This is only the third week of the school year, but already, tens of thousands of city students, and their parents, are thinking about next September.

"For middle and high school, this is the application season." 

All eighth graders in the city have to apply to high school. There are 600 to choose from. And In many parts of the city, fifth graders are required to apply to local public middle schools.

But this year, students are missing critical information: how they performed on the statewide English and math exams given to third through eighth graders last spring.   

"A lot of schools look at your test scores, so if you don't know what your test scores are, you don't know what schools you can apply to," said Clara Hemphill, founder and editor of InsideSchools.

The test scores typically are released in July or August, but this year, the state Education Department said it needed more time for what it calls a "technical review" of the results. The exams were shortened last spring so students spent just four days being tested, down from six.  

Now state officials say it will be at least another week before the results come out, extending a delay that is most consequential for families in the city, where students have begun attending school open houses and admissions fairs to begin the application process. 

"In most of the state, and certainly most of the country, you just go to your neighborhood school. But in New York, there is a vast system of school choice, and a big part of the choice depends on your test scores." 

The City Education Department says schools have known since August how students did, but when pressed on why he didn't allow schools to share that information with parents, the city's chancellor said it was a deal made with the state. 

"The State of New York controls that information," Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza said. "It's an embargo. We're not going to violate the embargo."

Last year, just 40 percent of city students passed the state math exam and 38 percent passed the English exam. Those scores were released on August 22. The year before, the information was available July 29.