Tracking the Tiers…New Tiers Posted

February 1, 2012 at 5:49 pm 492 comments

So we are awaiting the seemingly elusive Tier map.  There has been discussion about why it matters.  For anyone who is totally new to all this, your Tier is linked to the score your child needs to get into a selective CPS school.  High Schools are the big competitive mess.  30% of the spots are assigned based on pure ranking of your high school entry score.  This score consists of 7th grade grades, 8th grade ISATs, and a high school admissions test.  Each count for 1/3 of the score for a total of 900 points.

Typically, the higher the socio-economic tier, the higher the overall score needed for admission.

CPS said a few weeks ago that the new Tier info would be ready by 1/31.  They may be waiting for census data in a usable form.  If I’m understanding correctly, some people may think that CPS runs a bunch of iterations of the Tiers to see how race (?) shakes out among the SE high schools and if they don’t like the way it looks, they tinker some more.  Are people saying they believe this?  Occam’s Razor would lead me to believe that it just takes a long time to do this stuff, but I tend not to lean toward conspiracy theories.

***NEW TIER FINDER IS HERE!*** (the map is the easiest way to look)

For fun,I looked at last year’s first-round cutoff scores and I noticed that going from Tier 3 to 4 doesn’t make that much of a difference.  So parents sweating it out over Tier 3 or 4 may not have that much to worry about.  However the leap from Tier 2 to 3 is pretty big in terms of total score needed.  So if you are in a Tier 2 neighborhood now and you find out this week that you are Tier 3….. well, what’s done is done but you’ll probably be sweating it out a little bit more than you were a week ago.

Overall the city is divided into 4 even groups of Tiers.  So 1/4 of the city will be Tier 1, 2, 3, and 4.  If one neighborhood moves up a tier, somewhere another neighborhood has moved down one.  Even if the whole city became rich (or poor) we’d still have 4 tiers.

Here are the shifts from Tier 3-4:

Brooks -6
Jones +9
King -24
Lane +6
Lindblom -11
Northside +5
Payton +8
Westinghse -9
W Young +16

Shift from Tier 2-3

Brooks +33
Jones +30
King +15
Lane +24
Lindblom +12
Northside +24
Payton +19
Westinghse +13
W Young +24

I assume the decline in scores in Tier 4 kids at Brooks, King,Lindblom, and Westinghouse is related to a lower percentage of Tier 4 kids going to those schools.  They are getting more of the top kids from Tier 3, but not Tier 4.   If you are in Tier 4, perhaps give these schools a look.  As I mentioned last week, Westinghouse is a fantastic facility with pleasant kids (this is based on limited time there but if you’re not too far, check it out.)

Feel free to post your concerns, questions, conspiracy theories (disclaimer, I enjoy shooting them down no matter what the topic) and when the Tiers are released, whether you experienced a change or not.

Here is a link to the cutoff scores by Tier for last year.

Speaking of change, I have surprisingly sold my home within one month (pending inspection right now) and have made an offer on a new home near Amundsen high school in the McPherson elem district.  I have no idea what that means for high school for my son, but we will see…

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492 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Anon  |  February 1, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    Not 40%. It’s 30% of seats that go to top scoring students from any tier. The 4 tiers each get 17.5% of remaining seats.

    Not sure how NCLB transfers and Sped students work into this mix.

  • 2. lakeviewdad  |  February 1, 2012 at 5:58 pm

    New Tier Map published here:

  • 3. North Center Mom  |  February 1, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    Big changes in Lincoln Square and Ravenswood Manor. Does anyone notice that Mayor Emmanuel’s neighborhood is one little sliver of tier 3 in a sea of tier 4?

  • 4. cpsobsessed  |  February 1, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    Yeah, I noticed that my current neighborhood (near Waters) shifted from Tier 3 to 4. My new neighborhood also shifted from 3 to 4. The north side is a whole lotta green.
    I just explained to my boss (Catholic school kids) how you have a whole sea of northside kids competing to get into NSCP and Lane since they’re up north. Yikes.

  • 5. IB&RGC Mom  |  February 1, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    I was noticing all the green also on the Northside. Rather that there was even more green this time around. My neighborhood is still tier 4. I think the cut off scores (as if they were not hard already) are going to get higher for tier 4!!! Time to move. Any apartments for rent near Rahm?

  • 6. IB&RGC Mom  |  February 1, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    Is the previous map somewhere on the site? I have it saved to a lap top at home I am sure, but I am curious to compare now that this one finally has arrived.

  • 7. Zane's Dad  |  February 1, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    The direct links to the previous map seem to be gone but it’s on the last page of this board presentation:

  • 8. James  |  February 1, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    Just quickly looking at the map, I find it very hard to believe that the number of school-age kids in Tier 2 (the tan sections on the map) equal the number of such kids in Tier 4 (the green sections on the map). And there is no information available, either on a rolled-up basis by tier or on an individual basis by census tract.

    Of course, by releasing the map well after applications have been submitted (applications in which kids ranked their schools without knowing what Tier they are in) and literally just days before admissions decisions are to be made, CPS has guaranteed that there is virtually nothing anybody can do about it. Very, very disappointing. I generally am not one for conspiracy theories, but this timing and the utter lack of transparency has even me wondering this time. I suspect the already absurdly high Tier 4 cut-offs for Northside and Payton are going to be in the stratosphere this year. Not only will a single B keep you out of those schools, but much less than scores in the 97th or 98th percentile will too.

  • 9. smadness  |  February 1, 2012 at 7:14 pm

    I believe it’s also 7th grade ISATS that count, not 8th.

  • 10. cpsobsessed  |  February 1, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    Ah, correct. 8th grade isats would be too late.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 11. Chris  |  February 1, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    “Mayor Emmanuel’s neighborhood is one little sliver of tier 3 in a sea of tier 4?”

    Rahm lives east of the tracks, the Tire 3 zone is west of the tracks, to Damen, from Montrose to Lawrence.

  • 12. northie  |  February 1, 2012 at 7:47 pm

    OK, let the conspiricy theories begin. I had my overzealous child count the number of census tracts in each tier:

    Tier 4 – 263
    Tier 3 – 190
    Tier 2 – 163
    Tier 1 – 183

    I’d say the odds of getting in are stacked for tiers 1 & 2, no?

  • 13. Fourbsbadforme  |  February 1, 2012 at 8:26 pm

    So… Is there any chance admissions scores for a tier four could go down a bit? I’m awfully close to the lane cutoff LAST year. Anything less than 286 on SE test will have knocked me out for lane, using last years scores. This whole thing is not fair. My neighborhood school is schurz, I’m in tier four, and this wait is driving me nuts!!! Anyone have anything positive they could share with me?

  • 14. mil mom  |  February 1, 2012 at 9:06 pm

    I must say that the tier map seems extremely precise (if not good for my family) here in Albany Park. My census tract has been split in two and we would have remained in tier 2 if I lived at the other end of my block, where there is medium sized rental apartment building. However the rest of the block, mainiy homes and two flats in roughly equal #’s, has moved to tier 3….

  • 15. e  |  February 1, 2012 at 9:08 pm

    Northie, do you think it’s possible that the population density in tiers 1 and 2 might be higher – more people living in apartments and fewer in single family homes? There could be the same number of school age children residing in fewer census tracts.

  • 16. Joel  |  February 1, 2012 at 9:20 pm

    I posted this over on the Mayor Town Hall thread but I think it is more appropriate here. Please excuse me for cross-posting.

    I don’t have any experience with the Tier system as my high school is not even in that stratosphere. I also do not have children in the CPS. But reading this thread as it pertains to the Tiers…my goodness. This is what education in America, public education, has come to in Chicago?
    It is absolutely absurd. Samuell Beckett, Kurt Vonnegut, or Thomas Pynchon could not have written this stuff. It is absolutey insane.
    And what is even more insane is that you can get in a car and go 10 miles, plop into a house or apartment, and be in some of the top districts in the country, perhaps the world, and you can enroll your child. And they will be welcomed. They don’t have to take a test. They get to be kids going to high school.
    The amount of frustration, energy, worry, stress, and fear that is fostered and ultimately is layed on the shoulders of the kids is just absurd. I know so many of you are agonizing over this and I feel for you, because if I had a child I would do anything to give them the best opportunities, like my parents did for me. But what many don’t realize (or do realize, but are willing to fight) is that the CPS, the mayoral control, and the CTU has taken so much of that power away from parents. I wish good luck and best outcomes to all (especially students, like fourbsbadforme) involved in the process.

  • 17. HS Mom  |  February 1, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    How could this possibly be fair after all the test results are in and final results known by CPS?

  • 18. Zane's Dad  |  February 1, 2012 at 9:28 pm

    @12 & 15 – exactly. I’m in Albany Park and we moved from from tier 2 to tier 3. Here’s the population for several nearby tracts (from :

    1401 (tier 2) – 3729
    1402 (tier 2) – 5965
    1403.1 (tier 3) – 2891
    1403.2 (tier 3) – 4345

    Cross Pulaski west into Mayfair and it’s all tier 4:

    1404 (tier 4) – 6805

    Cross the river north to North Park and it’s tier 4:

    8318 (tier 4) – 6322

    However, the geographic size of the Mayfair and North Park tracts are each about the same as the four AP tracts put together, while the population of each of the tier 4 tracts is almost three times that of the four combined AP tracts. It’s all about population density.

  • 19. IB&RGC Mom  |  February 1, 2012 at 9:49 pm

    @12, I have always been anti-conspiracy theory, but thank you and your overzealous child for confirming what I feared at first glance. While it was crazy hard for tier 4 kids before, it has just gotten even harder. This is definitely stacking the odds against anyone in a tier 4 neighborhood. Bring on the theories which are looking a lot more like facts all the time.

    I feel for for all of you with 8th graders who went from tier 3 to tier 4 this year without notice. I have a 7th grader and was hoping that I would be going from a 4 to a 3, but no such luck. I really didn’t think it would get worse. Seriously!!

    I am happy about my decision to send my daughter to the AC at Taft. She can always stay there and is familiar with the school, etc.

    Fourbsbadforme – I hope you end up in a school that you will be happy with. It is only in this crazy city of ours that you have to feel bad about 4 b’s. You should be proud and happy with your grades. If I have learned anything reading these posts I have seen many people say it is not the school you go to it is what you do once you get there. I do know a girl who is a Freshman at Schurz (which by the way is our neighborhood school also). I have been worried about her thinking that she wouldn’t really fit in and it would be a bad option for her, but in talking to her mom it sounds she is doing great and actually enjoying it. Where ever you go just try to have a positive attitude. If you go to a school like Schurz you may end up graduating at the top of your class. Did you apply to other schools?

  • 20.  |  February 1, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    We live in Albany Park and they have given us a Tier 4 status. ARE YOU KIDDING US?! We have gang grafitti welcoming us on our block of two-flats. We got lumped in with Ravenswood Manor homes, which we are not. Our neighborhood school is not Waters, it is Hibbard. Good grief! Thanks for nothing new Tier system.

  • 21. RPtier2to3  |  February 1, 2012 at 10:24 pm

    Check out East Rogers Park! Miraculously, there are no longer any tier 1 tracks, although they existed last year. One block away from me was tier 3 last year (the only sliver of tier 3 in all of East RP), now it is tier 2, but enormous swaths of East RP are now tier 3. That combined with the loss of all tier 1 tracks, in spite to three elementary schools that serve enormous % of Free and Reduced lunch kids, makes no sense. Seems that CPS in their wisdom has found the one community in all of the U.S. that has somehow prospered in this recession. What’s wrong with them!
    BTW, I printed the old tier map before they abruptly took it down. I’m happy to pdf it to CPSobsessed to post if that would be helpful to anyone.

  • 22. cpsobsessed  |  February 1, 2012 at 10:28 pm

    If you send me the map I’ll try to post it. I swear between the time I started my post and when I finished it they had changed the map and I had gone from tier 3 to 4.

    I too noticed the lack of tier 1 on the northside, north of addison or so. Assuming it’s valid and the south side families are poorer than the north side families, the troubling (or convoluted) part is how to attempt to balance schools by 4 tiers when that makes no sense geographically unless half the city is criss-crossing the city.

    My email is

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 23. North Center Mom  |  February 1, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    @11, I believe you are right.
    Sorry to throw gasoline on the fire!

  • 24. Future CPS Kinder Mom  |  February 1, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    Chris – If I am not mistaken doesn’t that Tier 3 include West of Ashland to Damen and then Montrose to Lawrence? That is what the map looks like to me. Very important to me because if I am correct I live in Tier 3 but if you are correct I live in Tier 4. Just trying to figure it out.

  • 25. Future CPS Kinder Mom  |  February 1, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    Chris – Looking again you may be right. Yuck for my family then. We’ve been upgraded to Tier 4 even though that is really not our personal situation.

  • 26. northie  |  February 1, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    Don’t rely on the map. The colors are not accurate. Use the link below to enter your exact address to find your exact tract # and then search the (PDF) list. I’ve tested several addresses that appear tier 2 or 3 on the map but when you put in the exact info they come up as tier 4. (I’m not obsessed at all!)

    tract and tier list:–%20Tier%20Information.pdf

  • 27. anonymouseteacher  |  February 1, 2012 at 10:58 pm

    I live in Rogers Park (though not for long, we are moving to escape CPS) and while I know this won’t happen, I kind of wish it would drive up sales in my neighborhood. I own a tier 2 home and would love to sell it. We’ll be renting it instead. It is nice to know if we stayed, our kids could most likely get into a decent high school. RP isn’t all bad. Close proximity to the beach and Evanston, nice people, good public transit. And your kid doesn’t have to be perfect to go to Lane. Maybe I should put that in the rental ad?

  • 28. HSObsessed  |  February 1, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    Wow, one area southwest of Belmont/Damen, basically the Hamlin Park area, went from Tier 2 to Tier 4. That was the most drastic one I could see.

  • 29. northie  |  February 1, 2012 at 11:23 pm

    I have an aquaintance who lives at 950 n michigan ave. Their property taxes are more than our yearly household income, but now we’ve joined them in tier 4. Go figure.

  • 30. Mom  |  February 1, 2012 at 11:35 pm

    @28– thank goodness. It was always so unbelievable to see the mansions along Hamlin Park, yet know they used to be tier 1, then 2. Infuriating! I think labeling them Tier 4 is more keeping it real.

  • 31. MarketingMom  |  February 1, 2012 at 11:35 pm

    This means that many Tier 3 and 4 families should be looking to expand their horizons and look at other SE schools such as Westinghouse, Charter Schools or start working NOW to improve neighborhood high school’s such as Lakeview.

  • 32. Chicago Gawker  |  February 1, 2012 at 11:52 pm

    There was a sliver of Rogers Park E of Sheridan Rd near Howard that used to be Tier 1. Now it’s Tier 2. It’s so hard to believe that half of the households in that area, gang infested for years, and still that way, now have incomes above 40K.

  • 33. Angie  |  February 2, 2012 at 7:32 am

    If they really want to use “socioeconomics”, they need to cut the cr*p and start using the family income to determine tiers. But then, they wouldn’t want some poor Polish or Bosnian kids using those precious Tier 1 spots, would they?

    Here’s an idea. Figure out the income limits for each tier, and attach them to the SE application. When people apply for SE, have them state their tier on the application. For those who win a merit or Tier 4 spot, that’s it, congratulations! For those who claim Tier 3 or below, have them submit the proof of income if they are offered and plan to accept a SE offer. If they are caught cheating, toss their application and go to the next person on the list. That’ll add a minnimal amount of paperwork for CPS, and a whole lot of fairness to the process.

  • 34. I heart Angie!  |  February 2, 2012 at 8:12 am

    Angie, totally agree! I’ve meant to tell you many times that I agree with everything you post.

    It would be so easy to require household income proof upon admittance. For whatever reason, CPS doesn’t want to do that.

    The others who get screwed are the many Pakistani and Indian immigrants who live many to a home in Tier 4. So sad.

  • 35. CPSDepressed  |  February 2, 2012 at 8:19 am

    The real answer is to have better schools everywhere.

    @13 fourBs: How about Gordon Tech? The Catholics seem to understand that B students can benefit from a college-prep education, even if CPS doesn’t.

  • 36. CPSDepressed  |  February 2, 2012 at 8:20 am

    Also, I suspect the reason that tiers on the north side have inched up isn’t so much that people on the north side are richer, it’s that many poor people on the south side have gotten a lot poorer.

    Or game playing. That wouldn’t surprise me, either.

  • 37. Angie  |  February 2, 2012 at 8:32 am

    @34: Thank you.

  • 38. CuriousGirl  |  February 2, 2012 at 9:34 am

    Is there any way possible to secure a tier breakdown of the 30 percent merit seats?

  • 39. CPSDepressed  |  February 2, 2012 at 9:41 am

    FYI, out of curiousity, I looked up 4228 N. Hermitage – Emanuel’s house – and it is in census tract 602, which is now Tier 4.

    Maybe we should be happy that Emanuel’s kids are in private school, because that frees up three Tier 4 seats.

  • 40. Izabela  |  February 2, 2012 at 9:45 am

    Please anybody let me know when the next school year starts. I really need to plan my August and I have no idea when we start next school year? Anybody?

  • 41. ChicagoGawker  |  February 2, 2012 at 9:59 am

    Always the day after labor day, unless you’re in a charter

  • 42. HS Mom  |  February 2, 2012 at 10:23 am

    Angie – yeah! people have talked about the difficulties in verifying income – shouldn’t be a problem if it’s limited to those in tier 1-3 and only those accepting SE offers.

    @31 – Yes, focus on bringing up the other schools and using tier 4 as an advantage to gain entry into SE schools not on the northside radar is a much more positive approach. I think CPSO is right, the new map doesn’t make sense from the stand point of getting an economic mix of kids willing to travel. Will low income tier 1 families travel to Northside or Hawthorne or Disney? If there are not enough tier 1 students scoring over 650 willing to travel to Northside will the seats go to ….who?

    4 B’s – first of all congratulations on a job well done. My guess is that there are schools looking to recruit students like yourself – you’ll just need to work a little harder. I would go and talk to the principal of Lakeview. Explain your situation. They are looking to attract smart kids that are willing to learn. Let them know that you are interested in their program.

  • 43. HS Mom  |  February 2, 2012 at 10:25 am

    @41 – I believe there are track E schools that are not charter – so it depends on the school. The calendar is located on the CPS website.

  • 44. KS  |  February 2, 2012 at 10:36 am

    @40 – Regarding the first day of school next year, I have heard a rumor that they are moving all schools to a modified track e for the 2012-13 school year. School would start 3 weeks earlier and everyone will get a week break in Oct. Nothing is official yet, of course, but I’d be wary of planning a vacation the end of August…

  • 45. dianeb  |  February 2, 2012 at 10:38 am

    Thanks for posting the information, we are now Tier 4 which I’m not super surprised about.

    PS – Congratulations on selling your place and welcome to the neighborhood, we’re in McPherson’s district as well.

  • 46. Vlajos  |  February 2, 2012 at 10:46 am

    Congratulations on selling the house! That was quick! I’ve noticed a few homes have sold really quickly in the area.

  • 47. klm  |  February 2, 2012 at 10:49 am

    I think some people are forgetting that the “Tiers” were not created necessarily for grouping people by household income, but as a legally permitted way to use race by proxy for admissions.

    For example, high numbers of single-parent households=black, high numbers of households were a language other than english spoken at home=hispanic, etc. Accodingly, a neighborhood may not seem wealthy, but if fewer households are single-parent, non-english-speaking, have a high rate of home ownship (even if the homes are ‘dumps’), etc., it will still be considered Tier 4 or maybe 3, depending on all the factors. Theoretically, households in a census tract could all make over $1miillion/year, but if all rented and were single-parent, non-english-speakers-at-home, etc., they’d not be Tier 4, etc.

    CPS isn’t unique in this –other school districts around the country are creating socioeconomic formulas for enrollment purposes, since the Supreme Court ruled race or ethnicity cannot be a factor in k12 public school enrollment decisions, but left open “socioeconomics” as a factor.

  • 48. Albany Park Mom  |  February 2, 2012 at 10:50 am

    #20 do we live on the same block? Everyone knows Ravenswood Manor ends at Sacramento. Why on earth am I in the same census tract as Blago. I have Latin Kings as next door neighbors for f’s sake.

  • 49. Vlajos  |  February 2, 2012 at 10:52 am

    @27, thanks for sharing

  • 50. mom2  |  February 2, 2012 at 10:54 am

    I thought I heard that school may start 1 or 2 weeks earlier than in the past due to the longer day plans. I never heard three weeks earlier. That would be a disaster since many parents I know have already paid for summer camps that go through the 2nd week of August. They will have a bunch of people asking to be repaid for camp or kids won’t come for the first week of school.
    I, too, am waiting to make any vacation plans until they announce the start date.
    I think everyone that lives in the Lakeview high school boundaries or anywhere near it should start working to make this school a viable choice for all college bound students. It is the only answer to all this Tier 3 and 4 mess. Maybe we should start work on Amundsen, too.

  • 51. Confused again.  |  February 2, 2012 at 11:00 am

    Holy Cow. A high rise building just south of North Ave in LP is tier 2?

  • 52. sounds reasonable  |  February 2, 2012 at 11:08 am

    according to a reliable source, school will end one week later then usual, start one week earlier then usual and school will also be in on 8 days that were previously holidays. And also supposedly no track E schools anymore.

  • 53. westsidemom  |  February 2, 2012 at 11:09 am

    Are there any statistics for the tier breakdowns in the SEES? I’m in Tier 2 and my son is at Skinner West in the Classical program and based on the students that I’ve observed (and their parents) it doesn’t seem as if there are many of “typical” Tier 1 or 2 children in there (i.e., low income, single parent, non-english speaking).

    I think the perception is that there are all of these Tier 1 and 2 kids who are lined up to take spots away from the “more deserving” Tier 4 children. My hypothesis is that that notion is incorrect, though I have no stats to back it up. The process to get a child into one of the SEES is so difficult and time-consuming that most parents in these communities don’t do it. I could be wrong about that, but I just don’t see it at Skinner, at least this year. I’m curious how many Tier 1 and 2 kids apply to SEES schools at all and if there aren’t enough (especially Tier 1) to fill the quota, where do those spots go?

    P.S. I live close to Westinghouse. I’d be happy to share information about the area to anyone interested.

  • 54. Chris  |  February 2, 2012 at 11:09 am

    “Wow, one area southwest of Belmont/Damen, basically the Hamlin Park area, went from Tier 2 to Tier 4. That was the most drastic one I could see.”

    A result of the (near?) total depopulation of Lathrop.

    Want to know the MOST ridiculously tiered location? Check out 500 West Superior Street. and the million dollar townhomes to the east are in Tier 2 as the result of the (largely) to be vacated Cabrini rowhomes. And it will likely remain that way for 10 years, or until they change the system, even as the population of the tract changes.

  • 55. Chris  |  February 2, 2012 at 11:14 am

    Chicago Gawker: “It’s so hard to believe that half of the households in that area, gang infested for years, and still that way, now have incomes above 40K.”

    But income is (1) only one of 6 criteria and (2) there’s nothing magic about $40k:

    “We look at five socio-economic characteristics for each census tract: (1) median family income, (2) percentage of single-family homes, (3) percentage of homes where English is not the first language, (4) percentage of homes occupied by the homeowner, and (5) level of adult education attainment. We also look at a sixth characteristic, the achievement scores from attendance area schools in each census tract.”

  • 56. Chris  |  February 2, 2012 at 11:19 am

    ” at Skinner West in the Classical program and based on the students that I’ve observed (and their parents) it doesn’t seem as if there are many of “typical” Tier 1 or 2 children in there”

    It’s not the kids or their parents, it’s their *neighbors*, and the vagaries of census tract lines which, as noted several times in this thread, don’t always follow real community lines.

  • 57. LR  |  February 2, 2012 at 11:23 am

    I don’t understand. How are they going to publish a CPS calendar that says the school year starts 3 weeks earlier if all this stuff is not hashed out with the teachers? Or have the teachers agreed to this and I’m just really out of the loop?

    I think we should make our vacation plans for August because there is no way the CTU is going to just agree to a 7.5 hour day and 3 more weeks of school. My prediction is that we end up with a 6.5 hour day and 1 more week of school, but I’m betting that week is not added until the year after next (or it is somehow worked into the school year with fewer days off). I have no factual basis for this…just what I think is going to happen.

  • 58. RL Julia  |  February 2, 2012 at 11:29 am

    Wonder how this will effect the (tier 4) kids my son overheard talking about how they used a tier 1 address for their SEHS application? If anything, this is just another reason to start trying to make every high school an option. I believe that the tiers are determined a number of things – including the quality of the neighborhood school and I have to say, when I hear of CPS elementary school mis-education horror stories they aren’t usually featuring schools on the northside which seem to be uniformly a little better (and I hate to say it, at least a little more affluent) than those on the west and south sides.

  • 59. LR  |  February 2, 2012 at 11:45 am

    Amazing – we have somehow remained Tier 3. Even though I know there is probably only a couple points difference for grade school, if any, it just seems like we are suddenly surrounded by a lot more Tier 4 than we used to be.

  • 60. 8th gr mom  |  February 2, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    @53 westside mom — very interested in knowing more about the Westinghouse area, and/or any insights you may have. would you want to share publicly or off list?

  • 61. A reader  |  February 2, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    I also have bad news about Lincoln Park’s IB program. Last year, students were able to get into the IB program with B’s because student’s who scored high enough on their 7th grade ISAT’s were invited to take a separate IB test. This year, they are no longer administering a separate test and inviting only students with 590 points and above to interview for the program. Students with 600 points at the end of 7th grade would have a “perfect” score, which means to interview, you need all A’s in 7th grade and have scored almost perfect on the 7th grade ISAT. This was told to me by CPS when I called because my 8th grader, who has 583 points was not invited to interview.

    I don’t think they select based on Tiers, but I could be wrong.

  • 62. BeenThere  |  February 2, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    61 – go private. This is only going to get worse.

  • 63. HS Mom  |  February 2, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    @53 – the reason that elementary schools do not have the same tier diversity as the high schools is because there is a 40% proximity lottery and sibling access. Very few seats actually go to the tier lottery and those are divided by 4 tiers.

