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Inside Schools

Summer assignment: Read our Q&A on specialized high schools - Read Full Article

Summer assignment: Read our Q&A on specialized high schools

The New York City Department of Education (DOE) just wrapped up their summer-time series of high school admissions workshops, including several that focused on the city's nine specialized high schools. Bronx Science, Brooklyn Latin, Brooklyn Tech, High School for American Studies, High School for Math, Science and Engineering, LaGuardia, Queens High School for the Sciences, Staten Island Tech, and Stuyvesant. Didn’t make it to a workshop? Don’t worry. You can find a recap of the July high school information sessions here, and there will be plenty of opportunities to learn about the specialized high schools in the fall at open houses and at the city- and borough-wide high school fairs

Meanwhile here's a heads-up on what you can be doing this summer to prepare.

If you’re interested in attending one of the eight, test-in specialized high schools, you'll need to take the SHSAT (Specialized High School Admissions Test). You’ll also need to study for the SHSAT and if you haven’t done so already, summer is a great time to prep for the exam.

LaGuardia is the only specialized high school that does not require students to take the SHSAT. Instead, students are admitted based on an audition (and portfolio if applying to the art studio) as well as their middle school grades, state test scores and attendance records. Just like taking the SHSAT, students need to prepare for auditions. You can learn more about LaGuardia's audition process on the school's website. This year for the first time a dozen arts schools, including LaGuardia, have common audition components, so you don't have to prepare different auditions for each school. Check page 15 of the high school directory for the participating schools.

Summer is also a great time to start researching and compiling a list of all the high schools you want to apply to in the fall. Check out our written and video guides on applying to high school. Use our Find a NYC Public School to search among the city’s 400+ high schools for ones that may be good fits for you. Read our high school profiles. Each one includes a written review, reader comments, information on sports, activities and admissions policies, and InsideStats—a compilation of useful data we provide for every school in the city.

Here are our answers to some frequently asked questions about the specialized high schools:

Q.  What kinds of support do the specialized schools offer new students to help them with the social and academic transition to high school?

A. It varies by school, but all of them offer some form of support to new students. Incoming 9th- and 10th-graders attend orientation sessions ahead of the first day of school. Several schools have "Big Sib" programs that buddy older students with incoming 9th- and 10th-graders to help them adjust. Others have advisories or special classes dedicated to skills such as research or writing. In general, staff at the smaller schools get to know students much better and can often spot problems or changes sooner.

Q. How much homework do students have each night?

A. In the lower grades, students should expect an average of three hours of homework each night, though it can be more when papers and projects are assigned—especially when students procrastinate. In the upper grades, a typical homework load increases to 4-5 hours depending on how many advanced and college level courses students choose to take.

Q. Can I apply to both the test-in specialized high schools and LaGuardia?

A. Yes. Each year many students do just that and end up with offers from both a test-in specialized high school and LaGuardia. In fact, at LaGuardia you can audition for, and be accepted to, more than one studio. Of course, you’ll have to choose among your offers. You cannot accept admission to more than one high school (or program within a school) in order to buy yourself additional time to decide.

Q.  Do the test-in specialized high schools look at middle school grades and state ELA and math scores too?

A.  No. It's all about the SHSAT. A student’s academic record is never considered during the admissions process to a test-in specialized high school. Unlike LaGuardia, the eight, test-in specialized high schools do not select students. In fact, they have no say in who is admitted to their schools. Instead, they are assigned students based on an algorithm that factors in each student's SHSAT score, how each student ranks her preferences for attending the schools and the number of seats available. 

Q. I can’t afford to pay for an SHSAT prep course, is it still worth it to take the SHSAT in the fall?

A. Yes, but study! While it is true that many kids take some sort of SHSAT prep course, it’s also true that plenty of students get into a specialized high school by studying on their own. There are lots of low-cost prep books that you can buy at a local bookstore or online. These books provide many of the same kinds of tips and advice that you’d get in a prep class. The DOE publishes a free specialized high school directory that includes practice exam questions and test-taking tips. Some community organizations offer free SHSAT prep to students. This varies from year to year and it's worth asking agencies in your neighborhood if they offer one.

