Photo provided by the New York City Mayoral Photography Office (MPO)

The application process for students entering middle and high school for the 2020-21 school year is about to become shorter, easier and more transparent, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza. 

Now, there will only be one application round and deadline for families to keep track of. All admissions processes will have one round, from 3-K to high school. Students will be placed on a waitlist for each school listed higher on their application than the school to which they are offered admission, informed of their spot on the waitlist, and immediately offered admission off the waitlists as seats become available. 

“Parents have enough on their plate — tangling with bureaucracy to get their child into school shouldn’t add to the load,” de Blasio. “We are changing the middle and high school application processes so families don’t have to go through the gauntlet just to get a placement. There will be one application round and one deadline to make everyone’s lives easier.”

The change was made after families and educators said that they would like a “simpler, more transparent and more accessible system of school choice,” according to Carranza. 

“This common-sense change will make a real difference for families across the five boroughs, and improve our middle and high school choice process for years to come,” Carranza said. 

The DOE is eliminating the second application rounds for middle and high school. The main round application process and timeline will remain the same, with middle and high school applications opening in October with a December deadline. Students will receive their offer in March. Families can still appeal for travel, safety or medical hardships; if families have any hardship, they will be able to access in-person support at Family Welcome Centers, rather than wait to participate in a second process. 

The waitlists will open after offers are released and will be a simpler, clearer process for families, increasing:             

  • Transparency: By knowing their waitlist position, families have a better understanding of their chances of getting into a preferred school option in the event that seats become available.
  • Ease: This is a shorter process that requires less paperwork. Rather than having to complete a second application and wait weeks — often into May or June — for a second decision or offer, families will complete one process, receive one offer, and receive any additional offers based on waitlist position.
  • Consistency: Families will now have one admissions system at all grade levels, with the changes to the middle and high school process making it more similar to the elementary school admissions process. Currently the elementary school process has one round, and the middle and high school processes have two rounds with different names; now, families will not need to learn a different process each time a child applies to a new school — allowing them to focus on school options and not process.

There will be a robust set of resources available to schools and families to ensure educators and families have information about the changes being implemented, and the DOE will engage families once school is back in session.

Schools will have resources to support families, and Family Welcome Center staff will be fully trained in these new processes to help guide and support families. The DOE will also share information at middle and high school fairs this fall, and update the website and family-facing materials.

Information will be distributed to all principals and throughout the fall, the DOE will conduct training for school staff on the application process. In February and March, the DOE will provide targeted, in-depth training on waitlist management and systems.

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