Parents and education advocates are awaiting an announcement regarding the policy for middle and high school admissions as the lottery system, justified by the pandemic, could revert back to screened admissions.
The lottery admissions were introduced during the pandemic due to disruptions that led to a lack of consistent metrics including grades, assessments and test scores, states an open letter written by the group PLACE NYC to Schools Chancellor David Banks, which has gained 3,800 signatures.
“We had a full year of in-person school which included annual state tests and regular report card grades. It is now possible to make a full return to admissions standards for screened schools,” the letter states.
It continues, “Academically advanced students need programs that meet their needs the same way performing arts programs nurture kids who demonstrate talent and IEPs support students who need them. Screened schools provide appropriate education for students that can meet the rigorous coursework they provide.”
Nine City Council members also signed on to a letter with bipartisan support calling on Banks to “reinstate a fair admission process” for middle and high schoolers, stating that their offices received many calls from anxious and angry parents following 18 percent of students not receiving a match of any of their 12 listed school choices.
“Coming out of the pandemic, lottery-based admissions do not address learning loss or help improve proficiencies of students who are academically behind,” the letter states.
It was penned by Councilwoman Inna Vernikov (R-Brooklyn) and the Queens members who signed on were Councilmembers Bob Holden (D-Maspeth), Joann Ariola (R-Ozone Park), Vickie Paladino (R-Whitestone), Linda Lee (D-Oakland Gardens) and Sandra Ung (D-Flushing).
The letter continues, “Thousands of ‘unlucky’ students were placed in programs they never listed and sometimes never heard of, which do not offer the classes in which they are interested. Many families with options exited the NYC public school system in frustration, either enrolling in charter schools, parochial and private schools or leaving the city or state altogether, further accelerating the decline in enrollment.”
The legislators say schools can return to whatever method fits their programs, such as essays, interviews and portfolios.
“Give principals a say in their schools and stop the one-size-fits-all approach,” it reads, before also urging the expansion of accelerated programs such as Gifted and Talented.
A counter letter is calling for an end to middle school screens and has garnered about 500 signatures.
“We are troubled that this administration is purportedly preparing to reverse course and allow discriminatory admission methods to restart at the middle-school level despite two years of equitable progress,” the letter, written by New York Appleseed, a nonprofit advocacy group for integrated schools, states.
It adds that students started the year with fewer resources due to budget cuts.
“We implore this administration to not make a quality education even more elusive to families through condoning the restoration of discriminatory middle-school admission policies.”