The school year is over, and if you are like most 6th or 7th grade public middle school families in NYC, you either just received your new High School Directory and Specialized High Schools Handbook, or you will pick it up or check it out online soon on the DOE website (nyc.gov/schools/choicesenrollment/high). For many of you, this is not the first time you’ve seen these kinds of publications. If you are on the ball, have already started preparing for the high school search, are already familiar with last year’s version, or are going through the process a second or third time, you may be asking yourself: “What has changed, and what do I need to know about THESE versions?” Let’s face it, it can take the average person dozens and dozens of hours sifting through this information to identify what really matters and what changes are really meaningful. I’d like to point out a few things of which you should take note:
- Unlike previous years, the high school fair dates are not listed in the front of the book. Stay tuned, the dates will be announced at future events and on the DOE website. (consider attending the DOE events in July – they are worth your while! Nyc.gov/schools/ChoicesEnrollment/High/events)
- Despite what you may have heard about changes to the admissions process to the specialized high schools and the SHSAT, nothing has changed – yet.
- Standardized testing still matters. That’s right. Your child’s 7th grade standardized test scores will still be reviewed by screened, audition, and Ed Opt programs – although NY State law now says it can no longer be considered the primary means of evaluating candidates (you will see this repeated on many pages in the directory – at least near screened programs).
- Ed Opt programs still use ELA testing as the primary means of determining matches. (If that sounds like a contradiction to #3, it does to us, too)
- Fewer schools are listing open house dates, but for those that do, be sure to mark them down on your calendars. Unfortunately, high schools are not all required to report these dates for publication in the high school directory – a requirement that would be a significant service to families. (Who can keep track of all this information by checking websites every day?!)
- School accountability letter grades are gone, and school “performance information” is in. Despite the adjustments from previous years away from letter grades, these are measures that you should consider when evaluating schools, but only along with many other factors.