Another Way to Look at the Tier System (and more data!)

March 14, 2012 at 11:20 pm 114 comments

How the world outside Chicago thinks about 4 Tiers

My apologies, this is a data-heavy one but I love getting new data to dwell over….

**For those who hate data, the gist is that for the Tier spots, Tier 4 kids do not get their “fair share” of spots based on the share of kids who are ELIGIBLE for the spots.  However including the Rank and Tier spot, Tier 4 kids get slightly more than their “fair share.” (I put this in quotes as people may disagree on what constitutes the fair share.)**

Selective Prep has issued this piece that discusses some of the conclusions about applicants by Tier.  Based on Tier assignments, they conclude that it is hard for Tier 4 kids to get a spot than lower Tier kids.  The data shows quite definitively that Tier 4 kids come into the process with higher scores than the lower tier kids do.  Draw your own conclusions about nurture and or nature (CPS.)  In any case, either you conclude that poor kids are genetically inferior and/or slackers or that they are somehow getting the short end of the stick when it comes to preparing for high school applications.

So based on the % of kids who qualify to take the SE test, i normalized the breakout to include all spots (rank and tier) and the qualified applicants break out as 1/2/3/4 21%/23%/26%/30%.   Not actually too bad for those Tier 1-2 kids.  Based on all the beefing I’d have thought it would be more skewed.towards.  This is awesome math as I don’t think we’ve seen these “qualified numbers” so far.   So based on the TIER spots, the Tier 4kids have 30% of the pool gunning for 17.5% of the spots.  The “quirk” as SPrep points out.

However comparing this to WBEZ’s overall SE share by tier 20%/20%/26%/35% we see that the shares by qualified Tier applicants fall out pretty closely, with kids in Tier 4 actually having a BETTER shot at an SE spot than any other tier (thanks to the rank spots, not the tier spots which ARE tougher for tier 4 kids to get.)

Press release from SelectPrep below:


Matthew Greenberg (312) 409-8411


March 15, 2012


Chicago, ILUnder the current admissions system for Chicago’s Selective Enrollment High Schools and Academic Centers, it is much more difficult for a qualified Tier 4 student to land a spot than it is for a qualified Tier 1 student, for one simple reason – there are many more qualified Tier 4 students than Tier 1 students, yet each Tier gets the same allotment of Selective Enrollment and Academic Center seats.CPS has divided the city into four Tiers, with each Tier representing one quarter of the school-age population. CPS currently gives each Tier exactly one quarter of the seats (after the first 30%, based on scores only, have been allotted). But one quarter of the school-age population is not the same as one quarter of the qualified school-age population.

To qualify to take the Selective Enrollment Exam as an 8th grader – and be eligible to apply to a Selective Enrollment High School — a student must score a minimum of stanine 5 (e.g., above 40%) in both Reading and Math on his/her 7th grade standardized test. Since far fewer Tier 1 students reach the 40th percentile than their Tier 4 counterparts, the pool of qualified Tier 1 students is much smaller than the pool from Tier 4. And since both Tiers are allotted the same number of seats, a qualified applicant from Tier 1 faces far less competition than does a qualified Tier 4 student.

An analysis of CPS data reveals that the bottom of the 5th stanine (40th percentile) is virtually the same as the minimum ISAT score selected for “meets or exceeds” standards. According to CPS, approximately 56% of Tier 1 7th graders were at or above the 5th stanine and thus eligible to take the Selective Enrollment Entrance Exam, while approximately 81% of all Tier 4 7th graders were qualified to take the Exam as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Calculating “Qualified School-Age Students” by Tier (Selective Enrollment)

Tier 1 Tier 2 Tier 3 Tier 4
% of school-age students in each Tier 24.5% 25.3% 25.0% 25.1%
% of Tier qualified to take the Exam 56% 62% 70% 81%

To see how this affects the slots that are allocated across the Tiers, we then eliminated unqualified students from the population – since they cannot be applicants. We find that although 25% of the school-age population is in Tier 4, 30% of all qualified students are in Tier 4. Similarly Tier 1 contains 25% of the school-age population, but 21% of qualified students. If each qualified student were to have an equal chance at a Selective Enrollment slot, then 21% of the slots (70% of the Tier slots multiplied by 30% — the percent of qualified students) should be allocated to Tier 4 students vs. the current 17.5% and only 14.7% (70% of the Tier slots multiplied by 21%) vs. the current 17.5% should be allocated to Tier 1 students. This re-allocation would then provide each qualified applicant with an equal chance. These calculations are shown in Figure 2 below.

