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Parent’s Guide to New York City Schools

Getting ready for a cross country move with young ones isn’t easy, especially if one of the tasks on Mom and Dad’s to-do list is finding the best schools in New York City. NYC’s school system is the largest in the country, with over 1.1 million students attending 1,700 public schools. It has some of the greatest public education options in the country, and some that are far from great, not to mention over a thousand private and charter schools. Naturally, parents moving to NYC want to land their kids in the best schools- this takes some research and a lot of patience.

 

Public Schools
Generally, children are assigned to a public school in their neighborhood. All a child needs in order to enroll in their neighborhood school is the right documents attesting to their age and address. Depending on where you live and your children’s ages you may have several alternatives to choose from, including gifted & talented programs, bilingual schools, and other education choices. However, neighborhoods with sought after schools are often very pricey and with schools overcrowding many families find themselves rezoned or put on waiting lists.

Get in the Zone
Renting in a neighborhood with great schools may be pricey but many New York families make every effort to do so, including squeezing into a tiny 1 bedroom with kids, pets and all. Once a child is enrolled in a school, they have the right to attend that school until they graduate, regardless of their family relocating. This regulation, which is intended to ensure stability and enable the teaching staff to create long-term bonds with students is often used by parents who may not be able to buy or rent long term in a good school zone but can stretch themselves for a while to get their child’s foot in a good school’s door. It also leads to overcrowding, which is why this gamble may backfire.

Up and Coming
Many New York parents try to identify up and coming schools in lesser known neighborhoods. Sometimes a school’s leadership is so strong or the parents are so involved and enthusiastic the word starts spreading. Some parents are even hiring professional school advisers to find the best future schools in the city and hope these schools live up to their potential by the time their children have reached school age.

New York City schools vary not only in quality and average test scores. Many of them offer unique curriculums, gifted and talented programs, 6-year programs and study programs dedicated to a specific field. The department of education’s websites lists these unique options here. Research your options extensively and narrow your choices down to a list of 12 schools, which is the maximum one can apply for.

Charter Schools
New York City has 205 charter schools serving 95,000 students. Like public schools, charter schools are free and open to all NYC children. Take a closer look at this educational option and see if it’s right for you.

Private Schools
Some parents who feel that navigating NYC’s public school system is too tricky or stressful opt for a different alternative, relocating to a cheaper neighborhood and using the money saved on housing to pay for a private school. NYC has over 900 private schools, which offer a high standard of education for equally high tuitions.

How to Choose a School in NYC?
Whether you opt for public or private education, many factors weigh in when it comes to choosing the right school. Test scores are a good way to compare academic achievements and teacher-student ratio is important, but there are many other things to consider. This includes:

  • School Leadership
    A charismatic principal who is dedicated to the school and devoted to the students is a strong sign that a school is on an upward trajectory. Enthusiastic leaders tend to draw like-minded teachers and parents, all of which contribute to a school’s overall success.
  • Attendance Rates
    Rising attendance rates mean that more families are joining the school community. This is a strong indicator of improvement
  • Beyond Scores
    When looking at developing schools keep in mind that improvements in school quality may take a few years to show up in standardized test scores.
  • On Display
    Observing the student projects on display is a great way to tell what values are promoted in the school. Cookie-cutter art projects and teacher-made decorations show that individuality and creativity are not held in the highest regard. Look for original student projects which demonstrate freedom of thought and self-motivation.
  • Parent Involvement
    Strong parent involvement speaks volumes of the community. Look for schools where parents are encouraged to take part in school activities, volunteer or participate in school life in any way.

 

As you can see, relocating to New York with school aged children will have your work cut out for you… Luckily you can book online here are full service movers to help with all your other moving needs! For more information and tips on moving to a new city visit this blog post.

 

If you liked our piece about NYC feel free to check our the rest of our great articles:

7 Tips for New York City Newcomers

Tips for Professional Networking in New York City

Where Should You Live in New York City? (Part 1)

Where Should You Live in New York City? (Part 2)

How to Find a Local Mover in NYC on Short Notice