students were accepted for the upcoming school year. In the past those numbers have lagged by a year.

Want more data? This year's directory provides it with a detailed breakdown of school Progress Reports. The "accountability data" on each school's page includes the overall Progress Report grade but also shows its' ratings for school environment, college readiness and student performance.  (For an even deeper look at school statistics, check out Insidestats on Insideschools' high school profile pages.) 

The directory still lacks specific information about what special education services are offered at each school. Instead there is a standard line on every school page stating that the school will provide all special education services students might need. Parents will need to call a school directly, or enquire on a school tour, to get specific information on what the school actually offers or is capable of providing.

The phone-book sized high school directory is used by the thousands of 8th graders trying to sort out which of the more than 500 city high schools they want to attend. The back of the directory has a list of the city's 18 charter high schools that accept incoming 9th graders.

If your child didn't bring home a directory, you may find it online, pick one up at an enrollment center or at a summer high school admissions workshop.