Info from GEAP

March 24, 2009 at 1:57 pm 45 comments

Just to summarize some info I learned yesterday from a variety of sources:

GEAP reports that there were WAY more kids who took the gifted/classical tests this year than last year.  Approximately 8,000 were tested this year compared to under 6,000 last year.  That is a HUGE increase.  I would attribute it to the economy – perhaps parents of private school kids who want a CPS back-up?  GEAP also attributes it to the gifted/classical school fair they held this year.  I didn’t attend it, but they feel that it helped increase awareness of the whole process.

GEAP claims they change the test each year.  Not sure if I buy that or not.  It would be inefficient for the test-givers to administer a totally different test each year, right?  I think they just want to prevent parents from trying to prep their kids.  In any case, IF that were true, perhaps that helps explain the abundance of high scores this year?  OR, maybe just the sheer number of kids has raised the bar in terms of the scores needed to get first round acceptance.  But still… why was there no percentile this year?  I need to get an answer to that one.  If anyone calls GEAP, see if they’ll give a reason.

Given the huge number of kids tested, there is no way they can give a test that really truly measures a child’s intelligence.  These tests are hopefully a decent indicator and for now, that’s the best we’ve got.  If CPS wanted to use a better test method, we’d probably have to switch to a system like I’ve heard of in suburbs where a child needs teacher recommendations to take the test (or maybe other outside confirmation.)  CPS doesn’t care about stuff right now, leaving it a big of a crapshoot, much like the lotteries.

Just as a reminder, there are SO few spots out there for Kindergarten.  If you live on the north side and don’t want your child to travel too far there are 3 K programs: Edison, Decatur, Coonley.  If you break it out by white/non-white (35%/65%) that is roughly 10 spots per school for white kids, maybe 20 spots per school for minority kids.  They don’t balance on gender, but if it falls out 50/50, that means there are 10 gifted spots for a white boy up north and 5 classical spots.  Hey, quit your complaining!  Before Coonley came along there were only 5 boy spots!  Again, it isn’t gender balanced, but that was how I was pondering my chances last year.

So the spots are few, the number of kids is massive.  And people I’ve talked to who have gotten spots offered are not totally set on whether they’ll take them.  People like their neighborhood schools, they don’t like the idea of big class size, they don’t want to travel too far, they don’t like the idea of the “gifted” label, etc.  Spots will open up in April and beyond.

And where is MY stinkin’ letter by the way?!

Entry filed under: Regional Gifted Program. Tags: , , , .

Be patient, this is just the begining Answers to some comments/questions

45 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Lauren  |  March 24, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    I had a percentage on my child’s letter. A gifted score and a percentage for the classical school. If that is what you are talking about.

  • 2. another local  |  March 24, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    These are the percentiles I’ve seen for the SAI, the first from CPS’ website:

    Performance Category

    The performance category is a description in words of how your child performed as compared to the other students who took the test. Your child’s performance category is dependent upon his/her SAI score.

    SAI Performance Category
    <58-87 Below Average
    88-111 Average
    112-130 Above Average
    131-150 Significantly Above Average

    also…see this link

    Here’s what they say about the OLSAT:

    Within the nation, we could expect the scores to occur in the following ranges:

    Above 132 …. 2% of the population
    116-132 ….. 14% of the population
    84-116 …. 68% of the population
    68-84 ….. 14% of the population
    Below 68 …. 2% of the population

    So based on that, a 132 is 98th percentile

  • 3. K's Dad  |  March 24, 2009 at 5:31 pm

    Definitely no gender balance: I visited a gifted kindergarten this year with 27 girls and 5 boys.

    Thanks to “another local”: The OLSAT distribution looks like an IQ distribution with a mean of 100 and a Std Dev of 16. The SAI distribution is interesting: 88-111 Average could mean a Std Dev of 11 around a mean of 100 or a fat confidence interval around 100 indicating that they know the test isn’t that accurate.

