Joyce Szuflita, our own "Brooklyn School Lady" has important new information about applying to Mark Twain.
The Mark Twain admissions process has changed in the last couple years; information about it is still a little confusing. I have confirmed this information at several local elementaries as well as at Central Enrollment. Even though Twain is a city wide school, if your child requests one or two auditions there (which you have to do early in the fall before your get your application), it will be listed on your district middle school application to rank with your regular local choices.
Your child will be able to audition and will have a chance to get in NO MATTER WHERE YOU LIST MARK TWAIN ON THE APPLICATION. Even though the common wisdom and information that Twain may give you is that you need to rank it first to get in (hubris on the part of the school? perhaps, - the sheer number of qualified students listing it highly – more likely), I know of students who have ranked it way further down the list who have gotten in!
For the other regular, local, district schools on the application: They receive a list of students who have ranked them first and second (but do not get information that is more specific than that). They also receive a list of kids who have ranked them third and fourth, etc. Because of the sheer numbers of children, and the fact that they want to understand their applicants as more than just their transcripts; they will invite the children who have ranked them first and second in to interview, do an activity or audition around Feb.
Mark Twain is apart from this process (consider it a neutral entry on your app), so if your child has ranked Mark Twain programs as #1 and #2, then your child’s #3 and #4 local district schools will appear to be your child’s first and second district choices to those schools and your child WILL be invited to come to the school for the interview, activity etc. If you put Twain #1, district choice #2, Twain #3, district choice #4, then you will be seen at your #2 and #4 as if they were first and second.
So, how should you rank your application? Absolutely don’t try to “game it”. You should place the schools exactly in the order that you like them. The algorithm is run app by app, not by first choices. If the school that your child placed first on the app wants your child - that is your placement. If not, the computer will go to your second choice and if you are not on that school’s list it will look at your third choice, etc.
For Amber’s son and all families worried that this first foray into school choice will determine their high school – college - happy life; stop worrying and start working on finding the middle school gems that are out there - they may not be the ‘most rigorous’ (if a kid needs rigor, no teacher worth their salt will hesitate to challenge them!) or most popular. Working hard in class and finding teachers who are interesting and who will help and challenge a student in whatever school they attend is the key. And parents need to go to the mat to help these schools get their message out and attract great kids of all abilities. The bottom line is that you want to find a safe school, with nice kids, and teachers who love to teach 12 year olds. My children attended a new school with no track record and many challenges. Many of the students were scoring at level 2, but they were great kids and the teachers understood their needs AND the needs of my children. It did not keep my kids or several of their classmates from the Specialized high schools or highly selective colleges, scholarships, nice boyfriends or attractive facebook photos. You can do this. Good luck to all!