Fall 2015: Applying to Academic Centers and Intl Gifted Programs

Academic Center V2 10_2_2015

As a quick review, Academic Centers are for 7-8th grade (apply in 6th grade.)  Entry into an AC guarantees you a high school spot in that school (and you can still apply to other schools for high school if you wish.) Students can earn up to 8 HS credits while in an AC.

International Gifted Programs are for grades 6-8 (apply in 5th grade.)  The program includes intensive study of English, French, social studies, laboratory science, mathematics, technology, arts, physical education, library science, and advanced research. The International Gifted Program is designed to allow intellectually able students to be schooled in their least restrictive environment and to mature at an accelerated pace.

Cutoff scores from last year:


Scoring Rubric:


October 2, 2015 at 11:59 pm 34 comments

Fall 2015: Applying to Kindergarten / Elementary School

School of the future

School of the future

Kindergarten/Elementary application time here!

Welcome! After the long wait from infanthood, it is now time to being charting the waters of CPS elementary school.  

Applying has never been easier, now that it’s all online.

You can apply for a PIN (needed for online enrollment) now.  It will be mailed to your home within a week.

Applications will be accepted starting October 1st.

Details are here and the OAE site now covers almost everything you need to know, very well organized:


When entering Kindergarten (and older grades as well) you have several options:

Neighborhood schools (also includes Magnet Cluster school, which are just neighborhood schools) – these are schools that admit kids from the neighborhood that surrounds a school.  Enrolling for your neighborhood school is easy: simple go to the school during late Spring to fill out the forms.  If you don’t want to attend your own neighborhood school, you can apply to other neighborhood schools that have room to spare.  This can only be done through the online application process.  Not every school has space, so it’s wise to fine some ‘up-and-coming’ schools that are growing and have seats to fill.  Or give your local school another look, with some other parents.   Building up parent interest is often a great way to build community and create/uncover a good local school.

Gifted and Classical schools – these schools require a test for entry.  For Kindergarten, the tests are given at the same time and kids are tested one-on-one.  For older grades, the kids test in a large group and the gifted and classical tests are on different days.   There is often debate about whether to apply early so your child gets and early test date (benefit: avoid blizzards, get it out of the way) or wait until the end of the application period to apply (benefit: kids may hit that magical reading breakthrough you’ve been waiting for.)  The test scores are normed by age, so it shouldn’t really matter when you do the testing.

Magnet schools – these admit kids via a lottery process.  People who live within 1.5 miles of a school get preference in a proximity lottery.  Others are also admitted, based on Socio-Economic Tier.

One factor that can influence your chance of selection at a school is your Socio-Economic Tier.  Your address determines your Tier (Tier 4, highest socio-economic level, Tier 1, lowest.) NOTE: the tiers for the current application process have not been update yet, so current Tier information may be out of date!!

These are explained here, very cleary by OAE:


From the Parent Dashboard after you have entered your PIN:

If you are applying to Selective Enrollment Elementary or High Schools, or any other high schools with admissions screenings, you will use a TWO-STEP process: (1) Schedule, THEN (2) Apply. BOTH of these steps must be completed by the December 11th deadline or your child will not be considered for the Selective Enrollment schools of your choice.

September 27, 2015 at 10:06 am 115 comments

Hidden Gems High School Fair Sunday Sept 27 at Lake View High School 1-4pm

Late posting, but the Hidden Gems fair is tomorrow.  This is a great (overwhelming) place to meet many of the high school options for (CPSO mantra…say it with me now…) Casting a Wide Net!

Public, private, parochial, charter and even a boarding school will be there!
I was able to have some great one on one conversations with principals there in the past.
A few test prep places and other vendors will be there.  Eat a big breakfast, it takes a lot of energy to navigate due to such widespread school attendance.

“Hidden Gems” High School Fair

Sunday, September 27, 2015

1:00-4:00 PM

Lake View High School, 4015 N. Ashland, 60613

Register Now!

Admission is only $15/family with pre-registration

($25/family at the door)

Need-based vouchers are available upon request.

Pre-registrants are eligible to win raffle prizes.  All attendees receive discounts on CSG Services.

