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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2013 test scores

For the next year, parents are going to be asking me why they should take a chance on schools that have less than 50% of kids performing at grade level.

Consider this: tests that were given before schools had even seen the curriculum (that the tests were based on) and were so poorly designed that many children couldn't possibly finish them are not worth considering.

You can't rely on the scores to determine a quality school. You are going to have to trust your eyes and your gut.

Read these for more reasons to ignore these stats.

What the drop in new standardized test scores really means - Washington Post

Shock Doctrine: five reasons not to trust the results of the new state tests

2013′s test score takeaways, starting with what didn’t change

"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.

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Kindergarten Connect update. Hot off the presses!

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Lots of questions are answered!

Here is the DoE's School Directory information.

First, the DoE has two different application deadlines listed. March 1 and Feb.14 - I guess we will find out which one is correct in due time.

Here are some things we now know:

  • Charter Schools will not be included on the ranked 1-20 Kindergarten Connect list this year. You apply to them separately through their websites or open houses. The deadlines to apply for their lotteries are usually in late March and lotteries are often held right around the April 1. Remember schools like: Brooklyn New School, The Children's School, Arts and Letters, PS 133 and New American Academy are NOT charter schools. They are un zoned DoE programs. They are different.
  • G&T schools will not be listed on the 1-20 list (you need to test in and do the ranked list if your child gets a qualifying score in late spring)
  • You rank up to 20 DoE programs on the online Kindergarten Connect list, in the order that you like them.
  • When you get a placement in early April, you should pre register at the school, but you will automatically be placed on a waitlist for schools that you have ranked above that school. You will not be penalized on the wait list for registering at the school you have been assigned to. You don't need to take any action to get a seat from the wait list, if there is a seat for you, it will be offered by the school at the time that it becomes available.
  • If you are interested in a Dual Language program, you will be able to list that program separately from the the general ed program in that school. They will have separate code numbers and be listed as separate choices on your 1-20 list.
  • There will be priorities given to siblings, zoned students and current prek students according to the DoE's priority rankings.

giant sea change in kindergarten application procedures

The DoE announced late last week that they are changing the kindergarten application process up in a big way.
The old way that families would apply to various kindergarten programs was to physically go individually to each zoned school in and out of their district and apply in person (drag). They could also register for the charter and unzoned school lotteries and go through the city's g&t process all separately (what! something else to do!?). They would hear individually throughout the spring and summer and sometimes into the fall in a slow round robin as choices in individual schools shifted (get an offer here, get an offer there, offers offers everywhere). Families could get multiple offers to several schools (nice). It was a process that was handled on the local level and there was a lot of wiggle room (you don't have to decide which schools you liked best, you just waited for a better offer to trade up).
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rezoning: 2013 edition

We don't have any maps to show because things are in the planning stages.

Rezoning for the PS 58/32 border seems to be off the table in District 15. The DoE has declined the D15 CEC's push to rezone.

There will be some kind of rezoning or other plan for the new Sunset Park Avenues School on 4th Ave. that will open in fall of 2014 in the St. Michael's School building. The grave overcrowding in several of the Sunset Park schools, particularly 169 and 94 will be addressed with 75 new kindergarten seats in this building (with growth vertically over the next years), but no plans about exactly where and how have been brought forward.

The DoE has been having "dezoning" talks in several districts around the city, including D13 (I think that their CEC may have already voted it down, but that doesn't mean that it won't come back), 14 and 17 and a few others that are out of my region in Brooklyn. It is in the interest of parents of preschool children to understand this issue. There are lots of implications to this move including, taking power from the local District CEC - Community Education Council (parents only real muscle in local school issues), the ability of parents to try for seats at more than one local zoned school, the dismantling of local neigborhood programs including making children travel out of their neighborhoods, and the possibility of the unchecked spread of charter schools (charter schools aren't evil, there just needs to be local imput and not all programs are necessary appropriate).

See what is happening around this in District 6.

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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making decisions

This is the time of year when parents agonize over decisions. April, May and occasionally in June, I will sit down at my desk with a cup of coffee and at 8am, put on my headphones, and take 15 and 30 min. calls all day until 6:30. There are some days in April when I feel like I am an air traffic controller with planes stacked up over O'Hare. Parents circling, looking for a safe landing...
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wait listed for kindergarten

It is that time of year again. The DoE's official list of numbers of waitlisted zoned students is online.
Check out the very wise "Ask Judy".

Here are a couple things that you need to know. This is a giant game of musical chairs and it is still early days. It is definitely not time to panic. There will likely be some movement this week as zoned schools tally the number of zoned students who actually came in to pre-register. Some of those families got places at charter, un-zoned, dual language and private programs and will take those places, leaving seats at their zoned schools open. As people vacate seats, others will take those spots which will leave more vacancies. Everyone has a different 'favorite' school, so lots of seats in many different schools will be in play. The seats at those schools will slowly and steadily trickle out.

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public prek info is online NOW, yippee

You can apply online for public prek here from March 4 - April 5.
You can download a copy of the new 2013-2014 prek directory here.

You can attend a free DoE PreK information session in Brooklyn on March 11 6pm at Sunset Park HS.
For more info and the prek calendar here.

