Chancellor Fariña Announces NYC School Finder to Make the High School Search Process Easier for Families

  • Posted: Mon Sep 12, 2016 Updated: Fri Jan 29, 2021

New digital directory helps students, parents and school counselors find high school choices for applications. Mobile-friendly tool works on phones, tablets, desktops

NEW YORK – Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña today announced the launch of NYC School Finder, a 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. Over 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 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. 

“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 Schools Chancellor Carmen 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.” 

“NYC School Finder has a sleek, elegant design that makes it easy to search the high school directory on a cellphone. This new tool makes it easier to find official information from the high school directory as well as independent reviews from the InsideSchools website,” said Clara Hemphill, founding editor of InsideSchools at The New School's Center for New York City Affairs. 

“It’s exciting that DOE’s Office of Student Enrollment is releasing this digital school-finding tool,” said Chelsea Mauldin, director of the Public Policy Lab, a nonprofit design innovation lab for government. “When we assisted the DOE in carrying out research about the high school application experience with students, their families, and guidance counselors, both families and staff told us about challenges sorting through the hundreds of available programs. NYC School Finder shows DOE’s commitment to helping students and adults make meaningful and informed choices during the high school application process.”

“As a public school parent, I think this is a huge step in the right direction, and makes high school choices more accessible for students and families,” said Michael Kraft, a public school parent and Manhattan representative on the Citywide Council on High Schools. “This is a great foundation for widening the horizon for families – making it easier to see high school choices, and more information about those choices.” 

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 (examples: AP courses, language courses, ELL programs)
  • Activities (examples: yearbook, robotics, debate)
  • Sports (examples: basketball, handball, soccer)

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 Students, families, and counselors can also favorite schools, creating a list that can be shared or printed. 

“NYC School Finder is an innovative, cutting-edge tool for our students, families, and school counselors, and it's a testament to what we can achieve through public-private partnership. I look forward to continuing to work with public and private partners and raising private funds for School Finder to add more languages, features, and meet families where they are,” said Sarah Geisenheimer, Executive Director of the Fund for Public Schools. 

“This is an incredibly user-friendly application – it’s going to be easier for my kids and families to find schools that they may not otherwise be familiar with, and I actually think they’re going to have a blast working with it,” said Kelly McGuire, principal of Lower Manhattan Community Middle School. “NYC School Finder makes it easier to look up schools’ data, qualities, and characteristics, and I look forward to bringing it into my school.” 

“NYC School Finder will assist my students as they develop a well-rounded high school application with 12 choices that reflect their individual needs and interests,” said Jenenea Hall, a school counselor at Blueprint Middle School in the Bronx. “School Finder will help my students become more knowledgeable and organized during the admissions process while relieving anxiety. It really reflects what students, families, and counselors need in an evolving technological world.” 

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 and U.S. Digital Services Playbook 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 ten DOE languages, as well as the High Schools at a Glance document – a detailed, sortable spreadsheet of high school admissions data and program choices. Additional resources available for students, families, and counselors include: 

  • Citywide and Borough High School Fairs: Attend the HS Fairs in September and find out when school information sessions and open houses are on the HS Admissions Calendar.
  • Newsletter: Subscribe to the HS email list to get updates on important HS Admissions events and deadlines.
  • Phone (718-935-2399): Call Monday-Friday 8am-6pm with questions about HS Admissions.
  • Family Welcome Centers: Get HS Admissions help from a DOE staff member. Locations and hours are available online.
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