  • 64. westsidemom  |  February 2, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    @60: I’d be happy to share about the neighborhood — don’t want to hijack the thread though, so you can contact me off-line at

    @63: for the SEES, there are no proximity or sibling lotteries. There are at the magnet schools, but not the SEES. Skinner West only just recently added a neighborhood component, but those are 2 completely separate classrooms (there are 4 kindergarten classrooms, 2 are completely separate Classical, the other 2 are completely separate neighborhood).

  • 65. mom2  |  February 2, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    Everyone get together with your fellow parents and sign a contract promising to send your child to your north side neighborhood high school if and only if certain demands are met at the school. Then, meet with the administration of that school and show them the contracts. Then work with them to add the college prep courses you expect and any other things that are non-negotiable and demand these changes be implemented before your kids start. If you all do it, you can change the culture of that school.

    I believe there are high level people at CPS that would give anything to show turn-around at some neighborhood high schools and they know this is the way to make it happen. Somehow the funds will just miraculously show up. Not fair to other schools, but at this point with things as bleak as they appear, it is every family for themselves.

  • 66. James  |  February 2, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    #61 —

    About Lincoln Park IB, according to the head of the program there, that is not correct. Admittedly, they are interviewing fewer kids this year than in the past, but they are definitely interviewing kids with Bs and with less than perfect 7th grade scores. (In fact, I know of a couple kids who interviewed there in the last week with at least one B in 7th grade.)

    I personally think it is a good thing that they are interviewing fewer kids. In the past, they have tended to admit lots of kids, many of whom they expect to wash out after Freshman or Sophomore year. Seems that they should concentrate on admitting kids more likely to make it all the way through.

    All that said, I’m sorry to hear about your kid. If he or she really has 583 out of 600 points and wasn’t invited to interview, then something doesn’t seem right. I’d call or e-mail Ms. Tookey at Lincoln Park directly and ask. Bypass downtown CPS since they probably do not know how Lincoln Park is making its interview selections.

  • 67. RL Julia  |  February 2, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    Interesting. Seems sort of arrogant to cherry pick from the exact population that is aiming to go to the SEHS’s.

  • 68. CuriousGirl  |  February 2, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    Is anyone familiar with the college SAT cheating scandal? Well, here’s my concern. Some families (no one on this board, of course!) would be willing to ensure that their kid gets his or her top pick – regardless. As it is right now, most kids with top grades and top ISAT scores need only to ace the selective enrollment test. Guess what? Anyone can take the selective enrollment test as IDs are not required or requested. All you need to do is to find is a pretty smart high school kid to double as an 8th grader. This is just one of many ways to play the system to get what you want. There has to be a better way.

  • 69. HSObsessed  |  February 2, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    @65 Yes. Start with Lake View, Mather and Amundsen.

  • 70. Curious2011  |  February 2, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    @33 Angie…Why not have every applicant from Tier 4, show CPS proof of income! If anyone from Tier 4 makes over $70k per year,why are they in public schools? They should be able to afford Private Schools,with that type of income! For you to suggest that everyone from Tier 3 and down to show proof of income, is totally RIDICULOUS!!!

  • 71. Jennifer  |  February 2, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    I’ve known plenty of people who got financial aid to go to college that they weren’t entitled to by fiddling the books on their income to show significantly less than the truth. I don’t think this would be a foolproof method for CPS to determine people’s tiers. People who will lie about addresses will lie about income, believe me.

  • 72. Jennifer  |  February 2, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    If you think a $70k income covers the cost of private school you need a reality check.

  • 73. Curious2011  |  February 2, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    @72 Jennifer, maybe you are one of the folks that you mentioned in your #71 post???

  • 74. Seriously?  |  February 2, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    I live in Albany Park and the map seems pretty accurate. I’m getting really tired of tier 4 people complaining about how HAAAAAAAAAAAAARD it is that their kids who live in not-dangerous neighborhoods and have the option of attending neighborhood schools that are both not dangerous and not failing, and who don’t have to worry about not having food, and who can afford after school curriculars don’t have ALL the advantages over kids living in poverty who may not speak english at home and may not have parents who are literate. Cry some more. Seriously. I get it that parents want the best for their kids, but you guys are pretty gross in your desperate attempts to shaft poor kids. You want a more even playing field? How about seeing to it that every single school gets the same funding, has safe buildings (both in that they aren’t falling apart and that you don’t have gang violence happening on the property), that all schools have an adequate amount of teachers, etc. Or, you know, just keep whining about how UNFAIR!!! it is that people living in wealthy areas don’t get to walk on the backs of poor kids to success.

  • 75. HS Mom  |  February 2, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    @70 the idea is that people do not want to be in tier 4 so why would they falsify an application to say they were in tier 4.

    This all assumes of course that tiers are all about income and CPS is looking to give families that have lost jobs and are in foreclosure a much needed break into SE. Not.

    Everyone has their needs. It should be rank only.

  • 76. Chris  |  February 2, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    ” If anyone from Tier 4 makes over $70k per year,why are they in public schools? They should be able to afford Private Schools,with that type of income! For you to suggest that everyone from Tier 3 and down to show proof of income, is totally RIDICULOUS!!!”

    1. The suggestion was that instead of census tract tiers, the 4 tiers be based entirely on family income. So that, if you want your kids categorized in Tier 1, you have to prove bottom 25% family income.

    2. Yep, $70,000 family income *definitely* can afford two kids at private school. No problem. $70k income is rich, rich, rich, and, after paying for housing, food, taxes, etc., has TONS of disposable income to afford $30,000+ per year to send two kids to Lycee Francais or Waldorf (to pick a couple *mid-priced* school). No problem!!

    3. Going to hurl wild accusations at me, too, now?

  • 77. sfw  |  February 2, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    As an east Rogers Parker, I am not sure what to make of the fact I now live in a tier 3 zone. Tell that to the junkies on Howard Avenue! I’m concerned as well, as we are trying again to get a kiddo into a better school. But at the same time we were tier 1 last year when we applied, and it seemed to do us no good whatsoever.

  • 78. cpsobsessed  |  February 2, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    I agree. It’s much easier to just not turn in one parent’s W2 form than to get a fake address set up in another Tier.

    I think the one-on-one income proof is too difficult and ripe for error. Not saying the tiers are ideal but I have yet to see a viable alternative plan presented given that people are trying to prove LACK of income which is easier than proving presence of income.
    CPS doesn’t have the resources to monitor it at that level, plus I think it makes sense to go beyond income.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 79. Chris  |  February 2, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    “just keep whining about how UNFAIR!!! it is that people living in wealthy areas”

    I think there is a decent amount of whining about how wealthy people living in “poor” areas get a leg up. And that the opportunity that the tiers are supposed to provide is not going to the kids who supposed to receive it. DO you also disapprove of that whining?

  • 80. Izabela  |  February 2, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    Thank you for the info. This is very helpful.

  • 81. Angie  |  February 2, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    @70. Curious2011: If you don’t want to disclose your income, select Tier 4, and no one will ask any questions. If you want to claim a lower tier, prove it. There’s nothing ridiculous about it. You have to show your income when you file taxes or apply for credit, so how is this different?

    @74. Seriously?: So children of poor families who managed to scrape together enough money to leave the gang-infested areas should be punished for their parents’ attempt to give them a better life? Or how about the children of a single Polish mom who lives in poverty and doesn’t speak any English? Should they be punished because their skin color will not improve anyone’s diversity numbers?

  • 82. Angie  |  February 2, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    @78. cpsobsessed: “I agree. It’s much easier to just not turn in one parent’s W2 form than to get a fake address set up in another Tier.”

    Not if you require people to submit an actual, verifiable tax return, or their welfare or food stamp paperwork if they have no income.

  • 83. anonymous  |  February 2, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    @38 Curious Girl — CPS OAE definitely has this info in their database of applicants, and any SEHS could pull it up, too. That said, I highly doubt that it is published or that you could find anyone willing to share it.

  • 84. Chris  |  February 2, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    “I agree. It’s much easier to just not turn in one parent’s W2 form than to get a fake address set up in another Tier.”

    No doubt this is correct. Even if CPS had anything close to the resources to review it all (which, obv., they do not). Has to be done with some sort of stat-based, area groupings.

    Like Jennifer, I knew kids in college whose families fiddled with their income. Most common was the divorced parents who claimed that the non-custodial parent didn’t contribute anything.

  • 85. Chris  |  February 2, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    “You have to show your income when you file taxes or apply for credit, so how is this different? ”

    So, someone (perhaps like a certain lantern-jawed ex-governor) living on capital gains income (or closely-held business dividends) does some realization massaging and reports ZERO income in the relevant year–that guy’s kid should get a leg up?

    To much potential for abuse, and too much adminstration required.

  • 86. cpsobsessed  |  February 2, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    Yep about the college money. I have already been told not to put savings in my son’s name as that will hurt his chances for financial aid. Does that put me on the same footing with other people lying to get into a school? I didn’t think twice about the advice. We all deal with the slipper slopes, I guess.

    I do think that showing proof of welfare or other info to prove you’re not really a Tier 4 family could possibly work, but again, does CPS have the resources?

    I’m also curious to see if the Tier 4 scores for the northside schools make a big jump and there now seems to be a lot more kids competing for the same spots.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 87. mom2  |  February 2, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    If you are in tier 3 or 4 and you are angry about the current process, or if you believe that CPS is really just trying to make all SE schools more racially diverse despite the fact that this has been deemed illegal by the supreme court…you can do something about this. The schools everyone is trying to attend are great because wonderful students that work hard with parents that care are going there. Stop sending them.
    Send them to their local high school. There won’t be enough room at the local high school for students from the other tiers. The school will be great because your families will make it great. Then everyone in the other tiers will complain that this isn’t fair that tier 3 and 4 have great neighborhood schools and they don’t. But they can’t keep you out of your neighborhood school like they can with the SE process.

  • 88. HSObsessed  |  February 2, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    JC Brizard will be answering questions tonight on WBEZ 91.5. Call to ask him about the tier system or anything else: 312-923-9239.

  • 89. Angie  |  February 2, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    @85. Chris: Wouldn’t capital gain income be listed on his federal tax return?

  • 90. mom2  |  February 2, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    Oh, and there is no way that 70,000 a year will pay for 2 or more kids to go to most of the private schools in Chicago – especially not if you also have a mortgage, property taxes, medical expenses, saving for college, etc. No way.

  • 91. HSObsessed  |  February 2, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    ^^^7:00 pm to 8:00 pm

  • 92. Chris  |  February 2, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    ” if you believe that CPS is really just trying to make all SE schools more racially diverse despite the fact that this has been deemed illegal by the supreme court”

    Making schools more racial diverse is not “deemed illegal”. Using race as a criteria for admissions’ preference was. There is a difference.

  • 93. HSObsessed  |  February 2, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    @99 – But two at British School would be only $60K, so you would still have $10K left to live on!

  • 94. HSObsessed  |  February 2, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    ^^^ argh, @90! I need to proofread more.

  • 95. cpsobsessed  |  February 2, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    @HS mom: what are the “needs” of a typical tier 4 family living in a 400k home in a safe neighborhood with 1-2 college educated parents?
    I’m having a hard time seeing it.
    If we keep perpetuating the advantage we keep a lot of people down. Call me a liberal or a socialist or whatever — I can’t get behind that idea, personally.

    As I’ve said before and I think we can all agree, the lack of “quality” HS seats puts us all at odds in an unfortunate way.

    I hope we can come together and get the act together for some north side high schools. Looking at the tier map, it seems crazy not to.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 96. HS Mom  |  February 2, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    @87 I think you’re on to something. Trouble is, how do you “jump in”?

  • 97. JD  |  February 2, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    @56 It is interesting how this all shakes out. Although I live in a beautiful Logan Square condo building on a gentrifying block, I think our census tract is being “helped” by a large Section 8 building within our borders. Is it fair for the children in my building, who all have highly educated, relatively well-off, English-speaking parents, to take advantage of the Tier 1 status bestowed upon them? Probably not, but if that’s how the system works, what can one do?

  • 98. mom2  |  February 2, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    @93 – Let’s see…pay the mortgage, pay income taxes, pay for heat and water, pay child care so I can work, go to the doctor, fix the 2 more than 10 year old cars, eat? Which one should I pick to use for that remaining 10K?

  • 99. mom2  |  February 2, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    @96 – I think it can only work if parents within a grade school really talk to each other and work together starting around 5th grade. Go to the local high school together, really promise each other you will do this (so no one is left feeling they are the only one). Maybe the elementary school principal could help facilitate the process of working with the high school to start honors programs/classes? Maybe CPS could make some guarantees and work with the parents at the grade school so the transition to high school is more like it is in the suburbs? Maybe the local high school could offer off-campus courses for some of the 7th and 8th graders in the neighborhood so they could start to get used to the school? I wish I knew more about how to make it work, too. I just know it really could work.

  • 100. Chris  |  February 2, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    “Chris: Wouldn’t capital gain income be listed on his federal tax return?”

    Of course, but it’s something one can (often) choose when to realize the gain–takes some 12/31/11 and more on 1/1/13 and have no income in 2012.

    Also, with a big investment portfolio, you can live on *very* cheap borrowed money, not having to realize any gains for an extended time. Yeah, yeah, need to stay out of dividend/interest paying investments, but still massageable.

  • 101. HS Mom  |  February 2, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    Needs are all relative.

    Some examples – Plenty of tier 4 folks cannot afford private and are in need of a good public school. Some that can afford private can’t get into a good school. Many tier 4 families are unemployed or underemployed. People with and without money want to get the best possible education for their kids. I’m not whining about how difficult a tier 1 families life is vs. tier 4 but I am saying that the tier system stereotypes and is about race diversification. The only equalizer is merit.

  • 102. NoMore6  |  February 2, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    95 -Those “needs” are the same as yours except those parents are penalized for doing well and living in decent neighborhoods.

  • 103. Chris  |  February 2, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    “Is it fair for the children in my building, who all have highly educated, relatively well-off, English-speaking parents, to take advantage of the Tier 1 status bestowed upon them? Probably not, but if that’s how the system works, what can one do?”

    What are supposed to do? Lie about your address?

  • 104. cpsobsessed  |  February 2, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    C’mon – people who deal with that level of income stuff are scoffing at us public school rubes. They’ve got their kids in private school.
    CPS has bigger (and more at-risk) fish to fry than dealing with the small slice of rich people weaseling their way into a SE high school…

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 105. westsidemom  |  February 2, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    @102 — What about the Tier 1 and 2 kids who are penalized every day by living in poverty and living with one parent or maybe just a grandparent or an aunt or uncle who don’t help them with their homework, who are not involved in their education? What are their needs? Is it unfair to help them in the unlikely event that they do well enough to overcome their circumstances?

    The unfortunate reality is that even if these kids have the brains for it, they will never make it into a SEES or a SEHS because the process is so convoluted that you need an adult navigating the system for you and to be your advocate. Too many children in Tier 1 and 2 do not have that.

  • 106. Chris  |  February 2, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    “C’mon – people who deal with that level of income stuff are scoffing at us public school rubes.”

    Just pointing out that the wealthy (and business owners have it even easier) can play tricks with their 1040s, so presenting returns (NOTE: not that it would be plausible for CPS anyway, as we already agreed) ain’t foolproof.

  • 107. old fogey  |  February 2, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    Two things to ponder regarding the tier system—–

    New York City has similar selective enrollment high schools (Stuyvesant, Bronx High School of Science, etc). The ONLY criteria to get in is the exam (similar to the Selective Enrollment entrance exam). Only the highest scores get in. This ensures the schools’ excellence. Students who fall below a certain income level get help preparing for the exam.

    The tier system is probably even more skewed than CPS admits to.
    The reason is that the tiers are based on the TOTAL number of 8th graders, not the total number of QUALIFYING eighth graders. The TOTAL number of eighth graders is divided by 4. CPS puts the “lowest” quarter in tier 1, the next lowest in tier 2, and so on. But it is likely true that a much smaller number of the tier 1 8th graders even qualify to take the Selective Enrollment exam in the first place. So a tier 1 8th grader who DOES qualify to take the exam is competing against a smaller number of fellow students and therefore has a much better chance of a spot than a tier 4 student, who probably has a much higher score.


  • 108. James  |  February 2, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    #107 —

    That’s not how the tiers are determined. After CPS runs the six factors against all census tracts and puts the tracts in order, it then figures out the number of school-aged children in each census tract. It then (allegedly) divides the tracts into four groupings, each grouping containing an equal number of school-aged kids. In other words, they do not look at 8th graders only or only 8th graders who take the SE test; they look at all school-aged kids within a tract, whether they go to private school or a CPS school or are home-schooled.

    Also, while what you say about NYC’s selective high schools is true, it is also true that those schools are not diverse in any sense of the word. I’ve read that at least some of NYC’s test-in-only schools are approaching 60% Asian, when Asians make up less than 18% of that city’s population. I am a sometimes critic of CPS’s tier system, but I can understand and sympathize with its goal: achieve socio-economic and racial diversity through constitutional means while maintaining the academic excellence of the schools. It’s a tall order, and it ain’t easy, I’m sure.

  • 109. old fogey  |  February 2, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    Whether all students are used or just 8th grade students are used, it’s still true that a Tier 1 8th grader has a better shot at a spot than a tier 4 8th grader, since he/she is from a smaller qualifying pool.

  • 110. James  |  February 2, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    We can certainly agree that a Tier 1 applicant has a better shot than a Tier 4 applicant. The cut-off scores from the last two years make that point dramatically clear. Your supposition is that that is the case because fewer Tier 1 eighth graders than Tier 4 eighth graders take the test and apply. Maybe. I’ve not seen any data that supports that, however, and since the tiers may have varying number of eight graders in them (since they are derived based ALL school-aged kids in the tiers, not just eight graders), I’m not as confident as you that that is the case.

    But there is no question that a Tier 1 kid will be admitted to a particular SE school with scores that would not get him or her in if he or she were in Tier 4.

  • 111. Chris  |  February 2, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    “The reason is that the tiers are based on the TOTAL number of 8th graders”

    Is that really how the division is made?

    Okay, I looked it up–it is NOT how it’s done:

    “Based on the results of each of these six areas, each census tract is given a specific score; these scores are ranked and divided into four groups – or ‘tiers’ — each consisting of approximately the same number of school-age children.”

    So it’s based on (estiamted) total school-aged children. Not 8th graders, not CPS students, but all (estimated) school-aged children.

    The schools really should be able to re-instate the required minimum scores, tho.

  • 112. cpsobsessed  |  February 2, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    Among the Tier slots, yes, Tier 1 “succeesful” kids probably have better odds. But if you consider that they have a lot less liklihood to nab a ranked spot, their overall share of available spots is likely lower than the available spots for a successful Tier 4 kid. Perhaps the combo or rank and tier evens it out a bit?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 113. James  |  February 2, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    obsesses — And that’s why it would be nice if CPS disclosed from which tiers the 30% of kids admitted by pure rank came. Don’t hold your breath…

  • 114. CPSDepressed  |  February 2, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    My guess is that Tier 1 kids not only have less chance of getting a ranked spot, they also have less chance of meeting the cutoff for SEHS application in the first place.

    Again, the real problem is a shortage of quality public education in the city. All this tier stuff is just window dressing on the problem. Kids in every tier are being screwed by CPS.

  • 115. anonymouseteacher  |  February 2, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    I am still amazed every time when I see that kids get perfect scores. I can’t imagine the brains involved in that or the dedication or the pressure.
    What I’d like to know is how many kids leave the city,go charter or go private from say the top 25 performing elementary schools in the city. As in what percentage. I suppose it wouldn’t be too hard to figure out, but my guess is way more than half. Seems crazy to bet a child’s high school education of 50/50 odds, and they probably aren’t even that.

  • 116. cpsmama  |  February 2, 2012 at 6:22 pm

    ^its actually not that hard to get a perfect score for a kid who is a good standardized taker.

    Especially if they attend an elementary school with 90,80, 70, 60 grading scale- which makes getting 4 As in 7th grade easier.

    The SEHS admissions test is not any more difficult than an ISAT. If you get 99% on ISATs, you have a strong chance of getting 99% on the SEHS admissions test.

  • 117. HS Mom  |  February 2, 2012 at 8:12 pm


    Hold on a minute. Out of 9 schools we have 5 1/2 (Lane is the 1/2) that are predominately 1 race. How much different is that from NY? We are really talking about 3 centrally located schools that have some true diversity. What I see in at least one of those schools is that there are no slouches. Kids of all races come from AC’s, gifted and classical’s like Lenart, Poe, Skinner, Keller, South Loop etc. These kids are getting in by rank or at the top of their tier. Tiers can and do favor all races which is why they really are not achieving what they set out to do. Manipulating tiers until they do otherwise is just wrong.

    West side mom – you are right about kids in poverty having smaller chances of making it due to their circumstances. I don’t see how the tier system makes that any better. Only the top performers get into these 3 schools (we are talking about a small number of spaces). The other non-diverse schools do not have the variance in tier scores (other than Northside and I have to ask who those T1 and 2 spaces do go to).

    Why should a tier 1 and 4 kid of the same race and maybe even income level have a 100 pt spread? Should the tier 4 kid step aside because tier 1 has a “harder life”? Some think that tiers are 70 or 80 or 90% accurate so what’s the harm. I think that any amount of error is unacceptable when it comes to impacting a kid and their future.

    @115 at our magnet school 1 moved out of state, 1 went to boarding school and 2 kids went to school in the suburbs (but lived in the city). The rest of the approximately 60 total are in CPS or private in the city.

  • 118. James  |  February 2, 2012 at 8:39 pm

    Save Lindbloom or Brooks, there isn’t a single CPS Selective Enrollment High School that is “predominately one race,” particularly in the central region or on the northside. Nor is there a single one that comes close to 60% Asian. Our SE schools look very different from those in New York.

  • 119. another cps mom  |  February 2, 2012 at 8:45 pm

    Brizard’s on Schools on the Line now. Why no tier questions???

  • 120. chicago taxpayer  |  February 2, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    Okay, I looked it up–it is NOT how it’s done:

    “Based on the results of each of these six areas, each census tract is given a specific score; these scores are ranked and divided into four groups – or ‘tiers’ — each consisting of approximately the same number of school-age children.”

    So it’s based on (estiamted) total school-aged children. Not 8th graders, not CPS students, but all (estimated) school-aged children.


    Yet there is an EQUAL number of slots. The pool should be from an EQUAL number of Qualified candidates, not all students of a CERTAIN age. GOT IT?? YET….

  • 121. HS Mom  |  February 2, 2012 at 9:28 pm

    @118 King, Westinghouse, Northside

  • 122. anonymous  |  February 2, 2012 at 9:46 pm

    @118, 121 – From
    King: 93.9% African American
    Brooks: 86.1% African American, 12.2% Hispanic/Latino
    Lindblom: 73.1% African American, 22.9% Hispanic/Latino
    Westinghouse: 71.8% African American, 24.9% Hispanic/Latino
    Northside: 39.8% White, 27.1% Asian American, 23% Hispanic/Latino

  • 123. Mom  |  February 2, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    At the elementary level, the reality of the tier system is that less stellar achievers who, in general, are most likely not socioeconomically disadvantaged, despite living in a low tier number, get in above more stellar achievers, who may or may not be more socioeconomically advantaged, despite living in fancier census tracts. This is because there are so few spots for the selective schools. They absolutely skim the cream off the crop in each tier, and that particular cream may not be particularly stellar in comparison, nor consist of those deserving poor children everyone wants so desperately to help, Now, with high schools, it might be somewhat different because we have seen serious dipping down in scores because they must fill their spots with a certain number from each tier, and there are more spots to fill, so more sub-par candidates get admitted above more qualified ones.

  • 124. James  |  February 2, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    As Mayfair Dad used to point out around here, there are indeed a handful of SE schools that are mostly African American. (I forgot about a couple of them in my earlier post.) They are all on the south and west side. But there isn’t a single SE school that is predominantly white, or predominantly Asian, or predominantly Hispanic — or on the north side of the city. Northside is the closest we can come up with — and it is less than 40% white. That isn’t “predominantly one race,” unless they changed the definition of “predominantly” since I was in high school.

    The fact is that our SE schools — the ones on the north side that the readers of this blog consider — are much, much more racially diverse than New York City’s.

  • 125. south loop  |  February 2, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    I think that “racial diversity” in CPS really means half-black and half-white/asian/latino. That would be a diverse school. Seems that only the close-in SE HSs have that mix.

  • 126. Chris  |  February 2, 2012 at 11:25 pm

    “Yet there is an EQUAL number of slots. The pool should be from an EQUAL number of Qualified candidates, not all students of a CERTAIN age. GOT IT?? YET….”

    Let’s just exclude the poor kids when calculating stanines for the rich kids. Or just resegregate the schools. Jeebus.

    And, yes, to be clear, however the hell youd decide to divide up tiers, my kids would get slotted into the “rich”/white/educated parents/english speaking/good neighborhood school/more “advantaged” tier and be at a relative disadvantage. And, despite that, if you have a problem with Chicago PUBLIC Schools providing some preference, in some fashion, to “disadvantaged” kids, then I dont have anything remotely nice to say to/about you. You want to be part of the city, be part of the city. You dont, its a free country, you can move somewhere else.

  • 127. IB&RGC Mom  |  February 3, 2012 at 1:32 am

    This all goes back to the issue that the neighborhood schools need to be better! If the neighborhood schools were better many of these kids (mainly those with the much lower entry scores) wouldn’t be vying for a spot in a SE high school. The SE schools are meant to be academically accelerated. IMHO, many of the kids applying for an SE spot are not doing so because they want a school that is academically accelerated with 6 hours of homework a night. They are doing so because they all want to go to a good high school. Even if they have to travel clear across the city to do so.

    The whole thing is not fair to begin with and the manipulating of the tier map to get certain desired results in diversity is just wrong! A suburban student doesn’t have to stress out like crazy in 7th grade to try to get a near perfect score to hopefully gain entry into a good high school. They just enroll.

    It is already not fair that CPS’s grading scales are inconsistent. There is also no benefit to going to a SE grade school when it comes to gaining entry into an SE high school. My daughter goes to Taft AC so if she gets a 91 B in her high school honors level environmental science class and another kid who takes a regular 7th grade science class gets a 90 A – they will have the advantage! Really? That doesn’t even take into the account their race, socioeconomic background, or anything.

  • 128. North Center Mom  |  February 3, 2012 at 9:52 am

    Chris- I don’t agree with your attempt to shut down dissent. The public schools are ours. Ours to debate, ours to get involved with and try to improve. I won’t for a minute just accept this corrupt system as it is handed to us.