Figure 2. Admissions Based on Qualified Applicants (Selective Enrollment)

Tier 1 Tier 2 Tier 3 Tier 4
% of qualified school-age students in each Tier 21% 23% 26% 30%
% of slots allocated to each Tier if each qualified student gets an equal chance 14.7% 16.1% 18.2% 21%
current allocation system 17.5% 17.5% 17.5% 17.5%
change in allocation -2.8% -1.4% +.7% +3.5%

Academic Center Admissions

Since it’s harder to qualify to take the Academic Center Admissions Test, the results get more pronounced if one considers the Academic Center admissions process. Only a 6th grader who scores a minimum of 70% on both Reading and Math on his/her 5th grade standardized test can apply to an Academic Center. As shown in Figure 3 below, only 36% of Tier 1 students are qualified to apply to an Academic Center, while 64%of Tier 4 students are qualified.

If each qualified student were to have an equal chance at an Academic Center spot, then 23.8% of the slots (70% of the Tier slots multiplied by 34% — the percent of qualified students) should be allocated to Tier 4 students vs. the current 17.5% and only 12.6% (70% of the Tier slots multiplied by 18%) vs. the current 17.5% should be allocated to Tier 1 students.

Figure 3. “Qualified School-Aged Students” by Tier (Academic Center)

Tier 1 Tier 2 Tier 3 Tier 4
% of school-age students who are “qualified” 36% 41% 50% 64%
% of qualified school-age students by Tier 18% 22% 26% 34%
% of slots allocated to each Tier if each qualified student gets an equal chance 12.6% 15.4% 18.2% 23.8%
current allocation system 17.5% 17.5% 17.5% 17.5%
change in allocation -4.9% -2.1% +.7% +6.3%

Behind the Numbers (Academic Center Admissions)

We used the average ISAT performance (translated into a scaled score) provided by CPS for each Tier and assumed that the performance of each Tier’s student population was normally distributed.

The mean math score of all CPS 5th graders is 223, with a standard deviation of 27, so the 70th percentile yields a score of 237. So any 5th grader must get a 237 to take the Academic Center Test. In Tier 1, the 56% ISAT score implies a mean score of 227, meaning that only 36% qualified to take the Academic Center Test. In Tier 4, the ISAT mean score of 81% implies a Tier 4 mean score of 247, which means that 64% are qualified.


If CPS were to provide each qualified student with an equal chance of getting selected for a Selective Enrollment High School and Academic Center respectively — note that Tier 4 would receive 3.5% more spots in Selective Enrollment High Schools and 6.3% more Academic Center spots. At the same time Tier 1 would receive 2.8% fewer Selective Enrollment and 4.9% fewer Academic Center spots.

Let’s look at an example to see how this may affect a particular school. Suppose that Lane Tech has 1,000 total seats (although there are actually more), this would mean that Tier 4 students would receive 21% of these spaces for a total of 210 slots vs. the current 175, which would provide Tier 4 students with an additional 35 spaces.

To read more, click here.

Background: About the Tier System

Thirty percent of the seats at any of the selective schools are awarded based on a student’s academic performance in comparison with other students citywide. The remaining seventy percent of seats are awarded to students based on their test scores and grades in comparison with other students in their socio-economic Tier, with each Tier receiving 17.5% of the slots.

CPS has grouped each of the City of Chicago’s 874 census tracts into four Tier Groups based on 6 socio-economic factors: median family income, percentage of owner occupied homes, percentage of single family households, adult educational level, percentage of non-English speakers, and school quality. Census tracts deemed to have more favorable socio-economic factors are grouped into higher Tiers and tracts with less favorable ones are grouped into lower Tiers. Any student in the City of Chicago is grouped into a specific Tier based on his/her home address – and how the census tract that this address falls into has been rated by CPS.

About SelectivePrep

SelectivePrep was founded by test prep veterans with over 25 years of test preparation experience – and extensive backgrounds in both classroom teaching and curriculum development. SelectivePrep offers the only classroom program that prepares students for both of the standardized tests needed to gain admission to a Selective Enrollment High School and the Academic Center. SelectivePrep knows what it takes to train and motivate students who are intent upon gaining admission to one of the nine Chicago Selective Enrollment High Schools or one of seven Academic Centers. SelectivePrep’s programs provide a thorough and rigorous review of test content, so students can approach these competitive admissions processes with confidence.


For additional information and registration go to or call (312) 409-8411.

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114 Comments Add your own

  • 1. junior  |  March 15, 2012 at 12:51 am

    Meh. Just another way for SP to get free publicity.

