Filling Selective Enrollment seats mid-year PART 2

January 3, 2011 at 2:12 pm 23 comments

When I posted last week about the policy on filling spots in gifted/classical classes during the middle of the year, a few people had questions.  I called back to the Office of Academic Enhancement and got the following info:

Q: Are seat filled mid-year in the Selective Enrollment High Schools?

A: Not really.  The schools tend to over-enroll by up to 10%, as they’ve learned that that number of kids will “disappear” over the summer.  The exact class size isn’t quite as important in the high school grades as in the elementary grades, so they just keep them as they fall.  IF there was some unusual circumstance where a class was under-enrolled, the principal could request to fill spots, but it doesn’t sound like this has happened yet.

Q: How late in the year will elementary spots be filled?

A: After the middle of the year (2nd semester… do we have semesters?)  they figure that moving a child from a “regular” class into an accelerated program might be challenging.  So after the mid-year point they don’t plan to do it.   I suspect that if you somehow knew your child was next on the list AND you were monitoring a certain school AND you knew a spot came open, you might be able to make a case.

I inquired as to how parents might know their child’s ranking and the nice OAE lady mentioned that some parents are more….. (she searched for the right word…) “diligent” than others at keeping track of these things.


Speaking of diligence, I lack it these days.  I did sign my son up for yet another year of gifted testing.  Our first test time was 8am on a Sunday morning.  (Why this is a test time, I don’t know.)  I rescheduled for today at 1pm (Monday Jan 3) somehow not realizing it was the first day back at school.  (Again, why is this a test time?)  In my usual slacker way of operating, I called OAE mid-day on new year’s eve and asked to reschedule.  Luckily they didn’t laugh at me, but told me to call back today.  I just couldn’t see yanking my son out of school at noon on the first day back.  We’ll see if they give me a new test date or not.   By the way, I never received the letter in the mail with our test info.  Grr..

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Help get money from tax increase to schools SE High School Principals under fire for discretion choices

23 Comments Add your own

  • 1. RL Julia  |  January 3, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    Just curious – do you test your son every year as a way of monitoring his progress in school or because you want to change schools or some other reason? I have a few questions – antedotal story – friend of a friend of a friend kind of thing. Live in the Coonley district, went to check it out – and were basically appalled/depressed at the stark contrast between the gifted classrooms and the neighborhood classrooms. Anyone out there want to comment on this – or on any school with a gifted program within a neighborhood school. What is needed to get a nice balance/intergration? Story number 2- anyone know anything about the movement afoot to improve/take over Lakeview High School? I’d love to hear more about this.

  • 2. cpsobsessed  |  January 3, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    I just do the test to see how he’s holding up in terms of “giftedness” since he tends to be a bit of a slacker in terms of school work. I’m just big on assessment, so I want to see if he’d still test in to the class (or close to it) to see if I should be giving him extra help to keep up. Or whether I should let him flounder a bit to keep up, knowing he’s perfectly capable of succeeding if he puts in the effort. So far he’s keeping up with the work fine, so I’m getting less concerned about the test. Also, just since I’m a data person, I like to see if there is consistency year to year. In 3 years of testing, his score has been pretty consistent, but I’ve certainly heard of other kids with big swings.

    No idea what the difference would be between any gifted/neighborhood classrooms. Classes are all funded the same and given the same stuff, so unless there are teacher differences in how they lay out/present their classroom I don’t know what would make the difference. Especially in a neighbohorhood like Coonley (Tier 4, surrounded by million dollar homes — or they were in their prime.) Parents in gifted classes may buy extra materials for the classrooms because the classrooms are brand new and may not have all the stuff that’s needed. (Our class didn’t do that this year, but we did one year in the past before the economy tanked.) One possibility is that when new classrooms are added, they *may* get new furniture, etc. so it may look a little shinier. But I don’t even know if that’s true. I think the school often has to scrape together their own classroom furnishings. I think individual teachers can make or break a classroom. Unfortunately with my work schedule I’ve only set foot in my son’s own class twice this year! So I have no basis for comparison.

    I’ll keep my ear to the ground for anything Lakeview HS related… If anyone has heard rumblings, let us know.

  • 3. cps Mom  |  January 3, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    cpso – thanks so much for following up on the questions. No surprise that there is not set policy on filling vacancies at the SE high schools. This “overbooking” strategy sounds like another loophole to admissions.

  • 4. mom2  |  January 3, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    RL Julia and cpsobsessed, I, too, would love to know more about any and all Lakeview High School plans. Thanks in advance for posting anything you or others hear.

