By ADEDAYO PERKOVICH, age 10

While some students can prepare themselves for standardized tests with private tutoring, many cannot afford this, which creates inequality. PHOTO: Jennifer Cogswell City Year
While some students can prepare themselves for standardized tests with private tutoring, many cannot afford this, which creates inequality. PHOTO: Jennifer Cogswell City Year

The middle school application process in New York City aims to help you choose the right school for you. This system is supposed to pressure schools with lower test scores to improve by making them compete for the interest of kids and parents. “The ultimate goal is to create great schools,” said Marc Sternberg, a deputy chancellor for New York City’s Education Department.

However, parent Janine Sopp finds it “challenging, exhausting, eye-opening and confusing.” She added, “I also do not think that this process is fair. Even signing up for a tour is a ‘first come, first serve’ process… Parents are fighting for the few spots in the ‘best’ schools.”

At the beginning of the process, the Department of Education (DOE) sends you a list of all the schools you’re eligible for so that you can rank them according to which ones you like best. Certain schools require auditions, interviews or tests in order to rank applicants. While some students prepare with private tutoring, many cannot afford this, which creates inequality.

“It puts undue pressure on the children, and it doesn’t really assess them for the whole person that they are,” PS 58 parent, Stephanie Tooman-Dieme, said.

At some schools you choose a concentration, like dance, drama, science or writing. Some argue that this is too young for kids to make such an important decision. In the end, the DOE tries to match you with the school that ranked you the highest and the school that you ranked the highest.

“At first it seems like the kids’ role is important because we are the ones being assessed, but then at a point, it’s just the schools and the DOE that decide where we go,” fifth grade student Eoin Riley-Duffy said.