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Signature Initiatives

NYC High School Application Guide

Each year, all eighth-grade students planning to attend a New York City public high school must create and submit a list of their “schools of choice” to the New York City Department of Education. Students rank 12 choices from nearly 700 programs at more than 400 high schools citywide. A complex algorithm then pairs students with schools, taking into account the students’ preferences, available space, and the schools’ own rankings and priorities. While nearly 80,000 students submit their selections, their choices are too often uninformed, particularly among underserved students who may not have enough assistance from parents or guidance counselors.

To help students find out their best-fit high school programs, the foundation developed the NYC High School Application Guide, a free tool to use on iPhone or the web. Middle school students, parents, and guidance counselors can use this simple tool to filter high school programs by interests and location, generating a personalized list of 20 high school programs to consider.

This tool was developed in collaboration with a software company that specializes in education technology solutions, with guidance from New York City’s former Director of High School Admissions Operations and education choice experts at N.Y.U. It has been extensively tested in partnership with select schools, external evaluators, and experts in the field. The guide became available in the Fall of 2016 for use in the Department of Education Round 1 high school application process.

In late 2016, the foundation celebrated the guide’s success by spinning it off to an independent team of prominent educators with an agreement to fund the continued improvement and full rollout of the guide for one year to all 603 eighth-grade serving schools in New York City. The team will take over full management of the Guide in 2017.