Blog: Archives

First, make a schedule

One of the first things we look for when we visit classrooms around the city is the daily schedule. It’s often posted on the wall near the door. In an elementary school classroom, it outlines how much time is given to math, reading, science, play and other subjects. In a middle or high school...

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Every Year on St. Patrick’s Day, I Ditched My Lesson Plan

Even amidst COVID-19, today is still St. Patrick’s Day. I taught English for six years. And it didn’t matter what I had originally planned, every year that March 17th fell on a weekday I suspended traditional instruction. On what grounds, you ask? My family is Irish. Like, Irish Irish. All my...

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15 Tips and Tricks for Online Learning

With schools closed until at least April 20, you are surely wondering how your students or children will possibly stay engaged and keep learning for weeks, if not months at home. Anyone who’s had to join video meetings for work knows the pitfalls of such technology...now imagine a Zoom meeting...

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The Commute: How Long is Too Long?

As anxious 8th-graders wait to find out where they’ll be going to high school next year, City Limits reports on the reality that many of them will face in September—long commutes. When I advise parents and students on the high school admissions process, I always encourage them to “block out the...

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A 1,000 Day Vision for InsideSchools

For 18 years, InsideSchools has provided an invaluable public service: free independent reviews of the city’s schools, resources for families navigating the school system, and a trustworthy perspective on the city education scene. As a project of the Center for New York City Affairs, the work of...

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High-quality options abound for public Pre-K and 3-K!

The pre-K landscape in NYC is constantly shifting: since last year’s application season, more than 166 programs have closed, merged, or shifted out of the DOE Universal Pre-K system, and 540 new programs have opened or expanded their grade offerings to include pre-K and/or 3-K! We’ve recently...

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Notes from the Field: Are Desks and Chairs Holding Students Back?

As I write this from my standing desk at work, it occurs to me that in hundreds of school visits over my nine years at InsideSchools, I’ve seen only two standing desks in classrooms. One was on my recent visit to PS 51, where, in a single classroom, I spotted not only a standing desk, but also...

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The Power of Relationships in Learning

It seems like a no-brainer: Research says children who feel safe and supported by adults have an easier time learning. Environment and tone matters, and at the core of a school's positive culture are the relationships that develop. We have seen schools foster connections through advisory...

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5 Tips for Wrangling ELA Test Questions

A couple years ago, a poetry question appeared on the ELA test in Texas. The poet’s name was Sara Holbrook. If her name sounds familiar, it is probably not because of her poetry so much as her very public confession: she had no idea how to answer the test questions about her own poems! I often...

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How to Improve Your Parent-Teacher Experience

In her book, The Essential Conversation: What Parents and Teachers Can Learn From Each Other, Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot shares her wisdom on what parents and teachers can do to prepare for the (sometimes fraught) parent-teacher conference. Here are four of my favorite insights: "Parents should...

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We Love Reading Rainbow's LeVar Burton Talking About Literacy

Take a look—it’s LeVar Burton talking about literacy. I’ll disclaim right now: I wanted to be one of those kids on Reading Rainbow doing the book reviews. Like, desperately. It never happened, but that didn’t dampen my adoration for the show or its host. In this interview at SXSW EDU, Burton...

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Apply for NYC charter schools now

A version of this story ran in February 2019. It has been updated with new information for 2020. If you want to explore options beyond your neighborhood elementary or middle school you may want to enter a lottery for a charter school. There are also some charter high schools open to students...

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Black history is American history

Learning Black history is a year-round endeavor, but since this is Black History month we’d like to kick it off with a few resources for the whole family. Black History in Two Minutes: Watch these short videos narrated by Henry Louis Gates Jr. on topics ranging from the Harlem Renaissance and...

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Four is an age of exploration

Originally posted February 20, 2019. Recently I spoke to educator Chip Wood, a co-founder of Responsive Classroom, an approach to teaching based on the belief that students do their best learning in a classroom where they also practice cooperation, empathy, responsibility and self-control....

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Where InsideSchools is going next

Dear Friends, I’ve worn a lot of hats in the New York City education scene. As a parent, I felt the highs and lows of finding a public school for my child. As a teacher, I did my best to reach each student even with class sizes approaching three dozen. As an official in the city’s education...

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Need help filling out the FAFSA?

Filling out the U.S. Department of Education’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the first step for most students seeking financial support for college. But the form can be complicated and intimidating, particularly for students. Many fill out the form themselves and have...