    I agree with a previous poster who suggested that the north side tier 4’s just all start to attend their neighborhood high school. Just think what could happen if they all turned their back on the corrupt selective enrollment system. It would de-value the SEHSs and give them back their power. It would take tremendous courage and some dedicated leadership, but it would be awesome to see.

  • 129. Mia  |  February 3, 2012 at 10:03 am

    I agree wholeheartedly on the fact that improving the neighborhood schools, both elementary and high school is key. Regarding the grading ranges, I thought they’d changed it this year so that there was one uniform grading scale (90-A, 80-B, etc.). My daughter is in 8th grade at a RGC that until this year used the higher scale, and in the crucial 7th grade year she had to get 92 for an A as well, she did it, but it was tough, and I could never understand why CPS allowed that.

  • 130. anonymous  |  February 3, 2012 at 10:26 am

    82 and 128 — Interesting suggestions. Why not go on a field trip and stop in one of the s.e. schools sometime, then stop in a neighborhood high school, and report back?

    How will parents turn around a high school, when CPS hasn’t been able to do so in 10 years after closing 100 schools and throwing many millions at them?

    115 I don’t know of any kids who go to a charter h.s. if they don’t get into an s.e., Lincoln IB, etc. The ACT scores just aren’t there.

  • 131. CPSDepressed  |  February 3, 2012 at 10:26 am

    In re CPS kids going to suburban high schools, anecdotally, I’ve noticed that if the parents are divorced and one parent lives in the suburbs, the kid goes to high school in that suburb. I know of one family that considered that when they worked out shared custody.


  • 132. HS Mom  |  February 3, 2012 at 10:39 am

    @118 – Asians are well represented in SE in Chicago too. Kids with perfect and near perfect scores that have a choice of schools actually chose from all 9 schools. I don’t think that it’s a fair assumption that Asians would overrun the population of any given school. We don’t have that now.

    I agree with you that diversity is a desirable feature of a school. I just think that the diversity should be achieved by merit not manufactured to the advantage of some and disadvantage of others. Our system now is not diverse due mainly to logistics. A rank system might affect the diversity of 3 schools somewhat. As a poster mentions above, not only does a kid need to get in, they also need to perform and handle the work load for the next 4 years.

  • 133. westsidemom  |  February 3, 2012 at 10:55 am

    @132 — HS Mom, the problem is that the playing field is NOT level, so choosing according to “rank” would be patently unfair to those Tier 1 and Tier 2 children who are receiving a substandard education (which has a lot to do with disruptive classmates), but are the head of their class despite the circumstances. Those children are doing all that they are capable of doing and are excelling in their environment, but their scores would be nowhere near a north side student in a better school. Does CPS have an obligation to give those children an opportunity?

    @130 — Anonymous, I think you greatly underestimate what parents are capable of doing in a school. Involved parents >>>>> money thrown at a school.

  • 134. Chris  |  February 3, 2012 at 11:02 am

    “I don’t agree with your attempt to shut down dissent.”

    Wha? Someone is yelling “Got it??? Yet” at me and *I* am trying to “shut down” dissent?

    I’m dissenting from their view, and you don’t like it–okay, and … what? I should shut up because YOU agree with them?

    Anyway, if you’re in North Center, you’re likely in the same boat I am. And I, too, would love to see LVHS be a viable option, with a decent curriculum and sufficient advanced courses–I went to a similar sort of HS in a different, smaller city–kids at the other high school called us (seriously) “ghetto punks” in our basically all-white burg.

  • 135. Chris  |  February 3, 2012 at 11:09 am

    “IMHO, many of the kids applying for an SE spot are not doing so because they want a school that is academically accelerated with 6 hours of homework a night. They are doing so because they all want to go to a good high school.”


    “, the problem is that the playing field is NOT level, so choosing according to “rank” would be patently unfair to those Tier 1 and Tier 2 children who are receiving a substandard education (which has a lot to do with disruptive classmates), but are the head of their class despite the circumstances.”

    Also, THIS!!

  • 136. Mom  |  February 3, 2012 at 11:18 am

    I would really like to see the data on the socioeconomic make up of who is getting the SE spots. Then we could fairly assess whether they indeed are going to underprivileged kids who have been kept down by a substandard education, or whether that is a myth and they are are actually going to kids who don’t necessary deserve a special break. I think having that information would make this debate a lot more fruitful. A lot of people can get on board with the notion of giving the underprivileged a leg up. But rumor, anecdote, and common sense suggest that’s not actually occurring, which is making the process seem unfair. If we had the data, we could assess, and then decide.

  • 137. westsidemom  |  February 3, 2012 at 11:29 am

    I for one would love to see that data too. And I’d also love to see a process that was less convoluted and more equitable and that the children who really NEED the help are getting it.

  • 138. Mia  |  February 3, 2012 at 11:33 am

    So Northside, which is arguably the most difficult school to get into, from their Nov. 2011 report card report the following demographics: 39.8% white, 5.5% black, 23% Hispanic and 27% Hispanic, the balance 4.4% is other. 34.8% are from low-income households. Payton, probably 2nd most difficult to get in: 33.5% white, 24% black, 25.8% hispanic 10.3% asian, and 33.1% low income. At Jones, which also is very competitive, 26.9% white, 24.2% balck, 33.1% hispanic, 11.5% asian and 53.2% from low income households.

  • 139. Mia  |  February 3, 2012 at 11:33 am

    Woops – for northside that is 27% asian, not hispanic.

  • 140. James  |  February 3, 2012 at 11:50 am

    HS Mom #132 —

    I certainly don’t mean to keep correcting you, but it seems to me that you keeping pushing a position that simply does not square with the facts. You appear to be favor of selecting kids for SE high schools in the way New York City does — that is, by pure rank. I noted earlier that in NYC where they have that system, many of its selective schools are overwhelmingly Asian. You responded by saying that our SE schools have similar racial disparities. I showed that that was not the case (with the exception of some SE schools on the west and south sides that are predominantly African American). In other words, Chicago’s SE high schools on the north side are more diverse than the SE high schools in New York — and the reason is that we do not have a pure rank system, but rather this imperfect tier system.

    You now are claiming, without a shred of evidence, that if we moved to a pure rank system our diversity wouldn’t change — a pure rank system “might affect the diversity of 3 schools somewhat” is how you put it. But that simply flies in the face of the NYC experience. You are also positing that races and ethnic groups would spread themselves out over the schools if we adopted a pure rank system — as you put it: “I don’t think that it’s a fair assumption that Asians would overrun the population of any given school. We don’t have that now.” Well, we don’t have that now because of the tier system. But even with the tier system, African Americans are sorely underrepresented at Northside (just 5.5% of the school when they are 37% of the city’s population) and Asians are vastly overrepresented at Northside (more than 27% of the school when they are just 4.4% of the city’s population). Do you seriously suggest that if the tier system were done away with and we moved to NYC’s model that Northside wouldn’t become even more Asian? Again, NYC’s experience strongly suggests that that is exactly what would happen.

    And for some SE schools, the tier system does pretty well, diversity-wise. Look at Payton, one of the top high schools in the state and nation. It is 33% white, 24% black, 26% Hispanic, and 10% Asian. Perfect representation? No. But not bad. If we value diversity in these schools, we cannot simply go to a pure rank system. All the evidence makes this clear. And I say this as an unhappy Tier 4 father of an anxious 8th Grader.

  • 141. Chris  |  February 3, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    “But even with the tier system, African Americans are sorely underrepresented at Northside (just 5.5% of the school when they are 37% of the city’s population)”

    Well, if you live (as the majority of Af-A in Chciago do) on the west or south side, and you had the isats and grades to expect a chance at NSCP, would you really rank it first, over Payton, or Young, each of which are (1) likely to save an hour+ of commuting time each day and (2) more likely to be attended by some kids you know, largely bc of #1?

    It’s (part of) the same reason that there aren’t very many white kids at King/Brooks/Lindblom/Westinghouse–if you live on the Northside (as most white kids do) and can get into Lane or Jones, why would you undertake that long of a commute, and (likely) have to make *all* new friends?

  • 142. CPSDepressed  |  February 3, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    Here;s what we need to keep in mind: 45% of the students in CPS are African-American and 86% are low-income. White kids are just 9% of the enrollment and Asians are mere 3.6%.

    That’s what CPS is looking at when it tries to create diversity. And so, to most people looking at the selective-enrollment schools, middle and high income white kids are already at a significant advantage. I’m guessing that most parents here send their kids to schools that are at least 1/3 white and less than 1/2 low income, so our schools are in no way typical.

    Like James @140, I am a Tier 4 8th grader parent. I am not happy about the choices we have, but I also understand that my family is simply not a priority for CPS. We can’t go to a pure rank system until we have elementary schools that work for more kids. All kids need better school options in CPS, not just my kid.

  • 143. James  |  February 3, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    Chris —

    There is no question that logistics and racial/ethnic settlement patterns are significant barriers to achieving perfect diversity in these schools. What I think is clear is that the tier system militates against them to some degree and that moving to a pure rank system would exacerbate them.

  • 144. Chris  |  February 3, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    “What I think is clear is that the tier system militates against them to some degree and that moving to a pure rank system would exacerbate them.”

    Agree *completely*.

    And I don’t see anyone proposing an alternative to the tier system that does anything to accomodate that reality.

  • 145. ChicagoGawker  |  February 3, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    @140 Well written and thought out James!

  • 146. mom2  |  February 3, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    I’m so tired of this. Location location location. That is the key to everything.

    If you moved NSCP to the south or southwest side, the current north side students would stop going there (no way they make that long commute every day on top of after school programs, sports, and then homework – not to mention possibly having to travel past dangerous neighborhoods). The current south and southwest side students would flock to the school at first (because it is “the best”). Then, after a while, it would stop being “the best” and people would start to complain that “the best” schools are too far away from the south side.

    If the reverse happened and you moved a predominantly AA SEHS to the current location of NSCP or Lane, the reverse would happen there. The first Freshman class after the move would be far more diverse.

    This isn’t racist or anti-tier 1. If anything, it shows how much stronger those with disadvantages are. They are willing to travel across the city in order to get a good and safe education. Those of us that aren’t struggling quite that much would not go through the same effort.

    There are plenty of SE High Schools and slots available to the needy and to tier 4 kids. However, what everyone is talking about are the top 5 that are all in the city or north – not south or west. So, it sounds like we need more SE high schools downtown or north. That would make north, south and west happy. Right?

    But, if there is no money for that, I’m back to the plan to take over/take back Lakeview HS, Amundsen and Mather. And I strongly believe parents could do this. When we started in CPS, our neighborhood grade schools were places most people I know would only take as a last resort. It was all about Hawthorne, LaSalle, and other magnets. That has completely changed due to local tier 4 parents. It can happen at high school, but it has to happen in a big pack, not one child at a time.

  • 147. Mia  |  February 3, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    Even if you are in Tier 4, if your child has say 2As, 2Bs, and ISATs of 90 in each category, based on last year’s cutoffs they won’t get in to Payton/NS/Young/Jones, but they probably would get Lane, which having toured it and talking to friends whose children go there is for me a perfectly acceptable option for my daughter. What I see as the larger problem is the good student, solid B, 90 ISATs – that is where the lack of quality neighborhood programs comes to play for me. Acing the selective enrollment test would still not be enough to get into any of the 5 typical “northsider” options, even Lane. That’s where the change needs to be, improving the quality/programs/resources of our neighborhood schools. But how to do that? I think you have to start with the neighborhood elementary schools that feed into the neighborhood HS.

  • 148. northie  |  February 3, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    Keep in mind that the tier system has only been around for two years. Prior to that Northside and the other SE highschools used the racial consent decree where Asians were considered a minority. These students are still there. Two more years of the tier system will reveal the true change in a school’s diversity, or lack thereof.

    On a side note, this year’s SEES application asked for race. What if everyone checked Hispanic or Asian, or whatever? Talk about messing with the system! CPS can’t object since they supposedly are not allowed to use race as a determining factor.

  • 149. RL Julia  |  February 3, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    There are not enought Asian children in the CPS system for them to “overrun” anything. Its hard to have a diverse school when the population of CPS isn’t equally diverse to begin with – nevermind that Chicago tends towards being racially segregated anyway.

    I agree, I think that a lot of kids apply to SEHS’s not because they are all about the workloads but because of the cache and because parents think that these are the only schools that are safe and the only schools where you can get a good education. Most anyone who has done their homework on Chicago high schools can tell you that this isn’t necessarily the case but let’s face it, most people would rather brag that their kid is at Harvard than at say NEIU even though they are both great schools and some personalities are better suited to one type of school over another.

    There are some hidden gems in the CPS high school system, whether they be entire high schools or programs within a larger high school. However, you aren’t going to find them without looking – and that can be challenging.

    What we should do (as an interim step) is to do a webpage for parents of 7-8th graders who are interested in looking past the SEHS’s because while I think CICS Northtown is a great school, you would never hear about it unless you had already heard about it (if that makes any sense) and quite frankly doing all those applications is a completely daunting and exhausting process.

  • 150. Mia  |  February 3, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    RL Julia- I can’t speak to everyone who applis to SEHS, but my daughter and her friends want to go to these schools because they love what the schools offer, they tour them and they love the opportunities for travel in the foreign language programs, the beautiful gardens and organic greenhouse at Northside, the Science Lab at Payton, the robotics program at Jones, etc. Maybe my daughter is a real geek, but in deciding how to rank schools this year, she debated with her current math teacher the IMP math program used by Northside and Jones vs. the more traditional math program of Payton and Young. Never once did I hear her talk about the prestige (or lack of it) of any of the schools.

  • 151. Eric  |  February 3, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    @136 Mom

    Historically the main indicators for academic success is parents income and mothers level of education.

    To enroll in a SEHS one would need access to info of the schools (most likely the internet), familiarity with how to apply (if they applied to college it’s easier for some parents), and finally their kid would have to be familiar enough with the content of the entrance exams to pass (many exams and curricula have been found to be biased toward the upper and middle class).

    Based on this, it’s likely that there is not much socioeconomic diversity in SE schools. This is also likely the reasons that SEs appear to perform better, they are luring the top performers from the system while they are simultaneously leaving the traditional public schools. The ones on the South side are drawing in the middle class blacks.

    Also, as far as racial diversity, the population of Chicago is roughly 30B-30W-30H-6A. The population in CPS is roughly 45B-9W-41H-4A (Whites 9% and dropping annually). This white flight from CPS is part of the problem. The people with arguably the higher income and therefore familiarity with the curriculum (like earlier with race/class/gender bias in tests and curric) are leaving the system for private school.

    I would argue that this is part of why many CPS schools are “under performing.” At SE schools, aside from those in predominantly black neighborhoods, you have populations that better mirror Chicago’s race demographics.

    The Coleman Report (1966) found that racial and economic diversity in schools is an important indicator for success for all. Better performers are able to teach (so valuable!!) the under performing and they both learn from each other.

  • 152. CPSDepressed  |  February 3, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    There is something to the cachet. My kid and his friends all say that the neighborhood high school is for stupid kids who don’t care about going to college. I’ve been trying to be supportive of it as an option, even though I have my own concerns.

    That’s something else that will have to be addressed, that will take time and that will maybe need big groups of friends going to these schools together. I know that a lot of parents are status-conscious, but the typical 8th grader is obsessed with status.

  • 153. HS Mom  |  February 3, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    James – I am simply stating my opinion based upon my experiences and observations as an involved parent. You’re free to agree or disagree with that, right?

    If I’m not clear, I’d like to restate a few things.
    • The diversity %’s you are using are based upon 50% race based system and 50% tier based system. It is known that diversity under the tier based system has gone down and thus the need to manipulate tiers. So, even though race cannot be used as a factor to determine admission to SE, it really is a factor.
    • Kids getting into SE come predominately from top schools public and private – see prior post analyzing “feeder” schools. These schools are not limited to white schools on the northside. There are gifted and talented African American and Latino kids.
    • The tier system creates loopholes allowing kids with lower scores admission that may or may not relate to race or income.
    • The brilliant Asian kids and others are in the school of their choice. To go out on a limb here, without evidence, I am going to further say that Asian kids missing the tier 4 cut off to Northside prep would be no better off than white kids missing that same cut off. Assuming of course that location of this school draws off white and Asian populations.
    • The selective enrollment high schools are not racially diverse overall, nor will they ever be due to logistics.

    Yes, it’s my opinion that a rank system would be fairer. I am open minded and certainly see that this is a multi faceted issue. I would be more than happy to hear any “evidence” that you have that would indicate that the NY scenario would be the same in Chicago.

  • 154. Eric  |  February 3, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    @152 CPSDepressed

    I went to a CPS neighborhood HS. Me and many of my friends from there earned grad degrees (some from Ivy schools), and one was recently honored by Obama for being one of the top physicists in the nation.

  • 155. mom2  |  February 3, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    @152, “My kid and his friends all say that the neighborhood high school is for stupid kids who don’t care about going to college. ” – I agree (I have heard this myself) that this is what the kids are saying and what they care about.
    The one way I know to change that is to offer Double Honors (selective) programs within the neighborhood high schools. The programs should initially or maybe permanently only be available to those within the neighborhood. Now, you get into this selective program and you don’t look like or have the status of someone “stupid”. Maybe double honors is for anyone in the neighborhood with solid B’s or higher or they must take a test to prove that their grades don’t reflect their true ability.
    Now, once those “smart” kids start going to the school in the special program, the kids with B’s and C’s might find it sounds fine to go to that same school because their smart friends go there.
    Why can’t they do this now?

  • 156. Chris  |  February 3, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    “Whites 9% and dropping annually”

    More white kids in CPS this year than last. It’s the Af-Am student population that keeps dropping, a lot. See, here, for 12 years worth of breakdowns:

    The more recent have full crosstabs. Of interest in this discussion, the *total* selective enrollment HS count is (apologies for formatting):

    Total: 11,868
    White: 2,919; 24.6%
    Af-Am: 3,537; 29.8%
    Nat-Am: 55; 0.5%
    Multi: 344; 2.9%
    As-Am: 1,286; 10.8%[balance other]

    And the overall HS population is W=9.0/Af-Am=43.0/Nat-Am=0.3/H=41.8/M=1.2/As-Am=4.1/[other=0.6]

  • 157. Chris  |  February 3, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    “Me and many of my friends”

    Who is this “Me” person I keep hearing about? S/he does some really interesting things!!

  • 158. HS Mom  |  February 3, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    @156 – thanks Chris. those total numbers look much more diverse than expected. I guess Lane having almost half the total would make a big impact on that.

  • 159. mom2  |  February 3, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    @157 Chris – Great post.
    @156 Chris – keep in mind that you are looking at the percent of white students in CPS and not the percent of white students in the city. We all know that a large percent of white families will only send their children to SE high schools or not at all. Your percent figures don’t imply some bias toward white students.

  • 160. Chris  |  February 3, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    “Your percent figures don’t imply some bias toward white students.”

    I’m aware of that, but the discrepancy gets glossed over a lot. If you doubled the number of white kids at SEHS to 50%, entirely from non-CPS HS’ers (and no reduction in non-white CPS HS’ers. iknowiknowiknow), you’d only increase the total percentage would only go up to 11.8%–but the “top” schools *would* then be quite disproportionate and it would cause a big backlash (imo).

    The current, aggregate numbers are roughly representative (Asian-Ams quite over-represented) of the city’s family breakdown, and so pretty defensible, politically-speaking (and, it’s ALL about politics), notwithstanding the spread against the general HS population numbers.

    As to “Me”, my kids are going to be sooo tired of hearing variations on that by the time they graduate from HS. Makes me smile everytime, tho.

  • 161. South Side Mom  |  February 3, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    @146 mom2 “There are plenty of SE High Schools and slots available to the needy and to tier 4 kids. However, what everyone is talking about are the top 5 that are all in the city or north – not south or west. So, it sounds like we need more SE high schools downtown or north. That would make north, south and west happy. Right?”


  • 162. modest proposal  |  February 3, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    How about skimming off all the very tip-top scoring students who’d usually go to an SEHS and place them into a group of new high school (maybe ringing downtown) that is exclusively score-based admissions (like NYC’s). Then, the SEHS could use the tier system, and these score-only schools could be the most elite.

  • 163. James  |  February 3, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    HS Mom #153 —

    One is reminded of the old saw that while one is entitled to his or her own opinion, one is not entitled to his or her own facts. The evidence, i.e., facts, are set out in my prior posts and in Chris’s, including #156, which demonstrates beyond any doubt that your statement that “the selective enrollment schools are not racially diverse overall” is simply and utterly false. And that’s a matter of fact, not opinion.

  • 164. Therealness  |  February 3, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    Where is CICS Northtown?

  • 165. BeenThere2  |  February 3, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    164 – Pulaski and Peterson – the old Good Counsel.
    Pure lottery only. The date was in February for next school year.

  • 166. BeenThere2  |  February 3, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    164 — sorry. The address is correct, but you should check their website for the lottery application deadline. Anyone living in Chicago can apply. I know a few students there. They like it. I also know a former teacher with nothing bad to say about the school. My concern is their LOW ACT scores.

  • 167. HS Mom  |  February 3, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    James – I did acknowledge post #156. Was glad to see it. Also 159 and 160 stating that there are different ways to look at it.
    Not to dwell on this but your facts are based upon a combination of race based and tier based data and therefore not truly reflective of the tier system.

    Not grinding the saw, just an opinion.

  • 168. anonymouseteacher  |  February 3, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    I have friends who teach at Northtown and love it. They say they’d send their own kid there. There average ACT is 20.3, which is far better than virtually every single neighborhood school in Chicago an on par with the state average. I guess my question would be, is if Lane has an average ACT of 22/23 and a child cannot get into Lane for one reason or another, why wouldn’t Northtown be acceptable?

    Don’t get me wrong, I can’t imagine a scenario where I’d send my kid to a charter school. Both my husband’s and my extended family would never let us hear the end of it and I am not comfortable with charters either. Those, however are my own personal issues. But, if someone is not opposed to charters, then Northtown IS going to be a great school for any average “B” student. Or a few of the Noble schools.

    My neighborhood high school has an average ACT of 15. The charter high school in our neighborhood has an average of 16. Those are low scores. 20 is not low. It is high enough that a good portion of the Northtown kids are serious students, get into good colleges and 20 as an average indicates many of their students earn scores well into the upper 20’s.
    What do folks here think is a “good enough” average ACT score? For me it is probably 22, but if my kid had a shot at a normal (meaning NOT NS or Payton or the other schools I perceive to be pressure cookers) high school experience, with sports, clubs, friends, a decent and safe education, homework that wasn’t overbearing, then yes, I’d consider a school with an average of 20.

    Not trying to talk down at anyone, just thinking out loud.

  • 169. anonymouseteacher  |  February 3, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    I meant “Their” not “There”.

  • 170. RL Julia  |  February 3, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    I don’t think there is anyone more status aware than a middle school aged boy (probably because they have none). All I know is that when I sent my son to Taft AC’s program he was excited to go there- it was his first choice in fact. We were all set to have him stay there through high school since it seemed like a nice school – good variety different tracks/opportunities etc… Within a month he asked me if he could have gotten into Whitney and why we didn’t have that be his first choice. Within two he informed us he wanted to go to SEHS for high school. UGH. I appreciate the ambition but while my son generally likes school and does well, I think his (and his friend’s)attraction to the SEHS’s has just as much to do with the bragging rights and status (to belong on those beautiful campuses) that comes with going to an SEHS than math curricula, reading lists and AP class opportunities etc…

    Anyone who tours the SEHS is going to love them -what’s there not to love – all that pretty architecture, all those (new) resources – but more people tour those schools than tour the CICS’s of CPS which also have lots to offer.

    Been There – last time I checked you couldn’t “catch” a low ACT score and it looks from the posts above me that 20 isn’t too bad.

  • 171. Humboldt Park Mom  |  February 3, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    Wow. You know, I would love to be able to send my kid to Lakeview instead of Orr. I wouldn’t even be messing with this process if I had a decent neighborhood school to send my kid to.

  • 172. CPSDepressed  |  February 3, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    I think average is okay, and 20 is an average ACT score. Although I know low scores are not catching, my concern is that a school with low scores may not have good teachers, may not encourage students academically, and/or may not have any college counseling. That’s what worries many parents, obviously, which is why it would be nice to see some info about the dispersion of scores about the resources that schools have for kids who are college bound, either straight from high school or a few years thereafter.

  • 173. Mia  |  February 3, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    I am not speaking for all 8th graders and most certainly not for anyone posting here. I have no doubt that the beautiful facilities of some of the SEHS are a factor, why wouldn’t they be, but I am speaking for my child and her friends when I tell you that they are just as if not more interested in which languages are offered (my daughter loves Latin), the math curriculum, whether they offer AP Music Theory and have a jazz ensemble, and of course the clubs and extra curriculars. Apparently I’ve missed something here on the status, but it’s just not what I’m hearing from my daughter and her friends, I’ve never heard her refer to kids going to neighborhood schools as stupid kids, and I’d be pretty disappointed in her if she did.

  • 174. Chris  |  February 3, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    “You know, I would love to be able to send my kid to Lakeview instead of Orr”

    Most of the students at LVHS come from outside the attendance area. Then may be tightening this up, but if you don’t ask, the answers already “no”, so make a call!

  • 175. HS Mom  |  February 3, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    @172 CPSD – Good point and probably a factor. Consider too that at a school that has no academic requirement for admissions they probably get kids with all different backgrounds and capabilities. A 20 ACT may actually say a lot on the plus side about the teachers.

    It wouldn’t bother me that there were lower performers at the school, I would want to know if there was a more accelerated track and want to know all about honors classes and any specials that they offer.

    As far as status is concerned, our 8th grade class was all about getting into SE and even then particular schools. Most kids were however realistic and open to various programs. If there was any disappointment, it didn’t last long because the excitement of HS (no matter which one) prevailed.

  • 176. Stressed out MOM  |  February 4, 2012 at 12:17 am

    @#40:I heard track E would end in the coming school year and two weeks would be added to school year. No word on if it would be added at the beginning or end or the year or split! Heard this from a principal.

