NYC Kindergarten Admissions Guide

Welcome to kindergarten admissions! Here's how to get started:

  1. Sign up for the Kindergarten Admissions email list.
  2. Pick up the 2020 Kindergarten and G&T Admissions Guide (now together in one book!) at a Family Welcome Center or view the online edition below.
  3. With MySchools, you can explore your kindergarten options and find choices for your application.
  4. Apply to kindergarten by Tuesday, January 21, 2020. Learn more below.

Questions about admissions? Contact us at ESEnrollment@schools.nyc.gov.

Apply to Kindergarten

Apply to kindergarten by Tuesday, January 21, 2020. When the kindergarten application period opens in early December, you can access your child’s application in MySchools. Here’s how to apply:

  1. Explore DOE public elementary schools. Save or list your favorite programs.
  2. Add choices to your child’s application.
  3. Apply one of three ways by Tuesday, January 21, 2020.
  • Online with MySchools. During the application period, this option will be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in Arabic, Bengali/Bangla, Chinese, English, French, Haitian Creole, Korean, Russian, Spanish, and Urdu. Don’t forget to click the Submit Application button —you'll know your application has been submitted when you see the confetti!
  • By phone at 718-935-2009. Call us Monday through Friday from 8am to 6pm. The deadline to apply by phone is January 21 at 6pm.
  • In person at a Family Welcome Center. Visit us Monday through Thursday from 8am to 5pm and Friday from 8am to 3pm. Find locations and hours on our website. You can apply in person in over 200 languages. If you speak a language other than English, ask for an interpreter. The deadline to apply in person is January 21 at 5pm.

Only a child’s primary custodial parent or guardian can submit their kindergarten application.

Kindergarten admissions is not first come, first served—all applications submitted by the deadline are treated the same based on admissions priorities

Language Services - Interpretation and Translations
If you call or visit us and speak a language other than English, ask for an interpreter. Application support is available in over 200 languages.

Families with Multiple Children Applying to Kindergarten
If you have more than one child applying to kindergarten and want your children to attend the same school, you will have the option to apply for both or all children at the same time.

Need Help? Visit a Family Welcome Center
Our Family Welcome Centers are here to provide application support and answer your kindergarten admissions questions. Visit our website for the most up-to-date information on Family Welcome Centers, including hours, locations, and which centers are closest to each district. Find your school district by entering your address at schools.nyc.gov/Find-a-School or calling 311.

Know the Paths to Elementary School

All New York City children born in 2015 will begin kindergarten in September 2020 and are guaranteed a kindergarten seat at a public school. Once your child starts kindergarten, they can remain at the same school until its final elementary grade.

There are two paths to elementary admissions:

All families are encouraged to participate in both kindergarten and G&T admissions.

Who Can Apply?

All children born in 2015 and currently a New York City resident can apply to kindergarten. Admissions to kindergarten programs are open to all students of this age, including current pre-K students at DOE public schools, pre-K centers, NYC Early Education Centers, charter schools, and private or parochial schools. Students currently attending pre-K at a public elementary school still need to apply to kindergarten.

We welcome and serve all students including:

Multilingual/English Language Learners

The NYC Department of Education provides a range of supports and services for Multilingual/English Language Learners to develop their English language proficiency and prepare them for success in school, college, and/or careers. Learn more about our English as a New Language (ENL), Transitional Bilingual Education (TBE), and Dual Language (DL) programs. You can apply directly to kindergarten Dual Language programs by adding those programs to your child’s application.

Students with Disabilities

Every elementary school is expected to welcome and serve students with disabilities in accordance with their Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). To participate in kindergarten admissions, students with disabilities follow the same steps as their general education peers. Learn more about special education services for kindergarten students.

Students with Accessibility Needs

The NYC Department of Education is committed to providing students with accessibility needs with an elementary school placement that allows the student to access all relevant programs and services. For the most up-to-date information on school building accessibility, check our website and contact schools directly or visit them in person.

Students in Temporary Housing

Families with students in temporary housing should apply to kindergarten programs even if their housing situation is uncertain. They are not required to submit documentation (including address, proof of date of birth, and immunization records) in order to participate in an admissions process or enroll in school.

Immigrant Families

Every child in New York City has a right to a public school education, regardless of immigration status. By law, children may not be asked to present documentation of immigration status, nor can they be denied admission, registration, or enrollment in school based on immigration status. DOE employees will not ask about a family’s status, and if they do learn about immigration status, they must keep it confidential. Public schools are at the center of our democracy and remain safe places for all students, families, and educators. NYCDOE does not consent to non-local law enforcement, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement, accessing our school facilities.

LGBTQ Students and Families

All of our schools welcome and support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning students, families, and staff.