In my quick perusal of the procedures, it looks like everything is the same as last year. You should contact each individual school for tours and for information about how the school will handle a wait list (if they have seats left over) in June. The one difference is that if you attend prek at a school that is outside your zone, you have a slight preference over regular outside of zone families to attend that school at kindergarten.

A very quick and inaccurate survey of new programs from the directory this morning:
PS 10, 107 and 321 in District 15 no longer have prek classes.

Some of the schools below (and in the directory) may have more seats than listed. They were added after the directory went to press.

In District 13 AND 15:
PS 133 has additional seats
the new PS 118 has seats

In District 14:
PS 84, PS 110, 196 and 250 all have more seats than last year.

In District 17:
PS 705 and New American Academy have seats.

public prek primer 2013

Public Prek is the fours year. They are housed in public schools and they are free for everyone, no matter your income (the "universal" in UPK). Some programs are half day and some are full day (it depends on what the school provides) and they are all 5 days programs.

When the DoE releases this year's information it will be located here.
The application period for prek begins March 4, 2013.
The application deadline is April 5, 2013.
You will hear about your placement in early June.
Registration for prek will be June 5 - June 19.

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kindergarten news 2013

The DoE has just put up a bare bones calendar:
The application period for K begins on Jan.22, 2013 and ends March 1, 2013. Placement offers will be distributed in early April and "pre-registration" (when you go to the school with your child, proofs of residency, immunization records and birth records) is April 8- April 26, 2013.

Prek info is even barer bones - Early March Application period begins (directories and applications available) Early April is the deadline to submit applications. The offers are made in early June. Pre-register in Mid-June.

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Rezoning District 15, CEC meeting report

Close to 200 parents and neighbors crowded the PS 38 auditorium last night to hear proposed zoning changes to schools in Park Slope/District 15. Carrie Marlin, Director of Planning for the DoE, gave the presentation to present the proposed changes. The DoE is putting the presentation on their website later today for review for parents who were not able to attend.

Jim Devor, CEC (Community Education Council) President, explained that these discussions began almost 2 years ago around the collaboration between District 13 and District 15 to build a new and larger building in Gowanus to house PS 133. That building will be habitable in fall of 2013 and will become a “school of choice” for both districts. When the students assigned to the new construction vacate the small St. Thomas Aquinas building at 8th St. and 4th Ave. it will be available to District 15. Over time the conversation shifted to rezoning talks for the center and south slope for District 15 as it became clear that capacity issues at PS 107 and PS 321, two strong an popular programs in Park Slope, had reached a critical point.

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kindergarten 2012 waitlists: remain calm

Here is what you need to know about the DOE: they make decisions based on citywide issues. The decisions may seem politically loaded depending on the local lens through which they are viewed - they have to do with the minutiae of bureaucracy and not evil intent. If there was an evil master plan, everything would probably work more smoothly - I AM JOKING.

Here is what is going on with the wait-lists at local zoned schools:
First off, I have not seen or heard from a single family who has received a rejection letter. If you have one, I would love to see it. There is a WORLD of difference between a rejection and a wait-list. Everyone needs to take a breath.

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no Round 2 for prekindergarten lottery

The DOE is changing it up this year. They have eliminated the Round 2 lottery for seats left vacant after Round 1. Was it too late for families, or too cumbersome or too expensive? We will never know. What we know now is that the responsibility for placing left over spots goes to the schools and they have not been given any protocol on how to proceed. I called a couple schools to see what they were planning on doing and they said that the DOE will probably send instructions to them in the principals' weekly newsletter but it would likely come just before the process begins (it is not uncommon for the DOE to dole out important information like this at the last minute). When I called Central Enrollment, they gave me the very unacceptable (and probably inaccurate) answer that the numbers of seats available at the schools would be posted in fall of 2012 - like parents would just wander in mid September to claim left over seats?! Clearly, they hadn't thought this through. I have talked with insideschools and they are digging for more a more accurate forecast of the process schools should be following.

Here is what we can guess; most schools will probably not be taking names for a wait list until after the last day of Round 1 registration - according to the DOE's current calendar registration ends on Friday, June 22 - so I would be ready to attack the wait lists on Monday June 25 bright and early. The schools won't know if they have seats available until that date and why bother collecting a list of names before the fact if some of those people may be placed elsewhere and you could lose the list in the many months before you can use it. How will they be assigning seats? Will they get a prioritized list of names? Will they collect names and do it first come first served or will the schools do their own lottery? Nobody knows.

What do you do now?

  • I would keep in close contact with the parent coordinator at each school that I am interested in for prek, to make sure that I don't miss what they are going to do in June.
  • Sign up for Insideschools.org newsletter right on their home page below the large photo. If they have more news on the process they will blog about it and you will receive an update in your email.
  • I would sign up for the DOE's prekindergarten alerts (make sure that you check the appropriate boxes) so that you don't miss anything there.

When I hear of anything I will list it on the blog, in the newsletter and tweet about it.

If you want an idea of the Prek numbers available after Round 1 last year, the 2011-12 School Year Round 2 Directory is here.