The Great Tier Debate

March 6, 2012 at 5:01 am 176 comments

**The Tier system is a hot and divisive topic.  Please discuss it here and not in other posts.  Please attempt to focus on the arguments pro or con rather than attacking each other.   Personal attacks will be removed.**
For may years, CPS used race (Caucasian, Non-Caucasian) to attempt to balance out magnet and selective enrollment program, with a goal of racial diversity.  A couple years ago, the courts determined that race could no longer be used as a balancing factor. In its place, the Tier system was started with the goal of creating socio-economic diversity (and some would argue racial diversity still being a goal) within these schools.
Each student is assigned a tier based on their census tract.  This will affect the scores your child needs to place into a selective enrollment school (SE high schools, gifted and classical programs, academic centers) and also magnet programs.
CPS says that the factors that go into the tiers are correlated with educational outcome.  The scores needed for selective enrollment placement seem to bear this out as the higher tiers (4) tend to have higher scores than the lower tiers (1.)  Of course there are exceptions within all tiers.
One of the complaints about the tier system has been its imperfect nature.  Some tracts contain a mix of families and one can surmise that the poorest families in the tract are at a disadvantage within their tier.
Socio-Economic Tiers
Every Chicago address falls within a specific census tract. 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.
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. This is how we establish the four tiers. Consequently, every Chicago address falls into one of the four tiers, based on the characteristics mentioned above.
How to Determine Your Tier
The process of updating the tiers for the 2012-2013 selection process is now complete. We apologize for the delay, which resulted from the redistricting of the census tracts as part of the 2010 census.
MAP: You can determine your tier by clicking here to access the census tract map. The tiers are color coded. Use the legend on the lower right corner of the map to see which color corresponds to the tier.
You can also calculate your tier by following the steps below:
1. Click here to go to the U.S. census website.
2. Enter your address and click ‘go.’
3. Scroll down to the table entitled “Geography Results.” Under the column “Geography Name,” look in the fourth row for your census tract number, followed by the county and state.
4. Click here to access the “Census Tract – Tier Information” document. The census tracts are sorted in numeric order; the number in the “short tract” column corresponds to the census tract number you obtained on the U.S. census website. Click “Control F” and type in your census tract number. The number in the third column is your tier.

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Interview on SE High Schools with OAE and SE Scores This Year vs Last Year 2012 2012 High School Admissions and Principal Discretion Part 3

176 Comments Add your own

  • 1. cpsobsessed  |  March 6, 2012 at 5:15 am

    Did you neighborhood change Tiers in 2012?

  • […] Please put any comments about the Tier debate here: […]

  • 3. Tax Payer  |  March 6, 2012 at 7:27 am

    Make sure to hold on to this map CPS obsessed. As I said before I work in the mortgage industry and I have several people calling from that tier 4 ring that goes around the outer edge of city bordering the burbs. This map is going to look quite different in a few years as these people move away. I have been actively telling people to stay out of Chicago and move to Niles, Park Ridge or a few other of the neighboring burbs.

  • 4. cpsobsessed  |  March 6, 2012 at 8:01 am

    I will Tax Payer. I will.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 5. Mayfair Dad  |  March 6, 2012 at 9:11 am

    Here is a link to a racial demographic map of Chicago using 2010 census information:

    Draw your own conclusions as to what similarities, if any, exist between the two maps.

  • 6. Another broke and barely making it Tier 4 mom  |  March 6, 2012 at 9:41 am

    Tax Payer –

    What do you think about buying a home in Lincolnwood?

  • 7. justanotherchicagoparent  |  March 6, 2012 at 9:46 am

    Tax Payer I was looking into Niles do you know the class size for the high schools? and the total population of students? Thanks for any info.

  • 8. justanotherchicagoparent  |  March 6, 2012 at 9:47 am

    @5 if demographics is why they are doing the tiers. It was kind of an easier pill to swallow the old way.

  • 9. genxatmidlife  |  March 6, 2012 at 9:51 am

    I wonder if these tiers balance out in terms of population — pure numbers. In other words, if you had a number for all of the school-aged children in Tier 1, would it equal the total number of school-age children in Tier 4 (or any combination of tiers)? Seems like there is a lot of green on this map.

    But does this Tier system that affects SE schools really matter when CPS can only accomodate a small percentage of qualified applicants? The generally accepted standard for advanced programs is top 5%. Most of those kids aren’t getting in, as it appears. If you have a Tier 4 top 2% kid who doesn’t get in, you care. But, what if you have a top 12% kid? Tier doesn’t matter in that case. Top 12% is still a really good student and/or kid with high potential, and we need high schools that will properly educate this kid for their very bright future.

  • 10. ChicagoGawker  |  March 6, 2012 at 10:47 am

    It’s income and parent education level that correlate most closely with educational disadvantage. These also frequently, but not always correlate with minority status. Control for income and parental education, and you don’t even need to include the other SE factors of homeownership, single parenthood, and ESL. (I used to chuckle at the few minority kids at my kid’s RGC driven to school in a Lexus) You will still capture the disadavantaged population. Get rid of the tiers by geography.

  • 11. janet  |  March 6, 2012 at 10:49 am

    wondering if cps posts aggregate number of kids that were accepted into SEHS’s from each tier, anybody know???

  • 12. HS Mom  |  March 6, 2012 at 10:56 am

    @10 – no such luck. With that we could know what tiers rank offers come from. I guess that would be TMI.

  • 13. pantherparent  |  March 6, 2012 at 11:20 am

    No, the number of school-aged children does not equal 25% per tier. It is *supposed* to but with so many tiers becoming 4’s this year, there is an imbalance.

    It was in the paper about a month ago but I have been unable to find it. I don’t want to quote incorrect numbers so I will look again.

    Regardless, you would think they would have to reconfigure the tiers to fix that issue.

  • 14. junior  |  March 6, 2012 at 11:27 am

    You mean socioeconomic status in America correlates with racial/ethnic categories? Stop the presses! We’ve got groundbreaking research here!!!

    P.S. I’m a suburban mother of grade school kids looking to get into a good school. Can anyone recommend a realtor specializing in Tier 1/2/3 neighborhoods in the city?

  • 15. old fogey  |  March 6, 2012 at 11:28 am

    Here are a few ideas to make the Tier system more fair—

    1. Return to the originally planned 50-50.

    2. To qualify to take the 8th grade Selective Enrollment Exam, 7th graders should score in the 70th percentile or higher on their 7th grade ISAT’s. This is currently the cutoff used for 5th graders hoping to get into the CPS Academic Centers. Right now, a 7th grader needs to only score in the 40th percentile of the ISAT’s to be qualified to take the Selective Enrollment Exam (because the 40th percentile is the bottom end of the 5th stanine). I think everybody would agree that someone who scores only the 40th percentile of the ISAT (an very easy test compared to other states’ tests) simply isn’t Selective Enrollment material, and shouldn’t be put into a position of taking a scarce seat from anyone else.

    3. Change the allotment of Tiered seats to make sure every student who does qualify (at the tier level) to take the test has the same odds of landing a SE spot as everyone else. Currently all four Tiers get an equal number of seats. This means a Tier 1 student who qualifies has much greater odds of landing a Tier spot than a Tier 4 qualified student does, simply because the pool of Tier 1 qualified students is smaller.

    If CPS adopted some or all of these, we’d still have a diverse system and a lot less rancor. Also the second suggestion above would go a long way to ensuring that the SE schools could operate at an accelerated pace.

  • 16. junior  |  March 6, 2012 at 11:32 am

    @13 pantherparent

    Please find the reference, cuz I’m a bit skeptical. I’ve seen it stated recently that 33% of the city became Tier 1, but I believe that’s just geographic (size) areas being referred. And that’s because there is less density of population in Tier 1 and moreover there is generally less children per capita. The tiers are supposed to be split up evenly in four quartiles, so they can’t move some tiers up without moving some down.

  • 17. ChicagoGawker  |  March 6, 2012 at 11:35 am

    @14 SE status doesn’t always correlate with racial/minority status. My point was -to reach the truly disadvantaged child and given them a leg up-select by income and parental education, not an inaccurate map of disadvantage.

  • 18. pantherparent  |  March 6, 2012 at 11:41 am

    I’m looking. Found this to at least back up the premise from Katie Ellis, CPS director of access and enrollment:

    “We try to make sure that there’s 25 percent of school-aged children in each tier,” Ellis said. “The tiers were created so there would be an equal number of school-aged children in each tier so students would be competing against other kids in their tier. Is it more competitive? We’ve created the fairest process we could.”

  • 19. proportional  |  March 6, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    What if the size of each tier, instead of being evenly divided over the entire school-age population, was instead increased or decreased in proportion to their representation in the applicant pool?

  • 20. proportional  |  March 6, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    Excuse me. I meant to say that the number of seats allotted to each tier would depend on the number of applicants in each tier. That way, a demographic with more interest in going to an SEHS would have more spots available.

  • 21. OMG  |  March 6, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    Why don’t the individual schools have there own test to get in? If you want to go to NS or Young you take an entrance exam at their school that was designed by their staff and allows them to except students based on their standards. So if you want to apply to 3 different school you take 3 different test. I had to do it when I was deciding which catholic hs to go to. If you weren’t really interested in a particular school then you do not apply. You could even charge a small fee ( maybe 10-20 dollars) to apply. Of course waivers would be given to those truly in need. Schools could then use that money to fund some of their programs and to pay for the materials for testing and so forth. IDK just a crazy idea that seems simple.

  • 22. 7th grade/ lower end Tier 4 mom  |  March 6, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    Does anyone know the exact formula used to determine Tiers? ? I know, I know, about the 6 factors that are taken into account- but without knowing the formula you don’t know what weight each of the factors is given.

    I’d like to know the formula and the ‘score’ from my census tract to see how close or far we are from tier 3.

  • 23. pantherparent  |  March 6, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    @16 and @9
    I’m going to retract my statement about the tiers not containing the same number of school age kids, only because I cannot find the figures that back that statement up.

    I’m not saying the tiers are equal, I’m just saying I can’t prove they are not. If I get better info, I’ll let you know.

  • 24. Chris  |  March 6, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    “without knowing the formula you don’t know what weight each of the factors is given”

    Not going looking, as I haven’t seen it for the new tiers, but for the tiers alst year there was, somewhere on CPS, a spreadsheet with the data for each of the categories. Seemed they translated them into rank order for each of the criteria, and then sorted the census tracts by aggregate rank (so, if a census tract had the “best” of each of the 6 categories, it would have 6 #1s and an aggregate of 6; the worst in all would have 6 at #799, or 4794).

