Grade Scales

September 28, 2010 at 10:28 am 113 comments

I know we’ve talked before about the grading scales used in different schools – how a 90% might be an A at one school or a B at another.

In some somewhat interesting news, I was informed at an Open House at my son’s elem school that all of Area 2 has been instructed to use the traditional 90%=A, 80%=B, etc.  I’m curious whether each area is setting their own? The same?  And what the purpose is.  (As a note, CPS has 21 areas – 17 elem and 4 HS.)  In theory, the Area Office acts like “middle management” for the schools.  They’re supposed to help the schools succeed by developing new principals, encouraging best practice, sharing good ideas, etc.  The Area Officers are very well paid by CPS standards.  I know that this past year, the Area Officers spent a lot of time focusing on measurment (AKA test scores.)  I heard the principal at my son’s school and our neighborhood school commenting (OK, bitching) about the amount of time they had to spend on this topic.  Notably, both schools showed strong gains in their test scores this past year.  Maybe the pressure helped?

In any case, have we definitely determined that the grades used for High School admission are based on the percentile score and not the letter grade?  If the letter grade is used, it’s an interesting tactic to potentially ensure that Area 2 students get a big of an edge over schools that use a stricter grading scale.  If it doesn’t matter, why the policy?

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CPS Options for Knowledge Fair Oct 2 Let the Applications Begin! Woo hoo!

113 Comments Add your own

  • 1. "A" in an "A"  |  September 28, 2010 at 11:03 am

    My friend called with this very question and was told that an “A” is an “A”, whether it be a 99 or a 90. I guess it follows that a 91 counts as a “B” if that is your school’s grading scale.

    I personally perceive lots of grade inflation at CPS whatever the scale may be. So it just makes the ISAT’s and entry tests even more important.

  • 2. RL Julia  |  September 28, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    I have one child at our local neighborhood school where an A ended at 92. This school just switched to the 90-100 is an A scale because neighboring/comparison schools were on that scale and it didn’t seem fair that kids who got 90’s and therefore B’s at this school were losing 25 points per subject (up to 100 points, which is a lot) on the grade portion of the Academic Center and SE high school exams. It would be much better to go to a number scale with the grade portion of the application – and the parent porthole and whatever grading system fuels it is all about the number grade so it should be easy to do.

    Child number two is at Taft Academic Center where the principal is on the A=92 scale because -as he told Academic Center and IB program parents when you get to college, you are going to have to work as hard as you did to get an 92 or above to get an A in college.

    Crazy!

  • 3. Jennifer  |  September 28, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    My (neighborhood) school switched this year from a 93 A to a 94 A. I was quite bothered by this and asked about it at the LSC meeting. The principal gave me the impression that he was opting to make this switch from our Area’s scale this year and got permission from the AO to do so.

    Why? Because they realized that the bottom part of the scale was hurting the failing kids. For example, if a child got a 30, a 60, and a 90, it still averaged to an F. So, they made a new “bottom”–the score wouldn’t go lower in the books than, I believe, a 68.

    Don’t get me wrong–I feel for the kid whose grade of 30 doomed him for the rest of the quarter, especially if his scores went up over the quarter as in the example…but really?! This change affected the scale all the way up, pushing the A to 94 and up.

    The assistant principal admitted that they didn’t (forgot to) take SE admissions into consideration.

    Fortunately, my question led to a lot of debate that night, to the point that the chair had to call a close to the discussion for that night so that they could address other questions.

    I’ll be back next month…

  • 4. parent  |  September 28, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    My child in CPS elementary school is on the 90-100 is an A grading scale. My high school freshman is on a scale that is different by teacher but generally 95-100 is an A.

  • 5. BEVdad  |  September 28, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    It is strange. What potentially will happen is that a child who believes he has an A average may be denied entrance when the percentages are considered. This happended with several Lenart kids last year From what we were told by the administration is that when the 92’s, which WERE A’s at Lenart were entered into the system, they were treated as B’s. (They have since switched to the mostly CPS-wide system of 100-93, 92-86, etc.

    From my very limited understanding, the letter grade is what is considered, not the percentage…I may be wrong (I hope so).

  • 6. cps mom  |  September 28, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    The grade issue was something that impacted many other schools in addition to Lenart with regard to SE. It was a huge issue at Andrew Jackson and they have changed to 60/70/80/90. Other schools magnet and otherwise had a cut-off of 90 or 92 putting Jackson (as well as other schools) at a disadvantage in earning much needed SE points. I’ve heard that due to the backlash from parents, CPS is considering a uniform grading scale. So what happens to the current 7th graders – you know they won’t make it retroactive. I would not be surprised if the grade component changes either to a number or a lesser value. And, yes to answer some questions – as it stands now and has been in the past an A is 75 points, B 50 points and C 25 points giving a child an extra 25 points for a 92 if they go to LaSalle vs. Jackson or Lenart.

  • 7. cps mom  |  September 28, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    #5 – a 92 was assigned 50 points at Lenart? Was this true for other schools too? We were told same thing A is an A no matter the school and that “A” could be defined very differently at each school.

  • 8. mom2  |  September 28, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    It sounds like there is quite a bit of confusion out there regarding this subject. I sure wish CPS would just go to a uniform 90, 80, 70 type scale for all schools – elementary, middle and high school – selective, gifted, magnet, and regular. It just makes no sense and forces people to compare apples and oranges in a variety of ways.

    Our school switch from a 93=A scale to a 90=A scale the year after my child went through the hellish process of getting into an SE school. Now my child is at a SE high school where an A=95! How does this make sense? Who does this scale help? I only see it hurting kids as they look as though they perform poorly to colleges that only see straight B’s when in reality they are getting straight 94% on everything. Crazy.

    @Jennifer, I don’t understand how making it harder to get an A or B or C helps students that are failing. That seems backwards to me. If you get a 30 where the scale is higher, you are worse off than if you get a 30 where the scale goes lower. If they don’t want someone to get a 30, then just say that the lowest score they can give is whatever they say is an F. I am confused on this.

  • 9. CPSmama  |  September 28, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    It really doesn’t matter which grading scale is used- but it should be uniform, system wide, particularly since admissions decisions to SE high schools are determined by grades.

    In HS, the grading scales for regular level courses are lower than for honors level. And honors level courses not only have higher grading scales, but more work (extra projects, longer papers etc). Basically, a double whammy. However, the student gets more points for an Honors A than a regular A in the GPA, so at least the double whammy pays off.

  • 10. mom2  |  September 28, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    At Lane, a regular level course has the same 95=A scale as the honors level courses. An A=4.0 in regular and 5.0 in honors, but they are both hurting students by making much harder to get an A than in schools that use a 90, 80, 70 scale. So straight 94% in regular courses is a 3.0 GPA (and this is at a SE school where it might be harder to begin with). It still doesn’t seem right when someone else might get those same scores or even lower by 4 points and end up with a 4.0 GPA for their college applications.

  • 11. momof2  |  September 28, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    There is a lot of confusion about grades and grading scales. CPS codes a scale into the Gradebook system that teachers use at each school. At Lane, this does show A=95 for all classes. However, different scales are used for Regular, Honors and AP at Lane Tech. Teachers override the grade that is automatically assigned by the software at the end of the term. For instance, a student in a Regular US History class with a 93 average would show up in Gradebook as a B throughout the term. At the end of the term, teachers override errant grades to be in compliance with departmentally approved grading scales for the three levels of classes – Regular, Honors, and AP. This is usually detailed on course syllabi and/or the teacher’s website.

  • 12. anothercpsmom  |  September 28, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    Standardizing the CPS grading system won’t fully address the problem, since many applicants come from private schools. Maybe CPS should just get rid of the grade portion of the high school application score all together. Also, it would be nice if the test gave some recognition to special achievements – some kids are literate in two languages, have computer programming skills etc.

