How is school going? (Especially you longer day people)

September 28, 2011 at 6:22 am 96 comments

Well, CPS has been quiet lately and we’ve talked the concept of the longer school day to death (although I’m sure there plenty more so say.)  For now.  Quite the opposite of Karen Lewis who still will apparently not offer any input on the subject.,0,5728773.story


From this new Trib story:

The concerns seem to mirror that of the Chicago Teachers Union, which has called for a better rather than a longer school day. The union’s own proposal for a longer school day next year calls for more time for foreign languages, physical education, art, music, science and social studies. While students would be in class for an extra 75 minutes under the union proposal, teachers would not be working longer.

In speaking with principals last week, district officials also recommended adding extra time for non-math and reading subjects.  O’Keefe said the district and union’s proposal for what a longer school day would look like are similar and differ only by 15 minutes.

She called for the union to join the advisory committee. But CTU President Karen Lewis has declined to join the group, saying its members are politically connected. The union has instead offered five other candidates that it says include three teachers.  CPS officials have said the district had agreed to add the union nominees solely to get Lewis to join. But without Lewis’ participation, those nominees have not been contacted.

CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey, who attended tonight’s Raise Your Hand meeting, said Lewis never agreed to join and offered other names because she has been out of the classroom for a year.  “Karen needs to be in a  room with our members before she talks to (CPS chief executive Jean-Claude) Brizard about what’s going to happen,” Sharkey said.


I can’t tell what’s going on – why can’t they just get some Union reps to start discussing it?

I’m curious how the start of everyone’s school year is going?  Do the new Kindergarten parents feel good about their schools?  How’s homework?  How is the longer day feeling?

Some of my updates:

My son is now in 3rd grade at a Regional Gifted Center.  As you may know, the RGCs work 1-2 grades ahead.  So for K-2 they were 1 year ahead in math which mostly worked out fine.  This year it turns out that they suddenly skipped to 2 grades ahead.  So he came home with a 5th grade math book.  So seemingly the concepts covered in 4th grade can just be skipped (Insert sarcasm.)  I have full confidence in the teacher (my son had her for 1st grade) and she pulled it off last year and has given us many re-assurances.  It’s just one of those Things-That-Bug-Me about CPS’ bureaucracy.  I assume somebody decided that skipping the 4th grade material was the best year for skipping, it just seems like a big leap.

We also had our language program changed from French to Spanish.  Which is great.  The whole school is now learning Spanish (parents fundraise for it for the neighborhood program.)  But 3 years ago when the program started we asked if the language had to be French and were told “Yes, it has to be French, that’s how the program is set up.”  So it has to be French until it doesn’t have to be French.  Sigh.

Our school day is now 45 minutes longer, which includes 20 minutes extra of instructional time.  So far I haven’t heard any complaints from my son and he seems to like the longer lunch and recess (but still doesn’t eat most of his lunch.)

Overall, the school continues to instill confidence in me, between the admin and my son’s 2 teachers, so I’m in a happy-CPS place right now.  Somehow our budget cuts seemed minimal (if not having some stuff added.)  My son will have art, music, library, gym, computer, and science with one of his teachers.  It seems very well-rounded.  I can’t recall as a child how often we had those specials.  Can you?

My son’s class lost one kid at the begining of the year (to another gifted program) and tried filling the spot through several rounds.  Nobody has shown up yet. It seems that once families have settled in at a school, it’s hard to get them to switch.

One *interesting* thing my son mentioned this summer was the ISATs and that he wants to do well on them.  That makes me raise an eyebrow a bit.  I get that the school may want to mention the test, but I’m curious how it’s being presented to the kids.  Curious if other kids have mentioned the test at all….

Admissions-wise I’ve heard of families being offered spots in higher grades (1st +) at some desirable schools, but they seem to be turned down often if a sibling can’t be admitted right away.  So there IS movement in these schools.  If you’re willing to shift after school starts and willing to split siblings up for a while (ugh) you just never know what might come along if you keep applying.

And FINALLY – if anyone is looking to buy a great bungalow in the Waters school district, feel free to email me at
3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1.5 lot, big 1 car garage, nice yard with some grass and cookout area, right by the Brown Line Francisco stop, giant basement, great dining room and living room with wood ceiling beams, awesome retro kitchen, and a giant attic for storing Happy Meal toys or converting to a huge master suite.  Probably gonna be priced around $530K.

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Weekly Announcements and Events w/o 9/26 South Loop Regional Gifted Center has stopped taking new students

96 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Skinner North mom  |  September 28, 2011 at 9:23 am

    I can say the 45-minute-longer day at Skinner North was going very well, at least for my family. It’s too soon to say on the 90-minute-longer day. People are still adjusting/scrambling. For us, Morning Max goes until 15 minutes past our technical start time, so it gives people a little breathing room to get there before instruction starts (as long as they don’t mind missing Morning Max). The teachers seem to have a good plan in place to use the extra time. And, at least at our grade level, the teachers are flexible and open to adjusting the new schedule as we go, once they see how well things work. They also seem to be very open to parent feedback and have already adjusted the schedule based on parent concerns. I see a lot of drowsy, yawning, crabby kids, but I expect that to get better once we have a few weeks of this under our belts.

  • 2. klm  |  September 28, 2011 at 10:59 am

    I’d like to say that the idea that French is less-than-ideal has some credibility in today’s increasingly Hispanic society and integrated NAFTA economy (but some Candadians do speak French), at least in terms of possible future employment and overall utility. However, I’d like to point out (from personal experience) that as far as Romance Languages go, once one’s learned French (by just about everybody’s reckoning a more difficult language to master), Spanish is EASY! EASY! EASY! The same can be said for Portugese, Italian (I had Italian 101 and 102 at a ‘competetive’ college and it was a fairly easy ‘A’) or Romanian, for that matter.

    Again, from personal experience, Spanish classes (depending where one takes them–North Dakota is different than California or Chicago) are frequently filled with native speakers or people with lots of family, neighbors, etc., with whom one has been exposed to the language (people who really are getting the ‘Easy A’ ). I took Spanish 101 at a community college years ago [for my own interest, I’d long been done with college and grad school] and 50%+ of my fellow students were 1st or 2nd generation Mexican-Americans. The woman next to me told me in heavily-accented English that she was originally from Guadalajara –WTH?!!. My knowledge of French made it about 1000% easier than for the other non-native speakers to learn Spanish.

    My niece has AP Spanish and says it’s hard to compete with the kids who are Hispanic, especially during the oral exams. Teachers know this, but what can they do? They can’t discriminate for or against a student when grading because of one’s ethnicity, but it kinda’ throws off the Bell Curve. Also, with Brazil as a growing economic and social force in the world, it’s pretty easy to learn Portugese after one knows French. Another point: Since so many CPS kids come from Hispanic families, it’s nice for them to be exposed to a ‘new’ language other than the 2 they are already familiar with. In my DC’s class, several of the kids already know Spanish, so they really wouldn’t be learning a foreign language if it weren’t for French.

    Sorry about the diatribe, but I know so many parents that feel upset that their kids are learning French instead of Spanish at RGCs, the Internation Gifted Program, Lincoln Elementary, etc., but I just wanted to point out that there can be a silver lining from learning French instead of Spanish.

  • 3. MarketingMom  |  September 28, 2011 at 11:13 am

    Speaking of real estate…I’ve got a brick two-flat for sale in a Tier 1 neighborhood. You would be guaranteed a SEHS slot with at least a 750 score. Bring all offers.

  • 4. ExCPSmomba  |  September 28, 2011 at 11:23 am

    2 Kim- Most spanish teachers will tell you that the kids who speak at home speak mostly slang and they don’t read or write the language. So this is not an easy A for them.