    The goal of the system is not to provide every kid with some equal amount of competition within a tier. Sure, CPS could do some adjustment to equalize chances between tiers, but then they’d probably compensate by eliminating more seats awarded according to rank, since Tier 4 dominates rank seats.

    It seems odd to me that so many people expect that some perfectly “fair” system can be computed, when in fact, the social inputs into that system are neither fair nor readily computed.

  • 2. Cpspossessed  |  March 15, 2012 at 12:52 am

    Selective Prep goes further than providing yhis data but advocates changes in current division of slots by its use of the words ‘should’ in its analyses. Thank you SelectivePrep for arguing that all students should have an equal change at placement in a selective school.

  • 3. ISAT 2012 | District 299: The Inside Scoop on CPS  |  March 15, 2012 at 7:41 am

    […] Another Way to Look at the Tier System (and more data!) CPSO: I don’t think we’ve seen these “qualified numbers” so far.   So based on the TIER spots, the Tier 4kids have 30% of the pool gunning for 17.5% of the spots.  The “quirk” as SPrep points out. However comparing this to WBEZ’s overall SE share by tier 20%/20%/26%/35% we see that the shares by qualified Tier applicants fall out pretty closely, with kids in Tier 4 actually having a BETTER shot at an SE spot than any other tier (thanks to the rank spots, not the tier spots which ARE tougher for tier 4 kids to get.) […]

  • 4. EdgewaterMom  |  March 15, 2012 at 7:47 am

    I think that they are missing an important point. There are fewer qualified students in the lower tiers because those children do not have the same advantages as most of the children in higher tiers (decent schools, access to outside educational opportunities, college-educated parents, etc). If the purpose of the tiers is to try to level the playing field, then it really does not make any sense to adjust the numbers the way that they are suggesting.

    While there are many problems with the tier system, I do not think that we need to allocate more spots to Tier 4 students. And I say this as a tier 4 family who makes a moderate income.

  • 5. Esmom  |  March 15, 2012 at 8:02 am

    SP is clearly not an unbiased party here, so that immediately makes me sort of suspicious of any conclusions they’re drawing. I don’t know…I guess I’d like to see them maybe do more to try and help the lower tier kids with their services and expertise rather than try to advocate on behalf of their main market, the Tier 4 folks.

  • 6. ChicagoGawker  |  March 15, 2012 at 9:00 am

    How about selective prep going into a lower Tier school and donating an afterschool test prep? Tax write off ? At our private, 8th graders had test prep on site afterschool, for extra $ of course.

  • 7. mom  |  March 15, 2012 at 9:22 am

    Is “leveling the playing field” the same thing as “creating diversity”? That was supposed to be the purpose of the tiers.

    I think suggesting that we tweak the tier system over and over again is just putting our efforts and focus in the wrong place. Everyone (CPS and parents) should be focusing on solutions to the real issue. As we have said time and time again, there are not enough high quality, safe, college prep focused schools within 5 miles (or less than a 30 minute commute) of every qualified student’s home. Spend every waking moment solving that instead of moving this number here, and changing that tier there, etc. etc.

  • 8. Mayfair Dad  |  March 15, 2012 at 9:44 am

    Junior is correct. This system wasn’t invented to be fair to advantaged Tier 4 children, it is meant to increase opportunity for disadvantaged children. Those Tier 4 families expecting fairness are asking the system to do something it wasn’t built to do.

  • 9. junior  |  March 15, 2012 at 9:54 am

    @7 mom

    Yes, need to keep repeating that. We’re missing the forest for the trees. Quibbling about shifting a handful of seats from one constituency to another only distracts from and diminishes the efforts to try to get better quality opportunities throughout the system.

    Also want to point out the irony of SP griping about a few percentatge points of seats within the system, when, if you believe that their product works, then they themselves are responsible for a great deal of “unleveling” of the system by skewing test results in favor of test preppers.

  • 10. LR  |  March 15, 2012 at 10:15 am

    I guess I kind of echo the sentiments of #4; however, I would add to it that the tier system is theory-based, which adds a level of complexity. In reality, a “Tier 1” kid can be someone who happens to live in Humboldt Park that attends an Options Program (my daughter is in an Options Program, and I kind of struggle to see that anyone is a real “Tier 1” kid in her class). I guess what I am saying is it doesn’t particularly bother me if a true Tier 1 kid (who like #4 said has had to overcome a lot more just to qualify) has somewhat of an advantage. It’s the Tier 1/2 students that are not representative of their area. I think one change that might make sense in high school admissions, is to somehow factor in where a student attended grade school. I have no idea how this would be done…but it might eliminate some of the “cheating” that goes on with people lying about addresses and so forth. Maybe instead of your tier being based on where you live it is based on the elementary school you went to. And maybe the tiers are divided not based on socioeconomics, but overall school performance. I guess it still wouldn’t solve the issue of more qualified applicants in Tier 4, but I do think it would solve the issue of sorting the truly disadvantaged from the “just happen to live in Tier1/2” applicants.

