"kindergarten connect" conspiracy theories


It is beginning.

I am starting to hear the inevitable creative, crazy, uninformed ways to strategise the Kindergarten Connect process to totally mess up the ranking of your potential kindergarten options. Can we all stop and take a breath? If the city wanted to create an elaborate, passive-aggressive algorithm that was designed to screw you, why would they go to all this trouble? Couldn't they just do that on their own? Frankly, if they were that diabolically dedicated to ruining your life, the whole city would run way better. See this for what it is - a very blunt instrument that assigns seats with certain priorities by random. Do you feel lucky? The vast majority of zoned kids will have a seat in their zoned schools if they want them. Most of you looking for out of zone seats will be lucky if you just keep your heads and stay in the game until the last wait list placements are made.

I have seen this same algorithm in its many forms (prek, middle school, high school) and it is very consistent. What I am giving you is not my opinion - it is what I know to be true after years of study. Rank schools that may have a seat for you* in the order that you like them. You will be placed in the school that you have ranked the highest that has room when you are plucked from the random pile. If your list contains a large number of schools that never take families from out of zone, you will still not get a placement in any of them.

*The DoE lists whether a school takes kids from outside of zone in the Elementary Directory. I find it to be accurate about 60% of the time. I don't know where they are getting their data, because it is pretty off. I would ask the Parent Coordinators, or I have anecdotal information.

Here is the oversimplified way it works:

Everyone submits their KC lists online (we hope, just because it is more accurate and easier). The computer has a big giant pile of 75,000 kindergarteners. It knows where you are zoned, so the number of available seats at each zoned school can be determined. Then it randomly plucks an application from the "pile" and works down that family's list, one by one until an open seat appears and that is where that child is placed. Then it picks the next application. It ABSOLUTELY DOES NOT work across all first choices and then to second choices (as many people assume). You register at the school to which you have been assigned to remain in the DoE's system. As the spring and summer progress and charter and g&t placements are made, there will be an automatic wait list. You don't need to do anything to be included in this list. The computer knows what order you were plucked in the lottery and they have your preferences. If a seat opens in a school that is listed higher on your app than the school in which you were placed, you will be offered a seat there. This placement process from the wait list could conceiveably continue into the fall as seats become available. It is a very slow game of musical chairs.

This is true:

  • you will have priority to your zoned school, as do sibs and people who have attended at prek (mostly sibs, so don't freak out if you aren't in their preks!)
  • you are not guaranteed a school from your list (especially if you have ranked schools that ONLY take in-zone kids), but you ARE guaranteed a seat at kindergarten. If they get to the bottom of your list and you haven't been placed, they will find a seat for you somewhere.
  • you improve your chances of being placed in an outside-of-zone school by ranking a robust list of schools that may have room for outside-of-zone families. It is the quality of your choices not the quanity that counts.
  • your zoned school is your fall back, but if you would attend, don't tempt fate by neglecting to place it on your list.

believing any of the following, will mess you up:

  • you will improve your chances of a placement if you list a bunch of schools(that is true only if they actually have seats available for you. It is the quality of your choices not the quantity)
  • only put your zoned down and you will get it (if your school is over capacity and your name comes up late in the lottery you haven't told the DoE where you would like to go as a fall back)
  • don't put your zoned school down or you will automatically be placed there (you will only be placed there if you didn't get a seat at a school that you ranked higher. Don't tempt fate, unless you really don't want to go to your zoned school)
  • if you put a less popular school at the bottom of your list, the computer will jump over all previous choices and place you there (I love this one. Stop believing that the world revolves around you. Very often the school that you don't like is someone elses heart's desire. This "jumping" doesn't happen.)
  • trying to "game" the app by placing schools with more seats first. DUDE! I told you that they don't go across all first choices... and you don't have enough data (seats available/people ranking it/where you are plucked in the lottery) to do this even if it was a good idea - which it is not. 

Rank schools in the order that you like them. PERIOD.

The hard part will be when you like 5 schools all the same. It will be a matter of apples and oranges, and you will just have to close your eyes and pick.

I am always available to talk about this. I am taking appointments for 15-30 min. phone consults in the new year. I reserve Mon. mornings and all day Thurs. for these calls. If you would like to set up an appointment, fill out my contact form, and send me a short email telling me about what you need help with.