  • 5. Jennifer  |  January 3, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    My daughter is testing tomorrow for the first time, they said it’s the only day they’re doing prospective 2nd graders for classical. Not great as it means I have to take her out of school for half a day, I would have preferred the 8am weekend slot!

  • 6. SEN  |  January 3, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    I have two children at Coonley. One in options and one in the neighborhood program. My second one is in the neighborhood program and she is in her sister’s old kindergarten room. If anything they have made the room nicer since her sister was there for the options program. They closed up an extra door for a reading corner. The options kindergarten is now across the hall. I wonder what grade the person who saw the difference in the classrooms went to visit?

  • 7. momof4  |  January 3, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    I have seen little or no difference between the options program and regular program at Beaubien. The classrooms looks the same.

  • 8. adad  |  January 4, 2011 at 10:22 am

    Apparently there isn’t enough money for classrooms but plenty for everything else…when it comes to the board.

    “Spending, use of clout at Chicago Public Schools under investigation”
    by Linda Lutton Jan. 04, 2011

  • 9. RL Julia  |  January 4, 2011 at 10:47 am

    The person visiting Coonley was looking at Kindergarten but really at the school as a whole. I think they ended up at St. Bens – which might indicate that they were not prepared for the whole CPS look -which can be a lot less beautiful than some preschool classrooms.

    Thanks for the feedback though. Over the years I’ve heard stuff about the percieved discrepancies in the allocation of resources between gifted programming housed in neighborhood schools – and ensuing resentment. Personally, I don’t really understand why every school and every classroom isn’t doing the curricular individuation touted as a gifted perk by CPS. It seems only to make sense.

    Oh- one more thing on Coonley – one thing that the family noted was that the gifted classroom was capped at some semi-reasonable number while the neighborhood classroom wasn’t (or the number was higher) so it looked like the gifted K class had 22 kids in it while the non-gifted class had 32. Any comment to that?


  • 10. adad  |  January 4, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    Well that 22 number is distressing since our child scored in the 140’s for Kindergarten and did not get a spot at Coonley (our first choice) or any of our other choices. While it is fantastic for those in the class that the size is so small, it seems very unfair to those who wanted (and I think deserved) to get in. Although they might be referring to a different testing year…

  • 11. copy editor  |  January 4, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    Blaine has a “gifted” program, although it isn’t really a “gifted” program at all – the testing is mysterious; the key seems to be that the students be white, live outside of the neighborhood, and have parents who give lots of money. It’s caused a lot of tension in the school, which already has odd politics; some years, there have been grant funds or top student teachers dedicated to the “gifted” program that have led to those kids receiving opportunities that other kids in the school don’t get.

    It would be easier if they were performing at the 99th percentile, but these kids aren’t. Most of them seem to be on the right side of the bell curve, but that’s about it. Any kids who are truly gifted are in the options programs at other schools.

    I think that some schools throw around the term “gifted” to attract parents who will write big checks. There’s a huge difference between those programs and the options for knowledge programs.

  • 12. stillanonymous  |  January 4, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    What’s worse, #10, is that you cannot truly test “giftedness” at kindergarten. Preparedness, perhaps.

    However, I do not claim to have the answer as to how to best serve those students who, later, prove to truly be gifted. I just know that the answer does not lie with trying to identify them at the kindergarten entry point. So, to limit the opportunities to 22 students while “stuffing” 32 (among which there could be several gifted children) in another classroom is unconscionable.

    #11That’s distressing to hear.

  • 13. Mayfair Dad  |  January 4, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    The nice thing about having a child in a gifted program is you can say the word “gifted” without the other parents rolling their eyes.

    At the neighborhood schools the term is misused, misunderstood and occassionally toxic. For the record, I don’t believe my child is truly gifted – he’s just a bright kid who was not being challenged academically at the neighborhood school. In fact, over 60% of Chicago children do not attend their neighborhood CPS school.

    Here is the solution: end “brain-drain” by introducing the B.K.G.T.C.S. program at neighborhood schools: Bright Kids Going To College Someday. Do not take their higher-than-average ISAT scores for granted, rather provide an accellerated curriculum for kids who already speak fluent English and can handle advanced work.

    Soon this will stem the tide of capable students bailing for selective enrollment options. I hope the mayoral candidates are reading this blog.

