Interview on SE High Schools with OAE and SE Scores This Year vs Last Year 2012
Ok, here is my write-up of the interview. Some of the comments are paraphrased, based on my recollection and messy notes.
Feel free to comment or share your conspiracy theories.
The chart above (thanks to the Sun Times!) shows the change in scores versus last year. I highlighted differences of 20+ points in the Min and Mean scores. I don’t know how to un-fuzzy it. The actual scores are listed here: http://cpsmagnet.org/apps/news/show_news.jsp?REC_ID=235713&id=0
Interview with Katie Ellis
Director of the Office of Access and Enrollment
How would you explain the goal of the Tier system?
The goal is to promote socio-economic diversity in the schools. There are certain neighborhoods “in isolation” within the city, both poor and wealthy. The goal is to promote diversity, to bridge the gap, and bring students together.
The factors that go into the Tier definitions correlate with educational achievement.
Starting 29 years ago CPS used race to support diversity. We build great, racially diverse schools. Then the consent decree reversed that policy. So the question was, should turn back on the success of these schools that were created for diversity?
The city of Chicago says “no,” that diversity is still important to use. We’ve looked at what would happen without the impact of the tiers and it looks a lot like NYC does.
We understand that kids are disappointed when they don’t get their first choice but the goal of diversity is something that CPS really believes in. We’re trying to strike a balance between social diversity AND giving the top kids a seat. We’re striving to successfully balance that.
What was the reaction to the higher cutoff scores this year within the OAE office?
We immediately noticed that the scores when up across the Tiers. That was very apparent.
Why do you think that happened? I first thought it was the Tier 4 cutoffs, but when all the cutoffs were posted I saw that it was across Tiers.
There were more applications this year. Around 14,000. More competition.
FYI, there are around 30-35K kids per class. Around 9-12% of the applications are from private school students.
There were also fewer seats this year. This was based on the numbers to replace the current graduating class.
What is the story with 2nd round offers?
The goal is not to make second round offers. We make more offers than there are seats, so we try to anticipate how many kids will turn down offers.
The SE test seems to allow for a lot of kids to get 300 points which ends up with a lot of kids having very high scores (which leads to frustration.) Can’t we have a test that discriminates better?
**REVISED: To clarify, CPS gives points based on the percentile. The percentile tells a prospective student where he or she fared based on everyone else who took the test. When we look at the actual scaled scores, we see a large range of scores. Therefore, just because a student scored better than 99% of people taking the test, that doesn’t mean he or she got a perfect score on the test. Also, this doesn’t mean that we are not grading the full test.
Three hundred points does not necessarily equal a perfect score on the test, and when we look at the actual scale scores, you can see that. It’s harder to give points based on a scale score because every year, depending on the competition level, the number of points you would give would have to change. Percentiles are an easier way to convey to parents how students are actually doing.
Why can’t the SE test happen earlier so kids can know their whole 900 point score BEFORE applying to schools? This would help frame their expectations and be more efficient for touring schools.
We have to allow time in the fall for kids to take the ISATs if they missed them. These scores are used to see who qualifies for the SE test. So once it is all scheduled, we end up with the SE test happening when it does. The other option would be to allow everyone to take the test earlier, but this is a big expense for the district (since all kids could take the test, but roughly only half would qualify for application to the SE schools based on their ISAT scores.)
Why do the letter mail out late every year?!
We do the best we can, trying to make sure everything is accurate. We worked that weekend to get them out on Monday.
Why does it take the whole week to post the cutoff scores?
There are a few kids who experience calculation errors each year. We work to resolve those and post only the final cutoffs. We don’t want to post anything inaccurate so we wait until those issues are resolved.
What is the story about birthdate being used as a tiebreaker?
That is the 6th criteria after other test-based criteria and has never actually been used. But it exists, just in case.
What are parents supposed to do who have kids who have very good scores, but not good enough to place into an SE high school? Where does CPS see as a place for these kids? The neighborhood schools still look pretty scary.
The portfolio office is analyzing this. The goal is to have a good option for everyone. We know we’re not there yet, but that is the goal. We encourage parents to be open minded about their options and be thorough about seeking options.
What is the selection process for out-of-neighborhood kids at neighborhood high schools such as Lake View?
It is lottery based, with no Tier impact. Last year LVHS had 1200 applicants outside of their area.
Is there a department or person in CPS who can help parents who are trying to improve their neighborhood high school?
(Sounds like not really.) The portfolio office might be a place to start.
Entry filed under: High school.