  • 5. klm  |  September 28, 2011 at 12:16 pm


    Well, I understand that people don’t grow up learning grammar rules, written language, etc., but I can’t help but believe it’s easier for kids who grow up hearing and speaking Spanish to do well in Spanish-as-foreign-language classes than for those who did not. Like I said, I had fellow students in Spanish 101 who moved from Mexico after they were adults, so for them I can’t help but think Spanish 101 is an “Easy A” class –how could it not be? They’re fluent native Spanish speakers who lived in their home country until well into adulthood, in some cases. Even in CPS, some kids were born in Latin American countries or have parents who were. Many times Spanish is the primary language at home. Also, a part of every foreign language class I ever had involved listening to a teacher or recorded voice ask questions or make statements in the foreign language, then students are required to figure out what was said in order to answer, either orally or on paper. This is a normal and essential part of any foreign language class and is graded accordingly. How is it not a real advantage to speak/hear a laguage from birth (maybe be even fluent in it) and then use that knowledge in a class where it’s taught as a FOREIGN language? It’s kinda’ like if my kids move to Mexico or Spain when they turn 19 or 20. Wouldn’t English 101 at the University of Madrid be easier for them than for non-native English learners? Or if we moved to Mexico now –I’m sorry, but my kids would be able to understand their Engish language teacher better than the Mexican kids –is there any doubt?

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining about the situation as much as pointing out some things. If I moved to Mexico and could take English 101 for credit towards a high school diploma or university degree, I’d do the same. Why not?

  • 6. Skinner North  |  September 28, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    My kid is in K at Skinner North and so far, so very good. A couple of weeks ago, Skinner North surveyed the parents as to how WE wanted the extra time spent and they seemed to listen. Imagine THAT! To my eye, they have been incredibly responsive and open to feedback on this issue.

    They decided that each teacher (there are 15) gets to determine how to spend up to $10,000 of the $150,000 incentive money.This seems fair to me–they are the ones on the front line and know what is most urgently needed. The principal and assistant principal are vetting the wish lists, checking for duplication, etc. and say they are very pleased with the great choices the teachers are making to improve the environment and curriculum with this money. I have high hopes that this money will be used wisely.

    The day was already bumped 45 minutes longer by September 6, so to the new K families like ours, it looks like we only really added 45 minutes extra on September 26. The K teachers decided that those 45 minutes would be spent with an extra 15-minute recess and an extra 30 minutes of enrichment time. “Enrichment” can mean anything from arts and crafts to homework help to additional Spanish or music. Good call, I say.My kid is loving the extra recess for sure!

    The weekly homework packet used to go home on Monday and had to be turned in on Friday. Now, it goes home on Monday and is returned on the following Monday–very humane. It is taking my kid about 10-15 minutes a night. They give guidelines as to which homework should be tackled which night to try and reinforce the learning that is happening during the day, which is smart, but if your weeknights look crazy, you have some extra time on the weekends to complete the packet.

    My kid is a bit sleepy/crabby on the way to the bus stop, but once we get used to the schedule, that should be work itself out. The kid seems to be fine on the way home. Definitely in need of a snack and some downtime when arriving at home at about 4:30-4:45 off the bus. However, our kid LOVES Skinner North! Our older child is jealous of the recesses and snack and extra fun stuff, but the older kid loves the school friends and the short school commute.

    I am a bit overwhelmed by the flurry of Skinner North emails and activity, but I guess that’s what a bustling, thriving school full of teachers and parents who care looks like!

    The K teachers are in a word, awesome. Smart, kind and accomodating. Our Open House was great. There is a family math night scheduled for next week. I have called and emailed the school on a few minor issues and Skinner North has been incredibly responsive, from the teachers to the front office. How wonderful to be a part of a school where kids come first!

    We simply have to wait and see how this all shakes out, but it looks very promising! I can’t wait to read what others are experiencing with the longer days. I hope our largely positive experience is the norm.

  • 7. West Rogers Park Mom  |  September 28, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    Re: foreign language

    My Taft 7th grader switched from Spanish to French this year. She loves French. In fact I am hearing more of it from her at home than I did of her Spanish at her magnet school. She did say that most of the kids in her French class are native Spanish speakers. I also heard that they moved the native Spanish speakers in the 7th grade to higher level high school classes. (The AC language class is a high school class but at a slower pace. The kids will get one year of high school language during their 2 years at Taft)

    Spanish was a joke for my 7th grader at her elementary school for even the non native Spanish speakers. They never seemed to get to grammar or writing and just did the same thing (colors, nouns, etc) year after year.

    Language immersion is a fascinating issue. Our babysitter is Mexican and her daughter is a good friend of my girls. At a recent birthday party her family was complaining because they had to fight to get their kids OUT OF the immersion programs. They explained that they spoke Spanish 80% at home and wanted them immersed in English at school. Of course, there is a waitlist for the English speakers in these immersion programs. This is not a Chicago school by the way.

  • 8. RL Julia  |  September 28, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    Spent the first two weeks of school screaming at various CPS and bus company people about their inability to find a regular bus driver and/or pick up my son less than 10 minutes after school started every day. The best was when I spoke to a school administrator about the unexcused absences/tardies my son was racking up due to this problem and was told: “it doesn’t matter, he’s in 8th grade.” Well, if it doesn’t matter – than why mark him tardy? Ugh.

    Have spent the remaining time dispelling my 8th grader of the following CPS urban legends (the school administration and/or teachers are partially credited with at least perpetuating these legands, although I don’t have true confirmation on who is coming up with this stuff in this first place):
    1. Your first semester grades for 8th grade count towards your admission into an SEHS.
    2. If you are taking classes for which you will be given high school credit, your grades in those classes will count towards your your high school GPA.

    Nevermind all the different gossip my kids are touting as the gospel truth about the imaginary qualities of one SEHS or AC over another -and the well-meaning advice from a parent who warned me to personally take the SEHS application to school, watch them fill it out and send it in yourself because the school has been known to “lose” some kid’s applications. Its going to be a long school year. I am so over CPS….

  • 9. CPSDepressed  |  September 28, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    Heh. At our school, we were told by the guidance counselor that the SEHS admissions officers have access to everything in the file, so they will consider things like attendance and behavior. So I asked: how do they consider these things? Is there a point calculation that is not revealed to parents? Do they consider things like parental occupation? Political donations? Contributions to the school?

    I got a lot of hemming and hawing, and he clearly did not like my line of questioning. I finally realized that the principal wanted to keep these kids on their toes, and she did it by scaring them about SEHS admission.

    I hadn’t heard about the “lost” applications, but it would not surprise me.

  • 10. ExCPSmomba  |  September 28, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    8 & 9 – “Lost” applications every year at the CPS magnet school my son graduated from last year. My son was barely able to take the SEHS test because the “counselor” at his school lost his paperwork. Many emails & phone calls with this “counselor” until she FINALLY got it right. She even talked me out of the online application. . . I don’t know why I listened to her at all. PARENTS of 8th graders testing for SEHS — Be vigilant and keep bothering your school administration if you do not get a testing date when everyone else gets one. This is your first hint that your application was probably “lost”. Tier 4 – far North side — beware!

  • 11. Mayfair Dad  |  September 28, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    I applied for a code and applied online as soon as the SEHS website opened. Everything worked out. For the few applications outside of the SEHS process, I kept photocopies of everything I submitted to the counselor “just in case”. Herad back from everybody – Lincoln Park IB very early on, Von Steuben fairly late.

    I found that Mayfair Son (slacker/skater kid) and his social set really goofed off in 8th grade after the HS admissions process. I guess after me flogging him like a rented mule during 7th grade, he felt like he deserved a year off.

    He speaks French, BTW, and is continuing at LPIB. At least he will know how to order dinner at a French restaurant when entertaining clients.

  • 12. LindblomPrincipal  |  September 28, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    CPSDepressed: Fear not. We do not have access to attendance and discipline records. At our SE High Schools, we can access the database to see scores on both tests and grades in the all-important 7th grade year.

