New High School ACT Scores are out

October 20, 2011 at 10:13 am 287 comments

Excitement… the High school ACT scores have been posted.  HSObsessed was helpful enough to devote a couple hours today pulling the top ACT scores and writing up some thoughts about it.

Can’t deny that something is going on in the Charters.  FYI, Lake View High School’s ACT average was 17.4  Westinghouse does not appear to have a measure reported.


For those of you with an eye on high schools, the new ACT and PSAE scores that include 2011 are now posted on the CPS Research and Accountability website. Lots of data to look at, but here’s the list of top-scoring CPS high schools by average composite ACT scores in 2011.
Northside            28.8
Payton                  27.0
Young                   26.6
Jones                    24.8
Lane Tech            23.5
Lindblom             22.3
Lincoln Park        21.6
Brooks                  21.5
Noble UIC            21.2
Noble Pritzker    21.0
DeVry                   20.7
Noble Noble       20.6
King                      20.5
Von Steuben       20.4
Chicago Ag         20.4
Noble Rauner    20.2
Noble Comer     20.1
Noble Golder     20.1
Kenwood            19.2
CICS Northtwn  19.0
Some of HSObsessed’s observations:
Northside is back at the 28.8 score they achieved in 2009, after dipping down slightly last year to 28.5, probably just a blip.
Payton is down .6 from 27.6 last year. May or may not be any kind of trend, hard to tell.
Lane Tech’s average score continues to rise steadily after being in the 22-point-something range for a number of years, and 23.5 is an impressive number. To give newcomers a sense of how strong this score is, Payton’s first class of juniors and seniors scored lower than that seven years ago, when Payton was already the new hotness in CPS. And given that Lane has 4-5 the number of kids enrolled, this is really a huge achievement.
Finally, Noble Street UIC charter enters the top 10 in its first year of posting scores, which is also impressive. For many years, Noble Street Noble, the original of the Noble charter high schools, was the pride of the network, but it looks like both UIC and Pritzker will give Noble a run for its money. Notice that those are the highest-scoring high schools in the city that don’t screen for academics for admission, but admit by lottery.  (Lincoln Park admits about 2/3 of its population with consideration for academics.)  They’re beating out schools like Von Steuben, which do screen for a minimum level of achievement before holding their lottery, so they must be doing something right.

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NPN School Fair 2011 Weekly Events week of 10/24 including Bucktown School Info

287 Comments Add your own

  • 1. IB&RGC Mom  |  October 20, 2011 at 10:52 am

    Thanks HSO. This is nice to see. Really Westinghouse can get away without putting their scores out there? I was actually looking at the list first before reading CPSO’s comments and wondering where Westinghouse falls since I don’t know much about the school.

  • 2. cpsobsessed  |  October 20, 2011 at 10:58 am

    HSO pointed out to me that W-House only had freshmen and sophomores last year so I believe they wouldn’t have taken the ACTs. Those are given junior year? Senior year?

    Do the high schools do any standardized testing in the lower grades, anyone know?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 3. Curious  |  October 20, 2011 at 11:07 am

    Westinghouse College Prep, currently has freshman, sophomores,juniors. Look for their ACT scores in the fall of 2012. I guarantee you they will crack the top 10 or elite 8.

  • 4. Curious  |  October 20, 2011 at 11:19 am

    What website are the ACT scores posted on? Are all CPS schools listed?

  • 5. cpsobsessed  |  October 20, 2011 at 11:23 am

    I found them on under each school’s scorecard, but I think HSO might have a central link that she can give us since she was able to rank them so nicely.

    Also, do all kids take the
    ACT? In some schools where many kids are not college bound do they all take the ACT?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 6. cps Mom  |  October 20, 2011 at 11:25 am

    CPSO – Freshman take Explore and Sophomores take PLAN – both are really just practice for ACT in Junior year.

  • 7. cpsobsessed  |  October 20, 2011 at 11:26 am

    Thanks. Folly to imagine kids would have a year without a standardized test, right ? 🙂

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 8. HSObsessed  |  October 20, 2011 at 11:28 am

    Yes, there are a few newish high schools that won’t be posting official scores until next fall, including Westinghouse, Alcott HS, Ogden HS, Chi Arts.

    Westinghouse has two tracks, college prep and technical. I have no doubt that they are both fantastic programs and that the faculty and students in both tracks are achieving great things. However, I’m predicting that the future Westinghouse ACT/PSAE scores will always be a little lower as a result of the mix of programs, since data is reported for the school as an aggregate, and the PSAE is now required to be taken by every single 11th grader.

    This listing of only aggregate scores for a school is the same “problem” for LPHS, as well as elementaries like Bell and South Loop, where there are a mix of programs available. I say “problem” because I’m a believer in non-college track programs for kids who know that they want to go into technical careers. Heck, I don’t care what kind of knowlege-based economy we’re in, we will always need well-trained people who practice carpentry, drafting, and phlebotomy.

  • 9. HSObsessed  |  October 20, 2011 at 11:36 am

    The PSAE contains the full ACT test, plus components. Sounds exhausting to me, That info and all the data is available when you poke around on the site below. If you’re a cpsobsesser, just go ahead and bookmark the site right now. I’m focusing on HS because it’s my duty and I’m getting paid big bucks for it (LOL) but the results for K-8 ISATS are out, too and on this site:

    I see that there is an EXPLORE test that 9th graders took, and the 2011 results are posted, and it includes the newer high schools, I’ll take a look and try to report anything interesting.

  • 10. cpsobsessed  |  October 20, 2011 at 11:38 am

    Thanks HSO. I’m happy to buy you a drink as compensation.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 11. junior  |  October 20, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    Interesting how most people on this group complain about the focus on test scores, but we all eat up the data like it’s big news. Really, does it matter that much that there are slightly higher-scoring students at one SEHS over another? Does it mean that your child will be better off at one versus another — I’d say resoundingly no.

    I was looking for Value Added scores for high schools, but it seems that those aren’t published. Anyone find them?

    I did come across a strange finding for CPS Academic Centers — they all have really bad value-added scores. Seems like it could be an anomaly in the value-added model, but anyone have an explanation for why that would be the case???

  • 12. RL Julia  |  October 20, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    Can someone tell me what is considered a good score, a bad score etc… on the ACT? Never took them – SAT’s only. How good an ACT do you need to get into an Ivy League school? A Big Ten School? Engineering School?

  • 13. junior  |  October 20, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    @11 me

    OK. After thinking about it, I’m going to take a stab at answering my own question about negative value-added scores at academic centers.

    The reason academic centers would have such low value-added scores is that the kids who enter have been selected for having such high scores to begin with, and it’s probably close to impossible to raise those scores. If you need a near-perfect score in many cases to get into WYAC, then the only place for those scores to go would be down (thus, a negative value added). WYAC has one of the worst VA scores I’ve ever seen!

  • 14. cpsobsessed  |  October 20, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    @11 Junior, good point about us jumping on those scores. lol.
    It’s fun to look at though. I agree – I don’t care about the difference in the SE schools.
    I DO think the presence of the charters is pretty interesting though.

    I’d like to delve more into the added-value thing when I have a chance. I suspect your idea about the Academic Centers is correct. When I look at the scores of places like Decatur and Edison, it doesn’t appear that there’s much upside potential as almost all the kids are scoring really high. Then since the ACs screen out those without the top grades, you’ve really got the top of the bell curve in test scorers there.

  • 15. westsidemom  |  October 20, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    @12 — I got a 29 on my ACT and went to the University of Michigan, though I was in-state. I only applied to Big 10 schools and got into all of them (though I didn’t apply to Northwestern). My understanding when I was in high school (which was 15+ years ago) was that Midwestern schools like the ACT and the Ivy’s like the SAT, as a generality.

  • 16. cpsobsessed  |  October 20, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    I thought Illinois and west was sort of the dividing line. In Indiana we only took the SATs.
    Of course that was a million years ago….

  • 17. junior  |  October 20, 2011 at 12:40 pm


    Correction — WYAC VA scores were bad for 2011 but good for 2010. A lot of variation year-to-year and grade-to-grade. VA is probably not a good tool for measuring ACs.

  • 18. RL Julia  |  October 20, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    What is the scoring range for the ACT?

  • 19. cpsobsessed  |  October 20, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    Found some info online about ACT scores for different colleges.
    At each school 75% or the kids had this score or higher to get in:

    U of I 26
    U of Mich 28
    IU 24
    U of KS 22

    Ivy Leagues 29-31

    Northwestern 31
    U of C 30
    Wabash 22
    Notre Dame 31

    But of course the CPS scores are an average and I’m sure there are kids at each school who score near the top of the ACT range. At Lake View HS the math teacher told me they send some kids to Northwestern and U of C each year.

  • 20. cpsobsessed  |  October 20, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    A friend posted this on Facebook:

    I think it’s still a scale of 36. A good score when we were in high school was in the upper 20s and into the low 30s. Going into the mid-30s was similar to scoring over 1,500 on the SATs. If you look at this link on U of I’s page (towards the bottom), it shows the middle 50% of students ACT ranges in each college.

  • 21. cps Mom  |  October 20, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    Upper 20’s low 30’s a “good” score. Wow – sounds like a fantastic score to me. But I went to U of I with mid 20’s back in the day when it was almost automatic. Now you need to be top 10% with a 26 or better – which tells me that 26 is a great score.

  • 22. mom2  |  October 20, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    While we are on this subject, has anyone ever asked a college admissions person the following question? If they had one slot and two applicants with the same ACT score, but one has a class rank in the top 10% from a Chicago neighborhood high school such as Lakeview (and a GPA of 3.9) and the other has a class rank in the top 30% from a SE high school such as Lane (with a GPA of 3.2), who would they pick? I am curious about the value placed on the SE schools and how much they believe that the top 30% (or even the top 60%) at one SE school may be stronger students than one in the top 10% at non-selective schools (even with a lower GPA due to the rigor at those schools).

  • 23. Bookie  |  October 20, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    Whoa. My college students who come in with 20 or below usually struggle with gen eds. It’s always nice to see at least 25 or higher.

  • 24. Mayfair Dad  |  October 20, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    Frankly, most of these ACT scores are lackluster. Take a look at Naperville, Hinsdale, New Trier, Park Ridge, Libertyville, Stevenson, etc. scores because these are the kids our kids will be competing with for coveted spots at U of I Champaign and elsewhere.

    Speaking of test scores, did anyone else see this?,0,5375024.story

  • 25. cpsmama  |  October 20, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    #22. A college admissions counselor would probably not answer that question because it is almost impossible to answer. College admissions is “holistic” so it encompasses more than just GPA, class rank & test scores. Colleges also take into account the rigor of the applicant’s HS as well as the rigor of the applicant’s courseload in HS. In fact, these two items are a BIG factor in college admissions.

    So if Lane offers 26 AP courses and Lakeview offers only 10- this shows the college that Lane is more rigorous. (which is something they already know from past year’s experience)

    On the other hand, if the Lane kid took only 2 APs (out of 26 offered) but the Lakeview kid took 6 APs (out of 10 offered), that would be a boost for the Lakeview kid.

    In your example, it would depend on many other factors as well: race, gender, intended major, how many others from that HS were admitted, is the applicant the first in his or her family to go to college, leadership and and extra curriculars.

  • 26. JKR  |  October 20, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    Perfect ACT composite score is 36, which is a combination of 4 sub-tests, Reading, Math, English and Science. The Science is the last one taken and the hardest for most kids; in fact it usually brings the overall score down. If you delve deeper and can get what the schools’ sub-test average scores are, that really gets interesting. An AVERAGE of 28.8 for a school is very high. All Illinois juniors take the ACT; Not every state requires this. The SAT is now 2400 not 1600 points possible, as they added Writing to the Math and Reading a few years back. Many colleges will accept either ACT or SAT.

  • 27. cps Mom  |  October 20, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    @23 – not sure what college you’re talking about but in essence you are saying that a majority of the kids from #3 school and down with scores in the 20’s will not do well? I would assume this includes roughly 50% of Whitney and Jones and a sizable portion from Payton.

  • 28. Still lurking  |  October 20, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    What should be a better analysis of the school is to see how much the total score improved from the Plan to the ACT. For example, if the PLAN score for a student at North Side is already in the mid 20’s, it’s not really that great that they scored in the high twenties when they take the ACT. Those kids should be scoring in 30’s. In selecting a school, I really think about this question: How are you going to get my child, who just scored a 26 on his PLAN to get a perfect ACT. This is growth.

    This growth matrix is the focus of curriculum design at most suburban, high scoring high schools. Obviously, SE HS in Chicago don’t do so much with the smart kids they are getting if those are the averages they are posting.

  • 29. James  |  October 20, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    I think the really interesting scores will come in two years. The first students to be admitted to the SE HSs under the much-debated tier system are now sophomores. They won’t take the ACTs until 2013. To see whether the overhaul of the admission procedure affected the rigor of the SE HSs (at least, as measured by performance on the ACT), we’ll have to wait to see the scores for those kids and how the scores trend over the following couple of years.

  • 30. cps Mom  |  October 20, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    James – I agree

    Mayfair Dad – any link on those suburban school scores? I couldn’t find a list.

  • 31. cps Mom  |  October 20, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    And keep in mind too James that Northside and Payton had cut-offs at 850 so they really were not impacted by tier system until this year 2011 (2014 Act scores)

  • 32. klm  |  October 20, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    @22 –there are so many ways to answer this question, depending on the type of school: is it a megabig public school, private, unselective, selective, highly selective?

    I’ve worked in undergrad college admissions for several years and eventually practiced law with some experience in education law (although it was not my primary focus).

    Big public schools with tons of applicants will generally use a fairly rigid formula (e.g. GPA+class rank+ACT composite score), unless there’s some reason to look twice (e.g., the basketball coach picks, the grandson of the guy who gave $7m for the new science gbuilding, etc.). In this case, the Lakeview applicant with a 3.9 would prevail.

    However, I worked at an undergraduate admissions office of a state school where GPA were tweaked to adjust to the rigor of the high school the applicant attended by anywhere from 0.1 to 0.5 points on a 4.0 scale, if the school was considered above-average in rigor. So for example a 3.0 from a New Trier applicant maybe adjusted up to a 3.2 or 3.3, a Lab School applicant a 3.4, the toughest prep school in America a 3.5, maybe a 3.1 from Lane Tech, etc . Also, at the same school all self-identified (even part) Black, Hispanic and Native American applicants had an autmatic 0.5 points added to their GPA (on a 4.0 scaled GPA). So, for example, a Hispanic applicant from Lab with a 3.0 would have their GPA adjusted up to a 3.9, in the above example.

    More selective private schools will look at a “whole picture” of the applicant and see where he/she fits in its goal to create a “well rounded” student body (ethnic, academic, class, geographic diversity, etc.).

    There are so many factors to consider here: race, parents’ education (college grads or will this be a 1st generation college student?), special talent.

    So much depends on which school one’s applying, but all things being equal (same race, ACT scores, etc.) I’d say the Lakeview applicant would win this particular race for admissions.

  • 33. Y  |  October 20, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    A sampler of some of the suburban schools Mayfair Dad listed.
    New Trier – 27.5 –
    Stevenson – 26.2 –
    Maine South (Park Ridge) – 24.6 (may be previous year) –

  • 34. Y  |  October 20, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    @mom2 (#22). Most non-state universities and colleges attempt to create a diverse student body. They would also look at how many students are being offered slots from a given high school. While many students from top schools (New Trier, NSCP, Payton, Naperville, etc.) would succeed at most selective colleges, these schools wouldn’t have an incoming class made up with too many students from a particular high school. In the example you give, if Lake View (big fish/little pond) develops a solid reputation, the student will probably have a better chance than coming from Lane (little fish/big pond).

  • 35. Mayfair Dad  |  October 20, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    @ 30 – Here is a random sampling of average ACT scores from suburban high schools:

    Buffalo Grove – 23.1
    Evanston – 23.5
    Deerfield – 26.3
    Highland Park – 25.2
    Hinsdale Central – 26.5
    Vernon Hiils – 24.2
    Libertyville – 25.3
    Maine South (Park Ridge) – 24.6
    New Trier (Winnetka) – 27.2
    Stevenson (Lincolnshire) – 26.2
    Naperville North – 25.2
    Hersey (Arlington Hts) – 24.6

    Not a “best of” list, not selective enrollment. If you live within the attendance boundary, your kids automatically attend the high school regardless of your socioeconomic tier (although for many communities on this list that would be Tier 5)

  • 36. James  |  October 20, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    #31 (cps mom) — That’s a very good point about how the removal of the admissions cutoff scores may affect the test scores starting in a couple years.

    Although the tier-admitted kids don’t take the ACT for a while, there are already some indicators in the data that suggest we may be in for some big score drops. For instance, both Payton and Northside clocked meaningful declines in their “Freshmen On-Track” scores this year. These scores, I believe, reflect the readiness of last year’s freshmen, the first class admitted under the tiers. The scores are still quite high, but they show that these schools may have a challenge in keeping up their customary academic standards with classes that contain more than a few kids who would not have been admitted under the prior system or under a pure merit system.

  • 37. cps Mom  |  October 20, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    @36 – very interesting

    Thanks MD and Y for putting together those sample scores. It seems to me that those high 20’s, low 30’s scores are in short supply all the way around.