    I live in tier 4 and I am AA. Logistically Linblom and tier wise it is my best option. I have heard many great things about the school and while it has diversity, I wish for a little more. Actually, it is my first choice for my children (aspiring for the HS for 7th grader and ac for 4th grader). My little pocket of tier 4 allows us to be outside late conversing with friends without fear of violence and I plan to actually let the older one out of my sights to roam the neighborhood (teir 4 part) this summer. My husband is apprehensive about the neighborhood surrounding Linblom but I know that they keep children children safe.

    My point is that I would like to save money for college. I would like a safe, free public school option. I am not a fan of charter schools BUT will consider them (and apply) for HS (because of safety issues). CPS needs more quality seats. I don’t have the energy (or time) to make my neighborhood HS an option for my children. The school (Bowen) is toooooooo far beyond help!!!

    WE are a racially segregated city here in Chicago. I would love to apply to Northside or Peyton but just can’t GET my children there due to work hours and living on the south side of the city. There has to be a better way to get an EXCELLENT public education without all of this stress about grades, percentiles and entrance exam scores. But, none of us have the answers….

    I am basically stressing out the 7th grader (for all A’s & so far so good for these first two quarters) and next year for the ac I will most likely pressure my 4th grader who will be in 5th grade. We ALL need for our neighborhood options to be better. This is too much stress for parents and the kids. I am at at a loss for what would be right and equitable for all. We all want the best for our children. But at what cost???? How far are you willing to go??? What would you do to improve our schools??? Can you commit the time and effort???

    My biggest concern is safety. Many of our neighborhood schools are just NOT safe. I can work with my children and the teachers to get an education anywhere. Everyone has made great points above. I think we need schools that are either A) my kid is here to learn and behave or B) you are not here to learn and behave so let’s send you to an alternative school!! This is the bottom line. We only need TWO options!!

    Remember lower performing and higher performer students learn from each other. As long as evryone behaves THEN everyone learns. As long as teachers differentiate instruuction THEN everyone learns. These are the kinds of schools ALL areas of Chicago needs then we wouldn’t be so stressed out about whther our child gets into a SE or the neighboorhood school. IMHO! Sorry for the long post 🙂

  • 177. IB&RGC Mom  |  February 4, 2012 at 12:41 am

    @168, I remember looking up CICS Northtown last year some time and saw a lower ACT average. I agree with 175 in that the 20.3 is probably an impressive score for a school that is not basing enrollment on any academic achievements. I missed the open house, but I will make sure to check it out next year. I went to Good Counsel and I see that the Dean is the Dean who was there when I was in high school. I am iffy about charters as well, but it is one (maybe the only one) I would definitely look at.

    I wonder if they will start attracting more of the higher achieving students who cannot get into the SE school of their choice because of a B and the fact that they are in tier 4.

  • 178. cpsobsessed  |  February 4, 2012 at 12:45 am

    I know of another parent who sent their child to CICS N-Town and is pleased with it. The daughter has some learning and social issues and they were worried about how she’d function in a neighborhood high school (which really wasn’t an option) but it sounds like it’s working out. I need to find out more but if the charters are stricter about behavioral problems it certainly seems worth a look since so many of us worry about the “bad influence” kids.

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  • 179. CPSmommy  |  February 4, 2012 at 5:37 am

    A little off topic but a few have mentioned the school year start and end dates. I have heard that CPS wants to add two weeks to the end of the standard year – going later in June. They are reluctant to start sooner because when this was tried several years back (for the whole student population), many kids still did not come back until after Labor Day. I have a friend who teaches all AP at a SE high school. For her, this is absurd. Her students could benefit much more from an earlier year and starting when the suburban schools do. The AP tests are in May….two weeks at the end of the year is too late to help her kids with content for that exam. And no, she is definitely not a “just teach to the test” kind of person. But being practical, many low income kids take AP classes so that they can earn college credit and save money at their next level of education. Any little boost (like two additional weeks of instruction before the exam) would be very helpful.

  • 180. Mom2  |  February 4, 2012 at 10:06 am

    Why is it that families all across the suburbs have no trouble starting school in the last two weeks of August, but cps families can’t? rediculous! It would make no sense at all to have A totally different school year than all our suburban and private neighbors. Am I the only one that thinks about competition for summer jobs or summer camps? And your point about ap classes makes tons of sense, too.

  • 181. Gwen  |  February 4, 2012 at 10:53 am

    I believe that most of the suburban schools let out earlier than CPS, which ends in mid-June. I also think many of the private and Catholic schools do as well. I prefer the current schedule, I’d rather have my kids in their stifling, non-air conditioned classrooms in the milder days of early to mid-june than in the sweltering last 2 weeks of summer. I for one enjoy the “last days of summer” with my kids before the school year starts, museums and all the other things we do are less crowded with all the suburban and private school kids already back in session. I’m happy with it staying at labor day. My entire childhood we started then and went well into June and I don’t think my education suffered for it. Just my two cents :).

  • 182. cpsobsessed  |  February 4, 2012 at 11:10 am

    I cannot see them starting schools before labor day. Keep in mind that for CPS, bodies equal funding. We cannot afford to have 2 weeks where half the kids don’t show up. It would take a major communication effort to get all CPS parents to realize that school starts in august.

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  • 183. cps alum  |  February 4, 2012 at 11:20 am

    A little off topic but I thought some of you might find this interesting:

    Several years ago I had a lengthy conversation with superintendent of my suburban high school district (a man known nationally in education circles) about the shift of from a traditional calendar (post Labor Day start) to the current standard (mid-August). He was very clear on single driving force that caused the shift. Simply put —football. Football coaches wanted their players in town to start training in early August in preparation for a season that ends before winter. A school year that starts after labor day will keep kids out of town and thus unable to practice. Many districts shifted their school calendars to accommodate the football schedule willingly because the high school football team is the center of life in many communities. Consequently many districts in the country school starts in early August and ends before Memorial Day. Then with the rise of national AP exams in the early 80’s the exam schedule had to accommodate these early schedules so AP exams are held in early/mid May. Slowly more districts (including those that don’t put football in the center of school life) had to also shift their schedules early to give their students more time to prepare for the AP.

    I don’t know if an early start is better or worse, but I find it sad that decisions on school calendars was driven by sports rather learning.

  • 184. Gwen  |  February 4, 2012 at 11:30 am

    I don’t know if this is the best topic to post this under, and it may have been posted before, but I think it bears repeating – I want to pass on something I learned after the fact regarding the 7th grade ISATs that may be helpful for parents of 7th graders taking the test next month. The ISAT as currently administered is a 4 day test with many different components including both Math and Reading XRs (extended responses). All of this factors into the results you get in the fall that give you a number score for both math and reading. However the percentage ranking which is what counts in the SE scoring is based only on the first 30 questions in math and reading comprehension. I think this has been posted here before, but I didn’t know it before my daughter took her 7th grade ISATs, I would have liked to – if only to suggest to her that she triple check those answers. (Fortunately she got 99s on both – her first time ever scoring that high in both categories – so maybe pressure worked for her.)

  • 185. mom2  |  February 4, 2012 at 11:51 am

    I realize that it is all about funding, but I don’t see why a parent in Chicago cannot possibly get their child to school on the first day of school no matter when that is. What are we saying about Chicago/CPS parents that they cannot do what every other parent outside of Chicago can do? Stupid? Uncaring? If you can’t get your child to school when it starts, what kind of parent are you? Tell them when it starts, communicate it like crazy and keep it that way. Maybe the first year will be rough, but it won’t stay that way. Why should we do anything that puts our kids at a disadvantage with the rest of our community? If this will help with football or with AP classes or with summer jobs, why not do it?

  • 186. mom2  |  February 4, 2012 at 11:54 am

    I am betting the people that like the current start and end days don’t work full time. I find it impossible to find care for my kids after the 2nd week of August – sometimes there are a few choices for the third week,, but a lot less of them and none for the last week.

  • 187. Gwen  |  February 4, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    I work full time, and have since both of my children were born. I agree that child care options for those last two weeks are a challenge, I have taken one of those weeks as vacation every year, and it’s a week I really enjoy, getting ready for school and enjoying the beautiful weather outside with my kids. That being said, I’d love to see the park districts provide programs for those weeks and have never understood why they don’t, but I would rather push that change then send the kids back to school in August.

  • 188. CPSDepressed  |  February 4, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    If we got rid of some of these many many many days off, we wouldn’t need to extend the school year. Look at the ridiculous schedule we have in February – does it make any sense whatsoever?

  • 189. Gwen  |  February 4, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    @188: Agreed. In November, my daughter was joking that she only had 10 days of school (it was actually more than that, but not by much!).

  • 190. anonymouseteacher  |  February 4, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    I can only speak for the 2 CPS schools I have worked for. Both schools have large immigrant populations from different countries. Both populations go “home” for the summer a lot of the time. Airline tickets are cheaper after Labor Day, so many of our families actually don’t come back until the first of second week of school. This affects the dollars we get, since bodies equal dollars. The other thing is it affects the dreaded 20th day of school problem. CPS looks at how many kids are in a school on the 20th day and then either lays off staff or hires more, depending on numbers. If we do start mid-August, it won’t matter what CPS says. Those families are gonna come back when they are good and ready. And my school will end up laying off teachers due to low numbers on day 20, which means the 3 first grade classes will consolidate into 2 classes as an example. All those kids who just got used to the routine with that teacher? Oh well, they have to be shifted around because Central Office decides the number of staff, not common sense. Then a week later, when all our kids come strolling into school, they’ll have to re-hire back all those teachers, assuming they can still get them. Kids will be shifted around, AGAIN. Teachers will have to move classrooms, AGAIN.
    I don’t know that this says anything about CPS parents. It just is. If a family of 4 is paying $4000 to travel back to their country of origin for the summer and then CPS changes things, they’d need to pay $6500 (a family of mine was explaining this to me the other day). And that added money is something they don’t have. CPS of course, doesn’t have to plan around those families, but I don’t think it can expect they will return mid-August for school. The system will just lose millions and have a crazy amount of laying off/re-hiring/switching kids from classroom to classroom.

    Fwiw, I agree with #188. I hate PD days. They are a waste of time. And we have far too many of them. And really, too many holidays. We could easily cut out 4-5 holidays without so much as a blink. And if we got rid of 3-4 PD days, that would about take care of it. I feel like I lose so many days with my students.

    Either way, it is far too late in the year now to be messing with this fall’s school calendar. CPS needs to make its decisions an entire year in advance. I know families of all backgrounds that already have vacation plans or have paid for summer camp.

  • 191. Gwen  |  February 4, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    Yikes! I hadn’t looked closely at the new tier map – that sea of green on the northside is amazing. I have gone from Tier 3 to Tier 4, which though the difference wasn’t that huge before, I have to imagine the influx of Tier 3 northside families to Tier 4 is only going to make Tier 4 more competitive, while Tier 3 may actually get a little less so as a lot of formerly Tier 2 areas (on the north in Rogers Park and several areas in other parts of the city) went to Tier 3. The only Tier 4 areas I could see that went to Tier 3 were not on the Northside, from my quick look. It will be interesting to see what the cutoffs will be this year. Thank you for posting this – I honestly didn’t even know that the tiers would be changing, and I know many of my friends don’t realize it either, and will no be happy when I tell them!

  • 192. cpsobsessed  |  February 4, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    The north side Tier 4 proliferation is really remarkable. I’ve been looking at the map of the north side high schools zones:

    In particular at Amundsen, the new high school zone I will likely reside in soon. The entire Amundsen area is all Tier 3-4. Probably 2/3 Tier 4 and 1/3 Tier 3 (although Tier 3 is probably more densely populated.)

    So conceptually I think “why can’t it work to send Tier 3-4 kids to their local high school and have it be safe and successful?” It seems like it would HAVE to work. As I drove around the school today I see a lot of rental apartments very close by that area. Within the vicinity of expensive homes. I feel like some kids in the area got the shaft, Tier-wise (which won’t surprise any of us.)

    I did notice that Amundsen is a geographically smallish zone and wondered if there would be enough local kids to fill a class of 400 kids?

    I guess my main point is that Lake View, Amundsen, and Mather are literally surrounded by a giant sea of Tier 3-4. There should be enough velocity to fill these schools with education-oriented, good test-scoring kids who may not have the scores (or desire) to attend a rigorous SE high school. Right?!

  • 193. northie  |  February 4, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    Since we’re discussing neighborhood highschools and AP courses, etc. I took a look and was surprised that some AP courses are currently offered at Admunsen (my local highschool). What I wonder though, is this course truly taught at a level where a student could achieve a 4 on the AP exam? This is generally the score needed if a student wants college credit. It’s one thing to offer the courses, but I can’t seem to find any info on whether or not the students actually succeed in these AP courses. Any ideas?

  • 194. Matt Farmer  |  February 4, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    @192 — Your post raises some interesting issues concerning Amundsen. As you note, the area surrounding the school is largely Tier 4. Of course, the school’s current enrollment is roughly 81% low income kids. ( It’s not clear from the reports I’ve seen how many of those kids come from that surrounding Tier 4 area, but I’d bet many do — plenty of apartment buildings in those tracts. We do know that CPS currently considers the high school to be overcrowded to the tune of roughly 300 kids. (

    Now let’s assume, for the sake of discussion, that a critical mass of those “education-oriented, good test-scoring kids” that you mentioned in your post decides to enroll as a bloc at Amundsen next year.

    Who gets in? Who gets bumped and on what basis?

    Nothing’s easy in this city.

  • 195. cpsobsessed  |  February 4, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    I don;t know about the AP classes at Amundsen, nor the IB program. Lake View also has a ton of AP classes. I think this has been a key question that some people have brought up – is the AP level at these schools (that otherwise show test score averages that are pretty “eh” (especially Amundsen) at the level that parents would expect for college credit? I don’t know. I think that is part of what has to happen to attract more families. And I think the more truly college bound kids who enter, the more the standards can be raised.

  • 196. cpsobsessed  |  February 4, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    Matt, that is really interesting, especially since I felt the Amundsen boundaries look so small (not that I am a good judge of that… I think the Waters and Coonley boundaries look tiny and they have each enrolled 3 Kinder classes this year, meaning almost 75-80 kids age 5 in those tiny little zones. Boggles my mind.

    In any case, I would first wonder why the school is over-enrolled? I also then wonder if they are taking out of boundary kids (if few Tier 3-4 kids — I mean in the true economic sense, not geo sense — are attending the school then who is filling all the spots? And if it is all local, is there even room to expand to the new “college-oriented” families?

    And you make a good point about displacement which is the same at Lake View, which I know has up to 75% of kids from out of zone who are travelling to get there (one can assume to avoid worse schools closer to their home.)

    Who gets in? Kids in the hood. Who gets bumped? Kids outside the hood? Who fills the grey zone? That seems a bit iffy right now, even at Lake View. I’ve been given the impression that it is sort of a natural fallout…. if you want to attend one of these schools, you just pretty much can sign up and it has worked out so far. So yes, how would the selection process work if that number suddenly doubled?

  • 197. Matt Farmer  |  February 4, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    As I said, I don’t know where most of the Amundsen kids live, but it’s not unusual to have a high percentage of low-income kids at a Tier 4 school. Rogers School, where I serve on the LSC, is located in a Tier 4 tract, and all the kids live within the surrounding Tier 4 attendance area. The school’s enrollment, however, is 77% low-income kids. (
    The school is also overcrowded, though, by CPS standards, just barely. (

  • 198. mom2  |  February 4, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    @192 – “I guess my main point is that Lake View, Amundsen, and Mather are literally surrounded by a giant sea of Tier 3-4. There should be enough velocity to fill these schools with education-oriented, good test-scoring kids who may not have the scores (or desire) to attend a rigorous SE high school. Right?!”
    RIGHT! Let’s get started!

  • 199. anonymouseteacher  |  February 4, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    At least some AP teachers have access to what percentage of kids pass AP classes in each school across the city. I’d ask at Amundsen and see if they will give you the pass percentage. Whether this is because the students aren’t up for it or the level of teaching isn’t up to par, who knows. One teacher I know who teaches AP courses says that an average pass rate state wide is half, so you’d be looking for something close to that number.
    I would also think this is something one could find out via a FOI request.

  • 200. anonymouseteacher  |  February 4, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    Naperville HS, IMSA and Northside post averages of between 85-90% pass rates on AP tests.

  • 201. Mary  |  February 4, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    Hey Northside parents! In the last ten years, you’ve turned around every CPS elementary school I can think of. Why don’t you do the same for your neighborhood high school?

  • 202. Gwen  |  February 4, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    My Northside neighborhood school has NOT been turned around, nor have many of the others feeding into my neighborhood high school (Senn). Sadly. Yet if you look at the map, much of the neighborhood is Tier 4 . . .

  • 203. anonymouseteacher  |  February 4, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    @201, you are kidding, right? There’s been about 3-5 successful turn arounds that include more than just PreK to 2nd grade. That’s in the entire city.

  • 204. cps alum  |  February 4, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    I don’t know what CPS uses as “low income,” but I found a HUD document that has low income in Illinois (FY 2012) defined as $57700 for a family of 4. See page 2.

    I couldn’t find the current tier information, but for the last map tier 4 had a median income of $76,829. Tier 3 median income was $54,232. I would guess that these median incomes are now lower because of the the economic downturn. (see page 19). (Also this document does not say if these median incomes are household or family incomes).

    Using the above numbers, it is very likely that more than 50% of the children in tier 3 are low-income, and likely many children in tier 4 are also low income. Also since the cps stated median incomes are tier wide, there may be some tier 3/4 census tracks that are majority low income. I looked at some tier 4 census tracts on the US census website. My parents live in tier 4 and their census track has a median household income (MHI) of $46,000 and $59647 medain family income (MFI). Where I live it is $89,000/$109,000 MHI/MFI. A couple census tracks in Bucktown and Lincoln Park had MHI/MFI of $93,000/$139,370 and $118,962/$178,7750. I then looked at tracks in Mayfair, and Portage Park, and Jefferson Park (all tier 4) they had MHI/MFI $58,550/$84,118, $55798/$61,292 and $46,425/$58,393.

    Clearly there is a lot of diversity within tier 4 and I’m sure there are many tier 4 families that are Low Income.

  • 205. watcher  |  February 5, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    Just a tip. If you want your kid to qualify for good finaid for college, he has to aim for 30 or higher ACT. Also fewer “top” colleges are accepting AP scores as college credits. You should calculate your EFC now. To have time to overcome your shock. Being legacy or underrep’ed minority will help big time. In other words, time to get obsessed with the nitty-gritty of college admission now!

  • 206. CPSDepressed  |  February 5, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    My kid is in one of those schools that turned around, and trust me, it’s not easy. It requires a committed principal, first and foremost; someone who is savvy about grants; teachers who are on board; and last but not least, parents who will raise ridiculous amounts of money. The politics that go into this can get really nasty, too, such as divisions between parents who give money and those who do not and the shunning of special ed children or just those (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) “kids in the upper grades who will be leaving soon, and then you’ll see the scores go through the roof!”

    It is possible to turn a school around, but it is not easy, and it certainly not a “hey, gang, let’s put on a show!” feel-good endeavor. Also, the stakes are higher in high school, both in terms of college and in terms of behavior. That’s why many of us have trepidations about sending our kids to these high schools on the cusp.

  • 207. JD  |  February 5, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    Like many overcrowded north side elem schools (as well as Amundsen), half or more than half of the students enrolled reside outside of the school’s boundary.

  • 208. BuenaParkMom  |  February 5, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    While we’re talking about high schools and boundaries. I’d really love it if someone could explain to me why my neighborhood school is Senn High School instead of Lakeview. To travel to Senn would be twice the distance and would require me to pass both Lakeview and Amundensen on the way there. Really very odd, Lakeview is literally walkable from my house. I went from track 2 to track 3 (which is probably appropriate) but just north of montrose along the lakefront went from track 2 to track 1. This is in the same attendance boundary for the local neighborhood school with 90%+ poverty level. So the kids in the subsided high-rise near me who are mostly African immigrants seem to get the shaft compared to those north of Montrose who attend the same lack-luster school with poor resources.

    I want to believe in public education, but I really see it failing so many of the children in my neighborhood. And with the utter disorganization of CPS and the ineffectiveness of its bureaucracy it’s starting to make me think the high sticker price of private education is worth it to avoid the headache.

  • 209. Esmom  |  February 5, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    @206, yes I know what goes into turning around an elementary school — and then keeping it afloat — so I cannot fathom what it would take to turn around a high school because indeed, the stakes are so much higher.

    I think another issue is that while parents can stick with an elementary school for nine years, maybe longer of there’s a pre-K and if there are siblings. With just four years of high school, you’re just not there for the long haul in the same way.

    That said, however, there’s gotta be a way!

  • 210. Bookworm  |  February 5, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    Many schools have kids from outside school boundaries that have been gentrified out of Northside areas even as they earlier were not living far from their schools.
    Many of the longest term families around my children’s school were displaced west as house after house of apartments were demolished as the school improved. We’re talking generations of kids from these families being part of the school community.
    Other kids living farther away from their schools are the bodies keeping those potentially improved schools open instead of closed– as local families shun neighborhood schools to go elsewhere for ages despite their property values rising.
    Shipping these kids out to “improve” the schools seems wrong.

  • 211. MarketingMom  |  February 5, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    What is this notion that if your child does not go to a SEHS, he or she will not be prepared for college or have a change to go to college? Parents are getting themselves worked up unnecessarily!

  • 212. cpsobsessed  |  February 5, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    I think I would say that looking at the test scores of any neighborhood high schools and lake view even, it is hard to feel confident about the academic rigor without further investigation. Can a kid go to college? Of course? Lake view sends some kids to northwestern and univ of chicago. Will the average child be well-prepared for college by attending amundsen etc? I have trouble accepting that on faith. At the very least kids would be surrounded by many teens who don’t even graduate from high school. At my suburban high school we didn’t all attend college but there was at least a shared understanding that kids would stick it out through high school graduation.

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  • 213. SSKCORN  |  February 5, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    This is based on 2010-11 enrollment

    Amundsen – 25% of school population from the neighborhood, 39% of eligible neighborhood students choose Amundsen.

    Lakeview – 17% of school population from the neighborhood, 30% of eligible neighborhood students choose Lakeview.

    The trend over the last 4 yrs show less % of eligible neighborhood students are choosing these schools for HS. It may be because there are now more Charter HS options or as the neighborhoods become wealthier more private HS options.

  • 214. Mom2  |  February 5, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    @212 – high school is just as much about the friends your child makes as the quality of the education. So cpsobsessed has it right. You want your child to hang out with kids where homework and going to class is never optional. Where misbehaving in class would be a terrible idea because it would look bad on college applications and getting great grades is cool and something people look up to, not make fun of. Kids that age are totally influenced by their fellow classmates. No school is perfect and there will be some of this everywhere, but tons less of it at sehs than current neighborhood schools. That’s what we have to change.

  • 215. Mom2  |  February 5, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    Sorry, I meant @211.

  • 216. cpsobsessed  |  February 5, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    I guess I find it odd that these kids who are going out of neighborhood to say amundsen or lake view then end up dropping out. Or maybe it’s not the same kids.
    Clearly the parents took the time to make the effort to find the school, get the kids there. By nature, you’d expect these schools to have some level of committment among the students. I guess it merits further investigation.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 217. howmanytimescanIreloadthepage  |  February 5, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    Let me just say, that I would be less obsessed if any of the magnet or related webages hosted by CPS actually loaded.

  • 218. anonymouseteacher  |  February 5, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    @205, I was wondering where you got your information from regarding needing a 30 on the ACT to get good amounts of financial assistance. I am guessing you mean scholarships? This was 20 years ago now, so I suppose there could be a huge jump in scores, but way back when I was a high school student, I “only” got a 25 on my ACT and had 50% of my total college costs (including room and board) paid for through scholarships. In fact my first two years I didn’t even pay for books. None of the money was need based. I did not attend Northwestern or U of C, but there are plenty of smaller, less prestigious schools that will give good amounts of financial assistance to decent students. Maybe when you are thinking of good financial aid you are only referring to the most expensive, most sought after universities? Or maybe there’s been a drastic change in scholarship requirements since I was in school. I’d be interested to hear more as it sounds to me as if you have high school aged kids now. If I am wrong, I’d welcome the correction.

  • 219. Gwen  |  February 5, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    I prefer to send my child to a SEHS, but I think that if a child wants to do well and is motivated that the IB programs at Amundsen and Senn are viable alternatives. And I don’t question the quality of the instruction or dedication of the teachers in these programs or how well prepared the students are to go to college. At Amundsen their Academic Decathlon Team is in the City Finals – I don’t think those kids are slacking or lacking a good education. You can’t only go by the test scores to determine the overall academic rigor of the school, because I imagine the disparity between the neighborhood and the IB student’s test scores is substantial.

  • 220. HS Mom  |  February 5, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    And I don’t question the quality of the instruction or dedication of the teachers in these programs or how well prepared the students are to go to college.


    Mom2, Mary and others

    The biggest thing that the selectives do have going for them is the curriculum and the teachers. We can debate about how under or overpaid teachers are but reality is that many are dedicated and totally responsive to students eager to do a good job. This is something that can be replicated in a neighborhood school.

    Another suggestion would be to allow students outside the neighborhood by application/lottery/minimum stanine, much like Von Steuben. It seems to work for them.

  • 221. kate  |  February 6, 2012 at 12:32 am

    Mary @ 201…. yeah, it’s just that easy (sic). pls tell me you are being sarcastic or funny…. cuz it’s really not that easy.

  • 222. HSObsessed  |  February 6, 2012 at 9:42 am

    @213 – Thanks for providing that info. Is the full data available publicly somewhere? I’d love to see those stats for all the high schools.

  • 223. Alcott High School - check it out  |  February 6, 2012 at 10:47 am

    Alcott High School for the Humanities is a great alternative with a fantastic principal.

    “Alcott High School for the Humanities and Alcott Elementary School offer the only pre-K through grade 12 option for parents and students in Chicago.”


    “In 2007, a discussion between principal David J. Domovic and current U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan led to a team of Alcott Elementary School administrators, teachers, parents and community members embarking on a new endeavor for Chicago Public Schools: the district’s first pre-kindergarten thru grade 12 school.

    Two years later, Alcott High School for the Humanities was a reality. The team listened to CPS high school students and the resounding concern was one of disconnect when students arrived at their new high school from myriad elementaries. After hearing these concerns, the team decided to create the finest small school in the City of Chicago steeped in the humanities, social and emotional learning and critical thinking in every classroom–from English to physical education and from math to AVID.”

