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Questions to Ask During the High School Application Process

October 20, 2021
K-12, Special Education

The high school application process can be intimidating for students and their families in New York City. It can be even more of a challenge for students with disabilities. Below is a list of some of the key questions you can ask in order to find the high school that will best support student learning and growth.

Supports Offered

  • What kinds of programs and services for students with disabilities (SWDs) does the school provide? 
  • How does the high school support your student’s specific disability? 
  • If a student has an IEP, how many students receive special education services at the school?
  • If a student has a 504 Plan, how does the school authorize and renew 504 plans?
  • How does support for SWDs change as students move from grade to grade? See “Life After High School” section below for more questions about supporting SWDs with their goals, interests, and needs after high school.
  • Does the school have specialists who support SWDs in particular subjects or skill areas, like study skills or work-readiness? If so, what are their specialty areas and how do they serve SWDs across grade levels? 
  • How do special education service providers communicate with families about student progress and support? 


  • Where do you want the student to attend school: close to home, in a different neighborhood, or in a different borough?
  • How will they get to and from school? How can the school support their commute? 
  • How is the school building physically accessible? Does it have elevators, railings, ramps, or other accessibility features the student needs? 
  • Is a school with a larger or smaller number of students right for them? 
  • How do the school administration and staff communicate with families? 
  • How can families participate in school life and planning? 
  • What volunteer opportunities are available to families at the school? 


  • Is there a special curriculum the student wants or requires?
  • How does the school prepare students for Regents exams?
  • How does the school help students complete major projects? 
  • Does the school have a system of extra help for classes, like teacher office hours or tutoring outside of class? 
  • How (and how often) does the school communicate with students and families around grades and class progress? 
  • Does the school post homework, major assignments, and class materials online? What online platform does the school use?  
  • How does the school help students understand their graduation options and their progress toward graduation?

Programs and Extracurriculars 

  • What sort of extracurricular activities does the student want to participate in? 
  • Does the school have clubs or programs that match the student’s interests? 
  • What internships and other work-based learning opportunities does the school have? How do they match your student’s interests? 
  • Is the school located in the same building as other schools? If so, does it share classes and afterschool programs?

Life After High School

  • What is the graduation rate for the school? For SWDs?
  • What types of programs, jobs, and schools do SWDs transition to after graduation?
  • How does the school help its students transition into life after high school?
  • How does the school support SWDs in understanding their disability and building their self-advocacy skills? 
  • How does the school support SWDs across grade levels in building skills for postsecondary education, work, and community living? 

There may be additional key questions to ask during the high school application process. Please call INCLUDEnyc’s Help Line to further discuss questions and topics relating to your student with a disability and the NYC high school application process.