    And, not that it’s especially relevant without the populations of the tracts, too, but the breakdown of the number of census tracts in each tier is:

    Tier 1 = 183
    Tier 2 = 162
    Tier 3 = 189
    Tier 4 = 262

  • 25. Chris  |  March 6, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    ps: Could be wrong about the ranking of the criteria thing. Could be faulty recollection, faulty assumption at that time, or a combination of the two.

  • 26. CJ  |  March 6, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    It may be that for Chicago, the elementary school that the child attends is a bigger disadvantage than where they live. Many students in the city don’t attend school in the tier where they live. So while they may live in tier 1 they may attend a SE or gifted elementary school. To be fair, they should allow the top 5-10 or so students from every school in the city to apply and then have a lottery. This should cover all the races and the socio economic status of the city. SE/ gifted/magnet elementary schools should not have an advantage over the neighborhood schools.

  • 27. by the numbers  |  March 6, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    I guess my question is: what is the right cut-off. For all the Tier 4 families upset that their kids didn’t get in, look at the numbers. This is how many kids defintiely scored higher than your child in order to get in to a selective enrollment high school:
    NCSP – 121
    Payton – 95
    WY – 204
    Lane – 475
    Jones – 109

    This is the number of kids who go in as part of the 30% without regard to tier plus the number of kids who got in from your tier. It is also likely that some of the kids sho got in from the other tiers also had sores higher than your child. REgardless how many spots went to kids with lower scroes, there was significant opportunity for your kids to get in.

  • 28. Tax Payer  |  March 6, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    @6 and @7 . If you are going to spend the money on Lincolnwood you would be better off moving further west and moving into Park Ridge which has Maine South and excellent high school. I have frriends that live in Niles and they are fine with Niles West, better yet if you can get in the little corner of Niles west of Harlem it falls into the Maine South district.

  • 29. Tax Payer  |  March 6, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    @by the numbers.

    I don’think anyone is complaining about kids from lower income scoring higher and getting in the schools. That is how it should be… no tiers just best grades and scores…period…end of story. We get upset when our kid scores an 894 and some kid from tier 1 gets in with an 820. That is just unfair.

  • 30. Nathan  |  March 6, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    Shouldn’t our larger concern be that the city cannot seem to provide enough seats to satisfy the needs of its high achieving students. If the city simply met the needs of its residents in a reasonable way, we wouldn’t be having this debate. Do you think this messsage board exists on the North Shore? The truth is that the city is utterly failing its residents at every socio-economic level. Tiers are a distraction.

  • 31. Tax Payer  |  March 6, 2012 at 3:25 pm


    A kid who gets an 800 is an average student that should go to the neighborhood high school. That is what happens in tier 4, if you get 800 in tier 1 you are considered a genius and allowed entrance in front of kids in tier 4 with 890’s.

  • 32. by the numbers  |  March 6, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    If 95 kids who applied to NCSP scored higher than your child, chances are your child is fairly average too. Of the students at NCSP, how many of them go on to top colleges? Not 95…

  • 33. HS Mom  |  March 6, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    OK, Tax Payer, good point. Another point would be that the tier 4 neighborhood school is considerably better than the tier 1 school so we are looking at the same trade off. @30 is on target, we have the demand and no supply

    @32 I would disagree that scoring less than the top 95 kids at NSP makes you “average”. And lets not go there on who goes to the top colleges.

  • 34. ChicagoGawker  |  March 6, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    @30 Nathan is correct. When can go round and round about the fairness of tiers the SE process ad nauseum, but many here would not be in angry crisis mode if there were acceptable neighborhood schools. If there were seats at safe neighborhood HSs that provided a genuine college prep education, we would not be having this conversation. No one wants to confront the neighborhood HS problem, not Daley, not Huberman, not Brizard, not Rahm, and not we here either. Well ignore the have nots, and sooner or later the chickens come home to roost. The crappy neighborhood HSs are our problem now, because there is nowhere else for the majority of our kids to go.

  • 35. Chris  |  March 6, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    “We get upset when our kid scores an 894 and some kid from tier 1 gets in with an 820.”

    The spread of the scores of Tier 1 would be interesting, esp for NSCP. As has been noted, few parents want a hour+ commute for their kids–for most of Tier 1 and NSCP, that would be the case, if using CTA. In the absence of additional data, Payton (with a *much* more accessible location for most of the city) is a better case study, and the delta in the tier *mean* scores bears that out–the average Tier 1 score at WP is 20 points higher than NS, and the last in 30 points higher.

  • 36. Gunnery Sgt Hartman  |  March 6, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    Chicago Gawker has it pretty much right. It’s odd that in new york city that you have great selective high schools as well as some great neighborhood high schools which are in many ways more desirable than many of the schools in the close-in burbs.

    If the mayor wants to keep the tax base for the city, then the neighborhood high schools have to improve, and improve big time.

  • 37. pantherparent  |  March 6, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    @30 Nathan
    Great point. According to @27 there are 1,004 slots available to Tier 4 kids for selective enrollment high schools. Take out Lane and it’s 529. That’s the issue.

    When you think about suburban high schools that have 500+ seats available per class, every year for anyone who wants one, well that just shows how bad the situation is in Chicago.

  • 38. Nathan  |  March 6, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    The tier system is not the problem. Lower income kids deserve those spots even if their test scores are not as high — getting an 820 coming out of one of the cities worst elementary schools may be more impressive than an 894 out of one of its best.

    The solution is in how tier 4 families are responding — by spending $10 – 30k per year on private schools. I am (potentially) one of those, though for kindergarten rather than high school, but I would gladdly give that money to a public school if it met the same standard.

    So why can’t the city tap that source of funding? Here’s how it could work: build additional SE capacity, leave the tier system in place with the same number of seats (or more if possible) allocated as they are currently? If you get in through the tiers, great. If not, the new seats can be offered based entirely upon a ranking of test scores (no tiers) with those families having the option to pay tuition to get them. That money could then be used to pay for the additional capacity. Everyone wins or is at least unaffected.

    Many will complain that this favors the wealthy, which is certainly true, but not any more than the current system where those families use their money to send their children to private schools. At least in this case, the money goes to support CPS.

  • 39. junior  |  March 6, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    But why take out Lane? Just to play with the numbers? Why not instead add seats at other non-SE programs that are as good as the average suburban school?

  • 40. pantherparent  |  March 6, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    I understand your point, but what is the criteria? And what is an average suburban high school? No matter how many seats you add to the total, there is simply a higher demand than supply.

  • 41. anonymous  |  March 6, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    @38: I like your idea a lot!

  • 42. junior  |  March 6, 2012 at 5:03 pm


    But isn’t that almost precisely the definition of *selective enrollment*?

    Supply < demand

    If it weren't, then there would be no need to select.

  • 43. mom  |  March 6, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    Maybe I missed this somewhere, but does anyone know how many Tier 4 students took the SE test and scored at least a 650 total points? That is the number to compare with the 1004 slots.

  • 44. RL Julia  |  March 6, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    Gawker – its a mobius strip argument. Without someone attending the neighborhood high schools and making them better, no one is going to go them -which would make them better – everyone is just waiting for that critical mass to show up so they can jump on the bandwagon and ride around.

    The more I read here, the more I become convinced that CPS should just do away with ALL the SEHS’s or have them be mostly merit based (with some exceptions for educationally disadvantaged students) – because no matter where you set the cutoff point, there will always be someone upset and threatening to move out of the city. Last year everyone was crying and complaining about the inherent unfairness of the system and this year (when it got even more unfair) there is again moaning and complaining – and have I seen even one post where someone says, wow, my kid didn’t get in and I am going to just send them to Lakeview, or Mather, or Shurz – really no. The best you can get is my neighbor’s friend’s cousin’s daughter just got into Amunsen IB and I am sure she’ll do fine… but the school is really not “there yet” for my kid…. However, untill most everyone is sending their kids to the neighborhood high schools, they aren’t going to get better than they already are.

    Seriously thinking about running for community member for the Schurz LSC – even if I don’t I’m planning on going to Schurz and/or Roosevelt LSC meetings. I have a 6th grader now and you never know….

  • 45. junior  |  March 6, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    @44 RLJulia

    You’re right on. It’s a basic policy dilemma — do you create more selective enrollment schools and drain more talent from the neighborhood schools, or do you create fewer SE schools and encourage folks to take up neighborhood options?

    But, differentiation in education is a good thing. More choices for parents means more opportunities to find something that fits your kid. Specialized environments are important for kids with special needs, whether those are gifted, bilingual, SPED, arts-oriented, etc. I think the recently announced computer vocational programs are a good example (I do think there are people within CPS who think these issues through). Maybe every neighborhood HS should try to develop its own specialty niche to attract students — seems like good college prep honors programs would be in demand in Tier 4. Maybe more parents should organize and seek specialty programs within neighborhood HS.

  • 46. Sped Mom  |  March 6, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    CPS meeting SPED needs.Ever.

    That’s a good one.

  • 47. ChicagoGawker  |  March 6, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    RL Julia,- just what I have been thinking. Just this past week a group of about 20 concerned neighbors have organized to meet with the principal of our neighborhood HS and get involved. The SE HSs have been awful for the neighborhood HSs, draining talent, and allowing us all to just look the other way. It is breathtaking how segregated they are from the kids of middle income, educated parents. I mean NO ONE in my social circle in our ‘hood send their kids there, not one. Who knows if any of us will be brave enough to band together and send our kids there when the time comes

  • 48. junior  |  March 6, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    Link to info on Community Action Councils (CAC):

    Don’t see any focusing on Tier 4 areas, but according to CPS:

    “Our goal is to expand into all communities to ensure increased school success through parent and community engagement.”

  • 49. CJ  |  March 6, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    I think more SE schools is not a good idea. This sort of parallel school system that Chicago has started is starting to feel exclusive and it is not good for the city or the the neighborhood HSs. What no one has addressed is how it affects their pocket. Most people are upset because their tax dollars are working harder for some and not all, no matter what they scored.( They feel like they will have to spend 10K a year to get an equivalent education for their child. I encourage parents to attend an LSC meeting at their local and school and schools they are thinking about for their children. Parent involvement really is the best way, make some diplomatic noise.