  • 38. CPSDepressed  |  October 20, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    The Noble Street numbers are fascinating, given that they don’t have admissions requirements. I understand that there’s a lot of self-selection as to who applies for the lottery, but one could get into Noble Street and not even be able to apply for the SEHS test.


  • 39. mom2  |  October 20, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    CPS Mama, KLM and Y – thank you for your replies. I have a child at Lane and we are not a minority, so I find some of your replies concerning. (I thought we were done with being penalized for being white).

    I was looking at scholarships and noticed that they just want the unweighted GPA to determine eligibility for applying. So, not only are you competing against all students that had to be somewhat smart to get in (which affects your class rank), and not only are the classes more difficult at Lane, and even more if you take honors, but they don’t consider those things when determining if you can apply for a scholarship and the large state schools don’t consider those things when you apply just to get into the school. I know that some schools will look at extra curricular activities, leadership, service hours and such, but it does sound like the larger schools don’t look at that until after you have made it passed a certain round.

    It makes me question if we should consider a SE school for high school for any other child. Seems like you benefit by going to a school where you are a star even though you may not learn as much or be as challenged. If I could get passed the worry about quality friends and safety (which I can see they are changing as we speak), Lakeview is looking better and better.

  • 40. cps Mom  |  October 20, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    CPSD – I agree with you on Noble. They do break the whole model that we just discussed about kids who fall behind never able to catch up. I know a kid that got in Noble UIC who was getting D’s at her neighborhood school. They did wonders with her – very strict school and they work the kids hard.

  • 41. CPSDepressed  |  October 20, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    The college application process is very weird because it is so idiosyncratic. The reality is that most colleges are not difficult to get into. Look at the Illinois system. UIUC is tough to get into, UIC is sort-of tough to get into, but the rest of the state schools are practically open admissions and still have good educational opportunities. The hard part is staying there; a lot of kids get weeded out from SIU or NIU early on because they are not prepared enough or mature enough for the workload.

    This is even true for private schools. Northwestern and Chicago are hard to get into, but DePaul and Loyola aren’t nearly as competitive, and they are both excellent schools. Once you get below the top 30 or so private schools and the flagship state universities in the big-population states, college admission isn’t such a big deal. (That’s hard for people to understand, because there’s so much mythology around it.)

    The US university system is the best in the world, and it is also the most accessible. It’s the system that feeds into it that is so screwed up, even more so in Chicago.

  • 42. klm  |  October 20, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    Now, don’t think I’m all about test scores and “name” schools, because I’m not (despite how I may have seemed on my previous rants –I just want my kids to have better/more opportunities than I had. Period.) . Rhodes Scholars come from the University of Central Arkansas and the University of Louisville as well as Harvard and Stanford. Life is not all about where you went to schoo or yout SAT scores.

    However, there are some HSs in Chicago (we’ve had this discussion before [e.g. Urban College Prep’s average ACT score of 15, but somehow it’s become a quasi-CNN Special Report on Education example of great urban public education for at-risk youths-Yay!….HUH?!?]) that we all know are pretty much failure-factories or at very least not very good at preparing young people for the rigors of a quality post-K12 education. Some kids can’t write a coherent high school-level essay, but they’re convinced that they can be neurosurgeons if only certain negative “obstacles” (like being able to do college-level math and science) were not in their way.

    Not everybody, but when I pointed out that (for example) 56% of Ravenswood’s 3rd graders were BELOW grade level on the ISAT Reading scores (and given all the controversy about how the ISAT has been ‘dumbed-down’ to accomodate/inflate stats for NCLB, etc., this seems especially worrisome), a fairly large group seemed to believe I was “hating” on the school, being too silly about questioning if such a place is so great, given the “vibe”, the enthusiasm of the principal, how “nice” it seems, etc., —even if it’s the elementary school equivalent of an average ACT 15 or 16 HS.

    What gives?

    Why is average ACT/ISAT-type test scores more indicative of a HS’s level of academic “value added” education, but with elementary schools people should be more “open-minded” about measured academic achievement in their observations/judgment?

    Do people not think that K-16+ is a continuous process? How is it that an elementary school where most kids aren’t doing grade-level work really a “great” school because it’s “kinder, gentler and plain more enthusiastic and more fun in its own way, rah rah rah!”. But somehow –suddenly in high school– test scores are an accurate measure of academic value?

  • 43. klm  |  October 20, 2011 at 6:15 pm


    I agree with so much of what you have to say. The fact is, there are TONS of fantastic colleges out there all over America that would LOVE to get applications from “regular” kids (i.e, not future Rhodes Scholars or Yale Law grads) from Chicago. Kids that want to be the future teachers, social workers, city planners, …..etc. Most schools are happy to have/accept applicants that really want to go there. Private school tuitions can seem frightening, but that’s because almost 100% of the time the “sticker price” does not represent what one will pay (unless your family is genuinely wealthy, in which case it’s not an issue, any way around)–there are ‘discounts’ galore and colleges (Lake Forest, Ripon, Earlham, Centre….the U.S. has SO MANY great ones!) are not enrolling only “rich kids” –how could they?

    Think about the above example of the Lakeview student vs. the SE HS student –if he/she is totally head over heals in love about a particular school and acts like it would be the best thing that ever happened to him/er if he/she were admitted, then virtually all amdissions officers will take this into account (sometime flattery will get you everywhere). We all want to be loved and colleges are no different.

    However, there is the whole “most competetive” college admissions thing (Harvard, Swarthmore, Stanford, Williams, …….blah, blah, blah). So many of these schools have 10x more “perfect” applicants than they can accepts –thus all the madness and stress about “college admissions”. There are the true-but-crazy stories of people getting into Princeton, but not the University of Chicago/MIT, but not Haverford, etc. which sends people into a frenzy about “college admissions”, overall.

    Look, most of our kids will go to the University of Illinois, UIC, Michigan State, Loyola, NIU, SIU, etc., AND THEY WILL DO GREAT IN LIFE, MAKE US ALL PROUD, etc.

    EVERYBODY”S KIDS THAT WANT GO TO COLLEGE WILL, don’t worry. (OK we all know this, but it’s nice to reconfirm, no?).

  • 44. Bookie  |  October 20, 2011 at 8:25 pm

    Speaking of AP scores. I’m stunned at how many 1 & 2 scores in AP tests I see in college students coming from CPS. Some with up to seven AP tests, and all 1s and 2s.

    I hear that more and more colleges are declining to accept credits from AP tests, too. Maybe the colleges didn’t like losing that freshman year’s tuition (I’m not being cynical). More students are coming in with up to a year’s worth of credits (30) or at least a semester’s (15) from AP.

    Did you see what DePaul is doing? Scrapping the college admissions test scores and relying on other elements of application.


  • 45. Southside mom,  |  October 20, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    Noble rocks! My son started at their new middle school this year. I feel that he’s learned more in two months than he learned all last year at a well regarded magnet school. They believe that all students can learn and their results show it.

  • 46. Bookie  |  October 20, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    on klm’s note, here’s a quick, leavening read:

  • 47. Bookie  |  October 20, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    BTW, you want to help your kid get into a certain college? Send them to the summer high school program the college is likely running. It gives an edge. And ultimately helps the student make better choices and prepare for college.

  • 48. Bookie  |  October 20, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    @ 27. cps Mom

    The college shall not be named to protect the innocent, but please rest assured that a student’s ACT score is not “destiny” in college — as all said, there are so many OTHER factors at play: rigor of the college, study habits of the student, major selected by the student, all the various demographics (1st generation college student, etc.), even binge drinking/drugging. However, yes, it’s interesting for me to see that often, when I encounter a foundering freshman, the student’s ACT score (or sub-scores) is 20 or below. Not so much 21 and above.

    It would be very interesting to see a study following grads of WY, Jones and Payton as they move through college. What were the challenges to “persistence”? Urban Prep reports that it is following its grads through college graduation. Not sure how.

  • 49. IB&RGC Mom  |  October 20, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    KLM, your post @32 is so eye opening. My kids are in 3rd and 7th so I have been thinking more about high school then college, but that is all so interesting and I think all of these posts really make me think harder about what high school they will go to. Unfortunately they also make me wish I lived in the suburbs and didn’t have to stress so much about school at this point in time. Really I wash born and raised here and could never see myself living in the suburbs (expect when I think about high school).

    Question to anyone who can answer, didn’t some of the more selective schools throw out class rank and if so which SE schools did and which one’s still use it?

    Also, I didn’t realize Westinghouse was a new school. Any opinions on it? I have been thinking about attending the open house just to see some of it for myself.

  • 50. HSObsessed  |  October 21, 2011 at 7:39 am

    So, just to follow up on my curiosity about some of the newer high schools of interest to obsessers — CPS 9th graders take the EXPLORE test, and here are the 22 top-scorers for 2011 (five all scored 15.2 so I couldn’t cut off at 20).

    I have no idea what a “good” score is for EXPLORE. It’s obviously not correlated to ACT score, because I don’t think Northside prep students would score 22.3 on average as freshmen and then 28.5 as juniors, right? The average citywide EXPLORE score was 14.5. So I’m just looking at this in completely relative terms, and especially because I wanted to see how the new high schools’ students are doing.

    Northside 22.3
    Payton 21.8
    Young 21.2
    Jones 20.5
    Lane 19.5
    Lindblom 18.5
    Brooks 18.2
    Lincoln Park 18.2
    King 17.6
    Westinghouse 16.9
    Chicago Agr 16.7
    Chi Arts 16.6
    Taft 16.1
    Lake View 15.9
    Von Steuben 15.9
    Rickover 15.4
    Phoenix 15.3
    Infinity 15.2
    Kenwood 15.2
    Noble St Golder 15.2
    Noble St UIC 15.2
    Williams D 15.2

    When we compare this list of top EXPLORE scores to that of the top ACTs, some of the schools that appear here and not on the other one are: Westinghouse, Chi Arts, Lake View, Rickover and Phoenix. In my opinion, these are the rising schools to watch.

    Schools of interest not on this list: Ogden HS freshmen came in with a score of 14.7 (#33 on the list), only slightly higher than the citywide average score of 14.5. Alcott HS freshmen were lower with an average score of 14.3 (#45 on the list).

  • 51. Uptown Mom  |  October 21, 2011 at 8:06 am

    For information about EXPLORE scores, see here:

    EXPLORE is nationally normed and the highest score is 25 (composite of scores on English, math, reading and science.

  • 52. cps Mom  |  October 21, 2011 at 8:15 am

    @48 – thanks for your thoughts on college ACT’s

    @42 – KLM – The issue I have with your Ravenswood example is the 2010 numbers. The big point about this school is it’s rising status and great new accomplishments. Looking at the 2011 breakdown of ISAT scores provided in a link above, 3rd grade reading (discounting esl students) went from 50% at or above to 73.7%!! That tells me they are doing something that is making a big difference. The steady incline at this school would lead me to believe that it will continue.

    @49 – there is no ranking at JOnes

    And last point to add – if we lose the longer day, I think it will be a major set back for CPS and the quality of education. The high schools are looking at extending time too. This all seems to be in limbo right now.

  • 53. cpsobsessed  |  October 21, 2011 at 8:54 am

    So regarding the EXPLORE scores, do you think its safe to basically say that this shows “what the schools have to work with”? That is Northside starts with higher-scoring kids while Lakeview would have quite a ways to go meet the top city ACT scores.

    If so, the Noble shift remains impressive between EXPLORE and their ACT rankings.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 54. klm  |  October 21, 2011 at 9:20 am


    Point taken. You are right that a grammar school’s stats, status as a “under/over performing” school, etc., is not the same as comparing a HS (where by that point, kids aren’t going to move too much one way, up or down on achievement tests and the socioeconomic mix will not change all that much in a few years). Also, CPS has so many examples of “underperforming” elementary schools changing relatively quickly into “good” ones. .

    Obviously, any elementary (except that when I’ve done some digging I’ve found more than a few CPS schools that have virtually no kids ‘exceeding’ standards in any subject –scary and upsetting) school will have kids that are “exceeding” standards –somehow things work out for them and they seem to have done just fine.

    Yes, yes to all that!

    However, education and the social norms surrounding education are so important in putting one’s kids on the right path in life that I still think people really need to think long and hard.

    I remember reading about a study done about public schools (I think in the Harford CT area?) that studied parents’ satisfaction with their kids’ school relative to actual academic achievement at the schools in question. Guess what? The schools that were the worst performing academically were the ones that had the most ‘satisfied” parents –and these were schools that the state found so horrible (the proverbial ‘failure factories’) that it wanted to shut them down and start over a “new schools” (naturally, the parents were protesting and marching the “save their school”).

    I went to some of the worst performing K8 schools in my home state and I remember some parents gushing over the principals and loving the teachers. Yes, some really were great –but the instituions where they were employed were not. Most of the parents’ kids weren’t learning much, but they LOVED their kid’s school. Look at how many objectively lousy (1 or 2/10 for achievement) schools on get glowing reviews from parents. I’ve read some from a few of the (still awful, achievement-wise) schools I attended as a kid and the parents LOVE the school –their kids were likely 1-3 grades behind (I know) where they’d be if they attended a good suburban school, but it was somehow a “great school”.

    I KNOW, I KNOW that does not necessarily have anything to do with a place like Ravenswood, but can we blame some people for being a little questioning about putting 100% faith into an institution that’s a “diamond in the rough”? All the “what if’s” really are something to consider.

  • 55. hsmom  |  October 21, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    @53. The scores are connected. Scores are based on College Readiness Standards. Anyone scoring at a particular level is assumed to know skills in a particular band range. If you take a look at the EPAS explanations, the EXPLORE scores are indicators of where the ACT scores should be if expected gains are made.

  • 56. CPSDepressed  |  October 21, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    KLM, maybe we are twins by different mothers. It cracks me up when people tell me that their kids’ school is really good because their kids get As; that may mean that the school is too easy and the kids get no challenge. The opposite isn’t true; a kid may get bad grades or have a ton of homework because the teacher isn’t doing a good job of teaching, not because the school is so incredibly rigorous.

    Because a kid may have a really good or really bad day when the test is taken, the scores for any one kid any one year mean less than the scores in aggregate for a school or over a kid’s career. (That’s where NCLB went off the rails. Whoever drew it up didn’t know a thing about statistics.) Scores do tell you something about a school, and they are not trivial. They are not the only piece of information, of course, but they are something.

  • 57. junior  |  October 21, 2011 at 3:43 pm


    It cracks me up when someone tells me that School A is doing a better job than School B because the test scores are higher.

  • 58. Bill S  |  October 21, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    Lots of great comments here. I didn’t see if anyone answered the questions about whether these test are mandatory for the schools listed? I tend to doubt it since they’re not inexpensive.

    Regarding admission to the top universities – at Northwestern over 3,300 applicants with a 1500 SAT (CR+M) or higher (the equivalent of a 34 ACT) were not offered admission for the class of 2015 (that’s from the admission office). So clearly they’re looking for something other than just good test scores.

  • 59. mac  |  October 22, 2011 at 3:40 am

    I am wondering if anyone else has experienced this? My kids’ ISAT scores over the years have been remarkably consistent — the exact same numbers in Reading and Math, year after year.

    I’ve heard that the tests each year become more difficult, so that even if the scores are the same, it indicates growth.

    Anyone else’s experience similar? Is consistency to be expected?

  • 60. Confused  |  October 22, 2011 at 9:52 am

    Hmmm. I heard that the ISATs were getting easier. Anyone who understands these test know which is accurate?

  • 61. HSObsessed  |  October 22, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    @59, the ISATs test the level of knowledge for each grade, so of course the material gets harder each year, but the percentile reported on the score may be the same each year, if your child remains at the same level relative to his peers.

    @60, I think it was three years ago when the ISATs were indeed “dumbed down” and I think it was lowering the number of wrong answers that could still be considered meeting or exceeding standards. However, that was a one-time thing, that made the results hard to compare from one year to years prior. I don’t think there are any annual changes being made making the ISATs easier and easier.

  • 62. HSObsessed  |  October 22, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    @58, I haven’t heard of any of the standardized tests at CPS being voluntary, either for the school, or for the individual students, so I would think they’re mandatory for all.

  • 63. cpsobsessed  |  October 22, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    Some thoughts from a friend of mine with college kids:
    30 = General bottom the “top schools”
    Her daughter got a 29 and was mad she didn’t make the 30, the Legit score.

    28 was the bottom of the range for Stanford and it the number you can have to apply where they won’t “laugh at you”.

    Her son’s ACT score was 10 points higher than the school average. The kids who take the top classes can have a totally different education. Anything 32 up is probably in the top 1% (she says to look this up to confirm, but the scoring at the top is very tight.) So the same kid on a given day could be a 33-35 etc.

    As I explained the high school application process and stress she asked if we get caught up in our own little city reality and forget that we can just move somewhere and not have to deal with this. Hmm, good point.

  • 64. JKR  |  October 22, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    CPSO: If one can sell one’s house…
    HSO: where did you get the 2010 Explore Scores? Those would be for the class of 2014, the first class to be admitted under the tier system. (Freshman take the Explore Test in the fall, so those can’t be from 2011, as that test was just given about 3 weeks ago). It would be interesting to see how the 2010 Explore scores compare to the 2009.

  • 65. HSObsessed  |  October 22, 2011 at 10:46 pm

    @64 – it’s in the link in my comment @9 above. Scroll down to EXPLORE. It gives the data for 2006-2011.

    Looks like all the SEHS went up from 2009 to 2010, between .4 and .8 points. That doesn’t back up the argument that the tier system is “dumbing down” the SEHS’ populations.

