What are the 'Regents' and why should I care?

“Regents exams measure student achievement in high school-level courses. In order to graduate from high school, students must pass five Regents exams in the following subject areas: English Language Arts, a math, a science, social studies, and any additional Regents exam or another option approved by the State. Student may also earn an Advanced Regents diploma if they pass certain additional Regents exams in math and science, as well as any NYC Language Other Than English exam.” - from the DoE website

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In the 11th hour: How do I rank my list?

In the 11th hour: How do I rank my list?

First, apologies for the ALL CAPS and bold face. I am on my last nerve as I know you are. I love you guys. I want you to all get your heart's desire, but you all won't, and sometimes your heart's desire is not what may actually be best in the end. It is your right to complain about the stress and uncertainty (and everything else about the process), but don't do it to me (I can't do anything about it anyway). I am just the lady with the flash light. I am a pragmatist to my bones. When Armageddon comes, I don't see any point in shaking my fist at a vengeful God. I will not waste any time as I look for fresh water.
Hunker down, keep your heads, be kind to each other (including the unpopular schools and the professionals and children there) look for the goodness in your neighbors (and it is out there in EVERY SCHOOL) when the dark days come. Wow, I think I need a couple days off...

Dec. 1 is the deadline for middle and high school applications. This blog could be written for prek and kindergarten families as well because the ranking "strategy" is always the same.
RANK SCHOOLS IN THE ORDER THAT YOU LIKE THEM. YOU ARE NOT DISADVANTAGED BY RANKING A SCHOOL LOWER IF YOU DON'T LIKE IT AS MUCH.

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a couple things that i like about the high school choice process

a couple things that i like about the high school choice process

I was walking home from a consult the other day and I had a small epiphany. Those of you that go through this process may have a hard time agreeing with me. The process isn't for the faint of heart, but I had a moment of clarity when I just felt wildly excited by the variety of opportunity we have in the high schools in the city. For a moment, it felt like a treasure trove of wonders. I wish that I could hold on to that vision and share it - seeing the opportunity and not the fear and the hassle. The high school process is all of that- complicated, frustrating, scary, difficult - and astonishing.

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fall is the season of misinformation and conspiracies

fall is the season of misinformation and conspiracies

Misinformation:
It is becoming common practice during the NYC High School admissions process (and in District 15, also at the middle school level) for schools to widely and openly advise students to rank their school #1 on the application to gain a placement to that school. This is a blind match. The schools never know how a student has ranked them and it is in the student's best interest to rank schools in order of their true preference without being disadvantaged. When the schools advise families to rank them #1, they are giving misleading and frustrating advice that takes the student's power away and advantages the school.

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the clone wars

the clone wars

What's in a name? Granted NYC School Help is lame. If I had thought another minute, I probably could have come up with something better, but when you search "joyce" or "help! schools" I figured it would be likely to come up in the search. Lately there has been a rash of similarly named schools that have occasionally been scrambling my brain.

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a couple things that are still relevant

I just scrolled down to the bottom of this page and found my own blog archive!!
I started blogging around this time, 8 years ago and boy did (do) I need an editor! The nice thing about blogging is that you can write whatever the hell you damn well please. I was tickled by a couple of pieces (cause I think that I am kinda funny, much to my family's chagrin) and I was interested in my own perspective as a parent of 14 year olds, all those many years ago. Here are three of my favorites, that are still relevant and mildly amusing (even my husband said so!). Don't read the other first blogs. They are awful.
A wistful ode to 'rubber pellet season'
a sweet reminiscence (and creepy reference to cancerous recycled tires)

New Urban Team Sport (NUTS)
how I did the parent teacher conference

Sing is sung
a New York high school institution and my review of the 2008 season. If you want to understand the difference between Murrow and Stuy as institutions - it is all here.

The mania of school branding

The mania of school branding

I say this all day long, "There is a mania for naming schools things that may or may not have anything to do with what is going on in the school." Whether you are looking at elementary, middle school or high school- look past the name. They are trying to differentiate themselves from other schools, but generally, and particularly at elementary and middle school, they often have the exact same curriculum and enrichments. Sometimes the name is wildly out of date. Sometimes it is aspirational.

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rising 8th graders: what about high school?

rising 8th graders: what about high school?

You know that the high school search is going to be taking up most of your fall. What should you do right now to prepare?

Come to my High School Choice: Calm and Clear talk on July 9 at 7pm at Hootenanny Art House. There are tickets still available and if you wait until the fall when I hold the last one (I will be scheduling shortly) you may be a little behind the 8 ball.

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high school fair report

It was business as usual at Brooklyn Tech today; crowded, noisy and hot hot hot! It was also awesome. Thanks SO much to the wonderful educators, students, school security officers and DoE Enrollment officials (and my husband who is a school search widower)! I know a lot of you are now freaked out and just plain tired, but I feel very optimistic and energized!