    And, even though we can see those pieces listed above, we do not “choose” students. The algorithm chooses students for us.

    Our only choice comes with Principal Discretion.

    Mayfair Dad has it right. Apply online. It is the safest way to get the applications in without worrying that something is “lost.”

  • 13. cps Mom  |  September 28, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    High school becomes more challenging every year. College prep curriculum requires the ability, maturity, organization, dedication, critical thinking and goal orientation. Starting to see the light – think he’s got 3 out of 6. I expect that by the time (if ever) all keys click into place we will be at the end of our CPS journey – so there’s the irony. Our “flop down” year was freshman, as the kid experienced “the force” in both 7 and 8. No major revolts however so he is still forging onward.

    As in #12 – 8th grade and attendance are not factors, selection by the numbers by computer. Keep in mind, however, other schools – Lincoln Park, Von Steuben probably others do look at 8th grade report cards. They may also use grades and Explore as tools for placement in various classes offered.

    HS Spanish is quite challenging with no prior romance language experience. KLM has a valid point. Many of the kids are native speakers or have taken Spanish/French/Italian and enroll in entry level Spanish. As a result, the class moves very fast. The teacher tells me that it’s because the kids in SEHS are smart – but, come on. It’s fine unless you also need to juggle other honors and AP classes. I’ve heard that some larger schools like Whitney offer Spanish for Spanish speakers – makes sense.

    CPSO interesting to hear that budget cuts aren’t a great impact for you. We are definitely feeling the squeeze – especially in the arts and extracurricular activities. We have done all kinds of cost cutting to keep teacher jobs (we have truly awesome teachers) Is this due to fund raising?

    @6 – how great is your school??!! What a way to start out.

  • 14. nurse ratchett  |  September 29, 2011 at 7:21 am

    Well so far I’m a bit disapointe so far..My child is in k at a gifted school and I’ve been trying so hard to reinforce his learning at home via my own worksheets, internet. – asked teacher for a lesson plan so I could better do this ahead of time since its time consuming but she declined! Its hard to get a. 5 year old to say only clue is the Hw but since school started hw has been sporadic she’s jumping all over the place so I don’t know how long shell teach a topic. It,d be nice just to know in general what they do. The other teachers don’t even write anything on their class page – I had to email them and one never replied.There’s a test where they must write the number words from zero to twelve I think that’s a lot to expect in so little time just found out 2 days ago.

  • 15. RL Julia  |  September 29, 2011 at 7:44 am

    Thanks for all the good advice and support. Good point about Lincoln Park and Von Steuben (although my son literally shuddered when I told him about the LPIB/Double Honors Program). Mayfair Dad – I thought your son was going to Lane?

  • 16. Mayfair Dad  |  September 29, 2011 at 8:32 am

    @ RL Julia: Mayfair Son fell a few points shy of the Tier 4 minimum for Lane Tech. (A few 91 Bs at Ogden really hurt). We were hoping for a round two invite from Lane, but no round two. Mayfair Mom – the Lane Tech alumna – was a little disappointed but we are fans of the IB philosophy and so far impressed with the LPIB. Yes, there is alot of homework. Great, enthusiastic teachers, a little quirky but that works with my son. I take him and the neighbor girl in the morning on my way to work (his day starts at 7:45 a.m.) and he takes the Brown Line home. So far so good.

  • 17. CPSDepressed  |  September 29, 2011 at 9:10 am

    Thanks, Lindblom Principal. I wish this weren’t so hard. Navigating the official rules is tough enough without all the rumors thrown in.

    Mayfair Dad, a helpful person at my church was asking why I would not consider Peyton. It’s such a great school! Everyone who goes there loves it! Didn’t I think Lane Tech was too big? And I was like, kids who get Bs are damn lucky if they can get into Lane Tech; Peyton is not on their radar.

    Besides, it seems that Albert Lane is a better role model than Walter Peyton, at least based on the new SI story. That’s my rationalization for the day.

  • 18. CPSmama  |  September 29, 2011 at 9:25 am

    @8 RL Julia,

    “2. If you are taking classes for which you will be given high school credit, your grades in those classes will count towards your your high school GPA.”

    Hate to break the news, but this ^ is not an urban legend. It is true. For students who take HS classes (core classes or electives) at CPS AC’s- those grades ARE included in their HS GPA. They arrive at their HS (SEHS or other) with a GPA from their 7th & 8th grade HS level classes. Those classes appear on their transcripts when they are generated for college admissions.

    I am CERTAIN that this is the case b/c I have had 2 kids that were AC students, one who did all 6 yrs at WY, the other at Taft AC then WY for HS and both of their HS GPAs included their grades in HS courses they took in 7th & 8th grade at their respective AC. (Which for my kids, tended to be better than their grades in HS!)

    My Taft AC child had credit & grades for: EAST (7th), Algebra, Spanish I, Survey Lit, US Hist. (5 HS credits & grades included in HS GPA)

  • 19. CPSmama  |  September 29, 2011 at 9:29 am


    LOL on your rationale for not selecting Payton! Sad but not all that suprising. He was apparently a bit more discreet than others (ie Michael Jordan) but one would be hard-pressed to find a celebrity or athlete who was squeaky clean.

    And you’re right about Tier 4 kids with B’s having trouble getting into Lane let alone Payton (or WY or Jones or NS).

  • 20. ExCPSmomba  |  September 29, 2011 at 9:46 am

    Tier 4 – Lots of kids from ’11 60646 grammar school are freshman at Lincoln Park, either IB or DHonors. They love it . The only current problem is the getting to / from the school. Major transportation nightmare for many, and this is good weather!

  • 21. Mayfair Dad  |  September 29, 2011 at 11:05 am

    Let’s be very clear for the parents of 7th graders who might be on this thread: if you live in a Tier 4 neighborhood and your child ends 7th grade with a B in one of the four core subjects, you can kiss Northside, Payton, Whitney Young good bye. Two Bs and you can kiss Lane Tech and Jones good bye. This is the penalty your child pays for living in a safe neighborhhood.

    Other SEHS options, like Lindblom and Westinghouse, are starting to garner closer inspection by North side parents but tend to be a long commute. Some have decided the commute is worth it.

    @ 20 – I hear you loud and clear but I work near Wrigley Field so it is more convenient for us than many. I haven’t had to drag Mayfair Son out of bed by his hair…yet. But the year is still early. Several of his gang who got into different high schools all seem to have a low grade case of “buyers remorse” — I am told by other parents this is typical.

    Much to my surprise, he is getting excellent grades. I pray this continues, for my sanity and his physical well-being 🙂

  • 22. Mayfair Dad  |  September 29, 2011 at 11:09 am

    His “crowd” not gang, just to be clear. Ahhh, city living!

  • 23. cpsobsessed  |  September 29, 2011 at 11:14 am

    I was gonna say, Mayfair son is in a gang already?! 🙂

    So I’ve been spouting off to people that kids in Tier 3/4 can’t get a B. But a friend of mine with a crazy-intelligent son asked about kids who can totally ace the standardized tests (as some kids are genetically prone to do.)

    I couldn’t remember how MFSon did on the tests. Is it possible for a Tier 3/4 kid to get a B but do really well on the tests and get in say, Northside or even Lane? Or does the B pretty much kill it unless you’re getting like 99% on all the tests?

  • 24. ExCPSmomba  |  September 29, 2011 at 11:22 am

    23. I think you can ace the standardized test and have a B and possibly get into Lane. Northside – no way. A recent CPS grad had awful 7th grade grades but off the chart testing. With PD he got into the Lane alpha program, but he is lucky that worked for him. PD is definitely a long shot for everyone.

  • 25. Mayfair Dad  |  September 29, 2011 at 11:39 am

    @ 23: Really can’t lump Tier 3 with Tier 4. Different point thresholds.