Knowing how to cast your net wide and increase your options is KEY to a successful Chicago high school search. Join Chicago School GPS as we bring together over 30 participating schools, each with unique qualities that you may not have known about prior to coming to our Hidden Gems Fair.  PLUS, learn how to maximize success for entrance testing, search tips and great grades in high school by partaking in one of our many informative breakout sessions.   Join us for afternoon designed to make your high school journey a successful one!

Our invaluable break out sessions offer insights for parents and students alike.

 Middle School Parents and Students can learn:

  • Navigating the high school admissions process

  • Entrance test tips & strategies

  • Private school scholarships

  • Planning for success in High School & beyond

Middle School Students can attend:

  • Peer to peer info session Q&A with current HS students

  • Admission essay “how-to” session for middle schoolers

  • “Getting Ahead!”: Executive Functioning skills for success

September 26, 2015 at 5:57 pm 6 comments

Fall 2015 Selective Enrollment High School Open House Schedule

Look at those cars!

Look at those cars!

The open house schedule is posted.  I have them grouped by weekend.  I know these schools get long lines of applicants.  Is there any policy about bringing 7th graders?  I’d like my kid to get a sense of what this is all about (possibly as study motivation.)   It’s hard to get a kid excited about a conceptual school, ya know?

The official CPS link to it is here, if you want a nice printable version.


Selective Enrollment High School Open Houses

Open House Events for 2016-2017 School Year


Jones College Prep High School
606 S. State St.
Saturday, October 17, 2015 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Young Magnet High School
211 S. Laflin St.
Sunday, October 18, 2015 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.


Hancock College Prep High School
4034 W. 56th St.
Saturday, October 24, 2015 9 a.m. to 12 noon


King College Prep High School
4445 S. Drexel Blvd.
Saturday, October 31, 2015 9 a.m. to 12 noon

Lane Tech High School
2501 W. Addison St.
Sunday, November 1, 2015 12 noon to 3 p.m.


South Shore International High School
1955 E. 75th St.
Saturday, November 7, 2015 10 a.m. to 12 noon

Westinghouse High School
3223 W. Franklin Blvd.
Saturday, November 7, 2015 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Lindblom Math & Science Academy
6130 S. Wolcott St.
Sunday, November 8, 2015 10 a.m. to 12 noon

Northside College Prep High School
5501 N. Kedzie Ave.
Sunday, November 8, 2015 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.


Brooks College Prep High School
250 E. 111th St.
Saturday, November 14, 2015 12-3pm

Payton College Prep High School
1034 N. Wells Ave.
Saturday, November 14, 2015 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

SEHS Test dates

The Selective Enrollment High Schools admissions exam will be offered on the following dates for the 2016-2017 school year:

November 14, 2015* Early scores before app deadline
November 21, 2015* Early scores before app deadline
December 12, 2015
January 23, 2016
January 30, 2016
*Students who take the test in November 2015 will receive their test results and final point scores prior to the December 11th application deadline. (CPSO note: this allows your child greater understanding of their scoring “position” before they rank their schools and can help set expectations earlier in the process.)
The test will be offered at four sites:  King College Preparatory High School, Lane Tech High School, Lindblom Math and Science Academy, and Young Magnet High School

MAP Test dates for non-CPS Students:

CPS will continue to use the Northwestern Evaluation Association Measures of Academic Progress (NWEA MAP) as the uniform assessment for all students applying to CPS programs with academic requirements for the 2016-2017 school year.  (To receive updates about the application process for the 2017-2018 school year, click here.)

For students who do not currently attend a CPS school but intend to apply to grades 5-9 for CPS schools/programs with academic requirements, the NWEA MAP will be offered free of charge. The NWEA MAP is used by CPS to determine eligibility for selective enrollment elementary and high schools and other high schools with academic requirements, including college and career selective academies, International Baccalaureate high schools, magnet high schools and military academies.

For non-CPS students who registered for the test by September 11th, the test will be administered on Oct. 17, 18, 24, and 25, 2015.  There will be one additional test date in January 2016 for students who register for the NWEA exam, or you registered after September 11, 2015. Click here to download and print the paper registration form and FAQs regarding the process. For more information, click here.