  • 13. LR  |  September 28, 2010 at 9:08 pm

    I was surprised to find out at my daughter’s grade school (she attends an RGC), that they used to not give letter grades at all. They do now only because CPS requires it. It sounds like if the teachers there had their way, they would go back to the old system of evaluation (whatever that was).

    I wonder what they did for purposes of high school admission before they gave grades. Did they used to go by test scores only?

    I would be for getting rid of the grade portion of the hs application, except that if you get rid of grades, then you are relying more heavily on test scores. It’s hard to say that being selected for the top high schools in the state should come down to one test. I think they need to just use strait percentiles with no letter grades assigned. After all, who cares if it is an A or a B? Why does that matter?

  • 14. Mom  |  September 28, 2010 at 10:09 pm

    Our son’s private school does not give grades. Yet, year after year, the kids get into the CPS selective enrollment high schools. I have no idea how that works.

  • 15. to LR  |  September 29, 2010 at 7:06 am

    They should use the percentage and convert it using the same formula that they use for ISAT percentiles IMHO!

  • 16. cps mom  |  September 29, 2010 at 8:06 am

    agree with #15. #14 is an interesting dilemma. As it stands now a school that has no grades or someone that is home schooled can assign any grade that they want to that portion of the application. So, a parent or the school counselor fills out the portion of the application with the grades. There are plenty of home schooled kids in SE. A parent at my old school even pulled her kid out at 5th grade to home school so that she could get her into an academic center. So, this inequity would support the argument of eliminating or downplaying grades. There are no easy answers to this.

    I am so confused about the grade scale/GPA thing. I tend to think that a uniform scale there would be more equitable too. At the college level we are looking at much more than the City of Chicago. How do the burbs grade?

  • 17. smp  |  September 29, 2010 at 9:06 am

    Where can I find the calculation for SE High schools – my children are only in kindergarten so I am curious when does attendance start to count towards the calculation. Thanks. Sorry little off subject.

  • 18. cps mom  |  September 29, 2010 at 9:45 am

    Attendence is not included right now. Someone said they are talking about adding that back in. We don’t know yet until they announce in October. When they had attendance, it was based upon 7th grade attendance only. I remember thinking that they counted attendance for all grades – you don’t have to worry about that.

  • 19. cps mom  |  September 29, 2010 at 9:46 am

    Oh – sorry – the calculation of SE point requirements as they stand now are on the OAE website. Just Google “selective enrollment” and it will come up.

  • 20. Mayfair Dad  |  September 29, 2010 at 9:51 am

    This is a real hot button for me. At Ogden International Gifted, 7th graders who are doing work two years ahead of grade level also have the 93 = A grading scale. The dreaded double whammy.

    Take a bright Tier 4 kid, i.e. my son, who managed to earn grades in the low 90s for his 7th grade core subjects in a very rigorous program – even if he aces his ISATS (he did) and the entrance exam (he will), he will not have the points to even be considered for NS, WY, WP or Jones – although kids from lower socio-economic tiers will, and don’t get me started on the Willy Wonka 100.

    I brought the issue up to the helpful folks at CPSOAE, and was informed harmonizing the grading scale across CPS was a goal of Dr. Eason-Watkins but this apparently slipped through the cracks when she left. It is “on the table” for discussion but unlikely to be changed in time for next year’s freshman class.

    So what I thought was enlightened parenting by moving my son to a more rigorous program, actually hurt his chances of getting into a top high school.

    I suppose I’ll get over the guilt when I watch him receive his diploma from Northwestern Med School with honors in 2023; It will be worth the wait.

  • 21. momof4  |  September 29, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    I truly appreciate all of the above comments.
    I am hoping to move two of my kids into a more rigorous program next year and away from their neighborhood school, which does just okay by us. But of course I have concerns that if they miss an A, they’ve blow their chance at a top high school.
    Slightly off topic, I understand from some local gossip that attendance will not be reintroduced into the SE equation. Also the 60-40 tier/merit ratio will be changed to 70-30, an expansion of the socioeconomic tiers and a decrease on the emphasis on merit-based admittance. Has anyone heard the same? Or a different take altogether?

  • 22. CPSmama  |  September 29, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    @ Mayfarir Dad, I know of many who eceived 7th grade B’s that were 91 & 92 percents, who didn’t get into 1st choice SE, but did get into Lane and love it. Let’s face it, they all take the same classes in HS no matter where they go. Heck , even at Simeon, there are AP courses.

    IMO, the kids who get low As (90) and get into NS, Payton, WY & Jones with them are at a disadvantage when they get there and face the TRIPLE WHAMMY of higher grading scale, harder material and classmates who got A’s that were 95s & 96s.

  • 23. cps mom  |  September 29, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    Look at the bright side – with the emphasis on tiers vs. merit, maybe the value of that tier 2 or 3 home will go up after all.

  • 24. CIP  |  September 29, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    I’m brand-new to the world of CPS, as we have a preschooler and have only just realized that we’ll be relocating to Chicago. The grade thing is interesting, though; I’d initially looked at some CPS elementary school parent/student handbooks online and had been discouraged to see that elementary school students were receiving traditional grades of ANY sort. Maybe it’s the former Montessori student in me, but I am adamantly opposed to such a thing for the grade school years. I had blamed it on the specific schools, though; am I understanding correctly that it’s a system-wide requirement? Is that true at magnet programs (such as the Montessori options), too? When I thought it was a school-by-school thing, and saw, say, second graders getting formal letter grades, it made me, as an outsider, think that the school’s philosophy didn’t align with mine, and had dropped them to the bottom of my wish list.

  • 25. Mayfair Dad  |  September 30, 2010 at 11:35 am

    @ 24 CIP

    Oh, Newbie – you have so much to learn!

    Scour this blog and glean what knowledge you can. Buried in the kvetching is a lot of useful information. Visit cpsoae.org early and often. Learn the difference between gifted, classical, and magnet and how to apply for each. Give your neighborhood school serious consideration, it just might be the best spot for your kid and will spare you a mountain of disappointment and heartbreak. May the force be with you.

  • 26. parent  |  September 30, 2010 at 11:52 am

    CPS Montessori schools use a graded report card. They have given both a Montessori and CPS card simultaneously in the past but not for the last two grading periods. It’s a good question for Montessori parents to question as some research has shown that grades are actually demotivating.
    Montessori environments within CPS vary WIDELY. Beware when visiting a Montessori program. Ask key questions about their program ie does the “Montessori” program “end” at a certain time of day, what is the testing environment? Is the principal Montessori trained? If you value testing primarily do you really want a Montessori education for your kid?
    Just as an aside Montessori students work at varying levels -at much higher than grade level at many points. The kids are all in a mixed age environment. At Talcott a good number of the kids work in Spanish- essentially in two language reading and writing- in the humanities. I think that the classical and gifted programs are not the only places where kids are doing exceptional work.
    I wish CPS had a basic 90, 80, 70% a,b,c etc. scale across the board but as for any extra points for classical or gifted schools as I have seen in old posts on this site I think that is not a good idea.
    My kids are graded on a 93 or 95 scale for an A at this point. For a short time the grading in the elementary Montessori graded my first grader on a third grade scale. Testing for giftedness before third grade is seem in some quarters as bogus- check Nutureshock. In some ways the gifted testing in CPS is creating enough of a kind of ersatz caste system based somewhat on luck. We didn’t test for the geap as we hoped to Montessori educate in any case.
    Comments on the site sometimes reflect the anger that can come from thinking that you have played the system correctly to position a student well backfiring but I rarely read about parents soul searching about the depth of the education that their kids are getting. I think that the tier system is flawed too but for entirely different reasons. Sadly I think that referring to any students in CPS as the “WIlly Wonka 100” is degrading.

  • 27. Mayfair Dad  |  September 30, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    My sarcastic use of the term Willy Wonka 100 is aimed at the CPS leadership who made the flawed decision, not the children. My problems with the decision are many and well-documented elsewhere on this blog.