    Tier 4 kids have to be damn near perfect in every category to win seats in the most coveted SEHSs.

    Final grades coming out of 7th are rated extraordinarily heavy on the scoring matrix. This would be fine (or at least fair) if CPS implemented a consistent grading policy.

    Nothing in life is perfect, but it still sticks in my craw that such a simple fix is not implemented immediately. Send the memo, Rahm!

  • 26. cps?  |  September 29, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    I was talking to a friend and this subject came up. His 3rd tier, 7th grade child has As, and ISAT scores of 99% and 98%. What are his child’s chances of getting in to Young, Payton, Jones and so on? What do you all think? Interestingly, this parent feels like in spite of his child’s chances of getting into one of these schools, he wonders if Lane might be more well-rounded. He wonders if an intense pressure would hang over his child all four years. What do you all think?

  • 27. CPSmama  |  September 29, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    Cutoff scores for Tier 4 in 2011-12 SEHS admissions:

    NS: 891
    WP: 889
    Jones & WY: 865
    Lane: 782

    So, last year, Tier 4 kids with 1 B in 7th grade & nearly perfect ISAT & Admission test scores could get into WY & Jones. (Each B = deduction of 25 pts from 900 perfect score)

    For Lane, A tier 4 kid w/ nearly perfect test scores could get 4 Bs and still get in. Or 2 B’s and less than perfect test scores.

    But for NS & WP, Tier 4 kids need all As in 7th grade and nearly perfect ISAT & Admission test scores

  • 28. CPSmama  |  September 29, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    Not trying to slight the Southside and Westside SEHS’s -they just don’t seem to be the schools many on this board are primarily interested in.

    I’m posting their 2011-12 cutoffs here:

    Brooks: 727
    King: 652
    Westinghouse: 705
    Lindblom: 685

  • 29. CPSmama  |  September 29, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    My 2 cents on attending Lane for a lower-stress HS experience:

    There is stress at all SEHS’s. Each one has super-competitive kids who want straight As. At all costs.

    There is widepread cheating at all HS’s.

    There are different grading scales at the various SEHS’s. I would advocate considering that when choosing a HS for your S or D. Lane now has the 90,80, 70, 60 across the board, so that may lead to lowered stress there. (NS & WP have a similar grading scale, I believe)

    WY permitsr students to elect whether to take 6 or 7 courses (plus lunch) each year of HS. Students who take only 6 courses can lower their stress b/c of less HW and a shorter day. I don’t know of any other SEHS that offer this flexibility- maybe some others do.

    Typically, the term “well-roundedness” when used to describe Lane or WY refers to their sports programs. Keep in mind that participating in sports at these HS’s means trying out, and if yo make the team, you must make your sport your #1 prioty at least during it’s season. It also means limiting Honors and APs to what can be managed while competing in an all-encompassing sport for half the year or more.

    (That was probably more like $2.00 worth rather than 2 cents, LOL)

  • 30. Mayfair Dad  |  September 29, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Quick Tier 4 Math

    Scenario # 1
    4 Bs = 200
    95 on both ISAT subects = 288
    95 on entrace exam = 288
    TOTAL: 776 (Sorry, no Lane Tech for you)

    Scenario # 2
    2 As, 2 Bs = 250
    87 on both ISAT subjects = 264
    87 on entrance exam = 264
    TOTAL: 778 (Sorry, no Lane Tech for you)

    Now let’s run both scenarios with straight As in 7th grade

    Scenario # 3
    4 As = 300
    95 on both ISAT subjects = 288
    95 on entrance exam = 288
    TOTAL: 876 (Sorry, no Northside or Payton for you)

    Scenario # 4
    4 As = 300
    87 on both ISAT subjects = 264
    87 on entrance exam = 264
    TOTAL: 828 (Sorry, no Northside, Payton, Jones, or Whitney Young for you)

    It is extremely competitive for Tier 4 kids to get into the most coveted SEHSs.

    @ 26 – your friend should visit and get educated on the process.

  • 31. ExCPSmamba  |  September 29, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    Mayfair Dad – thanks. I hope Rahm reads this.

  • 32. Vlajos  |  September 29, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    RE: Waters area bungalo

    Are you a realtor or are you moving?

  • 33. CPSDepressed  |  September 29, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    From what I’ve heard, North Side is a pressure cooker that is only appropriate for a handful of kids. Some kids thrive in that environment, and some kids burn out.

    Lane Tech is appealing to a lot of families because it is large enough to accommodate every interest, not just sports.There are all kinds of clubs and extracurricular activities. As one of my friends (a Lane alumna) says, every kid can find a friend at Lane Tech, no matter how shy or off-beat or downright weird he or she may be.

    A lot depends on the kid. Seventh-grade B aside, my kid would probably not do well at North Side.

  • 34. ChicagoGawker  |  September 29, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    So we have a shot at only 1 SEHS school (Lane) if we’re Tier 4 and get 1 ‘B’ in 7th grade w/ decent test scores. (I know there are some alternatives, but I don’t love them) Good-bye Chicago, moving to Evanston in a few years.

  • 35. ExCPSmomba  |  September 29, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    34. If you don’t want to pay tuition, you are certainly thinking ahead. Hopefully, the schools will get better for you.

  • 36. CPSDepressed  |  September 29, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    You can see the cutoffs from last year here:–%20First-Round%20Scores.pdf

    One or two Bs and reasonable test scores would also get you into Lindblom, Westinghouse, Brooks, and King. The commute is too long for us but may not be for you.

    I’m regretting that I didn’t throw a hissy fit with the teacher over the B. I don’t like to be That Kind of Parent, but the stakes are really high here.

  • 37. CPSDepressed  |  September 29, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    Oh, and here is the point calculation tool:

  • 38. ExCPSMomba  |  September 29, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    36. You did the right think by not throwing the hissy fit. You don’t really want your kids to remember you as the crazy mom who threw hissy fits all over town.

  • 39. ChicagoGawker  |  September 29, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    Regarding taking French as foreign language. The parents up in arms because they want Spanish are really being short sighted about this. The purpose of studying a foreign language goes beyond being able to talk to the largest non English speaking group here. French is the language of diplomacy and internationally is the most commonly known 2nd language after a speakers native tongue. In Africa, and don’t know the tribal language? Try French. Much more likely that someone speaks that than Spanish. Also, French is an academic language. Many subjects have a huge body of literature in French, that you are not going to find in Spanish. We’re happy to stick with French.

  • 40. CPSDepressed  |  September 29, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    @38: Unless I was so crazy that I scared the teacher into giving an A! This process is just insane. It’s wrong that CPS has decided that the only kids who are college material are kids who get all As in 7th grade. Just wrong.

  • 41. ExCPSMomba  |  September 29, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    40 – I don’t think CPS thinks those are the only kids headed to college. There are plenty of kids planning on and will be going to college. The city is extra big, the budget is nonexistent and for years the schools went downhill. Right or wrong, we only want our kids in the SEHS schools. All the schools should be good. We all know that. It it all a matter of money.

  • 42. Mayfair Dad  |  September 29, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    With the addition of an Academic Center, Lane Tech joins Whitney Young as the north side SEHSs with their own Junior High Schools. Students in the Academic Centers will be automatically accepted into the High Schools (with passing grades, of course). So the insane competition begins in 5th Grade – straight As for Tier 4 students – to secure a seat in 7th grade at the Academic Centers. Then you can still apply to Northside or Payton, but your seat at Lane Tech or Whitney Young is secured. Yes, I know Taft has an Academic Center too, but it is not a SEHS.

    So maybe those extra 90 minutes to help your kid keep up academically with the ERGC, Beaubien, Bell and Decatur students isn’t such a bad idea afterall.

  • 43. cps Mom  |  September 29, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    Mayfair Dad, I’m with you all the way LOL about 90 minutes.