IMPORTANT!  In addition to submitting the NWEA registration form, students who test in January MUST submit paper applications before the Dec. 11, 2015, deadline for the schools of their choice. Paper applications can be accessed here, beginning October 1, 2015, at 9 a.m.

After your child takes the second NWEA exam, the Office of Access and Enrollment will contact you on January 22, 2016, via email and robocall, to inform you whether or not your child is eligible to apply to the programs with admissions requirements. (Your child’s NWEA scores will be mailed to you in February 2016.)

CPS High School Guidebook:


September 9, 2015 at 10:21 pm 199 comments

CPS Bussing. C’mon get happy.


I figured that since bussing creates a substantial amount of angst every year and people can benefit from sharing pointers, I’d start a Fall 2015 bus thread.

For those who are new to CPS bussing, it typically takes weeks (and sometimes lots of parent organization) to work out the bus schedules.   I haven’t seen any complaints on Facebook yet today.  Maybe this is the year it all magically resolves and works like clockwork.  I hope so!

I understand that some kids have been re-assigned to new pickup locations for consolidation which is also likely to complicate things.

Good luck to everyone riding the bus!

September 8, 2015 at 8:09 pm 30 comments

College Thread – Tuition and Essays

Cat writing college essay

Cat writing college essay

I travelled this past weekend, to a wonderful music festival in Athens, Ohio, home of Ohio University.  The festival was great – smallish, laid back, no drunken Lollapolloza-style idiots, lots of different music.

The town is a great college town: picturesque scenery, small downtownish college town (like a small scale Madison) and modern educational facilities.  Apparently the school has beehttp://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/23/your-money/essays-about-work-and-class-that-caught-a-colleges-eye.html

n known for a long time as a top party school, with maybe a mid-tier academic reputation (certain majors are more respected, as with every school.)   I’ve read that the acceptance rate is 73% so I figured it could make a good backup school for my son someday as I really liked the vibe of the town.

Out of state tuition with room an board:  $32K

In-state: $23K

Ouch!  I honestly don’t understand the pricing structure of

colleges these days.  It feels so out of control.  U of I isn’t much more than this school but it’s much more difficult to get into and the reputation is fairly better I believe.   Of course it’s also depressing to think about how much we have to save for this, assuming we pay for my son’s entire undergrad efforts.

On another college topic, I saw this NYT article last week about top essays for college, a topic we’ve discussed before.  I haven’t read them yet, but this article publishes some essays that really caught the eye of the admissions folks.


If you don’t read the article, here is an insightful excerpt:

June 2, 2015 at 10:24 pm 222 comments

What’s New – Me and BBB

Hi there.  Just a few updates on me and CPS.

Thanks to everyone who asked about my mom or shared their own experiences.  She is back home (after experiencing a cerebral abscess (aka brain infection)) that left her with limited mobility and some limit to mental functioning.  She’s coming back slowing.  I guess older brains take longer to heal, but there are some good signs.  I have a caretaker nearly all the time, and luckily happened upon a good lady who takes care of her during the day, who also is a manic cleaning lady, so my house has never been more immaculate or my bedding as frequently washed.

In tech news, you will no longer see “sent from my Blackberry” at the end of all my comments, as I have now officially switched to an iPhone.  I also officially hate typing on it so I’m trying to get back into the swing of things with commenting and figuring out how best to use WordPress on the iPhone.  I now understand why you have complained about the posts with 1000+ comments.  The scrolling is a major drag, so I will take that into account.   I had been responding to comments via email which was pretty easy.

Some Chicago news, if you didn’t notice, the CPS District 299 blog has been retired, as the host, Alex, has been living outside the city for many years now.

And finally, speaking of “living outside the city,” I figured we can discuss Barbara Byrd Bennet for a bit.

I see in a Trib editorial that the mayor gave only a 2 sentence announcement on Sunday night about her resignation.  The Trib is calling on more accountability on the part of Rahm as to how the SUPES no-bid contract got approved.


“The mayor owes everyone a beginning-to-end explanation of how this contract was cooked up and passed. Because it was his CEO. It is his school board. And it is his scandal.”

Any thoughts?

June 1, 2015 at 8:54 pm 42 comments

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