    However, as you correctly point out, since innocent children are involved, perhaps my sarcasm is misplaced. I never intended to degrade children – just chose to use humor to point out the hypocrisy of the decision.

    If you or others were offended by the term, I apologize.

  • 28. cps mom  |  September 30, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    If a child scores well (really well) AND receives A’s from their school there is not a thing to worry about. You will have your pick of schools that you deem have the “depth of education” that you are looking for. The majority of qualified CPS students don’t have that pass card. The problems brought up here are real for many people. B grades, a bad test, tier level, can’t afford private school – the list goes on. The top selective schools have that depth – they are challenging, invite and create free thinking and holistic philosophies, and encourage academic and personal excellence. It’s proven and known. Are there other schools that do this? Of course. Problem, if you don’t have a pass card it becomes much more challenging. As a parent you are going to use everything in your arsenal to get your child into the school that you feel will be the best fit. While someone is being chided for humor aimed at a yet another flawed haphazard policy that is negatively impacting some children (including those that received a spot) the insinuation that a discussion of CPS policy is all about “working the system” is just plain wrong.

  • 29. parent  |  September 30, 2010 at 5:35 pm

    I guess that I question the assumption that the 100 students admitted after the acceptances at the SE schools were harmed or that others were harmed by their selection. These students were admitted on top of the total of kids finally given a spot last year. Technically no students that went through the SE process were affected by the extra twenty or so students added to each school.
    Say that Jones adds a certain number of qualified by neighborhood status students in a few years because the tif funds grow the building. Will these kids be harming the students”qualified” to attend? How is it that different?
    Do the neighborhood kids at the “new” Skinner” harm the tested in students?
    I also think that if these 100 kids can be at the top of their schools and live to actually attend high school in some of the scarier neighborhoods in Chicago they are probably pretty savvy. Might they just do great with some support at the Se schools? How much easier will if be for them to succeed in a safe challenging environment? The bigger question is what does it mean about our system if they do.
    Which brings me back to grades. I think that an even equal scale across the board is better than the crazy quilt thing in place now.

  • 30. cps mom  |  September 30, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    A comment about 100 students added after the fact. If 100 seats could be magically added after closing out acceptances then I would derive that there was room at the Inn after all. I am in favor, as others have said, of a kid getting a break. But how do you determine who gets the “lucky number” or ticket as someone mention. There are plenty of kids that live in “scary” neighborhoods that did not get into these schools because they attended magnet, charter or gifted programs missing cut-offs at Selective enrollment. I would argue that these students were harmed by this policy since they might have made it if the 100 seats were opened up. Other posts have talked about the seats being turned down at schools like Northside Prep – CPS has not released any numbers as to how many students accepted. When questioned about the philosophy behind the move, a CPS rep at our school meeting said “maybe they’ll turn it down”. Here again, I would argue that children were harmed because others were not allowed to take that spot. Not knowing all the facts about the plan and the students I will not comment on personal observations other than to state that I hope CPS does have a plan that will not allow these children to flounder. I acknowledge that I could be wrong and that there could be some behind the scenes actions that totally contradict what I’m saying. Based upon the lame explanation that we were publicly given, I don’t have much faith in the pro-activity of CPS. On face value, I don’t see the logic and I do see the harm. I also see why they did it and feel as though that was the only driving force.

    I lke your comments about grades and agree that it is helpful. I also agree with Mayfair Dad that having a forum like this is an excellent source of information and should not be dismissed as parents angry at not being able to play the system.

  • 31. Sara  |  October 1, 2010 at 8:42 am

    CPS should drop the percentile requirement and use only the Scaled Score. My son is in the 99% in all subjects on the ISAT but falls somewhere in the middle within the Scaled Score range. The SS is much helpful in understanding his grasp of a subject.

  • 32. mom2  |  October 1, 2010 at 9:05 am

    @#11 – momof2 – I was at the Lane meeting last night and was told that they were “thinking” about changing the grading scale but that they have been “thinking” about doing this for 8 years so I am not holding out my hopes. No one, and I mean no one, could answer how having a 95=A would benefit anyone or any school.

    In several of the student’s classes at Lane, an A=95 even in a regular level class. I also found this out last night. But, some teachers have opted to make it a bit lower such as A=93. So, nothing is standard.

    And, I also found out that several of the “top 4” schools have already lowered their grading scale for most classes. Someone who also has kids at Northside said that they use a 90=A scale for most of their classes.

    If CPS doesn’t just force all schools to use the same 90=A scale everywhere, I don’t have hopes of seeing this change. It needs to come from the top and NOW. It is only hurting our kids.

  • 33. mom3  |  October 1, 2010 at 10:23 am

    To Lane mom. I can see how uniformity is important at elementary schools for admittance into SE high schools BUT the honors classes at Lane are weighted so a B becomes an A for GPA. At least that’s my understanding. So, class rank becomes important and it is a way of acknowledging the more stringent work in honors and AP classes.

  • 34. mom2  |  October 1, 2010 at 11:01 am

    @33 mom3 – are you directing your comments to me? If so, I am confused by this a bit. Yes, you are correct that an honors level course A is worth 5 points (AP worth 6 points) and regular is worth 4 points. But, honors and AP classes are much more difficult and more work which is why it is worth more to get an A in that class. It is a double whammy if you also need a 95 to get an A in the class. Pick one or the other.

    However, my point was that there are many regular level classes that have an A also equal to 95 and above only. So the comments about honors should be harder and therefore you need a 95 doesn’t work here.

    And my other point was that kids at other high schools have a different grading scale. So, when it comes to competing for getting into a college anywhere across the country, if you can get a 5.0 honors level A at Northside with a 90%, (or any high school for that matter) why does it make any sense that someone from Lane with a 90% in an honors level class should get a 4.0? It makes the Lane applicant appear to be a whole point lower (and therefore less qualified) even though they had exactly the same scores.

  • 35. mom3  |  October 1, 2010 at 11:46 am

    Somehow I suspect that it will be a lot easier to get into college than it was to get into high school. Most colleges can take a more qualitative look. Colleges will look at a class rank and a kid who got a B in an honors class will be on the same par as a kid who got an A in a regular class. Right? Also, I suspect that teachers will just adjust their scales without even realizing it to give the letter grade they want to give.

  • 36. mom2  |  October 1, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    We totally agree that getting into college will be easier than getting into high school. That is a given. But, kids with an inflated grading scale will still look worse on the standard college applications where you just check boxes indicating your weighted GPA and your non-weighted GPA. Not all schools look at things that carefully.

    What I find the most concerning is your comment that you “suspect teachers will just adjust their scales to give the letter grade they want.” Why have a grading scale at all if it will just be ignored?

    It appears that you think it actually makes sense to have all these different scales and let teachers decide and change when they feel like it. Do you or did I read that wrong? I know for some people, it is quite demotivating to have a D with an 80% or to hear that the teacher will just change things to whatever they want based on whatever they want whenever they want.

  • 37. mom3  |  October 1, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    Are you a freshman mom? If so, it sounds as if obsessing about grades for college is a bit premature. Life and grades will never be fair–and I say that after many jobs and years and years of education. Teachers and employers can be arbitrary even with the fairest appearing evaluation scale.

    I can see a unified grading scale because of the SE process-but then you have private and homeschoolers that have different scales. At some point, you have to say enough. It will never ever be as fair as you think it should.

    Learning and education is getting lost in the process.

    By the way, if everyone at northside is getting an A because they have lowered the grading scale, that doesn’t mean an A counts for much. Then test scores become more important.

  • 38. Mayfair Dad  |  October 1, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    I’m with Mom3 – it is way too soon to start obsessing about college admissions, riiight? (said in my best R. Huberman imitation)

  • 39. mom3  |  October 1, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    mom2–what would a fair grading scale look like to you? I’m just curious–and would you weight honors and AP classes?