  • 50. mom  |  March 6, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    @49 – Maybe no more SE schools, but what about SE programs within the neighborhood schools? Couldn’t that help attract some families and students? Might it help ChicagoGawker’s group mentioned in @47?

  • 51. Tax Payer  |  March 6, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    They should just call it what it is “Affirmative Action Select Enrollment.”

  • 52. cpsobsessed  |  March 6, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    We don’t know that number (how many tier 4 kids tested.). There may be some info on ingoing tier breakouts in the next few days so stay tuned.

    But those 1000 rank seats at the “top schools” represent the top 3.3 percent of spaces (obviously this excludes 3 schools).


    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 53. CJ  |  March 6, 2012 at 7:05 pm

    Absolutely, i think SE programs within the neighborhood schools is doable. And they can have more than one. For example, Taft now has an IB program, but they could add a Performing arts component and maybe a vocational component or a sciene and writing or technology. It realy can be any combination. The possibilities really are endless.

  • 54. pantherparent  |  March 6, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    Ahhhh. This is a question that’s been discussed here before. What happens if selective enrollment high schools go away?

    Last year at my neighborhood school, the graduating class sent 3 kids to Northside, 4 to Whitney and 6 to Lane. What if those 13 kids stayed local and went to Taft? Wouldn’t that make Taft better? Of course. And what if kids from Wildwood, Edgebrook and Oriole Park did the same? Wouldn’t Taft quickly become the best neighborhood high school in the city? I think so.

    BUT, if selective enrollment high schools were gone, would parents choose Taft over Notre Dame or St. Pats or Loyola? How many would move out of the city completely? People have choices.

    I think it is naive to think that if selective enrollment schools go away, then these kids stay in the CPS system.

  • 55. anonymouseteacher  |  March 6, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    Someone mentioned 800/900 being an “average” student. Really? I would imagine, based on all my years in the system, that an average score would be closer to 400-500. If that. I’d venture a guess than MOST high school freshman cannot add decimals or add when they have to carry the ten or read past a 3rd grade level. When looking at the city as a whole, 800 is a shockingly high score. I’d bet not more than 10% of the entire city is capable of an 800.

  • 56. Tax Payer  |  March 6, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    I would definitely move out of city before sending my kids to Taft.

  • 57. Tax Payer  |  March 6, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    Ok sorry anonymous, I know the lowest scores in my daughters 8th grade class were in the 700’s but as a city overall you maybe right about 500.

  • 58. HS Mom  |  March 6, 2012 at 8:31 pm

    Tax payer – can I ask what school your daughter did get into with an 894? It can’t be that bad! She needs you to be up beat about the whole thing. She did an excellent job.

  • 59. junior  |  March 6, 2012 at 8:51 pm


    In the information age, it’s much easier to organize change. Look at how many elementary schools have undergone improvement in the last few years. Those kids are all filtering up, and the SE spots are not being created to meet those demands. I think there are many avenues — CPS, principals, CACs, community, politicians, parents — that can drive positive change. It’s not as easy at the HS level, but it can be done. If a neighborhood HS can demonstrate a rigorous enough program to prepare kids for college, then most people will embrace it and many will appreciate the diversity — some will not and continue a long tradition of white flight. Change is slow, change is tough, but it is possible and it is a positive value to teach your kids.

    Or, you can join a lawsuit and if you’re successful, take some other kid’s SE spot away.

  • 60. Jen  |  March 6, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    @ 30 Nathan – There are North Shore parents that are on this blog, because CPS is the only hope for our gifted children that doesn’t involve a $17k per year tuition bill.

  • 61. Tax Payer  |  March 6, 2012 at 9:24 pm


    North Shore students don’t live in the city and therefore can’t attend CPS.

  • 62. Dunning  |  March 6, 2012 at 10:35 pm

    My kids are still young, but I am already worried about high school. Steinmetz is our neighborhood school, but I would never send my kids there (Great Schools rating of 2 out of 10 – thanks but no thanks).

    I can’t believe our neighborhood is Tier 4. Yes, it is mostly single family homes, but it’s definitely not the lap of luxury. How can this working class neighborhood of little tiny ranch houses be in the same tier as the Gold Coast or Lincoln Park? We are NOT rich. I don’t know how we will afford to pay both our property taxes and high school tuition.

  • 63. mom  |  March 6, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    Tax Payer, would you really move and not send your kid to Taft even if you were guaranteed that at least 75% of the students at Taft were from your neighborhood with only possibly the AC students on top of that? Is Taft a school you wouldn’t choose because of the building or the teachers or administration OR is it not a current choice because of the current student body?

  • 64. CLB  |  March 6, 2012 at 10:39 pm

    We do not have enough data to analyze the tiers v. test-only differences fully. NYC reports an approx. # that took SE exams, roughly 28,000, and the # admitted for SE-only, 5,360, for a 19% acceptance rate of all SE applicants for 2012 admission. Similar data exists for CPS, 14,284 applicants for 3,987 seats, or a 28% acceptance rate for 2012 admission. But this data does not account for acceptance by school. That is, of students who listed school x as a choice, how many were admitted?

    NYC gives data for acceptances at each school out of all those who listed the school as a choice, So, in 2011, Stuyvesant accepted only 4% of those who listed it as a choice (937 offers out of 24,704 students listing it). I do not know if CPS does this; I have not been able to find such data.

    The 1st choice acceptance rate would be equal or higher, depending on the number listing it first.

  • 65. cpsobsessed  |  March 6, 2012 at 10:45 pm

    Wow, so stuyv really has the top of the top.
    Thanks for the data.

    I don’t think I’d be opposed to having one school like that that was pure rank where those insanely smart (or driven kids) can be together.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 66. anonymouseteacher  |  March 6, 2012 at 10:56 pm

    @61, actually they can attend CPS. If they test into a gifted program, students can take the spot if they move into the city by a certain date.

  • 67. fgregg  |  March 7, 2012 at 1:43 am

    Does anyone know what CPS uses for the “school performance variable” that makes up the sixth factor in assigning census tracts to Tiers. Is it the average “overall performance score” of the attendance schools within the census tract, where “overall performance score” is the score given here

  • 68. Chris  |  March 7, 2012 at 5:04 am

    “How can this working class neighborhood of little tiny ranch houses be in the same tier as the Gold Coast or Lincoln Park?”

    Have you been to the south or west side? Do your neighbors mostly own, mostly stay married, mostly speak English, mostly went to college? In 75% of the city, that’s mostly not true.

  • 69. Mayfair Dad  |  March 7, 2012 at 9:16 am

    @56 Tax Payer: if Taft is your neighborhoood high school, have you looked at CICS Northtown? Several families in our neighborhood (hoping for Northside or Lane Tech, resolved not to send their kids to Taft) reluctantly tried out Northtown and were pleasantly surprised. Recent test results show CICS schools among the higher performing charters in Chicago.

    Smaller school, smaller class sizes, fewer problem students. Maybe worth a look. Also Von Steuben Scholars deserves a close look.

  • 70. Tax Payer  |  March 7, 2012 at 9:21 am

    I believe tier 4 just means the area has on average a combine household income of over $71,000/yr.Definitely not rich. Tier 4 should been $120,000/yr or over.

  • 71. Mayfair Dad  |  March 7, 2012 at 9:22 am

    @ 62, 68, others:

    I think 62 raises a valid point. If household income (and other income influenced factors) are going to be used to differentiate households for the purpose of doling out slots at exclusive high schools, why only four tiers?

    The top tier (4) seems to have a very low bottom rung compared to the truly affluent who are lumped into the same tier. Why is 4 the magic number? Why not 6?

  • 72. HS Mom  |  March 7, 2012 at 10:21 am

    Good point Mayfair Dad. I have also thought that tier 3 is too close to tier 4 because you are drawing from more or less the same kids. It is interesting to note that there is a score difference from 3 to 4 so I guess there is a difference.

  • 73. HS Mom  |  March 7, 2012 at 10:55 am

    Another thought – along with more tiers, the number of students in each tier to be equal based upon the applicant pool (the 15,000). Since we’ve proved this year that tiers can be determined after receipt of applications, should not be a problem. The applicant pool would need to provide income info certified by their school along with the application. That way the top kids from various groups would get offers…..This scheme turned out to be a little more involved than I thought!

  • 74. Mayfair Dad  |  March 7, 2012 at 11:15 am

    @ 73. I guess the larger debate is why are we doing it at all? But regardless of where your personal beliefs reside along the affirmative action continuum – from ACLU to John Birch Society – surely we all can agree the current system is fatally flawed. If CPS insists upon tinkering with the social fabric to level the playing field for disadvantaged students, they should find something more precise than census tracts to catagorize households with, and devise meaningful categories that distinguish between the working middle class and the wealthy.

  • 75. PortageParent  |  March 7, 2012 at 11:40 am

    Tax Payer – Can you please answer the question of why you wouldn’t send your kid to Taft? I’m very curious because the AP at our RGC says its a great program.

  • 76. Tax Payer  |  March 7, 2012 at 11:58 am

    While Taft is in a great area. Much of the current student body is less than desirable. From what I hear the IB is very good but they would have to mingle with all the thugs. Go drive by when school is letting out and take a look and at the police they have there every day.
    On the other hand if more of the neighborhood parents send their kids there it would improve. I guess it is a toss up. Do your homework and decide what is best for your situation.

  • 77. Chris  |  March 7, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    “I believe tier 4 just means the area has on average a combine household income of over $71,000/yr”

    NO IT DOESN’T. Repeating such ahlf truths reflects poorly on teh rest of what you are saying.

  • 78. Chris  |  March 7, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    “The top tier (4) seems to have a very low bottom rung compared to the truly affluent who are lumped into the same tier. Why is 4 the magic number? Why not 6?”

    Why not 15,000? Because (1) the tiers were set up with a goal in mind, and (2) once you start increasing, where do you stop?

  • 79. 7th grade/ lower end Tier 4 mom  |  March 7, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    Tax Payer

    My daughter is in the Taft Academic Center and has been successfully mingling with ‘thugs’ for six months now and is relatively unscathed. I hope she is accepted to the IB program next year but even if she is not I would consider having her remain at Taft to be a viable high school option.

    The one thing I do notice is a lot of students that smoke and whenever I pick her up from school I am shocked by the amount of high schoolers walking home and smoking. At least in the AC they are extremely strict when it comes to discipline, so those thugs better watch out !