  • 11. RL Julia  |  March 15, 2012 at 10:16 am

    I thought the analysis was good – and demonstrated the pitfalls or opportunities that one might encounter in every tier – it seems to me like it is just hard in a different way depending. The one assumption made by Selective Prep that I disagree with is that all kids enter into these competitions on an equal playing field – which is patently untrue. As I have said before, you could be a regular Einstein but inless you are incredibly lucky or have some functioning adult in your life willing to advocate, CPS is not going to encourage your brilliance. This is one of the reasons that I am becoming more and more against this whole select system – it pulls bright kids with resources out of the general system and leaves the bright kids without resources to fend for themselves -it also to a certain extent ties the hands of the neighborhood schools as they are not mandated by law or in many cases developed any capacity of providing appropriate services to accelerated students – because there are special schools for those kinds of kids….

  • 12. EdgewaterMom  |  March 15, 2012 at 10:20 am

    @7 and @9 I completely agree. Do we really want to spend all of our time and energy trying to make the tier system fair? If we all had good, local options for high school, we would not have to obsess about getting into SEHS.

    The SEHS are for the VERY TOP students. They are only going to serve a very small number of CPS students. A smart, motivated student should be able to receive a good education at a local school and not have to try to compete to get into the Fab4 just to get a decent education.

  • 13. HS Mom  |  March 15, 2012 at 10:56 am

    @7 – I couldn’t agree more.

    The data is interesting from a strictly technical POV but does not consider the intangibles.

    ” If each qualified student were to have an equal chance at an Academic Center spot, then…”

    There is no way to calculate actual chances. The first real qualifier is grades. A tier 4 student must have (2) A’s to qualify for SE schools and, assuming that the tier 1 student tests lower due to circumstances, they too need the A’s. So, in essence, it’s the teacher that will initially qualify if the kid has any chance at selective enrollment then the tests follow suit.

    Junior and Mayfair Dad I understand your point. Does the tier system effectively increase opportunities for disadvantaged children in the most accurate and, yes, fair manner? Might some other method like outright applications for some designated percentage of need/ability seats give better results? Creating an illusion of fairness by offering politically correct tiers doesn’t seem to cut it anymore with the increasingly high caliber of the applicant pool. I see complaints from all tiers.

  • 14. 8th grade mom  |  March 15, 2012 at 10:58 am

    I’ve got no problem with the concept of SEHS, but also want to see those good local options. There are parts of the country where they have elite schools that are open to the top 1-5% of kids, but still manage to have local schools with rigorous programs for the kids who are at the 94% percentile (As well as meeting the needs of the kids well below that.)

    And I totally agree that this analysis is a bit diingenuous – the question should be why are fewer Tier 1 kids qualifying.

  • 15. 8th grade mom  |  March 15, 2012 at 10:59 am


  • 16. cpsmomx5  |  March 15, 2012 at 11:07 am

    No one “just happens to live in Tier 1.” Either you’re stuck in socioeconomic circumstances that don’t allow you to move, you’re an urban pioneer trying to impact a community, or you’re a liar. Our family chose to rehab an abandoned building and move into our Tier 1 neighborhood 5 years ago. We never dreamed it would lead to an SEHS advantage. Our neighborhood schools (and HS) are horrendous. My children, thankfully, have not had to attend these schools. I am not self-righteous enough to suggest we would’ve taken the plunge if we were not already at a magnet school. Yet they face daily hurdles that Tier 4 children only hear about in their wannabe “urban” rap songs, sensational YouTube Videos, etc.

    My son has experiences that contribute to the “diversity” of a school regardless of his ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or grammar school. He is a teenage boy, dodging gangbangers’ stares and lures. He cannot walk to the corner store alone once the weather hits 60 degrees, he is not allowed to sit on the front porch with his friends, and he has had to run to the basement with the family because the Bishops and Disciples are shooting at each other across the length of our block. Maybe CPS should add a criteria which accounts for the number of Bluelight CPD cameras within a 3 block radius of your home? Or how many people have been shot or stabbed on your block?

    I am grateful that he can get out of the neighborhood during the school day and feel safe. It’s time for Tier 4 parents to be grateful their kids don’t live in Tier 1, and be grateful for the 2nd or 3rd choice SEHS spot your child did get offered. Welcome to the 99%…

  • 17. OMG  |  March 15, 2012 at 11:18 am

    With St. Scholastica closing will CPS buy it and open a new SEHS or will a charter buy it. What do you think?

