Schoolbook's Guides Explain the City Schools

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Teachers and principals aren't the only ones who spent the summer preparing for the new school year which is now fully in swing. Here at Schoolbook, our team worked hard to update guides explaining the intricacies of the nation's largest school system, which has grown to a total of 1750 schools this fall.

The guides are on the far left-hand side of the SchoolBook home page. The main ones, "Understanding the NYC Schools" and "Enrolling Your Child," include fresh information on this year's deadlines for gifted and talented tests, kindergarten, middle school and high school applications. Take a look - there are several deadlines looming.

The guides explain the difference between a zoned school and a screened school. They demystify the school system's many acronyms - from ARIS to OLSAT. There are also links to helpful sites such as Insideschools, whose reviews are always included on our web pages for each school.

This year we've gone a few steps further. We've published new guides that explain the complicated bureaucracies that support special education students and English Language Learners. We know parents are anxious to have more information now that the city is requiring neighborhood schools to serve more students with disabilities. In "Your Special Education Child," we explain how the federal Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act protects your son or daughter's right to a free and appropriate education, and what that means in the classroom.

Because there are more choices than ever, we also have brand new guides laying out how to apply to charter schools, high schools and gifted and talented programs. Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration has opened about 600 new schools since 2002, while closing a couple of hundred that were low-performing. Even well-educated parents who are fluent in English tell us that picking a school can be overwhelming.

We have another new guide specifically for the city's nearly 75,000 teachers. It explains how teachers are granted tenure, the different salary steps in their contract, and support for professional development now that the city is phasing in new college readiness standards called the Common Core.

We're thrilled to provide these resources to New York City's parents, students and educators because we know how hard it is to get basic questions answered despite the glut of information that's out there. We hope you will make good use of these guides. Tell us where we can make improvements if you don't think we answered your questions. Share the guides with each other and, with all your new-found knowledge, add your voice to the conversations on the site.