Remember: Studying for the SHSAT is a process (which is why you should start now). Don’t get discouraged if at first you struggle with the practice questions. It’s important to read the tips and mini lessons at the start of each section of the prep book and not just answer the practice questions. After taking a practice test, make sure to read the explanations in the answer key. If you think you need to learn or re-learn a specific skill tested on the SHSAT and the prep books do not give enough guidance, try a free online tutoring program like Khan Academy.

The DOE offers a free, 22-month-long SHSAT prep course called DREAM-SHSI, but it is only open to 6th-graders that meet additional eligibility requirements.

Q. How do I sign up for the SHSAT?

A.  You'll need a ticket in order to take the exam. Speak with your guidance counselor in September. Registration for the exam and audition is from Sept. 10-Oct. 15. Tickets will be distributed on Oct. 21, according to the DOE.

Q.  I attend a private or parochial school. How do I sign up for the SHSAT?

A.  Speak with your child's guidance counselor, or whoever handles high school admissions.  They'll arrange for your child to get an admissions ticket. If you run into problems at your school, you can always go to a Family Welcome Center to register.

Q. I just moved to New York City, is it too late to get into a specialized high school for this fall.

A. If you're an incoming 9th- or 10th-grader who moved to the city after last year's exam or audition, you may take the SHSAT on Aug. 25 and audition for LaGuardia on Aug. 27. You'll need to register by Aug. 18 at a Family Welcome Center. You can find more information on the DOE’s website.

Insideschools has a mobile high school search tool that is available when you access Insideschools on a cell phone or other mobile device.

Policy brief: What's wrong with math and science in high school? - Read Full Article

Policy brief: What's wrong with math and science in high school?

When Insideschools staff visits a high school we like to hear about students' hopes for the future. Some say they like animals and want to become veterinarians. Others may like to design and build things and want to become architects or electricians. But these and many other occupations are closed to students who don't take chemistry, physics or advanced mathematics in high school.

A new policy brief by Insideschools and the Center for New York City Affairs at The New School examines the importance of a college-prep curriculum in math and science—algebra 2, physics and chemistry—and how many high school students have access to it across the city. The results are sobering: More than 150 of New York City's public high schools—or 39 percent—do not offer a standard college-prep curriculum in math and science; more than 200 schools do not offer a single Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate class in math or science.

Many of the schools that fall short are among the small schools that proliferated during the administration of Mayor Michael Bloomberg. While these schools have been rightly credited with boosting the city's graduation rate, many do not offer the higher-level coursework that prepares students for college and careers, in part because they focus all their resources on getting students up to grade level to meet the minimum requirements for a high school diploma.

“Some struggling high school students, of course, are late-bloomers. They hit their stride as freshmen, bring themselves up to grade level and then are ready for more advanced coursework in their upper-class years. But while small schools may help such students catch up, with notable exceptions they’re also generally not helping them advance to higher-level coursework—or even offering such classes,” according to the report, written by Insideschools founder, Clara Hemphill and co-authors Nicole Mader and Bruce Cory.

Drawing from the experience of a number of successful schools visited by the staff at Insideschools, the policy brief offers recommendations on how to better prepare students for—and increase their access to—a college-prep curriculum in math and science. Here are some of them:

Younger kids need math specialists too: For most students, 6th grade—the typical start for middle school—is the first time they are taught by a math specialist. At the original KIPP Academy Middle School in the Bronx, which serves students in grades 5–8, children get the benefit of two hours of daily math instruction from a certified math teacher beginning in the 5th grade. By the end of 8th grade, nearly all are well-prepared for high school and many take the algebra Regents exam that year.

More time on task: Beginning in middle school, the traditional structure of the school day allows for just 42 minutes of math instruction—less time than most elementary schools offer. However, some successful schools, including those that serve students arriving with weak skills, find ways to increase the time for teaching math. For example, at Park East High School in East Harlem, freshmen take two math classes each day, one in algebra and one called “math applications,” which helps shore up students’ fundamental skills.

Encourage small schools to share teachers: Too many small schools don’t have the resources to offer high-level math and science classes because they have only a few students who would take them. The Tortora-Sillcox Family Foundation is working with the NMSI (National Math and Science Institute) to create high-level STEM courses that will be open to students from all five schools housed in the Erasmus Hall Campus building. The program will launch in September 2015, and the courses will be taught by teachers from the various schools on campus.

Read the full report: "What’s Wrong with Math and Science in NYC High Schools (And What to Do About It)"

Looking for some fun science and math activities you can do with your own child? See our "Parents Guide to Math and Science" and our Free Programs section.