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Welcome Tom Liam Lynch, our new director

Tom Liam Lynch, a leading scholar and practitioner working at what he calls “the intersection of education, technology, and policy,” will become the new director of education policy and editor-in-chief of InsideSchools at the Center for New York City Affairs (CNYCA) at The New School. He is...

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Best middle school bets: Borough-wide options in Queens

A previous version of this story ran in October 2018. It has been updated with new information for October 2019. Here are some good middle school options that accept students from all over Queens and, in a few cases, Brooklyn. Also consider schools that are open to children citywide. This list...

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Best middle school bets: Boroughwide options in Brooklyn

A previous version of this story ran in October 2018. It has been updated with new information for October 2019. Here are some good middle school options that accept students from all over Brooklyn and, in a few cases, Queens. Also consider schools that are open to children citywide. This list...

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Bronx middle school best bets

A previous version of this story ran in October 2018. It has been updated with new information for October 2019. Beginning in 2019, all Bronx middle schools are open to students borough-wide. Here's our list of best bets for middle schools in the Bronx. Also consider schools that accept children...

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Best middle school bets: Boroughwide options in Manhattan

A previous version of this story ran in October 2018. It has been updated with new information for October 2019. Here are some good middle school options that accept students from all over Manhattan. Also consider schools that are open to children citywide. This list does not include charter...

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Five special ed questions to ask on high school tours

If your child has special needs, applying to high school can be an especially daunting task. The information you need to make good choices may not be readily available on school websites or in the high school directory. While all schools are expected to offer special education services, the...

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Scrapping the SHSAT: New report breaks down the impact

New York City is in the midst of an intense debate about opportunity and racial and socioeconomic fairness in determining which students get to attend which public schools. Last month, the School Diversity Advisory Group appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio recommended phasing out elementary school...

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How to get your child's test scores

MARCH 20, 2020 UPDATE: New York State has cancelled the standardized math and ELA exams for grades 3-8 for the 2019-20 school year. Parents of children in grades 3 to 8 who took standardized state reading and math exams this year can find their childrens' test scores at www.mystudent.nyc, the...

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The big problem now is gross inequalities in the school system

This is the second of a two-part interview with InsideSchools founder, Clara Hemphill by Urban Matters, a publication from our colleagues at The Center for New York City Affairs at The New School. Urban Matters: Last week, we talked about the school-by-school reporting you oversee at...

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Our readers feel we are on their side

This is the first of two-part interview with InsideSchools founder, Clara Hemphill by Urban Matters, a publication from our colleagues at The Center for New York City Affairs at The New School. Urban Matters: Let’s start with InsideSchools. It’s immensely popular; it's web site that gets more...

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Introducing our middle school guided search tool

Applying to middle school in New York City can be overwhelming. Parents must wade through dozens of choices and make sense of complex admissions policies. Now, InsideSchools has a new tool to help parents find programs that may be right for their children. Building on the success of our high...

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Help us find the next leader of InsideSchools

Dear readers: We’re looking for a new director of education policy and InsideSchools to help our staff carry on the research and writing that have made our website and policy reports indispensable for 1.5 million readers a year. We’re looking for someone with a deep understanding of the issues...

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Best picks for Round 2 of high school admissions

If you are unhappy with your high school match, you may reapply to schools with open seats during Round 2. Keep in mind that if your are an 8th-grader and are matched with a school in Round 2, you forfeit your Round 1 match. Current 9th-graders who are offered a 10th-grade seat during Round 1 or...

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Top 20: Selective Manhattan high schools are among the most popular

There is greater demand than ever for the large, popular high schools. For the fourth year in a row, Francis Lewis in Queens took the number one spot for the most applicants of any high school in New York City—a whopping 17,440 students applied to this huge neighborhood school, compared to 10,403...

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Can screened schools be part of a diverse school system?

The Mayor’s School Diversity Advisory Group this week released a report making a compelling case for why racial and income integration in the public schools matters. Now the challenge is coming up with realistic plans to make it happen – and at the Center for New York City Affairs we have some...

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High Tech Help For Kids With Disabilities

Can your dyslexic child read grade-level books at 200 words per minute? Can your dysgraphic child write her reading response with enough supportive details? Can your disorganized child turn in homework on time without reminders? With assistive technology, students with disabilities are now able...

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3K is coming to more neighborhoods across the city

Starting in September more three-year-olds will be enrolled in free, full-day public school. The Department of Education will offer roughly 20,000 3-K seats across 14 community school districts by 2020. Unlike the rapid rollout of universal pre-k, the city has adopted a more measured pace for...

