What choices do I have for my child when applying for high school?
As a parent of an eighth grader, you face a wide range of types of high schools, including district, career and technical education high schools (C.T.E.), charter schools, small or large schools, theme schools and specialized high schools which are highly selective. The admissions criteria for types of schools, as well as for individual schools, vary. No matter the type of school, all students must apply through an admissions form available through their middle school guidance counselor.
There are seven admissions methods for regular public schools. They are: audition, educational option, limited unscreened, screened, test, unscreened and zoned. More information about each can be found here.
Audition schools require a student to be proficient in a specific visual or performing art. Requirements, dates and times are listed with the program on each school’s page in the high school directory.
Educational option is an admissions method based on 7th grade standardized test scores. Half the applicants to the school are accepted based on their reading scores and half are chosen by random lottery. If a student has scored in the top 2 percent he or she will automatically be accepted.
Limited unscreened gives preference to students who show interest in the school by attending an information session or open house or visiting the school’s exhibit at one of the high school fairs.
Screened schools rank students based on their 7th grade report card and standardized math and reading exams. Attendance and punctuality are also considered and the school may ask students to interview, write an essay or take an additional diagnostic exam.
If you are interested in applying to one of the nine specialized high schools, you will have to audition (LaGuardia only) or take the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (S.H.S.A.T.). The test is only offered one weekend, so it is important to check the calendar.
The Education Department provides more specific information about the testing process for these highly competitive schools on its Web site.
More information can also be found by checking with your middle school guidance counselor or local Enrollment Office with whom your child will register beforehand and receive a ticket for the test. You will indicate on the exam which schools you are applying to and rank them in order of preference.
There are some zoned high schools that give preference to students living in the area. They can be found in the high school directory.
Finally, unscreened schools are schools that select students randomly by lottery.
New York State graduation requirements differ depending upon what year a student enters ninth grade, but in all cases a certain number of credits, distributed among mandated subject areas, and passing scores on the state’s Regents exams must be achieved.
Students must score a 65 or above on these five Regents exams to graduate: Integrated Algebra (Math A), Global History and Geography, U.S. History and Government, Comprehensive English and any one science Regents. Students who earn a sufficient number of Regents credits and who complete the state’s requirements are eligible for a Regents Diploma, bestowed by the State Board of Regents. Advanced Regents Diplomas are awarded to students who pass additional math and science exams and/or have taken additional credits in foreign language or other subject areas. The New York State Education Department has more information on Regents exams.
Students with disabilities are generally held to the same criteria, although they can earn what are called “local diplomas” by scoring a 55 instead of a 65 on their Regents exams. But some with more severe learning disabilities are eligible for an Individualized Education Program or I.E.P. diploma in either of the following cases: 1) the student is at the end of the year in which he/she reaches age 21 and has achieved the learning standards outlined in that student’s I.E.P., or 2) the student has completed 12 years of education, excluding kindergarten, and has achieved the educational standards established in his or her I.E.P.
The New York City Education Department has more information on graduation requirements.
This answer was researched, reported and written by Rachel Ohm. To correct, improve or enhance an answer, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.