Info on ChicagoQuest (aka “The Video Game Charter School”)

March 30, 2011 at 4:02 pm 119 comments

Quest holds open houses at their campus (1443 N. Ogden, near North & Clybourn) every Wednesday at 6 PM.
www.chicagoquest.org

For further info on the teaching style visit the NY site:

http://q2l.org/

I talked recently with Sybil Madison-Boyd, who will be helping the new CICS Charter School called ChicagoQuest get off the ground next year.  (FYI, she has kids in the CPS system but has worked extensively with charters as well.)

I’m posting this today because the Trib ran an article about the NY Quest school and my impression was a bit different.  The NY school definitely sounds like a school a kid would get excited about.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/education/ct-met-video-game-school-0330-20110329,0,2602945.story

(The long-haired boys and laptops in the photo certainly seem appealing to a certain boy demograhic…)

I mean this sounds cool: For city educators, Chicago Quest is an important foray into 21st century thinking. Students will learn from video game designers and computer experts how to design and build their own video games, produce custom websites, podcast, blog, record and edit short films and connect with technology in meaningful and productive ways.

But my impression from talking with Ms. Madison-Boyd is that Quest is more a progressive way of teaching that might appeal to many parents (whereas the kids aren’t going to playing games and using high-tech doo-dads all day.)

Here are my notes:

What is the educational concept of Chicago Quest?

The curriculum is innovative in that it’s designed and applied around the concepts behind gaming (both video and traditional.)  The goal is to engage middle school age kids, which tends to be a challenging age group by driving motivation from a different place.  There’s an emphasis on “systems thinking” that helps kids understand the world as different systems and how to approach them.  The teaching gets at critical thinking in a way that makes sense to kids and gets them interested in learning and taking on challenges.  (It’s more about the design *principles* of video games, than about video games themselves.)

There’s a mix of the old and new:
Hands on learning (learning by doing, rather than watching)
Schools as a place to learn good citizenship and a sense of responsibility
Teaching the ability to problem-solve alone and collaboratively
The school will have a couple cool high tech-ish learning tools, but the emphasis is more on the progressive curriculum than on technology itself.

While the NYC school sounds very tech-focused, I’m not sure the Chicago Quest will be (or at least not initially.)  The NYC school has tended to attract boys (which makes sense as it seems to have promoted the video game and tech aspect more) but the style of teaching is well-suited for both genders.

How would you describe this way of learning to a kid (because so far I’m not hearing a lot about video games and technology, which is how I sold it to my son)

There’s a lot of hands-on projects with your classmates
There’s group work
Kids are put into different scenarios and given problems to solve, either alone or with peers
Part of learning might involve taking on different identities to figure things out
Kids are encouraged to share what they’ve learned and what they know
There is learning done both alone and as part of a group

What kinds of kids would succeed in this school (can a video-game-loving little slacker boy make it work in 4 years?)

The school will have individual education plans
Good for “diverse learners” who learn through a range of stimuli (audio, visual, moving around.)
There’s a lack of sitting, lectures, and sitting and listening to the teachers talk

How with the school deal with kids at different levels?

To address the possible range of levels of students the school will assess kids when they start school and provide ongoing assessments.  There is an “Advantage Hour” each day to address specific skills that kids might need help with or time to work on extra challenges for kids who can work ahead.

Basic information

School hours are 8am – 3:30 pm
No transportation
Currently no before/after school care — will try to add activities over time
Located near Ogden/Clybourn (near North and Clyborn) in a renovated CPS building

Who can apply?

Right now, anyone by April 1, but the school will likely still accept applications after that until they reach capacity.

They will take 156 kids in each of 6th and 7th grade in the Fall.

The school will expand by one year each year until it includes 6th – 12th grades.

Currently there is no neighborhood preference.  CPS will make that decision.

Admission

The school is eager to attract new students right now.  This would be a great chance for families from the same school to send their kids to middle school together. If you know some families who would like to learn more, you can get a group together and the school will try to make arrangements to meet with you (such as at someone’s home.)

The first few classes in this school (the “pioneers”) can really help shape the future of this innovative school.

For more information, feel free to contact Sybil Madison-Boyd at 312-237-4050 or by email at smadisonboyd@chicagoquest.org.

I was told there will be an Open House on April 6th.  I’m trying to get more info on that.

The McArthur Foundation is holding an event that features NY Quest on March 31, but it may be filled to capacity at this point.  Info in this link:

http://chicagoquest.org/files/re-imagining-learning-mcarthur-foundation.pdf

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119 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Patty  |  March 30, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    My friend applied to this school for her child and I really hope he is accepted. He attends a private school in Lincoln Park and is tired of paying the tuition. This would be perfect, a free school through 12th grade. The NYC Quest is diverse and looks amazing. The NYC Quest test scores are high. They also offer five different foreign languages. I wonder if the Chicago campus will do the same. This school sounds exciting!!!

  • 2. cpsobsessed  |  March 30, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    Patty, I’ve never delved into the NYC school system web site. Is that where the test scores are? I thought the NY school had a bit of a lackadaisical approach to caring about test scores (which probably is quite refreshing and maybe impossible to avoid in CPS) so I’m glad to hear the approach seems to be working.
    I get the sense that most kids who apply will get in. I’m sure especially for 6th grade, which is a year when not many kids make a school move. They’ve got spots for 150, which is a lot!

  • 3. HSObsessed  |  March 30, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    Thanks for the summary. I’m surprised they’re planning 156 per grade, which will mean nearly 1100 kids at full capacity. I would want to know what the facility is like. I’ll have to check it out. Maybe you could post the exact address again. I know it’s in the Halsted/Clybourn/Division triangle area.

    I’m excited to hopefully see this new school flourish, and if my kid were at all interested (girly girl is not), I’d be putting in an app. I do see how they could use this innovative method to teach visual arts, social sciences like history, as well as “soft skills” like teamwork, strategic thinking and logic. However, at some point, there still has to be “book learning” for lack of a better word, to cover subjects like algebra and eventually trig or calculus, right? Maybe this is projecting my own issues of never having a problem reading history or archeology textbooks, but needing someone to walk me through new math concepts, LOL.

  • 4. Patty  |  March 30, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    I think the admission is by lottery for both schools (NYC/Chicago). As for NYC schools, test scores matter and they have magnet schools and selective test driven schools just as Chicago. I think the biggest difference from NYC schools and Chicago is that NYC test based schools admission is strictly determined by scores and not tiers or race. I actually believe our system is a little more messy. However in regards to the Quest school in NYC, their test scores is really high and its school is really diverse. NYC parents are more open to charter schools whereas in Chicago we have some parents that don’t respect them. I have a feeling that the Chicago Quest school won’t be as diverse as the one in NYC. I might consider the school for my son but he is in 2nd grade right now so it is too soon for him. Despite, that I still believe that the Chicago Quest school will be a wonderful addition to Chicago educational system.

  • 5. Patty  |  March 30, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    There will actually be two Chicago Quest campuses; one on the northside of Chicago (6-12gr) and one on the southside of Chicago (6-12gr). They are planning on calling the schools, Chicago Quest-North ad Chicago Quest-South. I wish they would closed down Luther South H.S (a private school) and put the South campus in that building. It is a nice neighborhood and safe. The North campus will open first and the south will open last.

  • 6. Patty  |  March 30, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    I don’t know why but I am REALLY intrigued with this school. The school just seem engaging and awesome.

  • 7. HSObsessed  |  March 30, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    OK, I just did a google street view, and I think it’s the old Sojourner Truth school at Clybourn and Ogden, currently being used by Skinner. Is Skinnger going to move out? Between Ogden’s and Skinner’s multiple campuses and new construction, I can’t keep up. Anyway, if that’s the building, it does look pretty big, hopefully plenty for 1100 teenage boys who like to move around a lot, LOL.

    With the last of the Cabrini building being torn down this week, that area will continue to develop. Target is talking about putting in a store on Division just south of there.

  • 8. Patty  |  March 30, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    No, Skinner North is staying put because the new Skinner West is already at full capacity. So I think you may be right that the school must be housed in the old Sojourner Truth School building. I am sure they will renovate the school before it opens and make it look nice and clean for the teachers and students.

    I also heard that a new Target will be opening in that area. This should be go for Chicago.

  • 9. cpsobsessed  |  March 30, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    Thanks HSO and Patty. Yeah, I’m pretty sure it the S.Truth building. I can’t keep up either. We need some kind of mapping tool that shows where schools are moving.

    Just FYI, Quest is also looking to hire innovative teachers who embrace the concept. If you know any teachers who might be interested, they can contact Sybil, info listed above.

  • 10. tk  |  March 30, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    You all know I’m excited about this! My son is anxiously awaiting official news regarding the lottery. Do you know when that information will be given out? In a previous communication it said this…

    Applications are due
    to CICS on APRIL 8th.
    If there are more applicants than spaces on the 8th,
    then a lottery will be held.

    Is it possible we could know something shortly after the 8th? Or will notifications be made after the official lottery date (the 13th) no matter what? We’re just a little anxious here! 🙂

    Also, do you know anything about the length of the school year? Most of the other charter schools have a longer school year, starting in mid-August. But it appears Quest is starting the Tuesday after Labor Day, the same as the regular CPS schedule (right?). Just curious if they will be going longer into the summer instead of starting earlier.

  • 11. tk  |  March 30, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    I just got an email from Sybil regarding an open house they’re having. She didn’t mention anything on the 6th but did give me the following information about the open house and the information they’ll be presenting tomorrow night…

    We are having an Open House on Monday, April 25th at Near North Library — 310 West Division — from 6-7pm.  So, you will get a chance to see some video, hear about the school, and get answers to any questions that you might have.  You can submit an application before then, of course, but we also will be accepting applications there.  

    The event is being videotaped and will be posted at www.macfound.org/learning  and the documentary featuring the school is also accessible by internet at  http://www.pbs.org/programs/digital-media/ .

  • 12. cpsobsessed  |  March 30, 2011 at 11:25 pm

    Sounds like they couldn’t get a location for the April 6th open house. If they do, I’ll post the info.