    I know of a private school that changed grading scale for 5-8 grade mid year last year, making it retroactive to the beginning of the year to bring up grades without giving it to them. This kind of supports your whole starts at 5th grade theory. With the process staying the same, I wonder if we’ll see a spike in scores for all tiers?

    I think it would be helpful if SEHS’s were strictly 9-12 grade no AC within the school. Now, creating an affiliated junior high outside of the school could add desperately needed seats. Jones will have a perfectly good opportunity to do that with the new building – don’t know that they will or what the plan is. Whitney and Lane both have school buildings nearby. I know, I’m a dreamer (I now hear there is some value after all in those shrooms)

  • 44. anonymous  |  September 29, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    #14, It is possible the teacher you emailed never received it. The email system that teachers are required to use (teachers were told this year they may not email parents from their home emails, though some do at their own risk) only works about 50% of the time. Often the system is down, emails don’t come through or other issues arise. If the teacher doesn’t respond to an email, don’t assume they don’t care. Go talk to the teacher.

  • 45. magnet mom  |  September 29, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    High school or Jr. high non dual language programs aren’t going to teach your kid to speak a second language regardless of it being French or Spanish- even in an A.P. class.
    They learn grammar and classroom conversation skills. Total immersion as anyone who has lived abroad and had to sink or swim with their high school skills can tell you is really the only way to learn.
    Mayfair Dad’s son should avoid ordering in French with his European or African clients until after that semester (or two really) in Geneva.(or.. Genf).

  • 46. 7thgradesurvivor  |  September 29, 2011 at 9:34 pm

    Hi, my child has a 504 plan with some testing accommodations. Do I have to do a written application? I was thinking of giving it to the counselor with a SASE, so at least once it got downtown they would send me a receipt. How about taking it downtown myself, I work downtown, is there a problem with me taking instead of CPS sending it through their internal mail system?

    Also, does any one know how long the SEHS test is? One kids told me 90 minutes and then I heard 3 hours!

    How about entering class size for 2012 at Peyton, Jones, Northside, WY?


  • 47. nurse ratchett  |  September 30, 2011 at 6:20 am

    #44, the teacher did read my email because she replied to me saying no to my request but not meanly.
    I’d like to hear others’ experiences so far with new school year/longer day, which was the original topic…

  • 48. ExCPSMomba  |  September 30, 2011 at 7:48 am

    46. if your child has an IEP and/or 504 you have to do a written application and the school counselor adds info. You cannot do the on line application. If your school counselor fills out that part and gives it back to you, you can bring it downtown yourself.
    My son took the test at Lane last winter. All students are admitted into the building at the same time (no parents allowed). The “regular” kids leave when they finish the test so they start trickling out around 11:30am. However, the IEP/504 kids take the test together and can’t leave until everyone is done. So they were let out around 1:30 — 1:45 pm. No one tells you this. Good luck with the entire process.

  • 49. Mayfair Dad  |  September 30, 2011 at 8:44 am

    @ 45: the study abroad semester definitely on the radar. Mayfair Son’s conversational French improved dramatically after 10 days in Lyon — he was chatting away with French Kid who stayed with us for 10 days this Spring. Total immersion is the only way to go.

    Mayfair Dad plans to be totally immersed in some French wine later tonight…

  • 50. Momster  |  September 30, 2011 at 9:00 am

    Magnet Mom,

    I assure you that a kid who has taken some high-school French versus a kid who hasn’t had any exposure is going to be ahead of the game when he or she goes abroad. (I agree with you that studying abroad is a necessary stage of development.) However, I lived in France during my last year of high school, and again in college, and I found that my elementary-level and high-school French prepared me quite well. Ordering food was easy. Why? Because French classes cover that scenario over and over again, via skits.

    That said, how is Kindergarten going for everyone? You high-school folks are scaring me to death. My kid’s in preschool, and you’re making me plan a swift retreat to the ‘burbs.

  • 51. 7thgradesurvivor  |  September 30, 2011 at 9:04 am

    Thanks 48, but what time does test start if kids without IEPS/504s start coming out around 11:30? Thanks!

  • 52. ExCPSmomba  |  September 30, 2011 at 9:14 am

    51 – Sorry if not clear. At Lane there was an am and a pm test. My son took the am test. Everyone begins the test at the same time, but the non 504/IEP kids can leave when they are finished with the test. The 504/IEP kids take the test together and don’t exit the building until everyone of them is finished. It was around 1:45 when they were let out.

  • 53. ExCPSmomba  |  September 30, 2011 at 9:15 am

    51 – I thinkg the test began around 7:45 am

  • 54. SEN  |  September 30, 2011 at 9:17 am

    We have a 45 minute longer day. My kids get the bus at 8am and get off the bus at 4:10pm. I have a first grader and third grader. The longer day is fine so far, I do not want another 45 minutes added next year. That will be too much for the younger grades in my opinion. When the time changes in a few weeks the darkness will be hard. Homework has been OK with the two. All the paperwork and checking class websites can be a challenge. In regards to the ISAT question, my 3rd grader did mention it at the end of last year, which kind of annoyed me, This is not something seven year olds need to know about, but I told her it was nothing to worry about. She then told me that she took the ISAT. She is in an options program, so I thought for a moment that maybe they gave the class the test since they were doing 3rd grade work. My daugter then said” I took the test because I Sat down at school Ha, Ha Ha!!! Get it Mom, I sat.” Joke was on me.

  • 55. Mayfair Dad  |  September 30, 2011 at 9:59 am

    Mayfair Twins are in 5th grade at Disney II. Since D2 already had a longer day (by 45 minutes) the transition to an additional 45 minutes has so far been smooth. Observations:

    – D2 parents were already supporting a longer day thru fundraising and grant writing, so our school community had already embraced the notion that a longer day was valuable and necessary.

    – By accepting the Pioneer Program, the administration and teachers at D2 relieved the parents of seeking funding for the longer day and we can now focus our fundraising on other goals. This act was perceived as respectful to parents and has further cemented the strong relationship that exists between parents and teachers at D2. (Compared to other schools we’ve been at, it is a lovefest).

    – Some playground grumbling from parents of wee little children and those who travel on CPS busses, some with 1.5 hour commutes each way. (Why should a child have to travel 1.5 hours to find a decent school anyway? Another rant for another day.) We live close and my kids are older, but I see their point.

    – I think the Kidergarten kids now get two recesses.

    – My fifth graders have an extended homeroom and a study hall at the end of the day. D2 has established a pre-Middle School curriculum so now the twins are carrying 3-ring sectional organizers and learning to use a scheduler. (similar to Mayfair Son’s executive method training at Ogden). It is a lot of work for 5th grade but will pay huge dividends in high school and college.

    – Rahm has been hamfisted in his approach and certainly politics factor into his decision, but a longer day benefits the kids. Is 90 minutes the magic number? Time will tell.

  • 56. klm  |  October 1, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    For parents at RGCs (and all CPS parents for that matter):

    Take it from me when I remind you that “school’s not like when I was a kid….”.

    All kids are being pushed to read early, given homework earlier, parental involvement is so much more ‘de rigeur’, etc,….etc….( I started K in ’72 and I don’t remember being asked to write/spell my name or being pushed about real ‘learning’ other than socialization, learning rules, etc. before 1st grade).

    But, it’s not just YOUR kid’s school or YOUR child’s teacher that’s become so much more demanding. The same goes for just about every decent K12 education institution in America. Expectations are high and seem to be going higher.

    There will be fellow parents that bring up things, complain and then complain some more. YOU WILL GO CRAZY if you let them influence your own relationship with your child’s school or teacher (ADULT PEER PRESSURE is real!. Human nature means wanting to be on the side of people you have a connection with).