  • 18. RL Julia  |  March 15, 2012 at 11:22 am

    Charter or another private/parochial school will buy it. CPS is not interested in opening another SEHS that I have every noticed.

  • 19. junior  |  March 15, 2012 at 11:27 am


    Agree that there should be more scrutiny of whether the system actually selects for socioeconomic disadvantage or whether that is just an illusion. Interestingly, I think you can argue that unequal access to test prep can be a major factor undermining the whole system.

    We’ve repeatedly heard gripes about people who live in Tier 1/2 who aren’t socioeconomically disadvantaged and how they might have an unfair advantage. If you’re of the inclination to see that as unfair, then certainly then certainly the fact that access to private test prep tends to filter out more disadvantaged kids is problematic. If you live in Tier 1/2 and can afford private test prep, you have a signifiant leg up, considering that many of those kids you are competing with cannot afford the test prep. And if you are in Tier 4 and can’t afford test prep, than you are at a significant disadvantage to many of your peers who can.

    Essentially, test prep acts as an elusive filter favoring socioeconomic advantage, which may in turn keep forcing CPS to ratchet down the rank seats awarded in an attempt to maintain diversity. But if the tier system becomes increasingly less reliable in selecting for socioeconomic disadvantage, then we are left with a system that merely creates the illusion of diversity.

  • 20. smadness  |  March 15, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    interesting but doesn’t include the fact that the rank seats(40 %) are more than likely awarded to Tier3/4 students due to the host of other socio/economic reasons already discussed. This whole system is so broken and our kids are suffering because of it. I would like to see some type of hybrid tier/lottery system invoked. There is no reason any child who meets a minmium score should be disqualified for a few points difference.

  • 21. RationalRationing  |  March 15, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    I’m not so sure this much work was necessary to “discover” a “quirk” that is more properly described as the social engineering objective of the CPS to have equal representation by tier at the selective schools – regardless of how wide the test gaps have to be to get there. This analysis wouldn’t persuade Katie Ellis and her ilk to say, “OMG – you’re right! How could we have been so blind?! We should give more seats to tier 4!”

    In fact, seats for tier 4s are going begging at schools like King, where the tier 4 cutoff (651) is actually the lowest cutoff score among the tiers. At the four south side SEHS, in fact, it is always the case that the Tier 4 cutoff is NOT the highest cutoff among the tiers. (Whispers in the Westinghouse hallway: “That kid only got into our school because he was lucky enough to have those lower tier 4 cutoffs!”)

    The Selective Prep analysis merely identifies an inconsistency between the uniform (i.e., purely merit based) eligibility threshold of stanine 5 and the tier-based allocation of seats. CPS could look at this analysis and say…oh, yeah, you’re right: we should consider Tier 1’s/2’s eligible to apply even if they’re in stanine 3. Then, magically, the percent of “qualified” students in Tier 1 and 2 would match the higher tiers.

    But obviously, there is an enormous shortage of options for Tier 4 (and to some extent 3) students in that 85th-90th percentile in terms of SEHS schools that are reasonably convenient geographically. On the WBEZ replay the other day, even Dr. Kahlenberg, the inventor of the tiers, seemed to scratch his head and say, “if there’s such an intense competition, then why not expand the number of spots?”

  • 22. cpsobsessed  |  March 15, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    I did love that when Dr. Kahleberg admitted that there are clearly not enough seats!

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 23. another CPS mom  |  March 15, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    You mean test prep can (or might) increase a student’s scores on ISATs and ACTs?! Hmmm. What are the tests really “testing” then?

  • 24. mom  |  March 15, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    “But obviously, there is an enormous shortage of options for Tier 4 (and to some extent 3) students in that 85th-90th percentile in terms of SEHS schools that are reasonably convenient geographically. On the WBEZ replay the other day, even Dr. Kahlenberg, the inventor of the tiers, seemed to scratch his head and say, “if there’s such an intense competition, then why not expand the number of spots?””

    – The “convenient geographically” seems to be the one factor that CPS keeps ignoring. Why is that?!!

  • 25. EdgewaterMom  |  March 15, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    @20 You say “There is no reason any child who meets a minmium score should be disqualified for a few points difference.” The reason is that there are a limited number of seats. Selective schools have to decide how they are going to “selct”, and CPS has decided on a points system, so it means that you may be disqualified for a few points difference, or even a tie. You may wish that they had a different system than the current point system, but you can’t have a points system and then say that a few points difference shouldn’t matter.