  • 4. another local  |  March 24, 2009 at 8:58 pm

    In the article they say it’s a mean of 100 w/ a standard deviation of 16. So… 132 is two standard deviations off the mean which translates in this case to 98th percentile.

    Update: We got into Hawthorne. Now I think we’d have to give Hawthorne AND Skinner up to roll the dice on round 2 of the gifted schools.


  • 5. What?  |  March 24, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    Wait, I have a few questions….but first, thanks so much for this blog. Information is at a premium in this evolution! OK, here goes…

    Why didn’t you mention Pritzker as an option for Northside parents? Just curious.

    Also, why do you mention big class size? It is a huge problem at our neighborhood school. Is it your opinion that ALL gifted programs will be at the max of 28 (for K) this year due to the increased applications? At least they aren’t at risk for random neighborhood kids showing up on the first day of school…

  • 6. cpsobsessed  |  March 25, 2009 at 3:54 am

    Based on what I have read, I’d agree that 132 is about 98%.
    Good sleuthing!

    Regarding turning down Hawthorne, I believe that you can accept that spot (wow, that is sweet!) and GEAP will still call you if a spot opens in a gifted program you want. I’m pretty sure they operated independantly from the rest of CPS. If you take the Skinner spot, you’re out of the running. Of course I’d call GEAP to confirm that. Twice.

    Pritzker – yes, you’re right it is a North side school. In fact last year that’s where most of the people I knew got in initially since Edison is so impossible to get into. I am just far-north-side-centric so I consider it just barely north side. Personally, most people I know turned it down (location probably played a factor.) They were just unfocused on the tour last year and hopefully have gotten a better handle on how to present their options program.

    Class size – well, you know, that is a good point! In the past, 28 was considered big since so many schools were under-enrolled but as we all know, that is changing. Many of the sought-after neighborhood schools are now experiencing brisk growth and to your point, uncertainly about enrollment numbers because of the economy (will a bunch of private school kids show up on their doorstep in September?) So you raise a great point – the gifted/classical classes typically max out at 28 (I think they can go up to 30) whereas some neighborhood classes get bigger than that! In fact I read an interview with Arne Duncan in Chicago Magazine where he said his daughter’s 1st grade class had 34 kids (I think, maybe 32… anyhow… big.) She was at Ray Elem btw.

  • 7. also obsessed  |  March 25, 2009 at 7:25 am

    Class size:
    At Edison, they max at 31.

    At Hawthorne (for the woman who got in there) they max at 32.

    My bet is that Coonley and Decatur also max at 30 this year, but have no proof, just a feeling.

  • 8. Diving In  |  March 25, 2009 at 8:39 am

    The sad thing is that these class sizes should be around 22-24, but CPS knows that they have us over a barrel and can push class sizes up into low 30’s.This is just wrong but they know we are happy our kids are not stuck in a local school.This has to change, that’s the next issue for parents to address .

  • 9. another local  |  March 25, 2009 at 9:46 am

    Good news… I can take the spot at Hawthorne and not lose my shot at the gifted program! woo hoo!

    Although I am still crossing my fingers for Edison, I have a hunch we’re going to get an offer at Pritzger… since all ten non-minority kids who did get offers there had the same 144 score as my daughter. Does anyone know anyone w/ kids there? Are they happy with it? Would you take Pritzger over Hawthorne? Any input would be much appreciated.

  • 10. First Timer  |  March 25, 2009 at 9:47 am

    Thanks for all the info. I hope my son doesn’t have to work this hard in his classes.
    Anyway, I just wanted to share our experience and ask a question:
    My son scored a 144 on the ‘gifted’ portion and a 99.8 percentile ranking for the ‘classical’. He was accepted to a classical school but it’s somewhat far and was our lowest rated choice (out of 5). Do we accept by the 4/17 deadline or wait for something better?

