NEW YORK (PIX11) — Students hoping to study at New York City’s most competitive middle and high school students will need great grades after a shift in the admissions process, Schools Chancellor David Banks announced Thursday.

The changes put a stronger focus on academics. While there will still be a lottery system in place, it will be narrowed by groups based on grades.

Eighth grade students in the top 15 percent of their class get first access, Banks explained. They need an average grade of 90 or higher to qualify.

Group two includes students who have at least an 80% average in school. Groups three and four include students with averages of at least 70 and 65%, respectively.

Parents were happy to see the merit-based focus, but some said they wish the metrics went further. Robin Kelleher, whose son is applying for high school soon, feels the top 15 percent is a vert broad range.

“I would like to see a more granular details there,” Kelleher said. “If you compare the top 15% from one school to another, you are going to see a very different population.”

Middle schools will once again be allowed to screen students based on grades and other metrics for the first time since the pandemic. The chancellor said changes were made based on feedback from families.

New York City public schools will now offer earlier applications with earlier admissions. Applications open Oct. 12 for high schools and Oct. 26 or middle schools, with offers coming for high schools in March and in April for middle schools. Parents will also know how many students were waitlisted in the past so that they can weigh their own chances of getting in.

The chancellor said accelerated learning schools will be added in the South Bronx, south Queens and areas of Brooklyn. 

New York Appleseed Executive Director Nyah Berg Is disheartened by the chancellor’s updated policy.

“We are still firm in our belief that it is unjustifiable to measure the educational attainment of a student that is 9 years old to get into a public middle school. Ultimately, I think we are going to see less diversity in our schools because of these announcements and it’s disappointing to see us continue to stray from a path that would create equitable inclusive and integrated schools.” 

The changes will affect the  2023–2024 enrollment cycle.