    There are a number whose 2011 scores I noticed are somewhat higher than what they were averaging 3-5 years ago, and those are King, Lake View, Lane, LPHS, Lindblom and Taft.

  • 66. mac  |  October 23, 2011 at 6:24 am

    Admissions requirements for colleges are all online. You can find median SAT, ACT, and whether SAT Subject tests scores are required or recommended.

  • 67. mac  |  October 23, 2011 at 6:28 am

    Re: my earlier post. Are most of your kids’ scores very similar or the same on the ISATs year after year? Mine are.

    Has anyone seen a child’s score go up significantly? Would anyone like to talk about how that came about?

  • 68. Southside mom  |  October 23, 2011 at 6:39 am

    ISAT scale scores should go up every year. The scale score is the three digit score. The percentile is the SAT 10, which is the first day of testing. This score may stay the same from year to year because that’s where students are ranked against their peers.

  • 69. to mac  |  October 23, 2011 at 10:55 am

    My kids ISAT scores have gone up every year. However we still feel like we are treading water because all of her peers are in the high 90’s. Maybe its because there is somewhere to go and there isn’t much variation once you reach the higher numbers.

    We will be taking Selective Prep in the all important 7th grade year.

  • 70. Anonymous  |  October 24, 2011 at 7:09 am

    Anyone else notice their child’s teacher starting to assign a lot of work sheets that are test prep, esp. in Reading?

  • 71. Anonymous  |  October 24, 2011 at 7:11 am

    to mac — do you know how many kids’ SAT 10 scores are in the mid- to high-90s? Has that number been going up?

  • 72. Mayfair Dad  |  October 24, 2011 at 8:49 am

    @ 63 cpso: this is why parents of soon-to-be high school freshmen tend to (correctly) obsess about average ACT scores. The average ACT score is not the end-all-be-all indicator of the quality of education your child will receive, but it does give a sense of how many top achievers attend the school — kids who are college-bound, motivated, understand what is at stake, a school where being smart is cool. Peer group infuence is huge in high school, so the concerned parent is wise to limit the number of crack dealers, gang bangers and unwed mothers their beloved young scholar rubs elbows with every day.

    Here’s the part where somebody scolds me and says there’s drugs at Northside College Prep too. Yeah right. Walk down the hallway at Northside and then walk down the hallway at Schurz and tell me what you see.

  • 73. cpsobsessed  |  October 24, 2011 at 9:01 am

    I guess what my friend pointed out is that in a typical large high school where there is large course variety, different kids can basically be getting different educations. A school like Lake View which offers many AP classes (and is expanding the list) could provide a more rigorous education for the kids who take those classes.
    Her kids went to a HS with a diverse socio-economic population and she felt there were almost 2 tracks for kids which probably lead to very different ACT scores. Not saying she felt that was acceptable, but that’s how it shook out and could likely be the case in CPS non-SE high schools where the population is diverse.
    Which makes it harder to use ACT scores to assess the school’s potential for your child.
    I guess her point was to think about the education and opportunities YOUR child would have at a school. (And of course assuming a basic level of safety-no gangs-minimal drugs.)

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 74. Dad  |  October 24, 2011 at 9:10 am

    @Mayfair Dad: Your concern for peer group influence is right on. Take any smart kid and give him a peer group that sneers at academic achievement and the deferred gratification necessary for success in school and beyond, and we’ll see where those brains get him.
    That’s why I don’t take very seriously the attitude that a smart kid will flourish anywhere. While we say this kind of thing to each other to rein in our natural “obsession” with putting our kids in the most desirable schools, it really holds true for only a very small number of schools in the CPS system. And when policy makers use this “truism” as an excuse to neglect or ignore the needs of the more gifted students in the system, it’s just despicable.

  • 75. ExCPSperson  |  October 24, 2011 at 9:16 am

    72 – Don’t want to start a fight, but yes there are drugs at NS too. There are drugs at every high school – city and suburban. Some more than others. Just hope your kid is smart enought to stay away from it.

  • 76. RMcD  |  October 24, 2011 at 9:21 am

    I haven’t had the time to read all 71 comments, so I may be redundant here, but a few things to take into account when comparing schools’ average scores:

    1. You are comparing apples and oranges when you try to compare selective schools with charter schools with neighborhood schools. These are not random samples, since selectives and charters are self-selected populations who do not represent the CPS student population at large. With selective schools you’re looking at populations who are already high-performing, and likely families who have known how to give their kids the support and enrichment needed to succeed in school. Not only do these kids start high school already predisposed to scoring higher, but the school average is not balanced out with a range of ability levels that would bring down the average.

    With charters, you’re looking at populations who, even if not high-performing at the point of entry, have at least made a choice to pursue a rigorous program and to apply a level of motivation and dedication; thus, they will also produce higher school averages than neighborhood schools who include everyone in their ranks.

    2. I’m not dismissing the great achievements or value of what some charter schools have been able to accomplish for kids who would not have otherwise had the opportunities for success. However, you need to take all of their statistics with a grain of salt (not just test scores, but graduation rates, college acceptance rates, etc.) Charter schools may or may not screen for ability when the kids start as freshmen, but kids who, for whatever reason, can’t get with the program, get turfed out back to the neighborhood schools (and this is not an insignificant number). Which means that the charters’ statistics include only those who have persisted and succeeded, not those who failed. When those who “failed” in the charter schools return to the neighborhood school, their performance (test scores, drop-out rates, gpa’s, college attendance) gets tallied along with that school’s average instead of with the school where they had problems in the first place.

    I’m not trying to start a discussion about the merits or not of charter schools, and this isn’t the place for such a discussion. I’m just trying to point out that statistics are more often indicative of inputs rather than outcomes.

  • 77. Anonymous  |  October 24, 2011 at 9:33 am
    Not sure of the difference between the ACT and the PSAE, if anyone cares to explain?

    Fwiw, using the combined reading, math, science PSAE scores — not the ACTs — Sullivan students found that the top 9 high schools are public, non-charter schools.

  • 78. mom2  |  October 24, 2011 at 9:34 am

    I’m with Mayfair Dad on this one. Yes, all high schools have some levels of drug use, but the family attitude about education (being smart is cool and doing your homework isn’t an option) – that is critical in high school due to peer pressure. That is why most parents are hesitant to be the pioneers in neighborhood high schools without some sort of selectivity for classes within the school (IB, double honors, etc.). The goal for parents is to do whatever you can to have your kids not only in a safe school with quality teachers/administration, but to try your best have your kids surrounded by other kids with the best upbringing, attitudes, morals, etc. You can’t guarantee this, but every effort is worth it.

  • 79. Vlajos  |  October 24, 2011 at 9:59 am

    Suburban schools are selective enrollment. Not everyone can afford to live in Highland Park, Deerfield and Naperville.

  • 80. Mayfair Dad  |  October 24, 2011 at 10:30 am

    OK Vlajos, I agree, but be careful where your statement leads. If affluence = high achievement, what happens to schools like Northside, Payton, Jones, Young et. al. by opening the Tier 1 & 2, Fortunate 100 floodgates?

  • 81. klm  |  October 24, 2011 at 10:46 am

    @72 and @ 74 “Mayfair Dad” and “Dad”

    Thank-you for stating the obvious. I think people are sometimes so afraid of offending or making people feel bad because (let’s face it) so many CPS parents (the ones that love, hope and desire what’s best for their children as much as everybody else in the world) are sending their kids to schools that are just plain not working out for the vast majority of kids, at least in terms of academics and trajectory towards being able to secure a middle-class+ life without a parole officer in today’s economy and bifurcated society. (How DARE you say my kid’s school’s not ‘good’ just because it has lots of kids that have to struggle in life –through no fault of their OWN –have reality-based problems grounded in working-class and low-income ‘life issues’, etc. –what are you some pampered, elitist snob that should be living in Lake Forest? If you hate the REAL Chicago [as opposed to the Gold Coast/Lincoln Park/East Lakeview, fancy reataurants, suburb-in-the-city version] so much, MOVE to the suburbs! What’s up with all your high-fallutin’ standards of achievement and behavior? Meanwhile, all of us good, “grounded”, “keeping it real” people are going to not going to use ‘stuck-up’, coddled, ‘suburban’ so-called ‘standards’ to define what a ‘good’ schools is or what ‘good’ behavior is!).


    Knowledge is knowledge, measured achievement is ‘real’ achievement no matter where you live or where your kids go to school.

    And dysfunctional, ‘bad’ behavior is not ‘functional’ and ‘good’ behavior –no matter whiose standards one uses –these are objective things, I’m sorry.

    Deep down, we all know what kind of behavior we want from our kids’ peers and classmates –sorry if too many CPS schools are not bastions of the kind of behaviour most non-felons want for their kids’ schools. People who point this out (when appropriate) are doing a service, not being ‘haters’.

    Some/many people may make exuses for their own or their kids’ behavior, but the fact is, the greater world does NOT care. Achieve or fail. Get an education, learn how to act in a “mainstream/professional” way, etc., or struggle and be another statistic. Period.

    I grew up in the ghetto (Oh Dear GOD! Not again, klm, with your ‘pity play’ about growing up as ‘poor white trash’ in the inner-city, ‘housing projects’, food stamps, bad public schools, trailer parks and all –it was grim, we get it! Let THAT horse die! eye-roll –point taken to all those out there that think this) and can honestly think of NO way it was beneficial, other than making me determined to get out and mock people and look at them in open-mouthed disbelief when they act like where you raise your kids and where they go to school does not really matter in the long run (so don’t let low test scores, frequency of High School baby showers and pants hangin’ on the ground determine where your kids go to school –if the principal and teachers are nice, it’ll all be good–Yo!). OH! MY! GOD! What are they thinking!!!!? It so totally DOES!

  • 82. cps dad  |  October 24, 2011 at 10:47 am

    Westinghouse could not post ACT scores for the 2010-2011 year, because they did not have a junior class in the 2010-2011 school year. This year (2011-2012) is their first year with a junior class.

  • 83. klm  |  October 24, 2011 at 11:10 am


    There are (relatively speaking) lots of working-class kids in the North Shore. Drive around –who do you think are living in all those little apartments and townhouses (and there are a significant number in Deerfield, Vernon Hills, etc) –millionaires? Anybody familiar with Highland Park High School knows that there’s a sigificant working-class, first generation latino population of students, for example.

    I mentioned before on this site that we have (‘regular’ income) friends that live in a matchbox-sized house in Wilmette with townhouses accross the street filled with immigrant (West Africa and Eastern Europe) families that drive taxis and clean houses to pay the rent (and have their kids go to New Trier). Not a “typical” scenario, I admit, but it’s indicative of the fact that if a family reallly wants to, a move to a suburban school district with great schools is likely an option.

    I know for a fact that there is Section 8 housing in Deerfield and Northbrook (I’m sure in other North Shore communities as well). I know that Wilmette created a real-estate sales “transfer tax” a several years ago to help create more “low/moderate-income” housing –hardly an indication of a coumminty that’s trying to stay “exclusive”.

    I’m not for a moment suggesting that it’s easy to go to school with affluent, nicely-dressed, confident kids driving cars that cost more than your family makes in a year. However, I’m pointing out that it IS possible for parents that really care about what kind of schools their kids are attending to have options other than “failing” city schools.

    Personally, I’d rather my kids be the poorest kids at New Trier (average ACT 27) and receive a quality education (even if it means feeling ‘out-of-place’ at times) than have them “fit in” at a CPS HS with an average ACT of 15-18 and “feel good” about their relative place in the socioeconomics of the school. HS lasts 4 years. Education lasts the rest of one’s life.

  • 84. Mayfair Dad  |  October 24, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    I am not advocating a mass exodus to the suburbs (at least not today) but I am cautioning parents of 7th graders to get educated about the SEHS process and understand what other options are out there. Do not assume it will all work out in the end unless you become a forceful advocate for your student. The average ACT score is one metric in evaluating high schools. The State of Illinois average is 20.5. The City of Chicago average is 17.3. Already you see the challenges of attending the typical neighborhood high school in Chicago if you child has college aspirations. Families in Park Ridge don’t have to worry about this – they are too busy worrying about winning another state football championship.

  • 85. Vlajos  |  October 24, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    @83, sure and what percent of students in Northbrook and other HS’s up there are in that class? 2%

  • 86. Curious  |  October 24, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    Does anyone know the ACT Scores for the Catholic Schools(Gordon Tech/St.Ignatius/Guerin/St.Patricks, etc.etc) in Chicago?

  • 87. ExCPSperson  |  October 24, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    86 – they don’t have to publish that info, so they don’t. If you called the schools directly, they may tell you something.

  • 88. CPSDepressed  |  October 24, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    This is a few years old, but it has some info on private school scores:

  • 89. Mayfair Dad  |  October 24, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    Re: Catholic High School ACT scores, I found this

  • 90. Mayfair Dad  |  October 24, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    Interesting graph. CPS average ACT score (17.3) wouldn’t even register on this chart.

  • 91. PriSoundsGood  |  October 24, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    89 – I would love to see the arch chart broken down by hs.

  • 92. HSObsessed  |  October 24, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    @84 Mayfair Dad said–

    “Do not assume it will all work out in the end unless you become a forceful advocate for your student.”

    What exactly do you mean by this? Keep after them to get good grades, take them to a bigger variety of open houses, apply more widely, make them take a prep course for the SEHS exam? Maybe all of the above.

  • 93. ExCPS  |  October 24, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    84 + 91 — You can do all of this “Keep after them to get good grades, take them to a bigger variety of open houses, apply more widely, make them take a prep course for the SEHS exam”, but the truth is NO GUARANTEES in Chicago. Keep every available option open. Parents new to this awful game — keep all options open.

  • 94. Mayfair Dad  |  October 24, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    @91 HSO, yes to all of the above. I would add monitoring parent portal daily and grovelling with teachers to allow Buffy and Jody to make up missing homework or turn in extra credit assignments to absolutely cement As in core subjects.

    There is so much cluelessness re: the process.

    Awful game – well said.

  • 95. klm  |  October 24, 2011 at 3:28 pm


    I don’r know about Northbrook , but according to the “Illinois Interactive Report Card”, Highland Park High School (average ACT 25.2 per above post) –one of the best HSs in Illinois, Michael Jordan’s mansion was up there! –for example, had 16.1% Hispanic kids and 12% “reported” (which from what I understand is usually in reality an ‘underreported’ figure) number of kids qualify for “free lunch” (i.e., low income). Compared to Wells HS in CPS (which is where my kids would have gone before we moved -average ACT 15.2) for example, which has tons of Hispanic first generation kids. not all of whom even qualify for free lunch. Which HS do you think is better in terms of creating the right path for the children of working-class Hispanic immigrants?

    Have you ever been to (especially) Highwood and Highland Park? I have –many times. Nice places, but clearly not everybody there is rich or even middle-class (in North Shore terms), despite all the near-the-lake mansions and upscale shopping in downtown Highland Park –who do you think does all the cleaning and gardening?

    Not to mention the fact that not all Hispanics are working-class, less-eduated immigrants from Mexico and Central America.

    I think that it’s great that so many (relatively speaking) low-income and Hispanic kids can go to Highland Park High School.

  • 96. ExCPS  |  October 24, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    93 — Hopefully all parents do what’s best for their kids. BUT, the portal and groveling — absolutely no way. These kids need to do their own work and talk to the teachers about late assignments. At my neighborhood grammar school no late work was accepted by anyone in 7th and 8th grade unless you were out sick. This is how to prepare kids for hs. I personally hate parent portal — too much hovering by parents. Some teachers don’t use it correctly, so you are getting all worked up for nothing. Just my opinion. . . .

  • 97. Vlajos  |  October 24, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    Thanks, demographics obviously support my point.

  • 98. klm  |  October 24, 2011 at 3:59 pm


    But, what’s your point? I’m not trying to provoke here, I genuinely, respectfully want to know?

    What problem do you have with the published circa 2010 “demographics” of forementioned Highland Park High School?

    What “point” do the demographics support? I genuinely want to know.

  • 99. Vlajos  |  October 24, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    HPHS is barely 20% minority. Look at CPS. Look at income levels.

    White rich kids are 80% of the demographic vs CPS HS’s. Of course HPHSs going to have a higher average ACT scores. It’s comparing apples to oranges.

  • 100. cps Mom  |  October 24, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    @95 – didn’t have the portal in 7th but sure wish that I did. As far as prepping for high school – don’t you think that there is plenty of time to do that in 8th grade? With what’s at stake for 7th grade grades, some teachers took the “prepare for high school” in 7th grade a bit too far.

    One parent mentioned asking grade schools the %of kids that go on to top SE schools. Be assured that this is a marketing tool used by some public and private schools and the amount of “coddling” going on can work against you if you don’t speak up.

  • 101. HSObsessed  |  October 24, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    We went with our 7th grader to LPHS this weekend, and it seems like a great school. Nice facilities, nice kids, lots of activities, academic programs to fit all levels of students. Plus, our kid wants to audition for the performing arts/drama program, and this visit made her very excited to attend the school. Since we’re in the district, it’s a huge relief. I know there are many who don’t feel that LPHS is good enough for them yet, but it’s definitely good enough for us. We’ll still encourage good grades, have her take the SEHS exam, apply for various other programs just to see what options present, but the pressure is definitely off. It’s sad that this is not the case for many other neighborhoods in the city. On the north side, I’d say Taft is a possibility and of course, Lake View is developing.