  • 80. Chicago Gawker  |  March 7, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    Agree the current system does not work well, but why should my middle class kid with an educated, single parent receive special consideration, or be placed in special tier MFD? I can spend hours on the internet researching schools and don’t have to work nights so I can go help improve the neighborhood HS. Middle class or upper class, above a certain threshold of income and education, a child is not at risk. See @10 above.

  • 81. Tax Payer  |  March 7, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    @7th grade

    I am glad to hear your daughter is doing well. Best of luck to her in the future. I have heard since the economy took a dump that many of the area kids that used to go to Notre Dame or Ressurection are now going to Taft which has cut way down on the busing. If more neighborhood people send their kids it will continue to improve.

  • 82. Tax Payer  |  March 7, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    @77 Chris

    Please enlighten me. I saw a graph showing that it was based on household income. If I am wrong please show me where my mistake is instead of just saying I am wrong.

  • 83. Mayfair Dad  |  March 7, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    @ Gawker. We are on the same page. Have you read Freakonomics? Good place to start for a primer on the current tier system, inspired by liberal University of Chicago brain trust.

    So to recap your position (#10): devise a color-blind process that identifies only the very needy/disadvantaged for special consideration and let everyone else fend for themselves and let the best students win.

    Reward excellence, plus a healthy dash of compassion for the truly disadvantaged because even died-in-the-wool capitalists want poor children to improve their lot in life through education.

    I’d support this.

    Another comment: the mere existence of magnet or selective enrollment options represents a brain drain – parents and students – on neighborhood schools. Long term solution: eliminate them? Is it time to tear off the band-aid?

  • 84. Esmom  |  March 7, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    Re Taft kids smoking…Lane Tech kids do, too. I regularly had to make my way through throngs of them at lunchtime and felt like I needed to air myself out after passing through. Nasty habit that seems to cross socioeconomic boundaries 🙂

    I wish I knew what it would take to get the parents to take a chance on the non SEHSs. For example, numerous people have mentioned that they’d be “proud” to send their kid to Von Steuben…yet they’re not because they got accepted to somewhere more desirable.

    The STEM program at Lakeview looks promising, but is it enough? I heard this year that a record number of kids from the elementary schools that feed into Lakeview did not get into a SEHS, so maybe next year will see a big change in the types of students who enroll.

  • 85. Tax Payer  |  March 7, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    @78 Chris

    You don’t know what you are talking about
    Now go down to the section below the list and read where it says
    “Tier scores: CPS divides the city into four socioeconomic tiers, based on income and four other factors. (1 = poorest; 4 = richest.)”

    I accept your apology Chris. LOL

  • 86. RL Julia  |  March 7, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    Taxpayer – Having a little experience with Taft, I can report that it hasn’t been a dangerous a place for my son. One reason that you might see the cops at Taft a lot is because they take discipline VERY seriously. My son has been sent to the dean’s office for wearing his coat INSIDE the building, friends of his have been sent home for what I consider to be MILD infractions of the dress code (yes it has a dress code). I was at Taft in the morning last week and noticed about eight kids waiting around being lectured to by police – I asked my son if he knew what was going on and he said that they students had been horsing around outside before school and basically didn’t stop when asked and hence the cops were called. One of the reasons you might see the police at Taft all the time might have more to do with the administration’s zero tolerance policy of this sort of behavior than of any truly dangerous crime occurring.
    CJ – most every school has some sort of program for advanced students or for music or culinary arts etc… already. It’s just a matter of checking the school out.
    Panther Parent – I think there would be a lot of people going private or parochial or moving but I suspect MOST people would end up sending their kids to the school if there were no SE’s – they might not like it but they’d do it – at least for a year or two.
    I can’t encourage people enough to go visit schools before making judgments about whether or not they fit the bill. I would never had considered my neighborhood elementary school if I hadn’t walked inside. A while ago, I was talking to a fellow parent lamenting the state of CPS. My friend lives in the Roosevelt High School district. I am in Schurz. She was going on about Schurz’s great music program and how she would never consider Roosevelt as an option. We both had a good laugh as I waxed on about Roosevelt’s culinary program but how I just wasn’t sure about Schurz…. Whatever you don’t have always seems better than the option you do have. In the end, until you go to the school and check it out yourself, you aren’t going to be able to really determine what the school can offer (or not offer) your family.

  • 87. Chris  |  March 7, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    “I saw a graph showing that it was based on household income. If I am wrong please show me where my mistake is instead of just saying I am wrong.”

    Your post at 85 sez it all “Tier scores: CPS divides the city into four socioeconomic tiers, based on income and four other factors.”

    FOUR OTHER CRITERIA!! (and, actually, it’s FIVE).

  • 88. Chris  |  March 7, 2012 at 1:12 pm


    “Socio-Economic Tiers
    Every Chicago address falls within a specific census tract. 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. ”

  • 89. Mayfair Dad  |  March 7, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    @ 78 Chris: I’m curious, what do you think the real goal of the current tier system is? And please don’t copy and paste some blather from the OAE website. I want your take on it.

  • 90. Bookworm  |  March 7, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    Re Taft I think calling the police for horseplay is a bit much. I would hesitate to send my kids to a school where they call police for any reason other then an emergency. This seems to say more about the administration then the kids at the school. Sending a child home for wearing a coat inside? What kind of culture does that build?
    I don’t want my kids at any school where the police are a regular presence.

  • 91. Mayfair Dad  |  March 7, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    @90 Bookworm. Lincoln Park High School has their own “School Sargent” and other Chicago Police officers assigned to the school. A visible police presence is an urban high school reality.

  • 92. 7th grade/ lower end Tier 4 mom  |  March 7, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    Re Smoking ( at Lane and elsewhere)

    Any other parents want to chime in re: nicotine use and high school? Perhaps that should be another factor in determining your tier,( % of students living with smokers in the household? )

  • 93. mom  |  March 7, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    I know you didn’t ask me, Mayfair Dad, but I think their goal is to create socioeconomic diversity but only if it also creates racial diversity. Certain groups need to SEE the difference/SEE the diversity. It cannot just be based on socioeconomic factors.

  • 94. cpsobsessed  |  March 7, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    I used to freak out about the daily police cars at amundsen, but I’d heard that all cps high schools have a cop on premise.
    Not sure that is true at the SE schools, but clearly the rest.
    I agree, it sends a negative message but as MFD says, is reality.
    We all say we want schools free of gangs and that’s the first start…

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 95. justanotherchicagoparent  |  March 7, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    cpsobsessed it is true at SE schools too. This past summer CPS offered the high schools money (due to budget cuts),in exchange the school would give up their officers.Even schools like Northside and Whitney said no, citing safety.

  • 96. HS Mom  |  March 7, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    @92 – Teenagers smoke cigarettes and pot – even at SEHS’s. I’ve heard it even happens at Northside. Good luck trying to escape it.

  • 97. Chris  |  March 7, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    MFD: Intertubez ate a longer response, but in short, I mostly agree with mom@93, but layer on the fact that it’s set up to attempt to comply with “Parents Involved in Community Schools, Petitioner v. Seattle School District No. 1”, while preserving a politically tenable (in Chicago) racial mix. Don’t have any doubt.

    I also think that it is *absolutely* necessary, given Chicago’s political realities, that the “visability” remain and that contortions to retain it will continue, no matter what anyone (except the Mayor, Rahm or otherwise, even tho that won’t happen) has to say.

  • 98. Chris  |  March 7, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    ” Teenagers smoke cigarettes and pot – even at SEHS’s. I’ve heard it even happens at Northside.”

    I’ve heard it even happens in the suburbs and at private schools. And don’t forget the drinking and fornicating.

  • 99. Mayfair Dad  |  March 7, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    @ 97. Yep. Your eyes are open.

  • 100. Chris  |  March 7, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    MFD: “Your eyes are open.”

    Thanks for the validation (only mildly sarcastic).

    Seems to me that a lot of folks want to have the “iron triangle” of the Chicago political balance thrown out, because it’s somewhat (to, perhaps, moderately)unfair to their kids. I think there’d be a ton of negative, and fully predictable, externalities.

  • 101. Suzanne  |  March 7, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    I want to address #33 HS mom: You would think that the HS’s in Tier 4 should all be good, BUT the truth is “they are not.” We live in the Kennedy HS area. They have had many problems in recent years. And that is very unfortunate! The neighborhood is made up of municipal workers (teachers, police officers, firemen, and streets/san). WHY isn’t our neighborhood school top-notch??????? I would love to have just sent my daughter to Kennedy and not had to worry about her leaving the neighborhood. For us, Kennedy was the back-up to the back-up plan.

  • 102. RL Julia  |  March 7, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    98 – nevermind the DANCING (cue Footloose theme song). 🙂

  • 103. Chris  |  March 7, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    “nevermind the DANCING ”

    Yeah, those small towns are the *worst*. Think it’s bad to send your kids to Lane, with all the smokers? Try moving to Bomont!

  • 104. Mayfair Dad  |  March 7, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    @ RL Julia: quite a few CPS schools have outlawed coed dancing because of the grinding. Even SEHS kids have been known to grind when they are not busy smoking pot.

  • 105. RL Julia  |  March 7, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    I bet they don’t floss every night either!

  • 106. Just Sayin'  |  March 7, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    @ 93 mom wrote:
    “I know you didn’t ask me, Mayfair Dad, but I think their goal is to create socioeconomic diversity but only if it also creates racial diversity. Certain groups need to SEE the difference/SEE the diversity. It cannot just be based on socioeconomic factors.”

    After a couple of thousand posts so far on this topic (including part 1, part 2 & this section), your statement is, BY FAR, the most succinct, accurate description of the current mess of the SEHS admissions policy.

    Kudos to you! Unfortunately, CPS won’t relent because political correctness demands that that everyone can SEE how “diverse” the top SEHS are.

    My 2 cents for today? It’s gotten so sick! Perhaps as a solution every SEHS student should start wearing embroidered insignia on the left side of their chests that indicated their Tier’s standing on the 6 “criteria”…then, on the right side of their chests they could have insignia that truly reflected their own household’s standing on the 6 criteria…I bet we’d see a tremendous number of students whose insignia were completely mismatched!

  • 107. Just Sayin'  |  March 7, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    @ 59 junior wrote:
    “If a neighborhood HS can demonstrate a rigorous enough program to prepare kids for college, then most people will embrace it and many will appreciate the diversity — some will not and continue a long tradition of white flight.”

