Fall 2016: Applying to Kindergarten / Elementary School


Time to apply Kindergarten!  (or other elementary grades.)

The application period runs from Oct 3 – December 9 2016 for the 2017/18 school year.  If your child will be 5 by

CPS Office of Access and Enrollment has a nice new site that has all the information you’ll need to apply to Selective Elem programs, Magnets, and Neighborhood schools with open enrollment.


In BIG news this year, notification letters will be posted ONLINE (instead of by mail) if you apply online.

Also, the selective elem schools will still offer early testing.  If your child tests between November 1st and November 17th, you will receive your child’s test scores before the application deadline.  (And this gives you some knowledge of their scores as input for choosing/ranking your schools.)

If you like a lot of detailed information in one place, I found this power point deck to be very comprehensive:

CPS Elem Application Details

The open house schedule for Gifted and Classical programs are here:







October 2, 2016 at 10:52 pm 60 comments

Fall 2016: Applying to Academic Centers and Intl Gifted Program


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.  Lincoln Elem has the only program right now.

Admission for ACs is based on 5th grade test scores and grades + an admission test taken during 6th grade.

2016 Open House Dates

Brooks Academic Center 250 E. 111th St.
November 12, 2016 10:00 a.m. to 12 noon

Kenwood Academic Center 5015 S. Blackstone Ave.
November 6, 2016 12:00 noon to 2:00 p.m.

Lane Tech Academic Center 2501 W. Addison St.
October 30, 2016 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

Lincoln International Gifted Program 615 W. Kemper Pl.
November 9, 2016 9:00 a.m.

Lindblom Academic Center 6130 S. Wolcott St.
November 5, 2016 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Morgan Park Academic Center 1744 W. Pryor Ave.
November 5, 2016 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon.

Taft Academic Center 6530 W. Bryn Mawr Ave.
November 5, 2016 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Whitney Young Academic Center 211 S. Laflin St.
October 16, 2016 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon

October 2, 2016 at 10:15 pm 27 comments

High School Applications and Open Houses Fall 2016


Open house dates for SEHS schools have been posted below.  I’m working on adding other high schools and links to the list.  Feel free to let me know of any updates and I can add them here.


 Jones College Prep High School (SEHS)
606 S. State St.
SAT October 15, 2016 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
(last group admitted at 3 p.m.)

Whitney M. Young Magnet High School (SEHS)
211 S. Laflin St.
SUN October 16, 2016 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Hancock College Prep High School (SEHS)
4034 W. 56th St.
SUN October 23, 2016 9 a.m. to 12 noon

King College Prep High School (SEHS)
4445 S. Drexel Blvd.
SAT October 29, 2016 9 a.m. to 12 noon

Lane Tech High School (SEHS)
2501 W. Addison St.
SUN October 30, 2016 12 noon to 3 p.m.

Payton College Prep High School (SEHS)
1034 N. Wells Ave.
SAT November 5, 2016 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Westinghouse College Prep High School (SEHS)
3223 W. Franklin Blvd.
SAT November 5, 2016 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Lindblom Math & Science Academy (SEHS)
6130 S. Wolcott St.
SAT November 5, 2016 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Northside College Prep High School (SEHS)
5501 N. Kedzie Ave.
SUN November 6, 2016 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Brooks College Prep High School (SEHS)
250 E. 111th St.
SAT November 12, 2016 12 noon to 3 p.m.

South Shore International High School (SEHS) Not yet scheduled
1955 E. 75th St.



IB information sessions
List of IB programs here:



Magnet High Schools (High Schools with Magnet Programs follow)

Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences
3857 W. 111th St.

Clark Academic Preparatory High School
5101 W. Harrison St.

Curie Metropolitan High School
4959 S. Archer Ave.

Disney II High School
3900 N. Lawndale Ave.

RTC Medical Prep
2245 W. Jackson Blvd.

Von Steuben Metropolitan Science Center
5039 N. Kimball Ave.
Saturday, Nov 5, 2016 8 am Scholars Presentation& tour 10 & 11 am Magnet Science presentation and tour


Magnet Programs

Engineering – Harlan Community Academy High School
9652 S. Michigan Ave.