  • 102. klm  |  October 24, 2011 at 4:59 pm


    Yes, there are lots of (non-Asian) minority kids in CPS (my own kids are some), but what does this have to do with the ability of working-class hispanic (and other minority) kids to receive a great public education? I know for a fact that houses and apartments in the Highland Park school district aren’t much more (and many times are actually cheaper, depending on the neighborhood) inexpensive than in Chicago.

    My whole point is that a “Highland Park High School/North Shore education” is not completely cut-off from somebody because of class and/or ethnicity. Obviously, people who prefer to stay within their own demographics in the ‘urban core’ (lousy schools and all) are free to do so, but there’s not some plot to keep lower-income people out of one of the best “open enrollment” schools in Illinois (maybe even the country).

    In my previous rants, I’ve talked about “opprtunity” for a quality education. If people really want that for their kids, they can find it, but (sadly) not necessarily in their neighborhood CPS school (although there are a [very] few that are among the best in the state in the k8 level). .

    All I’ve ever done on this site is complain about standards at many/most CPS schools and how they are failing many/most kids and lament the inability of working-class and minority kids to have a guaranteed quality public education in CPS. Here’s an example of a school sysytem that seems to be providing such, but it “doesn’t count” since there are too many middle-class and white kids?

    People can’t have it both ways –complain about how some kids/groups are stuck in lousy CPS schools, then complain that good “suburban” schools don’t count in term of academic accounting because, even if there is access, there’s not the “right” demographics to compare fairly.

    My point is, even taking into account the demographics, CPS does a horrible job in educationing the vast majority of K12 students.

    How is it that comparing opportunity for a low-income Hispanic demographic more fair for CPS, but not Highland Park?

    So, if a working-class Hispanic kid is getting a great public education at Highland Park High School, it’s not so great or significant, because he or she is not with his or her “own people” in significant numbers like they’d be at Wells or Lakeview HS?

  • 103. LPfan  |  October 24, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    100 – Lots of kids Tier 4 – A’s + B’s = good students. Many of them are at Lincoln Park – Double Honors. You really should investigate the school. Ask your Chicago cop friends — the “tough customers” have moved on. Taft is the neighborhood school, but for most, it is not Safe.

  • 104. Mayfair Dad  |  October 24, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    100 – Mayfair Son is at LPHS IB. Safety is not our concern. Taft is the automatic in-district high school for us and was never an option we considered. Big difference. 75% of the students at LPHS are attending a magnet program, i.e. they earned their spot. If your daughter ends up going there, I think you will be pleased.

  • 105. reenie  |  October 24, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    Whoever looked at the Explore scores and noted up-and-comers overlooked King High School. I think King is very underrated–I have met current and former teachers from King who are excellent. For south side parents I would also be watching Kelly and Hubbard’s IB programs–I know there are significant numbers of Chinese kids going to Kelly just for the IB program, and I met the first grads from Hubbard’s program years ago. They were a feisty and interesting bunch–hope they’re still getting such a great group of kids. I’d be proud to send my son (now two) to Hubbard’s IB program if it lasts that long.

  • 106. Really?  |  October 24, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    I don’t know where the topic of Highland Park High School came up but as a graduate of that school I have to comment. It is a school completely made up of very affluent families and unless you fit in that clique…. well you’re an outcast. I personally hated high school because I felt that my incredibly hard working middle-income parents were somehow poor. Blue collar???? Not in this town. In reality, this was not the case but despite there being some middle-class folks, you wouldn’t be able to tell by looking at the kids. Everyone drove nice cars and shopped at designer stores. Take a walk down Central street and the HP uniform for a female teenager that is in is skinny, designer jeans, north face fleece, ugg boots & prada purse. It’s sick! I’m sorry but I won’t move there and subject my kids to that.

    Everyone has their own opinion but to compare HPHS’s very minor amount of Hispanics to CPS, is literally ridiculous. BTW – in the ’90s, most of those Hispanic families all lived in the apartment complex across from the old Fort Sheridan site. I worked with them since I was one of FEW kids from HPHS that worked at the age of 16. They lived 2-3 families per apartment and did whatever they could to make sure that the kids got an education. I wouldn’t say that anything in Highland Park was affordable for them and they were mistreated because they worked all the crap jobs. Those kids were also excluded from the majority of the school. They didn’t know English and instead of putting them in a few classes where they could learn through experience they were separated into ESL classes. They received a second class education and still didn’t speak fluent English at graduation.

    If you have any doubt of the culture in HP, take a trip to Sunset Foods and see how the customers talk to the people that work there. I have a friend that moved out there and enrolled her daughter in preschool. She told me that the majority of the moms wouldn’t talk to her and many were negative and complaining. We visit often since my parents still live there and went to a block party in the area. I asked the HP fireman where he lives and he said Deerfield. I won’t even go into the rest of his comments. Its a community that is very unique and holds itself to the highest esteem. If this is where you want to be, then by all means!!! But please don’t compare that place with Chicago.

  • 107. Anon  |  October 24, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    I wonder if the NCP scores will hold up next year? I believe that Northside “had” to accept 25 NCLB kids last year that wouldnt have come close to qualifying otherwise. I got the impression from a meeting or two that neither the administration or the teachers were particularly thrilled. I belive it was about $ and some federal funding. The question will be 25 out of a class of 160 could easily skew the numbers a full point or two unless CPS gave them some sort of waiver. I am pretty sure Walter Payton had the same issue.

  • 108. Mom of HS kids  |  October 24, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    @105 – If you could see what the inside Clemente HS looks like ON A GOOD DAY, perhaps you would have a different feeling about HPHS and rethink what you would like to subject your kids to. At least in that environment you were safe AND getting an education. I can’t see how it’s a school’s fault if a teen isn’t speaking english after 4 years of high school. No matter where you go, there are always cliques, divisions and outcasts.


    According to the MLS today- Rentals:

    3 bedroom house in Hinsdale $1200 (Hinsdale Central HS)
    3 bedroom apt. in Lake View $1400 (Lake View HS)

  • 109. cpsobsessed  |  October 24, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    As a reminder, its pretty hard for a family to get through the day in the suburbs without 2 cars, like many lower income families do in the city. Nor do it think many of them are paying $1200 a month. Not saying there’s not a way if there’s a will but there’s more to it then just packing up and moving to highland park.

    I don’t care what the test scores look like, personally I could never live on the north shore. But there’s got to be plenty of decent suburban high schools that aren’t quite the social, economic, and education pressure cookers as new trier and hph.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 110. cpsobsessed  |  October 25, 2011 at 12:23 am

    This is a pretty interesting link with the speech that JCB gave yesterday to a group called The Urban League. The gist of it is to emphasize how African-American students are being severely underserved by CPS. The “achievement gap” has been getting progressively worse in our city. There is a lot of depressing data in there. But they have a solution… longer day! (Actually some other ideas too. Sort of.) I’m curious to know your thoughts.

  • 111. anonymous  |  October 25, 2011 at 6:28 am

    #106, it has long been rumored of the “best” schools that they quietly get rid of underperforming students, the same way that charters get rid of their underperforming or misbehaving kids. I would not be shocked to learn that some of the high schools that were required to take the NCLB 25, that they found ways to counsel out or nudge out kids who weren’t up to par. I have no specific knowledge of this happening at NSP, but I believe it happens in CPS and other school districts.

  • 112. Mayfair Dad  |  October 25, 2011 at 8:43 am

    @ 106, 110 and others

    This is the “Fortunate 100” I referenced in an earlier post. 100 eighth-graders chosen from CPS’s worst neighborhood schools inserted into top SEHSs to increase racial diversity. This happened after the conclusion of the SEHS application process. Apparently the Tier system was not yielding enough students of a certain demographic, so CPS made an adjustment citing an arcane NCLB covenant.

    I doubt CPS would allow these students to be counseled out of a school – too much attention given the situation. Already the cash-strapped CPS has promised extra supports for these students to ensure their success — I’m not sure what the supports are.

  • 113. ExCPS  |  October 25, 2011 at 9:10 am

    Anyone read this article? So nice that allowances are made for people to avoid residency requriements. Too bad the cops and fireman can’t do this.

    The “Fortunate 100” at NS probably struggle so much that they leave on their own.

  • 114. cps Mom  |  October 25, 2011 at 9:12 am

    11 and others – The program no longer exists. No mention has been made of what has happened to the kids already in the program. Many were struggling with the curriculum. I had also heard that not all 100 accepted the placement due to travel etc.

  • 115. Mom  |  October 25, 2011 at 10:34 am

    Does anyone have experience with Kids Care Transport?

    Thanks for any information.

  • 116. James  |  October 25, 2011 at 10:45 am

    #113 —

    Actually, the NCLB program does still exist. The first year CPS used it (for the class that is now sophomores), CPS acted after the entire HS selection process was over. They simply dictated that four schools — Payton, Northside, Jones, and Whitney Young — would each take 25 NCLB kids (ignoring that 25 kids would have a greater effect on small schools like Payton and Jones than on large schools like Northside and WY – but that’s another story). These 25 students were kids that either didn’t apply at all through the regular SE selection process or applied but weren’t accepted anywhere. The next year (for the class that is now freshmen), they formalized the NCLB process to some extent, requiring, for example, that the NCLB kids at least have submitted an SE application and at least have achieved a score of 650. For the next group of students (the class that will enter next fall), it isn’t entirely clear how it will work, but it is clear that the program continues: “Additionally, the CEO or designee is authorized to incorporate set-asides for a NCLB choice process in the SEHS selection process.” That’s from the admissions policy adopted by the Board just last August.

    Among the more the frustrating thing with this policy is that it continues to be run almost entirely behind closed doors. How many kids at each school now? How are the selections made? Who decides who goes where? What support, if any, will continue to be given to the schools that are required to accept these kids? No answers anywhere on any of that that I can find.

    I have also heard from both students and parents that, at least at Payton and Northside, these NCLB kids are struggling mightily. Many do not attend class regularly; many have simply stopped coming to school; many do not participate in any meaningful way in the class or in the school community. I’m sure there are some NCLB kids who are benefiting from having this golden ticket dropped into their laps. But the anecdotal evidence is that, overall, the program has not worked. The one thing it did do (and, arguably, all it was designed to do) was allow CPS to include those NCLB kids in the four schools’ populations so they would look more racially diverse than they really are.

  • 117. Anonymous  |  October 25, 2011 at 11:16 am

    Btw, heard that the $100,000 per school devoted to the first class of NCLB transfers has been cut out completely starting this year.

  • 118. Anonymous  |  October 25, 2011 at 11:19 am

    #110 — Do you think that the h.s. grad rate might also indicate the difficulty of the s.e. curriculum or the level of family income?

    I think at WP the grad rate is 88%. By comparison, at SICP it’s 98%.

  • 119. Anonymous  |  October 25, 2011 at 11:41 am

    # 109 Thanks for the link. Anyone else come away wondering about Frazier Intl. and other traditional CPS schools that Brizard cited — they reach out to poor, urban kids and get really high scores.

    The schools must have the right mix of academic and social support programs and funding, right?

    But Brizard never went into what is working so well at those schools… just called for a longer day.

  • 120. Mayfair Dad  |  October 25, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    @ 118: Yeah, I’d be interested to find out the magic formula these odds-defying schools are using. Smaller schools? Smaller class size? Dynamic principal? Successful parent engagement strategies? Can it be replicated?

    Obviously Brizard has these schools in his crosshairs so hopefully this information will bear fruit (other than PR sound bites).

  • 121. cps grad  |  October 25, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    @klm– be careful with statistics. A large group of high scoring kids can weigh the average up but wont tell you how well the kids at the bottom are doing. For example one possible scenario in your Highland Park example could by that the 88% non-low income kids average 26 on then ACT for the 12% low income would then average 19.3 giving Highland Park an overall average of 25.2. It could also be a average ACT of 26.5 to 15.7.

    This is a scenario if you look at the 2010 PSAE scores that break down scores by race/economics. In 2010, 85.5% on non-low income students met/exceed standards in reading with 85.1% in math. The low income students had 27.9% meet/exceed in reading and 27.9% in math. By race 87.5% of white students met or exceed state standards while only 39.9% of Hispanic students met/exceeded standards. Obviously the achievement gap still exists even in the one of the “BEST” schools.

  • 122. cps grad  |  October 25, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    The link to the numbers I used in my analysis above:

  • 123. Anonymous  |  October 25, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    cps grad — do you think that the achievements of schools like Frazier Intl, which Brizard referred to in his speech to the CUL, have been replicated in other big cities? Would you know where to look?

  • 124. Mayfair Dad  |  October 25, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    @ 121: To summarize: parachuting socioeconomic disadvantaged kids into top performing high schools doesn’t always yield the intended results? Maybe someone should tell the CPS Blue Ribbon Committee this.

  • 125. RL Julia  |  October 25, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    Parachuting socioeconomically disadvantaged kids who are not prepared and do not have adequate familial or neighborhood supports doesn’t always yield the intended results.

  • 126. JKR  |  October 25, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    I don’t think the class of 2014 ACT scores will tell us too much, at least as how the tier system is affecting SE High Schools. This was the 40% rank group, with an 850 cut off for a few schools; using NSCP as the example, apart from the 25 nclb group, the rest all had 850 and above. (we don’t know score what the 25 had, because some of them didn’t have any score). It appears that the class of 2014 had higher Explore scores ,indicating that their ACT scores should hold or go higher. But this class is a “one time only” group. Maybe when this year’s Freshman get their Explore scores, we’ll see what effect, if any, lowering rank to 30% and eliminating a cut off point has had.

  • 127. Mayfair Dad  |  October 25, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    @ 105, 107, 108 & others:

    Maybe its time to reassess what we think we know about the suburbs, myself included:

    “The growth has been stunning,” said Elizabeth Kneebone, a senior researcher at the Brookings Institution, who conducted the analysis of census data. “For the first time, more than half of the metropolitan poor live in suburban areas.”

    Read the entire article here:

  • 128. Y  |  October 25, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    Yes, by only looking at the affluent school districts, we don’t get a very realistic view of the range that’s really out there. A sampling from the Chicagoland area for the class of 2009.

    – West Leyden High School in the western suburbs (Schiller Park, Franklin Park, Rosemont, Northlake, etc.) – ACT score: 19.1
    – East Leyden (34.7% low income) – ACT score: 19.9
    – Thornton Township (77.6% low income) in the south suburbs (Harvey) – ACT score:16.2
    – Warren Township (17.1% low income) in Gurnee – ACT score: 22.1
    – Eisenhower (68.6% low income) in Blue Island – ACT score: 17.8
    – Elgin – 3 high schools (61.2, 25.4, and 69.0% low income – ACT: 18.2, 20.0, and 18.9.
    – Highland Park (11.7% low income) – ACT score: 25.2.
    – Glenbrook North (4.6% low income) in Northbrook – ACT score: 25.2
    – Wheeling High School (32.2% low income) – ACT score: 21.6.

    Statewide, the distribution of average ACT scores for high schools bunches up between the 19 and 22 with about 375 schools. 83 schools were between 22 and 25. 12 schools were above 25. 130 schools were between 16 and 19. 60 schools were between 13 and 16.

  • 129. watcher  |  October 25, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    @129 Mayfair Dad

    “More than schools involved in black exodus from Chicago

    “I don’t agree with CEO Brizard attributing the decline of Chicago’s African American population to racial achievement gap and general dissatisfaction with CPS. I think the biggest reason for this decline has been the destruction of low income housing options in the city. Moreover, lower income African Americans do not have access to high quality schools outside of Chicago, they are largely moving to low income segregated communities outside of Chicago with weak underfunded schools….” More at Rod Estvan’s comment #6 at Catalyst:

  • 130. watcher  |  October 25, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    Correction: @126

  • 131. Mayfair Dad  |  October 25, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    @ 129. Interesting viewpoint from Mr. Estvan.

    Recently I read an article that identified “black flight” as middle class and upper middle class AA families leaving the city for predominantly AA suburbs on the near Southwest side. The accompanying photo showed mini McMansions with Volvos in the driveway. I’m inclined to believe that the poorest AA families lack the financial means to leave the city, and that many upwardly mobile AA families bolt for the (safer) suburbs as soon as their situation allows. Rich Central was the high school mentioned in the article.

  • 132. Mayfair Dad  |  October 25, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    And before I walk away from my computer for the evening…

    From the University of Wisconsin Madison website:

    “Admitted students will typically score between 27–29 on the ACT and 1860–2090 on the SAT…”

    How many average students from the average Illinois high schools listed above won’t even qualify to attend a neighboring state’s flagship school. Sad.

  • 133. anonymous  |  October 25, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    By the comments on this board, I am assuming that most folks scored high enough when they were juniors and seniors in HS themselves to gain admittance into schools requiring a 27-29+? Is that correct? (or the SAT equivalent)

  • 134. cps grad  |  October 25, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    @122–I don’t know where to get information on other state schools, but for Illinois schools the School Report cards are available on the ISBE website.

    What I do find interesting that Brizard chose to use a Magnet school for his example

    1)The population at a magnet school is not a true statistical sample indicative of the district at large. Any student attending a magnet school must apply. The fact that the parents of Frazier’s students took the extra step to apply to a magnet narrows the pool of students and thus is not a true sample of the CPS student body at large.

    2) Magnet schools have controlled enrollment. Just look at the class size of Frazier on its 2010 school report card. No class with more than 26 students.