  • 11. NWside Mom  |  March 25, 2009 at 9:48 am

    This blog is amazing, thanks for sharing all of this great information.

    I was wondering if anyone has experience with siblings getting into a RGC? My son got into Edison this year and we really want our daughter to be in the same school when she is of age. If she were to get a good enough score to qualify, is there any preference for siblings?

  • 12. What?  |  March 25, 2009 at 9:57 am

    So I guess what the question really is, is:

    Who has the authority to jack the gifted class sizes up? Is it the principal? GEAP? Or are they offering slots according to an internal rubric? With the 8000 number you are quoting, that would come out to about 160 kids testing in the top 2 percent. Divided by the available class spots, that leaves room for either smaller classes or a lower cutoff, even with the larger number of applicants…

    But at what point do they say this child did not test high enough for us to increase the class size beyond our (completely ignored) limit of 28.

  • 13. brenda  |  March 25, 2009 at 10:14 am

    From our experience at Edison, it seems that there is no preference for siblings. I know a few families at Edison with more than one kid enrolled, but lots of families who did not get siblings in (despite good scores).

  • 14. K's Dad  |  March 25, 2009 at 10:19 am

    Class size is a problem.. Increasing class size by 1 child allows the Board to pay teachers about 3% more without increasing the budget. The union accepted these increments for years and now its out of control. My experience is that large classes hurt boys more. I don’t know if science supports me.

    And another thing! How gifted are the teachers in a gifted school? What test do they pass? In a “gifted school,” you get the benefit of a gifted student population, but I’m not sure the teachers or curriculum are significantly different.

    Morever, the school day and year is too short!

    On the bright side, we’re all in Chicago, so we have great enrichment opportunities available through the museums, universities, zoos, etc. We can create the gifted programs that our children deserve. At the same time, we should always push the bureaucrats to get more from our 5.5 hour school day.

    Thanks for providing the blog as a place to express these frustrations.

  • 15. another local  |  March 25, 2009 at 10:20 am

    To NWSide Mom… do you mind if I ask what score your son rec’d to get into Edison? To answer your question, there is NO sibling preference for gifted. There definitely is for the magnet schools and I think they try for the enriched. Your daughter would need to do just as well on her test or you’ll have kids in two schools.

    To First Timer…. we also had a 144 / 99th percentile and got into Skinner but not gifted. I think it totally depends on your backup options. You’d have to let the enriched school go if you want to roll the dice for round 2. At 144 your odds are pretty good in the second round, especially if you’re not going for the most popular gifted schools. But you have to be willing to live with your fallback if you don’t get the gifted program.

  • 16. cpsobsessed  |  March 25, 2009 at 10:23 am

    Gifted program teachers do go to special training/seminars, but I believe it is pretty easy to slip into just teaching the class the same as “regular” but 1-2 grade levels higher. In theory, a gifted class (with actual gifted kids) is taught where subjects are studied more in-depth. I’m not sure I can say that is definitely happening is every RGC program/class.

  • 17. First Timer  |  March 25, 2009 at 10:52 am

    another local,

    Thanks for the response. It sure seems that 144 is a popular number.
    I would prefer the ‘gifted’, but I guess a bird in the hand and all that. Still, we did have a higher rated classical on our list and at 99.8 I struggle to understand why he didn’t get selected. Maybe 99.8 is poplular as well.
    Good luck and thanks again!

  • 18. NWside Mom  |  March 25, 2009 at 10:53 am

    My son got a 155 on his test and Edison was our first choice (closest to home). Several kids in his preK class got into other gifted programs–one at Coonley and three at Pritzker, but I do not know their scores exact scores, only that they were all over 140.

  • 19. Another Mom  |  March 25, 2009 at 11:01 am

    Our (white) son received 144 RGC score and >99.9% on the classical test. We received our letter on Friday. He got into Decatur only, as far as I understand the (very poorly drafted) letter. Decatur was our first choice, and oddly, both during the testing and at an open house at Decatur (a GEAP rep spoke there), we were informed that the March 20 letter we would receive would only state either that our child did not get into any program, or the name of the one school that our child did test into. We were specifically told that we would not receive acceptances to more than one program. So far I have not heard of anyone receiving more than one “selected” notation on their letter,so maybe that is essentially true?