  • 13. Have they any literature on the curriculum?  |  March 31, 2011 at 7:13 am

    Would love to know more details about the curriculum, the research behind it, and how they intend to use technology. The ISBE doesn’t have curriculum standards for technology for our schools.Some states do.

  • 14. cps Mom  |  March 31, 2011 at 9:28 am

    I told my son who is a freshman in SE about this school. (The location is walking distance from my work). Said he only has one word to say about it “transfer”. LOL Good luck all, this sounds awesome.

  • 15. ed policy student  |  March 31, 2011 at 10:01 am

    Sorry to burst your bubble, but as a former CICS teacher, I can assure you that no one but the administration will be shaping the future of this or any other CICS school.

  • 16. cpsobsessed  |  March 31, 2011 at 10:06 am

    Can you elaborate?

  • 17. ed policy student?  |  March 31, 2011 at 11:33 am

    Would like to know more about CICS, Please explain?

  • 18. cpsobsessed  |  March 31, 2011 at 11:36 am

    I’m not clear whether you’re implying the CICS is very rigid in doing things their way.
    At many CPS schools, especially ones that are starting from scratch, the parents who get involved can help the school flourish by helping with stuff/expressing their interests in things like before/after care, after school activities, clubs, etc. Not the curriculum, but parents in Chicago often help bring connections and resources to a school that is growing. Do you feel that CICS is opposed to parent involvement of this type?

  • 19. Jill  |  March 31, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    What is the research on thus approach?

    From a marketing standpoint, sound enticIng, but would worry about kids being guineau pigs.

  • 20. bagg  |  March 31, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    FYI, target is looking at the vacated cabrini green site, adjacent to the skinner north and this new quest school.

    http://chicagobreakingbusiness.com/2011/03/target-eyes-cabrini-green-for-new-store.html

  • 21. ex-chicagoteacher  |  March 31, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    I am all for new way of teaching that uses technology to promote critical thinking. However, I am concerned that this program is run by CICS which runs mostly charter schools for minority and low income students. It appears NYC Quest schools draws students mostly from middle to upper middle class.

    Quest’s concept is all about promoting new way to engage kids through technology. I am not sure CICS is the right entity to duplicate what’s going in NYC here in Chicago.

    If you want to learn more about Quest school, watch this video from PBS. The first 15 minutes are all about the school.

    http://www.pbs.org/programs/digital-media/

  • 22. Christine  |  March 31, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    It’s going to be in the building where Ogden is right now. Ogden’s new building is under construction but it will be finished this summer. The Quest Charter School is moving in there. It’s right across the park from Skinner North!

  • 23. cps Mom  |  April 1, 2011 at 8:52 am

    ex teacher – all CPS programs (charter and otherwise) are for “minority and low income” students. They are also for any Chicago resident regardless of race or income. I would not appreciate a teacher of my child stereotyping in this way. Throwing cold water on a program that seems to offer an interesting approach to learning is not productive. A serious discussion outlining curriculum, plans and goals is what’s needed.

    If I had a 6th or 7th grader, I would attend the presentations offered by Quest.

  • 24. @23  |  April 1, 2011 at 9:35 am

    No offense intended. CICS currently draws students from the neighborhoods in which its schools are sited and these are minority neighborhoods often tier 1 or 2. This is tru of charters overall. So ex-tacher’s observation that this hig-tech school is not something that CICS has operated before nor is it in a neighborhood in which the charter company has ever worked is valid.
    I also wonder why CICS is handling admission and not CPS? We know there are always hiccups with admissions into highly sought-after public school programs. We need some assurance and oversight on how the admission process will work.

  • 25. @18  |  April 1, 2011 at 9:37 am

    Ed policy student?
    Did the CICS school that you taught at follow a state-approved curriculum?

  • 26. cpsobsessed  |  April 1, 2011 at 10:41 am

    Sybil directed me to the NY Quest site, where there is a lot more info on curriculum etc. I have to admit, it sounds cool. I don’t get the sense that the Chicago version will have (what sounds like) a lot of the high tech bells and whistles and classes in tech stuff like they have in NY.
    I did read that it is aligned with the NYC curriculum, which I’m sure the Chicago school will be.

    However… in terms of the good test scores that Patty reported, I realized something important. In NYC middle schools can screen their candidates. I know little about their process, but at least some of the middle schools require family/student interviews. Middle school is a big application time there, like HS is here. Here’s what NY Quest says:

    “Unlike the charter schools, Quest, along with all District 2 choice schools, uses its own selection criteria in creating the list of students we believe will be the best students to comprise our student body. Each school submits its list to the Department of Education, which then creates a randomly generated list of students for school assignments. Some schools require test scores, some a writing sample, some a math test, some an audition in order to create their list of students. At Quest, Informed Choice means that students and families must demonstrate an understanding of Quest’s unique curriculum and that they have actively chosen Quest as the right school for their child. At Quest, we believe that this will create an effective learning environment and best facilitate implementation of the curriculum.”

    I have to think that the ability to screen for kids/families who are “a good fit” contributes to the success of any school.

    Link to NY Quest for info on curriculum, etc:
    http://q2l.org/

  • 27. Video  |  April 1, 2011 at 10:46 am

    Worth watching! http://www.pbs.org/programs/digital-media/

    Shows how the students’ development of video games (including storyboarding, designing, coding, playing) is the backbone of the NY Quest school’s curriculum.

    (The NYC kids in this video are really smart to begin with, so I’d expect their test scores to be great, by the way. Wonder what their admissions process is?)

    The video shifts to Chicago eventually. Here the concept is called Digital Youth Network. It was started 5 years ago as an after school program at the U of Chicago Charter school under Nichole Pinkard, Visitng Assoc. Prof., De Paul.

    It has been added to the Harold Washington Library as the New Media Space on the first floor, on the east side of the building, as a FREE program for youth in 9th to 12th grades.

    Go and check it out. It’s a cool space to hang out, with great equipment to use. Sundays are the least crowded.
    The organizing principle underlying the curriculum is best articulated by a Prof. Gee of Arizona State: (my paraphrase below).

    ‘A game is a problem space. By designing video games, they learn that all a video game is is a set of problems you must solve in order to win. You take a complex problem and break it down into smaller pieces. ‘

    Well, that’s true enough. Wonder what E.D. Hirsch thinks of this. And I would wonder if the skills traditionally associated with an accomplished, well-educated, well-spoken young adult — like developing the ability to deeply analyze and write thoughtfully about works of literature or history or political science — have been given the time and space to develop in this curriculum?

  • 28. old fogey  |  April 2, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    I would seriously consider a charter school that offered a classical education — literature, hands-on science, history (not through a textbook — but thorough & deep), accelerated math, etc. Along with extended hours & at least 45 minutes of outdoor recess a day. Test in for some sort of academic rigor.

  • 29. another old fogey  |  April 2, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    Me too! CPS has some great schools already — a mix of magnet, selective, and neighborhood schools: LaSalle Language Academy, Edison, Hawthorne immediately come to mind.

    There are about 80 autonomous (a.k.a. AMP) schools, which CPS considers to be so well run that they can manage themselves without interference from CPS. That’s a good place to look.

    Magnets require a stanine of 5 on the ISATs.

  • 30. Patty  |  April 2, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    @old fogey , I really like your idea for a classical charter school. But I would lesser the time spent on recess from 45mins to maybe 23-15mins per day. But, I must admit that I am still intrigued with this new game-based school. I am interested with the concept and would like to know how it will turn out. I wish CPS would consider different charters besides the usual(Noble/CISC/etc).

  • 31. cps Mom  |  April 2, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    @29 – magnets do not require a stanine of 5. They are strictly lottery base. Out of the 3 schools mentioned, 1 of these – Edison – is a Selective Enrollment school requiring testing. These are great schools and there are others, just not enough to go around.

    This tech based school sounds particularly intriguing. Some charters do require an essay on the application which would be a good way to enforce some minimum standards.

  • 32. Southsider  |  April 2, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    “CPS has some great schools already — a mix of magnet, selective, and neighborhood schools: LaSalle Language Academy, Edison, Hawthorne immediately come to mind.”

    Can anyone point me to a “great school” on the south or southwest side of Chicago (other than the Keller RGC)?

    Thanks.

  • 33. Patty  |  April 2, 2011 at 9:34 pm

    @32, Mt. Greenwood Elementary & Cassell School are both in Mt. Greenwood neighborhood. I believe Chicago High School for Ag Sciences (Magnet) is in MT. Greenwood as well.

    As for some good schools on the southside: Owen Scholastic Academy(Ashburn), Vanderpoel( Beverly Magnet), Sutherland(Beverly), Clissold (Beverly) Lenart (Gifted), McDade Classical(Chatham), Poe Classical(Pullman), Murray Language Academy (Hyde Park), Ariel Magnet (kenwood), Ray Magnet(Hyde Park), Carnegie (Gifted), Beasley(Gifted/Magnet), Mark Sheridan Magnet (Chinatown/Bridgeport), Kenwood/MP/Lindblom Academic Centers(Gifted),South Loop (Fine Arts Magnet/Gifted). All of these schools I listed are in the 85%-100% percentile and on the south and southwest side.

    As for some of the other top magnet or selective enrollment schools (Skinner North/West, Andrew Jackson etc.) they are located throughout the city and you will have to travel to them if you chose. I hope this helps.

  • 34. @ Patty  |  April 3, 2011 at 8:06 am

    Thanks for the list of good south side schools. Can you tell us anything about charters schools on the south side?

  • 35. Southsider  |  April 3, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    @ Patty – Thanks for this list. You said “All of these schools I listed are in the 85%-100% percentile and on the south and southwest side.” Does that mean that 85 percent of the school’s students meet or exceed state standards as tested on the ISATs?

    Also, which ones are racially diverse with at least 20 percent white students? We’re looking for diversity in the student body.

    What’s the best source to research these CPS stats?

    Thanks again.

