high school admissions

First Person

end of the road


here's the plan

5 step plan

sorting the students

Diversity Debate

match day

navigating the maze

You Asked We Answered

drinks and debate

summer jitters

transfer talk

Speaking Out

one barrier down

super selective?

barriers to entry

barriers to entry

The big sort

First Person

barriers to entry

Opening doors

barriers to entry

barriers to entry

barriers to entry

sorting the students

Student Voices

acceptance day

special delivery

Decision day

By the numbers

the end

New York

After a long, fraught fall, high school applications are due today

Eighth-grader Jessica Escolah, right, told GothamSchools at a fair this fall that it's hard to choose a high school knowing her interests might change. High school applications are due today. Throughout this fall, we met students in the throes of a notoriously overwhelming process: deciding which schools to list on their high school applications. Today, they must make their final decisions. The applications are due this afternoon, and students will find out in March which school they will attend — or whether they must enter a second admissions process for students who are not placed anywhere. At high school fairs this fall, some students said they felt anxious about the application process; others said they were confident that they’d get their first choice or end up at another satisfactory school. Their priorities varied widely, as did the level of support they had gotten throughout the process from parents, teachers, and guidance counselors. For some eighth-graders, new information caused old ideas to evolve. Here’s one example: Back in September, Tiffany Mejia had her heart set on the School of Food and Finance because, she said, she likes to cook, and her best friends also wanted to go there. By the time she submitted her application last week in advance of today’s deadline, she had pushed Food and Finance to second place in favor of Humanities Preparatory Academy, a small school in Chelsea that enrolls both traditional ninth-graders and students who have previously struggled in other high schools.
New York

Test score drops mean uncertainty in screened H.S. admissions

Ananda Kimm-Drapeau, who hopes to attend Stuyvesant High School, is also considering several schools that will weigh her state test scores in admission. The city has instructed schools to screen students with lower scores this year because the state tests were harder to pass, but the process remains uncertain for families and schools alike. (Photo: Oliver Morrison) For eighth-grade students looking to attend a screened high school, the opaque admissions process has gained another layer of complexity — their own state test scores, often lower than they had been in the past. The city has been assuring parents and students that they won't be penalized for the drop in state test scores following the rollout of tougher, Common Core-aligned exams. If a school previously looked for students at a level 3 (out of 4) or above, for example, the city has said the school should look for students who scored at least a 2.25. For schools that tried to limit admissions to students with a 2 or higher, the city is suggesting using a 1.8 benchmark this year. Those equivalencies are meant to assure parents and students that this year's system won't work much differently than last year's. But that leaves two open questions: Will students apply to different schools than they would have because they are nervous about their scores? And will schools will actually look at students who fall closer the bottom of their test score range? "These kids, they were previously 4s and 3s, and now they're 1s and 2s. And they're really stressed about it," said Quincee Robinson, who oversees admissions at Bard High School Early College Manhattan, which screens for levels 3 and 4. "They're worried they're not eligible to apply to our school."
New York

Federal civil rights office reopens high school admissions case

The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights has reopened a discrimination case into the city's high school admissions policies after dismissing it earlier in the month. The reversal came after the attorney who filed the legal complaint found that the office failed to follow its own dismissal procedures and argued for the case to be given new life. The complaint, filed in May by the Education Law Center on behalf of parents and advocacy groups, alleges that African American and Latino students are more likely to end up in high schools with large numbers of high-need students — and less likely to graduate — on account of the city's admissions policy. It claims that the city knew the policy was discriminatory, citing internal reports that suggested changes should be made to dilute the high-need populations in these schools. New York's Office of Civil Rights branch dismissed the complaint on July 8, citing a lack of evidence to support the claim. But the quick dismissal skipped a step in the process by failing to first notify lawyers who filed the complaint to let them know that more information was needed, which is required under OCR's processing manual. Wendy Lecker, the ELC lawyer, discovered the discrepancy and raised the issue in a July 17 letter: I never received any letter or email explaining the information necessary for OCR to proceed, nor any request for such information. Nor was I ever advised that the complaint would be dismissed in 20 days if such information was not received. On the same day, an OCR official responded  to say that the case woud be reopened.
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