  • 20. Another Mom  |  March 25, 2009 at 11:11 am

    And by the “one school that our child did test in to” I meant that they would put our child in our highest ranked school, provided our test score qualified him. My understanding is that they basically have two piles of test scores, minority and non. So they go through the piles and they say #1 highest score kid, what’s his/herfirst choice, and they give him/her that. They continue this way until they fill each program with the highest scoring kids, allowing for the required balance of minority/non-minority students. So, they don’t give you 2 or more choices, they just give you your highest ranked school, relative to your score. I hope that makes a tiny bit of sense!

  • 21. Another Mom  |  March 25, 2009 at 11:26 am

    One more thing, so sorry! We received our letter on Saturday!

  • 22. Coonley Mom  |  March 25, 2009 at 11:44 am

    My son is in the kindergarten gifted class at Coonley, he was first accepted to Pritzker and we turned it down. It was a hard choice b/c at the time we did not have Coonley as an option. I would strongly urge you to go visit any/every school your child got into before you accept or reject the school. Not to speak badly of Pritzker because every choice is so personal, it is just helpful to go into the schools, meet the teachers and see if you feel a sense of belonging. You do not want to have to make this decision all over again next year! We love the program at Coonley and are grateful he got into it, but we did turn down the first option thinking we were giving up his spot for a gifted program b/c the first option was just not a fit for our family. I am so thankful he is not trying to get in this year, I don’t know if he would have gotten into Coonley! Good luck everyone. I will be going through this next year again with my younger son…

  • 23. another local  |  March 25, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    To Coonley mom….

    Can you tell me what you didn’t like about Pritzker? That would be really helpful. My current thinking is that of course I would take Edison and Coonley over Hawthorne, but I’m very iffy about Pritzker as I’ve heard really mixed things… like issues with student retention and teacher turnover


  • 24. cpsobsessed  |  March 25, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    A couple things I would say about Pritzker vs Hawthorne is that just objectively, I think Hawthorne has a much more involved parent base for helping to run the school and fundraising. There seemed to be a small but strong group at Pritzker who were very eager to get some new energy into the school. If you like the idea of being part of the change/growth of a school it could be really cool. If you want something that is already in place, Hawthorne is it. Just looking at the Hawthorne web site, it reminds me of a suburban school with all the activities and stuff. They just seem to really have their act together whereas on the tour at Pritzker they couldn’t really verbalize much about the gifted program. It made it hard to have confidence in it. Perhaps it was just weak communication. I have definitely heard of families who liked it there.
    The main “con” of Hawthorne to me could be the hyper-involved parents. In some ways it might be nicer to be a more laid back school environment. Hawthorne is rumored to be a bit – how shall I say – stingent? rigorous? un-fun? in their way of doing things. (That is what I have heard – however my babysitter went there and felt it was quite enjoyable.)
    So those are based on impressions and general word-on-the-street. I haven’t heard about retention/turnover issues.

  • 25. H's Mom  |  March 25, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    Alright. I’m gonna risk it and ask it: What the hell is the matter with Beaubien? Give it to me, warts and all, people. I want to know what’s what.

    The fact that my kid (majority-member) got in with just a 126 scares me a bit. Why weren’t the kids in the 130s and 140s even applying there? Are there dragons in the basement, drug dealers in the halls?

    The school’s scores are good, better than Bell (our other realistic choice) in a few significant ways, but has less parental involvement overall and less extracurriculars. The location is not exactly central. These things I know. What don’t I know?

