Number of NYC kids entering public middle schools to fall 6 percent next year


The coronavirus is continuing to batter enrollment in the nation’s largest school system.

The number of city kids entering Department of Education middle schools next year will drop by roughly 6 percent, the agency revealed Tuesday.

A total of 71,500 kids began 6th-grade this academic year.

That figure will fall sharply to 65,000 next year, according to new DOE figures.

The agency tied the dip to COVID-19, saying it “tracks with the pandemic-driven enrollment fluctuation of 5.5%.”

With city birth rates sinking and charter enrollment rising, city schools have been contracting for years.

But ongoing coronavirus upheaval in the DOE system — marked by limited live teaching and erratic schedules — is now accelerating that trend.

Traditional middle school admissions metrics — including grades, test scores, and behavior — were controversially scrapped for next year’s 6th-grade class due to the pandemic.

Instead, the agency relied on a lottery system to determine placements for new middle schoolers.

Mark Twain Intermediate Schools for the Gifted & Talented did see an uptick in admissions offers to low-income students.
Helayne Seidman

“Overall, there was an increase in the proportion of offers to free or reduced price lunch eligible students and English Language Learners at programs that were previously screened and were highly selective,” the DOE said in a statement.

At Mark Twain Intermediate School for the Gifted and Talented in Brooklyn, offers to low-income kids rose from 35 to 46 percent, according to the figures.

At coveted Christa McAuliffe Middle School in Dyker Heights, offers to English Language Learners hiked from five to 16 percent.

At Professional Performing Arts High School in Midtown Manhattan, offers to low-income applicants went from 22 to 52 percent, according to the DOE.

Backers of the screen suspension argued that reliance on academics would be unfair in light of COVID-19 disruptions — especially for kids without reliable wifi or devices.

Objectors said the move diminished the role of academic merit at competitive schools.

Middle school admissions patterns continued to evolve in other districts with ongoing diversity initiatives.

Brooklyn’s District 15, which covers Park Slope, scrapped academic screens three years ago.

“Before the implementation of the Diversity Plan, only three schools met the target range of 40-75 percent of offers going to high-needs students,” the DOE said. “This year, seven schools are within target range.”

In December, the NYC DOE announced it would be ending academics-based admissions for middle schools.
In December, the NYC DOE announced it would be ending academics-based admissions for middle schools.
Gregory P. Mango

Overall, the DOE said 89 percent of applicants received an offer to one of their top three choices.

The agency has said that the suspension of academic screens was temporary and that they would resume next year.

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Janice Hill

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