Need help with summer reading? NYPL comes to the rescue - Read Full Article

Need help with summer reading? NYPL comes to the rescue

When I describe my personality as a parent, I like to say I'm half hippie, half Type-A. The way I approach summer is a prime example. I want my kids at one with nature, bare feet in the dirt and a Hudson River breeze in their hair, while organic popsicles melt on their faces. But, school is never far from my mind. I want my boys to have fun, but I don't want two months of unabashed play to undo all the hard work they accomplished this past year. During the course of 1st grade, Noodle jumped nine reading levels. Studies show that many kids regress over the summer if they don't read. My Type-A side cannot bear the thought. 

In June, when Noodle's teacher mentioned the New York Public Library's superhero-themed Summer Reading Challenge, I thought it sounded too good to be true, better suited for a docile child who likes to sit and color all day. "He'll never do it," I thought of my strong-willed, soccer-obsessed kid. Still, I decided to give it a shot. Turns out it was the best decision I ever made (in June, at least).

After a puppet show kick-off party at our local branch, Noodle and I registered with the librarian and received an official "Every Hero Has a Story" calendar and list of suggested books. (Attn parents: If you can't go in person, you can also register online.) Every day that my son reads for 20 minutes (give or take—I don't use a timer) he can make a check on his calendar and at the end of the week, we head in to the library for a sticker and a prize. A paper Batman mask and a shiny blue star was all it took to get him going—and, of course, interesting, fun books; thus far, The World's Most Dangerous Animals and a graphic novel version of Jack and the Beanstalk have topped the list. The program even has special booklets and suggestions for the little ones, like my 4-year-old, who may not be reading yet on their own. Teens, there's something for you too. 

While the Summer Reading Challenge is a must in my opinion, that's not all the NYPL has to offer: End-of-summer reading celebrations, author visits, writing workshops and a baseball-themed book review contest with a chance to win Yankees tickets are some of the highlights. And tomorrow, Friday, July 17 is the last day to take advantage of the Outdoor Reading Room on the plaza of the NYPL's main branch on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. For more information about the NYPL's summer programs, visit the NYPL website's summer reading page.

In the meantime, happy reading—here, there and everywhere. 

School Book

A Child Moves From 'She' to 'He' With Confidence - Read Full Article

This is the first story in a three-part series. In Part Two, we go to school with Q to hear from his teachers and peers. In Part Three we hear from a therapist who works with transgender kids.

Q Daily, a third grader who attends a Brooklyn public school, describes himself as silly, curious and nice — all of the qualities that he likes about people. He is a lover of Michael Jackson, a wearer of trendy hats and isn't shy about dancing in front of a crowd.

And, now that he identifies as a boy, he feels more alive than before.

"It feels like, instead of a dead flower, a growing flower," he said of his transition from girl to boy.

Over the course of second grade, Q dropped his given name, Qwanaia, and asked to be called "he" because, he said, he looked like a boy, felt like a boy and needed others to see him that way, too.

Q's parents, Francisca Montana and Avery Daily, fully support Q but each said it's been a journey. 

"For me, in the beginning, I was finding it hard to accept," said Avery. "This is my girl," he recalled thinking at the time.

But Q was confident about who he was, and persistent about what he wanted. "This is something deep inside of him," said Avery. "I was like, this is his soul."

His parents said Q's gender switch is not "just a phase" although they conceded he may not continue to identify as a boy after puberty and beyond. While there is limited research on transgender children, experts in the field estimate that fewer than one third of transgender children will continue to be transgender adults. 

Still, that does not mean transgender children are confused about their gender. A recent study in Psychological Science documented that transgender children have a deep connection their "gender expression," even if that feeling does not persist. 

Jean Malpas, a psychotherapist and director of the Gender and Family Project at the Ackerman Institute for the Family, said children should be given leeway to explore gender, with the understanding that some will conclude they are not comfortable with their biological sex.

“You can’t make or break your child’s gender identity or gender expression," he said. "You can’t influence it in a way that really will change what your child feels deep down inside. But you can let them emerge, and you can let them unfold and you can create the environment where they know that they can take the risk to tell you who they are.”


Dear Parent Leaders,

We are excited to share with you news about our annual Summer Meals program for all New York City children. The Summer Meals program is crucial to ensuring that New York City children are well fed beyond the end of the instructional year. 