    Incidentally, I just checked the grade site and my little scholar has an F in honors foreign language with a 74–mainly from not turning in two homework assigments and not doing that great on a quiz because little scholar hasn’t gotten it together. I guess my reaction is that little scholar better get to work and get that grade way way up–not change the grading scale.

  • 40. mom2  |  October 1, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    Sorry. I didn’t mean to sound so obsessed. I was using college to point out that grading scales do matter eventually as kids from around the country are compared. I think the whole school system should use the same scale and that it should not be arbitrary based on school and class and teacher. Plain and simple so you are always looking at apples to apples.

    A fair grading scale to me would be the 90=A, 80=B, 70=C scale across all grades and across all levels. That is how it was when I was growing up – grade school, high school and college. I have yet to find someone that can explain who benefits from a higher grading scale.

    Yes, I fully believe that an honors level course should give you 5 points for an A, 4 points for B and regular levels should be 4 points for an A and 3 points for B, etc. Honors should be worth more because an honors level course is supposed to be more difficult and possibly more work. If AP is a lot more difficult than honors, maybe an A should be 6 points (or maybe just the fact that you get college credit would be enough incentive to take that class).

    I was never trying to say that the grading scale should be lowered in order to allow our “little scholars” to be able to not turn in homework or do poorly on tests.

  • 41. CPSmama  |  October 1, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    mom3, you didn’t ask me but I’ll be happy to tell you that my idea of a fair grading scale- at least for the SE high schools -is one that is uniform across schools, levels and departments. They centralize the selection process and then let each school self-set their own vastly different grading scales? That doesn’t make any sense.

    None of the SE HS use class rank (anymore), but GPAs are very important for college admissions. However, colleges do receive GPA information that is school specific- what is the highest GPA at student’s HS and where does student’s GPA fall- compared to others at his/her HS.

    That said, I still think it is patently unfair for a kid at NS to get an A in an H or AP class by scoring a 90 while a kid at Lane gets a B for the same percentage.

  • 42. mom3  |  October 1, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    Ok you convinced me if the SE schools do not use rank anymore. Maybe it would be fairer if they went back to pluses and minuses. I seriously don’t ever remember being graded on a numerical scale except for a few scattered memories of some math tests maybe in high school. I remember just getting grades on tests.

  • 43. to #31 Sara  |  October 1, 2010 at 8:29 pm

    You raise a very interesting point. I like that idea that the scaled score should be converted instead of the percentile because my son’s math percentile on the ISAT dropped significantly but he did really well on the math short/extended responses which are factored into the scaled score. His scaled score was much better than what the percentile shows. I do admit that your idea is intriguing because the extended responses carry a higher weigh and IMHO show better critical thinking. ISAT percentile scores show how ell a child does on the first administration of the math/reading test and not how a child does overall. What if you have the jitters the first day and do extremely well the second day and on the extended responses–I guess it doesn’t count for much but it should!

  • 44. Nonie  |  October 2, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    The problem with SEHS is that CPS is trying to achieve two goals. The first, to provide a challenging school for academically advanced students. The second, to create racial and socioeconomic diversity in those schools.

    Some would argue that the latter goal cannot be achieved unless the first goal is set aside. This is why the New York City selective high schools look only to scores, nothing else. They have decided Stuyvesant, Bronx Science and the others are there to educate the highest achieving students.

    At some point, CPS has to choose their primary goal or eliminate SEHS and let all children attend neighborhood schools. Imagine how quickly those schools would improve if the parents participating in the above discussion were keeping their kids in the neighborhood and working to improve the schools for all children.

  • 45. to Nonie  |  October 2, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    If CPS elminated SE HS I still would not send my son to our neighborhood highschool. My neighborhood HS is riddled with gangs. While academic excellence should be the first quality you look at when selecting a school, my first quality in a school is SAFETY then academics. If my son doesn’t get into an SE HS he will be going to a catholic school (we are not catholic) because I can’t afford private school tuition.

  • 46. cps mom  |  October 2, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    Nonie – I too totally agree with you in concept. But gangs are a sad reality of my neighborhood school as well. In an interesting article in a previous post, the magnet and selective process morphed out of the desire to end “white flight”. Mayor Daley has thrown his hands up in the air in dealing with the gang problem in Chicago. How do you eliminate gangs in schools without infringing on human rights? For safety sake I would head for the burbs and I hate the suburbs. Now that some schools have become an Icon for CPS – they won’t give them up (just like NY). The best that CPS can do is add to it’s successes. I think that developing a workable “alternative school” program – as they have also done in NY – is desperately needed. Safe passage, school security and all the current measures are not enough to keep kids safe. How do we get into peoples homes and get rid of the guns? How can we start early to get kids on the right track? Providing a quality education in a safe environment should start at the preschool level.

  • 47. RL Julia  |  October 2, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    I don’t think eliminating the SE high schools would encourage anyone to send their kid to the local high school unless they were already considering it. The kids are too old, the educational stakes are too high, its too complex -plus your kid will be there for only four years.

    While I think class rank is a big can of worms -I am under the impression that at least Lane is still tabulating it – or else why did a Lane student inform me last spring of hers? Maybe they are eliminating it this year.

  • 48. Hawthorne mom  |  October 2, 2010 at 10:42 pm

    Honestly, I don’t care what the grading scale is as long as it is uniform across the system. If 90 is going to be an A at one school it should be for all, or a 93, whatever, it should all be the same. This is just another example of terrible leadership within CPS. How hard is it to say, duh, here is the grading scale–follow it? I mean, geez, they dictate every single other stupid thing, why not something important like this?

  • 49. CPS Teacher  |  October 3, 2010 at 12:50 am

    @cps mom….I think the “hate burbs” comment is really strange. How could you hate a place where your child could go to his “neighborhood” school without all of this drama? I miss living in the city but I WOULD NEVER send my child to a CPS school if I had other options. NS, Payton, Whitney, Jones are all good. Westinghouse has some great faculty and a principal who is working to get that school on the map. But how do you put your child on a bus to these places?

  • 50. @Hawthorne mom  |  October 3, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    Even if the grading scales were uniform across schools that still wouldn’t be fair to the students at classical and gifted schools who are working above grade level. How do we make it fair for them? Do we add extra points like someone mentioned above? An A at a classical school is worth 5 points and an A at a gifted school is worth 6…
    This system will never be fair for EVERYONE! If only we all could just walk to school that could meet the needs of ALL students–wouldn’t it be Utopia 🙂

  • 51. Hawthorne mom  |  October 3, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    From my perspective, kids in gifted/classical/AP whatever, should not get weighted grades. Kids who test into such programs are completely capable of working at that level. It should not be a huge stretch for them to do so, and if it is, they might not belong in the program. One to two years of acceleration is a good match for most accelerated kids and their instructional level. I think parents need to think through the implications of harder programs and the stress on grades and how it will affect high school admissions. I respect the opinions that differ than mine, though.

  • 52. @Hawthorne mom  |  October 3, 2010 at 7:54 pm

    No disrespect intended but I think you’d feel differently if your child was in a classical or gifted program. I for one I am glad I turned down the gifted school and put my son (a slacker) in a claassical school. I have heard some terrifying stories from parents whose kids attend gifted programs and they spend many hours on HW and projects at home and are awake at late hours studying. Yes, the children are quite capable at working at those levels but they are still working very hard. If they were doing grade level work it would be a peice of cake for them and I don’t think it is fair not to weight the grades. I know that a child in a gifted program is working harder than my child at his classical school and they need to have some type of allowance made for this. This is the reason at the highschool level that honors an B equals an A. The classes require more work.