  • 14. copy editor  |  January 4, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    Exactly, Mayfair Dad. There is a huge difference between a child who is truly gifted (about 1 percent of the school population) and a child who would be able to do well in college (probably closer to 50 percent). But somehow it’s been decided that only “gifted” children go to college, so anyone college-bound must be “gifted”.

    RL Julia asked about Lake View. At Blaine, there seems to be an effort to rebrand Lake View’s science and math program as a “gifted” program. It seems to be a nice college-prep program and a good step toward improving Lake View, but it’s not a “gifted” program.

  • 15. Two cents  |  January 4, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    I have had kids in RGCs like Bell and Edison, and also a classical school (Decatur) and even so, the kids in these programs are bright and can handle the acceleration, but gifted? I don’t think so…I know mine aren’t. Sometimes, a child is doing super advanced math or is inquisitive in a certain area, and so you might say that they are gifted (to some degree) but most of the kids I have come across (including my own) are smart and bright and like to learn. I have inquired on this term GIFTED with OAE and they stand by it. What is even worse is when a teacher tells the kids they are gifted…..I wish we would call it what it is….(ACCELERATED) and even more, I wish more programs could be offered through out the city. I am grateful for what we got from CPS but the term gifted is so misused.

  • 16. stillanonymous  |  January 4, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    BKGTCS. Love it. I’m in the 40% who send my child to a neighborhood school. And I believe my child is college-bound. (he doesn’t really have a choice. Ha.) Sign me up.

  • 17. Jennifer  |  January 4, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    In case anyone is interested, my daughter tested today as a 1st grader (for 2011/12 2nd grade) and said the test was just like the OLSAT test she sat in the fall at her current school. They read out questions (only twice, no more) and they had to mark which picture or answer was correct in their booklet. She had trouble hearing a couple of them so we’ll see what happens.

  • 18. mom2  |  January 4, 2011 at 10:49 pm

    BKGTCS is perfect! Now my only concern is if CPS will then say that everyone should be GTCS or should be given that chance, so this would be the normal program for everyone – just like it is today – so back to square one.

  • 19. RL Julia  |  January 5, 2011 at 10:24 am

    Well, since as far as I can tell, CPS (along with every other school in the nation) has dismantled their voc ed programs, and since every parent for the most part thinks that their kid should go to college, I think we might be back to square one. Of course, the ISATs , ACTs, Explore tests etc… really only measure one’s GTC potential – so the funding on a national level only wants kids to GTC.

  • 20. Clearing up  |  January 5, 2011 at 11:52 am

    I just wanted to clear up some things that have been posted about Coonley. 1) There are 28 kids in the RGC options or “gifted” class in K
    2) From what I understand there is 29 kids in each class of the neighborhood program
    I’m not sure when this person toured the school but perhaps some of the kids in the options program where at gym or something else. They do split the kids up and send some kids to library or gym while the rest remain in class. Therefore they might have thought there were less kids. It’s funny how people differ in their opinion because I toured St Ben’s and thought Coonley was actually a much nicer building with nicer classrooms. I can’t speak to academics since the kids at St Ben’s were basically packing up for summer when I toured.

  • 21. lhemom  |  January 5, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    My children are at south loop. We live in the neighborhood. My oldest is in the gifted program and my middle just tested. I really don’t think he will be in the RGC but I don’t care. my oldest needs the challenge, but that said, he’s be fine in any classroom at the school. from what i see, there is no difference in neighborhood program other than there are more kids in the class. the program for “gifted” kids is a misnomer and parents get all tied up in the label. i think the classrooms are just at a quicker speed than the other classes. And in the end, as the other persons mentioned, the teacher makes or breaks the class, regardless of the program. I am confident my children will go to college and be fully functioning human beings, regardless of the “title” of their classroom and program.

  • 22. giftedmom  |  January 5, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    My son tests in the 99% so I suppose he is gifted by that criteria. He’s not a great student and is currently not intellectually curious so by my definition, he is not gifted.

  • 23. northcenter dad  |  January 30, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    responding to mayfair dad – wow, how can you say that your child is not gifted if they are in the cps gifted program…unless i misunderstood. a common definition of gifted is like top 5 to 10% of students. but cps gifted is like top 1%. and by this standard, most cps gifted kids would fall into a second category of “highly gifted”.

    i agree with your thoughts on the “toxic” inference of the word. and i notice how for year 1, most parents just say “options” to mean the gifted classroom when standing inside a gifted center school. but i would add – when gifted parents demur the use of the word or the label for their own kids, then we are the worst of those who would deride the label. if your son or daughter is gifted…..use the word. at least until another word is found.

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