Explore Schools and Programs

When exploring schools and programs, MySchools has information about

  • Whether the school is zoned or non-zoned
  • If the school has a kindergarten G&T program
  • If the school has Dual Language program(s)
  • Transportation information
  • The school’s grade span
  • The size of the school
  • School’s accessibility
    • A fully accessible building is a building that was constructed post-1992, complies with all of the ADA’s design requirements, and has no barriers to access for persons with accessibility needs.
    • A partially accessible building allows persons with accessibility needs to enter and exit the building, have use of at least one restroom, access all relevant programs and services, including the science laboratory, library, cafeteria, and gymnasium; in some cases, school programs may need to be relocated to accommodate access. However, the entire building may not be accessible.

Contact schools directly to learn about open houses or to ask questions. Visit them to meet faculty and tour the campus.

School Quality Reports You can learn about a school’s performance in terms of academics and safety by reading its School Quality Reports, and selecting the Data and Reports tab.

Types of Schools


There are two types of schools that you can add to your child’s kindergarten application.

ZONED SCHOOLS

Most NYC families have a zoned school, which means they live in an area zoned for a specific school and their children have priority to attend it. Your zoned school, if you have one, is the school where your child is most likely to go to kindergarten. Most zoned schools make kindergarten offers to all students living in the zone. Some zoned schools have room to make offers to children living outside of their zone.

NON-ZONED SCHOOLS

These schools do not have a zone. Families throughout the district or borough can attend them. Most non-zoned schools give priority to students who have older siblings attending, who are current pre-K students, or who live in the district.

New York City has 32 school districts. There are three districts in NYC where all the schools are non‑zoned, and students living in these districts have priority to attend all schools in the district. These districts are:

District 1: Lower East Side, Manhattan
District 7: South Bronx
District 23: Brownsville, Brooklyn

MAGNET SCHOOLS

Magnet schools are public school options that provide a school-wide curriculum designed around a specific theme. They are intended to attract a diverse pool of applicants and historically have accommodated students from outside their zone or district. While some schools may have the word “magnet” in their school’s name, only a school that currently gets Magnet Schools Assistance Program (M.S.A.P) funding will be labeled as a “magnet school” on its MySchools page.

SPECIAL MUSIC SCHOOL

There is one elementary school that requires an audition as part of its admissions process. If you add Special Music School to your child’s application, be sure to also schedule your child’s audition—to do so, contact the school directly one of the following ways:

  • Online at kaufmanmusiccenter.org/sms
  • By phone at 212-501-3318
  • In person at Special Music School, located at 129 West 67th Street, New York, NY 10023

DUAL LANGUAGE PROGRAMS

When you apply to kindergarten, you are not just applying to schools—you are applying to programs. Think of a program as a “doorway” to get into the school. Most elementary schools have only one program, but some have two or more, such as a general education program and a Dual Language program. In your kindergarten application, you will be able to see both the school and program name for each of your choices.

In Dual Language (DL) programs, students are taught in two languages. The goal is for English proficient students and English Language Learners to not only develop new language skills and learn academic subjects in two languages, but also practice and share language and culture with each other, becoming bilingual, biliterate, and bicultural. If you are interested in a Dual Language program, be sure to add that specific program—not the school’s English-only program—to your kindergarten application.

Charter Schools

Charter schools are free public schools that are open to all New York City students and that operate independently from the Department of Education (DOE). Instead, charter schools operate under a performance contract, or charter, issued by a New York State authorizer. Charter schools are accountable for meeting specific academic goals and often try different approaches to ensure their students meet these goals. Charter schools have a separate kindergarten application process. If you would like to apply to kindergarten at a charter school, please contact that school directly to learn about their enrollment and admissions. Any student eligible for admission to a DOE public school is eligible for admission to a public charter school. Some charters may also offer pre-K as the primary entry year. Visit schools.nyc.gov/Find-A-School or call 311 for more general information.

Learn How Students Get Offers

All NYC children born in 2015 are guaranteed a kindergarten seat in a public school. How can you know your child’s chances of getting an offer from one of your favorite schools? It helps to start by learning how offers are made. Students get kindergarten offers based on four key factors:

  • Your application choices - The number of choices that you add to your child’s application AND the order in which you place them matter! Add up to 12 choices to your child’s application in your true order of preference. Then submit the application.
  • Program’s seat availability - Each kindergarten program has a certain number of available seats. If a program has more applicants than seats, admissions priorities and randomly assigned numbers are used to make offers.
  • Admissions priorities and your priority group for a program - Kindergarten programs give admissions priorities to specific groups of applicants before others, such as to students who live in a specific zone, who have siblings at the school, who live in the district, or who currently attend pre-K at the school. All students in a program’s priority group 1 will be considered first for offers. Then, if seats are still available, students in that program’s priority group 2 will be considered next, and so on. Learn which priority group your child is in for each kindergarten program. They will be in different priority groups for different programs.
  • Randomly assigned numbers - Each kindergarten applicant is also assigned a random number. If there are fewer available seats than applicants within a priority group, these random numbers determine the order in which students get offers.