  • 53. Hawthorne mom  |  October 3, 2010 at 8:54 pm

    I teach in a gifted program and I can tell you first hand that copious amounts of homework is more a sign of a bad understanding of gifted education by schools than anything else. A good gifted program does a ton of hands on learning, meets the needs of its learners, goes in depth instead of just accelerating and has students who demand to know more, rather than the other way around. I have a daughter in a gifted program after school hours and both her and the kids I teach do not struggle to work at that level. Five year olds who read at a second or third grade level, learning about why composting helps the earth, the implications of global warming, etc… and writing in depth about it. They aren’t struggling to do the work nor should they because that is their instructional level…..challenging but not incredibly difficult for them.
    This is huge concern to me when it comes to classical and gifted education. 4th and 5th graders should not be doing more than an hour of homework a night, no matter what kind of school they go to. Good schools make accommodations for the developmental needs of their students. I can tell you that I have one student right now in a science class for gifted preschoolers who can multiply and who can read at a 3rd grade level. But he can’t hold a pencil. I have to find ways to meet his giftedness while at the same time meeting the needs of his age. Schools need to meet the needs of their gifted kids without burying them in a workload more appropriate for a college student.

  • 54. @53  |  October 3, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    Hawthorne mom did not write that post numbered 52. #50 & #53 were written by me. Some gifted programs and even the Academic Centers BURY the children in homework. You are right when you say they should not do work that is more so suited for a college student. However, the reality is that SOME not all (I think) gifted programs violate the CPS homework policy on a DAILY basis. It is sad but the truth. On another thread someone mentioned that 1st grade at Lenart was the suicide grade where they put out kids who can’t keep up with the workload. It doesn’t matter that the kids at gifted and classical programs are working levels ahead BUT they are working harder to achieve at those levels. That said…it is not fair that their grades are not weighted for more. Once again I point out that honors classes at the high school level are weighted differently for that very reason.

  • 55. cps mom  |  October 4, 2010 at 8:33 am

    #49 – I have lived and gone to school in both the city and the suburbs. The reasons I prefer the city are numerous and specific to my experience. The point in my comment was to illustrate that even I would do something that went against my grain in order to get my son in a good safe school. As far as taking the bus is concerned, my son rides the El to school jammed with people commuting to work and other students with back packs. I’m guessing that many bus routes are the same. If a parent deems public transportation to be a hazard or inconvenient, they drive their kids to school just in the suburbs. If the CTA system is not safe for high schoolers then what are we talking about here – we need to all pack it up and move out of the city.

    I would like to see more of the learning at the elementary school level move back into the school and leave home for practice at reasonable levels. Our magnet school had regular homework of 2 to 3 hours a night. Projects had Monday deadlines so that you could spend the weekend working on them. I sat at the kitchen table with my son and was able to gauge the quality of the teacher based upon how much I was teaching him.

    An observation on gifted programs – the preschooler described in #53 is my definition of “gifted”. We did not test for any of the GEAP schools because my son was not at that level. I knew kids that got into these programs and just thought that “gifted” must not mean what I thought it did. It seems to me that the term “selective enrollment elementary school” is much more descriptive indicating that they take high scoring students. With this structure I would say that uniform scale and points should apply. As you mentioned, a truly gifted student is going to get high grades hands down anyway. It would seem to me that if your child was a high achiever, going to an academic center that feeds into a high school would be a route people would consider to keep them challenged. Otherwise straight A’s at any school will get you where you want to go.

  • 56. Grace  |  October 4, 2010 at 8:45 am

    M-F Dad — and others
    Am I the only one who thinks that a standard grading scale for elementary schools (a first step) would be better than the mess that exists now?

    Has anyone asked the OAE why R. Huberman or Ms. Flowers haven’t invited Ms. Joseph and the AIOs (CAOs) to develop a uniform grading scale for all elementary schools?

    This should be presented to the Blue Ribbon commission to vote upon and present to the Board. It’s not that hard.

    Lenart and Jackson kids sound as though they were unfairly treated last year. Anyone know what those schools have decided to do this year?

  • 57. Grace  |  October 4, 2010 at 8:57 am

    Regarding the “word on the street” about the coming changes to the SE HS admissions requirements.

    Does anyone else think that reducing the share of students who are admitted to the SEHS from 40% to 30% is a big issue?

    Consider, for example, how it would work at WP. The current freshman class at WP is 164 students; 40% of whom (about 66) were accepted on merit, and those kids had scores of between 894 and 900, with a median of 898.

    Now if the merit students’ share is reduced to 30%, only 49 students out of 164 would be admitted, and I would guess the range will shrink to 898-900. Is this ridiculous?

    If you shrink the share of merit students and at the same time lower the cut-off score, you can create a big shift in student population.

    A more reasoned approach would be for CPS to lower the cut-off score but leave the merit percentage at 40%, getting more tier 1 and 2 students at the top schools without squeezing the merit portion of admissions into the stratosphere.

    Or they could use real income data for those students who are eligible, not every applicant, to eliminate the unfairness of some neighborhood addresses.

  • 58. mom2  |  October 4, 2010 at 9:00 am

    @56 Grace – Why only elementary schools? How about a uniform grading scale for all CPS schools? Include high schools of all types and then I would totally agree. And don’t wait and think about it for a few years. Just do it now – before the first report cards are issued.

  • 59. Grace  |  October 4, 2010 at 9:06 am

    Hi mom2 — you’re right.

    I’m just thinking that CPS should have already considered the issue as part of the changes to SEHS admissions that the Blue Ribbon panel will propose. Now is the perfect time for — at least — the elementary schools to get their standards in place.

    The panel and the CAOs have certainly heard a lot on this topic — especially as it hurt so many top students at top schools, like Lenart and Jackson. It’s weird that they wouldn’t have addressed at least the elementary schools by now, don’t you think?

  • 60. cps mom  |  October 4, 2010 at 9:43 am

    They will never make a grade scale change retro-active after the school year has started. Jackson bowed to parental pressure to make a 90 a B for current 7th graders. They are still licking their wounds from last year and the current 8th graders have the old 93 an A scale. I am sure that the selective enrollment scoring system will change in respect to grades. I do believe that a uniform scale at both the elementary and high school level would be beneficial for all. A gifted or high achieving student will score at the top end of the scale anyway.

  • 61. cpsobsessed  |  October 4, 2010 at 9:51 am

    @Grace (and everyone) – I’m in agreement that the Blue Ribbon council should include a reco that the grading scales be standardized or they use a straight % measure for determining grades, rather than letter grade.
    It probably is too late for this school year – as someone pointed out they probably can’t make changes retroactively.
    Also, I suppose our time to give our 2 cents was at the public forum meetings, which I blew off because “I’m a busy mom, blah blah blah.” And of course 7th grade will roll around and I’ll be complaining about it. 🙂 I was pondering on the train this morning whether it makes sense to get in touch with the Blue Ribbon panel to express the sentiment, but I realized that I’d be kind of embarrased to come in so late in the game. In theory, they should have their recos in place and be ready to present them to the board (if they have not done so yet.)
    I’ll see if I can investigate whether it has happened and when the public will know of the recos.
    I need to get better about following the board meeting minutes (a scintilating read, no doubt.)

  • 62. cps mom  |  October 4, 2010 at 10:41 am

    cps obsessed – I have been attending the CPS forums both last year and over the summer advocating for fairness of grades and grade scales and others have as well. What really gets me is that the schools did not join the cause until after the 2010 class was – dare I say it – negatively impacted by CPS policy, or lack of it. There were a few parents chiming in but my suspect is that more students benefited by this issue than were hurt. I believe that the point has been heard, so not to worry about having a presence. If in fact the grading issue is not addressed, CPS will have blatantly ignored the now loud appeal by schools and parents. I don’t believe that this issue will be passed up this year. I hope the findings of the committee and the board will expand to policy across CPS and into high schools as well. If not, that’s the next fight.

  • 63. cpsobsessed  |  October 4, 2010 at 10:47 am

    Thanks cps mom, for the update AND especially for taking the time to make the effort to make the opinion known.
    It’s funny because I guess many of us don’t know whether the fight for an even scale across CPS will end up hurting or helping our own child in the end (or maybe some do, based on their own school.) But I think it just seems like and obvious necessity in a school system for crying out loud! How can one school system that feeds into the same High Schools allow different grading scales?! It’s just counter-intuitive!