Lincoln Park High School
(“Magnet” programs include Performing Arts, Double Honors) – these programs have their own applications on the school web site
OPEN HOUSE SUN Oct 23 2:00 pm.
Simultaneous presentations on the 3 Magnet Programs at 2:45, 3:30, 4:15 (Perf Arts, Double Honors, IB)



Chi Arts (Chicago High School for the Arts) – apply online at the school site starting Oct 1
2714 W Augusta Blvd
Open houses, must reserve a spot: www.chiarts.org/apply/ backstage_pass/ . These workshops are encouraged but not required for audition. Oct 15, Nov 5, Dec 10

Fine and Performing Arts – Senn High School – apply via CPS as a Magnet school, then register via Senn for an audition
5900 N. Glenwood Ave.
Students can apply to BOTH IB and Fine Arts at Senn but will be accepted into oney ONE program

Lincoln Park performing arts program
2001 N. Orchard St.


Amundsen 5110 N Damen Ave Saturday, Nov 5, 2016 10am-1pm IB info session 10-11 am in the auditorium

Lake View 4015 N Ashland Ave  Saturday, Oct 29 2016 9am-12pm



September 18, 2016 at 2:16 pm 84 comments

Hidden Gems High School Fair Fall 2016

High school application is nigh.  I’ll be in the thick of it.   Wayyyy less stressed than I expected to be looking back 5 years or so.

Oct 3rd is the official start date of the high school application process.

In the spirit of the “cast a wide net” mantra of CPSObsessed here is info on the Chicago GPS Hidden Gems school fair.   Here you can meet staff from a wide range of Chicago high schools beyond the selective enrollments.

for Chicago School GPS’s  
“Hidden Gems” High School Fair

Sunday, September 25, 2016
1-4 p.m.

British School of Chicago, South Loop
161 W. 9th Street, Chicago


Admission is $25/family at the door. Receive $10 off via our online pre-registration discount. Pre-registration is not complete until payment is received.  
(Free vouchers are available for low-income families upon request via email).
We encourage you to bring your middle schooler so they can meet current high schoolers, learn essay writing tips & executive functioning strategies.

These are the public schools participating (as of 9/14) and there is also a range of private schools.   Link of schools here:  http://www.chischoolgps.com/CSG_HS_Fair_Participants.html

Intrinsic (charter)
Von Stueben
CICS (charter)
Disney II
Noble (charter)

A school fair is a great way to talk to a lot of schools in a short time.  It can be overwhelming, so if you attend with an 8th grader I’d suggest going in with a short list (ie public only, certain type of private, etc) rather than stopping at every single table.  ie, if you can’t afford the $26k/year tuition at the Chicago Academy of the Arts, keep your kid away from the table or they’ll get all excited about it from the brochure.

On the other hand, it’s encouraging to see the options that are out there.

If you’ve ever survived the extensive NPN elementary school fair, this’ll be a breeze.


Link to event is here:  http://www.chischoolgps.com/CSG_HS_Fair.html

Have fun and report back!

September 15, 2016 at 10:13 am 22 comments

Budget, Pensions, CTU – where is your head at right now?

Was talking with someone today about the CPS budget and potential CTU strike and whether people’s opinions on this matter have shifted at all over the past year.

On the one hand, I feel like Bernie helped drive some sympathy toward unions overall. He did for me, at least.

On the other hand, I think we’re all more acutely aware of the severe financial issues in CPS and the real impact of increased property taxes.   I was hit especially hard here (am still trying to fight it.)

To summarize, decades ago, CPS kicked the financial can down the road over and over, so to speak. To please the teachers (to make up for screwing them in other ways) the city promised a pension-pick up.  This made sense decades ago (kind of) but didn’t take into account inflation, teacher salaries, and longevity.

As a result, the pension burden has become massive.   It was promised.  Now we owe it.  But there’s not enough money.

This guy explains it very well:


Short of travelling through time and slapping silly the guys who got us into this mess, it’s difficult to find a way out that feels fair to everyone.

Now the teachers are threating to strike.   I’m unclear if it’s just for the pension or other elements of the contract too.

So what do you think? I know we’d rehashed this discussion every year.  But have your attitudes shifted at all?  Do you support the teachers and their strike?  If not, what is the solution?

September 12, 2016 at 2:31 pm 349 comments

Back to School Fall 2016


Welp, here we are.  On a bright note, more CPS schools are air-conditioned than ever before.  On the downside, we may face a strike this Fall.  Oh, and principals and teachers seem to be moving out of the city/system (hard to blame them.)