    Again, I really think that we are focusing on the wrong problem. There will always be a limited number of seats at SEHS because they are selective! I agree that the current system has flaws, but any selection criteria is going to have people who disagree with it. The problem is that there are not enough options for the majority of CPS students to receive a quality education.

  • 26. LR  |  March 15, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    I agree with trying to better neighborhood schools, because after all, it would be such a relief to just screw the whole admissions process. However, I also think more SEHS’s are warranted. There are kids with straight A’s and nearly perfect scores that aren’t getting in. These kids have demonstrated that they could use a more rigorous curriculum, but aren’t likely going to get that at most neighborhood CPS high schools…at least not today. Perhaps in 5-6 years that will all change. Or that may just be my wishful thinking : ) Out of curiosity, do the SEHS’s even accommodate the top 10% of each class? If not, what is the percentage of incoming freshmen that get a spot at a SEHS?

  • 27. RL Julia  |  March 15, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    Most every North side high school web page I looked at had Honors and AP classes listed as part of their regular high school class offerings -so in theory the framework is present at these high schools to accomodate an accelerated learner. Its just a matter of that kid actually showing up and attending the school.

  • 28. Arthur  |  March 15, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    Interesting analysis, although Selective Prep has a conflict of interest and is in the business of distorting the playing field. One question is whether the “right” to get into a selective enrollment school is an individual right or a group right. The data seem to show that because tiers 1and 2 have so few who meet the floor threshold to even take the SE exam, those who do meet it have less intra-tier competition. In other words, those in tiers 1 and 2 who get in with a lower cut-off score than would work for tiers 3 and 4 do so in some sense because of those who didn’t make the threshold. (Recently CPS supposedly equalized tiers based on numbers of students at the grade level to take the test, not the number with qualifying scores, right?) This is analogous to political redistricting. Districts are drawn with equal total population, but they are then packed with 65-70% minority voters to compensate for lower levels of registration and turnout. Thus come election day some districts are electing candidates with half the number of voters as others. The voting power of those who do vote is inflated to compensate for the fact that others don’t.

  • 29. Mom of many  |  March 15, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    @19: I completely agree with you. We live in Tier 4 and sent our second son to SP because we realized 99% of his class was attending some sort of test prep. It killed me to do so because I am so completely against the idea of test prep. I belive learning HOW to take a test isn’t ethical – it’s just learning how to manipulate the system. I admit, I compromised my values in the hopes of helping my child and I am ashamed of it but if you’re in Tier 4 you’re at a disadvantage if you don’t do all you can. (By the way, he didn’t get in to Lane his first and only choice by 2 points)

    There was an article in the Trib or Suntimes that interviewed a woman who claimed to have spent over $1000 on test prep. Her daughter was accepted to Payton. How can we expect kids who are economically disadvantaged to compete with kids whose families can afford to pay for that?

  • 30. mom2  |  March 15, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    @29 – “There was an article in the Trib or Suntimes that interviewed a woman who claimed to have spent over $1000 on test prep.” – you know that people do this for ACT prep so their kid can get into the top universities, too. I know I can’t afford to compete with that, and our family is in Tier 4 and terrified about even how to pay for college let alone trying to spend money on test prep. Ugh!

  • 31. BeenThere2  |  March 15, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    29 – so where is your son going next year?

  • 32. vb  |  March 15, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    Many tier 3/4 kids come from families that are smart, ambitious, and competitive. They will always be at the top of any selective system. If tier 4 was diverse we would not have this system forced upon us.

    Since the goal of the system is to create more diversity, we have to acknowledge that the system has to give a boost to tier 1/2 kids who are less-smart, less-ambitious, and less competitive. That boost comes from the suppression of some tier 3/4 kids. This is a zero-sum game – there are a fixed number of selective seats.

    It doesn’t matter if tier 4 statistically deserves more seats because what someone deserves has nothing to do with this system.

    I don’t see the selective system as a huge problem. The problem to me is that the schools are bipolar. There is no quality gradient for the schools. There are excellent quality selective schools and third-world quality neighborhood schools and nothing in between.

  • 33. psmom  |  March 15, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    @29 And you can pay thousands of dollars on consultants to help you select your high school courses (to make you more competitive for college), select extracurriculars, help with developing your essay statements, etc.

    My cousin spent $3000 on an admissions consultant for her daughter for college.

  • 34. Gunnery Sgt Hartman  |  March 15, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    Wealthier students with wealthier, and probably more highly educated parents are more aware of SE High Schools, and therefore more apply to them. Easy peasey.

