NYC Education Dept. will soon roll out new middle, high school admissions rules – New York Daily News

New York City’s Education Department will roll out new rules for the contentious middle and high school admissions process in “the next few days,” schools Chancellor David Banks said.

The rules governing admission to the city’s middle and high schools have been in flux since the start of the pandemic, with former Mayor de Blasio eliminating “screens” like grade and test score cutoffs for middle schools and reducing the importance of top grades for high school students.

De Blasio also got rid of an in-district high school priority program for students who live in Manhattan’s District 2, which stretches from lower Manhattan and the Upper East Side.

The pandemic reforms were welcomed by many advocates and families, who have long argued that admission screens disproportionately block access for Black, Latino and low-income students to the most coveted schools.

Admissions results over the past two years have shown increases in the numbers of Black, Latino, and low-income students at many of the city’s selective schools, according to the DOE.

But critics of the changes have argued that they’ve punished high-achieving students and left them without access to sufficiently challenging programs — and are calling for screens to be restored.

Dueling petitions have circulated in recent weeks.

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One, sponsored by Parent Leaders for Accelerated Curriculum and Education, calls for “a full return to admissions standards for screened schools” and has garnered signatures from 3,800 parents, according to a copy of the appeal sent to Banks.

An opposing petition, spearheaded by the group New York Appleseed and signed by 400 parents and 39 organizations, calls for the “permanent elimination of middle-school screens citywide.”

Banks said during Wednesday’s meeting of the Panel for Educational Policy that he’s “heard from a wide range of group on this issue,” and promised “we’re making many improvements in response to the feedback we’ve heard.”

But he acknowledged that the solution will inevitably draw criticism.

“We have to be very clear, no matter where we land on this, there are going to be many parents who love it, and many who do not,” he said. “We have people who are diametrically opposed, complete opposite ends of the spectrum.”

Many of the measures that were traditionally used by selective high schools to pick students, like state test scores and grades, were severely upended by the pandemic. But state exams are back in full swing, and the city’s grading system has returned to its pre-pandemic rules, leading some parents and advocates to argue that the admissions screens should return.

But critics argue that even in the best of times, metrics like grades, attendance and test scores are imperfect measurements, and that many students are still struggling with lingering effects of the pandemic.

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