    Again, I really appreciate those who make the effort to attend meetings and let CPS know that parents have opinions and care about the policies.

  • 64. Mayfair Dad  |  October 4, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    To summarize:

    – We agree that CPS should institute a consistent numeric grading scale across all elementary and high schools, especially critical in 7th grade because of SE high school admissions implications, and in high school because of the college admissions implications.

    – We agree to disagree about whether kids in gifted, classical, honors, AP, & IB programs should have their grades weighted because the work is above grade level.

    I think the first point is essential; I’ll even concede the kids in accelerated programs are capable of doing the work at an A level or else they wouldn’t be there. CPS just needs to define numerically what an A is and apply it consistently.

  • 65. nonie  |  October 4, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    Add to that list: keep the rank admisson percentage at 40%.

  • 66. mom2  |  October 4, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    Mayfair Dad, I agree with your list.

    @65 nonie, In my perfect world, rank admission percentage should be higher, but that is a different thread discussion and I don’t want to muddy the clear waters from Mayfair Dad.

  • 67. momof4  |  October 4, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    Merit should certainly be much higher than 40 percent. The talk of lowering it to 30 percent is absurd. Where in the process is the proposal related to SEHS?

  • 68. parent  |  October 5, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    ok so hang on to your hat and bear with me a lilttle. I’m just going to repeat again that I think it a terrible idea to weigh grades in the gifted and classical programs in any way heavier than other schools. Again the research on the real value of this testing questions if it is an indicator of real import in any way other that socio-economic. Secondly plenty of kids in CPS achieve much higher than grade level learning in settings that are absolutely different from the classical/gifted programs. Not all parents believe that the geap programs are appropriate for their very bright children- I can’t say the parents I know at Lenart consider the place holistic- it’s not why they are choosing that style of education and that’s ok. I think the teacher comment about homework is well taken.
    I think it is hard for folks in the geap system to imagine other parents of high achieving students not wanting a child in the gifted classical program but in my experience it isn’t that uncommon.
    On a second but related note
    Schools in Chicago are still so acutely segregated that the consent decree should never had been vacated. Reweighing the grading system to turn it to classical and gifted program advantage would be farce. I’m not trying to be offensive so please hear me out.
    If you can read the testimony of the students from the Social Justice High School- or even the highlights in old Chicago NPR posts it may shed some light on why I feel so strongly about it. I sat and listened to an hour in the courtroom during the hearings of Chicago students talking about their elementary educations. It should curl your hair how deprived of a basic safe education most kids are here on a daily basis.Very bright poor kids. They are totally aware of it and eloquent on the subject. I’m as aware as any parent in a magnet or oae school the trade -off of CPS. The crosses come with the better funding and extras that come from the good side of the system for so few.
    Sometimes I think like many European cities they should take the top 10-15% of every high school in Chicago for the Se high schools. Now that would bring about some serious change.

  • 69. my 2 cents  |  October 5, 2010 at 6:46 pm

    Reading these comments makes me think that entrance into SE schools should be based on examination only. It’s ridiculous how complicated and disparate this 7th grade grade issue is. I don’t think the gifted students should receive weighted grades.

    With respect to the high school grading issue, I’m inclined to think that an A in an honors class at Lane Tech really means something,

  • 70. Rnorth  |  October 5, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    @Hawthorne mom, I’m confused by your post. The classical program is easier from a homework standpoint than the gifted? Which program are you referring to? I ask, because I’m really not sure whether a gifted or classical program will be better for my child. It also seems that the classical programs rank better with isat test scores.

  • 71. Mom2  |  October 5, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    @69 – not all students test well. While I agree that 7th grade is very traumatic, grades can tell you much more about a student than one or two tests can. I think only basing admission to SE high schools on test scores would be unfair to very bright students that do very well in a classroom environment (with participation, projects and shorter tests) but do poorly on these admission type tests. In fact, SE schools would miss out on some of the better students by doing this.

  • 72. cps mom  |  October 5, 2010 at 9:56 pm

    As it stands, they have to test well to get in anyway. The only uniform criteria are the tests. Teachers want to think that their grades mean something and they do measure more abstract (not quite the word I’m looking for, but you get it) capabilities such as organization and thought process. In the interest of leveling the playing field, I think they should have a lesser value. I also think there should be a writing component like you see for the IB programs.

  • 73. parent  |  October 5, 2010 at 11:12 pm

    I think higher order thinking is reflected more clearly in project work that takes time for a student to design and carry out. Writing and work portfolios reveal the depth of study that a student is capable of. How this kind of evaluation can be done for a large number of students is beyond me. Who would be reading and evaluating student writing? How many students does the ib typically review in a year?

  • 74. Hawthorne mom  |  October 5, 2010 at 11:15 pm

    #70, I am confused by post #54 as I DID write post #53. As for the poster who wrote the #54 post, it seems as if that person believes classical programs are easier than gifted programs. I don’t have a strong opinion on that. Perhaps poster #54 can explain their thoughts.

  • 75. cpsobsessed  |  October 6, 2010 at 7:20 am

    @70 – RNorth:
    There’s a reason that many of the top Classical schools may rank at the top of the test score lists, which is that they tend to be freestanding, while some of the gifted programs also are housed with a neighborhood school. CPS only reports combined scores for these schools (if I were in charge that would not occur!) There really is no way for parents to break out the scores for those schools, so you can’t even really assess the neighborhood program’s scores. Based on what I’ve seen, I’d say all the gifted/classical scores have nearly every student performing at or above grade level, as expected since they all tested in! When you have a large pool and few spots, the kids who get in have tested pretty well which is usually (although not always) a predictor of school success. It would actually be pretty difficult for these schools NOT to achieve high test scores!

    Looking at the Chicago magazine ranking, of the top 6 test scores in the city, 3 are gifted (all freestanding with no neighborhood program) and 3 are classical.

  • 76. cps mom  |  October 6, 2010 at 9:02 am

    #73 parent – I agree that schoolwork shows a much better picture of the overall student but the problem is that there is no uniform measure of schoolwork – not even in the grades. That is also why I said that grades should not be eliminated altogether. People talk about playing the system, well that runs rampant in the schools. A teacher will downgrade a child that can’t sit still, interrupts the class or just plain gets on their bad side (as much as they wouldn’t admit that). In the reverse, it amazes me how A’s can be achieved by joining merit clubs and having a parent active within the school system. We all know this. There is so much room for play here and some schools take advantage of that.

  • 77. Mayfair Dad  |  October 6, 2010 at 9:12 am

    Evaluating a student’s entire year’s worth of grades in core subjects makes sense. Not every kid tests well. But the lack of a standardized grading scale makes no sense at all, especially considering what’s at stake. And the “penalty” for getting a B is too steep, so the point formula should be modified.

    Consider: tuition at St. Ignatius is $15K x 4 years = $60K. So a comparable education at NS, Payton and WY is worth the same. Schools who intentionally game the system with deflated grading scales are ripping the rest of us off – big time.

  • 78. Mayfair Dad  |  October 6, 2010 at 9:18 am

    I like the idea of adding a writing component, too.

  • 79. momof4  |  October 6, 2010 at 10:12 am

    Mayfair Dad –
    You are so right on. I say we replace the outgoing Huberman with you!

  • 80. Mayfair Dad  |  October 6, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    Momof4:

    You’d be better off waiting for Superman 🙂

  • 81. obsessed2  |  October 8, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    My 4th grade daughter attends a charter school in Chicago. They changed her grading scale from the regular 90-100 A to 93-100 A, 85-92 B, 77-84 C, and 69-76 D. C’mon now! Since when did a 76 become a D!!? This is utterly ridiculous!!! Now I find my daughter going from an A/B student to a B/C student. She took a test of 10 questions and answered 7/10 correctly-but still got a D! This is B.S.! I asked the principal why the change and she stated the same thing-to up the playing field and blah, blah, blah. Yeah, whatever-they need to have the same scale across the board. I have no shame-I will literally sell my body before I ever send my daughter to one of these dilapidated CPS high schools. If she doesn’t get in an SE high school, she will be attending a Catholic, private, or out of state boarding school!