  • 35. BuenaParkMom  |  March 15, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    @32 – I do hope you don’t mean to imply that the majority of children who happen to live in Tier 1/2 neighborhoods are “less-smart, less-ambitious, and less competitive”. That sounds like you think people of less means and most likely less opportunity are stupid and lazy compared to those living in Tier 2/3 neighborhoods. I think that’s a truly horrendous implication to make. I think those with less resources may be busy using their smarts and ambition to survive. SES’s may not even be on their radar as a result. Please try to keep in mind that even those children have potential, even if they and their parents do not look like you and your children, and have not had the same sort of opportunities. May I suggest spending an hour or two in a neighborhood like Englewood? Then decide if you think that is where any parent REALLY wants to raise their children if they have another choice.

  • 36. teacher  |  March 15, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    It’s funny ..because CPS basically says all children need to make the same progress and be at the same level. If they are not the teachers are berated….however, here cps is saying that economics has an effect? we take the NWEA and ALL kids must progress at the same rate …no matter their home situation? then they turn around and change the playing field for high school admission beacuse they ADMIT that homelife and money make a difference..a complete reversal Brizzard Cheatham ….you got a powerpoint for this one?

    it is of course literally -Hypo-critical. CPS has no logic…no use trying!!!

  • 37. kiki h.  |  March 15, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    36, maybe they think all the lousy teachers work in the lousy schools. The teacher-blaming out there boggles my mind.

    As for some of the other posts, as a tier 1 resident, some of these generalizations are wildly inaccurate. I’ll just say in the nicest way possible that tier 1 has plenty of smart, ambitious kids. Not all of us spend our days dodging bullets, nor do all the children come home to neglectful, addicted single-mother homes. You might try spending a little time in one of our neighborhoods, if you’re not too scared. There is a lot more going on than you might imagine. Yes, there’s poverty. But poverty has many faces. Open your minds a little bit.

  • 38. Mom  |  March 15, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    @35 — I think what the data show are that many, many students in Tiers 1 and 2 are in fact “less competitive” as CPS has defined competitive to be. (Not all, to be sure! Remember all those rich kids whose parents earn more than a hundred grand per year, and score very highly on the point values, yet still live in Tiers 1 and 2?!! We’ve heard about them here. They edged out poorer kids at NSCP, and even Lane!) Would you define “competitive” in a different way so that Tier1 and 2 students would be more qualified? That said, there has to be some way to define “accomplished” to warrant admission to “selective” schools. If not, what, exactly, is the point?

    I am positively sure that not everyone living in Tiers 1 and 2 is stupid and lazy. However, I am equally sure that, generally speaking, they do not perform as well on the metric CPS has selected as the proper way to gauge readiness for performance in SEHSs. I guess I err on the side of helping the kids who wouldn’t otherwise qualify for SEHS in their own element, before they get ready to test for SEHS, rather than tinkering with the criteria for admissibility to the SEHSs later so that the “less qualified” can gain entry at the expense of the “more qualified.” I truly understand the goal of providing an opportunity to a kid who might not have otherwise had it. But, I really do not think that 1) those opportunities are going to the kids we really want to help (since so many of the relatively well-off just happen to live in Tiers 1 and 2, for whatever reasons), and (2) if the opportunities are going to the “right” kids, I doubt it’s making any sort of difference for them, when they are way behind and struggle because of their SES disadvantage. Wouldn’t they be better off if we helped them at their level than if we thrust them into a situation where they aren’t in any way prepared, all in the name of “equality,” or whatever? I am with KLM, and others, who say we should care about helping all kids improve and not care so much about how the top 1%-schools “look,” along any criteria. If we keep tinkering around these edges, they aren’t going to be “top” schools much longer. Just a fact — the kids make the school much more so than the school makes the kids. (This is the point of the critics who say that the lists of “best schools” that rank “selective enrollment” schools at the top is kind of bunk. Pretty easy for a school that skims the cream to be at the top.) If we let all the Tier 1 and 2 kids take these opportunities at the Top 4 SEHSs (instead of the evil 3 and 4 kids “stealing” those underprivileged kids’ spots), what do you get — King, Brooks, etc. Not “top” schools anymore, although still good! This is said with no judgment. It is just a reality. I, for one, would love to help the kids who no one else will help (and I volunteer to do just that). I think our whole society would be better for it — bringing everyone up. That said, I do not think kids who aren’t prepared deserve to be in SEHS at the expense of the more qualified. Nor do I think that kids who are mostly doing fine due to their upbringing, but don’t score quite as well as others deserve spots over kids who do better than they do.

  • 39. "Wow" is mom updside-down  |  March 15, 2012 at 9:51 pm

    @38 said
    “I am positively sure that not everyone living in Tiers 1 and 2 is stupid and lazy.”