    Junior, please get with the program! This is about socioeconomic factors that influence advantage vs. disadvantage! The racial quotas were done away with in the fall of 2009.

    And, according to the Tribune’s weekend article, it is now called “middle-class flight” – not “white flight”. You know we’re no longer addressing race here, right?

  • 108. mom  |  March 7, 2012 at 6:04 pm

    @106 – thank you 🙂

  • 109. HS Mom  |  March 7, 2012 at 8:45 pm

    @101 – I see your point. Rarely is it good or accurate to make general statements such as “Tier 1 options or Tier 4 options are..” In fact that has been my sticking point all along, this convoluted tier system in an attempt to stereotype social economics is failing to capture diversity in Chicago because Chicago IS so diverse. When I see schools like Lakeview housing a large population of non neighborhood kids because the other schools are not safe, I have to think that there are inherently better options in better neighborhoods.

    I have said many times in various threads that the tier system needs a complete overhaul, no need to reiterate why. At one time I thought rank was best/easiest until Ms. Ellis’ unsubstantiated claim that the numbers “looked a lot like NY”. Giving her the benefit of the doubt and assuming that diversity in some schools would be somewhat like NY, I’ve changed my view on that. I would totally support some of the ideas tossed around here – a modified rank system with a % of seats to applicants that can show a need and an ability or assigning points to socioeconomic factors. I find the degree of error in the current system mindbogglingly. I do feel that passing over kids with near perfect scores is counterproductive even though they can go elsewhere. The lack of established viable options that offer no clear college paths for high scoring smart kids that do not get into selective schools is concerning. I don’t think we’re close enough to being able to pull the plug on selective education especially for 6th, 7th and 8th graders that need schools now. We don’t need a rank only school for the gifted this happens by default. We don’t need more neighborhood schools with special programs. We DO need more selective schools with neighborhood programs.

    @101 I found it interesting that Kennedy is your back up to the back up. At least you didn’t say you were moving to the suburbs 🙂

  • 110. by the numbers  |  March 8, 2012 at 9:56 am

    “I do feel that passing over kids with near perfect scores is counterproductive even through they can go elsehere.”

    You guys are in for a harsh reality check when your kids apply to college. Noone with near perfect scores was passed over. They just didn’t get their first choice. At selective universities, 10x the number of accepted students are qualified to receive spots. But, there aren’t enough slots. Different criteria are used to differentiate students. Two students can be identical on paper; one gets in and one doesn’t. Are you going to complain then? If your kid scored high enough here, he or she would have gotten in, no questions asked. He or she held his own fate in his or her hands. It is the next tier of students we are talking about.

  • 111. Mayfair Dad  |  March 8, 2012 at 10:16 am

    @ 109. I am beginning to warm up to an idea Chicago Gawker planted in my head earlier: eliminate the tiers entirely and in its place “level the playing field” for the most financially-strapped bottom 5% only. Make sure the process includes safeguards i.e. income, residency and citizenship verification.

    95% of seats at all SEHSs will be assigned by MERIT (900 point system or something similar), with only 5% of seats set aside for the truly disadvantaged, who will still have to qualify but at a much lower point threshold.

    No box to check for race/ethnicity to be found anywhere. 100% color-neutral process. Excellence is the stated goal. Diversity will happen organically in our great melting pot city.

    A system that rewards excellence? Check.

    A compassionate system that creates educational opportunities for the truly disadvantaged? Check.

  • 112. mom  |  March 8, 2012 at 10:31 am

    “We don’t need more neighborhood schools with special programs. We DO need more selective schools with neighborhood programs.”

    What is the difference between these two? If the “special programs” are SELECTIVE programs at a neighborhood school, how is that different from “neighborhood programs” at selective schools? I’m confused.

  • 113. RL Julia  |  March 8, 2012 at 10:41 am

    @110- while I get your point, there are hundreds of colleges to choose from and a theorectical place for everyone who wants to go.

    @109 – HS Mom – I find it ironic that while there are tons of out of neighborhood kids flocking to Lakeview, it is apparently not good enough a choice for the kids who live in the actual neighborhood (I believe the comments on this blog over the past year have included the usual ones about “safety”, gangs and drugs etc… I see this as the primary downfall of the current CPS system -by encourageing the fallacy that anyone can go anywhere (provided you fill out the right form, stand in the right line, go to the right meeting on the right day etc…) a system has been created that discourages people from investing the school in front of them and encourages the idea that they can do better -hence all the energy that could be spent on actually making schools better is spent obsessing, negotiating, strategizing and manipulating the system to maximize an individual family/child’s best chances. And what’s the result? A school system that is mostly a huge feel bad to all who tried to get into somewhere else but didn’t, that is largely incapable of recognizing or developing the talents of all of its students equally (since schools are quickly economically polarized) – which leads to further disparities in the high school years.

  • 114. cpsobsessed  |  March 8, 2012 at 10:47 am

    RLJulia, you hit the nail on the head, sadly.

    A friend went to the Lake View meeting last night and said it felt promising. Also got the sense that more neighborhood kids would be signing up for next year.

    I think the LVHS feeder schools need to communicate so parents can feel comfortable that other “likeminded” kids will be attending. We really are a city where parents’ “stamp of approval” seems to matter greatly.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 115. HS Mom  |  March 8, 2012 at 10:53 am

    @110 That’s the whole thing. This is high school, not college. CPS has created these special selective schools available to top ranking and then top scoring tier kids using six factors that will also hopefully translate into racial diversity (I know we aren’t saying this anymore). It is supposed to be a very calculated process not looking at the whole person, degree of difficulty of classes taken, school and student rank, financial assistance, quotas like you find in college admissions.

    It’s perfectly understandable that a student going into the SE exam with a near 600 score would be shocked, upset and disappointed about not getting into the school of their choice. Speaking as a parent that has been through the process it has got to be tough to jump through all the hoops in the best way possible and still come up short of your goal. Kids see their classmates getting in with lower scores and they are resentful. They don’t have the same outlook as us mature adults! IMO it is counterproductive. I think that it would be much more productive to have systems and opportunities in place that are more fair and accommodating to more kids that are hardworking and want to learn. I don’t want my child (or others) big take away from this process to be “if you perform exceptionally you could get screwed anyway”. To add, we like some others here looked at many programs and were prepared and would have been happy with them but that still doesn’t prevent disappointment over the missed “ideal” choice. And the resentment between classmates was thick and yes not a good life’s lesson for kids.

  • 116. mom  |  March 8, 2012 at 11:02 am

    @114 – you are exactly right on this one! If your friend or anyone else that attended last night’s Lake View meeting would share what was said, I would be very appreciative. I so want this school to be a great choice!

  • 117. HS Mom  |  March 8, 2012 at 11:07 am

    @112 – Westinghouse is a selective school with a neighborhood program. Why couldn’t a school like Lakeview that has a large out of the neighborhood component convert to SE? Keep the neighborhood plan and the new 6 year degree program. Keep STEM and offer it as a SE track (similar to lane honors science). Offer selective college prep with same application and requirements as SE. Find the southside and westside versions of Lakeview and convert those too.

  • 118. James  |  March 8, 2012 at 11:13 am

    @111 Mayfair Dad (and HS Mom and others)–

    In advocating for a pure test-in (or virtually pure test-in) system, you say that, under such a system, “Diversity will happen organically in our great melting pot city.” But there simply is no reason whatsoever to believe this. It is wishful thinking. And there is substantial reason (NYC’s experience and the statements of Ms. Ellis) to suggest that your statement is false.

    Look, we can and do debate the value of racial and socio-economic diversity in these SE high schools. This is a legitimate discussion, and there can be varying points of view. Some may argue (and perhaps MD is one) that it is OK to have a public selective enrollment school, like some in NYC, that is 75% Asian and 24% white. Others (like me) will argue that that isn’t OK and that we need to find a way to make sure such a school stays racially and socio-economically diverse. This, I think, is the heart of what the discussion over the tiers is about. And it’s OK to disagree about that.

    But here’s what’s not OK. It is not OK to advocate for a pure test-in (or virtually pure test-in) system and yet claim, in the face of the overwhelmingly contrary evidence, that the result would somehow, magically, still be diverse. It wouldn’t. If you think that the loss of diversity is OK, then have the courage of your convictions and say that you think the other factors such a test-in system would promote would be worth that loss of diversity. But please stop claiming that this system would maintain diversity when every piece of available evidence says it wouldn’t — and the only response to that evidence is wishful thinking that it would magically happen “organically.”

  • 119. ChicagoGawker  |  March 8, 2012 at 11:25 am

    RL Julia speaks for me. MFD, I’m not sure 5% from lower income/education is enough. Good news- there are now community groups forming to see what can be done with Schurz and Senn.

  • 120. Esmom  |  March 8, 2012 at 11:30 am

    You’d think CPS could run the numbers to see exactly what their student makeup would look like if they admitted 95% on merit alone.

  • 121. mom  |  March 8, 2012 at 11:31 am

    Go community groups! So excited about Lake View! Now Schurz and Senn! Now get one going for Amundsen, too! It is such a beautiful campus on the outside, I’m sure things could be done to improve things on the inside, too.

  • 122. HS Mom  |  March 8, 2012 at 11:43 am

    CG – agree. The % would be based upon the applicant pool and determined by the need. I also think this would be on a school by school basis.

    @120 – I’m sure they have numbers on all the scenarios.

  • 123. genxatmidlife  |  March 8, 2012 at 11:55 am

    Others have said this in other ways, but I think it bears repeating. The tier discussion is relevant only to those very top students who are affected by the situation where they don’t get in with their high-800s score and a classmate from a Tier 2 or Tier 1 neighborhood does. Overall, this is a rather small subset of kids who have the skills/initiative to go to college.

    What about the kids who have low 800s scores or 700s scores? What about access to an appropriate education for kids who are B+ students, kids who get As but don’t test well, gifted kids who excel in math but not language arts? Geniuses — yes, kids with exceptionally high IQs sometimes don’t test well. CPS doesn’t have enough places for these kids either, because they have enticed the “middle class” with the promise of SE schools and not spent enough effort on improving other schools. It is the ultimate bait-and-switch.

    Amundsen is our neighborhood school. I took a look at their “report card” from the Sun-Times. Only 3.8% of their juniors who took the ACT are deemed “college ready.” Their average composite ACT score 16.4. I won’t even go into the gangs-drugs-violence issue, because these things alone are enough to make me look for other options.

