Tuesday, June 10

Checking In

One more sweltering day, with a welcome break in sight. Articles and opinions debate how best to weather this brutal weather, as a new UFT member poll weighs the Klein effect -- its own kind of weather system -- on the practice of teaching.

High pressure, in the form of high demand, cost some District 15 fifth-graders middle school seats, according to the DOE, which says that students who didn't get seats or who were placed at schools not on their lists had applied to extremely popular schools. We're trying to find out which six or so schools drew prohibitively large waves of applications -- and also trying to learn what the DOE will do to prepare for next year, when a similar student tsunami may roll in.

Stay tuned -- and stay cool. News to follow when we have it.


D15parent said...

The fact that there are not enough seats in the most popular schools should come as no surprise to the DOE. This seems to happen every year. When I went through this process last year there was a large number of district 15 students not placed at any school. It took a lot of parental effort and contacting middle schools directly to get these children placed. Some schools were holding seats for new transplants.

District 15 used have what was termed the "Brooklyn Brain Drain" meaning that a large number the high performing students went to middle schools in Manhattan. I was at meeting years ago when Carmen Farina had just been appointed to oversee the new Region 8 and she addressed this and also expressed the need for district 15 to retain high performing students. It has also become much more difficult to get into Manhattan middle schools.
So, this should not be a shocker to the DOE.

More families are also choosing to remain in NYC as opposed to moving to the suburbs once it is time for middle school. I guess district 15 is a victim of its own success.

I will go out on a limb and say that the most popular choices in no particular order were: MS 51, Math and Science, New Voices, BCS, Sunset Prep, and perhaps Arts and Letters. If you don't get accepted to your first and second choices it is unlikely you will get into any of the others.

Anonymous said...

So what happens to these kids with out spots? Is admittance to all middle schools based on lottery?

Anonymous said...

With regard to D15 Middle Schools, there are a lot of parents who feel a sense of entitlement for their kids simply because they attended PS321. These folks are now realizing that there are hyper-competitive families out there that also sought out seats in the best Middle Schools in D15 and snagged them away from many of the lax PS321 families. There is no entitlement; it's a highly competitive world out there.

Anonymous said...

What surprised me was when someone posted that they didn't get any of the six schools they'd listed - and one of the schools they'd listed was MS 88. MS 88 is a large school (900 kids, although it's organized into three smaller programs), and it used to be a bad school that Dist 15 parents didn't want their kids to go to. The current principal really turned things around and now it IS a good, solid school - but I didn't think it was hard to get into like 51 or Math & Science! I put 88 on my son's list, too, thinking "Well, if he doesn't get into our top choices, there's always 88, and that would be fine." So I was surprised to hear that someone put six choices, including MS 88, but STILL ended up at a school not on their list.

On the other end of the spectrum, another Dist 15 parent whined because her child only got into his No. 3 choice, and said she was going to appeal. Boo-hoo. THAT really sounded like entitlement to me: "if it's not 51 or Math & Science, I won't accept it!" IMO, if you can't find three choices in Dist. 15 that you'd be happy with, you're not trying hard enough. And any school you put on the list should, by definition, be a school you're willing to have your child attend.

Anonymous said...

Huh? This not just about one D 15 school, 321. Kids didn't get picks from an array of D 15 schools.

Anonymous said...

There were over 1,500 applications for 300 or so seats at MS 51 and Math & Science.

Also, this was the year of the perfect storm...

- Horrible DOE placement procedure
- Economic downturn so less kids going to private school/moving to burbs.
- Just too many kids competing for too few seats.
- Desire of 51 and Math & Science NOT to have too many kids from PS 321. Result? More highly qualified kids from 321 lost places to less qualified non-321 students in the name of diversity. It's not a fair world out there.
- Too many parents NOT thinking out-of-the-box and following a pack mentality which means they all applied to these same schools. Big mistake!

Anonymous said...