    My DC attends a highly regarded RGC (meaning hard to get into and great ISAT score if that’s how one wants to judge a school). Some parents were frantic, complained about almost everything, were pi**ed off about all the homework, the time-comsuming projects even in K and 1st grade, etc. (“My poor child is so unhappy and it’s the school’s fault, etc. “) Their negative energy started to rub off on me and I started to get mad about things that hadn’t bothered me until they pointed things out, etc., until I had to just tune them out.

    Most/many of us just eventually shrugged and muddled through without the drama and I can’t help but imagine out kids were better for it.

    First, let’s be clear: I do have some issues with my DC’s school and some of the teachers. No school is perfect, but “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with”. .

    When I finally let go with my brief bout of reflexive complaining (it can be contagious if you’re around the ‘wrong people’ [i.e., Negative Nelllies])about things, I was able to come to terms and deal with things just fine. My DC is all the better for it.

    Learning is hard work. If anybody wants to find issues with any school they can.

    There will be times when kids are sobbing and hate doing their homework (been there) and you’ll resent all the chaos being thrust into your home by “THAT school, THAT teacher, ARGHHH!!!, this makes no sense to give so much work the day before a huge project’s due —what were they thinking!”, etc. Remember to BE A PARENT/ROLE-MODEL. To quote the Dog Whisperer, be “calm and assertive” and show your kids how to deal.

    If worse comes to worse, remember “IT GETS BETTER”: Next year means a new teacher, a new start and a new chance. Make sure that your kids know that too.

  • 57. Kathy  |  October 1, 2011 at 10:07 pm

    I have two new Kindergarteners (at Coonley, one in the RGC and one in the neighborhood program). Thus far we’ve been really really happy with the school, and the longer day seems just right (though my kids never eat their lunches, either, and claim they don’t have time). I would HATE to go any longer, though. Right now they are in two afterschool “extra” classes and so two days a week, they don’t leave until 4:45. Thankfully homework can be done on the weekends so we haven’t had any trouble thus far catching up. And we have enough difficulty getting them to school by 9 am, so I’m hoping we don’t have an earlier start time in the future. That’s one of the things I loved about Coonley.

    I was a little disappointed about the switch to Spanish from French, but really only because my husband and I speak some French but not Spanish, so it would be nice to have the kids learning a language we could really practice at home. I took both French and Italian in high school and college, so I can understand (or at least read) a decent amount of Spanish, but I can’t do much and we can’t really practice at home. Oh, well. C’est la vie. 🙂

    As for “what specials” I had when I was a kid: hahahahahahaa. I went to a Catholic (always claiming to be short of $$) grade school in the 70s — we had gym. No language, no art, no music, and I don’t think the school even had a library. I think that’s part of the reason why I’ve been so pleasantly surprised by CPS.

    As much as we’ve been happy with Coonley, however, we’ll be re-testing both twins this year in the hope that we can reach the Promised Land and get them both into the same RGC (or at different RGCs that are logistically “do-able”). We turned down SEES offers for our twin who’s currently in the neighborhood program, and so far we haven’t regretted that decision….but we really doubt we’ll want them on separate tracks past K, so we’ll have to switch things around, somehow. Fingers crossed….

  • 58. HSObsessed  |  October 3, 2011 at 10:01 am

    There was little/no talk at Lincoln about extending the school day since it’s been 9:00 am to 3:30 pm for many years, and they’ve always been able to fit in lunch, recess, art, music, French, etc. within those hours. I’m not sure if 6.5 hours will be “long enough” in the long term. That is, are Emanuel/Brizard pushing for a minimum number of hours, like 7.25?

    Lincoln has a large and burgeoning neighborhood enrollment, due to families who move into the boundaries to be eligible for the French EFAC program, or just to enroll in a good neighborhood school. The population has risen from 600 students two years ago to more than 800 students now. Much of the growth is in the K-1st-2nd classes, but even in upper grades like 6th-8th there are often plenty of new neighborhood enrollees. I’m thinking that those parents are looking ahead to high school and seeing guaranteed admission to LPHS as a good option.

  • 59. the heckler  |  October 3, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    @ Mayfair Dad, how much homework would you say time wise for LPIG Monday – Thur?

  • 60. Lenart/Poe Mom  |  October 4, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    Just thought I’d chime in for the South Side. I have two boys in two SES for the first time. My 1st grader started at Lenart this year and he is very happy. The first day he told me “I had a blast,” when I asked about his day. His school last year tried very hard to accommodate a kid who was reading at 4th-grade level in K and ahead of the curriculum all-around, but without a gifted program, it wasn’t a long-term solution. He seems to be fitting in very well at Lenart and we are pleased with his teacher and the staff so far.
    My Kindergartner is at Poe Classical and when he got to attend 4 half-days of orientation with a common theme across reading, math, music and art this summer, he fell in love with the school and so did we. He, too, is very happy every day. And, we heard from the school that their ISATs last year were 3rd highest in the city.

    CPS still manages to make our lives hectic, though, with the logistical nightmare of 2 kids in 2 schools with 2 different start/end times and 2 different transportation situations. Lenart son can take the bus and has only a 30 minute ride, so we’re happy with that, but had a lot of juggling of schedules until the buses started drop-offs for Park Kids after-school. We are out of the busing boundaries for Poe and have still not found a suitable long-term transportation situation for mornings. All the private transportation companies want to pick him up as much as an hour and 45 minutes before school starts …. too much for a 5 year old (I don’t know any adults who would travel that long one-way daily).

    I know most people on this site are North Siders, but I can tell you that Lenart and Poe are real gems on the South Side.

  • 61. uxor1  |  October 5, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    New to CPS this year. Can we talk about After School on site? Why is this so unpopular at CPS ? Where is the support for children of dual income families, or single working parents who can afford after care? Special Classes have begun at my daughter’s new school, Chess, Foreign Language, Science, etc. It became clear pretty quickly that these enrichment programs are inaccessible to children of working parents.

    The bussing to regular dismissal time after care programs (so, prior to Special Classes start time) doesn’t return to get kids dismissed from these awesome extracurricular courses.

    Working Parents need care until 6 pm, on site, at elementary schools. Why is this so rare!? And why is there only one child transport service (like Kiddie Cab) servicing the entire north side of Chicago?!

    What do the ISAT scores look like in aggregate for children of working parent(s) who can’t take advantage of these Special Classes solely because of the lack of on-site care until an hour after business hours end? How do they compare to the kids who luck up on a ride or after-care on site at their school … after their Special Class?

    Yes, the cusy of the private school we left is for the first time being felt. I feel I must find a chauffeur for my kid, or quit my job. I’m leaning toward the latter, but REALLY don’t want to. Seems ridiculous that these are the choices i’m faced with .. but at least I’m lucky enough bo be ABLE to quit if I must. Still: “Welcome to CPS from private school! Now, quit your job, or your kid will miss out.”

  • 62. India  |  October 5, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    My child goes to Skinner North, and I would say the extra 90 minutes is not really going towards instructional time. The enrichment period at the end of the day is basically a study hall. The kids can get “help” with certain subjects on certain days–but the kids have to go ask the teacher. And not many 8 y.o.’s will do that. So my kid uses it to do the required 30 minutes of reading and homework.

    I think they get some extra time in gym and other specials. And I think they get 10 or 15 minutes a day extra instruction in math and reading. So I am not sure it is worth it given that we know get up an hour earlier in the morning to go to school.

    We are pretty unhappy about the workload esp. with the longer school day and the fact that we get up a lot earlier. Our teachers seem to have no idea how much time it takes our kids to complete projects and how much time they have available. My child will put in about 20 hours on a book report that is due this week. Another project is due in three weeks.

    Another poster groused about parents who complain about homework and workloads. I guess I am one of those. I would say to anyone who is looking at a gifted or classical program–skip it and go to your neighborhood school if it is halfway decent. At least you will have a life, and your child isn’t going to be noticeably better off because of the homework they have to do.