    This school has more than 1600 students. Do we really have that many involved parents who could help turn around a school like that? That’s a force of 1600 kids and an administration and faculty that need to address their needs, which are drastically different from the needs of my kids and those of many of the families who live around me.

    I know this is a bit off-topic from tiers, but I think that the tiers debate wouldn’t be so heated if parents felt they had enough adequate options.

  • 124. Mayfair Dad  |  March 8, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    @ 118 James and others

    Diversity – the kind we talk about in church on Sunday, love thy neighbor, do unto others, world peace, I’d like to buy the world a Coke, etc. – is a beautiful thing.

    Diversity – the word that has been hijacked by Chicago’s ethnic power brokers to lend themselves a cachet of respectability as they carve out their piece of civic resources and grease the path for sheeple who share their ethnicity – is not a beautiful thing. It is a con job.

    I’ll believe CPS is committed to diversity, the beautiful kind, when they announce proactive steps to desegregate King, Brooks, Lindblom, Westinghouse, et. al.

    Are you certain SEHSs will become less diverse (too affluent and white) with a merit only enrollment policy? Balderdash. You do the students of CPS a diservice with your assumption.

    Here’s what will happen in a merit-only SEHS scenario: Northside College Prep, located in a predominantly white area of the city, will skew increasingly white and asian. Other SEHSs located north of Cermak Road will retain their glorious diversity as reflected by our wonderfully diverse CPS student body (except for the 8.5% caucasian #, that’s a little enemic to be sure, I wonder where the 42% caucasian CPS teachers are sending their kids to school – they must not have gotten the memo on the benefits of diversity)

    The SEHSs south of Cermac Road will remain 90%+ African American as they always have been and always will be, because you don’t really expect CPS to poke that beehive, do you?

    The only way to cure society of our unhealthy obsession with skin color is to eliminate skin color from the conversation. And if you think this socioeconomic smoke and mirrors scam has nothing to do with skin color, you are not paying close enough attention.

    Diversity should not be the (false) goal. Excellence for every student in every neighborhood should be the goal.

  • 125. 8th grade mom  |  March 8, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    As attracted as I am to the idea that if we got rid of the SEHS, the neighborhood schools might be turned around, I just don’t see it happening everywhere, and certainly not fast enough for my kids. The high school we are zoned for has 9.5% of children meeting/exceeding state standards on the PSAE. That’s way below some of hte other schools I’ve seen listed here (Schurz – 19%, Amundsen – 21%) I don’t think the 40-50 kids in our neighborhood who go to SEHS would make a dent

  • 126. James  |  March 8, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    @124 Mayfair Dad —

    Your position on diversity is quite clear. You’ve expressed it alternately eloquently, sarcastically, and derisively. But I don’t agree with it, nor do I buy your claim that diversity is flowery insubstantial nonsense, and nothing more than the pointless equivalent of “buy[ing] the world a Coke.”

    Here’s what I think. I think that in a nation and city riven with heated disagreements over race, religion, and economic disparity, in a city that is still so racially segregated that the hateful politics of the Council Wars could return in a moment, there is, in fact, some real and tangible benefit to creating schools where some of our best and brightest students can sit side-by-side with those who are “different” (racially and socio-economically) and learn together with them. My son is fortunate enough to go to Payton. I am filled with wonder and admiration when I walk around that school and observe how the students interact with each other. On big things (like baseball teams and class projects and student clubs), but also on small things, the little things that make up daily life in an urban environment (like kidding around with each other as they walk out of school and go get lunch together at McDonald’s). I see value in that. I want it preserved. I’ll grant you that it’s easy to mock, as you do so frequently. And I am no fool: I don’t think for a second that that experience is a panacea that’ll somehow heal the world. But it is a goal worth pursuing; it isn’t “false;” it isn’t the equivalent of buying a poor black kid a Coke; and I definitely wouldn’t want these schools to lose it.

    As I said before, you can and do disagree. And, I guess, you can continue to claim (in the face of all evidence to the contrary) that simply ignoring race and socio-economic circumstances will magically cure our society of racism and make us more equal. (Talk about fantasy land — You sound like Justice Scalia, or Thomas, or Alito) But for those of us who do see the value in preserving diversity, you position is just plain wrong.

    Are there ways to make this flawed tier system better? I’ll bet there are, and we can and should talk about that. But mocking the concept of diversity and claiming that we should simply junk the entire effort to create and maintain diversity is, in my view, a complete non-starter.

  • 127. RL Julia  |  March 8, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    The thing is – there are other smart kids already at those schools – but they aren’t going to be identifed (for a variety of reasons) or challenged without those 40-50 kids from the neighborhood going to the school- if for no other reason than those 40-50 kid’s parents are going to be more involved.

  • 128. James  |  March 8, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    Who else remembers this? Off topic? Maybe. But maybe not.

    There is one story in particularly that I’d like to leave you with today – a story I told when I had the great honor of speaking on Dr. King’s birthday at his home church, Ebenezer Baptist, in Atlanta.

    There is a young, twenty-three year old white woman named Ashley Baia who organized for our campaign in Florence, South Carolina. She had been working to organize a mostly African-American community since the beginning of this campaign, and one day she was at a roundtable discussion where everyone went around telling their story and why they were there.

    And Ashley said that when she was nine years old, her mother got cancer. And because she had to miss days of work, she was let go and lost her health care. They had to file for bankruptcy, and that’s when Ashley decided that she had to do something to help her mom.

    She knew that food was one of their most expensive costs, and so Ashley convinced her mother that what she really liked and really wanted to eat more than anything else was mustard and relish sandwiches. Because that was the cheapest way to eat.

    She did this for a year until her mom got better, and she told everyone at the roundtable that the reason she joined our campaign was so that she could help the millions of other children in the country who want and need to help their parents too.

    Now Ashley might have made a different choice. Perhaps somebody told her along the way that the source of her mother’s problems were blacks who were on welfare and too lazy to work, or Hispanics who were coming into the country illegally. But she didn’t. She sought out allies in her fight against injustice.

    Anyway, Ashley finishes her story and then goes around the room and asks everyone else why they’re supporting the campaign. They all have different stories and reasons. Many bring up a specific issue. And finally they come to this elderly black man who’s been sitting there quietly the entire time. And Ashley asks him why he’s there. And he does not bring up a specific issue. He does not say health care or the economy. He does not say education or the war. He does not say that he was there because of Barack Obama. He simply says to everyone in the room, “I am here because of Ashley.”

    “I’m here because of Ashley.” By itself, that single moment of recognition between that young white girl and that old black man is not enough. It is not enough to give health care to the sick, or jobs to the jobless, or education to our children.

    But it is where we start. It is where our union grows stronger. And as so many generations have come to realize over the course of the two-hundred and twenty one years since a band of patriots signed that document in Philadelphia, that is where the perfection begins.

  • 129. Mayfair Dad  |  March 8, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    @ 126 James:

    Yes, you and I will have to agree to disagree. Not everyone shares my jaded world view. Many don’t.

    It is clear by your writing that you have goodness in your heart, and I say that with all sincerity. I’m just not convinced the powers that run this city are likewise motivated by goodness. And there’s the rub.

    Some people look at the tier system and see a moral imperative. I look at the tier system and see political appeasement.

    Do not mistake a glib sense of humor with a lack of conscience. I have tasted the kool-aid, and it does not appeal to me. That doesn’t mean I don’t care about the outcome.

  • 130. genxatmidlife  |  March 8, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    #125 — yes, I totally agree with you.

    #127 — given the other factors that the faculty and administration have to deal with in these kinds of schools, I think it would take way more than even 100 involve parents/families to help those kids who have potential. It’s going to take incredibly strong support from all areas, and I just don’t think CPS has made this enough of a priority. I wish this was a case of a small group of people making huge changes, but there’s a massive mountain to move here. Unless CPS restrategizes on their goal to keep middle class families in the city (as they see it) and takes significant action, parental support won’t be enough to change things.

  • 131. James  |  March 8, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    Mayfair Dad —

    I’m probably more jaded than it appears. But, yes, we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

    I think we could have a good discussion over a beer sometime. Failing that, we’ll just duke it out here on occasion, if that’s alright with our dear leader, CPS Obsessed..

  • 132. HS Mom  |  March 8, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    @124 Mayfair Dad – I can certainly appreciate your POV. I too would have agreed that schools N. of Cermak would maintain “enough” diversity (as defined by who!!) and felt that there was plenty of AA and Latino talent to provide the “beautiful” version until Katie burst my bubble. Glad to see that someone agrees that this inadequate tier system is designed to address diversity in 3 schools only.

    James – the problem I see with the “beautiful” version of diversity is two-fold. With tier 4 scores as high as they are, diversity has become a “perk” for students with near perfect scores. The other issue concerning Norhside, 4 SE’s that are predominately black and to an extent Lane, tier diversification is making little impact other than allowing lower scoring kids preference over higher scoring peers. So yes I agree with you, can our system be better? Yes it can.

  • 133. Melanie  |  March 8, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    James – thank you for your thoughtful and heartfelt posts. I am with you. As an educated white woman with a son who isn’t out of diapers yet and already stressing over where I am going to send my son to school (Ravenswood our neighborhood grade school, Lake View the HS) and as a women who for six years attended Chicago public schools in the 80’s (Oscar Mayer, Franklin and Lane) your point of view one I can not agree with more.

    Attending a inner city school when I was 12 having come from the insulated suburbs of Oklahoma City, opened my eyes and drastically shaped my world view. We can not kid ourselves that poor minorities in this city, much less this country, are receiving the educations others are afforded because of many reasons including race, socio-economic status and parental involvement. It is not a perfect system, and I will do everything in my power to give not only my child but those less fortunate than me better and more options. I am heartened by so many saying they want to get involved, and I hope they do. Yes, it benefits your child. But it also benefits us all.

  • 134. HS Mom  |  March 8, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    @128 James – Like!

  • 135. southie  |  March 8, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    @ 121. mom

    There is or was a community effort to make Morgan Park HS accessible to all needs in the surrounding area. Right now, a lot of out-of-area students attend.

  • 136. cpsobsessed  |  March 8, 2012 at 6:01 pm

    FYI, a new tool has been created by a group call Open CIty to make finding your tier a WHOLE lot easier. They also have some info about the breaks that go into the Tier designations.

  • 137. CJ  |  March 8, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    One of the reasons this topic is so heated is that many of the students competing for the top spots in years past would have attended private schools in Chicago. With tuition costs rising over 10K per year, they are now out of reach for many. Chicago has never served the entire city before now. And private school enrollment is down across the city.