MS 88 is still "a dump" according to the principal and guidance councilor at our PS school. Don't fool yourself that it has turned around. It hasn't.

Lots of underperformers and behavior problems.

I know its not PC in Park Slope to bring this up. But, I am not an urban crusader and my kid's welfare and safety come first. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

This is not limited to 321. I think it is happening with all of the district 15 schools. Of course the DOE will never give a breakdown as to how many students were not placed or who were placed in schools that they didn't select. The competition for slots at the more desirable schools is coming from all over: 29, the Children's School, 230, 154, 261, BNS, 38, etc. There are also private school students that applied.

Anonymous said...

To 4:39: I know a mom whose child is in 88 right now, just finishing sixth grade. She had been hoping for New Voices or Math & Science, and had put 88 low on the list. She was VERY upset when he ended up at 88 and tried to appeal it, but failed. Like you, she had heard bad things about 88.

Well, it's now the end of sixth grade, and her son is doing WONDERFULLY at 88 and loves it! He says the teachers are fun and engaging and make the classes interesting. He's getting much higher grades than he did in elementary school, and enjoying school more.

I also toured the school myself during the middle school tours. I saw excellent essays on the bulletin boards, creative art projects in glass cases, and kids who seemed to like being at school. The hallways were quiet, and the kids in the classrooms I looked at seemed well-behaved. 88 also has the most extensive array of after-school activities I've seen.

InsideSchools' profile of the school is also very positive (and their assessments are quite honest - when they see negative things, they say so straight out).

Yes, there are still a high percentage of low-income kids at the school. And I'm sure in some ways it's still a work in progress. But IMO, that doesn't make it a "dump."

Anonymous said...

P.S. One more thing about 88: each of its three programs has an honors track for high-performing students. So if your child DID get placed there, all you'd have to do is show the principal his grades and test scores and get him in the honors track. Then you wouldn't have to worry that he's being lumped in a class with "low-performers."

Anonymous said...

Let's remember low income kid doesn't mean low performing kid. I'm sure low-income parents worry about their kids just as much as middle class and above do.

sosps said...

Some of the problem is one of perception of course, but I am sure there are real challenges to finding places for kids who have done well in District 15 elementary schools, when there are fewer middle schools that have a critical mass of children performing well. Parents very reasonably identify the schools with student bodies mostly performing at grade level. If they have children performing well, parents want them to be with a group of kids who are doing similarly. Then there are bells and whistles – arts programs for arty kids, science programs for kids who love science, etc. But with a large number of children applying, many with good records, the six or so schools with good track records in terms of student performance only look at the children who put them first or second on the application. So after the first two good schools you put down, there is almost no point to filling out anything more unless you want to put a low performing school on there. If your child does not get into his or her first or second choice, and you only have other reasonably good school on your application, OSEPO just picks a low-performing school that has space, without consulting you.

Maybe the DOE could have put the kids who did not get their choices, but who have good school records, into one school. They could try to create another school with a group of kids who are doing well. No way of knowing, but I doubt that is what they did. Instead, it appears they just randomly assigned kids “where there was an opening.” That’s what I was told when I called the school that had sent me an acceptance letter. I described my son to the very nice guidance counselor and asked if she could tell me why her school had accepted him, since he hadn’t applied, and what programs the school had that would be a good fit for him. After a silence, she suggested that I contact OSEPO asap; in fact, she said, “why don’t you go there in person because it can be hard to get someone on the phone.” She told me that her school did not select him and it did not sound like her school would be a good fit. They had evaluated the applications they received, and they sent a list of candidates to OSEPO, but when they got the list of admitted students, there were “a bunch” of names that she did not recognize at all.

Well, I am appealing and remain hopeful. But for next year, I think DoE should be more proactive in looking at the numbers and figuring out what is going to happen, and how NOT to end up with thousands of angry parents and teary children. What are they doing with all those computers if not trying to make some sense of this process?