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Posted Date: 11/29/2022
Norwalk Public Schools is excited to announce the launch of Middle School Choice for the 2023-2024 school year. All incoming sixth graders will have the opportunity to choose from our 10 amazing middle school programs to enhance their education, to pursue their passions and to further explore their interests.
Middle School Choice will allow students to choose…
… regardless of where they live in Norwalk.
We can’t wait to see which Middle School Choice programs our students choose to pursue to enrich their education over the next three years.
What is Middle School Choice?
Middle School Choice is an opportunity for students entering Norwalk’s middle schools to choose a choice program that closely fits their interests. Each program will allow students to explore further their interests and help them decide what they want to pursue in high school.
Students may want to enhance their middle school education with a further exploration of the arts, marine science, STEAM, Japanese or Chinese cultures, or dual-language learning. Others may want to engage in the Bank Street School model or the International Baccalaureate program.
Families who choose not to participate in Middle School Choice, their child will be GUARANTEED a spot in their feeder/neighborhood school. Students will be encouraged to speak with their teachers, school counselors and families about the choice programs and if they want to apply for one of the programs.
Each school will provide students with a typical middle school experience enhanced by their Middle School Choice program opportunities.
Why is NPS transitioning to Middle School Choice?
Norwalk Public Schools wants to give students more options for their learning experience that are not limited to the neighborhood where they live. A lottery system will create an equitable system, ensuring each student has a chance to pursue their passion at the middle school best suited to provide that learning opportunity.
The initiatives of Pathway programs are:
But if a family chooses not to participate in Middle School Choice, their child will be GUARANTEED a spot in their feeder/neighborhood school. Students at all middle schools will receive the same core instruction and will be tested based on the same standards across the district.
Transportation will no longer be a barrier for students either. The district will provide transportation to all incoming sixth grade students regardless of where their choice program is located while still abiding by the state’s school transportation requirements.
How can I learn more about Middle School Choice?
To learn more about each middle school’s choice programs, click to watch the Middle School Choice Showcase Videos.
Please contact your child’s school counselor if you need assistance with the application process or have further questions.
More information will be available on the NPS website and posted frequently on the NPS social media channels.
Which students will be part of Middle School Choice?
Students entering sixth grade in fall 2023 who wish to apply for a choice program outside their feeder/neighborhood school will enter the lottery for Middle School Choice programs, ranking their top choices.
When will Middle School Choice take effect?
The first class of students to participate in Middle School Choice will be those entering sixth grade in fall 2023.
Do current middle school students get to participate in Middle School Choice?
No. Middle School Choice will begin with the students entering sixth grade in fall 2023.
How does the Middle School Choice lottery process work?
If students are interested in a program that is not in their feeder/neighborhood middle school, they will have the opportunity to enter a centralized lottery for available seats in their program of interest.
Parents log into the lottery system where they can apply to multiple programs.
An algorithm based on prioritization set by the district randomly selects students for each program. Our lottery will be weighted for sibling preference. Once the lottery has been run, the acceptance list is generated and the wait list is generated as well. Parents are notified by email to the application status as well as acceptance into each program.
Throughout the application process, school counselors will be available to assist families with their selection. The NPS Family Center will also have representatives available to help families with the process.
The middle school choice process will mirror our current high school process.
What is the Middle School Choice lottery system?
The system is an online lottery system managed centrally, connected to PowerSchool. Once students enter the lottery, a formula will randomly generate accepted students and waitlists for each choice program.
NOTE: If a student is accepted into a program in middle school, this is not a guarantee of acceptance to the equivalent high school program.
What is the timeline for Middle School Choice?
Guidance counselors at each elementary school met with the fifth-grade classrooms and led information sessions for the students between Oct. 24 and 28. Counselors will conduct 1-on-1 meetings with parents to complete the Middle School Choice forms between Nov. 7 and 23.
The Middle School Choice lottery drawing will take place on Wednesday, Dec. 14.
What is currently in place for families who want their children to attend a middle school that is not their feeder/neighborhood school?
Norwalk Public Schools has an intra-district transfer process. This allows families to choose a different school but is dependent on availability and transportation provided by the family.
What should I consider for my child when choosing a Middle School Choice program?
Families should first consider their child’s interest and what they want to learn about more. Location may also be a consideration.
Each Middle School Choice program will offer students a regular middle school experience enhanced by their programs of choice.
Is Middle School Choice redistricting the schools?
No. NPS is giving families the option to choose a choice program that will enhance their child's middle school experience and may not be available at their family's feeder/neighborhood school.
When did Norwalk Public Schools decided to implement the Middle School Choice program?
The Norwalk Board of Education approved the Middle School Choice program at it's regular business meeting on March 15, 2022. Presentations on the Middle School Choice programs and a transportation study related to the change were given during the board workshop on March 1, 2022.
Pathways and themes for different schools were decided as far back as 1995 when Roton Middle School added Japanese (CMS adopted the Bank Street Model in 1980). The pathways and themes were decided through conversations with school leadership, School Governance Councils and Parent-Teacher Associations.
What are the Middle School Choice programs?
There are 10 Middle School Choice programs currently available across the five Norwalk middle schools.
How many students will each Middle School Choice program accept?
The numbers of spots available for each Middle School Choice program will be based on school capacity and program capacity.
Will the curriculum differ between each Middle School Choice program?
No. The core instruction and standards will be the same at each middle school. All students will take the core subjects including math, science, social studies, and English and language arts.
Each grade level uses a consistent curriculum. The professional learning provided to teachers is the same across the district. The expectation of supervision and support from the administration is the same. Every student will take the same interim assessments that are standards based.