    Our tier 4 neighborhhod school will enroll about 80% of the students at Taft and none of them are thugs.

    Another comment, I am ok with the tiers, I say get rid of the scoring system. Kids in under performing schools will score lower but that doesn’t mean they are less capable. Let the top kids in every school apply and do a lottery by tier.

  • 138. BeenThere2  |  March 8, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    137 – Your students entering Taft are not thugs but they need to be aware of what is already there. Ask your friendly neighborhhod 16th district Chicago cop exactly who is at Taft these days. Shudder . . . Hopefully your 80% sticks together.

  • 139. anonymous  |  March 8, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    This ap is really cool, but unfortunately is not accurate. Our address is listed as tier 2 and I know for a fact that according to CPS we are tier 3. But still, really cool. I’m wondering if it is working from last years tiers because last year we were tier 2. By the way, across the street from us, like if you look directly out our window at the building south of us, is tier 4. Go figure. I guess we live on the “wrong side of the street”. Or the right one.

  • 140. fgregg  |  March 8, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    @139 If you know it, would you mind posting your census tract. If not would you mind looking it up here

    We’ve worked hard to make this app accurate. If we have more specific information, we might be able to figure out where things could have gone wrong.

  • 141. wide net mom  |  March 9, 2012 at 8:10 am

    @117 – Westinghouse does not have a neighborhood component. Half of the student body is SE, the other half is selective via alternate internal application process for their College to Career programs for health/medical, business/accounting, broadcast journalism & media, and IT.

    After our exhaustive search, our daughter is headed to Westinghouse for the SE program. She was accepted at both, but opted for the more flexible (in terms of electives) SE program.

    We found a lot of good possibilites for her in our “wide net”. Some were not a good fit, some just faded for her next to others. I lost some sleep as the choices narrowed — I hated letting go of some of the schools and their possibilities, but she could only go to one!

    She’s thrilled to be a “Warrior” now, and I’m thrilled a decision has been reached. Everything looks positive and I anticipate a wonderful four years ahead. (More or less – she is a teenager, after all…)

  • 142. karet  |  March 9, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    The reasons for having a tier system make more sense for kids entering kindergarten than high school (although the current system is problematic). Parents do most of the work preparing a child for K, but elementary schools prepare kids for high school. Why doesn’t CPS take into consideration the elementary school the students applying for SE high schools attend, instead of using tiers? It doesn’t make sense that a Tier 2 kid who attended Edison gets the same advantage as a Tier 2 kid who attended Gale. Why not get rid of the tiers at the high school level, and give an advantage to kids who attend the poorest performing schools instead?

  • 143. Suzanne  |  March 10, 2012 at 12:32 am

    Our daughter was accepted to Westinghouse. We attended the pre-orientation night this past Wednesday. I was very impressed with the school, the teachers, and administration. I am encouraging my daughter to make Westinghouse her final choice, but she had her heart completely set on Whitney. She still insists on completing the Principal’s Discretion application- a pipe dream at this point.

    I think my daughter typifies many of the young applicants. They believe because they are “so smart” and work hard that they will naturally get into their first choice school. It is a devastating blow to not be accepted. She still to the hope that she can get into Whitney.

  • 144. mom  |  March 10, 2012 at 1:13 am

    What I have found is most kids will really like the high school they end up attendingn even if they were really disappointed. There are exceptions, but I think it is mostly true.

  • 145. RL Julia  |  March 10, 2012 at 9:16 am

    You can be equally happy and unhappy at any school (I should know I went to seven of them by the time I graduated from high school) – its really all about your own attitude. Additionally you can get a great education almost anywhere- you just have to be motivated to do so.

  • 146. wide net mom  |  March 10, 2012 at 11:02 am

    @143 Suzanne
    I am so sorry your daughter feels that way. I agree that there are many kids feeling let down by the system, and it’s a terrible age for that to happen to them. And the kids can be so tough on each other — she’s getting some grief about her choice from kids who’ve never set foot in the place. I remember last year’s valedictorian at her school got similar grief about her first choice of Lane over the more competitive schools. Geesh.

    My daughter is very excited about going to Westinghouse as it was her choice over both Whitney and Lane. Her older sister went to WY for AC & high school, and we were all about WY until we looked into other opportunities. (Since older daughter just stayed at WY, we never did other open houses etc.) Interesting what some time & distance from her experience there has done for our perspective on high school choice….

    We were there Wednesday too and it reminded me of why we were so excited and impressed the first time we visited. Older daughter was home from college and attended the Wed. session with us. She had no reservations in endorsing her sister’s choice of Westinghouse, and, as an education major, was totally on board with the growth curriculum presentation by the asst. principal.

    I wish I could email some of our daughter’s enthusiasm your way. I hope she is happy wherever she ends up next year.

  • 147. wide net mom  |  March 10, 2012 at 11:11 am

    145 RL Julia

    Couldn’t agree more!

    And, if you do run for Schurz LSC, you’ve got my vote. It’s our neighborhood school too — and I do know that students can and do succeed there. There’s just not enough of them for local parents to consider it as a viable option, for socialization as well as scholastic reasons.

  • 148. anonymouseteacher  |  March 10, 2012 at 11:35 am

    @142, the tier system does take into consideration the quality of elementary school. This is part of why my Rogers Park neighborhood, which has a lot of solidly middle class families among its working poor, is a tier 2 instead of a tier 3 neighborhood. Our local schools are not good.

  • 149. mom2  |  March 10, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    @146 and @143 – Your comments should make many of the parents on this site and their friends wake up quite a bit. It is the attitude even of the WBEZ article about “the top 4” and the comments like “only got into Westinghouse” or in previous years “only got into Lane” that continue this horrible issue we all seem to face.

    Stop acting like “the top 4” are the only places good enough for your kids. Instead, at dinner parties, elementary school functions, play dates, classes, start talking differently. “Neighborhood school X sounds like their new plans are so great!” “Did you hear that child Y made it into Westinghouse? Isn’t that wonderful. They must really be smart” “I am seriously thinking of sending my child to neighborhood school Z. I hear the kids that go there now are getting into great 4 year universities” “did you see how many 900 point kids picked Lane as their first choice? Wow, that school is so wonderful” etc. etc. Word of mouth seems to be everything for most “obsessed” parents. We can make a huge impact on the change we want just by changing our language and attitude.

  • 150. Sosidemom  |  March 10, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    @southie–there still is a community push to make Morgan Park a more viable community option. Not much has been happening of late as there is no contract principal in place at this time, but there are parents out there who want to see this happen. Check out the Facebook page Make Morgan Park an option for your family.

  • 151. karet  |  March 10, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    @148: Yes, I had forgotten that.

    I don’t really see why the neighborhood school is a factor for determining tier for kids applying to K (since the school has had no effect on how prepared they are). But I like the idea of having a different tier system, solely based on the elementary school attended, for kids applying to HS. You could still have 4 tiers, but 25% of each CPS elementary school would be in each tier (based on test scores). People applying from privates or out of Chicago would automatically be in tier 4. Then, people wouldn’t argue about income, whether the building across the street was a different tier, and so on. Who knows? A system like that might even encourage people to attend their neighborhood elementaries, if they thought they might have get a point advantage when applying to HS.

    Just an idea.

  • 152. Fuzzy Math  |  March 12, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    First, this whole process is ridiculous. We should not put up with the inadequacy and unjust treatment of ALL the students in the City of Chicago.

    Please, make a difference and be heard.

    Second, the City is just playing with the numbers and with us.

    i) At the August 2011 CPS Board Meeting, the presentation for Admission Policy 2010–2011:

    Map of Tiers across Census Tracts
    TIER 4, Students: 136,275
    TIER 3, Students: 136,378
    TIER 2, Students: 136,073
    TIER 1, Students: 135,716

    Click to access BoardMeetingMagnetSelectivePolicyPresentation.pdf

    ii) Then the recent updating of the tiers for the 2012-2013 selection process

    The question: The total number of students must still be the same….Then, how can the expansion of Tier 4 with the Tier update still be the magical 25% of total students that the City wants to say it represents.

    The answer: Fuzzy Math

  • 153. Chris  |  March 12, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    “CPS won’t relent because political correctness demands”

    Not “correctness”. Chicago politicians don’t give a damn about “correctness”. They care about expediency, re-election and avoiding a flipping voter revolt, in some order.

    The *reality* of politics in Chicago demands a “selective” system that has substantial “representation” of black and chicano/latino kids in the “best” high schools. And, if anyone here believes for a nanosecond that an elected school board would amend that *FACT* in a way that would help any above-median income white or asian folks, I think you’re being *willfully* ignorant of Chicago politics.

  • 154. another cps mom  |  March 12, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    “Best” is a relative term, in light of average ACT scores at CPS SHHSs. See – especially Rod Estvan’s comments from today. Lots of interesting data.

  • 155. cpsobsessed  |  March 12, 2012 at 8:03 pm

    Thanks for posting the link to 299. Some interesting comments there.

    Interesting what Ron writes about Texas admitting the top 10% of kids from each high school to college. Once again, Asians dominate. Shouldn’t CPS be consulting with some TigerParents? I’m only half joking.

  • 156. NSEW  |  March 12, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    Estvan’s comments are really interesting. Three related to S.E.high schools are copied below. Link is above.

    Rodestvan said 8 hours, 9 minutes ago
    In reply to Donn:

    “Unfortunately, Donn has a legitimate point. While we do not have available ACT scores broken down by race for the big four prep high schools we do have math and reading scores on the PSAE broken down by race. At Northside in 2011, 83.5% of white students were exceeding state standards in reading, while only 9.8% of African American students were reading at a similar standard, and 50.8% of Hispanic students were exceeding reading standards. We see a similar huge gap in math skills with 62.9% of white Northside students exceeding standards and only 3.8% of black students functioning at that level.

    “Clearly the race gap at Northside is in good part driven by socioeconomic status, because we can see big gaps between the percentage of students eligible for free and reduced lunch and those who are not eligible when it comes to the percentages of students exceeding state standards.

    “The PSAE gap between whites and minority students in terms of the percentage exceeding state standards in reading and math at Young High School while far less than Northside is still significant. That gap is also reflected to a degree between the percentage of students eligible for free and reduced lunch and those who are not eligible. Payton has very significant PSAE gaps between whites and minority students in terms of the percentage exceeding state standards in reading and math and even Jones which has lower percentages of white students exceeding state standards than the other three schools exhibits this gap.