    Compare that to nearby Webster with 39 students in the Kindergarten class.

    3) Magnet schools get additional resources from the board of education. Frazier has an internal gifted program and an IB programme.

    @122–I don’t know where to get information on other state schools, but for Illinois schools the School Report cards are available on the ISBE website.

    What I do find interesting that Brizard chose to use a Magnet school for his example

    1) The population at a magnet school is not a true statistical sample indicative of the district at large. Any student attending a magnet school must apply. The fact that the parents of Frazier’s students took the extra step to apply to a magnet narrows the pool of students and thus is not a true sample of the CPS student body at large.
    2) Magnet schools have controlled enrollment. Just look at the class size of Frazier on its 2010 school report card. No class with more than 26 students.

    Compare that to nearby Webster with 39 students in the Kindergarten class.

    3) Magnet schools get additional resources from the board of education. Frazier has an internal gifted program and an IB programme.

    On another note, I remember that CPS actually had a report a few years ago that compared the achievement of minority and low income students in CPS to minority students/ low income students in suburban schools. The report actually showed that CPS did better than suburban schools. The achievement gap exists–no doubt– but it is a mistake to think that suburban schools are any better at closing it than urban schools.

  • 135. cps grad  |  October 25, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    @Mayfair Dad— I don’t get it. Universities are selective. U of Wisconsin at Madison is a top tier school. Top tier universities (public or private) don’t take average students– they want the above average students. And those top tier schools do take the above average students from average high schools.

    My high school (CPS in the 90’s) had an average ACT around 20.5. Yet, more than 10% of my graduating class went to UIUC (students of all races, black, white, Hispanic and Asian.) Others went to or were accepted to selective top tier universities including the University of Chicago, Northwestern, MIT or highly rated Liberal Arts Colleges such as Carleton, Oberlin, Knox etc.

    Sometimes when I realize that we need to keep perspective. Here is the simple mathematical reality— somebody has to be average, somebody has to be below average, and not everyone can be above average. I gather that most of us don’t want our kids to get stanines of 5 or lower on the ISATs (especially if our stanines growing up were 8 or 9)– but no matter how high the bar is raised, somebody’s kid out there is going to get a 5– somebody’s kid out there is going to get a 1 and somebody’s kid out there is going to do better than your kid and my kid.

  • 136. cps grad  |  October 25, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    correction– “Sometimes when I read this board I realize….

  • 137. cps Mom  |  October 25, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    I find it very interesting that only 95 out of 660 suburban schools average above 22. The average school is comparable to a school like Nobel charter.

    Mayfair Dad – many low income families, including minorities leave the city. There are quite a few low income suburbs, not to mention the newly poor. Just read an article about the Chicago suburbs middle class sliding into poverty, food pantries unable to keep up with new demand.

  • 138. cpsobsessed  |  October 25, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    The math person in me really likes your post, CPS Grad @134. I think that’s what I was trying to point out about my son’s friend getting 10 points above the school average.

    In a sense it’s like saying ‘it’s too bad the average New Trier grad won’t be able to get into an Ivy League school.” A mean is often not a great way to look at data.

  • 139. cps grad  |  October 25, 2011 at 8:22 pm

    @Cpsobsessed– the Math Teacher in me loves that your a math person! ..and you are exactly correct, looking at a mean is not a great way to look at data. It is too bad that the ISBE doesn’t provide the other statistical measures of middle and spread so those of us who love numbers can interpret the data more accurately. Also, I must apologize and stop posting while having a fever…. my previous posts are filled with typos!

  • 140. CPSDepressed  |  October 26, 2011 at 6:48 am

    The south suburbs are almost entirely black and middle-class these days. It’s all families from Chicago who want better schools and safer neighborhoods for these kids. I’m waiting for the days when the praying hands on the South Holland water tower are repainted so that they are black, not white.

    Have you been to Northwest Indiana? If it weren’t for white flight, there would be no development there.

    Also interesting: in many of these suburbs, the newer black residents are more affluent than the white residents, creating some strange social tensions.

    The flight of the black middle class is very real. If you don’t believe it, take a trip down to River Oaks Mall some day.

  • 141. cpsmama  |  October 26, 2011 at 10:29 am

    #131 & 134 -Since Mayfair Dad raised the issue of college admissions scores: despite what it’s website says, U of Wisconsin’s ACTUAL admitted student data shows that 59% of its 2010 admitted students scored b/w 24- 29. 6% scored 23 or under and 31% scored b/w 30-36.

  • 142. HSObsessed  |  October 26, 2011 at 10:47 am

    @136 or anyone else — can you post a link to easily accessible data on ACT scores for high schools statewide? I can’t seem to find that anywhere. Digging school by school in the ISBE school report cards seems pretty inefficient, and I’m not finding the better way. Thanks!

  • 143. Mayfair Dad  |  October 26, 2011 at 11:46 am

    @ 140. Nice chart. The part I find discouraging is only 5.7% of incoming freshmen accepted fell into the 18-23 ACT score range. CPS average ACT score is 17.3 Illinois average ACT score is 20.5. This doesn’t seem like a problem to you?

    Granted, UW Madison is a more selective school. One must keep in mind state school doesn’t necessarily mean less difficult to get into and often means the opposite.

    There just seems to my anecdotal, non-mathematical eye a malaise of mediocrity in Illinois high schools that places our students at a disadvantage. Its like the SEHS situation writ large over the entire state – 20 or 30 top performing high schools (maybe 50?) and then a majority of high schools that – as evidenced by lackluster ACT scores – fail to prepare graduates to get into state schools, never mind Ivies.

  • 144. klm  |  October 26, 2011 at 11:52 am

    @120 cps grad

    I’m the first person the point the that HUGE disparities exist (the achievement gap) even in high-scoring/big spending high schools (look at the stats at Evanston HS, comparing white to AA students –as the parent of AA kids, it makes me want to cry). Things are by no means perfect even in the best of HSs.

    My point is and always has been that nobody has to be necessarily rich to live in the school districts with measurably high-performing schools –even the “best” ones. The achievement gap exists in even these great schools, it’s true. But, isn’t it better for some from less-than wealthy families to have these opportunites for their kids, do with them what they may. Drugs and do-nothing friends are a potential problem everywhere, but the “organisational culture” is not the same at Highland Park HS as Wells HS, I don’t care what anybody tells me.

    There are families here in Chicago that rent the cheapest possible apartment so that their kids can go to Lincoln Elelmentary (I know some). Even at Lincoln Elementary (ISAT-wise the kids rank among the best in the state) there’s an achievement gap (AA kids are disproportionately the ones not doing as well, sadly). I’m sure there are families that do the same so that their kids can go to Bell, Blaine, etc. Now, it’s true that some AA kids at Lincoln (by no means all –my kid goes their and has an AA parent with an Ivy League degree [not me]) live in the low-income housing project (with other virtually 100% other AA people, by definition low-income in order to qualify for the reduced rent) in the attendance zone. But, isn’t it a good thing that these kids are exposed to and have the the ability to attend a “high achievement” school with a culture of excellence, with many kids that come from educated, high-income households (white, black, asian…whatever) ? Talk to the parents of these kids (I do all the time, one of my own kids goes there) and they will let you know that, if anything, they are the most grateful of all for this opportunuty being given to their kids.

    My spouse’s cousin (an AA single mother with a “regular” job) rents a 2-bedroom apartment in Northbrook so that her 2 sons will get a “North Shore” education. She’s very happy with the schools and I know she thinks she mad the best decision for her kids.

    It’s not easy to move to or live in a stereotypically “high income” enviroment when one’s not a “high income” family. However, people do all the time in order to provide a better (i.e., less crime and teenage pregnancy) living environment for their kids and quantifyably better public schools for their kids.

    I went to an academically wonderful Catholic HS, average ( composite ACT 25-26 [a la Fenwick, SICP, Loyola, etc] with a lots of middle- and upper-middle class kids. I lived in a trailer park (and even not a ‘nice one’ with newer double-wides, etc. –the ‘trailer trash’ thought we were a notch beneath them –hah!). Yes, it was not easy (it never is to be poor/loe-income), BUT THE EDUCATION I RECEIVED -WOW! It totally changed my life. Not to mention all the (first time) exposure to middle-class and upper-middle class (for the first time in my life, really) atitudes about life. My public HS that I would have attended had an average ACT of 14/15 and a dropout rate of 50%+ (I had friends that went there and half were parents by the time the turned 18, many dropped out …years later hardly any of them have done much of anything ith their lives –the kind of people one sees on ‘Maury’, etc. –‘babby-daddy, and baby-momma drama, etc’. —-the cycle starts over and over…. ).

    Isn’t the whole point of a good school to provide an environment so that students (those that want it) can obtain skills (academic and otherwise) that pave the way to a future with possibilties and opportunity?

  • 145. swede  |  October 26, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    OK, not ACT related but since we’re discussing test scores here’s an interesting article.

    Maybe all of that ISAT test score improvement isn’t very accurate…

  • 146. Mara  |  October 26, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    When I saw this post, I was curious and looked at what the average ACT score was at the Wisconsin high school I attended, and it was 21.7. It also listed the Wisconsin state average as 22.2 – and not all Wisconsin students take the ACT, like Illinois – only the ones who are planning to go to college. I agree with the above poster that stated that UW is a tier 1 school.

    Here is the reference (scroll down a bit to see the WI statewide scores) –

  • 147. CPSDepressed  |  October 26, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    FYI, the state is launching an investigation into ISAT cheating:,0,2385263.story

    This has to go far beyond the teacher walking down the aisle and “helpfully” pointing out a right answer or two.

  • 148. cps Mom  |  October 26, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    @141 – my statement was based upon numbers provided in post 127. Y says these are older numbers (2009) but if Illinois is at an all time low score wise they should be close.

    KLM – I get your point about people moving to neighborhoods with good schools regardless of income to get a jump on education. Having lived in the suburbs, growing up in the city, I would think that lifestyle would also play into that decision. Welles HS is an extreme opposite to Highland Park. Most would probably explore options such as charters and other programming before going that route. Taking a kid from an under performing school to a North Shore high school is pretty severe, landing them at the bottom of the heap no matter how supportive parents are. The social aspect of high school can be incredibly harsh on a kid who is an “outsider”. Teenage suicide, drugs and crime a big issue. I know many white middle class people (myself included) that would feel out of place on the North Shore. A friend of mine that teaches in Wilmette lives in Chicago and sends her kids to CPS – very good schools that she feels much more comfortable with.

  • 149. cpsmama  |  October 26, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    @140- I don’t really see the average ACT score in CPS & Illinois as a problem when compared to those admitted to UW b/c

    (1) UW is a Tier 1 school- there are lower tier colleges whose middle 50% ACT scores ere in the range of 18-24.

    (2) CPS and Illinois require all juniors to take the ACT-even those who have no intention of attending college. Because of that mandate, Illinois’ scores are being dragged down.

    (3) Kids with an 18-23 ACT score are not likely going to be sucessful in college (I suspect that those are the scores of UW’s athletic recruits, BTW)

    (4) If you compare Illinois average of 20.5 for 100% of its juniors to Wisconsin’s 22.2 for only 60% of its juniors (post 145 link) – I think Illinois is doing pretty good.

  • 150. cps grad  |  October 26, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    Did you know that of the states that require 100% of students to take the ACT, Illinois has the highest average?

    I will say it again, a school with an average act score in the low 20’s probably may have quite a few students who get ACT >30. My cps school in the early 90’s had an average ACT around 20.5-21. Most of my friends there had ACT scores between 26-35 and a we had a couple national merit scholars too. The average doesn’t tell you everything. It would be nice to know the standard deviation on those school by school ACT means and the range of scores.

  • 151. cps grad  |  October 27, 2011 at 6:28 am

    I was taking a closer look at the link I posted above. If you click on each state you get a detailed report on average ACT composite and subject test scores based on race/gender. You can also see what the average ACT was basked on the type of industry the students want to work in, their education aspirations (no college/bachelors/graduate etc). and the schools they sent their scores to.

    I looked at several states to compare and it was very interesting. You get a sense of how many of the kids taking the ACT are actually planning on going to college.

  • 152. Margie  |  October 27, 2011 at 7:27 am

    I think you meant to say that Lincoln Park admits 2/3 of its population without academic criteria.It would be interesting to see what the ACT scores would be of the three magnet programs there where the kids do meet criteria to get in. That would be a truer comparison to the other schools on the list.

  • 153. Mayfair Dad  |  October 27, 2011 at 8:51 am

    I retract my use of the word lackluster when describing Illinois average ACT scores. I agree average doesn’t tell us much and I suspect the high flyers are pulling the average up in a way that disguises deficiencies (ISAT scores do this too).

    Let’s assume smart kids with access to top-performing high schools will do well on standarized tests. How do we know if we are creating a system of academic “haves” and “have-nots”? Using Chicago as a microcosm of the state system, you have a concentration of the brightest kids attending a short list of top high schools, with the remaining high schools doing a fair-to-horrible job of preparing students for college. My premise is that this is happening statewide.

  • 154. Dad  |  October 27, 2011 at 8:56 am

    @143 klm:
    To think that some CPS parents avoid the better-performing schools because they aren’t diverse enough, i.e. too many upper middle class students.

  • 155. Southie  |  October 27, 2011 at 10:08 am

    There are both upper middle class black families and extremely poor black families spread throughout Chicago’s south suburbs. Both demographics seem to be growing. Talk to the local high school teachers, counselors, security and admins and you’ll hear about what they’re seeing. Estvan also has good insight into what’s happening in the schools in these areas. Some are considered worse that your most troubled CPS schools. Some are considered better. A lot are swinging from one status to a new status.

  • 156. cps Mom  |  October 27, 2011 at 10:53 am

    @153 – I think people need to chose a high school that is the right fit. For some it is a matter of moving into the cheapest apartment in the area to get into a better school – as mentioned that happens all the time in Chicago. The North Shore suburbs are much more isolated and present other problems (other than diversity). As a link above mentions – you need a car to get anywhere, public transportation doesn’t exist. My own experience was fraught with social status issues that I won’t go on about but I’ll admit that my opinion is tainted by that. I don’t think that there is anyone on this site that is trying to “avoid better performing schools”, in fact the opposite holds true here. I’m saying that Vlajos and others have a valid point, you can’t just stick any kid into that environment, it’s not a “one size fits all” assumption.

  • 157. HSObsessed  |  October 27, 2011 at 11:25 am

    @151, Margie, actually only 1/3 or maybe by now only about 1/4 of LPHS’ freshmen classes are admitted due to living within the neighborhood boundaries. There are 8 feeder elementary schools, but very few of them have 8th-grade populations that live within their enrollment boundaries. Those that do have large populations of in-boundary 8th grade graduates see many of the graduates enroll in other high schools. Each freshman LPHS class is 500 optimally, and so likely about 150-175 are freshmen who live within boundaries. Many of them apply for an are accepted into the IB program, the performing arts program, and/or the AP/double honors track, even though they are “just” neighborhood kids.

    At the LPHS open house last weekend, the asst principal said last year they enrolled 550 instead of 500 due to their poor planning. She didn’t specify why but I got the feelign it was due to a combination of having more neighborhood kids enroll than they expected, and having more out-of-district offers accepted at a higher perdentage rate than before.

  • 158. XcpsMom  |  October 27, 2011 at 11:47 am

    156 – “. . . and having more out-of-district offers accepted at a higher perdentage rate than before” That is correct. Lots of Tier 4 kids are at LP because they couldn’t get into Lane this year. They are in the IB or DH programs.

  • 159. Anonymous  |  October 27, 2011 at 11:53 am

    How likely do you all think high schools will add 90 minutes next year?

  • 160. Mayfair Dad  |  October 27, 2011 at 11:54 am

    @ 156: Tier 4 kids trying to get into SEHSs who just missed the cut-off + no round two at Lane = 550 freshment at LPHS. LBHS is the safety school (Plan B) for many Tier 4 families on the northwest side.

  • 161. cpsmama  |  October 27, 2011 at 11:59 am

    @158- I think it is unlikely. Most HS already have long days and adding more time will interfere w/ after school clubs, sports, etc
    But, you never know wtih CPS. They tend to leap into major changes before they look into the ramifications of their actions.

  • 162. cps Mom  |  October 27, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    @158 HS’s will not add 90 minutes, they will however most likely match elementary schedule (adding 20 to 45mins) as soon as they know what that schedule is.

  • 163. Dad  |  October 27, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    @155: ITA (With regards to the CPS parents I mentioned, I was talking more about NPN parents, rather than the ones here.).

  • 164. HSObsessed  |  October 27, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    @158 – I was shocked to find out LPHS hours are 7:45 to 3:35 already, which is nearly 8 hours. Plus, kids in the performing arts program go one more hour each day. So I hope they don’t add any more time. I know that each high school’s hours vary, as does length of day.

  • 165. Anonymous  |  October 27, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    I can’t find it now, but I read through a power point about increasing the day 90 minutes, which included high schools. I began thinking about a possible increase of the days – how it would relate to commutes, homework and their already long day. I just don’t remember feeling the kind of pressure and load that high school students seem to juggle these days.

  • 166. anonymous  |  October 27, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    #163 LPHS is 8 hours and 50 minutes, wow.

    #164 h.s. kids are under a lot of pressure.
    Long commutes. Sports for 3 hours a day and sometimes weekends. Clubs and service projects. The things colleges like to see. Then 2 to 3 hours of homework. The average day runs to 12 to 15 hours easily.