  • 36. Patty  |  April 3, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    @Southsider-

    Mark Sheridan Magnet School in Chinatown/Bridgeport area on the southside.the school is 35% White, 26% Asian American and the remainder is Latino & African American students. About 500 students are enrolled in the school-a good size school with 3 science labs. I live in the Beverly area and it is a about a 25-30 min drive. I reallly loved this school the principal, teachers and parents are truly amazing. Parental volunteer is really high! Their test scores are in the 90% percentile (no testing required). The racial makeup is Caucasian, African American, Asian American and latin American. The school is really wonderful. The school focuses on Math & Adv. Science. In addition, most of the students are accepted to SE high schools. You can visit the school website, take a tour and read the reviews on greatschools.org. I don’t think you would be disappointed. http://sheridan.cps.k12.il.us/

    South Loop School is also an amazing school with a rich diversity of students such as: India, Pakistanians, Asian, Caucasians, Biracial/Multi-racial,African American, Latino and Asian students. It is located in the South Loop area of course. The school offers a gifted K-8 program (test based), a neighborhood component and a magnet Fine Arts component. For the magnet component you will need to submit an application and admission is determned through lottery. Their test scores are in the 90% percentile also and they offer a summer day camp.

    Andrew Jackson Language Academy is in the West Loop. The school is 32% White, 30% Asian,. and the remainder African Amer/Latino Amer/Biracial,Greek & India. This is a very diverse schoolThe school is located in the UIC Medical District. This school is too far from the southside. About a 35 minute drive. They are a very diverse school and offer: Spanish, Madarin,Japanese, Italian and French. This a magnet K-8 school and admission is detremined through lottery. You must submit an application.

    Lenart School is located in the Chatham neighborhood and is a gifted school . Your child must test to get into this school. The school has a diverse population- 26% White, 61% African American and the remainder make-up is made up of Asian and Latino students. The school is small and safe about 290 students. Bus service is provided to all students. Lenart test scores are in the 100% percentile! The school offers French (K-8) violin and ballet/dance to its students along w/ a rigorous course of study. This school is about a 25 min drive from my southwest side home in Beverly.

    Murray Language Academy is a diverse school as well. The school now goes from k-8 grades. 20% White, 65% African American and the remainder is Asian American students. It is located in Hyde Park and has a beautiful art studio. The school offers: Spanish, Japanese & French. Murray aslo offers an etensive after school program which is good for working parents (3pm-6pm)There is no testing required but you must submit an application for admission and lottery will determine the admission.

    Ray is a diverse school located in Hyde Park. 20.5% white, 5Now as for some neighborhood schools in Beverly and Mt Greenwood, depending on which neighborhoods you live in you can attend Mt Greenwood Elem, Sutherland, Clissold and Cassell. Sutherland & Clissold (both in Beverly) is 50% White population and 50% African American. Both schools are in the 85-89%percentile on the ISAT.

    Mt. Greenwood elem school the racial breakdown is 80% WHITE and 14 % Hispanic. This is a neighborhood school so there is no admission criteria and if you reside int the area you can attend. The school has a 95% percentile on the ISAT test scores.

    Cassell is located in Mt. Greenwood neighborhood but it is an magnet fine arts school. You must submit an application to attend and admission will be determined through lottery. The racial make-up at this school is 80% White and 15% African American and the remainder are Hispanic. This is a small school with about 330 students. You must submit an application to the magnet program. The school also has an neighborhod component. Their test scores are in the 85%percentile on the ISAT.0% African American and the remainder is Asian American. Right behind the University of Chicago. It is a magnet school that goes from K-6gr only. No testing required but you must submit an application for admission and lottery will detremine who gets in.

    Another two other options are Skinner North & West are classical schools you must test to get into both schools. Skinner North is currently taking K-4graders (it will eventually go up to 8th). Skinner Classical West is a K-8 test based school. Both schools work one grade above regular grade level. Skinner West has a new building. Skinner West also has a tech/fine arts magnet program for K-2 graders now and you must submit an application to enroll. admission is determined through lottery for this program. Skinner West also has a tuition based preschool program. Both schools are racially divers with test scores in the 90% percentile. And both schools are located in the West Loop area. Both schools are about a 40 min drive from my southwest side Beverly home.

    If you are looking for a academic center, Kenwood is a diverse AC located in the Hyde Park area across the street from University of Chicago. Kenwood AC’s test scores are in the 95%-100% percentile. The racial make-up at Kenwood is White, African American and Asian American. You must test to enter the Kenwood AC.

    As for a high school, Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences (CHSAS) is a Magnet 9-12 grade school located in Mt. Greenwood area and you must submit an application. Admission is based on lottery. The racial make-up is 32% White, 50% African American and the remainder Latino students.

    Aside from CHSAS, some students that live on the Southwest side usually enroll in Catholic High Schools, MPA/U of Lab High School, Selective Enrollment High Schools or CHSAS.

    I hope this helps you and your family. I am not sure where you reside on the southwest side so I provided you with as much info as possible. I also wasn’t sure if you wanted a gifted, classical, magnet school, so I provided you with as many options as I could think of. I used to work for CPS so I know a bit about their schools. I will return back to CPS later this year once my leave is up. Let me know if you have anymore questions.

  • 37. Patty  |  April 3, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    @(35)Southsider-

    The best way to research these schools is to go to: CPS Find a School (www.cps.edu/schools/find_a_school/). Just type that into your browser and you can research any CPS and Charter school. You can view test scores, the racial make-up of any school and what the school has to offer. But don’t just rely on this to make an decision. Use this site as a resource.

    Another source you should check out is http://www.greatschools.org. This website is for parents to write their own reviews on the CPS schools. You can see what other parents and students are saying about a specific school. But don’t base your decision off of this alone but as a resource.

    I would also suggest you to make a list of at least ten schools and take a tour of each school. Ask questions to the principal or students at the school and make your decision like that. Now you can apply to up to 20 magnet schools and I would strongly suggest you to apply to as many as possible.

  • 38. Patty  |  April 3, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    @Southsider-

    Only one charter school comes to mind who’s test scores are on par and provide an acadmically sound environment and that school is called The University of Chicago Charter Schools. They have two lower schools (grades preschool-5) campuses in Kenwood neighborhood and a (6-8) middle school campus in Kenwood. I don’t know how diverse this school is so you would have to research it on your own. If you call them, I am sure you could schedule a tour and ask more questions.

    I hope this helps. I honestly don’t know much about any other charter schools in Chicago. However, if you have any other questions regarding magnet/selective enrollment elem/h.s, or classical schools, please feel free to ask me and I am willing to help you as much as possible.

  • 39. Patty  |  April 3, 2011 at 11:19 pm

    Ray Elementary School is a diverse school located in Hyde Park. 20.5% white, 50% African American and the remainder is Asian American. Right behind the University of Chicago. It is a magnet school that goes from K-6gr only. No testing required but you must submit an application for admission and lottery will detremine who gets in.

    You must submit an application to the magnet program. The school also has an neighborhod component. Their test scores are in the 85%percentile on the ISAT.

  • 40. @ 38  |  April 4, 2011 at 9:32 am

    Can you tell us more about the group behind the U of C Charter schools? Is it connected with the U of C Consortium on School Reform? Funding from MacArthur Foundation in addition to CPS funds? Would you know where to find out more info? Thanks.

  • 41. prof.gfr  |  April 4, 2011 at 10:19 am

    I had the good fortune to attend the MacArthur Foundation presentation on Digital Learning at the Spertus Institute last Thursday. It was really inspiring and the panel included both the professor from DePaul who started YouMedia at CPL and the professor from Parsons who helped start Quest ini NYC, Katie Salen. While both these programs are amazing, I have to agree with some commenters above who are concerned about CPS implementation of this kind of complex, curriculum based program through a charter affiliate who has little experience in this area. Without a dynamic, thoughtful leadership and great teachers (both things Prof Salen offers in NYC) I would be concerned about how well this will work here – especially on the scale they are talking about. I’m fairly certain that NYC Quest is much smaller than 1100 students and has a much higher degree of hands on learning and high degree of teacher/student interaction that an 1100 student school would be hard pressed to replicate. I hope CPS and/or CICS are going to do this the right way (carefully, thoughtfully, with consideration for what makes the NYC school so successful…including it’s selection of students who know what they are getting into) because it would be great to have here in Chicago. But I just don’t understand why CPS has to farm this out to Charters, about which I am highly skeptical based on their relatively poor performance (excluding the UEI schools from U of Chicago).

  • 42. cps Mom  |  April 4, 2011 at 10:32 am

    I’m curious to know why charters are accused of poor performance. What I’ve read supports that Charter schools, in general most (not all) have significantly higher performance than the neighborhood school of that charter district. How exactly could they be run better by CPS?

  • 43. HSObsessed  |  April 4, 2011 at 11:24 am

    @prof gfr. — I watched the videos about the NY Quest school and I agree with the concerns you raised. As CPObsessed said, middle school application period in NYC is complicated and involves applications that include grades and interviews. In my limited understanding, charters in Chicago are not allowed to select students on anything but lottery, which is understandable, since if they were, they might turn down students who most urgently need to escape the schools they are enrolled in. However, for a school like Quest, you really need students and parents who are well aware of what they’re getting in to, and who understand how things will be taught, and who are hopefully enthusiastic about joining a new school that will be navigating uncharted waters. I also wonder why CPS decided to do this as a charter school, as opposed to a “contract” school, a la Chi Arts high school or any of the new military academies like Phoenix. Contract schools ARE allowed to select students on the basis other than lottery, and often require auditions and interviews as part of the admissions process, and again, that makes sense, given their alternative teaching methods.

  • 44. @ prof gfr & HS Obsessed  |  April 4, 2011 at 11:44 am

    There is a huge rush for applications for ChicagoQuest — deadline is April 8. I wondered why the big push on extremely short notice, especially when Mazany had called for a one year moratorium on new charters until CPS could determine which ones were actually performing well.

    Then I read this morning (see blog: district 299 and the entry with a comment from Monique Davis) that the Illinois legislature is moving forward with a bill that specifies new charters in Chicago must focus on helping kids in the worst-performing schools. So I think that is why the rush.

    But I’m with you. Why not get some of the excellent CPS educators to put this school together in a reasonable time frame and at a reasonable size?

    Why not just do the right thing?

  • 45. @ cps mom  |  April 4, 2011 at 11:51 am

    The Stanford U. CREDO study shows that nationwide, only 17% of charters do better than their counterparts. Some do the same. Many do worse.

    In Illinois, 31 charter operators are on two- or four-year academic probation. This informaiton is part of the ISBE’s school report card.