Your Application Choices

The schools that you add to your child’s application and the order in which you place them help determine where your child goes to kindergarten.

  1. Choose up to 12 schools that you’d like your child to attend.
  2. Add these programs to their kindergarten application
  3. Order these school choices in the application from favorite to least favorite, with your favorite school at the top as #1.

Your child will get an offer to your highest possible choice considering the factors above. Some elementary schools also offer Dual Language program or programs. To apply to a Dual Language program, add it to your child’s application. If you’d like your child to attend your zoned school, be sure to add it to your application; however, you don’t have to place it as your first choice.

Seat Availability

Schools vary in size and demand. When a school has more applicants than seats, we can’t make offers to everyone who wants to attend it—in this case, offers are made first to the students who have the highest admissions priority to attend the school.

Waitlist

When a kindergarten program has more applicants than seats, a waitlist is created for that program. Your child will be automatically added to the waitlist for any school that you placed higher on the application than the school where they got an offer. Schools can contact families directly if they are able to offer their child a seat.

Admissions Priorities


Your child has a better chance of getting an offer from some schools than others. A school’s admissions priorities determine the order in which groups of applicants are considered for offers.

Tip: Use MySchools to learn about a school’s admissions priorities and who got offers in 2019. This information will help you know your child’s chances of getting an offer to a particular school.

The higher priority your child has to attend a school, the higher the chance that your child will get an offer to that school.

If a school made offers to a specific group of students in 2019, they may be able to make offers to this group again. For example, if a school was able to make offers to children living outside of their zone who had an older sibling in the school, they may be able to make offers to siblings living outside of the zone again.

There are several types of admissions priorities:

Sibling Priority

Elementary schools offer an admissions priority to applicants whose siblings attend the same school. If your child has an older sibling at a school that you’ve added to their application, your child may have a higher chance of getting an offer from that school than an applicant without an enrolled sibling. To make sure your child gets sibling priority, be sure to provide sibling information when you apply.

A sibling is defined as an applicant’s brother or sister, including half‑brothers, half‑sisters, stepbrothers, stepsisters, foster brothers, and foster sisters who live in the same household and are currently pre‑registered or enrolled at that school in kindergarten through grade 12, and who will be enrolled at that school in any grade level between kindergarten and grade 12 in September 2020. This includes students enrolled in District 75 programs in the same school building.

Pre-K Priority

If your child is currently enrolled in pre-K at a DOE public elementary school, they will have an admissions priority to attend kindergarten at that school. Not all elementary schools have pre-K.

Students currently attending pre-K at a public elementary school still need to apply to kindergarten.

District Priority

Most schools give an admissions priority to students in their own district over students who live in other districts.

Admissions Priorities for Zoned Schools

All zoned elementary schools make offers to students in the following order:

  1. Students who live in the zone and have a sibling at the school
  2. Other students who live in the zone

If space allows, students living outside the zone may also be admitted, in the following order:

  1. Students with a sibling at the school who live in the district
  2. Students with a sibling at the school who live outside the district
  3. Students who live in the district and are currently enrolled at the school for pre‑K
  4. Students who live outside the district and are currently enrolled at the school for pre‑K
  5. Other students who live in the district
  6. Other students who live outside the district

Tip: Use MySchools to see which zoned schools admitted non-zoned students last year.

Admissions Priorities for Non-Zoned Schools

Different non-zoned schools have different admissions priorities, but most non-zoned schools give an admissions priority to students who live in the same district as the school. You can look up any school’s admissions priorities in MySchools and find out which priority group your child is in for that school.

District-Specific Admissions Priorities

Some districts—such as Districts 1, 7, and 23 have district-specific admissions priorities.

Diversity in Admissions

Elementary schools across the city are participating in an effort to increase diversity in their programs by giving admissions priorities to students who qualify for free and reduced lunch (FRL), students in temporary housing, English Language Learners, and other groups. Learn more about the current list of schools participating in diversity pilots.

Go to Events and Visit Schools

School Visits

Visiting a school is the best way to explore if it’s a good place for your child. It’s also a great way to see how long the trip is from home. Contact schools directly to find out if they have special events, open houses, or school tours, or check on our website for open house dates. Before you visit a school, prepare a list of questions for school staff and current students about the school’s culture, courses, and activities.

Tip: When visiting schools, always ask questions. On sign-in sheets at events, write your contact information clearly.

Documents

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Cover of the print 2020 NYC High School Admissions Guide, featuring three high school students gazing at the city from the terrace or roof of a building.
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