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What’s new at InsideSchools in 2019

There are busy days ahead for us at InsideSchools. We’ll be introducing some new features while continuing our work providing parents with authoritative independent information on New York City’s public schools. In 2019 we will: Expand our reach by recruiting “parent ambassadors” to gather and...

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Introducing our personalized high school search tool

Applying to high school in New York City has long been a daunting process, especially for students who don’t have top grades or test scores. Now, InsideSchools has a new tool for 8th-graders (and the grown-ups who help them) to find which of the city’s 700 high school programs may be right for...

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The flawed specialized high school system - and ways to fix it

Mayor Bill de Blasio faces an uphill battle in Albany in his quest to get rid of the admissions test for elite high schools including Stuyvesant and Bronx High School of Science, but there’s a lot he can do now to advance his Administration’s stated goal of increasing opportunities for talented...

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Beyond test scores: Introducing our new tool to evaluate schools

It’s tricky to use data to evaluate a school, and we all wrestle with confusing and sometimes conflicting information. It’s hard to know: Will my children be safe? Are the teachers effective? Does the school prepare students for college? Now, we’ve redesigned our website to try to answer these...

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NYC’s school integration opportunity

Originally published in the New York Daily News. In the mostly pessimistic debate over school segregation here's a reason for optimism: For the first time in decades, we have the possibility — if not yet the reality — of integrated public schools in many neighborhoods in New York...

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Ask the College Counselor: I've been waitlisted at my dream school

Q: Help! I don't think I am going to get into my dream school. I applied early action and was waitlisted. I have sent them updates, and also filed for other schools, but I am so worried about the volume of applications. What if I don't get in anywhere? A: Not getting in anywhere is every...

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Pre-k picks: Bronx & Manhattan

Applying to Pre-K? Some popular schools have hundreds of applicants for just a few seats, but we've compiled a list of promising programs that aren't hopelessly oversubscribed. Applications are due March 30. See our Pre-K guide to learn how to apply and to search by address for all Pre-K...

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Pre-k picks: Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island

Got a 4-year-old? Applications for free pre-kindergarten are due March 30! This week, we're bringing you the best bets in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island, based on our visits and intel on schools most likely to have space. See our Pre-K guide to learn how to apply and to search by address for...

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Still looking for a high school? Consider a charter school

If you're one of the 3,837 8th-graders who didn't get a high school placement this week (or if you didn't like the placement you got) you may want to consider a charter school. Most charter schools start in the elementary or middle schools grades—and don't accept students in 9th grade—but a few...

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Apply now for free and low-cost summer activities

New York City offers lots of free and low-cost summer enrichment programs for children from kindergarten through high school. Kids can learn to paint at the Brooklyn Museum, canoe on the Bronx River, or build solar-powered cars in a three-week camp called Summer Engineering Experience for Kids...

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Kids of color left behind in richest NYC schools

We’ve long known that children of color tend to fare poorly in segregated, high-poverty schools. Now, a new study by my colleague Nicole Mader shows that even some of the richest schools in the city don’t bring black and Latino kids up to the level of performance of their white and Asian...

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What our readers want the most: We asked, you answered

We asked you, our readers, what you like and what you would like us to improve. Here are our responses to the feedback you provided in our end of year survey. 1) Show the maps for school attendance zones. We’re working on a way to make the zone maps more prominent—but for now you can find...

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Advocates to city: Do more to integrate schools!

Advocates for school integration--including parents, students and City Council members—are pressing the Department of Education to take a more aggressive approach to make schools welcoming to children of different races and ethnicities. At a Dec. 7 City Council hearing, a raft of speakers said...

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Check out the country’s richest 50 PTAs (19 in New York City)

New York City has 18 of the 50 richest PTAs in the nation, according to a report by the Center for American Progress. “These (50) schools serve about one-tenth of a percent of the nationwide student population while raising around 10 percent of the estimated total $425 million raised by all PTAs...

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New report: Keeping teens out of foster care

In 2013, New York City launched an array of programs designed to keep teenagers out of the foster care system. Many teens are identified for the program after they have been truant from high school. Known collectively as “teen-specialized preventive services,” the programs represent a pivotal...

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Check out our latest school reviews

This fall InsideSchools has been busy visiting lots of middle and secondary schools. Here are links to some of our latest profiles. The Bronx: Mott Hall V is a noteworthy 6-12 school with a structured environment in a modern building. Science and Technology Academy is a Mott Hall middle...

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