    The only charter that has been given the top rating is the one in Grayslake.

    Chicago journalism has not pursued this story and has not given us the facts.

    I am still surprised by how much play the Michelle Rhee story is getting elsewhere outside of Chicago. USA Topday did a great investigative piece on “suspicious erasures” on state tests at over 100 D.C. schools, while Rhee headed the district and promised huge improvements. Those now-questionable test scores got D.C. $75 million from Duncan’s Dept. to pay out bonuses to principals and teachers.

  • 46. Grace  |  April 4, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    The article below is from Substance News. It explains why Chicagoans have not heard about the weak performance of charter schools, and why Mazany was hustled to the back of the bus when he said on Chicago Tonight that CPS needed to determine which charters were performing well.

    Note the final contributor is Sam Zell, Chairman, Equity Group Investments, and owner of the Chicago Tribune.

    ###

    Chicago doesn’t need the Koch brothers when Chicago has Pritzkers, Crowns, Griffins, Finnegans, Zells — and Emanuels

    George N. Schmidt – April 04, 2011

    “Follow the money,” was the advice the character (and news source) “Deep Throat” gave to the Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein during the Washington Post’s history-making investigation of the Watergate break in during the run-up to the 1972 presidential election. As most people still know (if not from history, from the movie “All The President’s Men”), the Post’s reporting led to the scandals that forced the resignation of President Richard Nixon.

    Chicago Public Schools Chief Executive Officer Arne Duncan (above left) was still several years from being picked by America’s billionaires to run the U.S. Department of Education when the 2003 photograph about showed him celebrating a University of Chicago program aimed at Chicago Public Schools students with John Michael Randle (center), President of the University of Chicago, and James Crown (right), who at the time was on the Board of Trustees of the University of Chicago. Crown was one of the Chicago billionaires who helped raise nearly $4 million for Stand for Children in 2010. Five of those who wrote checks for $50,000 or more to promote Stand for Children’s “grass roots” activities were from the Crown family. James Crown alone gave “Stand” $200,000 in late 2010 in advance of such donations becoming illegal.Even though most American newspapers have been gutted by their owners during the four decades since “Watergate” became a synonym for Republican corruption and dirty tricks (most newspapers have now turned into propaganda machines for the superrich, with reporters outnumbered by corporate publicists in ratios of ten and 20 to one), the advice “Follow the money” is still as good as ever. That advice is especially good when examining the claims of all those “grass roots” groups that have sprouted up like dandelions the past couple of years. As the superrich pour their extra dollars into reshaping the world in their image (and busting the nation’s remaining unions and public schools in the process), every so-called “grass roots” group demands a second look, especially when its agenda is banning strikes, busting unions, and privatizing public education — like Chicago’s “Stand for Children” and “Advance Illinois”.

    Or look at it another way as tax time approaches and teachers labor over their tax returns. How many people do you know who could write a check for, say, $50,000, or $100,000 — or even $500,000 for a “worthy cause”? The reason the question is relevant today is that those checks for $50,000 (from several members of the billionaire Pritzker and Crown families), $100,000 (from Sam Zell, who bankrupted the Tribune corporation both financially and ethically), and $500,000 from Ken Griffin (the best know of Chicago’s hedge fun billionaires) all went to Stand for Children Illinois just before it became illegal for such large amounts to go to political lobbying groups in Illinois. All of that generosity poured into Stand for Children during the weeks it was pushing a law called “Performance Counts” in the Illinois General Assembly, between December 1, 2010 and December 31, 2010, according to state election records.

    Six members of the Pritzker family each wrote a check for $50,000 to Stand for Children in December 2010. Those who helped create the “grass roots” Stand for Children in the above photograph are Margot Pritzker (left), Jean “Gigi” Pritzker (fifth from left), Michael Pucker, husband of Gigi (seventh from left), Bryan Traubman, husband of Penny (fourth from right, in back), Penny Pritzker (third from right). As more and more working people and teachers are learning the truth behind the fabricated “grass roots” groups that are being organized to support the policies of the wealthiest people in the world, there has been a growing call for boycotts and other actions against billionaires ranging from the Koch brothers (of Koch Industries, which helped bankroll Wisconsin governor Scott Walker) and Bill Gates (whose Microsoft Corporation funds his union busting attacks on public education) to the ever present Walton (Wal-Mart) billionaires.

    But in many cities, including Chicago, the local billionaires “boys and girls clubs” (to take a hint from Diane Ravitch’s book “The death and life of the Great American School System”, which has a chapter about Gates, Walton and the Broads entitled “The Billionaire Boys Club”) are within a few blocks of many public schools. Two of America’s wealthiest families (according to Forbes magazine, which has a fetish about such things) are the Pritzkers (Hyatt Hotels, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Pritzker Realty, and many many other interests) and the Crowns (Materials Service Corporation, which Rahm Emanuel wants to enrich while privatizing recycling).

    December 2010 was a month for investing in politics for Chicago hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin (above, second from right). He wrote a check for a half million dollars to Stand for Children before the December 31 deadline and also put in $100,000 to help elect millionaire Rahm Emanuel mayor of Chicago. According to the Wall Street Journal and campaign records, Griffin was one of several Chicago “financiers” who made major contributions to the Emanuel campaign. Also in the above photograph are (left to right) J. Pritzker, Margot Pritzker ($50,000 to “Stand”), and Ann Griffin (far right). Along with several Pritzkers and Crowns, a dozen other Chicago multi-millionaires and billionaires created “Stand for Children” in Illinois in a flash by writing checks ranging in size from $50,000 (from each of six Pritzkers) to $500,000 (from Ken Griffin).

    As a result, Illinois had a new “grass roots” organization — Stand for Children Illinois — overnight. After a couple of quickie runs through carefully selected children, teachers, and parents (following a viewing of the privatization propaganda flick “Waiting for Superman”), Stand for Children claimed that it had received a mandate from “parents” and “teachers” to stand up for children in Illinois by proposing that the Illinois General Assembly pass — quickly, there was NO TIME TO WASTE!!! — a piece of pre-written law called “Performance Counts 2010.” On the way to getting their law approved their way, Stand for Children pumped a half million (more or less) into the campaign funds of politicians running in the November 2, 2010 Illinois elections. By most measures, Stand for Children had created what every Chicagoan knows clout can do — the “Done Deal.”

    Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (who did not receive any dollars from Stand for Children’s PAC) even obliged the group by setting up a thing called the “Illinois House of Representatives School Reform Committee,” sidestepping the education committees of the House and Senate in the process. When the “School Reform” committee announced it was holding hearings in Aurora in December, “Stand for Children” (along with another phony grass roots group called “Advance Illinois”) was given the privilege of being on of the two true “school reform” groups called on to testify before the committee. Nobody on the committee even noticed that Stand for Children Illinois hadn’t existed 120 days before the committee’s December 16 and 17 school reform hearings, or that the same superrich people who had pumped thousands of dollars into some of their campaign war chests had also bankrolled “Stand for Children” to the tune of more than $3 million. “Stand” was an overnight sensation for some Illinois politicians, who also tried to ignore groups that had been working for decades to make Illinois public schools better.

    Groups and individuals with decades of experience in working on public school reform issues in Chicago — from the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO) and Parents United for Responsible Education (PURE) to Access Living (which lobbies on behalf of children with disabilities in the public schools — were told by the “School Reform” committee chairmen (Aurora’s Linda Chapa La Via, a Democrat, and Roger Eddy, a downstate Republican) that they were not really “school reform” groups, and that they would have to testify as “miscellaneous” organizations. But community groups and the teachers’ unions didn’t back down, and by the week before Christmas, Stand for Children’s juggernaut pushing “Performance Counts” had gone off the rails of the lame duck session of the Illinois General Assembly.

    Even some of the legislators that Chicago’s billionaires had thought they had bought and bagged with their Stand for Children millions of dollars balked at pushing the Stand for Children “Performance Counts” legislation, and the bill was pushed into the 2011 session of the Illinois General Assembly, where it is now being debated, fiercely.

    Whether “Performance Counts” gets to be a done deal, as Stand for Children’s Jonah Edelman believed it was in December 2010, still remains to be seen. But more than a month before Madison Wisconsin became a symbol of the fight back of unions, teachers, and working people against the coordinated right wing agenda now visible nationally, Illinois teachers and Chicago parents and community leaders had stalled the onslaught of Billionaires’ Bills, at least for a time in Illinois.

    And while the debate still rages in Springfield (and is about to be launched locally in Chicago when the billionaires’ candidate Rahm Emanuel becomes mayor next month and unveils the same agenda his counterpart Scott Walker is pushing in Wisconsin), it’s time to take a close look at the dollars behind the fictional claims or groups like Stand for Children and Advance Illinois…

    According to the State of Illinois records, Stand for Children received the following donations from the following individuals between September 2010 and December 31, 2010, when such large donations became illegal. The amounts, as reported to the State of Illinois (the D-2 annual reports) are as follows (in alphabetical order):

    — Brody, Kenneth (Manager, DRW Trading Group). $100,000 (on December 23, 2010).

    — Canning, John (Chairman, Dearborn Partners). $250,000 (on December 8, 2010).

    — Crown, Arie (Partner, Henry Crown & Co.). $100,000 on December 29, 2010.

    — Crown, Elizabeth (Homemaker). $50,000 on December 10, 2010.

    — Crown, James (President, Henry Crown and Company). $150,000 on December 10, 2010.

    — Crown, James (President, Henry Crown and Company). $50,000 on September 27, 2010.

    — Crown, Nancy (Homemaker, self employed). $100,000 on December 29, 2010.

    — Crown, Patricia (Psychotherapist, Self Employed). $50,000 on December 29, 2010.

    — Finnegan, Paul (Co-CEO, Madison Dearborn Partners, LLC). $200,000 on September 29, 2010.

    — Finnegan, Paul (Co-CEO, Madison Dearborn Partners, LLC). $300,000 on December 2, 2010.

    — Griffin, Kenneth (Founder, CEO, Citadel Group). $500,000 on December 15, 2010.

    — Hulsizer, Matthew (Co-Founder, CEO, PEAK6 Investments). $374,000 on December 8, 2010.