  • 224. CPSDepressed  |  February 6, 2012 at 11:05 am

    @211, Given that only, what, 7 percent of CPS 11th graders are considered to be prepared for college and that the estimate is taht something like only 6 percent of CPS graduates have a college degree at age 25, I think it’s fair that parents ask the question of whether any given CPS high school or program can do that. The record of the system is not good, for all sorts of long and complicated reasons. The idea that kids from neighborhood schools won’t be adequately prepared for college comes from the data.

    Many of these schools may well be capable of preparing kids for college, but parents need some information about that. I’m not willing to accept it on faith.

  • 225. Mia  |  February 6, 2012 at 11:16 am

    @224: Given that children graduating from any number of neighborhood schools (including the ones mentioned above, Lakeview, Amundsen, Senn) all have students who go on to schools like U of C, Northwestern, Cornell, and many other fine institutions, leads me to believe on fact, not faith, that they must be “capable” of preparing them for college. The arrogance of believing only the Selective Enrollment schools can accomplish this is mind boggling to me. Within many of the neighborhood schools are excellent Honors and IB programs, it’s true that a smaller population of children w/in the school are part of them, but they do exist.

  • 226. CPSDepressed  |  February 6, 2012 at 11:39 am

    It’s not arrogance. It’s statistical. What percentage of students does Senn send to a highly selective college in any given year? What percentage of Senn students are enrolled at any college after three years? How the does the performance of the Senn regular population compare to the Senn IB program?

    Are we talking 3 kids out of a class of 400 going to a highly selective college? Or what? You seem to have the facts.

    As for arrogance, read post @173. I only wish my child could be so perfect!

  • 227. mom2  |  February 6, 2012 at 11:40 am

    I may have missed it here. Do we know the percent of kids from the neighborhood schools that go directly on to 4-year universities (not city/community colleges)? We always hear about how there are students that get into these great places, but are we talking about 1 or 2 out of the whole class or more than half or ???

  • 228. mom2  |  February 6, 2012 at 11:42 am

    @226 – we must have been writing at the same time.

  • 229. ChicagoGawker  |  February 6, 2012 at 11:45 am

    But @225, statistically those children are the exception at these schools. That fact leads one to question if it was the school that prepared these students to excel at that level or if they excelled despite the HS preparation received there. I would love to believe that it is common for a NOT already high acheiving, highly motivated student to enter Senn and graduate with a Northwestern acceptance. And BTW, many of us are not even setting the bar as high as NW.

  • 230. CPSDepressed  |  February 6, 2012 at 11:47 am

    Here’s a study by University of Chicago in 2006 that shows that 35% of CPS students enroll in a 4-year college within a year of graduation and that only 30% of those end up with a bachelor’s degree within 6 years, which would indicate a 10.5% college completion rate.

    I don’t find that comforting, but then, I am a snob with an ill-bred child.

    In 2010, 55.4% of CPS students enrolled in college, but there is no data on retention rates nor on the selectiveness of the college. Obviously, getting into Chicago State is a very different matter than getting into Cornell.

  • 231. RL Julia  |  February 6, 2012 at 11:52 am

    The kids makes the school, not the other way around necessarily. That being said, it would be nice if Chicago high schools were more balanced in their offerings – in that they were capable of recoginizing and serving the needs of many different types of students. Going to a more academically focused school helps but kid go to college because there is a parental expectation of such. I know plenty of kids/people who if they had been born into families without this expectation would have happily not gone to college and plenty of people who probably really could have handled and benefitted from college-level work but didn’t go because it wasn’t the value of their family or community.

  • 232. ChicagoGawker  |  February 6, 2012 at 11:59 am

    Well, it’s a complex interplay of kids and school, and let’s not forget the other BIG influence upon teenagers-peers. As has been mentioned before, even a kid from a family with high academic expectations may not study if it’s not cool at their school.

  • 233. RL Julia  |  February 6, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    What gets me down is the lack of flexibilty in the current system. Some kids really don’t hit their academic stride until after 7th grade, many, many kids (boys especially but hardly exclusively) are capable of doing high level work academically but are not emotionally mature enough to commit their time and energy up front.

  • 234. Mia  |  February 6, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    @229: I am sure these students are the exception, and I am sure they are already very bright and motivated. And I don’t think “it’s common for a NOT already high achieving, highly motivated student to enter Senn and graduate with a Northwestern acceptance.” But then again, i don’t think that would be common at any school, because to go to one of those top universities you must be both, no matter what school you attend. The student body demographics and socioeconomic levels are vastly different in Senn than in the SE high schools, and in no way do I mean to imply that the average outcome or student experience is the same in both, clearly it’s not. But what I am trying to say is that I do believe the poor relative peformance of the school is more attributable to the average student’s life situation than to the quality or dedication of the teachers or the rigor of the curriculum available at the school.

  • 235. Mia  |  February 6, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    At Senn, several years back there was a large neighborhood fight over proposed changes to the school, including the addition of a naval academy. The outcome of that debate aside, if you follow this link you can read a statement about Senn submitted to the school board by Jesse Sharkey, then Senn teacher, now CTU VP, which I think helps to explain the neighborhood school experience and wide ranging outcomes of students. I hope you’ll take a moment to read it:

  • 236. RL Julia  |  February 6, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    Thanks. That is a good article.

  • 237. Mia  |  February 6, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    Finally, @226: Really? My post responding to someone saying that one of the main reasons that 8th graders want to go to a SEHS is status by speaking honestly about my daughter’s reason being academic focus is arrogant? Or was I arrogant when I said I haven’t heard her or her friends referring to children who attend neighborhood schools as stupid and that I’d be disappointed in her if she did?

    Now I will exhibit arrogance, since you already attributing it to me: My daughter got straight As at a school where 93 was an A in 7th grade, and actually averaged 98 in all of her classes – not just the core subjects. She scored 99s in English and Math and Science on her 7th grade ISATs, giving her a perfect 600 going into the Selective Enrollment exam. She volunteers at a local community program providing food to less fortunate people, is a teen leader at our local park district where she tutors kids and organizes art projects for them to do. She helps her math teacher by tutoring kids who he assigns to her, and she wants to be a teacher when she “grows up” and come back and teach at a CPS school because she so admires several of the teacher’s in her life and has already set her sights on winning a Golden Apple scholarship to help her accomplish that. She also rolls her eyes at me, leaves her clothes all over her room and fights with her siblings. All true, not perfect, true. I hope that was arrogant enough for you.

  • 238. CPSDepressed  |  February 6, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    Right, Mia.

    So you are not arrogant because your daughter is smarter and kinder that my kid, but I am arrogant because I have doubts about the ability of an average CPS high school to prepare students for college.

    That’s exactly right.

  • 239. Mia  |  February 6, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    @230 RL Julia – I reread your thoughtful post and was struck by how you touched on many of the same points that Jesse Sharkey did in that letter, I’m glad you enjoyed it, it was very informative for me.

  • 240. iGetIt  |  February 6, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    236 Mia – what tier?

  • 241. Mia  |  February 6, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    We live in Tier 3.

  • 242. Eric  |  February 6, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    @156 and 157 Chris

    Thanks for the data. I remember a couple years back when that number was closer to 12%.

    The “Me” is a proud product of CPS neighborhood schools, with a kid in CPS, and while i have my issues with the current system, I’m a strong proponent of public education.

    I was disillusioned with high school because the content didn’t include me, and I barely graduated. I still have a very diverse group of friends from that time and I learned more from them than I did in class. In fact, I learned a lot from them while cutting class and we all turned out fine.

    I went on to graduate from a local art college but dove into the education field. I went on to study Education Policy, and since my program (at an Ivy!) did not believe in the validity of standardized testing, I was able to get in based on my writing (edited by some of my old CPS friends), which detailed the injustices I saw in CPS as a student.

  • 243. watcher  |  February 6, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    @218. anonymouseteacher – Among those I know in higher ed and those with kids in the admissions race now, 30 on the ACTs is the tipping point where they report that top- and 2nd-tier (more “selective”) colleges start to offer decent aid packages (yes, lots of scholarships and grants, rather than loan options).

    Of course, our kids don’t have to aim for reach schools. Basically, if a kid’s ACT score is in the top 25 percent of the school’s students, the aid package would likely be the best that school can offer, I’m told. (This is excluding other elements that attract sweet offers, such as athletic skills, a demonstrated passion for a unique major at the college, etc.)

    Seems that you need at least 20 ACT to do college work (very broadly speaking), and at least 25 ACT to get into 2nd tier schools (among other attributes). I’ve seen kids get into colleges with 15 ACT, but then you’re looking at some required remedial work for a likely 1st generation college student, with all that means.

  • 244. watcher  |  February 6, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    232. RL Julia – I agree. Ever read Outliers?

  • 245. mom2  |  February 6, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    @Mia – I read your article about Senn. I think it is great that we are trying to see the value in a place where kids can go to school and be safe, have fun, learn enough to graduate and then get a job. He makes good points for their current study body.

    However, a school like that would never be one that most of this forum’s obsessed parents would consider for their college bound child. That is what I keep trying to point out. We pay property taxes for public schools and pay a lot of them. We want a school that offers what our kids need, too.

    It isn’t arrogant or mean or anything like that. We want a school where our kids are most likely to make friends with others that are also going to college. Peer pressure is huge in high school. I’m thinking a school needs at least half of the student body planning to attend college and not just the community college mentioned in the article.

    I believe most schools should and do have quality teachers. If they don’t, the principal should be doing something about that.

    Safety is certainly the highest priority. Student body (behavior, values, etc.) would be number two in my priority list. Then the classes offered. The clubs and other special offerings would easily follow these students because the obsessed parents would make sure of it.

  • 246. Mia  |  February 6, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    @mom2 – I’m not trying to see value in it, I am seeing value in it. And if what you took from the article is that Jesse Sharkey is only advocating for a place where all the kids go to be safe, have fun and learn enough to graduate I think you may have missed the point of the letter. I understand that most of the readers of this blog, and I include myself in this, would not make this a choice for their child, I have stated repeatedly that I absolutely hope my child gets into a SEHS. I brought all of this up (and I don’t mean to focus only on Senn – Amundsen, Lakeview and others fit the bill as well) in response to doubts expressed that these neighborhood programs could actually prepare a student for college, which I believe that they clearly can, given a child and his/her family is interested in seeking that path.

  • 247. Been2School  |  February 6, 2012 at 4:46 pm


    Do you have a backup plan?

  • 248. Mia  |  February 6, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    @246, I’m sorry I don’t understand – a backup plan for what?

  • 249. Chris  |  February 6, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    This: “Safety is certainly the highest priority. Student body (behavior, values, etc.) would be number two in my priority list. Then the classes offered. The clubs and other special offerings would easily follow these students because the obsessed parents would make sure of it.”

    is not consistent with this:

    “However, a school like that would never be one that most of this forum’s obsessed parents would consider for their college bound child.”

    Also, note/remeber that only about 40% of HS *graduates* enroll at a four-year college. So the median kids who *finishes* HS is not who you want general enrollment HS’s to cater to. And that ignores the % who don’t graduate. Sure, life would be easier if all the “distractions” could be dependably compartmentalized away from “us”, but (1) that ain’t reality, and (2) every time the “safe/no distractions” thing comes up, someone (this time, me) points out that even NSCP and Payton have “gang members” in attendance. And, in some cases, those “gang members” get into your kid’s “dream school”. That’s life. Especially in the big city.

  • 250. Chris  |  February 6, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    “I’m sorry I don’t understand – a backup plan for what?”

    A back up plan if your daughter doesn’t get into *any* SEHS.

  • 251. Mia  |  February 6, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    She ranked five SE schools, and truly I don’t mean to sound arrogant here, but given her score going into the exam, her past performance on standardized tests, and the cutoffs for prior years, I’m fairly confident she’ll get into one. If she didn’t have the score she had going into the application process, we were considering Senn’s IB, Lincoln Park’s IB, ChiArts and Ogden where a friend of ours goes and is doing well and is quite happy.

  • 252. Jen  |  February 6, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    I suspect that 6% is probably an accurate reflection of the number of Chicago resident parents with college intentions for their children, that stay in the city for whatever reason when it comes to high school rather than hot footing it out to the burbs which is still the most common way Chicago parents of college bound kids get their kids into the required high school.

    The city is made up of much more than the North side, the majority of families don’t consider college a requirement (or even an option) like most of us here do. This is a blog frequented by a tiny tiny majority of CPS parents, ones that are obviously motivated to have our kids as highly educated as we can get them. We don’t represent the way most CPS parents think.

  • 253. Chris  |  February 6, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    “I don’t mean to sound arrogant here”

    And I don’t mean to sound like a jerk, but are you really “arrogant” about your **daughter’s** accomplishments? I’d be proud of her, too, were I you, but I can’t imagine defending myself against allegations of “arrogance” for bragging on her. Insufferable, impolite, any number of other negative characterizations, perhaps. But arrogant? If nothing else, that’s just bad test prep to use a word that way.

  • 254. Mia  |  February 6, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    I guess it’s a good thing I’m not the one taking the test then.

  • 255. mom2  |  February 6, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    @Chris – “This: “Safety is certainly the highest priority. Student body (behavior, values, etc.) would be number two in my priority list. Then the classes offered. The clubs and other special offerings would easily follow these students because the obsessed parents would make sure of it.”
    is not consistent with this:
    “However, a school like that would never be one that most of this forum’s obsessed parents would consider for their college bound child.”
    I am being consistent. IF parents felt that these north side neighborhood high schools were very safe, with a student body and families that felt nothing was more important than their education (paying attention in class, going every day, never skipping homework, getting the best grades possible, etc.) with enough college prep and honors level classes to meet the requirements for the best universities – THEN these schools might be a choice for most of this forum’s obsessed parents. BUT, it doesn’t sound like those schools are quite there, yet or at least, parents don’t believe they are there. Is it really just lake of marketing?
    HOWEVER, I really hope they can be. It would be amazing and wonderful if my child and all the kids at our current school wanted to and planned to attend Lakeview High School. I pray that day comes before we have to go through 7th grade hell.

    @Chris, what gangs are at NSCP and Payton and how often are there arrests for violence and gang activity inside these schools? My child has close friends at both these schools and they have never mentioned issues with kids getting stabbed or asked to join gangs, etc.

  • 256. Chris  |  February 6, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    “I am being consistent.”

    No, you aren’t. Your *only* priority is that it’s all of those things. You’re at least at esteem, and possibly at self-actualization as your priorities–the rest are assumed as sine qua non.

    “they have never mentioned issues with kids getting stabbed or asked to join gangs, etc.”

    How much of that goes on at LVHS, Mather, Senn, Amundsen? That’s the point–not that bad stuff happens at the SEHS’s, but that (1) someone (not necessarily in this forum) inevitably points out that there are affiliated kids in *every* HS, and (2) from a *safety* perspective, the northside HS’s are all (mostly) okay.

  • 257. RL Julia  |  February 7, 2012 at 8:22 am

    Reading the above comments I really think that needs to be a concerted effort to start “discovering” and championing (re-branding anyone?) the non-Lincoln IB, the Lakeviews and etc… and quite frankly the people who are going to have to lead the charge are those with the kids who are on the admission’s cusp for the SEHS – who quite frankly when given the choice between trying to get their kids grades/test scores etc…. up enough to get into an SEHS or trying to find a great (for lack of a better word) “second tier high school are going to try and work with the kid.

    As a parent going through the SEHS process, I have a kid like Mia’s daughter in that he went into the SEHS process with high ISATS and all A’s – (tier 3 if you are wondering) and quite frankly, I found just sorting through the SEHS’s daunting and difficult enough (with their bizillion open houses) that I admittedly didn’t do due diligence researching and selling my son (the status conscious one- remember?) on the IB programs, the Von Steubens and etc… The embarrassing fact is, unless he completely blows the entrance exam (always a possibility), he has a very good chance of getting into ONE of the six schools he listed. If that’s the case, I guess he’ll be staying at Taft (provided he gets in there) or going to our local high school Schurz – and you know what, if that’s the case, I’m pretty sure he’ll be fine and get a great education there too.

    In Mia’s defense about her misuse of the word arrogant – anyone with a high achieving child has long ago learned to keep their mouths shut about it or suffer some serious dagger eyes from other parents – no one likes a braggart.

  • 258. RL Julia  |  February 7, 2012 at 8:29 am

    The point (which I neglected make above) is that the people with kids like Mia and myself (and judging from the acceptance scores for the SEHS’s there are a lot of us) are not going to be compelled on this matter the same way that someone with a kid on the acceptance cusp is going to be.

    It will be a difficult matter as well since most parents want their kids in the SEHS’s and are more willing in investing their time in that endeavor than in championing a lesser known school. On the other hand, those kids will walk out of those non-select high schools with much better class rank and any number of other perks associated with being at the top of the pile. As someone who transferred from a day prep school to my local high school in 10th grade, I can assure you this was very much my experience. Take heart.

  • […] Obsessed has been tracking changes to the economic tiers used to help determine students' chances of getting into SE schools and the numbers of kids from […]

  • 260. MayfairAM  |  February 7, 2012 at 10:04 am

    Enjoying this thread. Thanks for the heads up on Alcott. Has anyone here seriously considered Illinois Math and Science? Is it weird that they start high school as sophomores?

    I have 1 8th grade child at WYAC and feel very fortunate….but I also have a 7th grader (at a Catholic school) who was pushed a year ahead in 1st grade, so will now be competing (to get into SEHS) with children a whole year older than he is….so I am looking for as many options as possible.

  • 261. Mia  |  February 7, 2012 at 10:20 am

    RL Julia – thanks for the defense :). I truly don’t mean or want to be a braggart. This has really been eye-opening for me – looking into a lot of these other schools. I have another child who is NOT the high achiever his sister is, he’s bright and in another RGC, but he lacks her focus and determination, which is just fine, but I think when it comes time for high school for him I’m going to seriously look at the options discussed here. Fortunately t’s still four years away . . .

    Also, I didn’t mean to offend when I said the thing about 8th graders and status, I was just relaying my own experience. I think what bothered me most was the other poster whose child referred to kids who go to neighborhood schools as stupid. One of my daughter’s best friends at school has recently been the target of some pretty horrible bullying (cyber and in person) and I am perhaps overly sensitive to the mean way children behave can toward each other right now.

  • 262. klm  |  February 7, 2012 at 10:24 am

    OK, regarding college admissions, HSs preparing kids for college, etc., I’m going to bring up a sensitive point, but one that people need to keep in mind. I’ve brought this up before, but I think it needs to be said again, here.

    It varies from college to college, but (having worked in college admissions) any selective school is going to want a “diverse” (i.e., a certain number of black and hispanic, say a minimum of 7-8% each, but maybe more than 10%, if possible) freshman class.

    At the colleges where I worked, there was a HUGE emphasis on this. Diversity has become almost an obsession in higher education these days. Every admissions officer at a selective college knows that there will be howls and protests (and heck to pay in terms of one’s career) if fall enrollment doesn’t contain a certain % of black and hispanic enrollees. At one college where I worked, the admissions office realized that there’s be hardly any black males in the freshman class, after offer acceptance yields came in. Certain admissions officers and faculty actually called up some black male rejected applicants and in effect said, “Hey, we’ve changed our minds. We really want you!.” Financial aid is used accordingly. The disparities between some admitted “diversity” candidates and their “non-diversity” peers can sometimes be stunning in terms of average SATs, etc.

    However, white and asian kids don’t really bring any “diversity”, since there are already enough of them at selective schools. Except for a very few truly “need blind” colleges (Harvard, Stanford, etc.) with huge endowments, admissions officers do sometimes have to consider whether an applicant is really bringing anything, diversity-wise to warrant more than an average share of financial aid, which is, after all, finite. Yes, a kid whose parents emigrated from China and who barely speak english and make minimum wage at a restaurant in Chinatown may be a good candidate, but is he/she “extraordinary” enough to warrant a quasi-full scholarship when there are already lots of asian kids that are as equally qualified and can pay full tuition? Same goes for the white Eastern European immigrant kids whose mother cleans houses and father works as a handy man.

    If you think that this leads to freshman classes where upper and upper-middle class kids are way overrepresented and working-class white and asian kids are way underrepresented, you’d be right. There has been lots of discussion lately of how working-class white and asian kids seem to be getting the short end of the stick in terms of admissions to selective colleges.

    Accodingly, white and asian kids will have to compete with kids from the North Shore, Latin, Lab, the Upper East Side, Greenwich, Beverly Hills, etc. (i.e., really great schools that prepare their students well for the rigors of academics at selective colleges), and maybe be even a little better qualified if they’re going to need a lot of financial aid.

    People always come up with stories about kids from CPS HSs with average ACTs of 14-15-16 and where 0.5-2% of kids meet “college-readiness” standards, etc., but I’d bet lots of money that these kinds of kids were admitted despite their ACT scores, etc., not because their HS did a great job.

    That said, MOST colleges are NOT really all that selective. We’re talking (relatively speaking) about very few schools, here. Most successful people go to places like UIC, Illinois State, NIU, etc., not Harvard, Haverford, Brown, Northwestern, etc. If your kid’s doing OK in school, they’ll do OK in college, just maybe not Yale or Duke.

    I’d love to believe that where on goes to HS does not matter, but that’s just wishful thinking. I don’t care what anybody says, most non-selective CPS HSs clearly are doing a horrible job of preparing kids for a successful college-level academic pursuit. Statistics don’t lie.

  • 263. Alcott High School?  |  February 7, 2012 at 10:54 am

    Can anyone comment on Alcott? Any real experiences from parents or teachers?

  • 264. Mia  |  February 7, 2012 at 10:57 am

    I was chatting yesterday with a friend who works at CPS in the Office of Career and College Prep (yes, that actually exists !). I relayed some of the conversation here at this blog, and he suggested I post a link to their website, called Choose Your Future, which is really a very interesting and informative site with a lot of resources for parents and children. Also, there is a link to a reporting page with post secondary statistics, and though there are a lot of city colleges represented in the mix, 56% of CPS graduates go on to college.

  • 265. Chicago Gawker  |  February 7, 2012 at 11:32 am

    Mia, I am completely perplexed about why your original post, which simply stated that your kid’s friends are focused on the academics of the various SEs and not the status, would be perceived as arrogant. As a parent of a 5th grader not yet privy to the 8th grade social scene , I found this useful information and a contribution to the conversation.

  • 266. mom2  |  February 7, 2012 at 11:34 am

    @Mia – that is an interesting web site and the information in the reports on all of CPS as far as college is very helpful. However, I’d be really interested in that same information per school and that data is not available to parents. You have to have a user name and password. I’d be curious about what happens to that data if you took away all the current SEHS students. Then what is the percent that go on to selective 4-year universities?

  • 267. Alcott High School?  |  February 7, 2012 at 11:34 am

    @264, I have been thinking the same. Don’t understand why people flew off the handle at Mia’s comments.

  • 268. HSObsessed  |  February 7, 2012 at 11:42 am

    @263/265 – Where exactly is the data on the site about post-secondary statistics? I can’t find it. TIA

    @Alcott HS? – I don’t know anyone whose kid attends HS there. The EXPLORE exam, which is taken by 9th graders, shows that Alcott HS seem to be enrolling kids typical of the population of the general north side high schools. Alcott’s 2010 average Explore score was 13.7. Some of the other high schools’ average scores, for comparison purposes: Steinmetz 13.8, Amundsen 13.9, Senn 14.3, Mather 14.4, Ogden 14.7, Taft 15.7, Lake View 15.8.

  • 269. Alcott High School?  |  February 7, 2012 at 11:48 am

    Thank you, HSObsessed. Am not familiar with the EXPLORE, this is very helpful.

    Wondering why Alcott is less desirable. Will post whatever I eventually learn.

  • 270. HSObsessed  |  February 7, 2012 at 11:48 am

    The city of Chicago’s data portal has only recently begun posting CPS data, but it has provided a huge data file containing all information used to determine each individual school’s report cards. There’s tons of info about all elementary, middle and high schools. You can see average test scores for Explore/Plan/ACT, college eligibility rates, college enrollment rates, incidence of student misconduct, student attendance rates, and more.

  • 271. klm  |  February 7, 2012 at 11:59 am


    Oh, wow. That is so LOW. We all want to be “glass half full” when it comes to CPS, but the stats for almost all CPS HSs that are not SE are just plain sad and kinda’ frightening in terms of what it means for most kids’ futures.

    Also, I know I’m not alone when I say that from what I hear about certain HSs’ graduates that I know, even the most Pollyannaish optimist is sometimes stopped cold. When I find out that somebody went to a CPS HS, I’ll ask “How was it?”, hoping/wanting to get a positive (or even just NOT negative) answer, but virtually always it’s something like, “Oh God, it was awful. I’d never want my own kids to go there. That’s why we’re moving to the suburbs when the time comes if Johnny doesn’t get into Lane Tech”. I’ll mention that I have a friend that lives in their old neighborhood and their kids might go to “X” HS and a graduate from that school will be like “Oh my God! Why?! Can’t they move or pay for private school?”.

    I want to see and hear something good for once about non-SE CPS HSs, but I’m still waiting.

  • 272. Eric  |  February 7, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    To Piggyback on 262 Kim’s post and to reply to mom2:

    Top Colleges, Largely for the Elite

    Again, merit, and therefore gaining entrance into a selective college, can still be largely tied to your income. It seems like Amherst is trying to prevent this in their selections, but many other top schools aren’t. Being super-selective and expensive is what makes them “elite” schools.

    mom2, I would guess that the only kids in non-SEHS that go to selective schools would be kids from IB or magnets.

    On the flipside, not all SEHS are capable of sending kids to top selective colleges either.

  • 273. momof3boys  |  February 7, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    darn… we are in tier 3. so i guess i am going to have my son test in for Lane’s AC… Although, i really doubt he will have trouble getting in. I think it’s WY, he will have competition. I wonder if talking to the sport coaches now would help him. But for goodness sakes! he’s only in 4th grade and now I have to worry about this all over again. I thought i would have a break from the older two….

  • 274. Eric  |  February 7, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    @270 Kim

    I went to a non-SEHS and was not in an IB program and it was fine. As I stated earlier in this thread many of us went on to selective schools and got grad degrees (see post 154). The social benefits were enormous and I think they better prepared me for life. I actually felt sorry for the gifted kids. They mostly consisted of white and asian kids and they were so segregated from the general school population that they seemed to have less friends. Many of them ended up at the same colleges as the rest of us.