  • 82. cps mom  |  October 8, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    Join the club. At our school an 87 was the B cut off – now that’s ridiculous. Irregardless of selective enrollment issues, I found myself having to explain away 86 C grades to those schools that actually looked at the report card. I happen to think that an 86 is a decent grade. How can any high school truly evaluate a student off letter grades (which is what they get). The grading scale issue does go beyond selective enrollment. I hope for those going forward that this is changed.

  • 83. Mom2  |  October 9, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    Is there anybody at all out there that thinks an 86=C is a good thing and if so, why? Please explain who this benefits and what “upping the playing field” means and how this benefits students or schools. Someone out there thinks this is good or it wouldn’t be that way at any school, but I can’t find a single person to admit they think it is good and to explain the benefit.

    I do understand that if a school is too easy for the majority of the students, then the curriculum needs to be changed to be more challenging. Don’t keep teaching the same thing but make it harder to get an A. That benefits no one.

  • 84. @83  |  October 10, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    Good point! If charter school mom’s school was trying to make it harder to obtain A’s and B’s then they should get a harder curriculum and not teach the same old things. I never looked at it from your perspective. What about the schools that have a challenging curriculum and crazy grading schools…this whole system just will never be fair to everyone. This whole thread raising some very interesting points about the entire SE process. I’m going to try not to stress it. I’ve got couple of years for the oldest and a few years several years for youngest. Let me start saving now for a catholic highschool 🙂

  • 85. Mayfair Dad  |  October 11, 2010 at 10:09 am

    @ 81 thru 84

    This is exactly the point being made over and over in this thread, and what parents (the few that attended) at the Blue Ribbon Commission hearings asked for: a consistent grading scale across every school at CPS.

    A consistent grading scale has nothing to do with academic rigor and has everything to do with fairness.

  • 86. To #74  |  October 11, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    I meant that the classical programs accelerate by 1 grade level and gifted programs accelerate by two grade levels.

  • 87. To Mayfair dad  |  October 11, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    Here is what #83 meant and I agree with her. What was the goal the charter school was trying to obtain? Either they keep the same curriculum but make it harder to get an A/B/C or leave the grading scale as is and make the curriculum harder. Mom2 was just trying to say don’t arbitrarily change the scale for no purpose just change the curriculum and make it more challenging and the school would still get the result it is trying to achieve, which I guess is to make their students more competitive.

  • 88. Mayfair Dad  |  October 12, 2010 at 10:17 am

    I get it. I really do.

    Some schools have moved the numeric threshold for an A higher (93), making it harder to obtain an A. But that doesn’t make their curriculum any richer or more challenging or more thorough — it just makes it numerically more difficult to obtain an A.

    If a school decides to increase academic rigor, this is done most effectively through the curriclum, not the grading scale. Tinkering with the grading scale is a parlor trick to placate parents.

    Since the selective enrollment high school process is a contest where students compete for $60K worth of superior college prep education, and core subjects in 7th grade have such a dramatic impact on the outcome of this contest, the grading scale needs to be consistent across all schools.

    IMHO re: gifted and classical: if a student is capable of doing work at this level, they are capable of obtaining an A at this level. Their “competitive advantage” will be revealed in the ISAT and Entrance exam scores.

    I hope the Blue Ribbon Committee does the right thing and imposes a consistent grading scale across all CPS schools.
    We will find out later this month after the Board of Ed meeting.

  • 89. Grace  |  October 12, 2010 at 10:22 am

    I hope that CPS administrators read this blog., don’t you?

  • 90. Mom2  |  October 12, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    Grace, I agree. I hope that they are aware of this blog and read through it to really understand what is wanted. Do you know if anyone has sent them a link? And who exactly is “them”?

  • 91. MMM  |  October 19, 2010 at 11:46 pm

    I have to disagree with those of you that insist that gifted/classical grades should not be weighted. On the one hand, there is no way of telling whether or not these kids are actually “gifted”, since CPS does not use a complete test with nationalized norms but instead uses “parts” of tests, making their own test (this is what the people at IIT told me). So, why shouldn’t they be rewarded for what amounts to diligence and hard work (just as AP classes in high school are weighted)? This especially applies to the kids in classical schools.

    On the other hand, lets just assume that these kids are indeed gifted. Even in that case, good grades are not a “symptom” or an automatic byproduct of giftdness. Google “gifted” and you will read many accounts of how highly gifted people are often distracted, disorganized and come off as underachievers.

    Seriously, you can’t see why kids working 2 years above grade level should get weighted grades? Some have even commented here how the homework in the gifted program has a reputation for being outlandish and, because of that, would not put their kids in those programs. Well, then how can you not agree that extra work = extra pay off?

    I do agree that CPS needs a universal grading scale. I don’t care if its 90/A or 94/A or whatever, it just needs to make sense.

  • 92. mom2  |  October 20, 2010 at 8:40 am

    MMM, I would agree with you but only up to a point. The problem with wanting to weight grades for gifted and classical is not so much that an A in a gifted or classical doesn’t deserve it, it is just that there are other schools in the CPS system that some would say have just as rigorous a curriculum as some gifted schools. So, how do you determine which of these other schools deserve the same weighting of their grades? And if you say that none of them do, then you have not researched all the schools in CPS. You end up punishing those kids that get straight A’s at those schools by taking away all the available slots at the most selective high schools and giving them to the gifted and classical kids.

    Does anyone know how many (if any) students from the gifted and classical schools with straight A’s in 7th grade did not get selected for a SE high school? Maybe the need to weight those grades is mute based on statistics. I have no idea.

  • 93. cps Mom  |  October 20, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    #92 – strongly agree, I was just going to say that. There are magnet schools and neighborhood schools teaching above grade level and it would be impossible to access which programs deserve to be weighted. Speaking from experience, my student with A’s and B’s and perfect (99%) test scores did get into selective enrollment, not Payton or Northside. As the system works now, you need 3 or 4 A’s with high 90 test scores to get into the top 2 schools. In my opinion, if something doesn’t change with the grading or the weight of the of grades in the composition of points needed, why would someone targeting those schools want to put their child into an accelerated program and risk getting B’s? To the credit of CPS, it seems like many students are well qualified for top schools.

  • 94. cps Mom  |  October 20, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    apologize for automated spelling – assess not access

    Bottom line, something has to change in order for these programs to be successful in providing both a challenge to high achievers and in positioning them for high school. This is why I believe that grades should not play as much of a role as they do and the testing needs to be modified to adequately evaluate qualitative and reasoning skills along with analytical writing.

  • 95. Mayfair Dad  |  October 20, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    If you are a Tier 4 student and you receive a “B” in seventh grade, you will NOT be attending Northside, Payton, Jones or Young, regardless of your excellent ISAT scores. If you do extremely well on your SE entrance exam, you might get into Lane — on the second round. Even if (especially if?) you attend a gifted program and are doing work two years above grade level and where 93 earns an A.

    Welcome to my world. Tier 4 is a b***h.

  • 96. mom2  |  October 21, 2010 at 9:12 am

    Mayfair Dad, if it helps at all, a friend of ours had one “B” in 7th grade, tier 4, did very well on ISATs and SE exam and got into Lane in the first round. Oh, and by the way, this student is very happy at Lane – feels challenged, meeting wonderful friends, great teachers and a real and total high school experience.

  • 97. cps Mom  |  October 21, 2010 at 10:04 am

    Does one B mean 3 A’s? If so, not surprised that he got into Lane. We are talking about multiple B’s (like that’s a bad thing!!!). Lane is a great school with so many programs within the school – I’m sure you already know. I’m sure that after the back and forth of multiple rounds and filling spots vacated you will get a selective offer plus more. I think the frustration is when you get to the 8th grade level and start evaluating which schools are a sure bet based upon what you have in hand then the anxiety kicks in. Once the reality of the impossibility of Payton/NS is accepted (without much difficulty in my case), evaluating the options should be a lot easier for a smart kid in an advanced program that is a high test achiever. I know the feeling.