    — Hulsizer, Matthew (Co-Founder, CEO, PEAK6 Investments). $100,000 on September 27, 2010.

    — Merrick Ventures LLC (No individual listed). $100,000 on December 9, 2010.

    — Pritzker, Margot (Homemaker, Self Employed). $50,000 on December 29, 2010.

    — Pritzker, Penny (Chairman and CEO, Pritzker Realy Group). $50,000 on December 29, 2010.

    — Pritzker, Thomas (Chairman & CEO, Hyatt Hotels Corporation). $50,000 on December 29, 2010.

    — Pritzker – Pucker, Gigi (CEO, Odd Lot Entertainment). $50,000 on December 29, 2010.

    — Pucker, Michael (Attorney, Latham & Watkins LLP), $50,000 on December 29, 2010.

    — Ruhana, George (Partner/CEO, Options House LLC). $26,000 on September 27, 2010.

    — Saltzman, Bettylu (Homemaker). $1,000 on November 1, 2010.

    — Simmons, Brian (Partner, Code Hennessy & Simmons LLC). $100,000 on December 30, 2010.

    — Smith, Leo (Teacher, Perspectives/ITT Math & Science Academy). $25,000 on October 12, 2010.

    — Stand for Children, Inc. (Portland, OR). $210,000 on October 6, 2010.

    — Stand for Children, Inc. (Portland, OR). $50,000 on October 7, 2010.

    — Traubert, Bryan (Opthamologist, Eye Physicians of Chicago). $50,000 on December 29, 2010.

    — Wilson, Donald (CEO, DRW Trading Group). $250,000 on December 22, 2010.

    — Zell, Samuel (Chairman, Equity Group Investments). $100,000 on December 20, 2010. 

  • 47. cps Mom  |  April 4, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    @45 – the study you refer to states a nationwide lower rating of Charter to local public school but specifically states that some states (Illinois as one) have a higher level of achievement at Charters vs. the regular public schools.

    I also don’t understand why the list of donors would lead to lack of knowledge of under performance. They have resources….is that bad? Just asking questions.

    It just seems to me that they are doing the best with what they have. Some kids really depend on charters. They are in huge demand – I know of kids with wait list numbers in the 600’s for Noble Street Charters.

    When it comes to this Quest program, how could CPS do it better? I think you’re placing the horse before the cart when you count CICS out strictly because it is a charter.

  • 48. Perhaps you would  |  April 4, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    like to check out Illinois charters’ performance using the ISBE / Northern Illinois University report card?

    When I did, I was stunned to see that 31 charter operators are on 2- or 4- year academic probation, because I also believed the general thinking, which is that charters are better than their public school counterparts.

    I’m no expert, but I read a lot on education issues; so how did I get the impression that charters are doing so well, when in fact, they are not? And I’m not alone here.

    I think it is because of our major media outlets. For example, what the Trib chooses to cover and what it chooses not to cover in education news forms the public’s general opinions. .

    The Trib is owned by Sam Zell, whose $100,000 contribution just last December was made to a brand new group that is dedicated to the expansion of charters in Chicago.

    That said, we parents are desperate for a decent school for our kids: safe, good curriculum, competent teachers, etc. It is easy to take advantage of our need.

    If you are interested in going further on this topic, check out Diane Ravitch’s last book entitled, The Death and Life of the Great American School System. She has a chapter on corporate-style education reform, and who is behind it.

    What’s going on is the privatizing of our public schools. Like our infamous parking meters deal, only on steroids.

  • 49. Perhaps you would  |  April 5, 2011 at 7:00 am

    want to google the Interactive Illinois Report Card created at Northern Illinois U. with support from the ISBE, List Charter Schools

  • 50. charters' performance in Illinoois  |  April 5, 2011 at 7:05 am

    http://iirc.niu.edu/ListCharterSchools.aspx

    Finally! I’ve found the information I thought was so surprising about charter schools performance.

  • 51. charters' performance in Illinois in 2010  |  April 5, 2011 at 7:11 am

    The charter schools are categorized as Academic Warning, or Academic Watch Schools (AWS ), or, more positively, Spotlight Schools (2010), Academic Improvement (2010), Academic Excellence (2010).

    There are 39 charter schools listed and 31 are on Academic Warning or Academic Watch, meaning they are on 2- or 4-year academic probation.

    I really wonder why this isn’t better known.

    But this level of performance is why Mazany said on Chicago Tonight that he wanted a one-year moratorium on charters to determine which ones are the high-performers.

    Parents are in the dark on school performance.

  • 52. Sun Times more objective on charters  |  April 5, 2011 at 7:36 am

    This morning the Sun Times says Rahm will expand single-sex schools. He points to the Young Womens’s Leadership Charter school (YWLC) as an example. But the Sun Times reports …

    “Only 15.2 percent of juniors passed their state tests last year, compared to 29.8 percent citywide. The school’s average ACT score was 16.2, compared to 17.4 citywide, with 18 generally considered the minimum for college.

    “Only 13.8 percent of YWLC students hit the recent CPS goal of a 20 or better on the ACT, compared to 24.8 percent citywide.

    “Using multi-faceted CPS “scorecard figures” that Emanuel has cited previously to tout charter schools, the school ranks 81 out of 112 CPS high schools. Using test scores, test score improvement, attendance, graduation rates and other data, the scorecards place schools in one of three levels. YWLC is Level 3, the worst level, which CPS calls “below average.” ”

    So Rahm is using his own numbers. He’s ignoring traditional CPS schools that are successful.

  • 53. cps Mom  |  April 5, 2011 at 8:02 am

    I think the Yale study comparing charters to their public school counterparts is probably a more accurate view. I’m sure there are some “bad” charters but are the “failing” charters any better or worse than the local school? The study says better. Everything’s relative here. When you have a large group of basically failing students, who does a better job with them?

    I hear many teachers say that they don’t want to be evaluated based upon the performance of their students. I agree with that. There are some things that are beyond the control of the teacher. It seems that charters have a different approach and the ability to weed out students which whether fair or not is helpful to the rest of the class. I think they fill a need at a different level that many parents commenting here would find well below their standards.

    With regards to this Quest school, has anyone heard anything bad about CICS? I have only seen and heard good things. I would assume that without Quest going charter, there would be no funding and hence no school to debate over.

  • 54. cps Mom  |  April 5, 2011 at 8:39 am

    @52 – comparing citywide numbers (that include NS, Payton etc) to a school located in one of the most difficult areas of the city isn’t really a true comparison. I would assume (without looking up the neighborhood stats) that YWLC provides a service for its students and families.

  • 55. cpsobsessed  |  April 5, 2011 at 11:13 am

    The test scores for CICS look good compared to district on the link that was posted above. I couldn’t look through all, but it seems like Charters (just like regular CPS schools) vary. Some do better, some do worse. I’d assume it may be based on the students they happen to attract.
    As some posters have mentioned on here, CICS Irving Park managed to impress neighborhood parents enough that they passed up gifted/classical spots to attend CICS-IP. It’s a chicken and egg thing. That school’s test scores will continue to rise as it attracts families like this…. which will help CICS continue to attract similar families…..

    Charters in other neighborhoods may have a much more challenging base of students to work with.

    I WAS surprised to see that Noble Street (isnt’ that the one that sends all the kids to college) did not have impressive test scores, like CICS does…..

  • 56. @ Hi cps mom  |  April 6, 2011 at 8:02 am

    Would love it if you had a link to the Yale study?

    YWLC is a great concept. I support single-sex education, and I think girls should be strongly encouraged in math and science. I am optimistic that there could be a solution to its low performance, and imho it makes sense for supports for YWCL to be implemented before the concept is expanded. YWCL’s scores haven’t proved the concept is working.

    Maybe it’s just my math skills! The sehs have great stats, but their numbers of students are very small compared with CPS h. s students overall. So I don’t see how their scores can shift the citywide stats unfairly higher versus YWLC.

    The original idea was that charters, freed from state and union regulations, can succeed where traditional schools have failed.

    But when charter schools repeatedly fall far below citywide averages — which are already low — we may find we are right back where we started, except that we have diverted our tax dollars to a private group and oversight of how they are spent varies.

  • 57. Just saw this on distsrict 299  |  April 6, 2011 at 8:16 am

    Though you might be interested in hearing from a teacher (lingling) . I read it on district 299.

    lingling said:

    I am an elementary school counselor who advises my students NOT to attend YWLCS. I do recommend other charters but students who I have placed there in previous years have come back with bad experiences….and their test scores suck big time

  • 58. Just saw this, too, on distsrict 299  |  April 6, 2011 at 8:25 am

    On CPS Obsessed, I have come to rely on Patty and Hawthorne mom’s advice. : ) On District 299, I rely on Rod Estvan’s analysis of CPS-wide issues. So I’ve quoted him below on the fiscal problems with YWLC. Cheers,

    Financial trouble for YWLC said:

    Not only is Catalyst is pointing out the academic problems with the Young Woman’s Leadership Charter School, but so did the Chicago Sun Times. By the way I do not recall the Sun Times point out academic problems with charter schools Mayor Daley visited or publicly supported in the past, so are we seeing a new development here?

    Apparently Mayor elect Emanuel believes in the model regardless of the academic performance of the school. One problem with Mayor elect Emanuel’s effective endorsment of the charter school is that he very well is sending a hands off message to whoever takes over the CEO slot in relation to intervening with this academically troubled and fiscally stressed charter school.

    Let me be more specific about the fiscal issue because it has not been discussed by the media, currently this charter has 335 students and based on the school’s expenses that come from its 2009 IRS form 990 we can see its total yearly cost per student is about $14,106. If one looks at Young Woman’s Leadership Charter School’s IRS returns from 2007 to 2009 one comes to a realization that without the annual Girl Power Benefit luncheon, that the Mayor elect spoke at, which brings in between $330,00 and $440,000 a year the charter school would be running a deficit. For example in 2007 the school had only $130 more in revenue than expenses, in 2008 the school had $303,101 more in revenue than expenses and in 2009 that number was $232,917.