    “Rod Estvan”


    Rodestvan said 4 hours, 28 minutes ago
    In reply to district299reader:

    “I don’t think that Donn’s point was that there were not qualified African American students to attend the SE schools, his point was that without the higher income students the big four or three SE high schools would not have the high ACT scores that they do have.

    “If we look at Brooks we can see again a massive white and black achievement gap in terms of the percentage exceeding state standards in reading and math. This is the case even though in 2011 there were only 10 white students in the school, there were 5 white juniors who were tested of whom 2 exceeded standards in reading. Only 8.4% of African American students in 2011 were exceeding state standards at Brooks in reading. In effect at an overwhelming, 86.1%, African American SE high school in 2011 there were only 13 students reading above state standards and 2 of these students were white or 15% of the high skilled reading students in the junior class.

    “Again we see a large performance gap among those exceeding state standards between student eligible for free reduced lunch and those not eligible. In 2011 at Brooks 150 of the 177 students that took the PASE were low income. Only 9 of these 150 low income students were reading above standards and only 2 were able to exceed state math standards. Of the 27 students who were not poor, 4 exceeded reading standards, and none exceeded standards in math.

    “These scores explain why Brooks had an average ACT score of 21.7 compared to Northside’s much higher average score. This data does not make me happy in the least and it does not mean the many African American students at Brooks who are testing at state standards will not have great success in life. But it reflects what Professor Sean Reardon of Stanford Uniiversity in his chapter in the book titled Whither Opportunity? Rising Inequality, Schools, and Children’s Life Chances simply and clearly states: “As the children of the rich do better in school, and those who do better in school are more likely to become rich, we risk producing an even more unequal and economically polarized society.”

    “Chicago is one of the best examples of a polarized society in the developed world today.

    “Rod Estvan”


    Rodestvan said 3 hours, 21 minutes ago

    “I guess it depends on what the vision is of a college prep high school. I don’t think the CPS has an actual vision. Are we preparing students for competitive colleges or for non-competitive colleges? Clearly the big four or three preps are preparing students for more competitive colleges.

    “By the way 28.5% of Brooks students in 2011 had composite ACT scores below 20, so Lindblom looks better than Donn might think. Brooks had only 6 of 177 students in its junior testing pool with disabilities in 2011 so that doesn’t explain the scores either.

    “Rod Estvan”

  • 157. cpsobsessed  |  March 12, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    Thanks for pulling those comments NSEW. I don’t even know what to say. It depresses me.

  • 158. HS Mom  |  March 13, 2012 at 8:30 am

    @152 – Seeing how directly you state your point, can’t help but agree. I’m sure that CPS has run all the permutations and could devise a rank based scheme that would replicate or come close to the diversity of the tier system, but this would be a political hot potato. Simply put, the system is still a miss-mash of many kids correctly placed by status and score and too many others getting in by faults with the system. As long as everyone believes that tier=wealth=race then we’ll all be on board with that. I’ll take some of that Kool-aid now CPS and lay off examining the tier system.

  • 159. fgregg  |  March 13, 2012 at 9:36 am

    @155, @156

    Rodestevan’s analysis doesn’t bear upon the Tier system, because the PSAE and ACT scores are of students who were admitted to Brooks before the Tier System was in place.

    The Juniors who took the PSAE and ACT in May of 2011 [1], were freshman in 2008. The consent decree was still in place.


  • 160. Fuzzy Math  |  March 13, 2012 at 12:20 pm


    According to Katie Ellis, director of access and enrollment for Chicago Public Schools, “We try to make sure that there’s 25 percent of school-aged children in each tier.”

    What I am not understanding is the even allocation of the total students 25% into each of the 4 tiers.

    In my post @152 for 2010-2011 CPS has the 25% allocation.

    In February 2012, CPS adjusted the Tier Map.

    Need help here ….. with that adjustment, Tier 4 has more than 25% of the total allocation?

  • 161. junior  |  March 13, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    @152 FuzzyMath

    I see census tracts both taken away and added to all four tiers. I, for one, can’t tell by eyeballing whether the student population is equal between all four tiers. Do you have an actual numerical analysis you can share? Or, is it just that you saw an increase in green on the North side of the city and assume that this is due to manipulation rather than gentrification?

  • 162. cpsobsessed  |  March 13, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    Yeah, I’m with junior. My understanding is that the number of people in the tiers must remain at 25 percent each, by nature of the definition.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 163. 8th grade mom  |  March 13, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    @152 – Look at this map for the tiers that changed. A number went from Tier 4 to Tier 3.

    Some of the ones around midway, out near Elmwood Park, down by Beverly.

  • 164. Jennifer  |  March 14, 2012 at 9:49 am

    @162. Also interesting–the main sections near Midway that went from Tier 4 to Tier 3 *are* Midway… Someone else commented on a cemetery with a tier change. Airports and cemeteries? Why blocks with absolutely no residents have tiers at all–let alone tier changes–makes me suspicious. Seems to me that CPS is trying to fool the eye, at least.

  • 165. anonymous  |  March 14, 2012 at 10:39 am

    @163 People in cemeteries have been known to vote in Chicago, maybe they have school-age children as well who need to be counted in the tiers? 🙂

  • 166. anonymous  |  March 14, 2012 at 10:47 am

    Here is the break down of the number of census tracts in each tier as posted in another part of this site:

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

    There are more tracts in tiers 3 & 4 but that might not reflect the true number of kids in each.

  • 167. 8th grade mom  |  March 14, 2012 at 10:51 am

    @163 – good point. I did not notice that midway was one of the tiers. But the point is that there are other residential areas that were downgraded from tier 4 to tier 3.

  • 168. junior  |  March 14, 2012 at 11:50 am


    Yes, Tier 4 tracts typically have a lower number of school-aged children. Here are numbers from the original draft of tier plan a couple of years ago:

    Tier 4 — 147,790 children — 259 tracts
    Tier 3 — 148,072 children — 226 tracts
    Tier 2 — 148,076 children — 177 tracts
    Tier 1 — 146,705 children — 192 tracts

  • 169. another cps mom  |  March 14, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    DO YOU WANT TO LEARN HOW TO REQUEST UNDER FOIA? Non-journalists are also welcome to attend this free workshop on Saturday, but you must register:

    From the Headline Club/Society of Professional Journalists:

    A colleague last week explained a reporting problem he had never run into. He had never filed a Freedom of Information request and he knew he needed to do so to get info for a story he was working on. But he didn’t know where to begin.

    I offered my advice and then I added, ‘why don’t you come to our workshop on March 17?’

    Let me say that again. Why don’t you come to our workshop on March 17?

    *** It will be held from noon to 2 pm at ITT Chicago-Kent College of Law, 565 W. Adams, room 580.***

    Speakers will be Maryam Judar, an attorney with the Citizen Advocacy Center, Natalie Brower Potts, head of the Center for Open Government at the Law School – the only one of its kind in the nation – and reporter Angela Caputo of the Chicago Reporter.

    They will walk us through the basics of getting information and then standing up for our rights to get information when we run into obstacles. They will also talk about how we can make sure we have access to meetings that we need to report on.

    Why is this important?

    It’s key to doing our work. For the Headline Club it is also a sign of our dedication to make sure government agencies give us the information we need and we don’t back down when we know we doing our jobs.

    Our research last year, funded by the McCormick Foundations, told us that many of you run into heavy obstacles in getting the information you need. That’s why we are creating a FOIA online guide to tell you who the FOIA officers are here in the Chicago area and at state agencies. And why we are setting up a website to let you know about court cases, legal battles and everything linked to Freedom of Information in Illinois. Again, the funding comes from the McCormick Foundation.

    If we don’t care about this, nobody else will and we’ll quickly lose reporting footholds that took years to establish.

    So please join us this Saturday and please let us know what more you think we should be doing about your rights.

  • 170. another CPS mom  |  March 14, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    @ 169. another cps mom

    To RSVP:

    To register for the FOIA event above, you should email the Chicago Headline Club at to confirm attendance.

  • 171. Jennifer  |  March 15, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    Kennedy HS:
    Yes it is located in the Garfield Ridge area, middle class, the reason why is Catholic High Schools, the Garfield Ridge/Clearing community doesn’t have faith in Kennedy HS, they rather send their kids to Catholic High Schools, the thought of going to a public school is something the majority of Catholic School parents in that neighborhood fear. I am a Kennedy alum, graduated in 1995, graduated from UIC in 2000, currently have 2 ch ildren at Dore Elementary in the Clearing Community

  • 172. Mart  |  March 17, 2012 at 10:21 am

    I’m amazed that my grade school still manages to send some kids to any SE High school. The neighborhood has never been great, and it is particularly bad now. It is truly tier 1, with all the trimmings. I tested int Whitney Young in the days when it was a clout school, when the kids of famous politicians, school superintendents, assorted notable people, and all of the WY school teachers went there. I got ther on scores and grades alone,despite English not being my first language, and neither of my parents speaking English, a crowded school with few resources,, and abject poverty. Lots of my classmates were solidly middle class to wealthy, with access to better schools, and tutoring. Despite their clear advantage, many were there due to clout admissions. They were also the ones with extra credit assignments, which I was not able to get. SEHS have always been skewed to benefit the privileged. Both the students and some teachers made me feel like I had no business being there since I was not middle class. I was happy when they said it would move away from race and to socioeconomic factors. The system has its flaws and shoul be based on income, but it’s a step in the right direction.

  • 173. RGCFAN  |  March 24, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    @50 That would be so smart! It would bring up the test scores, making the school look better. If the school looks better it gets more coveted. Coveted schools often get more sources and grants. Many RGCs do this. The school i currently attend is 1/2 and 1/2. The scores are high and the teachers are amazing. When a school is in demand, cps tries to fix every flaw. So your idea is brilliant!

  • 174. mom  |  March 24, 2012 at 10:22 pm

    @173 – I agree that once a school’s scores go up, people start thinking it is the place to be and suddenly more come and the scores go up even more. Having multiple SE options inside neighborhood schools works for LPHS, it can certainly work for places like Lake View and others. They just have to find a way to prove to parents that the school is very safe. Some of that is marketing and some is true change in student body and behavior.

  • 175. RGCFAN  |  March 25, 2012 at 11:12 am

    @163 Beverly is tier 3?

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