The gifted/classical ranking process

March 1, 2010 at 12:22 pm 8 comments

A commenter asked about the ranking process on the Gifted/Classical test forms and how kids are assigned to schools.  Here’s my impression and best explanation.  Feel free to add input or stories…

The GEAP offices ranks all the kids by test score, from highest to lowest. There is a separate list for gifted and for classical test scores.

They go down the list from the top and assign each child their top choice of school.  If their top choice is full, they get assigned to their #2 choice, or #3 choice, and so on.  (that includes the Gifted and Classical schools all in one pool.)

In the past, for the North side, Edison was usually the top choice since it was the only Northside program that started in Kindergarten (now there is Edison and Coonley.)

So say you had a kid who scored well, but not outstanding.  If you put down a full 6 schools, you probably would have gotten into Pritzker or the old Skinner.

Then, as families turn down seats, GEAP continues down the list, calling the next highest child who picked that school.  So say a seat opens at Edison in April because a family decided to go to private school – GEAP will call the next child on the list who has a test score and is NOT currently assigned to another gifted/classical program.

So the GOOD news is that you can rank your choices in order of true preference.  The system efficiently will assign your child a seat in your top choices as one comes open.

The CHALLENGE is when you get a spot at, say, your 5th choice.  Do you take the spot so your child is guaranteed something?  If you do, you WON’T get called if something opens at your top choice (or your 2nd, 3rd, etc.)  You have to turn down a spot to be called for another program.  It can feel risky turning down something that is in-hand.  I know of a family who stuck to their guns in turning down 2 decent programs, only through amazing luck of the universe ended up getting 2 children into the same Classical school in the same year.  That is a feat that is hard to duplicate!

So my advice is to tour as many as you can and rank them in your true preference.  There’s really no “gaming” the system or anything.  Although I suppose taking social-econ factors into account might help, although it is harder to figure out than race.  For instance at Coonley, despite the best efforts there are very few minority kids in the gifted program.  A minority family (and likely a Tier 1-2 family) would have a better shot there, I’d imagine than  in a different program.  A look at the school demos might help there, but of course you have to be willing to drive anywhere in the city to get to that school.

One thing I’d add is that it is worth including at least one of each school (gifted/classical) on your list even if you don’t think any would work out.  The year my son started, some people didn’t choose a gifted school since there were none nearby, then at the last minute they opened Coonley.  People who hadn’t tested their child and picked a gifted school didn’t get the chance for entry that year.  I doubt in this financial environment, CPS is opening any new programs soon, but you never know!

EDIT: what makes this all the more difficult this year is the 4-tiered socio-econ groups.  In the past, there were actually 2 lists for gifted and classical; caucasian and non-caucasian.  Now there will be FOUR lists — one for each tier.   So I believe the first 40% of spots per class will be assigned straight off the top of the list (no regard for tier.)  Then the next 60% of spots will use the 4 lists to assign spaces.  The complication could be mind boggling.

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8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. CPSnewbie  |  March 1, 2010 at 11:43 pm

    Thanks for clearing that up. I have one more question! You said they rank kids by test score from highest to lowest. Which test score is used if you take both? Do they have one pile for gifted scores and one for classical? Last year my child’s gifted score (if converted to an estimated percentage equivalent) was much higher than his classical. He was in his “I refuse to read in front of others” mode! Don’t you just love kids and their quirks!

  • 2. Y  |  March 1, 2010 at 11:49 pm

    One add to your post. It was explained to our family that there are two lists – RGC and Classical. Students are ranked in each list according to their test scores from top to bottom. The students are placed in their highest ranked school for which they are eligible, starting with the highest scores.

    When our DD tested for first grade, she initially received a spot at our fifth-ranked Classical school. There were a lot of unknowns with the program so we turned it down. We then turned down an offer for our fourth-ranked Classical school. We didn’t expect any more offers but amazingly we did get a call at the start of summer break with a spot at our second-ranked RGC, which we accepted. We suspect that all other eligible students were already placed in programs at that point since our DD’s scores were decent but not off the charts. We are fortunate to have a good neighborhood school as our backup school. If we didn’t have that option, I’m sure we would have jumped on our the first offer.

  • 3. 2ndtimearound  |  March 2, 2010 at 12:14 am

    You never know about a new school; they opened skinner north and coonley in the last 2 years. parents want decent programs for their kids and there seem to be a lot more kids that fall into the “gifted” category these days. plus, there are a handful of schools closing. i was talking to someone from the cps geap office at the IAGC conference. i mentioned my theory of closed school = new gifted/classical school that no one knows about until late march or april when parents get a call about it. she said she couldn’t comment. hmmmmmmmmm…..

  • 4. 2ndtimearound  |  March 2, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    a rep from the cps geap office said that up to 60% of the spots could be issued by score alone, so it sounds like it depends on the pool of applicants and their scores for this particular year.

  • 5. Tier System  |  March 5, 2010 at 8:10 am

    I wonder how the elementary process for selection will turn out. The HS SE process was a debacle! Does anyone think the same will happen with the elementaries?

  • 6. cpsobsessed  |  March 5, 2010 at 10:11 am

    @Tier System: What do you see as the debacle part about it? I haven’t had time to read much, so I only know that they scrambled to get some low tier kids into the top schools and that CPS won’t reveal how race (?) broke out. My guess is that if the elementary process *is* a debacle, we may not actually know it.

  • 7. cara  |  March 15, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    does anyone know about getting into a regional gifted program in 6th grade instead of kindergarten? we’re been in the city but going to a suburban school for years( long story) and finally want to break out of the burbs. What are the chances of getting into a RG school in the later years?

  • 8. Y  |  March 15, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    There are a couple of natural entry points into RGC programs besides the start of the program. CPS/OAE adds 4 seats to the class in the middle school years, 4th grade, I believe. Also, kids sometimes leave for other programs (pre-IB and academic centers) in the later years, which opens up seats in RGC programs.

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