    Like all charter schools Young Women’s Leadership charter is faced with fiscal disaster if CPS is forced to cut its tuition payments due to the fiscal crisis of the State of Illinois. Mayor elect Emanuel will need to understand if he is serious about creating similar charters in Chicago that he may also be creating future fiscal problems assuming the budget cutting in Springfield continues for several more years. Charter schools are walking a fiscal tight rope, a decline in fund raising or a reduction in CPS funding per charter school student and flying off the rope the schools go. This is really a dangerous way to reform a school system.

    Rod Estvan

  • 59. cps Mom  |  April 6, 2011 at 9:35 am

    @56 Sorry – Stanford, not Yale – referenced in @45, I googled it. My point was not that a single school could shift citywide stats but that for the neighborhood that it is located in, its probably doing better than the default public school (just a guess without looking it up (again)). I know other schools like Urban Prep may look bad on paper but are significantly better than the neighborhood school.

    I know nothing of YWLC nor do I see a connection to the Quest program. My discussion of charters schools was directed solely to posters that say the Quest program looks great but I wish it wasn’t run by this particular charter group – CICS. I find it discouraging when a new program is offered by CPS and it’s met with disdain by the community simply because it has a charter backing. This program in particular sounds so exciting and already being labeled as “for low income minorities” and “wish it wasn’t run by CICS”.

    I wonder about the agenda here. We should be embracing opportunities for choice in education. This program in particular offers the newest strategies in learning with technology. It’s new and would require some pioneering on behalf of the families and the educators but what a way to get on the cutting edge of education! As CPS Obsessed comments – this is a good way for parents to get involved early on in a program and become a real part of the process. Sounds like an exciting opportunity to me.

  • 60. coonleymom  |  April 6, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    59-I totally agree with you, thanks for the post. It is always interesting to me to read comments about how someone dislikes a magnet/gifted/classical/charter school , when the parent does not have a child at the school? I try to keep my comments to the experiences that I have had, and can share with other parents who are looking for some real information. I am part of the neighborhood that turned down classical and gifted schools (Coonley, Edison, Pritzker, Skinner North). We are all very happy with CICS-Irving Park. I am not saying it is for everyone, but if a parent is not interested in their neighborhood school, I would urge you to take a tour of CICS-Irving Park. I could not be happier with my son’s progress, and it is nice that we have been able to create a neighborhood school! My older son attends the gifted program at Coonley, and we are also very happy with this program. What I love about CICS-Irving Park is that my K son gets all the perks that my 2nd grader at Coonley gets, but also has his neighborhood friends attending the same school. We feel very lucky. I wish all of you good luck with your school search, I know just how stressful it can be, I don’t even want to think about high school!

  • 61. cps Mom  |  April 7, 2011 at 9:03 am

    Thanks Coonleymom!

  • 62. Another point of view,  |  April 7, 2011 at 10:39 am

    “Possibly I spend far too much time in Springfield talking budgets with members of the General Assembly who are really very unnerved looking at the fiscal future of Illinois, these are both Democrats and Republicans. Right now is not the time to be debating how to increase costs, including opening new charter schools or a longer school day, it is the time for a very sober realization that we must preserve the core of public education.”

    Rod Estvan

  • 63. @ 59  |  April 7, 2011 at 11:29 am

    I embrace thoughtful innovations in curriculums backed by research that improve student outcomes — who wouldn’t?
    And they can occur in any school setting: not all traditional CPS schools are awful, not all charters / vouchers are amazing.

    I have no agenda. I’m not a politician nor a teacher.

    Because they are moving so quickly without adequate quality review, I am afraid that the powers are pushing a vast and expensive expansion of vouchers and charters as a way to bust the teachers union and create a for-profit educational market.

  • 64. cpsobsessed  |  April 7, 2011 at 11:38 am

    I am probably naive about seeing charters as a union-busting move. I guess my (maybe naive?) pov is that the city recognizes that the current way of doing things isnt working for many kids, so they realize the need to try something else. When things are failing so miserably in some schools, I see the need to try new things, even if they aren’t fully tested. These schools have nowhere to go but up.

    Parents send their kids to Montessori and Waldorf school, they home school kids, they choose other perhaps innovative/non-traditional ways of schooling their kids. Many of these are not “proven.” if the current CPS plan needed proof, I’d say it doesn’t have my vote for effectiveness for some kids.

    I think what’s frustrating to me though, is that I support the idea that PARENTS should make the decision about what kind of school is best for their particular CHILD. Maybe some parents think Noble Street is the best, even if the test scores are low because it would be a good fit for their child. Many of us feel Quest would be good for our kids. Some parents think Montessori is ideal for their child. The frustration comes from the sense that none of us really end up with any CHOICE in the matter because it’s all random lottery and the odds seem so slim. I might get into a Montessori magnet but not Quest, whereare Montessori-suited kid gets into Quest. Etc, Etc.

    After reading about the NYC way of interviewing and directing kids to the schools that best suit them, it seems to make so much sense. It’s great to me that CPS offers these choice, now if only I could feel like I could take advantage of them!

  • 65. I agree  |  April 7, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    that parents should always get to make the decisions for their kids, including home schooling. You would agree, I hope, that Montessori and Waldorf schools are have a long track record and are a proven curriculum? CPS offers a number of popular Montessori programs in schools. Innovation is possible, and ongoing, in CPS schools.

    Perhaps NYC has a better way of handling admissions?

  • 66. Chicago like NYC?  |  April 7, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    At the start of her job as the NYC schools chief, Cathie Black was in a hurry to close a dozens of traditional city schools to make room for charters.

    This is going on now in Chicago, of course. You might read a bit more here.

    http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/02/chancellor-black-talks-back-to-an-angry-crowd/?ref=cathleenpblack

  • 67. cps Mom  |  April 7, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    @62 – looks like this school is funded by MacArthur Foundation…..so, does that mean that funds will also be taken from CPS or does it increase costs?

  • 68. tk  |  April 7, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    @64. cpsobsessed

    That is exactly my frustration right now. I feel (and my son feels as well) that Chicago Quest is a great fit for him (he is beside himself waiting for news from the lottery!). This is why I was so incredibly frustrated to learn that they may have attendance boundaries for CQ… especially when it was mentioned that they would take 100% of those kids applying from within the boundaries. I felt like this was doing a huge disservice to the mission of this new school. I think in order for a school like this to succeed, it needs kids who are extremely interested in how things are going to be done there and they need to know what exactly they’re getting into, instead of going just because they have guaranteed admission. There are so many kids from all over the city that could thrive in a setting like this, over that of a traditional classroom. I would hate to see this opportunity taken away from them just because all of the seats were taken by kids who had little interest in the actual program of the school, but live within a so many block radius.

    I like the idea of interviewing kids and directing them to the school that might best suit them. This isn’t about test scores, or grades… but about kids who might best thrive in this specific type of setting. I think the current model of random lottery (amplified by the potential attendance boundaries), sets this school up for a possible large turnover rate. But maybe that’s just me.

  • 69. HSObsessed  |  April 7, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    @64 – said “The frustration comes from the sense that none of us really end up with any CHOICE in the matter because it’s all random lottery and the odds seem so slim. I might get into a Montessori magnet but not Quest, whereare Montessori-suited kid gets into Quest. Etc, Etc.”

    I completely agree with this. Random lotteries are OK when the school is general education, but when there is a very different teaching method like Montessori, or a specific focus like Quest, or other schools like new UNO soccer charter school just announced today for Gage Park, doesn’t it make sense to spend more time matching students to schools? Until there are enough “choice” spots to go around, many people will understandably apply to any school they hear of to get out of their neighborhood school, even if it’s not a good fit.

  • 70. Patty  |  April 7, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    My friend just received a phone call from the ChicagoQuest administrator stating that her child was accepted to the new school. So if anyone else is waiting, you should find out real soon.

    Good Luck!

  • 71. Southsider  |  April 7, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    News flash: Cathy Black just quit.

  • 72. tk  |  April 7, 2011 at 8:39 pm

    Thanks for the info Patty! Our phone hasn’t rang though. Maybe there’s a chance tomorrow? I’m surprised they started making calls before the application deadline though.

  • 73. More on charters  |  April 8, 2011 at 8:21 am

    If you’ve got lots of time on your hands!
    Research on charters. http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/inside-school-research/charter-schools/

  • 74. Paula W  |  April 8, 2011 at 10:10 am

    I also received a call from Quest today but it was just to let us know my daughters application has been received and that letters will be mailed out on 04/15/11.

  • 75. tk  |  April 9, 2011 at 8:47 am

    still no phone call for us… I wonder if we should be concerned about that?

  • 76. Clay Boggess  |  April 11, 2011 at 5:41 am

    This sounds like a great opportunity for a very important age group that could be at a turning point.

  • 77. Hawthorne mom  |  April 14, 2011 at 8:40 am

    I casually mentioned the idea of quest to my 5 year old son last night. His eyes lit up like the 4th. Hmmmmm…..

  • 78. Erika Callahan  |  May 11, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    The next open house for CICS ChicagoQuest will be Monday, May 23, 2011 from 6:00-7:30 p.m. at the Humboldt Park library located at 1605 N. Troy! Come out and meet other prospective parents and learn everything you ever wanted to know about ChicagoQuest. We will also collect applications on site!

  • 79. HSObsessed  |  May 18, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    tk – If you’re still following this thread, did your son get accepted? I see they’re holding an open house next week and still accepting applications, so I assume that they have more spots than they had applications? Hope it’s good news for you.

  • 80. tk  |  May 19, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    I’m still here! Yes! He got accepted and is so excited. I’ve gotten involved with the Launch Committee and I’m also involved in the After School sub-committee. We can’t wait until fall!

  • 81. HSObsessed  |  May 20, 2011 at 8:13 am

    Awesome! Congrats to tk son, and keep us posted on his experience!

  • 82. cps Mom  |  May 20, 2011 at 8:57 am

    TK – that is so great. I am really happy for you. If my son was the right age we would be checking it out (going, as far as he’s concerned) too. Sounds exciting. Please keep us posted on how things work out with this school.

  • 83. HSObsessed  |  July 13, 2011 at 10:36 pm

    Nothing too new in this article about Chicago Quest in Skyline, but I thought you might want to see it.