  • 63. STEM Family  |  October 5, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    My child goes to STEM and I would have to say our Principal really spent time determining how the extra 90 minutes will be used. All of the minutes go to increase the amount of time students spend receiving instruction. Reading and math was increased first, then additional time was added to lunch and recess, science, technology, engineering, art, pe, and music. I love how the new extended day schedule.

  • 64. Working mom  |  October 6, 2011 at 7:18 am

    My child also attends STEM. The extended day is working so far, but working full time makes it a challenge to complete the homework packet. Concerned parents communicated directly with the teacher(s) regarding the excessive homework and she/they responded with an open mind. I was in almost in tears the 2nd week of school trying to help my child finish the homework, but it now appears that the teacher(s) also want children, and families to have balance. The homework is now more manageable. Thanks STEM teachers for listening.

  • 65. Skinner North mom  |  October 6, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    @ 62: I don’t have a third grader, so I don’t know what your situation is like. I have found the teachers at SN to be very open to parent feedback and receptive to our concerns. Have you contacted your child’s teacher about homework at the not-so-useful enrichment period? Your child’s homework load sounds over-the-top, for sure. And it kills me a little bit to see that enrichment period being used for study hall/test prep. Surely there are better ways to use our time.

    So many of the SEES schools have a reputation for beating these poor kids over the head with homework and projects. It doesn’t have to be that way. I think Skinner North is in a unique position to find the right balance, challenging our kids without overwhelming them or sucking up every bit of their time. Fellow SN parents, I hope you’re all communicating with teachers and administrators your thoughts about how school is going (bad AND good!). They listen to us, and if we all work together, we have the power to shape the school culture for the benefit of our kids.

  • 66. Mayfair Dad  |  October 6, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    @ 59 – So far about 3 hours per night, 7 – 10 PM. Mayfair Son decompresses after school until dinner. Lights out at 10 pm is non-negotiable since he is a sloth in the morning unless he get’s a good night’s sleep. There is also some YouTube watching and texting going on during the 3 hour slot but not much.

  • 68. anonymous  |  October 6, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    3 hours a night? What about sports, drama, music, friends, life? Sheesh, I have got to get my kids out of this city and into a normal high school environment because it sounds like either they go to a good school and have no life or they go to a bad school and may lose their life to violence. This is not a choice I find acceptable.

  • 69. the heckler  |  October 6, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    @ Mayfair Dad…wow, thanks for that bit of info (I think). 3 hours. And now perhaps additional time in the classroom if the 90 is added to the day…YIKES. To #68’s point, does your son or any others that attend LPIG have time for sports after school, much less a piano lesson?

  • 70. cps Grad  |  October 6, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    @68–2-3 hours per night is the norm in most top suburban high schools. Moving to the suburbs wouldn’t change anything. I teach in one of those suburban high schools and the rule of thumb is 30-45 minutes a night per major. So a kid taking 5 majors should expect 2.5-3.5 hours a night.

  • 71. anonymous  |  October 6, 2011 at 10:24 pm

    I hear you #70, and I know we wouldn’t be heading to a suburb with a “top” high school. We’d like a good enough high school. Is that amount of homework really okay with everyone on this board? Did anyone of us spend that much time on homework? I didn’t and I took all honors and AP classes and always took one more course a semester than normal. I never spent that much time in college either.
    I know many of my kids’ classmates spend an hour or so on homework now and they are just in early primary grades while my own kids finish their work in 10-30 minutes. I am never sure what exactly they are doing that takes an hour. Maybe some kids just take longer?
    Either way, I’d never support the kind of “school” that requires that much work every night. It is also why the longer day, with no funding designated to support the arts or PE or anything for that matter, puts me on edge.

  • 72. nurse ratchett  |  October 7, 2011 at 6:45 am

    3 hours a night is reasonable especially if a top high school.- think our attitudes and culture have become too focused on the quick and easy.There are no shortcuts when it comes to quality education.Sports, music can be done on weekends school nights should be used for studying.Its a spartan like aPproach but its necessary and works -The US educational system is much too lenient.

  • 73. CPSDepressed  |  October 7, 2011 at 7:04 am

    I went to a high school where the top students were coddled, not challenged. College, with six hours of homework a night, was a shock.

  • 74. HSObsessed  |  October 7, 2011 at 8:02 am

    @71, I’m personally not OK with 3 hours of homework a night in high school, on top of 7-8 hours of classes, plus commuting time. I agree there needs to be plenty of time for sports/clubs/friends/personal creative pursuits every day, whether you’re a teenager in high school, or an adult who’s finished with school and has moved into a career. I just don’t buy into the “long school hours + lots of homework = guaranteed educational success” model.

  • 75. cpsobsessed  |  October 7, 2011 at 8:04 am

    I’m with HSO. I was shocked to hear about 3 hours a night at lincoln park high. Does that means weekends are free?
    I’m having trouble envisioning a kid doing 4 years of that nor do I feel like high schoolers need to be studying that much.
    Clearly I’m not Tiger Mom material.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 76. cps Mom  |  October 7, 2011 at 8:13 am

    @69 – the additional 90 minutes does not effect High school because they already have the extra time.

    Three hours is a reasonable load. As MD mentioned that still leaves time after school to socialize. We had 2-3 hours in grade school (my child does take longer) so it has become routine. A good routine!

    I do agree, however, that if sports or arts are a major factor for a kid, time in the day does not permit excelling in both (although some do). The beauty of living in Chicago is that you can choose a program that has a fine arts focus and pursue your passion while taking on a modified college prep curriculum. There are other “top” schools that are not SE or LPIB. I know that Lane, Lincoln Park and others have fine arts programs and are still college prep. Lane has a regular college prep track less rigorous than honors for those that want to pursue sports and college.

    I think in any case, times have changed. There is a lot of homework and the bar is so much higher for entrance into college than it was when I went.

  • 77. Anonymous  |  October 7, 2011 at 10:15 am

    I spend all day hearing my co-worker talk about how much homework her kids have at Oak Park-River Forest HS — a highly regarded school. I don’t think going to the suburbs would change that. I have nieces/nephews at the top-rated Hinsdale Central. They study for hours.

    However, it is somewhat relative. My son is only in first, but his homework takes all of 10 or 15 minutes tops. We spend extra time looking at different concepts when he brings home his science book — because he loves science so much. However, our friend complains that that same homework takes her child an hour.

    It was the same way for me. I could do my homework well (not sloppily) in half the time my sister’s took to do theirs. As usual, it all comes down to the student.

    I am a fan of at least a bit of homework, whereas my friend thinks ALL work should be done at school. I look at homework as being for ME. It’s the only way I know what my child is studying and how well he understands what he’s studying. Unfortunately, I bet I won’t be smarter than a third grader. : (

  • 78. cps Mom  |  October 7, 2011 at 10:42 am

    @75 – weekends are not free, there is homework every weekend. Spending a few hours Friday night or early Saturday is not a big interruption of weekend time. Sunday night crunch can be stressful.

    Kids are well prepared for this workload coming from the high performing elementary schools mentioned frequently on this site. I think it’s still a frightening concept for primary grade parents and as @77 explains, it is very much dependent on the child.

  • 79. Lenart/Poe Mom  |  October 7, 2011 at 10:55 am

    My kids (1st & K) only have homework on the weeknights, with no homework assigned over the weekend. While it’s nice not to have to worry about homework on the weekend, I wouldn’t mind if it was stretched out more with small amounts on weeknights and a few more assignments for weekend. Weeknights are very hectic with homework and we all feel the stress of it. I’d like to give them more downtime on the weeknights.

  • 80. RL Julia  |  October 7, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    I don’t think that it is uncommon or completely inhumane for students to get three hours of homework a night in high school. Learning a language, higher math or how to write, critically reading a novel, examining and summarizing lab results or simply preparing for a test are all skills that take time to master (both within and)outside of school. No one who is fluent (or even sort of fluent) at a language got that way from sitting in a language class for 40 minutes five days a week.

