Posts filed under ‘High school’

Comparing SEHS Admission Systems in Chicago, NYC, and Boston


Chart Source: Gotham Gazette, Map Source: Princeton University Press


This interesting article in the Gotham Gazette compared the selective enrollment entry systems of NYC, Boston, and Chicago and the resulting racial balance of students within those schools.

Of the three, NYC SEHSs are the least racial balanced to population due to their one-score entry process.  Chicago is considered the best balanced (only one to use the Tier system.)  The article also points out that we have the most SE highs schools (and the highest % of students enrolled in SEHSs.)  Boston has only 3 SEHSs and is pretty well balanced, despite the lack of using race/socio-economic status.  Perhaps having fewer schools impacts this in some way?

About NYC:

The city admit students to their selective high schools via a one-test-score system.  No Tiers, no grades, no standardized test.  It all comes down to how well you do that one day on that one test.

This article points out: “Tweaking the exam is about all the power that the City can exercise over the admissions policy to its specialized high schools. The test-only mandate for entry has been enshrined in state law since 1972. De Blasio, though, spoke about altering the admissions process to these schools as a mayoral candidate and has followed up similarly since taking office. He has expressed a belief that a single multiple choice test can not adequately measure a young person’s potential and a vision for more diverse student bodies at these elite schools.”

We’ve discussed Stuyvesant HS in NYC before, which has a very high percentage of Asian students (something like 70%?!?).  According to this chart, Asian students dominate the entire NYC selective high school system, comprising 60% of students vs. 15% of the population.  Impressive!  Conversely, Af-Am and Hispanic students are getting very few SEHS seats in NYC.   I’d be curious to see how racial makeup would look in Chicago if we just used the one admission test.

The article has a very good/simple/accurate description of the progress of the admission system in Chicago.  If you’ve ever wondered about that, check out the link.

November 22, 2014 at 10:08 am 98 comments

Fall 2014: Applying to High School

SEHS Open House Dates 2014

Use this thread to ask questions, post news about open houses (any type of high school) and share testing info.

I’ll try to get more open house dates from the other (non-SEHS high schools) to post.

In the meantime, SEHS Open House dates are above.

Man, that can take up a LOT of time!  Choosing the early test option (that allows your child to know their score early) can help make the touring process more efficient as you may be able to eliminate certain schools from your repertoire (and may want to include others to widen your net.)

Which reminds of me of the CPSObsessed reader High School Mantra:  CAST A WIDE NET

September 28, 2014 at 10:50 am 650 comments

Hidden Gems High School Fair Sept 28th

That time of year is coming up… the time to start lookin’ at schools!  Yeah!

I don’t know what’s better than a fair with rides and corndogs, than a school fair with tables, flyers, and Principals!

Truly though, these school fairs are a great way to meet a lot of the leaders of some of the “off the radar” high schools.

Anyone who has read this blog for a while knows that the key theme for parents when applying to high schools is “cast a wide net.”  That net will feel much more strategic and comfortable if you really get to know some of the high school options in the city.  I had a lot of great one on one conversations there last year.  The list ranges from neighborhood high schools to private, so take you pick.

I have more high school open house info, as soon as I get organized and find it.  If you know of other events parents should know about to tour the high schools, feel free to post in the comments.


“Hidden Gems” Chicago High School Fair presented by Chicago School GPS

Sunday, September 28, 2014 @ 2-5 p.m.

St. Benedict College Preparatory High School, 3900 N. Leavitt (enter on Bell, south of Irving Park Road)

RSVP online for reduced admission and a chance to win raffle prizes

Join Chicago School GPS at our 3rd Annual Hidden Gems High School Fair where we will introduce you to “hidden gem” public and private Chicago high school options.  This event is geared to middle school parents and students.  In addition to hearing from “hidden gem” high schools in a forum setting, parents can attend planned seminars on:

  • High school admissions process

  • Private school scholarships

  • Executive functioning for middle schoolers

  • “Mini boot camp” on entrance essays

  • Entrance test strategies, and

  • Peer to peer info sessions for middle schoolers.

Come learn how to “widen your net” and find multiple Chicago high schools to meet your family’s needs!

Participating Schools include public, charter, independent, parochial, and boarding schools.  The list so far:
St. Benedict’s Prep
Beacon Academy
Wolcott School
Chicago Academy for the Arts
Intrinsic School
Chicago Hope Academy
Chicago HS for the Arts(ChiArts)
Harbridge College Prep Academy
Westinghouse College Prep
DePaul College Prep (Gordon Tech)
Disney II Magnet
Resurrection College Prep
Alcott College Prep
Chicago Waldorf School
Rickover Naval Academy
Global Citizenship Experience
Senn High School
Luther North
GEMS World Academy
St. Patrick High School
Willows Academy
Lake View High School
Chicago Virtual Charter School
La Lumiere School
De La Salle Institute
British School of Chicago
Amundsen High School
Notre Dame for Girls
Noble Network
Scattergood Friends School
Von Steuben (Scholars)
Notre Dame College Prep



September 10, 2014 at 8:08 pm 111 comments

Local Enrollment for Neighborhood High Schools

Thanks to HSObsessed for passing on WBEZ’s Tweet with this interesting data on the % of students at each neighborhood high school who live within the school’s boundaries.