  • 98. mom2  |  October 21, 2010 at 10:44 am

    Sorry, yes, one “B” means all the rest were A’s. And the “B” happened due to the same issue Mayfair Dad mentioned – a 92%! Crazy, isn’t it?

  • 99. went through this  |  October 21, 2010 at 9:26 pm

    You cannot get into NSCP or Payton with a B unless you have really high test scores and are in a lower tier. My kid had a 990 in Tier 4 and would have gotten into all of them. He picked Lane and is very happy. It is a great school and I think he would have been miserable at some of the others–incidentally, even with that score, he is not getting great grades so far–but he sure is having a great time and is learning. You have to be really well organized and keep up on all the homework and assignments. We are very very happy so far. The curriculum is very interesting and the teachers are very responsive. There is also a cast of characters. It suits us. One of his complaints about the schools when he shadowed and toured was that they didn’t have anything interesting up on the wall. Certainly can’t say that about Lane or St. Ignatius.

  • 100. p.s.  |  October 21, 2010 at 9:31 pm

    Mayfair dad. P.S. You can definitely get into Lane with even 2 B’s in Tier 4 if you have high test scores. I paid pretty close attention last year. Your son shouldl get in if he tests well.

  • 101. cps Mom  |  October 22, 2010 at 10:21 am

    Mayfair Dad – I like that everyone is concerned about your son. You deserve the support as your thoughtfulness has helped others. One more piece of information that will help is that in round 2 last year Lane accepted scores of 751 for tier 4. With 4 B’s and high tests (which you already have half of in the bag) looks like Lane should be a go. I also think that changing the grades to a point value will change the overall complexion of the scores but will more than likely benefit you. I know that holding out hope for a round 2 can be stressful but I would consider Lane probable.

    I have heard feedback from friends who found themselves at Lincoln Park due to SE issues and overall they are pretty happy with a couple kids flourishing in sports. One woman who had a daughter graduate in 2H and now has a freshman is pretty amazed by the transformation. One word of caution is that they seem to have “over booked” due to unexpected demand. I’m not sure how they will handle admissions this year. 3 kids from our school went to Ogden which is looking better and better, has awesome international opportunities and a slam dunk for you.

  • 102. Uptown Mom  |  October 24, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    @Mayfair Dad – What are your thoughts on Ogden’s International Gifted program as a junior high experience, if you don’t mind sharing? We went to the open house and were impressed by the international focus of the IB middle years program and the plans to add the IB Diploma program. We like the concept of mixed-ability classrooms with differentiation for the international gifted students and other students, does it work in practice?

    It seemed possible (even likely) that the 6-8 grades would stay with the high school program rather than moving to the new building as part of the elementary school next fall. How has that mix worked? How has sharing the building with another school worked?

    If you’d rather share offline, my email is newcpssearch at gmail dot com. Thank you.

  • 103. Mayfair Dad  |  November 1, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    Thanks everybody. Mayfair Dad is letting this CPS madness get under his skin. Mayfair Son will apply to Lane, Lincoln Park IB, Von Steuben Scholars — fallback is Ogden. Our wild card is Westinghouse because I have a hunch it will be the next hot school (like Jones). Mayfair Mom is a proud Lane alumna so we would be thrilled if he gets in. Overall a pretty rosy outlook, so I am sleeping easier at night.

    @ 102, we are very happy with the Ogden junior high program. Ken Staral runs a tight ship and the teaching staff is excellent. Our only complaint is the long bus ride, although a few other kids from our area have been accepted so we have arranged an informal car pool home in the afternoons.

  • 104. cps Mom  |  November 2, 2010 at 7:56 am

    sounds like a great plan!

  • 105. RL Julia  |  November 3, 2010 at 10:03 am

    I am sure Mayfair son will do wonderfully and get in somewhere he likes. Antedotally, I have to say, I have never heard of a kid applying not getting into at least one of the high schools they apply to. Good luck.

  • 106. mom2  |  November 3, 2010 at 10:50 am

    RL Julia, I agree that Mayfair son is in great shape and any school would be lucky to have him (and his Dad)!

    But, I do have to tell you that I know of several tier 4 students that applied to 5 SE schools and did not get into any of them. These were good students with a few B’s and very good but not perfect test scores. Most ended up at Lincoln Park Double Honors or one of the new smaller high schools that opened up in the past few years. So, they did get in somewhere, but they were not necessarily very happy about not getting into a SE high school.

  • 107. cps Mom  |  November 3, 2010 at 11:50 am

    Mom2 is right. This whole A/B thing really has some far reaching implications. If the norm is now becoming that you need A’s to get into selective enrollment – especially for tier 4 (which deserves recognition, in spite of some aspersions that I’ve seen) – , how does that effect the way a school grades and it’s grade scale? How does the parent of a 5th grader trying to position and prep their child for high school make the right moves? How does the parent of a kindergartner looking to place their child in a program that will take them through 8th grade position their child? There is a big problem because the elementary school is left to figure out how to make their program challenging, attractive to hardworking students that want to learn and be challenged and forthcoming with grades that will support and get their students into good schools. CPS needs to market the programs they have better – much better – so that their the non-selective programs are viewed as highly as the selective schools. Just call them selective enrollment schools already and provide seats for the smart hardworking kids that are not getting in and attractive to top college recruiters.

  • 108. RL Julia  |  November 4, 2010 at 9:20 am

    Mom2 – I include places like Von Steuben and Lincoln Park (and an number of other schools) in my list of acceptable places when I mentioned how everyone seems to get in somewhere. It might not the first choice (in one instance it was the last) or even an SE school but it was acceptable and the kids went.

    I only mention this because despite all the anxiety over getting into a high school, I haven’t heard of a child who didn’t get in anywhere they applied (SE, other, parochial, private) and ended up going to their neighborhood school, homeschooling, forcing their parents to move to the suburbs etc…

    The point being, it might be the last choice but they still got in. How often in life, does one get one’s first choice anyway?

  • 109. cps Mom  |  November 4, 2010 at 10:27 am

    Good perspective RL Julia. And that is something that parents looking at the high school options now or later should find comfort in. To add to that – please don’t make the mistake of not applying to enough schools and programs. I have seen that happen.

    I still think that a simple thing like renaming a program “selective enrollment” would do wonders in making people feel good about these other options. Maybe even make them a first choice. For example, Lincoln Park IB, is sought after by those totally savvy with the program and all that it has to offer. It continues to play second fiddle to Payton, NS and even Whitney and Jones. If the program was put into the freshman building, separate from the rest of the school and called “selective enrollment, emphasis IB”, you would have thousands clambering to get in.

  • 110. Hawthorne mom  |  November 14, 2010 at 11:25 pm

    We are a tier 2 family. We are a long way from high school. I wonder what kind of score a tier 2 kid would have to get to get into any one of the top 5 SE schools or LP? It is really too early to decide what kind of students they are (K and 1st), but sometimes I worry about my second child (a Kindergartener….how crazy is that?)
    I doubt we will be here by the time high school rolls around (husband is up for tenure next year in his school in burbs, we plan to move) but I spend an inordinate amount of time worried about high school. Like many others, I have to remember, there are a few high school options out there that aren’t awful, besides the SE schools.

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  • 112. uniform grade scale  |  May 8, 2014 at 11:20 am

    “Our Policies and Procedures Office is initiating work in developing a uniformed grading scale,” Gurley wrote. “The grading scale would provide for a common grading system across the district, and become effective for the 2014-15 school year.”

    Has there been any movement on the grading scale to make it uniform?

  • 113. wonderingAloud  |  July 8, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    What is the grading scale at NS? I keep hearing 90 = A. Is that still on?

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