I will be embarking on the high school application year, which now seems less stressful than 7th grade did.  I feel exceedingly more comfortable about the HS options now than when I first started this blog 8 (!) years ago.

Feel free to share any first-week of school experiences.   Our/my main events have been:
-Homeroom/science teacher got plum job in Evanston last week and left unexpectedly
-Child finally gets a male homeroom teacher for the first time ever
-I signed up for the bus but didn’t receive any kind of notification about anything so I need to track that down
-Ongoing discussion of whether all school supplies must be taken at once or doled out over time
-I’m wondering if the lunch options will be better next year in High School so that I can finally stop packing lunches after 9 years
-I occasionally wonder if now that the stress of 7th grade is over, that I’ll somehow space out on getting the PIN and signing my son up for testing, etc. and somehow miss the HS application deadline
-Pondering the weirdness of kids being over-protected throughout childhood and then suddenly told they have to make their way to a giant high school on public transportation






September 6, 2016 at 11:33 pm 41 comments

Chicago Magazine’s Top Schools 2016

Chicago Mag

Wanted to share the lists from a new Chicago magazine piece that ranks CPS elem and high schools (also suburban rankings for those interested.)

The rankings take into account a mix of test scores, attendance, and 5-Essentials ratings (a very helpful resource to understand how parnets and teachers rate their school.)  https://cps.5-essentials.org/2015/

As we know, CPS’s selective schools typically top “ranking” lists due to taking the top-scoring students in the city.  This elementary list is a bit different because it uses MAP test growth rather than attainment.  This explains why some non-selective schools popped up on this list while Decatur and Edison are not on the list.  These schools may have also lost some points on the 5 Essentials rating (I cannot fully tell how Chicago Mag pulls the 5 Essentials number for its rating.)

In any case, as with any ranking list, it’s not about the fine details of who is better than who, but rather to help parents look at options they many not have considered.  The lists may shine light on some schools that are doing good things but aren’t necessarily “on the radar” for everyone.

Here’s the link with full info:


ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS (does not include charters)

  1. Skinner West (S) – Near West Side
  2. Wildwood IB World Magnet School – Forest Glen
  3. Blaine – Lake View
  4. Dixon – Chatham
  5. Hawthorne – Lake View
  6. Skinner North (S) – Near North Side
  7. McDade Classical (S) – Chatham
  8. Healy – Bridgeport
  9. Powell Jr. Paideia Com Acad – South Shore
  10. Whistler – West Pullman
  11. Edgebrook – Forest Glen
  12. Sherwood – Englewood
  13. Mitchell – West Town
  14. Prescott – Lincoln Park
  15. Coonley – North Center

HIGH SCHOOLS (non charter)  S=Selective (I’ve added the CPS rating after each school)

  1. Payton (S) – Near North (1+)
  2. North Side College Prep (S) -North Park (1+)
  3. Whitney Young (S) – Near West Side (1+)
  4. Jones (S) -Loop (1+)
  5. Lane Tech (S) – North Center (1+)
  6. Brooks (S) -Roseland (1+)
  7. Von Steuben (S) – North Park (1+)
  8. Lindblom (S) – West Englewood
  9. Phoenix Military Acad (S) – Near West Side (1+)
  10. Kenwood – Kenwood (1+)
  11. Lincoln Park – Lincoln Park (not noted as selective in Chgo Mag, but probably has selective programs) (1+)
  12. Senn – Edgewater (1)
  13. Chicago High School For Agricultural Sciences (S) – Mr. Greenwood (1+)
  14. World Language HS – West Lawndale (1)
  15. Westinghouse (S) – East Garfield Park (1+)
  16. Amundsen – Lincoln Square (1)
  17. Alcott – Lake View (1+)
  18. Prosser Career Acad (S) – Belmont Cragin (1)
  19. Rickover Naval Acad (S) – Edgewater (1+)
  20. Solorio – Gage Park (2+)
  21. Mather – West Ridge (2+)


  1. Noble Butler – Pullman (2+)
  2. Chicago Math and Science Acad – Rogers Park (1+)
  3. Noble UIC – West Side (1+)
  4. CICS Northtown – North Park (1+)
  5. Noble Baker – South Chicago (2+)

August 28, 2016 at 11:02 am 73 comments

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