I’ve included those with 1000 students or more and highlighted those with high and low local enrollment.  As HSO points out, on the north side, LVHS and Amundsen have a very low share of local students, while Senn seems to be attracting the neighborhood families (despite having selective programs (IB and arts.))

I think this is also interesting given the “sorting” article we just discussed.  that even aside from the SEHS, there is sorting going on.  Lots of kids are travelling out of their own neighborhoods to other high schools, meaning a neighborhood HS is not a neighborhood HS in the eyes of many Chicago families.  There is some kind of motivation to seek out a different (better) option.


cps hs 1

July 19, 2014 at 11:27 pm 389 comments

WTTW Digital Series on Selective Enrollment High School Admission – 5 students


I’ve been meaning to post this for a while – WTTW has done a nice web series on the SE enrollment process, following 5 kids from different elementary schools through the process.   The episodes are a nice length – 15-18 minutes each, so it’s easy viewing.

The episodes are also on YouTube

Most of us know about the process already so that part won’t be as newsworthy, but the fascinating part is getting a glimpse at some of these schools (both elementary and high school.)  I’ve noted a few episodes that are particularly interesting and some quotes/thoughts on them.  This was really my first time seeing the Disney pods! charter schools, a turnaround school, and some of the SE High schools.

Episode 2 highlights the 5 students’ elementary schools:

Wilmette Junior High: “Every single kid in our class is a masterpiece.”

UNO (Charter:) “There’s a strong expectation of behavioral compliance.”

Disney (Magnet:) “You have 7 classrooms in a pod, without any walls. It’s essentially an open space.” (See the principal and the open spaces)

Marquette School of Excellence (AUSL/Turnaround:) We are in a very data-driven mindset because we want the students to grow. But data doesn’t just come from test scores, it comes from natural observation too.”

District 149 STEM, Calumet City – 1 building with 3 “small schools” within it: “What I want to do is make you the most employable kids in the country.”

Episode 6 shows several high school options (could be a great preview for 8th graders to understand what to expect a bit on the tours)

Lane Tech


Whitney Young

New Trier


Golder College Prep (Noble Charter)

Episode 7 is about the administration at the elementary schools:

AUSL – Teachers have an open door policy for observation, teachers share feedback with each other to help each other improve, share best practice

UNO – I’m sorry, I can’t get past the principal phrasing everything like it’s a question?

Wilmette Junior High – just skip past the stuff about their arts program and new science lab or you’ll cry

Disney – Arts CPS-style, looks fun

STEM Cal City – The superintendent discusses Urban Prep wanting to open a charter in the district


I haven’t watched through the end yet to see what happens with the kids.  If you comment, please remember that these are real kids/families, so no judgy comments about them.

July 6, 2014 at 10:51 pm 46 comments

Shift in Racial Demos at 4 Selective Enrollment High Schools

Interesting article in the Sun Times today. Thanks to those who sent me links.

Now that CPS cannot balance these schools by race, but rather are using socio economic factors as the balancing tool, White and Hispanic students are getting more seats.


See original link for some nice charts:

I can’t copy the charts, but they show the shifts by race at PaNJY (did I get that acronym right?) Payton/Northside/Jones/Young.

It’s intereseting the Payton is the most white-dominant school of these 4 and has grown increasingly Whiter since the end of the consent decree.

WYoung is the most diverse.

Jones is almost equal on White and Hispanic students.

Northside continues to have few Black students.


More white students are walking the halls at Chicago’s top four public high schools.

At Walter Payton College Prep on the Near North Side, more than 41 percent of freshmen admitted the past four years have been white, compared to 29 percent in 2009, a Chicago Sun-Times analysis of Chicago Public Schools data has found.

At Jones College Prep in the South Loop, 38 percent of this year’s freshman class is white, compared to 29 percent four years ago.

In 2010 — the first year race was no longer used to determine the makeup of Chicago schools — the percentage of white freshmen at Northside College Prep in North Park rose from 37 percent to 48 percent.

And at Whitney Young College Prep on the Near West Side, the percentage of black freshmen has steadily declined in the past three years, while the percentage of whites has risen.

The increase in the number of white students fulfills the predictions of education observers that minority students would be edged out of slots at the city’s top schools as a result of a 2009 ruling by U.S. District Judge Charles P. Kocoras lifting a 1980 consent decree that had required Chicago’s schools to be desegregated, with no school being more than 35 percent white.

“We saw that coming in 2009,” says Julie Woestehoff, executive director of the group Parents United for Responsible Education.

As things now stand, Woestehoff says, “I consider these schools to be gated communities for children of privilege.”

