NYC parents fume over overhaul of high school admissions system
Getting into high school was a lot like losing the lottery this year.
Many high-achieving New York students and their parents were devastated and outraged after receiving high school admissions letters on Wednesday night – blasting the revamped system that no longer prioritizes good grades.
“I have the feeling that [Department of Education] betrayed my daughter and all the children who are in this situation, ”said Greg Melli-Jones, who lives in Battery Park.
Melli-Jones’ daughter Mia was placed in Richard R. Green High School for Teaching – a school they had never heard of before – after failing to get into one of her 12 electives.
Now the father is weighing leaving the Big Apple for the snub.
“We’re either going to have to find a private school that we can’t afford or think about leaving town because I’m not going to get her to go to that school,” Melli-Jones told the Post.
His wife broke down in tears upon hearing the news and his eighth grade student is upset, he said.
“She asked me if I was okay. “Are we going to find a school for me? And I don’t have an answer for her,” he said.
The application and selection process has been a rite of passage for the kids, with anticipation for the big day when they’re told where they’ll be going in the fall.
But the process this time around has been stressful throughout due to delays and confusion over what the new process would be at the end of former Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration.
Eighth-graders had until March 1 to submit an application listing up to 12 high schools or special programs of their choice in order of preference.
After months of delays in running this year’s application process, the city’s Department of Education unveiled its new admissions system just a month before the deadline – lowering the bar for entry into many schools. competitive high schools and throwing kids with a range of academic achievement into a random hopper.
A former DOE enrollment manager said the changes and the deadline were “the most stressful year I can remember.”
“More than ever, it was less of a meritocracy than any year in memory,” said Maurice Frumkin, who now runs the private NYC Admissions Solutions.
“You have families who were receiving information at the last moment and a process that is the least school record based in history.”
Manhattan resident Lauren Bernstein said she was also considering leaving town after her daughter got none of her 12 picks.
“I didn’t apply to any soldiers, but now I call them all crazy,” said Bernstein, who has two other children she is putting through college.
“It’s going to be very difficult to have two in university and one in private school. We may have to sell my apartment and leave town.
Bernstein said her daughter was crushed.
“She cried all night, doesn’t want to go to her prom tomorrow, never wants to set foot in school again.”
The timing of the decision means there’s probably not much parents can do to fight back, she added. Admission letters were going out in March before the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new formula takes a student’s best mark in English, math, social studies, and science in grades seven and eight, and then assigns a point value to that mark. The points are then averaged to determine which of the four lottery pools the student belongs to.
Standardized test scores and attendance – used in previous years – were not a factor this time around.
Proponents have said the system should increase diversity in the city’s most coveted schools, but opponents have criticized the program for not emphasizing student performance.
A Staten Island mother said the DOE was playing “Russian roulette with our children’s future.” His daughter, who has an average of 97, got her fifth choice.
“I am so sad for her. My heart is broken,” said the mother, who asked to remain anonymous as she works as a teacher in the city. “She was praying every night for this school and just like that – for no logical reason – she was taken away from her.
“It was spat out by a bad algorithm,” she said. “So the kids who work so hard and get the wrong lottery numbers suffer.”
The DOE did not immediately respond to a request for data on how many students received their first or top three choices.
Frumkin, the former DOE enrollment manager, said he was confident the process was just a stopgap solution that “didn’t sit well with a lot of families at all.”
But the system has opened the door for many families who have felt left out of the city’s top-performing schools in recent years, he said.
DOE officials stressed that the process is not permanent and could change as early as next year.