New policy on filling Gifted/Classical spaces mid-year

December 19, 2010 at 5:56 pm 16 comments

I recently found out about a change in policy regarding filling empty spaces in the Gifted/Classical programs.

In the past, if a class had an empty space from the first day of school on, it was not filled.  I never really understood the rationale behind this.  In first grade, one boy never showed up for school (seemingly transferred elsewhere but didn’t inform the school?)  Instead of finding a child to fill that spot, it remained empty all year.  I’d think it would be pretty easy to find a family to switch schools within the first week, but for some reason that was the policy.

This year, the new policy is that seats WILL be filled as they come empty throughout the year.  I found out because my son’s class had a girl move away last month and the school filled the spot with a child from the neighborhood program.  At first I wondered if there was some kind of principal discretion about filling spots from within the neighborhood classes.  I remember on a Bell tour a few years back the principal remarked how many kids in the gifted program were from the neighborhood, so I always kind of wondered.  Turns out this new boy in my son’s class was actually the next highest scoring kid in line for a spot.

I called the Office of Academic Enhancement.  As usual, they were highly responsive,  friendly, and forthcoming.  They did confirm that the policy has changed and that spaces will be filled by continuing down the list in order of test score (I don’t believe that Tier comes into play.)

I think it’s smart to fill these spots midyear.  I mean, there’s so few to begin with, it seems nuts to let some spots sit empty.  However, the impact is that there will be fewer seats at the beginning each school year, since they’ll have been filled during the year.  (Keeping in mind, the number is “a handful” each year – to quote the OAE (SEES?))

Parents who are willing to switch mid-year will be at an advantage if a spot opens up.

Ultimately, I’m not sure if it matter that much.  I don’t think parents will be turning down spots at other schools hoping a child moves away at their top choice mid year (although I believe this family in our class actually did turn down a classical school, knowing their son was at the top of the list in case a spot opened…. and against the odds, it worked out in their favor.)

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16 Comments Add your own

  • 1. cps Mom  |  December 19, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    Does the same policy apply for selective enrollment high schools?

  • 2. momof4  |  December 20, 2010 at 9:42 am

    Thank you for sharing this very important and very relevant information. I wonder, though, at what point does OAE stop filling newly empty seats and wait until next year. For example, if a child moves in the Spring, does OAE wait until the next school year? I suspect the deadline for any new kids will be some time in January. Any thoughts?

  • 3. klm  |  December 20, 2010 at 10:35 am

    That’s great new for so many parents, not to mention it plain just makes sense. In my child’s K at a RGC, 2 or 3 students didn’t show up, another changed his mind at the last minute, another’s family moved to another state after several weeks….,etc. Bottom line: There were 4 (or maybe 5?) spaces “wasted”, which was nice in the sense that there was a smaller class size for then-current students, but I couldn’t help but feel bad for all the families that would have jumped at the chance to enroll, instead of having to wait and hope for the next school year.

  • 4. cps mom 5  |  December 20, 2010 at 11:56 am

    There are pros and cons to this depending on what side you’re on. If your kid scored high and is relatively next in line it works out for you. I wonder if there is a way for you to know how “close” you are. However, if your kid didn’t score so well, by the time he takes the exam next year, and perhaps scores higher, there will be fewer slots.

  • 5. cpsobsessed  |  December 20, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    Good question about high school. I’ll try to call back and find out. My impression is that the family at my school was able to determine that their son was next in line for a spot… so I assume that the Office of AE was forthcoming with the info. Somehow that office always seems to run better than typical CPS.

  • 6. Christine  |  December 20, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    I think this new policy benefits the school, too. At Skinner North we got 4 or 5 new kids right around Thanksgiving. This bumped up the student body population to enough students that we now “qualify” for another part-time specials teacher. So we are getting an art teacher after the Christmas Break! I am very excited since my kid loves art and it was a tough decision to send her to a school with no art. A boy in my daughter’s kindergarten class moved away a few weeks ago. It will be interesting to see if they replace him.

  • 7. Jennifer  |  December 20, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    I think it’s a good policy although it’s not going to be advantageous for me as I’m trying to get my daughter in to a 2nd grade spot for 2011/12. But I agree that it’s wasteful to leave those spots open all year when there are kids who would have gotten those places if the parents no longer taking them had not taken them at the beginning of the school year.

  • 8. anonymous  |  December 21, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    I think it’s a necessary move. Why have these magnet and SE schools if we don’t keep the spaces full?

  • 9. Anonymous  |  December 22, 2010 at 12:13 am

    Classical/gifted principals actually have a really hard time filling mid-year slots with children from other CPS schools. In order to offer the spot to the next child on the list, the principal must request the student from the principal of the school the child is currently attending. These requests are almost always denied, since losing that student will lower that school’s numbers and strip it of a top scorer. As far as I know, this all happens without families being notified. So if your child’s name is next, but your current principal denies the transfer, you will never hear about it and your child will stay put.

  • 10. momof4  |  December 22, 2010 at 11:04 am

    Are you serious? This is all done without parents knowing? You’ve got to be kidding.

    I would be more than slightly ticked off if my principal denied my kid a better opportunity. This has to be illegal.

  • 11. Reesa On  |  December 22, 2010 at 11:38 am

    #9’s doesn’t reflect the change in policy. I’m a parent of one of the transfers under this policy. We were contacted directly by the OAE with the offer of the seat. When we accepted, we were instructed to inform my child’s current school and request a transfer to the new school. OAE informed the new school of our acceptance.

  • 12. Reesa On  |  December 22, 2010 at 11:44 am

    I meant to add. . the request was not from one principal to the other. The only way the leaving school was informed was through us by my
    transfer for the request and the email I had from the OAE confirming our acceptance.

  • 13. Montessori mom  |  December 22, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    this all started when a parent noticed the pritzker rg program was not at capacity at the beginning of the school year and then asked how they were going to fill the seats. This parent was told that the waiting list was closed.. So then this parent went to Cps central office and raised holy hell.

  • 14. Angry Dad  |  December 23, 2010 at 11:14 pm

    Hmmm….forget policy. It seems to depend on WHO you know. This happened in November in my kids’ non-first grade class and two neighborhood kids got bumped into the program, even though they were absolutely NOT the next two in line score-wise. I know this because my neighbor was allegedly told THEIR kid was NEXT in line (and eager for the spot), according to the school. Interestingly enough, these “new” kids’ parents are VERY involved in the school’s PTO and/or LSC. According to the parents in this situation, it is a principal’s discretion, but the principal has to talk to the OAE to make it happen. What are you going to do? (shrugs) I’m just a dumb dad.

  • 15. anonymous  |  December 27, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    #14. This is exactly why I am against principal discretion. If the system isn’t “blind,” and completely transparent, it isn’t fair. I was fine with principal discretion only for letting siblings in. But now that they’re in, I don’t see the point.

    I think it’s going to be up to parents (like that Pritzger example) to fight back when these things happen or they system won’t have any incentive to become more transparent.

  • 16. Grace  |  January 25, 2011 at 11:12 am

    The OAE needs a permanent, independent auditor for all its programs. I sincerely hope that the federal prosecutors on this investigation will read these posts.

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