Summer Meals provides free, healthy breakfast and lunch to all children—regardless of New York City residency—ages 18 and under at hundreds of locations around the City. Children do not need to register or show any kind of documentation or ID to enjoy a delicious meal.

This year’s Summer Meals program will launch on Saturday, June 27, one day after the last day of school for New York City students. Starting June 27, breakfast and lunch will be available at hundreds of public schools, community pool centers, NYCHA complexes, libraries, and other locations throughout the five boroughs and spread across neighborhoods. Additionally, there will be four mobile food trucks offering meals seven days a week throughout the summer at locations frequently visited by children and families.

We encourage you to share this multilingual flyer about our Summer Meals Program with your constituents. Schools were also encouraged to distribute this flyer, which provides information on the program, including our first-ever, free SchoolFood App (for both Apple & Android), an easy way for families to locate Summer Meals sites near them. Families can download the free app by searching “SchoolFood” in the app store. Families can also find locations by visiting schoolfoodnyc.org, texting “NYCMEALS” to 877-877, or via 311.

Thank you for partnering with us to make the Summer Meals program a resounding success for our children and families.


Division of Family and Community Engagement

Dear Parent Leaders, 

We look forward to working with you throughout the 2015-2016 school year.

Please note our new address below. 


52 Chambers St, Rm 219
New York, NY 10007

(212) 374-4118 | face@schools.nyc.gov

HS Senior Community Service Opportunity
 2015-16 Member of CEC3



Taft Educational Campus

240 East 172nd Street,

Bronx, NY 10457

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

6:00 PM


Northern Manhattan Fellowship Grant Application Available Now!

The Northern Manhattan Fellowship Is Looking To Give Grants Ranging From $1,000-$1,500 To Organizations Serving Youth Ages 6 To 21 In Northern Manhattan.


Innovative And Sustainable Youth-Centered Programming


Operational Needs For Youth Focused Organizations Or Programs

The website to download the application and to view the RFP is: www.northernmanhattanfellowship.org/grant 

Public Advocate James Calls for Reforms to Mayoral Control


2015-2017 CEC & Citywide Council Election results
 are now published online at  
 Elected and appointed Community and Citywide Education Council Members for the 2015-2017 term will take office on July 1, 2015.

School Admissions News

Kindergarten Admissions

The application period ended on February 18, 2015. However, you can still submit a late application in one of three ways:

Interpretation services will be provided in over 200 languages for the over-the-phone and in-person options.

Review our Kindergarten Directories to make your list of choices. The Directories are available online, and at local elementary schools and at Family Welcome Centers. Translated versions are available online, in nine languages. 

For a list of new schools opening in the 2015-16 school year, click here.

Community Events

Upcoming Events

Wednesday, July 29
PEP Meeting
6:00 PM
Taft Educational Campus
240 East 172nd Street,
Bronx, NY 10457
5:30pm Speaker Sign-in 
Wednesday, August 19
CEC3 Business Meeting
6:30 PM
Joan of Arc Bldg.
154 W. 93rd St.
Room 200

Wednesday, August 26
PEP Meeting
6:00 PM

P.S. 131
100 Hester Street
New York, New York 10002
5:30pm Speaker Sign-in 

District 3 Common Core Parent Survey

Encuesta para padres del CEC3 del Distrito 3, sobre estándares básicos comunes

CEC3 News

Attention Rising High School Seniors!
Applications are now available to apply to serve as the
 High School Student Council Member on the CEC3
 for the 2015- 2016 School Year!

ELL Seat Open on the CEC3 Council - Apply Today!
For more information, contact the CEC3 Office.

ELL Open Seat en el Consejo CEC3 - Aplique hoy!
 Para obtener más información, póngase en contacto con la Oficina CEC3.

ELL Seat Ouvert le Conseil CEC3 - Appliquer Aujourd'hui!
Pour plus d'informations, communiquez avec le Bureau CEC3.

CEC Vacancy Application

Welcome and Congratulations

to the Newly Elected Officers
 for the 2015-2017 CEC3!

Joseph Fiordaliso

Nan Eileen Mead
1st Vice President

Zoe G. Foundotos
2nd Vice President

Kristen Berger

Kimberly Watkins

To join the CEC3 Email List, 

please send your name and email address to