    So is the new name of the neighborhood “Goose Island” instead of “Cabrini Green”? Because the 1400 block of Ogden is near the island, but not on it.

    http://www.skylinenewspaper.com/News/In-The-Paper/07-13-2011/New_charter_school_in_Goose_Island_will_focus_on_a_digital_curriculum

  • 84. smadness  |  August 2, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    We were really excited about CQ and actually got accepted, however the lack of a firm after school program and no transportation was a deal breaker. We live south of the loop and to get north during a.m rush hour would be a daily nightmare. And what working parent can pick up in the middle of the afternoon – every day? I think it’s kind of crazy that they offer this cool program – but no way to get there and back for your avergae parent.

  • 85. Angie  |  August 2, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    I’m just wondering about this part: “There’s a lack of sitting, lectures, and sitting and listening to the teachers talk.”

    Let’s say a student goes to Quest where he learns through playing for 6 years. Then this student goes to college, where he will be expected to learn through learning like everyone else. How well will he be able to adjust to new ways? What is known about the college success of the NYC Quest students?

  • 86. HSObsessed  |  September 5, 2011 at 8:04 am

    An article about Quest in today’s Sun Times, describing some of the teaching techniqes to be used, like learning about bacteria by trying to save villagers from contaminated water. Seems very cool.

    http://www.suntimes.com/7395724-417/chicagoquest-promotes-game-playing-at-school.html

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  • 88. FP  |  April 17, 2012 at 3:42 am

    Chicago Quest is a bunch of hype that doesn’t live up to their mission. I removed my child because they couldn’t get a handle on the constant fights and interruptions in the classrooms. It’s a top heavy admin team that is makes the excuse that we are still learning- why do the children have sit and wait while you learn how to run a school??! Children keep transferring because the environment in the classrooms is so disruptive that the children can’t ever get to all that innovative curriculum they speak of.

  • 89. another CPS mom  |  April 17, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    Why aren’t the disruptive students leaving? Any insight?

  • 90. anonymous  |  April 17, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    It really takes an experienced and talented administrator to open a successful school.
    And so many principals are retiring this year.

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  • 92. Shon Tony  |  February 13, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    Sending my child to Chicago Quest was the biggest and worse decision I have ever made is his education. He is in 7th grade and is playing video games and making homemade videos to upload on youtube. This is the year for testing that selective enrollment, magnet and private high schools look at in determining eligibility. The curriculum is garbage; the school policy is NOT to assign homework!! Since they do all of their class work on ipads and laptops they feel as though assigning homework would leave children without computers at a disadvantage. REALLY?
    What happened to good old fashioned books? Never have I seen a school without books or paper assignments for children to study at home!! I have fussed about this with several of my son’s teachers and you know what they said? They agree that the policy is the craziest thing they’ve ever heard and a couple have told me in confidence that if it were their child they would never send them to this school!! REALLY?
    Chicago Quest is currently on their third principal since the school year began. They don’t have the leadership or curriculum that it takes to teach our children. They started enrichment classes for about 3 weeks and ended them with no explanation. My son now does math in 7th grade that he was exposed to in 4th!! At least in the enrichment pre-algebra class he was challenged a bit. Chicago Quest values kids being set on an equal playing field so they dumb down all the classes in order for all the children to be able to have fun doing work that isn’t challenging… Where in the real world does competition not take place?
    If you would like your child to come home with a smile on his face because he had a really good time at school playing video games and making videos for his/her favorite songs to upload on youtube then you are in the right place. But, if like most parents, you truly value your child’s education… STEER CLEAR OF CHICAGO QUEST.

  • 93. tk  |  February 13, 2013 at 6:22 pm

    I have not had the same experience at CQ. My son is also in 7th grade.

    1. Video Games: My son rarely plays video games at school outside of recess or game club after school. Games such as Minecraft are used as part of the curriculum at times, but it is for a specific purpose, not free play. They do design games and different projects in Sports for the Mind, but they definitely do not sit around and just play games.

    2. Homemade Videos: Yes, they do some of that. What I’ve found is with most projects, the kids are given a choice of how they would like to do their projects. Some choose videos, some choose power point presentations, some do traditional posters, etc. My daughter who is in a private school is also given these same choices. So, this isn’t particularly unique to CQ. I really enjoyed seeing the different projects in the voter information fair in the fall. Letting each child choose the type of media that fit them best, let them concentrate on letting their content really shine. If the student is just making and uploading random videos during school, it sounds as if they are doing something outside of what they were supposed to be doing.

    3. Homework: My son has homework. I helped him with his just last night, he had homework for both CW and BSP. Granted, their load is lighter than most, but he still has homework most every night. I’ll be honest, I’m not a huge proponent of homework, just for the sake of homework though, so I’m okay with this. And they do use books, but real books vs. textbooks. I love how they tie novels to the subjects that they’re studying. My son is really enjoying the one they’re currently reading in BSP.

    4. The Principal: I believe there have only been two principals since the school began last year…. Donhost and Baldino.

    5. Math: My son has had no problems staying challenged with math. He has a wonderful teacher for math, who when she sees that my son is ahead of the class, she works with him on a tougher skill. When he showed he had a grasp on the geometry they were studying, she moved him ahead to more advanced theorems. With their most recent MAP testing, he gained ELEVEN points in math.

    6. Dumbed Down Curriculum: I met with some of the leadership to understand this better since they are dealing with such a range of educational backgrounds coming into the school. The best example I have is the game they played in Code Worlds earlier in the year. They had a large scale math game (not video, but an actual class game) based on buying and selling goods within a village. Complex thought and different math skills were needed to find out how to make the best profits. Kids progressed through the game at their own pace. Those struggling with basic math, stayed working on those skills. Those that knew what they were doing, progressed through the game and once they hit a certain income, they were “hired” as staff. They were then on the other side of the game, doing the transactions, thinking about the math from a whole different direction and using different skills. All kids (who were motivated) were being properly challenged and all working within the same game. There was competition and a reward for those who did well. “Staff” members were treated to a pizza party for their hard work. Many of the classes are set up this same way… the game based learning they do is set up to be accessible to every level… but they contain many levels of play. Struggling students play in the lower levels, while those advanced students play deeper into the game.

    7. Testing: The school has made big strides in their testing already this year. My son made huge jumps in his MAP scores across the board from fall to winter (and he was already testing in the 90th percentiles in fall). The new principal set MAP testing goals for each grade, with rewards for meeting these goals. The 7th and 8th grades as a whole exceeded their goals and earned dress down days.

    After writing this novel… I just want to say that CQ is not for every child. I have one that is thriving there and one that I won’t be sending there. It is also not for every parent. If you measure a school by the textbooks and amount of homework given, this is not the school for you. They do not use textbooks and kids gain valuable skills that are hard to measure with a standardized test… they learn how to work collaboratively and how to think. From what I can tell, my 5th grader would not do as well there. She needs to know exactly what is expected of her and needs to know exactly what needs to be done. She’s a good student but needs a different structure. My 7th grader thrives in this model… he’s a typical video game kid who craves “leveling up” and earning “achievements”. Last year in CW when they earned badges for mastering different math skills, he was on a mission to earn every badge they had (and succeeded!)! It’s just a model he gets and is a perfect fit for him. A student that isn’t motivated by this model, will probably find themselves doing work that isn’t as challenging for them as it could be. Like I said before, my daughter falls into this boat… she would be motivated until it got hard and be happy with how far she had gotten vs. being intent on beating the game.

    I will throw in there, that the school is still experiencing growing pains and is still in transition. Something you would expect with a school in only it’s second year. The new principal has made great strides (as far as I can tell) with the discipline issues. So, we’re encouraged with how things are going.

  • 94. tk  |  February 13, 2013 at 7:09 pm

    Okay… just got clarification from my son about homework. Homework is technically optional… BUT it makes up 15% of your grade. So, a student can come home and honestly say that they have no homework that is required… but by not doing it, they are automatically giving up 15% of their class grade. This has been the policy since the beginning last year, I just wanted to clarify things with my son before I posted here.

  • 95. tk  |  February 13, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    And one last thing I forgot in my original post… about the enrichment classes. Those were dropped, but I received communication about them being dropped. And I did receive an explanation. Instead of an enrichment period during the day, more time was added to the existing class periods so that the students would be getting further instruction in those subjects with a teacher whose specialty is that subject, versus just working in Khan Academy with their homebase teacher who may or may not be able to offer them advanced help in math.

  • 96. another CPS mom  |  February 13, 2013 at 8:06 pm

    Quest sounds more and more like what you see at innovative colleges. Definitely not for everyone, however.

  • 97. tk  |  February 13, 2013 at 8:16 pm

    @another CPS mom – exactly. It is definitely not for everyone, but for those that are wired this way, it is an amazing opportunity. You just have to know your child and make informed decisions about their education. For us, CQ is the way to go for our son, and a traditional school setting is the best fit for our daughter. They’re different people wired in different ways.

  • 98. anonymous  |  February 14, 2013 at 9:20 am

    Enrichment is definitely not watching Sal Khan videos on youtube.
    And more seat time in each class is not enrichment.

    The jury is still out whether they have their act together.

    It is suspicious that they keep trying to show parents how it is done NYC — even though admissions and many other things do not transfer.

    Why isn’t the open house held at the school? That is downright odd.

  • 99. cpsobsessed  |  February 14, 2013 at 9:26 am

    Where is the open house held?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 100. tk  |  February 14, 2013 at 10:00 am

    @anonymous – no that was definitely not enrichment which is why they no longer have it set up that way (it was a short term trial). And more time in each class is not really “seat time” as their classes are so interactive.

    I agree that the jury is still out, but for the right kid, it’s a great opportunity.

    I don’t think it’s suspicious really, they are based on that same model as NYC, however they are hindered by CICS as to their admission policies.

    Where are the open houses held? I helped out at one last year that was held at the school. It was a lot of fun. The kids got to tour the school and go through some mock classes. The current CQ students acted as their guides.

    I just double checked the website and here’s what it said…
    Open Houses
    We hold open houses at our campus (1443 N. Ogden, near North & Clybourn) every Wednesday at 6 PM.

    I’m not sure where the impression came from that they were not held at the school. The info at the top of this post is old… before the school opened. Open Houses were held at various sites because the building was not available (Ogden Elementary was there temporarily while their new school was being built and then immediately after that, renovations began for CQ).