Why doesn’t each middle school offer the same Middle School Choice programs?
Each school identified their own themes and developed their Middle School Choice programs based on what they wanted to offer students at their school.
What if my child requires special services or supports, do they need to choose a particular school?
No. All student services will be met for the child based on their IEP, 504, or MLL requirements at all middle schools. Norwalk Public Schools provides specialized programs for certain identified students. Placement in these specialized programs is the decision of the PPT and could change school placement.
What if we want our child to attend the middle school closest to our home?
Families that choose not to participate in Middle School Choice will be GUARANTEED a seat at their feeder/neighborhood school.
Can a younger sibling attend the same middle school as their older sibling?
Priority will be given to students who wish to attend the same middle school as an older sibling(s) during the same school year. A younger sibling can also choose to apply to a different Middle School Choice program separate from the school of their older sibling.
Can my child switch programs during middle school?
Yes, but only after completing the school year. Families who wish to change their choice program can contact the NPS Family Center and asked to be placed on the waitlist of another choice program for the following school year.
Our family is new to the district and we missed the Middle School Choice lottery. Can we choose which school we want our child to attend?
No. When a new family arrives in the Norwalk school district, they will go to the NPS Family Center to enroll their child in school. At that time, the child will be placed in their feeder/neighborhood school. They can choose to add their child to a waitlist of one of the choice programs for the following school year.
Will transportation be provided for students outside the zone of their preferred choice program?
Transportation is provided for students that are eligible. Students are ineligible if they live within 1.5 miles of the school they will be attending.
Bus stops will be scheduled based on enrollment and eligibility, and students may be required to travel a further distance to bus stops than they would previously (as compared to the elementary routes) in order to establish efficiently scheduled routes that ensure students arrive at school on time.
My child plans to stay in the feeder pattern for Roton Middle School. Does my child need to test to get into the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program? Is a pathway required at Roton?
Students do not need to test to get into the I.B. Middle Years program. For more information about the I.B. Middle Years program, click this link: https://www.ibo.org/programmes/middle-years-programme/
Students must choose one pathway. If they don’t want to participate in the Global Studies program, families will need to choose the I.B. program when consulting with their child’s school counselor.
Roton Middle School in collaboration with the SGC selected to become an I.B. For All school. The courses will follow the same curricula as every other middle school but with the I.B. methodology.
My child attends Silvermine school. We live outside of Silvermine and were awarded a seat via lottery. Will my child be guaranteed a spot at West Rocks even though West Rocks is not our neighborhood Middle School? And, will my child be guaranteed a spot within the Dual Language Pathway at West Rocks should they want to continue their Dual Language immersion?
Regardless of your neighborhood because your child is attending Silvermine, your child is eligible to attend Silvermine's feeder middle school, West Rocks. If they attend West Rocks, they will also be eligible to attend West Rock's feeder higher school, Norwalk High. They will also be guaranteed a spot in West Rock's Dual Language Pathway, but have the option to opt-in to another Pathway as well. You will receive transportation to West Rocks in accordance with state transportation guidelines.
Alternatively, because you live outside of the Silvermine district, if you would like to return to your neighborhood elementary school's feeder middle school, you are guaranteed a spot there as well because of where you live.
I live in the Cranbury section of town. My child attends CMS elementary. Will my child be guaranteed a spot at CMS Middle School and a spot at CMS's feeder high school, Brien McMahon?
Yes, you are guaranteed a spot at CMS Middle School as it's the feeder middle school for CMS elementary. If you attend, you're also guaranteed a spot at McMahon, CMS's feeder high school. You will continue to receive transportation through 8th grade in light of CMS's K-8 magnet status. You will receive transportation to Brien McMahon.
Since you would have attended Cranbury, if you didn’t participate in the choice process, you're also guaranteed a spot at West Rocks middle school and Norwalk High School.
We live in South Norwalk. My child is in 3rd grade and is attending Wolfpit via an intra-district transfer. Is my child guaranteed a spot with her peers in Nathan Hale?
Yes, because Nathan Hale is the feeder school for Wolfpit and because your child attended Wolfpit, they are guaranteed a spot at Nathan Hale and subsequently, Norwalk High. You will have to continue to provide your own transportation as an intra-district transfer student unless you decide to enter the Choice Lottery in 6th and 9th grade and are placed in these schools via Choice (versus through the feeder system). If you enter these schools via the Choice Lottery, you will receive transportation. At this time, we do not have the budget or traffic studies that allow us to extend transportation to both Choice and Intra-district transfers.
Alternatively, your child may return to their neighborhood school at any time and/or in 6th and 9th grade apply to "Choice" into ANY district school with seats available. If you decide to enter the "Choice" lottery for a school outside your neighborhood school, you'll need to complete the school year at that school. This is because resources are assigned at the school level and a significant number of mid-year transfers disrupt staffing assignments.
Why isn't my child guaranteed to be able to continue a pathway started in Middle school if it's offered in the High School they are attending?
We are providing preference to specific programs (Marine Science, Global Studies, Arts, IB).
We live in the Wolfpit section. My child is in 7th grade and is attending Roton via an intra-district transfer. Is my child guaranteed a spot with her cohorts at Brien McMahon?
Yes, they are guaranteed a spot at Roton and subsequently, Brien McMahon. Alternatively, they may return to their neighborhood schools at any time (unless they enter a school via the Choice lottery in 6th or 9th grade. Students who access a school through the Choice lottery must complete the school year at that school. This is because resources are assigned at the school level and a significant number of mid-year transfers disrupt staffing assignments).
You will be given preference in either Norwalk High's or Brien McMahon's IB pathways.