  • 81. cpsmama  |  October 7, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    Keep in mind that not all kids are as efficient at HW as others. What MayfairSon takes 3 hrs to complete may take another student 4 hours, while someone else may get it done in 2 hours. And if HW = reading, the speed of a student’s reading is a big factor in how long it takes them. (I have one who is a super fast reader and one who is a snail)

    Also, in my experience at 2 different SEHS’s, the HW load can vary from night to night- some nights can be very packed, others lighter. Also depends on whether the child does everything the day it is assigned or waits to do things the night before a deadline. (MY kids were frequently able to get smaller HW assignments done while still sitting in class – or sometimes in their next class in a downtime moment)

    My children have become adjusted to the routine of school followed by their clubs/sports then dinner then onto HW. They never do any of their HW on Fridays and rarely do any on Sat. unless they have a big project We definitely do the Sunday night crunch but that is intentional on their part.

    Also, the courseload that a student takes can be a factor in how much HW they have. If they don’t want 3-5 hrs of HW a night, they shouldn’t take 5-6 APs or a full IB load. And that is a choice that the student and parent can make themselves.

  • 82. ExCPSmomba  |  October 7, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    Homework – my son went to a CPS IB school in Chicago where the homework added up ever year. 7th and 8th grade had lots of homework. High School (private) has about the same amount 3 – 3.5 hours/night. Not a big deal. These kids need to learn how to organize, plan ahead and get it done. Kids who are new to NS complain constantly about the homework. What did they expect?

  • 83. Mayfair Dad  |  October 7, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    My hunch is the folks on this thread who are having difficulty imagining 3 hours of homework at night are the parents of younger children. As your child goes through school and the workload gets progressively heavier into the high school years, this will not seem so outlandish.

    How much nightly homework do students at U of I, Northwestern or University of Chicago have? At each step along the way, you are preparing your child for the next step in life .

    My kids have time for sports and socializing after school before dinner. After dinner, it is homework time, then baths, then bed. They don’t get to watch a lot of crummy TV, but that is a trade-off we are willing to make.

  • 84. JKR  |  October 7, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    Having a block schedule at a High School helps with the HW craziness. DD goes to a SEHS with block schedule and DS goes to a SEHS with regular schedule. Block works better, imho.
    Besides making life less tense with HW, block seems to allow for more in-depth learning.

  • 85. Big Kid  |  October 8, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    In college, the rule of thumb:

    15 hours in class per week
    30 hours of homework outside of class per week
    90 hours on academics per week

  • 86. HSObsessed  |  October 8, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    Big Kid, I think you mean 45 total hours, correct? I agree that college students are only in classes about 15 hours a week, whereas high school kids are in classes about 38 hours a week. That makes a huge difference.

  • 87. anonymous  |  October 8, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    One poster referenced 6 hours of homework in college a night. Seriously? For what? A biochemistry and medicine double major completed in 3 years?
    High school is not college, nor should it be. I see this trend all the time. Younger and younger kids being asked to do more and more at earlier ages. Now kindergarteners have to read fluently the same passages that 1-2nd graders had to years ago–even though all the brain research says most kids brains are not fully developed and ready to read until about 6.5 years of age.
    Hard work is one thing. But it isn’t the end all, be all. I don’t really care where my kids go to college. I just want them to go to a nice high school, safe, fun, and go to college somewhere. A degree is a degree. I have no aspirations for them to go to some overpriced school where they end up a hundred thousand dollars in debt. Now that is stupid.

  • 88. cpsmama  |  October 8, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    Do we all agree that HW is not just nightly math problems or doing worksheets. It also includes reading books or chapters of text books,studying for tests and quizzes as well as researching and writing papers and doing projects. Assuming we are including all of these tasks, 3 hours per night on average sounds about right. (oh, and that would be for 5 days a week,not 7)

  • 89. mom of 2 boys  |  October 8, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    My son’s typical day at a high performing suburban h.s.:
    7:45-2:45 classes
    3-6 football practice
    6:30-7:00 dinner
    7-10 h.w.

    Nephew’s day at SEHS:
    8:00 – 2:45 classes
    3;30-6:30 soccer practice
    7:30-10 HW

    I think homework is good for kids, particularly at this age. It teaches them not only content, but good time management and self discipline.

  • 90. cps Mom  |  October 9, 2011 at 8:31 am

    @88 and 89 and others – agreed. My child reads books that he would never pick up on his own. There are certainly aspects of the HW and assignments that they actually find interesting. I agree wholeheartedly that they learn to manage and discipline and that those skills carry over into the work place, learning a good work ethic and sense of a job well done.

    My son worked hard to get into SE school and has a lot of pride in his school and his accomplishments. While some may view HW as “not having a life”, he sees school and homework as his life right now. This started well before high school.

  • 91. citymama  |  October 10, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    The schedule in 89 is exactly the schedule I kept as a high-performing student at a middle of the pack suburban public high school in the late 80s. The homework schedule was lighter the semesters I took less honors/AP classes and would be heavier the weeks big projects/papers were due. I was very well prepared for college and found my freshman honors college program no more difficult and sometimes easier than high school. Particularly since as others have mentioned, I only had classes a few hours a day and much fewer extra curriculars as a college freshman.
    I expect the same schedule when my daughter gets to high school and would be concerned about her preparedness if she gets much less

  • 92. mom  |  October 11, 2011 at 11:43 am

    Lest anyone think Lane is not stressful, think again. My son had a score of 890 so at the time he could have gotten into all of them from a Tier 4. Lane was his first choice and he chose the honors program. It was very stressful but Alpha was much worse. The volume of paperwork was unbelievable freshman year. It was a very difficult year–especially with the former grading scale. Sophmore year is going much much better–the new grading scale really makes a difference.

  • 93. Mayfair Dad  |  October 11, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    Time Magazine piece on global competitiveness and the need for the US to produce more science and engineering majors, invest in education and research. Our kids have become soft – physically and intellectually.

  • 94. mama  |  October 21, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    October 20, 2011
    Dear Pioneer School schools,
    As many of you may already know, the Chicago Teachers Union recently asked the Illinois Educational
    Labor Relations Board (IELRB) to block CPS schools from extending their school day through the Pioneer
    Today, the Labor Relations Board granted the Union’s request. This means that the matter might be
    taken to circuit court, and the circuit court judge will decide whether or not to roll back the Pioneer
    Program. This decision is simply a decision to move the matter to circuit court; it is NOT a decision to
    end the Pioneer Program.
    What does this mean for Pioneer schools?
    Until this case is taken before a circuit court judge, the principals, teachers and students at schools that
    have added 90 minutes of instructional time to their day will continue on as is.
    · If you are a Pioneer school that has already moved to a Longer School Day, please continue to
    maintain the longer school day schedule.
    · If you are a Pioneer school that has yet to launch, please continue to engage the community and
    staff in planning for a longer school day launch.
    This is a disappointing decision that is not consistent with either the law or the labor contract between
    CPS and CTU. CTU’s request would only take time away between teachers and the 4,000 students in
    longer day pioneer schools today benefitting from 90 additional minutes in the classroom during a time
    when they are in desperate need of more instructional time.
    We will rigorously defend a longer school day on behalf of all children in our system should this go
    before a court. As always, we will keep you informed throughout the process. In the meantime, if you
    have any questions, please reach out to Monica Lee in the Chief Education Office (;
    Thank you,
    Jean-Claude Brizzard

  • 95. mom2  |  October 21, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    Does anyone know if this decision (should the courts rule in favor of the union) on the longer school day would only impact the pioneer program for this year or if it would/could impact the plan for a longer school day for everyone next year? I thought there was nothing that CTU could do to change the plan for next year.

  • 96. spanish learn guitar  |  April 7, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    spanish learn guitar…

    […]How is school going? (Especially you longer day people) « CPS Obsessed[…]…

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