  • 275. momof3boys  |  February 7, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    i meant to post this earlier but i was just looking at my ds directory from school (rgc) and i noticed that most of the kids are from tier 3-4 areas. in his class there are only 4 from tier 1-2, and honestly, they are not even representative of those tiers-low income, uneducated, etc…. IMO, the opposite…

  • 276. Mia  |  February 7, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    @273 Eric

    That is really good to hear. From your experience, would you say that the populations w/in the schools were very segregrated by program or did you have opportunity to intereact with a mix of students?

    And thanks to @Alcott High School and @Chicago Gawker for the kind comments – I don’t doubt that I can be – was it insufferable and impolite? – but I truly didn’t mean to be.

    My friend at CPS tells me that they are crunching data to have more post-secondary reports available with greater sorting capabilities – so we may see some available for general access soon. What I found interesting on the site was all of the “specialized” programs available – like the Broadcast Digital Media and the Culinary Arts programs – they both looked really great. Also the scholarship information will probably be useful as well – sigh – i’m not ready to start thinking about that yet . . .

  • 277. oldtown  |  February 7, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    @275 Mia, don’t believe all the hype for these specialized programs. I have been seeing the ChiArts kids this month at various ballet auditions and really I am not impressed. They are significantly behind compared to their age group. If a student is considering a dance program, select a strong academic school and then take classes at the more reputable ballet programs (i.e., Joffrey and Ballet Chicago).

  • 278. AlsoAnonymous  |  February 7, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    @276 I’m not sure as my child is nowhere near high school age, but I believe the point of the performing arts school and other specialized programs is to have a strong focus on that interest and have a school filled with like-minded peers, much in the way an SE has an environment filled with academically minded students. So, I would not necessarily expect them to be the best in their interest in the entire city — just to have a strong interest (and some proven skill) they would like to pursue within their academic hours. I think it’d be great if my child had such an interest — and a school where that interest is the focus. I don’t know if they will. After all, a lot of kids who are the best in their interest likely come from parents who can afford lots of private lessons … and potentially private school, too.

  • 279. watcher  |  February 7, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    @261 klm – “I don’t care what anybody says, most non-selective CPS HSs clearly are doing a horrible job of preparing kids for a successful college-level academic pursuit. Statistics don’t lie.”

    So true. However, it’s not solely due to the high schools. Families and communities (SES) also significantly contribute to the level of college prep. Perhaps more so.

  • 280. Eric  |  February 7, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    @275 Mia

    My only complaint is that the gifted students were segregated. For those kids PE could be brutal. No one knew them so they stayed in their gifted group.

    The regular track was a larger diverse group and you had the option to take accelerated classes. So you could take an accelerated math class, a non-accelerated english etc., and your regular track friends could be in there as well. There was plenty of integrated time in gym, art, music, band, lunch, or study hall.

    Some of my friends were invited to join the gifted program but their parents didn’t want them to get the work load. They stayed in the regular track and went on to great colleges (U of California, NYU, Urbana, UIC). But like Kim alluded to, many stayed around here and went to UIC, Urbana, NIU, DePaul, Loyola, Columbia College, SAIC, and they’re doing great. They have kids, homes, businesses, grad degrees…student loans. Some of them went on to more selective grad programs, and going to local schools didn’t prevent them from getting in.

    If normal programming is adequate, I’m against putting my kid in a gifted class. Kids need the social benefits of kids from diverse backgrounds. As middle-class parents we already supplement the academic stuff outside of school. I already know how to write a college entrance essay. My kid will be fine, as I’m sure many of the kids of the parents on here.

  • 281. Eric  |  February 7, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    @278 watcher

    Agree! SES is huge!

    I’d also argue that SEHS take talent away from the other schools. Are they actually teaching/learning more/better or are they creaming the most affluent kids?

  • 282. RL Julia  |  February 7, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    280 – I think that the SEHS do a little of both. On the one hand, having my kids in a neighborhood school (with no particular gifted or accelerated programming) has been a pretty good experience but I will say that my impression is that my kids dominate (this is something I am uncomfortable about). They have been selected as leaders by their peers (and teachers) because they are nice but also because it is evident that they are smart. Also since the school work didn’t take them as long, they had a lot more time on their hands that they could devote to student council or whatever. I am pretty sure that there were kids in their classes who were probably more natural leaders but this is how it played out. I don’t think it would be any different at a neighborhood high school.
    On the other hand, while I think my kids have really benefitted from going to a neighborhood school, I am looking forward to the idea of them going to a school which actually is set up to meet their educational needs in a fairly specific way and who know exactly what to do with my kids to keep them engaged or at least not coasting. Don’t underestimate the social component of all of this either – they older they get, the harder it seems to bridge the gap.

  • 283. Mia  |  February 7, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    Since this appears to be one of the most knowledgable groups around on SEHS, does anyone know when the notifications are expected to go out?

  • 284. RL Julia  |  February 7, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    I was told February but last year they didn’t go out until March I don’t think.

  • 285. Waiting...  |  February 7, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    Notifications are expected to be sent out on February 17th. On an unrelated note – Did anyone else’s child say that the SE exam was difficult? I wasn’t worried about getting into one of the SEHS (we would be happy with Lane) before the test, now I’m very nervous. Of course, we moved up from tier 3 to tier 4 with the change.

  • 286. Waiting, too  |  February 7, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    284 – Notifications for elementary or high school? Thank you.

  • 287. Mia  |  February 7, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    284 – Wow. That’s much sooner than I thought! You mean HS right?

    285 – My daughter said she thought the grammar was tricky and that some of the vocabulary questions were difficult. I heard mixed things from her friends, some thought it was more difficult than others, but I didn’t hear anyone say that it was “easy”.

  • 288. westsidemom  |  February 7, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    Last year the high school notification letters were out about a week before the elementary school ones.

  • 289. Jen  |  February 7, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    @259 – isn’t Illinois Math & Science Academy invitation only?

    I will say that for some gifted kids, being in a group with children that don’t think like them or learn like they do can be very frustrating. Some of them have social and emotional needs that can’t be solved by simply being thrown in with a more diverse group, and in fact it can be detrimental for them to be with kids that don’t understand them.

  • 290. Waiting...  |  February 7, 2012 at 7:05 pm

    @284 – for high school. The information is posted on the CPS OAE website.

  • 291. anonymouseteacher  |  February 7, 2012 at 7:46 pm

    Yes, IMSA is by invite only. You have to meet criteria (GPA and yearly state testing I believe and then you take the SAT to gain admission, at least that’s how it was 20 years ago) your freshman year to attend. I was offered a spot way back when and now regret turning it down. It would have been helpful for me in so many ways. If my kid got offered a spot there ever, I’d highly encourage it.

  • 292. Esmom  |  February 7, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    “I went to a non-SEHS and was not in an IB program and it was fine. As I stated earlier in this thread many of us went on to selective schools and got grad degrees (see post 154).”

    I don’t doubt that’s true but I’m fairly certain you (and your friends) were the exception rather than the norm. “Fine” just isn’t enough of an endorsement when it comes to my kids’ futures.

  • 293. HSObsessed  |  February 7, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    Here are the latest 9th grade Explore results I could find. As I understand it, the 9th grade Explore test (and “Plan”, taken in 10th gr) is the same as the ACT test. So according to this data, freshmen coming in to Northside are already scoring a 22.3 on average on the ACT test. I believe Explore is taken in fall, so this is before the kids have time to gain much benefit of any teachings at the high school in which they’re enrolled. I think it’s a decent “baseline” snapshot of the average level of academic abilities of the kids enrolling in a given high school.

  • 294. HS Mom  |  February 7, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    @274 – Yes, for the most part kids in SEHS are coming from good schools regardless of tiers. I’m not really seeing the “kids that do well in disruptive schools who need a leg up”. NOT saying this does not exist and certainly the idea behind principal discretion.

    My question to the teachers that post here – are these kids that do a good job in spite of their conditions red flagged at all? Do they get help with applications and letter writing and tutoring and deadlines. Do they get counseling? Do you think there might be more preference for a charter. I’m just asking from the standpoint that perhaps tiers are more about an ideal for the system than about reality.

    @284 – I’m sure the admission test is easy for some. I also think that those same kids that thought it easy misinterpret that to mean that it is as “easy” as the ISAT. Mine thought that it was more difficult than the ISAT and did fine. I know of some kids that thought it was easy that not do so well. You’ll know soon and I’m sure you’ve read enough on this site to know that whatever the outcome, there are options. Good luck, and I recommend wine.

  • 295. Mom  |  February 7, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    @290, are you the same poster who got a 25 on the ACT? I am NOT at all asking this to be snarky, but merely curious about whether it is possible to qualify for IMSA while not necessarily being “cream of the crop” so to speak, in terms of test-taking ability. I know that was put badly, and it was not my intent to be that way, just didn’t know how else to phrase it. Please don’t take offense! I am genuinely interested in understanding the differences between tests and being accepted into selective schools. Thanks.

  • 296. RL Julia  |  February 7, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    ES mom- I bet that there are more “exceptions” than you might think out there and school is often what you make of it.

    @293 – I am not a teacher but I think it is rare (and exception if you will) for a school to devote the kind of time and energy necessary to advise students about the myriad of options available to them. Actually, I am quite convinced that it is not enough to actually be smart to get into any sort of selective program one has to have parents who are make it a priority. Teachers do the best they can and can encourage kids but if there is no adult around to advocate, research, etc… parent, you could be Einstein incarnate and never have it addressed – remember – all schools love kids who test well and get good grades – why would you EVER push/suggest that that sort of kid would be better served by a different program or school?

  • 297. anonymouseteacher  |  February 7, 2012 at 10:49 pm

    Yes, 294, I did get a 25 on the ACT. I was invited to apply to IMSA because of a 4.0 gpa and because on whatever exam we were taking for our yearly state test I was in the top 1% as a freshman. I very, very high on the SAT (as a freshman) which is how I was accepted–I was a very good test taker.
    But, I didn’t get very good math or science instruction over the next four years at my high school and I refused, out of stubborness at the time, to bother to take an ACT prep course like all my friends my senior year. I wanted to do humanitarian relief work and just couldn’t see the need for a top tier university. (still don’t)
    So, what ended up happening is I went from being a student with potential, scoring very high at 14 to being a good solid student but nothing remarkable at 18. Part of that was my high school, part of that was my attitude at the time.
    I spent most of my high school years being incredibly annoyed because I was so uninterested in school. For fun, I’d purposely plan to get the very lowest percentile in a class to get an A. So if an A was a 92%, I’d get a 92 with a razor sharp margin, even purposely writing incorrect assignments on assignments just to see how close I could cut it. I also played mental games in school such as, “let’s see if I can not read any of the textbooks in my AP History class and still get an A just to screw with them”. I was very successful. Writing essays on entire novels that I never read felt empowering to a teenager who was kind of messed up. I felt like my teachers were stupid not to be able to tell that I hadn’t read any of the material.
    There is probably some case study in there on passive aggressive behavior.
    I am not offended that you asked. I suppose people could read this and think, “this is exactly why I have to get my kid into a school that will challenge them.” (because I don’t know if I was ever challenged….straight A’s didn’t mean I learned anything) Still, I really think my experience was more of a result of who I was at that time in my life and some of what was going on for me outside of school. A difficult home life played a big part.
    These days, I take that stubbornness and anger and use it positively to both advocate for students in difficult situations themselves and to deal with the challenges of teaching for CPS. I also make sure all my students get some say-so in what we are learning each year so it feels meaningful to them. Probably a longer answer than what you were looking for.

  • 298. Gwen  |  February 7, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    Selective Prep – the company making a fortune (my estimate :)) by holding prep classes for the SE exam and now for ISATs as well, posted this letter today about the tier changes:

  • 299. IB&RGC Mom  |  February 7, 2012 at 11:02 pm

    @295 I doubt it happens very often, but I know it does happen. I used to live in the Avondale School area and I would talk to a mom who was waiting for the Edison bus while I waited with my daughter for the Disney bus. Her daughter had a teacher at Avondale that recommended her for a 5th grade spot at Edison. She tested and was very lucky to get in as they had an opening in that grade due to someone leaving. I think the teacher must have been amazing to recognize that she was smart enough for and capable of handling a school like Edison.

  • 300. BeenThere2  |  February 8, 2012 at 8:44 am

    297 – The big “winner” here is Selective Prep.

  • 301. BeenThere7  |  February 8, 2012 at 9:59 am

    292 – Explore test – interesting fact. Last year the Explore test was given to the 8th graders at a CPS grammer school in the fall. My son took the EXACT same test as an entrance exam at a private school. So really, what is this test used for????

  • 302. northie  |  February 8, 2012 at 10:05 am

    @295 I was approached by my son’s preschool teacher about applying for SEES for Kindergarten, otherwise I would not have known about it. This was at a Catholic preschool program, but she still did it very quietly and admitted that the school would not be able to serve my son well. I was extremely grateful because we could not afford to keep him there anyway, but also because I had no idea that the gifted programs existed. My situation always makes me wonder how many kids (especially those that come from challenging circumstances) don’t even apply because their families don’t have any idea that the programs exist.

  • 303. Mom  |  February 8, 2012 at 10:10 am

    Thank you for your response @296, and for not taking my question the wrong way. That was very interesting and informative. I think a take away is that no matter what we parents want for our kids, a lot will just turn on who they are.

  • 304. BeenThere37  |  February 8, 2012 at 10:16 am

    295 you were very lucky things turned out for you. Last year at a CPS grammar school we had the worst social worker. She lost papers, did not file for SEHS, etc. The parents who realized the deadlines for SEHS were all over her and the principal. I felt really sorry for those students who spoke little english and were in the dark. They are probably at some awful hs because they and thier parents did not know what to do. More CPS nonsense.

  • 305. BeenThere37  |  February 8, 2012 at 10:17 am

    not 295 – sorry – response to 301

  • 306. Mia  |  February 8, 2012 at 10:33 am

    @299 – Too funny – and true!

  • 307. Don't Panic  |  February 8, 2012 at 10:40 am

    @ 284 After taking the Catholic Schools entrance exam this year, my son said it was much more difficult than the selective enrollment exam. I thought that was interesting.

  • 308. BeenThere909  |  February 8, 2012 at 10:43 am

    306 The Catholic School entrance exam is used to make decisions on what classes the student belongs in — honors, regular, remedial or a combination of all.

  • 309. RL Julia  |  February 8, 2012 at 10:50 am

    Just read the Selective Prep ad(?). They didn’t wast any time using this information to their advantage now did they. One could complain that part of their program is why the Tier 4 scores are already impossibly high to begin with.

  • 310. Don't Panic  |  February 8, 2012 at 10:53 am

    @307 Then that makes sense that it would be harder. Thanks. I am a little worried that he thought selective enrollment was an easy test since he needed to do awesome to get in his top choice.

  • 311. Mia  |  February 8, 2012 at 11:17 am

    @309 – my daughter only took the SE test, but family friends who took the Private School exam and the Catholic School exam all said it was more difficult in comparison.

  • 312. BeenThere909  |  February 8, 2012 at 11:27 am

    310 ?? which was more difficult?

  • 313. Mia  |  February 8, 2012 at 11:30 am

    Both the private school exam and the Catholic exam were more difficult than the SE.

  • 314. CA  |  February 8, 2012 at 11:37 am

    @295 At the SEES last year a girl, 3rd or 4th grade, came in with her mom. Mom was a mess and took off immediately. While I waited for my son with the rest of the moms and dads, the girl finished her test and came back into the room. I heard her telling the proctor that her teacher had applied for the test for her. Other kids finished and left with their parents. When my son and I left, she was still sitting there waiting for her mom to come back.

    I hope she did well and got a spot at a good school, but without support at home, she is going to have a tough time. It was heartbreaking to watch.

  • 315. Marketing Mom  |  February 8, 2012 at 11:45 am

    Everyone I know that has soon to be high schoolers in CPS are taking Selective Prep. It is becoming so common, they might as well add it to the CPS curriculum! I agree it helps push up the scores for tier 3 and 4 kids as a whole. Sad to say, but the vast majority of kids in Tier 1 or 2 can’t afford Selective Prep or might not have parents willing to make the time investment.

  • 316. Mia  |  February 8, 2012 at 11:51 am

    @313, that is heartbreaking, and really so much of the problem with education in the city today. My neighbor is a 3rd grade teacher in a neighborhood school in a poor performing school. She was telling me that she had ZERO parents come to the open house and most don’t attend the conferences on report card pick up days. She said she has some really great kids in her class, but that most get no support at home.

  • 317. HSObsessed  |  February 8, 2012 at 11:51 am

    Atrium Village rental apartments at Division and Wells, right by Payton, steps from the Gold Coast and River North, tennis courts, swimming pool, now certifiably in Tier 1. They need to add that information into their marketing materials.

  • 318. Mia  |  February 8, 2012 at 11:52 am

    @314 – easily over half of my daughter’s class took the SE prep class, and if you look at their class schedule they hold afterschool sessions at many public and private north side schools – and they are not cheap – $395 for the SE prep class!

  • 319. MayfairAM  |  February 8, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    Is there more information on what the Catholic HS test is testing for? Just curious how it compares to the SEHS exam. Anybody know?

  • 320. northie  |  February 8, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    @314 Believe me, there are plenty in tiers 3 and 4 who can’t afford Selective Prep either.

  • 321. Mia  |  February 8, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    @319, a friend of my daughter’s family (who live in Tier 4, but are not by any means well off) literally started saving at the beginning of 7th grade a little bit every month to be able to afford to send her to the Prep class, because they felt that much pressure for her to be competitive for high school.

  • 322. Last year at this time I was an obsessed 8th grade parent...  |  February 8, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    my favorite red spot!…and cheap parking, a rare perk in the Gold Coast! Atrium Village looks a bit dumpy from the outside (I had my eye on it for its proximity to Payton after she got in there, which would make us look ironically like border jumpers, since she entered from Tier 4)

    I dunno, however, there is something a bit off with that map on the CPS site. The tool (one is directed to by CPS) at the Census seems to draw census tract 810 (a tier 4) as a rectangle bounded by Chicago to Division, and Dearborn to Wells, whereas the CPS map has it looking Red (tier 1) from Oak to Division (not totally sure about scaling from east to west, looks like the red stops at Wells, too.)

    It appears to me that the sideways “L” shaped thingy that is red on the CPS map is shifted a bit to far to the east, since the census tract 8383, tier 1, has an eastern boundary of Wells, western boundary of Larrabee, north at Division, and south at Locust Street (? around 950 North.) But definitely Atrium Village falls inside that L.

  • 323. HS Mom  |  February 8, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    Atrium Village is where Jesse White and other high profile locals live.

  • 324. Last year at this time I was an obsessed 8th grade parent...  |  February 8, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    That was directed to @361, btw.

    Anyway, somehow, last year, I got my hands on a spreadsheet with values for each of the 6 factors that went into the tier calculation. As a statistician with (redundantly) no social life, I enjoyed perusing the crazy combos that went into some of the tier calcs. Have had no luck finding anything for this batch – anyone? Given that CPS apparently can’t draw maps too well (despite many hours, no doubt, of Tetris) it might be nice if the huddled masses could look over its shoulder.

  • 325. Last year at this time I was an obsessed 8th grade parent...  |  February 8, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    Selective Prep remains a mystery to me, why it is they have some kind of only-game-in-town monopoly. Yes, every one of my kid’s friends seemed to be going there … and it’s a really small operation, so they have to be raking it in. Why Kaplan or some other “big” competitor hasn’t swooped in strikes me as odd.

  • 326. Mia  |  February 8, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    I’d heard that there were a few others with classes, but nothing with the visibility of Selective Prep. We debated doing it, but opted not to. But friends whose children took the class thought they got a lot out of it.

  • 327. northie  |  February 8, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    @324 While I understand it’s a free marketplace, something about profiting off of parents’ fears leaves a bad taste in my mouth…or maybe that’s just sour grapes!

  • 328. watcher  |  February 8, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    Talk about profiting from parent’s fears, look at college tuition. Really. ROI? Hmmm.

  • 329. Don't Panic  |  February 8, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    I don’t know if it was fear that drove us to try Selective Prep. My son really liked Payton. Once he got the A’s in 7th grade and great ISATs, we decided to give him the best shot to get into the school he wanted because in Tier 4 you need every point possible. If he gets in, the high price of Selective Prep will be worth every penny.

  • 330. watcher  |  February 8, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    Here’s the Catholic HS entrance exam study guide download:

  • 331. Last year at this time I was an obsessed 8th grade parent...  |  February 8, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    What causes the profit (not a bad thing) is that there is virtually no information available from the government (a bad thing) about the nature of the test. Private education innovations to enhance grammer, math and reading (good things) is only valued (apparently) when there’s a hook – a secret advantage,
    thus a local was able to deploy very old Kaplan tactics from the old days before the SATs were published: use debriefings from their own students after they take the test to glean information about its secret topics.

    Still, $395 is not such as bad deal – perhaps we should just outsource elementary education (what is it $7G a year?) to them 🙂

  • 332. Mia  |  February 8, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    I agree @330 that there being no information about the SE test from CPS to help kids prepare for it is not good. We learned that there were four sections (Math, Reading Comprehension Vocab and Grammar) but that was it. They offer no practice tests or anything like that – though they do offer practice ISAT tests. I have heard from my friends that they felt the class really prepared their kids, if only that it gave them confidence going into the exam, and that the material they covered ws much more difficult than the actual test content.

  • 333. HSObsessed  |  February 8, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    @323 – I also noticed that they didn’t release the full data this time with each of the criteria for each tract spelled out. Probably TMI for everyone but a few stats/data geeks…

    I thought about why that 8383 tract is Tier 1: It’s got nearly no single family homes, tons of rental units, I believe senior housing on Wells (also rental), Moody Bible dorm buildings, and in 2010 (the census year), still had Cabrini Green buildings up and running. And Jenner is the neighborhood school. So, it scores WAY low for the socioeconomic factors of % single family homes, % homes occupied by the homeowner, and test scores for Jenner. The median family income and adult educational attainment level was likely lowered somewhat by the presence at the time of the Cabrini Green housing. The final factor of English as a second language was probably just average or high (meaning few ESL families). The combo resulted in Tier 1. Interestingly, the Atrium Village is currently being eyed for complete demolition and redevelopment into a completely new office/retail/condo complex.

  • 334. Last year at this time I was an obsessed 8th grade parent...  |  February 8, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    If the SEHS test were a quote-unquote “aptitude” test, there might be some justification for obfuscating it. It’s not, or at least it wasn’t last year. According to my kid (disclosure: not the best debriefer, since questions about what occurred during a typical 7 hour school day are generally answered by “nothing”) the math was more about seeing that an equation was set up proper, there were sentence corrections, run-of-the-mill reading comp…and…spelling (!)

  • 335. oldtown  |  February 8, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    My daughter (now a freshman) took the plethora of tests: Iowa, ISAT, Lincoln Park IB, ISEE and Catholic School. ISEE was by far the most difficult. Her activities didn’t allow for the scheduled Select Prep classes. And thus, we purchased the various test prep books (Kaplan, McGraw Hill, etc) to prep for all the exams. She found her weaknesses and then focused on improving in just those areas.

    Selective Prep is not the panacea to admission into a top school.

  • 336. HS Mom  |  February 8, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    @332 – that’s interesting. My child attended pre school in Atrium Village. Complex has tennis courts, pool, “business” type residents. The residences across from Marshall Fields tier 4 – they are in the Manierre school district. This is a good example of how the criteria doesn’t necessarily flush out consistently.

  • 337. 7thgradesurvivor  |  February 8, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    Regarding the SEHS test, the only thing my daughter said looked like the ISAT was the reading comprehension section. As one poster said above, the math was about identifying correct computations, there was grammer and vocab that provided little to no context to help you figure out the word. While I’m certainly praying that doing well on the ISAT will correlate, from her description it sounds in many ways like a very different type of achievement test.

    Regarding the factors that made up the tiers, per the info provided last year, perhaps CPS Obsessed can inquire with CPS, regarding their making that info available.

  • 338. Chris  |  February 8, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    Mia: “And thanks to @Alcott High School and @Chicago Gawker for the kind comments – I don’t doubt that I can be – was it insufferable and impolite? – but I truly didn’t mean to be.”

    Oh, I wasn’t saying you were being insufferable or impolite, I was confused by the use of arrogant/arrogance with repsect to bragging on one’s kid(s). I can *understand* the former, but the latter just makes no sense. Didn’t think anything of anything you were saying about your daughter–always think that MORE information about what kids are doing what and getting in where is alwasy helpful–even if it comes with a side of condescension (which, also, I would not ascribe to Mia in this thread).

    Yeah, yeah, pedant sez what? Whatever might be coming off my keyboard! Insufferable AND impolite, with a side of arrogance. Woohoo.

    Apologies, mea cupla, etc. etc.

  • 339. Chris  |  February 8, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    anonymouseteacher @296: Sounds quite a bit like my HS experience/attitude.

  • 340. Esmom  |  February 8, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    So what is Selective Prep’s “success rate?” Sure kids might say it was helpful, but what percentage of kids who take the course get into the a SEHS? Do they track and share that info?

  • 341. Last year at this time I was an obsessed 8th grade parent...  |  February 8, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    Regarding the factors that go into the tier calculations….maybe TMI, but the factors are pretty straightforward and understandable, if not a little absurd (e.g. high levels of educational attainment in the census tract raise the tier level, we’re really reaching into Harrison Bergeron territory here.) Either way, these 6 figures should totally be public in the interest of transparency and public understanding.

  • 342. RL Julia  |  February 8, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    I think that Selective Prep is cheaper than therapy and it probably helps kids with grammar which isn’t taught very deeply at most/many CPS schools (as far as I can tell). I think most kids do feel like it helps if only because it gives them a way to focus their anxieties and help them feel more prepared. I thought I heard that Bell actually provided a free Selective Prep class for their 7th graders for the ISATs. I imagine this is part of the school fees.

  • 343. Waiting...  |  February 8, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    @312 – My son took the Catholic school test too and thought it was much easier than the SE exam!? He also took the selective prep class and said it was not helpful at all for the math section (his weak area). The folks at Selective Prep do an excellent job scaring the crap out of parents. The most valuable part of the class was the textbook.

