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NYC School Finder to make high school search process easier for families

New Digital Directory Helps Students, Parents and School Counselors Find High School Choices for Applications

September 13, 2016 Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. Eagle photo by Mary Frost
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Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña on Tuesday announced the launch of NYC School Findera new, easy-to-use online tool that lets users search New York City’s hundreds of high school choices by school name, keyword, location, size and more.

NYC School Finder — built to help families address the challenges of the city’s high school enrollment process and identify 12 choices for their high school application — is currently in beta and is available in Spanish and English. More than 30 school counselors, students and community members tested NYC School Finder and advised on its design. The city will continue to improve the tool based on ongoing user engagement and through the feedback form on NYC School Finder. 

The initial development of NYC School Finder was supported by private funding through The Fund for Public Schools. Additional funding for continued development will support adding more languages and features that better serve the needs of students and families.   

NYC School Finder is a mobile-friendly tool that works on phones, the primary point of internet access for many of New York City’s students and families. No download from an app store is required — users only need to navigate to schoolfinder.nyc.gov on their device’s browser and then bookmark or add to home screen. Once users open NYC School Finder on their devices, they can continue to use the application if their data connection is lost. 

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“There are so many great high schools in New York City, and NYC School Finder is an empowering tool that is easy to use and meets school staff and families where they are — as many of them primarily access the internet on their phones,” said Fariña. “This is a step forward towards an easier and more equitable high school choice process, and we’ll be watching its use closely as we consider developing similar tools for middle school, elementary school and pre-K.” 

“As part of our efforts to increase equity and excellence across all public schools, we are committed to making enrollment processes easier for all families,” said Josh Wallack, deputy chancellor for Strategy and Policy. “This is a priority for the DOE, and NYC School Finder represents critical progress. We’ll closely monitor feedback to improve this tool, and continue to innovate to better serve students and families.” 

Recent research around the city’s high school enrollment process highlighted the time investment required to adequately search for, and identify, high school choices. NYC School Finder’s landing page allows users to search high schools by any word that appears in its name or description of its academics and activities. These include each school’s unique offerings in academics, activities and sports.

Users can then narrow their results by boroughs, zip code, admissions method, school size, school eligibility and accessibility. For example, a user could find all Bronx STEM schools with an enrollment of less than 500 students in under 30 seconds.

The individual school pages on NYC School Finder include the same content as the print NYC High School Directory, as well as a link to Google Maps to calculate commute time, a link to in-depth school data available on the School Performance Dashboard, and a link to reviews and stats on Insideschools.org. Students, families and counselors can also favorite schools, creating a list that can be shared or printed.

NYC School Finder was developed by the DOE’s Office of Student Enrollment and Division of Instructional and Information Technology in collaboration with the Mayor’s Office of Technology & Innovation and Pivotal Labs. The agile cloud-based approach to its development and delivery —  and continuous improvement — closely aligns with the recently announced NYC Digital Playbook (playbook.cityofnewyork.us) and U.S. Digital Services Playbook (playbook.cio.gov) and is an opportunity to study how to better deliver public services to all New Yorkers. 

NYC School Finder builds on existing high school admission resources. Print and online directories are still available in the 10 DOE languages, as well as the High Schools at a Glance document — a detailed, sortable spreadsheet of high school admissions data and program choices.  

 

—Information from Chancellor Fariña’s Office


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