    We didn’t test for classical school, so I have no idea what percentage my son would have gotten, but I feel comfortable that he would not have made it in there. (He was only reading sight words at the time, etc. Since his early November test, he has read the first three Harry Potter books aloud, so his reading “growth” came later than the test.)

    So, lay it on me, people! What’s the scuttlebutt on Beaubien?



  • 26. another local  |  March 25, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    I think kindergarten is where it’s the most competitive… there are the most applicants and the fewest spaces. Since Beaubien starts at 1st grade, it’s a bit of a different ballgame.

  • 27. maria  |  March 25, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    Our son got acepted into Skinner North for next year. I know the school is new with K-2nd grade but does anyone have any more info?

  • 28. Coonley Mom  |  March 25, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    To another local:

    I really cannot say that much about Pritzker. I think what was said above is much more information than I can share. All I can say is that we left the tour very unimpressed, they did not “sell” us on anything. Having said that, maybe someone else conducts the tours now. The fit was just not there. When I walked in, I felt like the school was for older kids (could have been the posters saying no guns, weapons, etc.!) Then when the Coonley opportunity came, I got a different vibe. Probably no help at all so I am sorry, but I just want to say that I strongly urge you to go to the schools and see how you feel, whatever school you pick is going to be a big part of you and your child’s life. Good luck!

  • 29. PR  |  March 26, 2009 at 9:50 am

    After reading all this – I am amazed that my son got into ‘impossible’ Edison for KDG with a 139 and 77% on the classical part. He must have been their final pick. Hope he can swing it!

  • 30. kr  |  March 28, 2009 at 12:27 am

    After reading all of this, I’m learning that I probably should have taken more time strategically ranking my GEAP choices. Sounds like most of us have children going into kindergarten. And most of us have probably never had our children tested before this time. How was I to know that my son was much more advanced ‘classically’ than ‘gifted?’ 🙂 He received the ‘popular’ score of 144 on the gifted test and >99.9% on the classical. I guess I shouldn’t have listed a gifted school (Coonley) as our first choice. He was accepted into Pritzker, our 4th (out of 5) picks. Choices 2 and 3 were Edison and Decatur. We probably will not go to Pritzker for some of the same reasons others have mentioned. We’ll hope for the best at our neighborhood school (which we really like.) I just want to do what’s best for my son. Are there counselors out there to help us make these education decisions? 🙂
    Thanks to blogs like these, I don’t feel quite as crazy for being so obsessed. 🙂

  • 31. erin  |  March 30, 2009 at 7:42 pm

    interesting reading….my son just got into kind at skinner north. I saw one other woman mention skinner, but haven’t seen much else.

    Maria, is your going into kindergarten?

  • 32. maria  |  March 31, 2009 at 12:48 pm


    our son got into the kindergarten class at skinner north. Hopefully the open hose on Friday will answer some of our questions about the school .

  • 33. KS  |  April 1, 2009 at 9:46 am

    CPSObsessed- Thanks so much for your blog! I love it! Its been invaluable to me with our first attempt at the CPS application process.

    Another Local- I noticed that you were able to confirm that if you accepted Hawthorne, you would still not give up round 2 for the gifted match. At our house, we have the reverse situation.

    My dd was offered a spot for K at Decatur (which is a LOVELY school, don’t get me wrong….but it is super far from our home). And she is also number 3 on the LaSalle 2 waitlist for K. We have several neighbors at LaSalle 2 and I have a younger son also and would really like them to attend the same school, so for those reasons, LaSalle 2 is appealing.

    I am wondering if I accept the Decatur spot, will I keep my place on the LaSalle 2 waitlist? Or if I accept Decatur, I am off the list? TIA!

  • 34. Kinder Mom  |  April 2, 2009 at 11:29 am

    My daughter also got into Skinner North – we’re number 371 on the LaSalle waiting list, which was our top choice.
    We’re attending the Skinner North open house tomorrow and hopefully get many questions answered. We’re concerned about the location, and also the teachers- they must be hiring new ones to split between the two skinners, right? Because we are new to the city, and have seen some statistics on the different schools in the enrichment program, we wonder if she got into Skinner North because she is a minority – I believe the school is about 90% non-white…Any thoughts on this?