Since Kocoras lifted the desegregation order, CPS has built a new, bigger campus for Jones, allowing the school to increase its freshmen class by more than 100 students this year.

And Mayor Rahm Emanuel has announced plans to expand Payton and to build a new selective-enrollment high school on the North Side, to be named for President Barack Obama, that’s set to open in 2017 and eventually will have 1,200 students — all in an effort to keep middle-class families in Chicago.

“Isn’t it interesting that, when the system was based on race, there weren’t as many slots,” Woestehoff says. “I think it would be really great to see these North Side institutions provide more opportunities for black and Hispanic kids.”

The Chicago school system now has 10 “selective-enrollment” high schools. Students are admitted to these based on their standardized test results, admissions test scores and grades, as well as on socioeconomic criteria. Five of the schools — Brooks, King, Lindblom, South Shore and Westinghouse, all on the South Side and the West Side — see few applications from whites and have virtually no white students.

Instead, when white students apply for admission to a selective-enrollment high school, they often target Northside, Payton, Jones and Whitney Young, the highest-ranking schools in Chicago in terms of test scores and also among the tops in the state. They also apply to Lane Tech, the city’s No. 5-ranked high school, where the number of white students has held relatively steady, at 30 percent, the past six years.

“The district values diversity and, as such, strives to find a balance and create socioeconomic diversity in the schools,” CPS spokesman Joel Hood says. “We feel we’ve struck a good balance, as the schools are more successful than ever, and demand for seats is ever-increasing.”

Thirty percent of the seats at each selective-enrollment high school go to the students with the highest scores, school officials say.

The other 70 percent are chosen based on their test scores — as well as a formula that CPS created to divide the city into four “tiers” based on the census tracts where students live.

Each tier includes about 109,000 students. The tiers are recalculated every year based on five socioeconomic benchmarks: median household income, adult education levels and the percentages of single-parent households, owner-occupied homes and non-English speakers.

The system is supposed to make it easier for students from lower-income families to find a spot in a selective-enrollment high school. So, on average, students from the higher tiers must have better scores than those in the lower tiers.

The system doesn’t always fulfill its goal, though, of placing lower-income students on a more-level playing field with students from richer families, the Sun-Times analysis found. In some cases, students from lower-income areas are in the same tier with students from the city’s wealthiest areas.

Here is a breakdown of the four tiers CPS is using to admit freshmen in the coming school year:

• Tier 4 includes the Gold Coast, the city’s richest census tract, where median household income is $304,666. It also includes homes near 95th and Halsted on the South Side, where the median income is $42,112.

• Tier 3 includes 13 census tracts in which median-income levels top $100,000. The richest is in Lincoln Park around Fullerton and Clark, where median income is $191,181. The lowest median income in this tier is $25,150 for a part of Edgewater, also on the North Side.

• Tier 2 includes a Little Italy census tract in which the median income is $79,181 and a section of Englewood where it’s $13,742.

• Tier 1 includes a section of Little Village where the median income is $47,244 and an area around 26th and State, where it’s $10,289.

Chicago school officials have drawn criticism in the past for denying admission to hundreds of students with top admission scores while admitting lower-performing students recommended by politicians and others with clout.

Even with the tier system, school administrators can admit a student with a lower score — for example, an athlete or someone with a disability.

The Sun-Times examination of top admission choices by incoming freshman — the schools they wanted to attend most — found that:

• Last year at Northside, 118 Tier 4 freshman who had scores between 900 — the highest possible score — and 816 were selected for enrollment, according to the CPS data. Another 208 Tier 4 applicants with scores higher than 816 were rejected — including one student whose score was 890.

• Lane selected 205 Tier 4 applicants, whose scores ranged between 900 and 586, while rejecting 664 Tier 4 students who had scores between 830 and 586.

• Young picked 74 Tier 3 freshman who made Young their No. 1 choice, with scores between 900 and 565, while rejecting 442 Tier 3 kids with scores between 859 and 565.

CPS officials say 650 generally is the cutoff for admission to the selective-enrollment high schools.

Contributing: Art Golab, Max Rust

April 28, 2014 at 5:05 pm 420 comments

New Selective Enrollment High School opening



What’s that? A new SEHS in Chicago?!

Well, lookee here – some interesting news out of CPS.

Obama Selective Enrollment High school will open the year my son is a freshman.

What do you guys think of this?


A new selective enrollment high school named after President Barack Obama will be built near the former site of the Cabrini-Green public housing complex, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced today.

The new high school, near the intersection of Division and Halsted streets, will open in fall 2017 with a freshman class of 300 students, and will add more students in following years, according to a release from the mayor’s office.

The school will ultimately have 1,200 students, the release said.

About 70 percent of the seats will be available to students through the selective enrollment process. The school will establish a neighborhood preference to fill the remaining seats, according to the release.

April 24, 2014 at 2:28 pm 292 comments

Older Posts

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,166 other followers



Get up to the minute obsessive updates on Twitter

Blog Stats

  • 4,154,903 hits


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,166 other followers