Here are some take-aways:

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ch-ch-ch-changes for public high school admissions

The one big thing that is changing in the HS admissions procedure for the fall 2014 admissions season is that 2%ers (students who score in the top 2% state wide on the 7th grade ELA test) will no longer be given a guaranteed entry to an Ed Opt program. In the past if you were a 2%er and you listed an Ed Opt program as your number one choice, it was a GUARANTEED entry. Sorry, no longer.

Now there are NO guarantees of any placement in the entire Doe admissions process from prek to high school. Oh well, that's life in the big city.

See page 5 of the current DoE HS Directory

yes Virginia, there is a method to this ranking madness

I keep having to answer this question over and over, infinitely, every year. Please parents and principals, can you read this?

Q: I've been on tours at 2 popular schools and both warned, if you want to get into this school, you better rank it #1! So, which do i put first?

A: I am asked about this, prek through hs - the schools have NO idea how this matching process works. They are trying to be helpful and when they are very popular, they assume that you need to put their school first to be considered. They never see your application, they don't know how you have ranked them, and they have absolutely NO say in this blind process. They assume, like most people that there is some priority given to first choice over second choice. There isn't.

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i owe my soul to the company store (I mean College Board)

I am so glad the College Board is being forced to reconsider the SAT because they finally have some competition in the college testing market. I resent their monopoly and the fact I have paid hundreds (thousands?) of dollars to them because there was virtually no other game in town. I don't begrudge them my money for a valuable service, but when that service is warped from a helpful assessment to a huge cash cow that is leading the admissions process rather than supporting it, I object.

This is times-two for twins over a 6 year period:
I have paid them for PSATs, multiple SATs, and SAT 2 times several subjects. I am not even going to mention the books for each SAT, SAT 2, and AP class. I have paid them to send all these multiple test results to 10 schools per kid (we were conservative in the number of schools that the kids applied to - many people are now doing many more).
I have paid $86 per AP test for 5 tests times two kids (and to send all of these scores to the 10 schools each kid applied to)- which, because of top scores may have helped a tiny bit in admissions but didn't yield a single credit in their highly selective private colleges which appear never to take AP scores. I pay iDOC every year to record my tax returns to these schools so that I can apply for financial aid. I am not even adding in my time spent on traveling to the myriad of tests, scheduling and working my way through their system, or the hours and days of childhood wasted. What a racket!

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2014 High School Letter Day

Letter Day is fast approaching ("oh no!" and "thank God!")

High School Letter Day is scheduled for Mon. 3/10 on the DoE's calendar which is a little weird because they don't usually do placement announcements on a Mon. I have heard an unconfirmed rumor that it may actually be moved to Fri. 2/28 (don't tell your kids, just clear your schedule that afternoon, just in case). We probably won't know for sure until very shortly before the date.
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the waiting game for middle school and kindergarten

New York is a great city and raising kids here is an amazing gift in so many ways. This is the shitty part (why mince words?).

It really sucks to be the last one not asked to the dance. Most of you will get a placement that will satisfy in the end, and a few if you will have to come up with plan B. If you choose to accept the challenge, Plan B is how change occurs. It is how worthy schools begin to emerge and it is how new schools spring to life. The people who take this challenge may begin as reluctant heros, but they may also find ample rewards... or they can wait for next year.

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brooklyn prospect charter finds a permanent home in the Immaculate Heart of Mary building

Immaculate Heart of Mary School is merging with Holy Name School (and joining them in the building on Propect Park West in Windsor Terrace) and becoming St. Joseph the Worker. There has been a lot of speculation about what will happen to the IHM building futher south on Ft. Hamilton. The wait is over! Brooklyn Prospect Charter finally has a permanent home for their 6 to 12th grade school just in time for their first 9th grade class in the fall of 2012.

The approximately 60,000 square foot campus at 3002 Fort Hamilton Parkway will accommodate steadily rising demand, give students more space and enhanced facilities, including state-of-the art-classrooms, a full-size gymnasium, outdoor space, wireless internet, and a library.  BPCS has signed a twenty-year lease, with an additional ten-year option for the space.

high school choice 2012: round 2 and Brooklyn Prospect Charter

The DOE is distributing placement letters to middle schools today. Your child should receive it in school today or tomorrow. If your child gets a choice between a Specialized HS or LaGuardia and another option, you will be given instructions on how and by when to make that choice. In past years you would check the choice on your letter, sign it and return it to your guidance counselor, usually within a week. Make a copy of your letter with the choice on it before you return it to school and keep this copy in a safe place - just in case.

The Round 2 Fair is this weekend, Sat. March 3 and Sun. March 4 10am -2pm at Martin Luther King Jr. Educational Campus: 122 Amsterdam Ave. (btwn W. 65th adn W. 66th St.)

Details about Round 2 are on the DOE's website. But the highlights are:

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