    Some s.e.h.s. kids filled out a survey this fall. It found students slept an average of 4 hours a night during the week.

    The school’s student-LSC rep said she has noticed more stressed out kids, some crying in the hallways, already this year.

    I really hope CPS doesn’t attempt to make the h.s. day match the elementary school day in length.

    It won’t raise test scores at the top schools, but it will raise stress levels.

  • 167. Anonymous  |  October 27, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    This seems nuts. I don’t think I would have wanted this as a kid, yet this seems to be the scenario so many of our kids are faced with. We debate the scores of schools, but a child’s scores only reveals a portion of a child. On paper the child might look right for a strong rigorous program, but one has to wonder about the whole, pressured environment all before college and grad school.

  • 168. Nonsense  |  October 27, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    166 – Yep, pressurized environment = NS. I thought everyone knew that. That is why it sucks to live in Chicago. Most schools are subpar and the good ones require way too much stress to get in to, and way too much stress to keep up. Save yourselves and MOVE.

  • 169. Mayfair Dad  |  October 27, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    Take a deep breath everybody. I am following the longer day issue closely (my twins are at Disney II, a Pioneer school) and I don’t recall reading or hearing anything about extending high school by 90 minutes. High school is a long day already, with sports, clubs and extracurriculars meeting before and after school hours. Doesn’t make sense to extend.

  • 170. cps Mom  |  October 27, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    What I said in 161 is what is being discussed at my school. They are looking at adding time and trying to figure out how they will do it – block scheduling or adding time to each class etc. A letter sent home from Mr. Brizzard created quite a buzz so as to warrant explanation. They are awaiting final decisions on the amount of time to be added.

  • 171. wk  |  October 27, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    I heard Brizard say that they want to extend the high school day but but not by 90 minutes. I think it was on WBEZ.

  • 172. Anonymous  |  October 27, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    Bad idea to extend the high school day at all. It is a long day already. Dangerous, too, for 14-year-old kids to be commuting in the dark for a lot of the school year.

  • 173. Anonymous  |  October 27, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    Wonder why no one at CPS ever listens to parents?

  • 174. anonymous  |  October 27, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    I have heard quite a bit about cps and the board extending the high school day and even, get this, the charter school day which is often already 8 hours. I would bet serious money the high school day will be lengthened.

  • 175. anonymous  |  October 27, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    Did a little research and cps is offering the $$ to charters only if they aren’t already at 7.5 hours.
    I wonder where the $$ is going to come from to build or fix all these new playgrounds for schools, to pay for more staff for the longer day and how many years it will take for cps to provide playgrounds and recess equipment for schools? My guess is it will take 5-10 years if it happens at all for some schools.

  • 176. Navigator  |  October 27, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    I remember the discussion regarding the Lane AC start time and length of day. I wondered at the time if that was a foreshadowing for what might come for high school.

  • 177. Rich Dunn  |  October 28, 2011 at 2:24 am

    The way you talk about these scores reminds me of the way people salivate over high school sports wins and losses.

  • 178. momof3boys  |  October 28, 2011 at 5:39 am

    My kids attend LTHS and were moaning and groaning about the longe school day thats supposed to happen next year. Personally, i hope not because that would interfere with their atletic training.

  • 179. anonymous  |  October 28, 2011 at 6:23 am

    #177, for high school, the only option would be to start earlier given that games have to be coordinated city-wide and even state wide. It would not be a reach to expect high schools to start closer to 7 a.m. next year.

  • 180. CPSDepressed  |  October 28, 2011 at 8:08 am

    For high school, why don’t they just make the school year longer instead of the day longer?

    @176, if you want both good test scores and powerhouse athletics, you have to go Catholic.

  • 181. Robert  |  October 28, 2011 at 9:02 am

    I attend a brand new selective enrollment high school Westinghouse College Prep, and our average practice ACT score is 22.6

  • 182. Mayfair Dad  |  October 28, 2011 at 9:17 am

    Before we all get in a lather over an extended high school day, somebody please find a link to an article or CPS press release where this is stated in writing. I went to the WBEZ site to find the transcript of the radio interview where Brizard supposedly said this but could not find it. As a public service, let’s produce the evidence before we get parents spreading false rumors on the playground creating hysteria. There is enough anti-longer day misinformation spread by CTU already.

  • 183. cpsobsessed  |  October 28, 2011 at 9:24 am

    Good point MFD. Because otherwise people will be saying “I heard on CPSObsessed that the high school day is going to be longer.”. Not saying it’ll never happen but has there been any solid indication of an imminent change?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 184. Wendyk  |  October 28, 2011 at 9:29 am

    This is from WBEZ under “schools on the line”:

    Do you want a longer day for high schools too?

    “The answer is yes in a very short answer, but it may not look the same in elementary and high schools….This longer school day really is a regular school day. What we’ve had in Chicago is a short school day. Let’s be real. Let’s be clear about that.”

  • 185. Wendyk  |  October 28, 2011 at 9:30 am

    Ps – you can see a transcript of the 10/8 show on the wbez site.

  • 186. RL Julia  |  October 28, 2011 at 9:33 am

    Heard that Brizard asked Payton principal if he would pilot a longer school day there for this year and he said no – for all the reasons stated above. I don’t think it is an idea with tons of support.

    In regards to SEHS students getting four hours of sleep – maybe some – but I wouldn’t take survey results as the gospel truth. I know that when my son (at least) and his friends get a survey or have to pilot a test for CPS central office, they tend to answer less truthfully or just bubble one letter or a pattern etc…Having observed my children sleeping over the years, I have noticed that they consistently underestimate how much sleep they’ve gotten in accordance to what they think is cool. I suspect that they aren’t the only ones doing this.

  • 187. cps Mom  |  October 28, 2011 at 9:56 am

    @178 – on a 7 AM start, not necessarily as mentioned above, LPIB already goes to 3:35. I don’t think it would be a stretch to say that school could end at 3:30. And (this may or may not be popular) but I agree with @179 CPSD that if you are looking for serious athletics and college prep – catholic school.

    Our SEHS school has had student “town hall meetings” regarding the recent CPS memo and has explained to the students that it looks like we will be adding time. They have also said that they have not any received confirmation or specified amount of time which they are anxiously awaiting in order to plan accordingly.

    The teachers start class at the instant the bell rings (in one class even earlier). Any extra time would be valuable.

  • 188. Navigator  |  October 28, 2011 at 10:03 am

    Oct 3, 2011 Press Release

    “80 Schools Apply to be Common Core ‘Early Adopters’; Applicants will help jumpstart drive to align rigorous curriculum with longer school day in 2012/2013 school year”

    There are some high schools on that list

  • 189. Mayfair Dad  |  October 28, 2011 at 10:50 am

    @ 184, 185 and 187 – thank you. Longer high school day not a done deal, but they are certainly looking at it. Mayfair Son is not going to like this one bit.

    The link provided by Navigator gives a nice summation of CPS’s thought process behind an extended school day.

  • 190. Anonymous  |  October 28, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    187 — If I read it right, the CPS press release says the purpose of the longer day and the Common Core standards / curriculum is to cut the achievement gap. (It doesn’t give goals.)

    Don’t the s.e.h.s. already set their own advanced /accelerated curriculums? Is it likely that they will turn to Common Core standards instead?

    Is there a serious achievement gap in the s.e.h.s. — other than the NCLB transfer kids who may not have been as well prepared as others.

    Anyone know?

    The press release also says the longer day will offer art and music. Some high schools already offer art and music during the current day and as an extracurricular.

    Does anyone know of a high school that doesn’t offer music?

  • 191. klm  |  October 28, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    @153 Dad and
    @155 cps Mom

    We all want what’s best for out kids. We don’t want them to be hurt or feel the horrible pain of being ostracised for being “out of place”. It’s true that many/most of us have –to one degree or another –experienced (or remember seeing stuff going on) with “Mean Girls, Queen Bees, A**hole Jocks, Cliques, etc. ” that (even now that I’m a middle-aged, emotionally healthy adult still are basically the worst [%-wise] memories of growing up). Is there any meaner meaner people on Earth than 12-16-year-old self-annointed “popular kids”? There’s no doubt that a large number of “jerks” at some high schools have more money, nicer cars, clothes, McMansions, etc., to use as a sort of “I’m-better-than-you/you-suck-too-much-in-your-Wallmart style-to-even-talk-to” (maybe a sort of entitlement?).

    If kids feel like they’re being treated like the unwanted “trailer-trash” or from the wrong side of the tracks, that doesn’t belong or is made to feel unwelcome, it can be just as debilitating as anything (emotional ‘shut-down’, hatred towards school [and school work]).

    I totally get all that. It’s a real concern. Isn’t it better for a kid to go to a “regular” school and succeed reasonably well and be happy than attend a New Trier or Highland Park HS -type school and be miserable (with all the academic downward spiral that this virtually always entails)? Yes, absolutely.

    However, the jerk, materialistic, you-are-what-you-have adolescent, “us” vs. “them”, “popular” vs. “non-popular”, etc. experience is fairly universal and no matter where you go to school, it exists.

    In my variable socioeconomic life experience I can say that some of the biggest myths poor people and PWMs (people with money) have about each other are plain false. People that grow up in poorer neighborhoods may not have any real money or wealth , but/therefore, if anything, they are more materialistic and were totally into whatever expensive thing was “in”. Hence, all the gold, Gucci and LV purses (I’ve seen people pull out food stamps from bags that cost more than I’d ever in my life pay), keeping price tags on clothing that one wears, flash-the-cash (Bling!) one sees in poorer inner-city neighborhoods.. In contrast, people from traditionally well-off areas know it’s not polite to talk about money (especially one’s own), prefer “tasteful” muted beige-pastel, less-is-more styles (quilted Burberry coats [with the tag inside], waxy Barbour jackets, etc.. Obviously, we all know this and it doesn’t necessarily transfer to HS, but the point I’m trying to make is that ALL kids in ALL HSs deal with these issues, not just ones with steotypical affluent student populations.

    Just because kids come from “regular income” homes doesn’t mean that they’re any less likely to be mean.

    I once lived in a trailer park and some the kids the lived in double-wides were “snobs”, made fun of us kids from the broken-down, small trailers, etc. –the glaring irony of the situation obviously never occured to them. In their world, they had something to hold over the ‘poorer’ kids. When I went to public school in the inner-city, you better bet kids were totally about having the “right” gym shoes, jackets, etc. –some kids were held up at gunpoint [1 or 2 killed] over the ‘Members Only’ jackets. The “in” kids were merciless towards us “out” kids that didn’t have the bling or were (God forbid) “smart”.

    Girl drama, bullying, pressure to have the ‘right’ things, certain jocks-hating-every-else,…these things are everywhere with every socioeconomic group. How a school deals with them is what sets them apart.

    Accoringly, where I’d send my kids to school is all about the academics, no matter if their fellow classmates are rich, poor or middle-class.

    To each their own.

  • 192. New-ish  |  October 28, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    How does we know if Common Core is better?

  • 193. cps Mom  |  October 28, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    @190 – good dialogue, thanks, and I do understand where you’re coming from. The transition from elementary to HS is a tough one especially when you leave all your friends. The way CPS is set up, this is what tends to happen anyway so I suppose really no different than moving to the suburbs. The big difference would be that kids in the burbs graduate and move with their friends vs. a kid from the city being solo. It’s tough and yes all schools have their cliques and issues – but some more than others. I don’t know if there is a screening process for how “mean” the kids are but I have to say that the kids at our school are really great – extremely accepting of one another, really nice kids, no “popular vs. unpopular” going on and we were fortunate to get in. I would guess that because all the students are “new kids” from a variety of schools, this creates a whole new dynamic. I would further extrapolate that this would be true at magnets, charters, IB or special program schools. Personally, I would look at many options before moving to suburbs because this is my style and my child benefits greatly. But, you’re right if the benefit was not there I would bolt (but probably to another city).

  • 194. cps grad  |  October 28, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    On a different note, I was at my mom’s house last night looking through some old files (she keeps everything) and guess what I came across — an Options For Knowledge catalogue . I couldn’t find a year on it, but it was when CPS had a Superintendent rather than a CEO, and I would guess it was from before I graduated from CPS, so I’m guessing the late 80’s early 90’s. I didn’t even realize they printed those things back then.

    I took a look at the schools that had programs for “academically advanced” students. These were the days before Payton, Northside, and Jones. And there were only 3 listed– the best schools CPS had to offer — Whitney Young Magnet, Lane, and Lincoln Park IB. It just funny how much has changed since today LPIB and Lane get even to some extent WY get treated like second these days.

  • 195. cpsobsessed  |  October 28, 2011 at 9:08 pm

    Wow, that is cool about the old CPS Options for Knowledge catalog! I get the occasional pep talk from a mom who reminds me how much has changed in the past 8 years or so, in hopes that a lot will change by the time my son is in high school. We will see…

    I spent some time with my mom’s senior citizen friends who all went to CPS back in probably the 1940’s-1950’s and at that time they mostly went to their neighborhood high schools (the city was so different then – different pockets of ethnic groups — I would love to go back in time and walk around) and Lane Tech was the school for kids who really wanted a technical background, I *think* even being engineers or machinists.

    And of course according to them, all the kids were perfectly behaved. I think many kids in the city then were kids of immigrants and were trying hard to get to college.

  • 196. cpsobsessed  |  October 28, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    @klm, the thing I’ve realized as I’ve thought about your notion that any family can move to a good school district is just how hard it is to uproot to a new area.

    I’m going to move in the next few months (hopefully) and shouldn’t I just take the safe path and live in the Lincoln Park HS district? Other option would be the Lake View HS area. But part of me just thinks “but I don’t WANT to live there. I want to live in MY neighborhood where I know people and have my great market and my health club and my vietnamese sandwich shop.” And I don’t know anyone in most of the suburbs and yadda yadda yadda.

    Change is hard. Not saying people shouldn’t do it. It just feels unsettling.

    And I say that following a post about families of immigrants who all picked up and moved to a new country. 🙂

  • 197. cps grad  |  October 28, 2011 at 10:30 pm

    @cpsobsessed—funny that you mention CPS in the 40’s and 50’s and how much has changed. My mom is one of those senior citizens. Her sisters went to high school in the 40’s (Tuley which closed when Clemente opened in the 70’s) and my mom went to Austin High in the early 50’s when Austin high school was one of the best in the city. According to my mom everyone wanted to go there because they had amazing programs especially in the arts and music. She went there specifically for their choral program. Even though the school had gone downhill, it was a sad day for her when they closed it a few years ago. It really is amazing how those two schools changed in 60-70 years.

    My uncle also went to Lane in the late 40’s and two cousins of mine went to Lane Tech in the late 60’s when it was still all boys and a premier school both for the technical aspect and sports. My husband also went to Lane in the late 80’s, and I almost went there but opted for another CPS school because I didn’t want to take the 4 semesters of shop classes required for graduation.

  • 198. anonymous  |  October 29, 2011 at 8:02 am

    #189, The Common Core standards are standards, not curriculum. So while the CC might impact instruction and what curriculum looks like, those are two different things. I would not be surprised,given the intensity of CC to see more homework and much harder, much deeper and more intense school work too. (not just in high school)

    I have looked extensively at Common Core. It is all anyone in education is talking about these days because there is incredible pressure from the top to implement these. All CPS elementary and high schools will be implementing CC by 2014, that has already been decided. (btw, did you know all kids 3rd and up just took another standardized test to “try out” the CC benchmark exam and will take TWO more before the end of the year on top of ISATs and all the other tests?)
    CC is not that different from Illinois state standards in the primary grades. However, it ramps things up significantly in the 3rd grade and up years. People are going to be surprised when the report cards get changed in a year or two to reflect those standards. There will be or should be very few straight A kids . Plus, the CC test, supposedly, should show a more true measure of ability than ISAT, which is really a joke. I would expect less than half of the kids currently “meeting” under ISAT will be shown to Meet standards under CC.

    We talked about CC for 5 hours yesterday at my school. (in addition to the many PD days before that) It is a huge endeavor. And on the bright side, of all the silly mandates and programs CPS has tried to throw together “hey maybe this will work?”, CC is actually a decent set of standards. For once, what they are asking us to do makes sense. Our higher performing kids will thrive. Our mid range and lower level kids, well, I personally lie awake at night worrying about them and how we are going to get them to keep up. But one way or the other, CC is a good thing.

    Oh, and fwiw, there is talk of a new math curriculum being pushed. Everyday math could very well be on its way out.

  • 199. Anonymous  |  October 29, 2011 at 8:54 am

    What is the name of the standardized test that the kids took to try out the CC standards? Is this the first year they have been given? Why no information on this from school?

  • 200. Anonymous  |  October 29, 2011 at 8:55 am


    What is the name of the standardized test that the kids took to try out the CC standards? Is this the first year they have been given? Why no information on this from school?

  • 201. ChicagoGawker  |  October 29, 2011 at 9:39 am

    Everyday Math being pushed out? You mean the dogma that it’s the best program for teaching number sense is finally being questioned?
    We’re finally getting a clue that it does not deliver as advertised and takes far more home support than lots of CPS parents can provide? Hurray!

