As a student whose entire education has been centered around testing and grades, it is hard for me to imagine a school system without these requirements. There are, however, NYC high schools that set different standards for their students which are outside of the typical standards. These schools, like Beacon, the Bronx Lab School, and Saint Ann’s go about a different way of assessing their students.
Beacon High School
Beacon High School does not require its students to take the Regents Exams. They believe in performance-based testing which they think may better showcase the work of its students than a rigorous test. These assessments provide students with the proper credits of a Regents Exam in History, Science, Math, and English by using an alternative assignment that is typically more personal to each student. These assignments are often long-term projects. This includes problem-solving in math, experiments in the sciences, deeper research into events in history, and a greater overall understanding of each topic that brings the student closer to the real world. Additionally, it provides a student with a way of expressing their opinion and exhibiting pride in their work.
The Bronx Lab School
The Bronx Lab School focuses its curriculum on inquiry-based classrooms and mastery-based grading along with the Project Based Assessments (PBA’s) seen at Beacon as well. As opposed to rote learning, teachers spark curiosity in their students through inquiry-based classrooms. These classrooms provide a space to encourage the student to research deeper into a topic rather than being given the information immediately. The mastery-based grading is a policy that centers around not using grades as punishment or reward but rather a measure of individualized progress and growth that the student can then reflect on over the course of their education.
St. Ann’s School
St. Ann’s School assesses a student’s work through detailed reports rather than letters or numbers. Unlike the previous examples, they are an independent school, not a public school. The school believes that grades distract from the excitement of learning. Through interaction, creativity, and a number of projects, St. Ann’s students display their knowledge and genuine interest in learning without having to worry about the number on their report cards.
The schools above are just three examples of some of NYC schools with alternative methods of student evaluation. Others include Harvest Collegiate High School, Brooklyn Collaborative Studies, James Baldwin High School, and School of the Future. Many of these schools that are public are part of the New York Performance Standards Consortium, a fairly new organization whose mission is to make improvements to the standardized grading system for the benefit of the students.
All in all, it is important to be educated about your options and choose what would be most serviceable to you in a school. These methods may not be for everyone. If frequent testing, however, is something that you believe to have a greater negative impact than a positive one, you may want to consider looking into one of these schools and targeting them on your application.
Oliwia Caes is a sophomore at Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School for Music, Art, and Performing Arts. She is a dance major, an editor of the school magazine, and spends her time reading mystery and science fiction.
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Nearly a fifth of New York City students attend private schools, schools that are neither funded nor run at any government level. Unlike public schools, families are typically required to pay tuition, but many of these schools offer some degree of financial aid. Because private schools do not have to follow the rules and regulations set by the Department of Education, there is a diverse array of options to consider when looking for the right fit. Unlike with public schools, students are allowed to apply to as many private schools as they desire.
Public schools are the largest school type in New York City, and therefore contain a vast range of schools. Due to this range, there is a school for everyone! It is important to note that students apply to programs not schools, and can be admitted into more than one program within a single school. Families can choose a maximum of twelve programs on MySchools for the main list, but the specialized schools are on a separate ranking list that has no max.
For most families, eighth grade tends to be the most exciting yet stressful year of middle school. It is the year to fully dive into the high school admissions process and find out where your child will be heading for the next four years. Though this can feel really overwhelming, with the help of this guide and the preparation made already from the sixth and seventh grades, there’s no need to stress!
Seventh grade is one of the most important years in middle school. This is the year that most high schools will pay attention to in terms of standardized exams, grades, and extracurriculars. Though this can be a stressful year both for students and for families, this guide is meant to help you reduce this anxiety and make the most of this year! Through the following steps, families can help their children continue to prepare for the high school admissions process and tackle the challenges that lie ahead.
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