  • 344. Last year at this time I was an obsessed 8th grade parent...  |  February 8, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    It is a bit funny that schools like Bell are paying for selective prep – seems like a double bind in which they are saying either (a) we are failing to prepare our students for the rigors ahead, or (b) we are totally doing a great job, but the SEHS process is bulls&*% and so we have to play along.

  • 345. RL Julia  |  February 8, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    I think the Bell example has more to do with parental anxiety and the need to feel like they are providing their children with every concievable advantage.

  • 346. Chris  |  February 8, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    “It is a bit funny that schools like Bell are paying for selective prep ”

    Really? You heard that from RL Julia, who seems to recall having heard it somewhere, right?

    I thought I heard they sacrifice a goat at Edison the day before the exam, too!

  • 347. Chris  |  February 8, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    “I think the Bell example has more to do with parental anxiety ”

    I think the Bell exampl has more to do with “scholarships” being available for the kids who can’t afford it, but want to do it.

  • 348. RL Julia  |  February 8, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    I’ve actually had some of that good sacrificed goat from Edison. They make into good luck tacos.

  • 349. RL Julia  |  February 8, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    Each one costs $30. Its a great school fundraiser!

  • 350. Chris  |  February 8, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    “I’ve actually had some of that good sacrificed goat from Edison. They make into good luck tacos.”

    It’s too bad the tradition ended this year with the ban on outside food. 😦 We’ll have to see how it affects Edison kids SEHS admissions.

  • 351. Mia  |  February 8, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    Chris – thanks for clarifying :).

    Regarding Bell, my daughter goes to a different RGC, but one of her close friends is at Bell, and it was for the 7th grade ISATs that they offer an inhouse kind of class. I believe it was organized by the teachers and free.

    At my daughter’s school a few of the teachers looked into putting together a similar prep class after school for the SEHS but it never happened. Of course the teachers at my daughter’s school get very little administrative support from their incredibly lackluster principal.

  • 352. Chris  |  February 8, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    “I believe it was organized by the teachers and free.”

    Very different from using–and paying for–Selective Prep, no?

    My (likely faulty–wasn’t directly relevant to *my* life–so, self-centered, too!) recollection was they did something with selective prep in some prior year(s), with the “scholarship” model.

  • 353. Mia  |  February 8, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    They might have, I don’t know. I was just looking at Selective Prep’s 7th grade ISAT prep class schedule, and they appear to be doing programs (@$350 each) at a number of private and public schools – Blaine, Nettlehorst, Stone were among the ones listed.

    $350 for an ISAT prep class? Really? I’m glad I didn’t know about it last year . . .

  • 354. Esmom  |  February 8, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    I wouldn’t be surprised if SP did a class for Bell, the owners of the company have a son there.

    When we were at Bell parents were already talking about getting a leg up on the test when my son was going into 3rd grade! So yes they definitely know how to tap into parental anxiety. Which I’m sure is passed along to the kids, as hard as we may try to hide it!

  • 355. IB&RGC Mom  |  February 8, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    @350 Mia, is your lackluster principle retiring finally? I believe my daughter may have attended the same RGC.

  • 356. CuriousGirl  |  February 8, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    Sorry that I am late to the conversation, but I saw the words lackluster principal and retiring. Please tell me it’s the Beaubien principal. He wins first place for lame.

  • 357. IB&RGC Mom  |  February 8, 2012 at 9:28 pm

    @355 That is who I was referring to. I have heard that he is retiring.

  • 358. PortageMum  |  February 8, 2012 at 9:46 pm

    354 & 356, etc – Yes, he is retiring!!! Hallelujah!

  • 359. IB&RGC Mom  |  February 8, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    It will be interesting to see how Beaubien changes once they have a new principle. They have some truly amazing teachers there! I think it will definitely be a change for the better.

  • 360. Chicago Gawker  |  February 8, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    @355 and 354, so true!

  • 361. anonymous  |  February 9, 2012 at 8:38 am

    Regarding the SEHS test, it’s based on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills. I’m not a huge fan of test prep, but I’m sure you could find some ITBS practice tests for less than what Selective Prep charges.

  • 362. HS Mom  |  February 9, 2012 at 9:05 am

    Regarding schools offering test prep for 8th grade SE test.

    In 8th grade, our school poured on the projects and homework in all subjects. With quarter/semester end in January there were all kinds of tests to prepare for, science fair in December, History fair in Jan/Feb, a writing project extended over holiday break. It was really difficult to find time to study for admission tests and it was not on our school’s agenda. I wonder about the agenda of schools that incorporate SEHS test prep into the school curriculum or allocate time to this endeavor. Another way to get the kids in I guess.

    Time spent on test prep and projects/school tests are really 2 different things. Is there really an advantage overall of one over the other? In a way, our school did the kids a disservice by not allowing them time to test prep. Another way this whole system is whacked out. Maybe it’s a good thing with the new longer schedule to officially allow test prep time.

  • 363. Lost in the Maze  |  February 9, 2012 at 9:34 am

    Looking at the tier adjustments this year, do you all think tier 3 is almost more difficult this year? It seems like you can’t judge what a student might need scoring wise – – based on last year’s cut-off scores.

  • 364. Mia  |  February 9, 2012 at 10:12 am

    @362 – my hunch would be that 3 will be the same or possibly even less competitive – in that the 3s lost some areas which became 4s, and gained areas that were formerly 2s. I think 4s may be even more competitive (is that even possible?).

    And YES! Hallelujah – it is Beaubien and he is retiring – and why he didn’t do it years ago I don’t know – one of the most apathetic human beings I’ve ever met. That the school is as successful as it is is most definitely due to some of the most amazing teachers you could hope for – I just hope the current assistant principal doesn’t get the job – she’s really no better.

  • 365. Always Anonymous  |  February 9, 2012 at 11:12 am

    Mia, etc – He didn’t retire because he always an incredibly supportive LSC (and pto) behind him. The biggest bunch of complete kiss asses ever! They agreed with everything he did and said, even when he bald faced lied about many things. I suspect many never realized his position held with the union and how much that may have influenced his decisions. The best thing that could happen for Beaubien (besides a new principle) would be a completely new LSC. And, yes, let’s hope the current vice principle is NOT given the job, that would be such a let down.

  • 366. CuriousGirl  |  February 9, 2012 at 11:14 am

    Quite honestly, I hope the current Options Coordinator doesn’t get the job either. She’s non-responsive. Are any of the current teachers certified (or whatever is the term is) to move up to administrator. Beaubien is amazing mostly because the teaching staff is superb.

  • 367. Mia  |  February 9, 2012 at 11:26 am

    @364 – I agree on the LSC and PTO. And may I say, some of the meanest bullies at Beaubien are the children of the PTO/LSC parents. The apple doesnt’ fall far from the tree.

    @364 – I have never heard this about the Optons Coordinator. I’ve had several meetings with her, she’s always been very responsive to me, and I know my daughter has told me she’s intervened (as much as she could) in several sensitive issues recently and really been an advocate for the students. I always got the impression that she’s incredibly frustrated that she couldn’t do more. The assistant principal on the other hand seems to embrace the apathetic management style of the principal – over the summer I sent her 3 emails and left her 4 voice mails over a 3 week period – she never responded. When I saw her on the open house night in the fall and I approached her – she said – “I knew I didn’t have an answer for you so I didn’t call you back.” How utterly ridiculous is that?

  • 368. IB&RGC Mom  |  February 9, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    I completely agree with MIA @363 so much so that I had a post typed out that pretty much said the same thing. My bets are on tier 4 cut offs go up and the rest go down even if just slightly.

    I also thought the options coordinator was fantastic. She was a great teacher, one of my daughters favorites, and when we left the school she was nothing but kind and well wishing.

    And that is true about the kids of the PTO members. One day after a movie night or some other program the kids were all playing on the stage and my younger daughter (who doesn’t attend Beaubien) went up there to play and was told by another child that if she wasn’t a member of the PTO she needed to get off the stage (of course we paid our dues to be members every year, just the monetary dues though). Wow.

    The school does have so much potential because it is a great school with amazing teachers and now I think it can only get better.

  • 369. Mia  |  February 9, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    @367: I know many other parents who feel the same way. My daughter’s then closest friend left after 4th grade, mainly because of the terrible experience her mother had with the 4th grade options teacher (she no longer has her own class, thank God – she teaches Latin now). Her complaints to the Principal fell on deaf, useless ears. Another little boy left after 3rd grade because he was teased mercilessly by the children whose parents are officers on the PTO. When did your child leave? Are they in 8th grade this year or 7th?

  • 370. Chris  |  February 9, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    ok, confirming my pedantry, but I can’t stand it any more:

    It’s princiPAL, not principle. And that’s because s/he’s your PAL (yes, often false, silly mnemonic, but it’s worked for me for 30+ years).

  • 371. IB&RGC Mom  |  February 9, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    @368 – that same teacher was the majority of the reason why I chose to send my daughter to an AC for 7th. She is in 7th now so she is a year younger then your daughter I believe. 4th grade was horrific! The only class after that she ever got a C in was Latin which often kept her from being on the honor roll. That didn’t really matter to me, but was really upsetting for her. In her class they had kids failing Latin and my assumption was other parents told them not to focus or worry about it due to the teacher.

    @369 Thank you Chris. I didn’t even realize I did that.

  • 372. Another Anonymous via auto correct  |  February 9, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    Ok, Chris. Pardon my auto correct, which just wants to irritate you, I guess.

    I’m not writing a formal letter here. If that were the case, I would proofread. Or, more precisely, actually type in the letters rather than hit space when a whole word comes up. I’m dashing off a blurb on a blog. I don’t care that my iPad seems to default to the le, not the al.

    You know that you come off as a tool, right? Which, to some degree, negates your often interesting points concerning CPS.

  • 373. Mia  |  February 9, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    @370 – that makes sense, I had heard the class after us went en masse to the Principal about it, and when faced by the sheer numbers, he couldn’t ignore/bury the problem (his usual M.O.) but rather moved her to Latin only – where she still exhibits the same horrible traits – but it’s for a shorter time period than before.

    Did you see @Gwen’s comment somewhere earlier in this thread about the 7th grade ISATs and the portion that counts toward the SEHS score? I wish I’d known that, I most definitely would have told my daughter to quadruple check the first 30 questions in those two sections! (I’ve independently since confirmed that Gwen is correct.)

  • 374. Mia  |  February 9, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    Knowing that about the ISATs also takes some of the ISAT pressure away – all those XRs – I mean I still would want my child to do their best – but knowing that the XRs do not factor in to the % ranking for the SEHS score is really good information to have – to me anyway.

  • 375. BeenThere888  |  February 9, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    371 — yes, but a tool who can spell and use grammar correctly.

  • 376. IB&RGC Mom  |  February 9, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    @372 Thanks, yes I did, but thank you for adding that you have confirmed it. I thought I had heard something like that in the past too. I would of course want her to finish everything, but if she can take more time focusing on the first 30 questions she should do so. 🙂

  • 377. Chris  |  February 9, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    “You know that you come off as a tool, right?”

    Uh, I started the post making fun of myself for being a pedant. So, yeah, I guess I did (and still do!) realize that it’s somewhat off-putting.

    But it was becoming obvious (to me) that people were repeating the error w/o thinking about it–I will repeat a misspelling/misuse on the intertubez, too, when I am reading and typing quickly. And I had a (mildly humorous, given the context of the thread) mnemonic that I could throw in, too; and, frankly, absent the mnemonic, I have a heck of a time remembering which is which.

  • 378. AlsoAnonymous  |  February 9, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    I use that mnemonic, too! I didn’t take it the wrong way.

  • 379. momof3boys  |  February 9, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    i have 2 kids at lane. the older one took the selective prep course and the second one did not but we made him study from the workbook the older one received. The older one needed to ace the test to get in because of 2 B’s so he paid attention. He got in. (on a side note…. i pretty much told him that if he didnt ace the test, i wanted my $395 back. LOL!) i guess it was worth the money for him… i may “invest” for the 3rd kid for the 7th grade test. still debating if going to the ac center is better than staying at a RGC

  • 380. Jen  |  February 9, 2012 at 9:41 pm

    I don’t know if everyone knows that CPS has a system for application changes, I just stumbled across it.

  • 381. IB&RGC Mom  |  February 9, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    @379 – Great find. I didn’t even know they would allow a change, but it is due when the the application is due so it is only for people who changed their mind prior to winter break.

  • 382. RL Julia  |  February 10, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    Not sure where to put this but… From the OAE website:

    Parents will be notified of the status of their children’s applications the week of February 20, 2012 for high school applications and the week of March 26, 2012 for elementary school applications.

  • 383. Curious  |  February 10, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    Do the academic centers send out letters with the elementary or the high school letters? Does anyone know?

  • 384. RL Julia  |  February 10, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    Elementary schools, I believe.

  • 385. clarification  |  February 11, 2012 at 9:48 am

    Bell doesn’t pay for the Selective test prep class for it’s 7th graders…Bell is a school that goes out of it’s way to not scare parents about 7th grade and the difficulty of getting into a good high school. They have a somewhat relaxed attitude about it. A few years ago however, the folks from the Selective Test Prep company convinced Bell to have the class there after school because 1. they live in the neighborhood and 2. their child went to school there (but has since changed to Edison). Then Bell stopped doing allowing this–not sure why–and so if you wanted to have your child sign up for a class, you would sign up through the Selective Test Prep website. Also, I have heard that the selective high school test has not changed for almost 10 years and there has been some discussion about tweaking it/changing it soon…so the Selective Test Prep company knows as much about what is on the test as the rest of us.

  • 386. CuriousGirl  |  February 11, 2012 at 11:13 am

    #384, I could be completely wrong about this, but I learned from a close source at OAE that the test was completely re-written for last year’s 8th graders.

  • 387. local  |  February 11, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    This year, Kellogg ele is hosting Selective Prep course at the schhol’s building. Not sure how this came to be. The scores seem to show an achievement gap at the school.

  • 388. anonymouseteacher  |  February 11, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    Most schools have achievement gaps. Students from families with more money usually do better and non-minority students usually do better than minority kids. African American kids, regardless of income, typically do worse than their white counterparts. Even at our high achieving school, we see the same exact thing.

  • 389. Jen  |  February 12, 2012 at 12:09 am

    My daughter tested for 3rd grade RGC at IIT today. This year I actually watched the video, and they mentioned that tiers are only applicable when you apply in the entry grade, so children like mine trying to get in after K/1st (depending on the school) aren’t affected by their tier. This applies for magnets too apparently.

  • 390. Mayfair Dad  |  February 14, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    My Valentines Day card to all of the teachers on this thread.

    Your pal MFD

  • 391. momof3boys  |  February 14, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    @388, are you sure? I think it does because a friend of mine had her child tested and he scored very high but lived in tier3. the new kid at the school is from tier 2 or maybe 1

  • 392. Chris  |  February 14, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    “@388, are you sure? I think it does because a friend of mine had her child tested and he scored very high but lived in tier3. the new kid at the school is from tier 2 or maybe 1”

    It’s totally possible that the “new kid” scored higher, no?

  • 393. Anonymous  |  February 15, 2012 at 8:04 am

    385 — can you find out more about the re-write of the test?

  • 394. anonymous  |  February 15, 2012 at 9:00 am

    CuriousGirl is right. CPS used a new edition of the SEHS test starting last year. Although the questions were of course changed, the test sections (vocabulary, reading comprehension, language, math) remained the same.

  • 395. CuriousGirl  |  February 15, 2012 at 9:37 am

    393 – That is my take as well. 388- You are correct.

  • 396. Jen  |  February 15, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    Yes I’m sure – I don’t know however if it is new for this year or is an existing policy.

  • 397. HSObsessed  |  February 15, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    New article in Crains quoting parents angry that the new tiers are being applied in the middle of an application year. Somewhat silly since A/ I doubt any parent will convincingly argue they would have hammered their kid to “try harder” on the exam since they now live in a higher tier, and B/ for high schools, the ranking system used has candidates rank the schools in order of most desireable to less desireable, no matter what their tier. There is no benefit in trying to guess which one the kid has most chance of getting in to.

  • 398. cpsobsessed  |  February 15, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    Thanks for posting HSO. And for writing exactly was I was thinking about the article!

    The city is still divided evenly into four tiers so in that regard, nothing has changed. I’d like some of those parents to report whether their HH income is notably higher than even the Tier 4 income and then see if they can make a case for being screwed over. Even that income is not that high given some of the houses I see in the Tier 4 neighborhood. This is my new hobby btw, driving around th northside assessing the tier 4 areas. Admittedly, some of them have a wide range of housing types within.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 399. anon99999999999999999  |  February 15, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    397 what are you trying to access about tier 4?

  • 400. HSObsessed  |  February 15, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    @397 – I think the Crains reporter did a disservice by posting all the income levels per tier, without even mentioning that there are 4 other socioeconomic criteria used to determine tier (or is it 5 others? I have to look that up every time and am too lazy).

    Having said that, I found it interesting to see that each tier’s average income per household dropped four or five thousand dollars. All of them, across the board. So the cause of a tract being reclassified from one tier to another was unrelated to income, but based on all the other factors.

  • 401. 7thgradesurvivor  |  February 15, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    Here is what I see as the possible impact of a tier change after ranking. If you were tier 2 (for example) and you were really stretching to get into your top 6 choices and then you were switched to tier 4, your fate could be sadly sealed with scores to low to get into any of the schools you selected. If you knew your tier change before the applications were due, you could of at least applied to magnet high schools, like Lakeview or programs like Von Steuben. But it was too late since the announcement came after applications were due.

  • 402. cpsobsessed  |  February 15, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    That’s a good point about the tier change and other options. Althoguh I think CPS has said that the tiers can change every year so theoretically people *should* be prepared for a shift.
    I think it was surprising this your because such a large chunk of the north side seemed to shift.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 403. HSObsessed  |  February 15, 2012 at 11:09 pm

    @400, I know what you’re saying but interestingly, since 4 of the 9 SEHS are currently admitting Tier 4 applicants with lower scores than one or two of the lower tiers, this shut out scenario currently can’t happen. Brooks, King, Lindblom and Westinghouse fell into that category last year. So, a Tier 2 applicant who was reaching for Payton, NS, Jones, Young, Lane or Westinghouse actually gets admitted to Westinghouse (same as they would have as a Tier 2) by a much higher margin once they move into Tier 4. So as long as they put down 6 schools, they won’t get shut out.

    Second, anyone who doesn’t apply to other programs like von Steuben, LPHS, IB programs, charter/contract schools etc is a fool. Always have a plan B, people.

  • 404. momof3boys  |  February 16, 2012 at 9:06 am

    @391 i highly doubt it

  • 405. momof3boys  |  February 16, 2012 at 9:09 am

    i hit the enter button before i could finish.

    i dont even know how my kid got in and he didnt. i know
    he scored higher than mine but in a higher tier.

  • 406. 8th gr mom  |  February 16, 2012 at 9:11 am

    @402 “Always have a plan B, people.”

    Amen to that — but here’s another piece of that equation — the most selective school may not be the best fit for your child, regardless of grades & scores. I approached the h.s. process like a college search (which IS easier BTW), assuming that Harvard & Yale et al were not the only institutions where my child could thrive and excel. Our mantra has been “cast a wide net” — to explore and research any options that might make sense for her. We began with over thirty (including all geographically reasonable SE & IB programs, as well as Noble campuses) and whittled that list down to about 15. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised and impressed at what we found along the way. Not every school was right for her, but there were more possibilities than I thought.

    I also did not want her pinning her hopes on any one particular school, since the last thing I would wish for her is to feel she would be at a “second best” choice for high school — especially when you go into the process for SE w/out your final point total (I repeat — the college search process is easier),

    All this said, it’s probably easier for me to approach the h.s. search this way as we have been at a neighborhood school since the 90’s. I’ve always described it as “not a lot of sizzle, but they still have the steak”. No brand name and no status at all. Kids of all abilities, melting pot in every way imaginable, functional and dysfunctional families alike. I found the diversity of ability and achievement an asset (for the most part) for the learning environment, rather than an obstacle. I don’t believe my children need to be surrounded by the top 3% (or whatever) in order to achieve and do their very best. Both had an excellent academic adventure and strong foundation for h.s.

    One last note as I get off my soapbox — my youngest daughter preferred (and ranked) Westinghouse to all but one of the SE schools. Her comments were that she heard the Westinghouse message to be about how excited they would be to have her at their school, and what they could do for her. At other schools, the message for her was how great THEY (the schools) were. When I thought about it, I understood what she was saying.

    We will see what happens next week….

  • 407. Mia  |  February 16, 2012 at 9:39 am

    @405 – I love your post. Wonderful perspective and I think heartening for many of us. I’m really impressed by your daughter’s thoughts when ranking the SEHSs, she sounds like a great kid!

  • 408. HS Mom  |  February 16, 2012 at 10:17 am

    @405 This is a really great story. We had a similar approach. I really appreciate your view.

  • 409. Mia  |  February 16, 2012 at 10:33 am

    FYI – I just called OAE, and they told me that the notificaton letters will not be going out until the END of February. UGHHHH!

  • 410.  |  February 16, 2012 at 10:38 am

    @405, I agree, THANK YOU for sharing.
    This is similar to a conversation I shared recently with Linda Lutton, education reported at WBEZ. She has been reporting on CPS for years and has been in many many schools. She advised me not to stress about it all so much because there are so many more schools that are decent choices beyond the top “hot” schools. Schools that many parents don’t even take the time to visit or consider, but having spent time in them she feels are good options.

    I think casting a wide net and keeping an open mind are both essential.

    We tend to be followers in CPS, waiting for the stamp of approval from other like-minded parents and then all rushing for the same schools.

  • 411. Don't Panic  |  February 16, 2012 at 10:55 am

    @408 That really is frustrating, Mia. Why the delay when all the testing was completed by the end of January? Well, just a little longer time to obsess than we originally hoped for, I guess.

  • 412. RL Julia  |  February 16, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    Its really just one more week. Better to know than to wonder what’s going on with the mail. Thanks. Also thanks for sharing your research @400. I wish I had your stamina – 30 schools that’s a lot of visiting and sifting. I really appreciate the confirmation on what I have thought for years- which is that there are a lot more options out there than people think. Would you consider listing the schools you looked at?

  • 413. kate  |  February 16, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    405 – thank you for sharing. your words (esp. the last 2 paragraphs) are really heartening to this “neighborhood school” mom. GL to daughter!

  • 414. anonymous  |  February 16, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    @405 Joining the chorus in saying I loved your post.

    @408 & 410 I’m not all that surprised letters are being delayed. I’m no longer in the know, but I’m guessing the tier changes — especially the sea of tier 4 neighborhoods up north — have created a nightmare for OAE for the reasons many of you have stated. I’m willing to bet schools like Northside are really struggling with the new map. Mia, did OAE give you any rationale for the delay?

  • 415. 7th grade/ lower end Tier 4 mom  |  February 16, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    We live in a neighborhood that switched from Tier 3 to Tier 4 last year. While there are a few large bungalows and many single family homes there are also three generations living in 2 bedroom apartments and many foreclosures that have brought property values down, but not yet property taxes.

    That being said my neighborhood is ‘safe’ enough that my 12 year walks home from the school bus every day, to the nearby parks, and even to the orthodontist (maybe for another blog but finding an orthodontist that your kid can get to on their own is potentially lifechanging).

    I started out 7th grade extremely stressed out but my kid made it through first semester with the requisite ‘A’s. However, the big philosophical shift in our family came when we decided NOT to sign her up for Selective Prep. By doing that we have basically guaranteed that she will not attend a SEHS but I’m OK for that. Like 405 and other posters have said there are other options. I have spoken to several families over the years whose children went to Whitney or Lane but were in the ‘regular’ classes who said that their children felt like they were overlooked and not given the best resources. I’m not positive but I think these were kids who had IEP’s in place.

    So she will be applying to LPDH, Von, Lakeview, Taft IB, Lakeview, and all of the Noble schools. I may regret the decision later but for now it reduces the stress and I seriously doubt she would end up with the high 90% needed on both sections even with the class.

    One more thing- – Tier 4 isn’t all bad. I heard through the grapevine that Stone Elem went through their entire Tier 4 wait list this year.

  • 416. 7thgradesurvivor  |  February 16, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    Casting a wide net is a great idea, but for many families there are geographical realities and logistical details that leave them searching closer to home (or at least within a 1 hour public transportation) commute. I have to tell you that I found the open houses at the SEHS on the northside to be a somewhat frustrating experience. Lines that snaked along the block, herds of kids and families shuttled from classroom to classroom with little time to get more than a basic overview and the obligatory pep rally atmosphere. We found the truest source of info to be the kids who would walk through the line we spent hours waiting in to get in and talk to you about their experiences. That combined with impressions my daughter had from other children in the programs and I’m sure the talk that goes on around school as well as the shortest commute are what fed my daughters listings. If anyone has ideas beyond this of how to learn more about a school besides their websites and test scores I would love to hear them, We did all of this and I wouldn’t conclude that it was a particularly illuminating process. The one shining exception is Lincoln Park IB. The Open House that you have to be invited to is truly wonderful, those teachers are passionate and engaged and you had more time to get a true sense of the program. It almost made me want to go back to high school. I don’t think any of the schools allow shadow days, at least not before you get in, which is understandable.

  • 417. Stone comment  |  February 16, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    414, Stone definitely did not make it through its Tier 4 waitlist, I can attest to that fact.

  • 418. cpsobsessed  |  February 16, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    Jeez, the story about the lines at the SE schools is such a turnoff.
    I always have refused to wait in line for restaurants (and bars – don’t even get me started.). I guess this is the parent version of that.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 419. Mia  |  February 16, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    Well, the first person who answered and told me the last week said, when asked why, “because that’s when we’ll be done.” I told him that the website still said the week of the 20th, and he said “well we dont’ have anything to do with our website”. Sigh. I called back just now, to make sure it was true, and the woman said the week of the 26th (so last week) and when asked why said “because that’s when we’ll be done selecting”. Sigh. again.

  • 420. Chris  |  February 16, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    Momof3: “i dont even know how my kid got in and he didnt. i know
    he scored higher than mine but in a higher tier.”

    They showed you his score? Or told you? I’m not doubting you, but it just seems strange–People lie for all sorts of bizarre reasons.

  • 421. CPSDepressed  |  February 16, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    One of the things that made us consider the Catholic schools is how much more humane their open houses were. Especially after spending however long in line at Jones – that was depressing.