  • 202. slaphappy  |  October 29, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    The reason that parents did not find out about the Common Core test was because the Board sent the schools about a days notice before it was to begin. The Board said that it was a kind of “no stakes” test because it would be used simply to get baseline data, information to help planning Common Core curriculum, blah, blah, blah. We’ll just wait to see about that being the case. Yes, it will be given two more times this year along with the SCANTRON and ISAT. How much data do you really need? Ask me, the teacher, I can give you a better idea of how a child is doing and how they will more than likely score on any of these tests.

    On another note, I can’t believe they are giving up on Everyday Math right after our school was forced to buy this lousy program 2 years ago to replace Trailblazers, another mandated math program. There’s about $300,000 to 400,000 for materials and even more for all the training teachers had to take right out the window! Way to go CPS!

  • 203. Anonymous  |  October 31, 2011 at 7:18 am

    # slaphappy — (great name, btw.) Is there a name for that CC test?
    Are results available?


    Rossi says that small class sizes, gym and recess every day,make for an average day that is 6.5 hours long for the top suburban Chicago elementary schools.

    Also that suburban schools look at MAP test scores to see which children need intervention or acceleration, not the ISAT. Do our kid take the MAP?

  • 204. cps Mom  |  October 31, 2011 at 9:05 am

    @203 – great article and interesting breakout of schools. Thanks

  • 205. cps Mom  |  October 31, 2011 at 9:43 am

    More info for those interested in ranking. Sun Times top 50 high schools. Big news, Lindblum goes to #39 from #114 attributed to year round classes. Whitney Young #2.

  • 206. Mayfair Dad  |  October 31, 2011 at 10:54 am

    At least some of the credit for Lindblom’s success can be attributed to a dynamic principal who worked alongside Dr. Lalley at Northside College Prep.

    Take a bow, Alan Mather!

  • 207. cps Mom  |  October 31, 2011 at 11:26 am

    Sorry not to give LINDBLOM (not Lindblum) their appropriate due they are #37 not #39 – congratulations Lindblom and Mr. Mather, job well done.

  • 208. urban mommy  |  October 31, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    Does anyone have the average ACT scores for top privates (Latin, Lab, Parker, Loyola, British, etc…) to compare?

  • 209. Lindblom Principal  |  October 31, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    Mayfair Dad & cps Mom,
    Thank you for your kind comments. I hope this press will bring some of you to our Open House this Saturday! High school (ninth grade) from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm, Academic Center from 2:00 – 4:00 pm.

    And, yes, working with and learning from Dr. Lalley was a beautiful thing….

    Alan Mather

  • 210. anonymous  |  October 31, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    What I find amazing is that there will be no federal funding given to administer or score the new Common Core exams. States are responsible to fund them all. And since students will be required to explain some of their answers, at least some of the tests will have to be scored by hand, taking up lots of time and money. Where is that money going to come from? Given that we can’t even fund shelves for most classrooms, I am not very optimistic about this being funded properly. My guess? Classroom teachers will be asked to score these exams.

  • 211. marrs96  |  November 1, 2011 at 5:56 am

    I would definitely +1 Lindblom here (our daughter is in the AC program.) Great experience so far. Very strong academics coupled with an inclusive culture. (As a little, white Hyde Park-er, her fit socially was our first concern, but she has found real friendships with kids from a variety of backgrounds that I suspect she wouldn’t have found in many other schools.)

    ps-Also a huge fan of Alan.

  • 212. cpsmama  |  November 1, 2011 at 8:51 am

    I find the Trib & Sun Times rankings of HS interesting.

    Instead of ranking based on average ACT score, The Trib ranks based on % of students who meet or exceed standards and the Sun Times ranks based only on the reading and math scores of the PSAE/ACT

    One thing that stands out to me is that Payton’s average ACT score was 27 (2nd highest in state) and WY’s average ACT score was 26.6 (3rd highest in the state), but both the Trib & Sun Times rank WY 2nd and WP 3rd based on “their” ranking systems.

    Anyone else think that’s a little odd?

  • 213. CPSparent  |  November 1, 2011 at 8:58 am

    In the Sun Times article, Principal Mather mentions Linblom’s “support colloquiums” and summer program as key to their improvement
    Mr. Mather, both sound like wonderful ideas. Would you care to describe your programs in a bit more detail? I have a feeling that with regular support, kids stres goes down as their grades go up.

  • 214. Lindblom Principal  |  November 1, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    Our support colloquia work this way: If a student has a grade lower than a C in any course, s/he is place in content area colloquia classes with the teachers they have. This gives the student extra time with the teacher in an area s/he may be struggling in.

    For example, a student has a D in Arabic, a C in English, and a series of Bs. The students will definitely be placed in the Arabic collquium with his/her teacher to get the extra help to be successful. Since each student is given three collouquium classes, s/he will also be placed in two other content area classes. Ideally, the placement would be in English and another course.

    In the course where the student in more successful, s/he may be able to assist others, bringing other students up.

    I hope that helps.

  • 215. RL Julia  |  November 1, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    212- all that indicates is that the Sun Times/Trib. ranking took more into consideration than just ACT scores. As someone in the thick of high school examination, I have come to the conclusion that both Payton and Whitney Young are amazing, fantastic schools but that they have different feels to them. Perhaps the lists value the “feel” of the school in a way that slightly favors WY over Payton. In the end of it all, both are great schools.

  • 216. ChicagoGawker  |  November 1, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    Can you please describe the different ‘feels’ of Payton and WY,RL Julia? This is valuable info for prospective parents and difficult to get. Please don’t be shy. We will take it as the perspective of one parent and as food for thought, not as a conclusion.

  • 217. CPSDepressed  |  November 1, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    Speaking for myself, I suspect some of the differences are just the fit with the kid. Since I started shopping for day care, years and years ago, I’ve walked into facilities that were lovely and perfect for some kids but not right for my mine. Some kids want an environment that’s rah-rah, some thrive on competition that crushes others, some need sports and others need arts. It’s all what works for your kid, you know? And the more you tour the schools, the more you see what would be good and what would be bad for your family.

  • 218. cpsmama  |  November 1, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    @215 RL Julia- you missed my point.

    The Suntimes took LESS into consideration than the ACT scores. They ranked based ONLY on the Math & reading portions of the ACT- left out the science and writing sections. I am wondering why they left out 2 sections of the test to rank? They do the same thing on ISATs-only reading and math are used to rank. Why is that? Aren’t we always talking about how important science and writing are?

    And I’m quite certain the Sun Times is not ranking HS based on their “feel”

  • 219. CPSparent  |  November 1, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    It’s just so strange how the test scores are always being shifted — seems to depend on someone’s political agenda.

  • 220. cpsmama  |  November 1, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    ^@219- exactly.

  • 221. Chicago Gawker-  |  November 1, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    I’m going to tour, but 2 heads are better than 1. Always interested in another parent’s perspective. So RL Julia??

  • 222. Navigator  |  November 1, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    Has anyone heard when the final tier information (based on the latest census info) will be released?

  • 223. IB&RGC Mom  |  November 1, 2011 at 11:06 pm

    The OAE site says late November. I have been checking the site periodically.

    Here is the link…

  • 224. scratchscratch  |  November 2, 2011 at 9:45 am

    Lets not get to carried away with the charter school success! Yes they get their students by lottery, but the lottery is a source of self selection. You have to get the application, apply, go to informational interviews, and so on. Then as the kids go through the grades they are “counseled” out, back to their neighborhood, as they fall behind leaving only the highest achievers. This is selection!!! If you really want to judge their success look at the kids who start as frosh and what percentage are still there in their junior year. What you will find is that some of these charters have a 50% attrition rate. It is a racket!!! I am not against Charter’s per se, just against Noble’s and other charter systems cheerleading for their methods without a thorough vetting of their claims.

  • 225. Curious  |  November 2, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    It would be nice to see all the lottery schools,draw the applicants name from a canister. Instead of screening every kid that applies to their school. At the Noble schools every applicant has to fillout a application and write an essay. But then again, that’s exactly what the selective enrollment schools do. That’s why, they are labeled as the best schools in Chicago and recruit the cream of the crop kids. It’s a system that goes both ways. No complaints here!

  • 226. scratchscratch  |  November 2, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    I am not necessarily challenging the integrity of the lottery, rather who eventually takes the test. What I am saying is that Charter schools weed out the kids who can’t or are not progressing. They are then funneled back to their neighborhood schools. By the time the junior class sits down for these tests, only the top kids are taking it. Thus the high ACT scores. I question whether these scores are truly the product of instruction or a program of letting go of those who can’t make it. I suspect it is some of both, but those scores are inflated. What would be interesting is to take all the kids who entered noble on the first day of class and then look at their scores regardless of whether they transferred or not. Take a look at the freshman – sophmore and sophmore-junior retention rates for the Noble schools or for all Charters for that matter.

  • 227. Anonymous  |  November 3, 2011 at 9:14 am

    #226 — To your point, Catalyst’s Sarah Karp has done great reporting on low-performing neighborhood high schools. She explains that CPS and the federal govt. is putting millions into the schools, but that there are systemic obstacles to their improvement.

    “With more school options and competition, turnaround high schools have lost students and cannot support the same comprehensive program they once did.” Very few turnaround h.s. have honors or AP classes and can’t attract the serious students, and the schools can’t raise scores.

  • 228. CPSparent  |  November 3, 2011 at 9:31 am

    Seth Lavin (the teacher who discovered who was tweeting as foul-mouthed Rahm during his campaign) discusses an important presentation made by the chief portfolio officer at the last Board of Ed meeting.

  • 229. Anonymous  |  November 5, 2011 at 4:01 am

    #28 — sorry, just found this blog, hope it’s not too late to go back.
    Could you explain what PLAN is? How is it used to progress on the ACT? websites?

  • 230. Southside mom  |  November 6, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    As a parent of Noble students, I can say that they get their scores from hard work. Yes, some kids can’t handle the discipline, three hours of homework, and high expectations, so they transfer. They don’t handpick students like the SES high schools , and they have a true lottery. Go visit Noble one day and you will see for yourself. There are plenty of kids there who walk in the door below grade level and walk out with college scholarships.

  • 231. Curious  |  November 7, 2011 at 9:41 pm

    @Southside Mom, The Noble Schools do hand pick their students, as they have the sibling rule. Where as the SEHS do not have a sibling rule. But how accurate do you really think Noble Schools lottery process really is? Does the school read every kids 150 word essay and then select who’s name goes in the barrel and who’s name doesn’t? Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of Pritzker College Prep & UIC College Prep! I still prefer a SEHS over a Charter School. I believe the Original Noble is losing its mojo to Pritzker & UIC!

  • 232. HSObsessed  |  November 9, 2011 at 11:34 am

    OK, just catching up here. It’s completely news to me that Noble network requires an essay. That is absolutely “selection”. Do they not include the child’s name in the lottery if the essay doesn’t pass a certain standard?

    This is on top of the fact that Noble does not allow potential students or parents to download an application from their website. They REQUIRE attendance at an information session, usually on a weekend evening, in order to obtain an application. While I understand the basis for this — they want to make sure that kids and parents know what will be expected of them if they’re offered a spot — it still leaves out the kids whose parents are unable or unwilling to travel to the school for those sessions. So right off the bat, they’re guaranteed kids whose parents are clued in to the system enought to seek out a charter, as well as takes the initiative to find out when the sessions are, attend one, obtain an application, make their kid write an essay, etc. Saying that kids are admitted “by lottery” is a deceptive statement, I’ve concluded.

  • 233. Anonymous  |  November 9, 2011 at 11:49 am

    nice to know, hso

  • 234. cps Mom  |  November 9, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    @232 – Nobel does admit by lottery completely and randomly – nothing deceptive about that. Families attend the actual drawing just like in the movies. The fact that they do require that you pick up the application at the open house and part of that application is an essay says to me that they want kids that that are serious about learning. If the essay is missing, the application is incomplete and ineligible. The essay itself is not a determinant in selection. Like all schools that require applications, you must fill them out in full to be considered that’s part of the process. They receive thousands of applications. We applied and received a wait list somewhere in the 700’s a friend had 600’s but I do know of a few kids that actually got in from our magnet school by lottery.

    As 231 says they are doing great things and you should see for yourself. I wish people would quit trying to tear them down and be grateful for their accomplishments.

  • 235. CPSDepressed  |  November 9, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    I would hope that the difference between schools is more than just the quality of the parents and the students, but apparently not.

  • 236. cpsmama  |  November 9, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    ^ The “quality” of parents is a HUGE factor in the differences among schools.

    As with everything, there are exceptions, but at the end of the day, if the custodial parent/guardian isn’t interested in their child’s education, isn’t reinforcing it at home and isn’t providing emotional support for a child, how can that child succeed?

    Imagine a home with zero books. How about one without power or running water? Sadly, both are not scarce in this city.

    Think of the many children with addicted and/or abusive parents or parents who belittle their children’s intelligence & block their ability to get a good education (out of fear or jealousy)

    We are living in la la land if we pretend these don’t exist.

  • 237. HSObsessed  |  November 9, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    @234 – I’m not “tearing them down” nor suggesting that the teachers and staff at Noble aren’t doing wonderful things.

    I’m simply questioning whether requiring an essay as a part of the admissions process is allowed under the terms of the state’s law governing charter schools. I re-read the charter law after writing my post above, and it doesn’t specifically forbid an essay portion. These are the most relevant portions. (The “local school board” is the city of Chicago, for our purposes.)

    (d) Enrollment in a charter school shall be open to any pupil who resides within the geographic boundaries of the area served by the local school board…

    (h) If there are more eligible applicants for enrollment in a charter school than there are spaces available, successful applicants shall be selected by lottery.

    It may not be explicitly against the law to select so very carefully for students whose parents are present, interested and active, but it certainly goes against the spirit of one of the principal reasons charter schools were established, which was to serve at-risk students:

    … this article is enacted for the following purposes:

    (2) To increase learning opportunities for all pupils, with special emphasis on expanded learning experiences for at-risk pupils.

    “At risk pupil” means a pupil who, because of physical, emotional, socioeconomic, or cultural factors, is less likely to succeed in a conventional educational environment.

    I also noticed on the Noble website, which I also reviewed, that they’re very careful about saying that it’s a “blind lottery”, and that they don’t ask about test scores or special needs. However, they don’t mention that an essay is required. Why not? If it’s part of the admissions process, why not mention it, and post a copy of the application form and instructions? I don’t understand the need for secrecy when it’s a public school.

  • 238. HSObsessed  |  November 9, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    @236 — Exactly. I feel that any barrier that is placed in the way of a child’s path to a charter school creates a system in which kids who MOST need it, are unfortunately LEAST likely to get the opportunity to benefit from the knowledge, support, and heartfelt guidance provided by the teachers and staff at those schools.

  • 239. CPSDepressed  |  November 9, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    Well, if the driving factor for school success is quality parents and quality children, and if most children are so screwed in life as to be unteachable, why is anyone surprised that the quality parents want better options for their kids? If teachers, curricula, facilities, hours in school, etc. mean nothing, then let the kids who are capable of learning be together instead of expecting them to single-handled improve a failing school by the very fact of their enrollment.

    I’m not sure that’s what people mean to say, but that’s how it always sounds to me.

  • 240. cpsmama  |  November 9, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    CPSdepressed, no one said “most children are so screwed in life as to be unteachable” But for many, there are enormous obstacles to succeeding, including their home environment. If a school has 90-100% of these kind of students, it is unfair to blame the teachers at that school for their poor performance.

    Teachers, facilities, curricula and time in school also matter, and great teachers absolutely make a difference in the lives of their students. But at the end of the day, it is not always possible for those things to compensate for a poor home environment.

    My kids attended highly selective SEES and SEHS in CPS. But even in those schools, where all the kids are smart and where parents HAVE to take some initiative to get their kids in, the students with negative home environments are at a noticeable disadvantage when it comes to keeping up with daily homework, turning in permission slips for field trips, completing projects, buying supplies, report card pick up etc.

  • 241. cps Mom  |  November 9, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    HSO – In this case, I think you might be reading more into this essay thing than exists. The year we applied the question was “How has the health care industry impacted your life”. I think it was more like short answer than essay. I think I may have said this before but we know a girl that applied that year – minority, low income single mom senario, getting pretty much D’s at the neighborhood school. An aunt (that wasn’t really an aunt) took her to the open house to pick up the application. She filled it out herself and wrote a short story about how she really wanted to get into health care due to a hospital stay – no review of the essay, her own words. She got in and we were #700. Do you think that they do not service “at needs” kids? I have to say that this girl is now a junior and looking at college and she previously had no chance at all. The transition is truly amazing. They are grateful. Do they encourage and accept “not high risk” (whatever that is). Of course. We were interested because you have the ability to take college classes at UIC and you had guaranteed admission to UIC. The year we applied there were around 2,500 applicants so there are plenty of “at needs” people jumping through the hoops trying to get in.

    The open house showcased students like the girl I mentioned glowing about their successes. I was a bit concerned at the time that if we did get in we might be taking a spot from someone who really needs the break. So for us it was strictly a fallback option. If, however, we had needed to take that option it would have been an excellent opportunity for us as well.

  • 242. HSObsessed  |  November 9, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    @241, thank you and I do take your point about not making too big a deal about the essay. However, I’m asking sincerely, if the law says that there must be a lottery for students when there are more applicants than spots, and the Noble website says it’s a “blind lottery”, then what is the purpose of the essay? If part of their mission is to serve at-risk students, then why not just have a lottery for all applicants, without a screening step? They would most certainly get a large pool of at-risk and not at-risk applicants, and a true lottery would result in a mix of both groups.