    Also, prospective students are allowed to shadow prior to applying.

  • 101. cpsobsessed  |  February 14, 2013 at 10:57 am

    FYI, I revised the open house info in the original post. It is every Wednesday at 6pm at the school.

  • 102. averagemom  |  February 14, 2013 at 8:36 pm

    Do you know where the high school grades will be? That building doesn’t seem big enough for 6-12th grades

  • 103. ???  |  May 14, 2013 at 6:05 am

    Hi tk, Do you feel that the school will continue to improve and work out the kinks as it goes forward? Do you like the new administration? My son has been accepted for next fall, but I have heard that the school’s organization and original vision is falling apart. He is a straight A 5th grader in a great school with teachers who care very much about him… but despite their efforts he is often miserable. The work load in and out of school is too much for him and he just doesn’t thrive in a structured environment. He would like to be home schooled, actually unschooled, but I’m not quite ready to go that route yet. On paper Chicago Quest sounds like a place he could be happy. He is Minecraft obsessed and would, at this point, like to be a Game Designer some day (or a genetic engineer creating crazy new species of animals). His happiness in school is much more important to me than a stellar, rigorous education. Your thoughts on the current environment and future success of the school would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

  • 104. anonymous  |  May 14, 2013 at 7:13 am

    If he is bored with the usual school routine, here’s a thought, perhaps you could consider getting him involved in Lego robotics? There are some great programs out there. There are teams, contests, and sometimes travel. Could be a lot of fun.
    Maybe you could take him on a tour of 1871, to show him a Chicago high tech incubator? And have you heard of Raspberry Pi? It could be a really interesting project.

  • 105. cpsobsessed  |  May 14, 2013 at 7:23 am

    @??? – have you toured the school? I keep meaning to go but haven’t made it over there yet.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 106. tk  |  May 14, 2013 at 9:42 am

    @??? I do feel like they are continuing to improve and work through the issues that have come up. In regards to the new administration, I will admit that I was leery at first. I was afraid that CQ would become more a traditional school based on the new leadership. But, so far, I’ve noticed no change in curriculum, but an increase in discipline (which was needed). What you have heard about the organization and original vision falling apart, is true in certain aspects. The original vision was that the whole school is a system and if one part fails, the whole system fails. A lot of their original reward/discipline system was based on an all or nothing model. This may have worked in NYC because that school was able to screen applicants to make sure they actually wanted to be at that school and understood the philosophy of the school. Last year they offered lots of school wide rewards for what should have been expected behavior and there were large groups of kids that just weren’t on board with the whole working together thing and messed things up for those that were. They rarely got the rewards that were offered. I see what their original intent was… hoping to get everyone to work as one and care about the school as a whole, but it just wasn’t happening and was very frustrating to those who were “playing the game”. One prime example I can think of from last year was that in an effort to stop kids from running in the halls, they offered a dress down day at the end of the week if fewer than X number of people were caught running in the halls. Guess what! The kids didn’t stop running in the halls and they didn’t get their dress down day. It just didn’t work and the undisciplined chaos continued. This year, they have many more individual rewards and a fairly strict discipline system in place (could be stricter than I know, but given we have very few run-ins with the discipline system, I don’t know all of the ins and outs). Very few rewards are tied to the whole student body like before. This hasn’t changed the collaborative learning and working in groups within their classes… that’s all still there. Your son sounds a lot like mine and he’s thriving at CQ. My son doesn’t need more school work to be challenged, he needs and loves projects where he really needs to think. CQ has that for those who are willing to play the game. I throw that last part in there, because there are those who aren’t on board with this type of learning and CQ is probably not the best fit for them. The teachers are incredibly supportive and really seem to care about the kids. My son is also Minecraft obsessed! In 6th grade they made a model of the solar system in Minecraft and this year, they’re building (in small groups) a walk through digestive system in Minecraft (they’re starting it now, so I hear non-stop chatter about his plan for red stone doors)! I’m also with you on the happiness in the school as the most important thing. My son, once fired up about something, can really run with it… you just have to light the fire. CQ does that for a lot of kids. My son has learned so much both within the classroom setting and beyond it, because of the people he has contact with there and the way the curriculum is set-up. I hope that helps!

  • 107. tk  |  May 14, 2013 at 9:46 am

    @averagemom Sorry! I just saw your question! I just asked this question the other day. The HS will be housed within the same complex of buildings. They are currently working on the “annex” which is the low building behind the school. Apparently they are outfitting them in incredibly state of the art science labs. I can’t wait to see them!

  • 108. cpsobsessed  |  May 14, 2013 at 10:23 am

    Ok, I have signed up for a tour for next week on May 22nd at Quest. Taking my son to check it out and I will report back.

  • 109. cpsobsessed  |  May 14, 2013 at 10:25 am

    @tk – thanks for all the feedback!

  • 110. Paula Brinkman Lowe  |  May 21, 2013 at 4:55 pm

    tk, Thank you for all of the info! I neglected to follow the thread so I didn’t see it until today. I’m excited that your son likes it so much. I got a call asking for a decision so this helps a lot.
    cpsobsessed, I have toured it twice, once the first year and also about 2 weeks ago. It’s hard to tell what’s going on behind the scenes from the tour. I have a friend who is disappointed with her child’s experience there so I have been anxious to hear from someone who likes it. Thanks again tk.

  • 111. ???  |  May 21, 2013 at 9:40 pm

    And thanks anonymous for the activities suggestions. He would like all of them. I only heard of 1871 recently.

  • 112. anonymous  |  May 22, 2013 at 10:47 am

    Also try 826 chi, which has free workshops. Most are on writing — they have an animation workshop, and one on starting a blog, if he might like writing about technology for kids.

    Also try out Marwen’s courses in animation.

    Never know what his passion may turn out to be. ; )

  • 113. tk  |  May 22, 2013 at 11:22 am

    Paula… you’re welcome. There’s so much negative out there, that I wanted to put it out there that it is really working for some kids. It’s just like any school, it just can’t be the right fit for every child. My daughter’s school is the same way, we’re extremely pleased with it for her, but I know there are parents with kids in the same classes, experiencing the exact same teachers that have a completely different opinion. It just comes down to knowing your child and doing your research. My son is really thriving there and we just got another example of it yesterday. They’re in the midst of their final MAP testing of the year. After the fall testing, they set a year end goal for their score to increase by. My son’s projected score increase in math was 5 points by year end. However… that’s not what happened. His winter score went up ELEVEN points… well above his year end goal. And now, in spring testing, he went up another 6 points… for a total increase of 17 points in math! Now, I’m not a huge proponent of standardized testing, but it does say something. While at CQ my son has discovered a true love of math. With the way they do their projects in class, he can see the actual application of math which fuels that love even more. He also has a caring teacher who pushes him ahead instead of holding him back to wait for the rest of the class. It’s his last class of the day, so he usually stays behind to help the teacher clean up her classroom and they talk math as they stack chairs on tables! She has a passion for it and is passing it on to her students. This isn’t necessarily be everyone’s experience, but the potential is there.

    Are you going to be at the new student meet and greet next week? I’m going to try to make it, but my son should be there with the CQ cooking club (they’ll be making the appetizers).

  • 114. Family Friend  |  May 22, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    This discussion reminds me that not every school is for every child. Many people on this blog are looking for a school where kids who are smart and motivated, but who miss out on the highly competitive SEHS and gifted programs, can still get a good, challenging education. Quest seems to provide this for students who don’t thrive in a typically structured environment. It has the additional benefit of being within sight of the Red Line station at North and Clybourn, so it’s easily accessible. I hope more of you will give it a chance.

  • 115. anonymous  |  May 22, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    On that topic, FOX is doing some interesting reporting on an excellent CPS high school — Chicago High School for the Agricutural Sciences. Worth a look.

  • 116. cpsobsessed  |  May 22, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    I’ll be visiting Quest tonight with my son, just to check it out.
    I think we discussed Ag last year and I was ready to move down there…

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 117. ???  |  May 22, 2013 at 7:52 pm

    I think I need to get over there more, my husband read some of the posts and is worried about bullying. The meet and greet would be a good chance to get to know some of the kids he’d be in class with. Has your son experienced any bullying?

  • 118. cpsobsessed  |  May 22, 2013 at 7:55 pm

    At the tour tonight they said they do shadow days on mondays – for students, not for parents.

    I’ll write more later. The mission of the school sounds really cool but of course it’s so hard to judge when you’re there in the evening and no students are around.

    Also, traffic around there at 6pm was BRUTAL.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 119. tk  |  May 23, 2013 at 9:36 am

    @??? I can only really speak from our experience and it has really not been much of an issue. The only incident we have had in two years was the result of a series of misjudgments (I can go into more detail if you’re interested). It was during “boss week” when tensions are normally a little higher than average. It was taken care of swiftly and we were satisfied with the way it was handled. And that was even in the brief time the school was between principals. One of my son’s friends recently had an issue with another student, but the parents also seemed pleased by how proactive and on top of things the administration is. Besides the actual incident… my son has had no ongoing bullying issues. There are some “troublemaker” kids (my son’s term), but from what my son says, they mainly cause trouble with each other. They are big on social emotional learning there too. This has really helped my son! He tended to be more of a target at times for bullies because of being overly emotional about things (he has a tendency to be a bit of a control freak and melt down when things go wrong). He has an amazing homebase teacher who has really worked with him on how to handle himself to stay more in control. If they’re working on him with this, they are working with the bullying types on their issues as well. Also, I don’t really know how to convey this in type… but with the way they do things there, they may not all like each other, but they try to respect each other. They don’t pit the smart, motivated kids against the rest… they all work together. One of the “troublemaker” kids came up to my husband at one of the boss levels to introduce himself and tell him how much our son has helped him in class (and I have to say that my husband was extremely impressed that any junior high age kid would introduce himself and shake hands with a parent unprompted). We asked our son about it later and he said that they had worked together on projects and now when he needs help understanding something in math, he comes to him to explain it. In another class, the top students get to run a help desk for the other students. I think this helps them see that they all need each other and helps them learn how to interact respectfully with each other. They may not be “friends”, hang out together or even remotely “get” each other… but they have a mutual respect for each other.

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