Here are a few notes about the changes with the process.
The Panel for Education Policy has decided to remove the scrambled paragraph section from the SHSAT for next year's test (Oct. 2017). "They will be replaced with multiple-choice reading comprehension questions drawn from different types of literature, which are aligned with state standards and will be more similar to what students encounter in school."
It seems that everything else including the math section is the same.
Nothing is changing this year.
High School Transfers
Chancellor's Regulations have changed very subtly to address a valid reason to change schools other than distance or danger. Theyacknowledge that some schools can be a bad educational fit.
It is called a "Guidance Transfer". A-101 IV. #8
"A parent or student may request a transfer if a student is not progressing or achieving academically or socially and an alternative placement would address these concerns."
The Chancellor's Regulations are always pretty general. There is no timeline for this transfer and it doesn't guarantee that you will be placed in the school you want, just perhaps, a more appropriate fit.
It has been common practice that if you are placed in a school in the main round (and you don't go for a different program in the Second Round or a very rare appeal is not granted) that you must spend a year in that school and apply for a 10th grade transfer in the very beginning of 9th grade. The big problem with this system is that you have to apply for that transfer almost immediately upon beginning 9th grade when many students have no idea whether the school is a good fit for them or not. I often get calls from parents in Jan or early spring of freshman year, asking how to transfer only to find that the application period is long gone. It appears that this Guidance Transfer would address some of those issues.
The DoE's New School Finder
I applaud the DoE for trying to help families find the right schools out of the giant directory. It is a good first pass.
I searched for "Boys Soccer/Manhattan"
I came up with one school: Manhattan Village Academy (weird, only one).
When I searched "Soccer/Manhattan" I came up with 80 schools. Do all schools that have girls soccer also have boys soccer? Perhaps that it s Title 9 thing.
I liked that I could screen by admissions method and whittled my list to 26. But I couldn't search by geographic priority and since I live in Brooklyn, I happen to know that I have little or no chance at quite a few of those programs because they give priority to 8th graders and/or District 2 students/residents and then Manhattan residents. I would have to go to each individual school to be disappointed by that basic criteria.
I like that they let me search by size of the school but I am mystified by the weird size breakdown given: 1-499, 500-999, 1000+
In my mind schools for most kids in Brooklyn and Manhattan are either hovering around 500ish or 3500ish. There are a very few in the 1000-1500 range. Does it really help to know whether a schools is tiny or small? 1000+? Seriously? If the DoE thinks that we care whether a school is 480 kids or 700 kids, why would they think that families feel the same about a school that is 1200 kids or 4000 kids? Please! give us a better size breakdown!
I searched for "AP Biology" and "Italian" in Brooklyn and came up with a number of choices. I knew that I would find these because those programs are listed in the directory.
I searched for "college office", "70% graduation rate", and "ICT class" in Brooklyn and came up empty. I really wanted this information, but I knew that I probably wouldn't get lucky. You need to understand what this program can search for and what it can't.