  • 243. cps grad  |  November 9, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    The way charter schools pick students is akin to “poll taxes.” The more you require in the appliciation the less likely poor or undereducated families will attend the school.

  • 244. anonymous  |  November 9, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    Because I believe parental involvement is crucial in partnership with quality teachers, I believe our city should be investing key dollars in developing and helping parents to be as involved as they can.

  • 245. cps grad  |  November 9, 2011 at 9:43 pm

    The PLAN is a test similar in format and content to the ACT and created by the same company. It is typically given to sophomores to assess their progress.
    The EXPLORE is the 8th or 9th grade (used in both grades) version of the same assessments. They (all 3 tests) assess Math, Reading English, and Science, are pencil and bubble format, and are timed. Students are expected to move their scores up 2 points each school year. This way, schools can predict a high school junior’s ACT score by looking at that student’s 8th, 9th, or 10th grade score. (It’s called the EPAS system and many high schools and 8th grades are using it.)

  • 246. cps Mom  |  November 10, 2011 at 10:26 am

    HSO and CPS Grad – UIC Noble, the highest scoring Noble school, is 83% low income, 70% Hispanic and 23% black. Couldn’t find anything on parents educational level so unless you have that information, what you’re saying about theses schools under serving the poor and under educated is completely speculative.

    The writing portion of the application is not a “screening” step any more than writing in your name and address would be. Obviously, thousands of applicants of all backgrounds manage to fill out these applications. Short of going door to door inviting applicants (and there are groups that do that) how would you expect them to make sure that every child has access to applying? The city has campaigns in place targeting these “at-risk” students. And guess what, many of them still don’t care for one reason or the other.

    Why not have a writing portion on the application? The attraction to the Noble schools is really the same as any other selective school. The kids who are there, regardless of race, income or family educational levels are there because they want to get a good education and are interested in learning.

  • 247. cpsobsessed  |  November 10, 2011 at 7:16 pm

    @246, I guess to me it comes down to this:
    If you have a written portion that basically means nothing, why have it?

    And if you have it and it DOES mean something, then they should be upfront about it. It would imply that there is at least some level of selectivity going on, even if it’s just skimming out the kids who are least likely to succeed in the school (due to lack of parental ability, support, etc.)

    I think the issue is when school tries to imply that they’re not selective at all and they really are. Not saying this school is, but just that parents (or at least obsessive ones) like to know the real situation.

    I *am* very interested to learn what the rules (or lack of) are about this “counseling out” business and how frequent it is at charter schools.

  • 248. Mom  |  November 10, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    The essay, even if not ever considered, is a barrier to entry. Takes effort. By definition a barrier. Not at all necessarily a bad thing. Just means that the kids who are applying are more likely to succeed in the more rigorous than usual environment than not. Why is that so terrible? There are a ton of schools that are selective enrollment (gifted or classical). Why are these okay, but charters are not (because they *somewhat* select out some applicants by virtue of barriers to entry)?

  • 249. scratchscratch  |  November 10, 2011 at 11:51 pm

    Writing an essay is screening and beyond writing your name and address. It takes work and effort, this works to further screen kids that are more motivated into the program and those who are less so out. What would it hurt to not have it? It is the point of the essay? Think about it. Why not have kids just put there names on a piece of paper and leave it at that? The essay serves a purpose, the effect of which we can question but it does serve a purpose. Take a look at the freshman to sophomore retention rates… Further screening. I worked at a Charter for 4 years, they all do it. You can’t cut it, counsel them out, by the time the test rolls around you have only the top kids taking the assessments.

  • 250. cps grad  |  November 11, 2011 at 12:02 am

    @249–Why is it so terrible? Because the public, the media, and politicians then say that “Charter” schools are better because they have better scores.

    @246–Your agur\I said “Less likely” not “Nobody

  • 251. Noble mom  |  November 11, 2011 at 7:47 am

    The reason why the application isn’t available on the website for Noble is because they want people to know what they’re getting into. Noble is very strict and has very high expectations. What’s with the Noble bashing? Nobles are great schools!

  • 252. Anonymous  |  November 11, 2011 at 11:48 am

    It’s time to publish each Chicago charter school’s individual test score. ISBE should not allow them to aggregate the data any longer.

  • 253. Anonymous  |  November 11, 2011 at 11:53 am

    So now CPS is closing down the South Loop Gifted Center — a proven success — while at the same time it promotes opening charters — most of which haven’t improved children’s performance.

  • 254. cps Mom  |  November 11, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    Thanks Noble Mom – sounds like you are having an excellent experience, as others that I know who attend the school are.

    UIC Noble has way, way, way more applicants than seats. The school is very strict and requires a lot of hard work especially if you are already behind. If you can’t take a bus to one of their multiple open houses to find out what the school is about and pick up an application, how is that same kid going to take the bus to school every day? If a kid can’t abide by the rules – discipline, truancy, doing the work – they are taking the space away from another kid that is willing to do all that. A simple on line application would increase the number of applicants significantly but would result in acceptances of kids that never show up and uncommitted, keeping another kid willing to go the distance that could really use the break from getting in. It seems to me that CPS teachers want this so that there is some kind of “equity”. All well and good but parents don’t. They want their kids to go to a good school period.

    Please, as mentioned, go to the open house. Stand in the line that wraps around the block and see what’s going on for yourself. Talk to the people and have a conversation about where they’re coming from and what their needs are. Then you tell me that they are any more or less deserving because they get the concept of filling out the application.

    As far as UIC Noble being deemed better than CPS – they are better. It’s a real simple system, you do the work and abide by the rules, you get the benefit. They can do it because they are in demand. I would send my kid there without reservation. Wish I could say the same about my neighborhood school.

  • 255. Mom  |  November 11, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    I still don’t get why magnets can require a barrier to entry in the form of having to apply, yet charters are suspect for this reason. Arguably, the reason magnet scores beat neighborhood scores is the “screening out” of those who can’t/won’t bother filling out the application. They attract a certain type of family/student who are interested in a good education. Maybe magnets aren’t really any “better” than neighborhood schools, same as charters? Yet, I don’t hear the CTU saying that.

    Of course, this does not address what we can do about the kids left behind. It’s a huge problem that we, as a society, need to address. But that’s not an argument for eliminating charters.

  • 256. anonymous  |  November 11, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    Course, if neighborhood schools could kick out the truants, the uncommitted and behavior issues and require parent participation, we wouldn’t need charter schools at all. Seems to me that the difference is in what each kind of school is allowed to do. Perhaps the question should not be if charters should be allowed. Perhaps we should be asking if the rules should be changed so that all schools, be they selective, neighborhood or charter can demand and take action to have behaved, committed students, teachers and parents.

  • 257. mom2  |  November 11, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    @256 – I think I agree with you on this one.

  • 258. cps Mom  |  November 11, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    @256 – one thing that draws the committed kids is the program. UIC Noble has that. Neighborhood schools do not. Neighborhood schools must provide for everyone – committed or not, something that has made schools unsafe. As much as teachers would like that to be different for their schools, you aren’t going to convince parents that do have a choice to go along with sending their kids to an unsafe and academically deficient school. How do you propose to fix it? What’s being done now is one way – add charter schools so that all kids really do have a choice. With more opportunity maybe more kids/families will start to come around to the importance of education.

  • 259. cpsobsessed  |  November 11, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    @251 Noble Mom – I don’t *think* anyone is bashing Noble street (at least I certainly am not.) Clearly great things are happening there.

    It’s more a reporting issue I have (as a researcher by profession.) I just got some info from my Brizard meeting that raves about the success of Noble and uses it as a case for more charter schools and for longer days. But as a researcher, I have to ask if that success is coming from their ability to semi-select dedicated students. It sounds like some of it is, and a great is really a good teaching system. But it makes an unfair comparison. Same as comparing, say, Andrew Jackson magnet with any random low-performing school. There *is* a bias because of the application process, as random as it is. It requires parental effort in addition to effort to get your child there. Noble seems to have slightly more entry barriers.

    I’m not opposed to the entry barriers at all. If you have a good teaching system that is geared towards helping dedicated kids thrive, why not select more dedicated kids? I just don’t like the city flaunting this as an example of educational success compared to a neighborhood school. It isn’t apples to apples.

    That is my geeky issue. 🙂

  • 260. scratchscratch  |  November 12, 2011 at 11:09 am

    The point that I and I think others are making are that these numbers are deceptive. Noble and the other “successful” charters try to convey the message that they take ordinary students, via an open lottery, and because of their sheer effort, programming, and innovation they transform whomever walks into their doors into these Noble “successes”.

    While I do not doubt that Noble has excellent students and that they are innovative, their claims if you just scratch the surface are dubious. Before anyone walks through the door they make students apply, attend open houses, go through an interview, and write an essay to qualify for their lottery, which they characterize as open? Is that really open? Neighborhood schools require you to just show up, verify that you live in the school’s boundaries, and that is it. Noble should use the same system, any student should be able to show up and put their name in the lottery…. Why don’t they do this? Because they don’t want too and they know by making kids and families do extra stuff it will select students at baseline that are more motivated with active parents.

    Many of you site Noble’s discipline, well that is another way that you can get rid of students that can’t handle Noble street. Or if you fall behind your grade level, your out. By the way, what do you think happens to kids you get pregnant at Noble? Just guess. Also, to take the tests you must be grade eligible, meaning you have to have a certain number of credits to be classified as a junior, soph, etc. If you do not then you are not allowed to test. Charters like Noble do not require any failures, so that means that if you fail one class you are not at grade level and you cannot take these tests. This is further selection, No?

    I could make quite a “school” if I could make my school super strict, rigid, get rid of all the problem kids, and have an application process that acts to “soft” select more motivated kids with active parents. In fact CPS has those, they are called Jones, Payton, and Northside, some of the best schools in the entire State!

    These kids that can’t make it at Noble are then funneled back to their neighborhood schools who don’t have the same options as the Noble’s of the world. These schools have a harder job, thus the results. How about this Noble, have a truly open system, own your kids, meaning not counseling out, for the 4 years of high school and then lets talk about your scores. Or at the very least avg all the scores of all your original students regardless if they stay or not.

    CPS has created a tiered educational system and Charters are not the bottom. Parents who get their children into Noble should be happy, if they get through, they no doubt will receive a fine education, but lets not exalt them without being a bit as critical of it as we are with non-charter schools.

  • 261. cpsobsessed  |  November 12, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    I guess I don’t totally see a problem with the Charters (or at least some charters) pulling out kids who want to work hard and are well-behaved. Isn’t that what parents want more SE High schools for? Does it not make sense to give kids in the “worst areas” a chance to succeed if they don’t make it into an SE school based on test scores? The charters create more “seats” in these areas for kids who will get with the program. No, it’s not fair that not everybody gets it, but isn’t it better that SOME do?
    I guess that is the ongoing charter dilemma…. But could also be applied to the argument for more SE high schools which I see people clamoring for a lot.

    Again, my argument is just be clear about the true requirements for these charters and clear about their output. Good results with kids of families who get with the program….

  • 262. soulster  |  November 12, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    Chicago should probably make neighborhood school the dumping ground for students with disabilities, gang-bangers, pregnant teens, students with parents who are substance abusers (or child abusers), etc. That way, charters, magnets and SE will be the safe schools for normal functioning students.

  • 263. Anon  |  November 12, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    #262. I don’t understand why we don’t make it the OPPOSITE. Charter schools are DRAINING money from the system as a whole and they are supposedly private. I would have absolutely no problem with charters if THEY took the gang-bangers and disruptive kids. In fact, they SHOULD. We SHOULD find new ways to educate the kids who don’t have parental involvement or have other disciplinary issues. Let’s create charters just for them … and leave the neighborhood schools ALONE.

  • 264. cpsobsessed  |  November 12, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    Apparently there *are* these “Alternative Schools” that JCB referred to that take the true trouble kids. I don’t know anything about them, but he said there aren’t enough spaces. Also, they take kids AFTER they mess up, rather than trying to prevent kids from messing up.

    I think the argument for getting the worst kids out of the schools makes sense, but how much effort are those kids gonna make (or their parents) to get them out of their neighborhood to a different school, like the charter kids do. You’re right though, the current way of doing things is counter-intuitive. How can the neighborhood high schools ever stand a chance?

  • 265. ChicagoNewbie  |  November 12, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    I think the methods in 262 and 263 can work. I think it doesn’t hurt that at least SOME disadvantaged students get a decent shot at education, but over the long term I’m not sure charter schools are the key.

    The issue is neighborhood schools weren’t working in the first place. Most efforts to improve them got derailed by bureaucracy, union and city politics, etc. I don’t think the public schools would be any better if the charter school movement hadn’t happened.

  • 266. cps lifer  |  November 13, 2011 at 9:39 am

    I have just heard from a reliable source that the tier system is no longer being used for selective enrollment high school admissions.

  • 267. cpsobsessed  |  November 13, 2011 at 9:45 am

    Not heard that and JCB made it sound like it’ll be in use for a while.

    If not that, what is going to be used?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 268. soulster  |  November 13, 2011 at 10:23 am

    #263. Actually, back when CPS was predominated by neighborhood schools, that’s how it worked: the outliers would be (should have been) appropriately placed in special schools. But, there’s too much money to be made in the privatization of public education, and most parents want the best opportunities for their children, so the solution to leave the neighborhood schools for the outliers is the de facto plan now. Seems to me.

  • 269. cps Mom  |  November 13, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    @264 Apparently there *are* these “Alternative Schools” that JCB referred to that take the true trouble kids. I don’t know anything about them, but he said there aren’t enough spaces.

    Now there’s a sad statement.

  • 270. IB&RGC Mom  |  November 14, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    @266 – Didn’t they already say they were using the tier system again? It was the first time in a long time that they weren’t changing selection requirements. Is that for next year? My daughter is in 7th so I am on pins and needles here.

    Anyone else hear that they are intending to do away with the tier system?

  • 271. Anonymous  |  November 14, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    266. cps lifer | November 13, 2011 at 9:39 am

    I have just heard from a reliable source that the tier system is no longer being used for selective enrollment high school admissions.

    Tell us more, please.

  • 272. cpsmama  |  November 14, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    @266- Really? that would be a new development. Its not on OAE website- in fact the website states very clearly that tiers WILL BE USED for SE enrollment for 2012-13 admissions.

    Sadly, it doesn’t even surprise me that CPS would change the rules midstream. Again.

  • 274. mom2  |  November 16, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    This article doesn’t make any statements regarding the tier system. It only says that they are hoping to have one application that could cover a number of different types of high schools.

  • 275. cps Mom  |  November 16, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    This single application could be a big improvement depending on how its done. It could force applicants to prioritize choices up front (good or bad?) and simplify the process. One complaint that the schools have is students tying up multiple seats sometimes all the way up until school starts keeping other qualified kids from getting in. A single application would also assist those who are unaware of all the available options.

    I assume this would not take place until next year since applications are out and coming due…..Interesting.

  • 276. justanotherchicagoparent  |  November 18, 2011 at 10:55 am

    More data for you as printed on the 2011 PLAN score report

    Admission Standards for college ACT composite scores

    Admission Standard Typical Score
    Open 16-21
    Traditional 18-24
    Selective 21-26
    Highly Selective 25-30

  • 277. Lamonda Washington  |  April 28, 2012 at 8:06 am

    Why do these kids from the CPS “selective” schools have a huge drop in GPA from high school to college? We are talking any where from a 0.5 to 0.8 drop.

  • 278. GWCP STUDENT  |  May 9, 2012 at 9:20 am

    Westinghouse College Prep ACT scores are out, there Selective enrollment average is around 23.7 and combined with the neighborhood program CTC is around a 21.4

  • 279. HS Mom  |  May 9, 2012 at 9:28 am

    @278 – Pretty fantastic news. Great job. No doubt an excellent school. Glad to see such a strong first year.

  • 280. IB obsessed formerly Gawker  |  May 9, 2012 at 9:44 am

    Thanks for bumping this thread. Lots of interesting info in these comments vis a vis the new attention and hope being given to neighborhood HSs. And isn’t it interesting how the discussion about them has changed in just 6 months/

  • 281. kate  |  May 9, 2012 at 10:50 am

    wow ! Well Done GWCP/ GW Neighborhood! The Senn IB coord. did mention how test scores are always a “lagging indicator”. His point was that there is Scholastic Achievement happening before the public (by way of test scores) is aware of it.

  • 282. HS Mom  |  May 9, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    Kate – good point.

    @280 I agree with you what a difference in real, do-able options in such a short period of time and of such good caliber. Really, great thanks owed to all the open minded families making this happen. Looking again at the list of scores above, the IB programs would fit in nicely.

    Westinghouse student – thanks again for reminding us that we need to look beyond the total scores at schools that have multiple programs and make deeper evaluations. Your program is right up there with the rest of the selectives. Looks like you and your classmates are working hard.

  • 283. Emily  |  September 27, 2013 at 1:14 am

    Lincoln Park IB Program’s average ACT score is 27.6. The highest ACT for the IB programs, and the second highest for the CPS. (How accurate are these ACT scores because here it has WY with a 26.6 but at WY it says their ACT is 27?)

  • 284. estanxiety  |  January 23, 2014 at 10:42 am

    Does anyone know how these high schools, or other CPS high schools prepare the kids for these tests? Is there any test prep at all? I know some private high schools use some sort of assessment that claims to predict student performance on ACT and SAT tests.

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