  • 35. another local  |  April 3, 2009 at 9:41 am

    To KS: I asked at GEAP and they told me they would have no way of knowing that I’d accepted Hawthorne. I would assume that the reverse would also be true, but I’m just not sure. You might try calling LaSalle and asking whether if you accept an enriched school whether it would kick you out of their pool.

  • 36. wondering  |  January 3, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    Hi, im wondering does anybody know what kind of questions were asked for the cps testing of classical and rgc schools?

  • 37. cpsobsessed  |  January 4, 2010 at 10:58 am

    Wondering – unfortunately that is one of the best kept secrets in the city.
    Best guess is that the classical test ask early reading and math questions while the gifted test is more about logic and pattern recognition ( which thing doesn’t belong, which comes next in the pattern, if bob is older than sally and sue, and sally is older than sue, who is the youngest?)

  • 38. wondering  |  January 4, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    hmmm…so is their any way to prepare them for these tests aside from what they already know…does doing blobs and flashcards help

  • 39. wondering  |  January 4, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    your blog is really insightful i never knew how hard it and how competitive

  • 40. cpsobsessed  |  January 4, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    Wondering, go to the tab at the top of the blog called “gifted and classical testing info” and you’ll find some links that address test prep.
    If you have a child testing for a K spot, I think the best thing to do is have them do some practice answering test-like questions just so they get the idea of what it is. Tell them what will happen at the test (or whatever you call it to them.) If they have any pre-reading or writing skills, review them in a fun way in the month before the test (which many parents may be doing already,) and perhaps have them try some logic questions (some potential books are available at

    Overall, I don’t think many Chicago parents do a ton of “prep.” It’s hard to get a 4yo to participate! the truth is that there are a lot of bright kids and very few spots so much of it ends up being luck-of-the-draw in terms of how your child tested that day. I think it was random luck that my son got into a program while I know plenty of kids his age who could totally do the work in his class but didn’t test in that year. One of the smartest kids I know didn’t test well. Who knows why?

  • 41. wondering  |  January 5, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    when you talk about lasalle in this blog do you mean lasalle language academy? or is their anoter lasalle school ? i have heard hawthorne is good too but these are all on luck eh

  • 42. cpsobsessed  |  January 5, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    Yep. I’m talking about LaSalle Language Academy (although now there is a LaSalle II as well.)
    Hawthorne is a very good school but some may consider it a little too “academic” meaning more focus on learning and less focus on fun. They have great test scores considering that kids do not test in, but I suspect they attract a certain type of parent.
    Yep, it is all luck at this point and if you’re out of the neighborhood you have a little less luck than in the past.
    And from what they’re saying, you can’t butter up the principal this year to get in.

  • 43. wondering  |  January 6, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    lol i thought the buttering up phase was totally out of the picture for years with these schools.. isnt edison, decatur, etc all schools that focus more on acedemics than then the fun portion. the competion can make or break a child sometimes its a hard decision, but nerve raking when they go for the tests in feb and we dont know what to expect on these exmas with the children…is your child currently at decatur? how do you like the school?

  • 44. Jeannine Cordero  |  April 14, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    Hi All:

    My son was just accepted at Pritzker into the Gifted Program. We are going on the tour Friday, but also have to make our decision Friday or lose the placement. I was interested in hearing from any one at Pritzker about their impressions of the school. Thank you.

  • 45. not so happy  |  September 27, 2010 at 10:14 pm

    We accepted our spot at Skinner West. Nice new building but wow, its all business no time for play after school. Homework for 2-3 hours for first graders!
    Very rigorous standards for 6 and 7 year olds. Our daughter is so bright but I realized now this is not a pleasant environment for a child.
    Wish we had gone to Franklin.

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