    The Von Steuben open house was very well managed, too, and that left me with a great impression. Someone there knows how to organize, and that’s important.

  • 422. Don't Panic  |  February 16, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    @ 420 Our experience at a Catholic school open house was also great. We were given our own student that walked us through the whole school, gave us as much time as we needed and answered all of our questions. I do know that is mostly because of the size of the people at the open houses, but it definitely was a refreshing change from the long lines and rushed feeling at the selective enrollment schools.

  • 423. Gwen  |  February 16, 2012 at 7:45 pm

    Oh no! My daughter and her friends have been counting down the days! One week will seem like an eternity.

  • 424. Lakeview Dad  |  February 16, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    FYI, some Catholic HS acceptance letters (i.e. Ignatius) have landed this week. Wow, holy tuition at St. Ignatius! $14000/year plus.

  • 425. IB&RGC Mom  |  February 16, 2012 at 9:57 pm

    @420 and 421 what catholic schools did you visit?

  • 426. IB&RGC Mom  |  February 16, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    @415 “The one shining exception is Lincoln Park IB. The Open House that you have to be invited to is truly wonderful, those teachers are passionate and engaged and you had more time to get a true sense of the program.” That sounds great, but you have to be invited to the open house? How do you get invited?

    I have a 7th grader and I do feel for all of you 8th grade kids and parents waiting.
    ~ Note to self whatever the OAE says next year for when the letters will go out add a couple weeks from the start.

  • 427. Lakeview Dad  |  February 16, 2012 at 10:46 pm

    @425 – We also attended the Lincoln Park IB open house. Invites go out if you applied there and have a good 7th grade report card. (A’s I think) Seemed like a very good option to have as part of a ‘wide net’ strategy.

  • 428. Gwen  |  February 16, 2012 at 10:53 pm

    Some elementary schools also have “high school nights” where representatives from the schools (public and private) set up tables and the 8th graders and their families can look at materials, talk to students/teachers/administrators and ask questions. We went to one in the fall, and it was very informative, my daughter talked to the principal of Jones at length and was really impressed by him, and also learned more about IMSA and some other programs she hadn’t considered.

  • 429. 7th grade/ lower end tier 4 mom  |  February 16, 2012 at 11:13 pm

    Well I may have been wrong about Stone and their Tier 4 list so take this for what its worth but I also ‘heard’ that LIncoln Park IB this year only gave interviews to students that scored 590/600 possible points going into the SE exam. Can anyone confirm or deny this? ?

    We did go to LP open house this year (where they had presentations for fine arts/ double honors and IB) and they said that they had many more acceptances than usual so their freshman class was larger than they would like.

    Its funny because on this board and other places I got the impression that LPIB, while a fabulous program, was a back up for many kids, but at the open house they gave the impression that their program was much more rigorous than those at the SEHSs. A parent asked about AP classes and the response was something along the lines of “Our classes are much more complex and advanced than the AP classes offered at the other schools. Our students have no problems with the AP tests.”

  • 430. IB&RGC Mom  |  February 16, 2012 at 11:41 pm

    @426 – thanks that good to know. I was going to just show up and go last year, but wasn’t able to make it. I wonder if they would have turned me away.

    @428 – I do remember a couple years ago talking to a mom with a kid at Northside and a mom with a kid in the Lincoln IB program and they both said they stopped waiting for their kids to go to sleep before they would because they were up doing homework or studying. They said they even had to occasionally stay up all night studying. Crazy!

  • 431. anonymous  |  February 17, 2012 at 2:23 am

    429 — there is stress at these schools. That’s why I don’t see the benefit of adding more time to the s.e. day.

  • 432. Don't Panic  |  February 17, 2012 at 7:22 am

    @424 We visited Marian Catholic. My son actually ranks it as his second choice behind Walter Payton.

  • 433. 8th gr mom  |  February 17, 2012 at 7:40 am

    Wide net mom here. Lincoln Park HS is part of our wide net and is a little confusing because of all the programs and different admssions processes. We applied to two of the four at LP. I will share what I think I know….

    Lincoln Park IB is just one of four (?) programs at LP with separate admissions. This year, Lincoln Park held one open house for all programs on one day — IB, Double Honors/AP, and the others –Performing Arts & neighborhood?. Anyway, the public open house was held on a Saturday in the fall, with presentations on each program in different parts of their campus going on simultaneously, then repeated at least once.

    That’s the fall open house, and IS open to all. It was pretty well organized, a little over stimulating, but it did help clear up the different programs. The “invitation only” session is actually the “curriculum meeting” and is held after winter break as part of the ongoing application process.

    The application for all the IB programs is now centralized and online, similar to SE, except one is not required to rank the schools, just select the IB programs you wish to apply to. (We selected any that seemed geographically feasible.)

    The IB system is now also point based, similar to SE, except different! Stay with me here…. Each IB program will have the same point totals that the SE schools have to begin with — 300 max for grades, 300 for ISATS. They also work on a scale of 900, but each school gets to determine how those final 300 points will be assessed. They use the first 600 possible point totals to qualify students to proceed with their individual process. Some interview (Senne), some interview and require paperwork such as 8th gr first qtr rpt card (Ogden), some have no additional requirements (Prosser, , Amundsen), and so on, Lincoln Park has the most elaborate process, as they are also the oldest and most selective program. They require attendance at the curriculum meeting (signing in & out), interview with parent and child, and on-site written response to literature — ALL as part of the last 300 point total.

    I have heard the 590/600 cutoff from several sources at this point, and have no idea if that is correct or not. We were interviewed late in the process along with a friend who had the same point totals — 591. It also felt like we might have been a “second” pass for LP, in that the first centralized IB letter did not include moving forward for us at LP, and then a second one did. Maybe they just kept going til they reached a certain number of students? Not a clue.

    Back to the open houses — I do wish all high schools could present something as comprehensive as the “curriculum meeting”. Some have come close, but it’s pretty hard when you are open to the public. The more intimate events have really been helpful in assessing some of the programs. Prosser IB had a lovely afternoon session including a box lunch, sample classes,and presentations by current students. DD is shadowing at Senn IB next week, and I am very grateful for that opportunity.

    This is why I don’t post much…I’m very verbal…..

  • 434. Gwen  |  February 17, 2012 at 8:13 am

    I like your posts. I’d love to hear how the shadowing at SennIB goes. My neighbor’s son goes there and he loves it, and it’s my neighborhood school . . .

  • 435. momof3boys  |  February 17, 2012 at 8:49 am

    @405. loved your post and i have to agree.. when our kids were younger we really wanted them to go to bell. unfortunately, it was not the right fit for the younger one, perfect for the older one. so for 6 years i dreaded sending the ys to school. finally i gave up and pulled out and sent him somewhere else and he thrived. same thing for HS. I was kind of concerned about him going to LTHS because the older one was there but it turned out ok. so i agree, just because it is a selective enrollment HS, it may not be a right fit for your child.

    on a second note, we were at the one of the big swim meets for CPS a couple weekends ago. I was kind of jealous that the schools that were not selective enrollment had teacher and many family members rooting for their kids while selective enrollment schools did not have one teacher rooting for them and just a few parents… we were sitting behind a group and the group of teachers were so excited for the kids. i mean, cheering, hugging, high-fives, congratulations,etc. there were only 3 sets of parents who showed up for Lane… i guess its trade off… sigh…

  • 436. CPSDepressed  |  February 17, 2012 at 9:08 am

    We were not invited to the Lincoln Park IB open house – it’s now a full-on selective enrollment program competing with North Side and Payton, not an option for a college-bound child who got a B in seventh grade.

    As for Catholic schools: we looked at St. Ignatius, Loyola, and Gordon Tech, took the test at Loyola, waiting waiting waiting. All were really enthusiastic, all had plenty of time for us to talk to teachers and meet students.

  • 437. CuriousGirl  |  February 17, 2012 at 9:41 am

    Okay has anyone heard this … the SEHS letters have been delayed because the numbers are not working out well with OAE. NCLB has now been re-introduced into the equation. What have you heard folks?

  • 438. Mia  |  February 17, 2012 at 10:04 am

    CuriousGirl – where did you hear this? I knew they’d been delayed, but not why.

  • 439. James  |  February 17, 2012 at 10:26 am

    I know of at least two kids who interviewed at LP IB this year and who each received at least one B in 7th grade. That means their point totals at the time of the interview were, at best, 575. So I don’t think the rumors that LP IB only interviewed kids with all As and perfect (or nearly perfect) scores is correct. That would be a striking change for that program, which traditionally has interviewed — and accepted — lots of kids with good, but not perfect, grades and test scores. I’m not saying it isn’t going to be more difficult to get into this year than in the past. It may be. But they are still interviewing kids with Bs in 7th grade.

  • 440. James  |  February 17, 2012 at 11:34 am

    I received an e-mail this morning from OAE in response to my inquiry that says that the HS SE letters are still scheduled to go out “the week of February 20th.” For what it’s worth…

  • 441. Lee  |  February 17, 2012 at 11:35 am

    My nephew (who lives with me full-time) received straight As in 7th grade and scored in the 95th percentile on the reading portion of his ISAT. However, he scored in the 82nd percentile on Math. His total score sits at 568/600. He applied to the LPHS IB program and they did not interview him. I spoke with them, and they said it “must have been” the 82nd percentile. So the straight As in 7th were irrelevant to them.

  • 442. Waiting...  |  February 17, 2012 at 11:38 am

    @435 & 438 – my child had straight As and 99/88 on the test and did not get an interview. I was told by someone at the school that they had changed the admission requirements for an interview this year. She also said that he was a perfect candidate for the DH program. Frankly, he probably would be happier in the DH program.

  • 443. Mia  |  February 17, 2012 at 11:41 am

    @James – obviously that’s good news – but what to think about what they told me (two seperate occasions, two different people) yesterday . . . But still – I hope what they sent you is correct and there was just confusion amongst the staff yesterday.

  • 444. cpsobsessed  |  February 17, 2012 at 11:44 am

    Typically the “week of” means late friday afternoon. 🙂

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 445. CuriousGirl  |  February 17, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    Mia – From what I understand, a meeting was held yesterday with the SEHS principals and they were told to save seats for NCLB kids. Honestly, I don’t know what this means, but this may explain a delay in sending out letters to 8th grade families.

  • 446. Mia  |  February 17, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    Curious Girl – You seem to have the inside scoop ;)!

    That may explain the disconnect from yesterday to today – perhaps they were told to tell people later in the month awaiting confirmation of the meeting. I just called again now, and the woman I spoke to said the letters would be mailing “all week” beginning on Tuesday the 21st, and that she had “no idea” why anyone would have told me otherwise. LOL!

  • 447. RL Julia  |  February 17, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    435, 438, 441 – my son also didn’t get an interview at LPIB – I thought it was because he didn’t do an essay or some other part of the application that I didn’t look up on the LPIB website. He too is probably a better fit with the double honors program. He is 589/600.

  • 448. Don't Panic  |  February 17, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    So the big fun of anxiously waiting for the mailman starts next Wednesday.

  • 449. Fourbsbadforme  |  February 17, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    What does NCLB mean?

    Does anyone know about LPDH letters? Von? Are they going out tomorrow?

  • 450. Chris  |  February 17, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    “What does NCLB mean?”

    No Childe Left Behind

  • 451. Chris  |  February 17, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    That is, of corse, Child, not the Olde English childe.

  • 452. HS Mom  |  February 17, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    and not the Olde English/French corse(et?) 😉

  • 453. Gwen  |  February 19, 2012 at 1:34 am

    The Trib Article on the Tiers appeared today:,0,5284194.story

  • 454. old fogey  |  February 19, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    To reiterate a point I made earlier on this post—

    In the Tribune article, Katie Ellis says that because there is an equal number of school age kids in each tier, the system CPS devised is “fair”. Her definition of fair is dubious at best. It is completely irrelevant that there are an equal number of school age kids in each tier—what matters is that there are an equal number of QUALIFIED school age kids in each tier. Every QUALIFIED student should have the same shot at these schools—anything else is UNFAIR.

    According to CPS’s own data, only 56% of tier 1 7th graders “met or exceeded” ISAT standards; while 81% of tier 4 students did. To even be qualified to sit for the 8th grade exam, 7th graders must score in the 5th stanine—which means they must score at least the 40th percentile of the 7th grade ISAT. Therefore it’s extremely likely that a much smaller number of Tier 1 7th graders are even qualified to take the test. So a Tier 1 qualified 7th grader has much better odds of getting a spot than a Tier 4 student does, for the simple reason is that there is a much smaller pool of qualified Tier 1 kids to choose from.

    If we want to keep the tier system at all, this obvious fact should be corrected, in the interest of fairness.

    On a side note—-my opinion is that the 40th percentile as the “cutoff” is way too low. The ISAT as it stands is ridiculously easy and the 40th percentile of an easy exam does not promote excellence, but mediocrity. This does not bode well for the continued excellence of the selective enrollment schools. On the other hand, CPS uses the 70th percentile as the cutoff for the Academic centers; several of the Lincoln Park High Schools use even higher cutoffs. That’s more like it.

  • 455. mom2  |  February 19, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    @old fogey, I agree with your opinion that it should be based on the number of qualified students to be fair.

    Not sure I agree with you on your side note as we do know that some kids test poorly, so I’m fine with leaving the one out of three areas (the isat scores) alone for who is qualified to try.

    As I keep saying, if us Tier 4 and even 3 parents just got together and took back our neighborhood schools, I don’t think we would care so much about the tier system – fair or unfair. Instead, there would just be more griping from CTU and other groups saying it isn’t fair that the tier 4 neighborhood high schools are so good.

  • 456. anonymous  |  February 20, 2012 at 10:14 am

    Old fogey is absolutely right. Could be the basis for a class action lawsuit showing how the selection process is set up to limit the chances of success for some groups.

    The fair thing is also the simplest thing — to look at family income levels. CPS has gone to great lengths to avid that.

    People are living in never never land if you think you can “take back” a neighborhood high school through praent goodwill and fund raising.

    The mayor has some $660 million in TIF funds — have you asked him for some of that to turn around a school the way you want it?

  • 457. mom2  |  February 20, 2012 at 11:39 am

    “People are living in never never land if you think you can “take back” a neighborhood high school through praent goodwill and fund raising.” – Why do you say that? Look at places like Nettlehorst and Burley. That is exactly what happened there. It worked.

  • 458. stacey  |  February 20, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    Take the politics out of SEHS admissions. Make the system transparent. How? Do what New York does and admit students on the basis of performance ONLY.

    From last summer’s SEHS community forum at Lane Tech:

    “Selective Enrollment High Schools provide academically advanced students with a challenging and enriched college preparatory experience.”
    This is the mission statement of SEHS, as taken from the website of the Office of Academic Enhancement. It seems a very direct statement of a legitimate goal.
    And yet each year time and money is spent on efforts to engineer the SEHS admissions outcomes to satisfy special interests and political factions.

    There is a simple solution to the question of how to fairly admit students to Chicago’s SEHS. Adopt the blind admissions system used by the nation’s largest school district: New York City Public Schools.

    New York City’s eight academically selective enrollment high schools admit students solely on the basis of academic achievement. No consideration is given to a student’s neighborhood, ethnicity, religion, income, parents’ marital status, athletic ability or access to political power. Nothing but the student’s academic performance is used to decide selective high school admission.

    This past February, 28,000 New York City 8th graders took the selective enrollment admissions exam; 5400 students earned admission to New York’s selective high schools.

    New York’s policy results in a transparent selective enrollment process focused on academics. One that is so important to the taxpayers of New York that the state legislature passed a law barring changes to the admissions procedure so that no school organization, political faction, or special interest group can alter the admissions requirements or standards. This system has thrived since 1934.

    Chicago parents are tired of the constantly changing admissions process for SEHS. Our children are tired of being political pawns. CPS needs to step up and adopt a transparent and constant admissions system that is immune to political influence and focuses on academic achievement.

  • 459. old fogey  |  February 20, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    I’m with you, Stacey, exactly what I advocated in my first post on this blog (#107).

  • 460. HS Mom  |  February 20, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    Yes @458 I tried to back you up. Well put Stacey. Good to know that others see the inequities within the present system given the importance of school choice in Chicago. It looks to me, however, that many parents feel that “this imperfect system works because it’s the best that we can do” .

  • 461. IB&RGC Mom  |  February 20, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    Well stated Stacey!

  • 462. northie  |  February 20, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    How about this:

    In 6th grade a student is required to have a physical in order to attend cps. When they hand out the required forms for that, hand out a comprehensive booklet (in several languages) containing ALL of the information needed to apply to an SEHS or other magnet high school program. Make the parents sign a form stating they read the material and return it with their health forms. This way everyone has been informed about the options. Continue sending home the packet in 7th and 8th grade. Those that score the highest get in. No more tiers. We can’t babysit everyone. If a student or parent values education, or is motivated, they would know about the options and have several years to prepare. There have been students on this blog who have researched the schools themselves and applied. I understand that there is a population in cps who might not have the same opportunities as others, but if they can’t be motivated enough to research and apply, how can they be motivated enough to get through an SEHS program? I don’t mean to sound insensitive, but there has to be a better way than the new tier/different every year/making it up as we go along system that exists now. I would like nothing better than to ensure that every child has an equal chance to get in, but is that really achievable? The system that currently exists isn’t fair either. Someone is always going to get burned, so why not go with merit?

  • 463. Anon  |  February 20, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    When I gave the statement quoted @457 during the Lane forum, the CPS representative rejected a blind admissions policy as not promoting sufficient diversity.

    I quoted the most recent data available online, which shows that the NYC 2010 freshman class offered selective enrollment seats was composed of a self-identified 77% non-white students and 23% white students. I suggested to the BRC/CPS panel that this statistic proves that a blind admission system can produce a diverse outcome. The CPS representative then simply denied that the NYC selective high schools have sufficient diversity, completely ignoring the data.

    The only thing I could deduce was that the non-white student majority who tested into the NYC selective high schools did not come from the same minority population the BRC/CPS policy seeks to promote. (Forty-six percent of those offered seats in NY were of Asian/Pacific Islander descent.) That’s just a guess; I really couldn’t make sense of her comment.

    The transcript is available online.

  • 464. mom2  |  February 20, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    @462 – You are correct in your analysis of the situation.

  • 465. Alcott High School info  |  February 21, 2012 at 10:41 am

    Information on Alcott High School – note from the principal


    Tuesday, 28 February 2012, 6:00pm

    One of the most innovative aspects of Alcott School has been the addition of our high school! This past week, I met with many parents who have expressed interest in enhancing our already wonderful high school program.

    Many parents of students from our lower grades are really not familiar with the history of our high school, and have not had the opportunity to tour the high school campus. Instead of Breakfast With the Principal this month, I will offer an “Evening With The Principal” at our high school campus!

    On February 28th at 6:00 p.m., I will give a brief history of the high school and then provide a tour of the facility. I hope that you will join me!


    David J. Domovic
    Location : Alcott High School

    2957 N Hoyne Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

  • 466. anonymous  |  February 21, 2012 at 11:46 am

    456 — those were elementary schools, not high schools, and there is the important difference.
    Parents wanting a local neighborhood h.s. education that can compare with other good suburban or selective high schools will find the costs involved to bring the neighborhood school up to par to be prohibitive.

  • 467. Alcott High School info  |  February 21, 2012 at 11:55 am

    @456, can you elaborate on why you believe the costs for a highschool are higher than an elementary school?

  • 468. mom2  |  February 21, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    @466 – you should be directing that question at @465. I think it is very possible to bring a neighborhood high school “up to par” as long as you are talking about the parents and kids from several of the tier 4 (or even 3) neighborhoods. I certainly see a huge issue in trying to achieve the same level of growth as some of those north side neighborhood elementary schools when looking at some of the tier 1 and 2 high schools. That is a whole other ballgame.

  • 469. mom2  |  February 21, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    New rumor – they are talking about converting Lakeview High School’s building into a new magnet elementary school (due to the size and the playground facilities on their grounds). They are talking of making a portion of Lane Tech into a neighborhood high school (leaving the SE and AC in place – sort of like Bell). This change could be temporary until they build a new facility down the street for a new Lakeview High School (Ashland and Addison, I think). Just a rumor – no facts to back this up.

  • 470. Alcott High School info  |  February 21, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    Mom2, you are right, I transposed 456/465.

    There does seem to be something shaking with the north/northwest highschools.

    We’ve been told that the Alcott principal has met with Leslie Boozer
    (Chief of High Schools for the North/Northwest Side Network, Chicago Public Schools) about positive-seeming changes for Alcott.

  • 471. mom2  |  February 21, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    @469 – I sure hope there are more positive changes! Thanks for anything you can share as you learn.

  • 472. IB&RGC Mom  |  February 21, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    @462 where would we find these transcripts?

  • 473. Anon  |  February 21, 2012 at 1:33 pm

  • 474. Anon  |  February 21, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    @435,438/IB Parents:

    This year’s IB admissions process is outlined on the OAE website (soon to be the Office of Access and Enrollment – Orwell anyone?).

    *Note the shift from school control over the process to cental office control of IB admissions.

    *Note that a student’s home address may account for the variation in admission:

    -Applications for IB high schools will be centralized, as well as offered online, for the first time in fall 2011.

    -Minimum stanines are required for eligibility, and some schools will require an interview and additional assessment.

    -If an interview is required, eligible students will receive a letter notifying them of their scheduled interview date, time, and location.

    -There is no preference for applicants of siblings who are already enrolled.

    -Students are given preference based on their home address.

    -Seats are filled based on an overall applicant score.

    -Notification letters are sent to parents by the Office of Academic Enhancement in February 2012.

  • 475. Angie  |  February 21, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    @473. Anon: “Students are given preference based on their home address.”

    Does that mean they are going to use tiers for IB admissions?

  • 476. Anon  |  February 21, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    Not sure. I read it as likely a busing issue. CPS used to provide busing for students attending magnet/SEHS programs if they lived 1.5-6 miles from the school. Selecting students who live closer to a school eliminates the cost.

  • 477. HS Mom  |  February 21, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    @475 – there is no busing for SEHS programs – other than the big green limousine. I don’t know of any HS school programs that offer busing. Maybe 7/8th grade IB programs.

  • 478. anonymouseteacher  |  February 21, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    Just a thought, based off of the rumor heard about LT and LV, instead of trying to put a small selective program into existing neighborhood high schools to attract and keep high achieving kids, wouldn’t it make more sense and be more attractive to have a small percentage (maybe 10-20% of spots) at all SEHS be neighborhood only. So even if that small percent of a high school was rougher than the rest of the population, they’d likely be in their own cohort of classes anyways since they might not be able to “keep up” with those admitted through scores. Also, that way, the SEHS schools would have to do their share in dealing with rougher kids instead of the neighborhood high schools being stuck with them all.(it seems like all our selective elementary and high schools do not bear their share of the most needy and difficult kids and I feel this is terribly wrong–as much as I like the fact that my own kids are not disrupted in their learning)
    And if kids were disbursed this way, then MORE SEHS could be opened to accept all the kids displaced by the “neighborhood portion”. This could potentially create more stable, more desirable options for all. I don’t know, just a thought. I wonder, what percentage would be a tipping point for parents where they wouldn’t find SEHS desirable if there were neighborhood kids? And before anyone freaks out, I realize many neighborhood kids are awesome and some could keep up with the work load of an SEHS.
    Is this a dumb idea or what problems can you all envision with an idea like this? I propose it because so many (me included) want our kids attending schools with a large majority of good, serious students. That should indicate we’d be willing to send our kids to schools with a small majority of weaker, more difficult students.

  • 479. Anon  |  February 22, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    @476 – Students with disabilities/IEPs, homelessness issues, and AC students are eligible for busing to CPS high schools.

    The IB “home address” reference may be holdover language from previous years. I have a child who was admitted to LP/IB last year and I don’t remember seeing the language, nor was it mentioned at the open house, though the admission process was performed by LP/Ms.Tookey, not CPS.

  • 480. the best elementary schools?  |  February 22, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    we are looking to buy a different house and I would like to gather some wisdom from all of you. What are the most desirable elementary schools? We have one kid at SEES and our second kids is toddler. We would like the security of a good public school.
    CPSobsessed, any chance you can remember where to find the post from last year, where a parent created a chart of the schools according to the last year’s ISAT’s and by assigning different schools (selective, neighborhood, magnet) different colors? Thank you!

  • 481. Chris  |  February 22, 2012 at 2:53 pm


    I’d break out LMGTFY, but I just used the CPSO search box at teh top:

  • 482. the best elementary schools?  |  February 22, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    thanks Chris!

  • 483. jenny  |  February 29, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    Is McPherson a good school? It has a lousy rating, but we found a house we really love in that neighborhood. I know your kid is at an RGC, but would you consider McPherson if not?

  • 484. anonymous  |  March 7, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    478 — I think I read that is what they do in NYC.

  • 485. vero  |  March 28, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    Anyone familiar with Oriole Elementary? The scores on CPS website look great. Any recommendation for site resources? I read the rankings Chicago Magazine had from a few years back and Oriole looked better then a lot of the Magnet schools.

  • 486. Parent of 3rd grader @ a CPS charter school.  |  January 10, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    What do the tiers mean? Is Tier 1 – Low Income or is Tier 4 – Low Income.
    Do Selective Enrollment schools try to take/accept more Low Income students to give them a chance at a better education?

  • 487. Paul  |  January 10, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    @486 The short answers are 1) Tier 1 is low income (although other factors come into play), and 2) Yes.

    But it is a bit more complicated than that. I suggest checking out CPS’s OAE Web site:

  • 488. 37WTF9  |  January 10, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    486 Well, the tier system is a CPS game used to keep well derserving students out of SEHS. It is CPS punishment for involved parents with jobs, who pay taxes and spent years working their kids towards SEHS only to be denied because of the tier they live in.

  • 489. RL Julia  |  January 10, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    @486 – the tier system is an attempt to give lower income students a fair shot at being admitted to selective enrollment schools since there is a high correlation between income and standardized test scores. At this point, select enrollment high schools at least devote 30% of their acceptances based on who scores the highest (merit) and then the remaining 70% is broken up equally between the tiers – so lower income kids are not really given a disproportionate chance – just a more equal one (than if the entire thing was determined by straight scores/merit. Whether or not this actually results in lower income kids actually getting this chance is not entirely clear.

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