    Wow. Keep diggin that hole. It’ll be a good place to plant those sour grapes.

  • 40. Mom  |  March 15, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    @39– except I don’t have a horse in the race and am only concerned about what the best policy should be. My kids attend private school to avoid all this crap. AND YET I still care about all Chicago kids! I think my questions are legit, and not sour grapes. What can we do to help the bottom-most kids get to the level where they can compete with the most advantaged? I volunteer in an underprivileged school for just this purpose. I do NOT just volunteer in my own kids’ schools (although I do that too). Do you do anything besides advocate for a flawed tier-system?

  • 41. How about  |  March 16, 2012 at 12:44 am

    How about:

    1. Local Neighborhood High Schools that are geographically aligned according to the ward districting that the City of Chicago controls….no arguments, just clean flow for city life (alderman, schools, etc…)

    2. For the 9 Select Enrollment HighSchools, they are assigned based on the geographically city wards (ex. wards 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 feed into SE High School #5 of 9)

  • 42. cpsobsessed  |  March 16, 2012 at 4:50 am

    @41: The reason the geo thing won’t work is that for instance North Side ends up serving only Tier 3-4 kids while Brooks will serve Tier 1-2. Then complaints arise that CPS is giving the “good schools” to the north side and the lower scoring school to the south side. Obviously it’s more complex than that, but that’s how it ends up being interpretted.

  • 43. cpsobsessed  |  March 16, 2012 at 4:59 am

    So it seems like no matter how the data is cut, a main conclusion is that the city (like other urban districts) has not figured out a way to successfully educate Tier 1ish kids.

    In Rahm’s defense, does it not make some sense to try making some changes fairly quickly to at least try something new? The current way of doing it clearly isn’t working.

    And another random thought as I look at SPrep’s data. 80% of Tier 4 kids are eligible for the SE exam? That doesn’t feel very “selective” if almost every kid in the Tier is reaching the benchmark. They can’t ALL be the “best and brightest.”

  • 44. RationalRationing  |  March 16, 2012 at 7:59 am

    43 – Well….it might be just a little generous to refer to scoring at or over the 40th percentile, i.e., are in the top 60%, (nationally normed) as “best and brightest”.

    Apparently, CPS kids are apparently a bit better educated than the national norm based on those SelectPrep #s – across all the tiers, 67% of students are in the top 60%. (sum up the 56+62+70+81, divide by 4 = 67)

    There’s an achievement gap in Chicago, to be sure, Tier 4 is 14 points above the 67 average, Tier 1 is 11 points below – but the factors in the tiers BESIDES income make this unsurprising – including the education levels of adults in the area, % English speaking (when half the test is an English test.)

    41/42 – We’re sort of in this mess because Chicago is such a segregated city – turning the selective enrollments into a type of neighborhood school only exacerbates that. I am still convinced that a single Mega SEHS campus – located somewhere on the near west side, accessible by public transportation from most parts of the city within 45 minutes – would fix a lot of this crap.

  • 45. mom2  |  March 16, 2012 at 9:40 am

    If your goal is diversity in all SE schools, then “a single Mega SEHS campus – located somewhere on the near west side, accessible by public transportation from most parts of the city within 45 minutes…” would not “fix this crap.” Your Mega SEHS campus dea makes sense but it needs to be downtown (I think we came up with a high rise building near Grant Park and would call it Sky High). It cannot be in a neighborhood that people may consider unsafe or you won’t get that diversity you are seeking.

    I think as long as Chicago is segregated, all this tweaking is futile. If parents with neighborhood high schools in somewhat safe neighborhoods would just send their kids to that school, many of these concerns of Tier 3 and 4 parents would go away. And, instead, you would be left with the great parents of students in the unsafe neighborhoods saying it isn’t fair that those safe neighborhoods have all the good schools.

  • 46. What?  |  March 16, 2012 at 10:15 am

    interesting CPS arlticle on longer school day . . . .

  • 47. vb  |  March 16, 2012 at 10:16 am

    Of course, tier 1/2 has plenty of smart, ambitious kids. Those kids can get into SEHS based on rank like the smart, ambitious kids in every tier. They don’t need the system boost. However, the tier 1/2 kids getting the boost, are doing so by the suppression of tier 3/4 kids who are smarter (scored higher) and worked harder for that higher score.

    Do lower scoring tier 1/2 deserve the boost? It doesn’t matter because what someone deserves has nothing to do with this system.

  • 48. RL Julia  |  March 16, 2012 at 10:27 am

    v/b – oh please -higher scoring tier 3/4 kids worked harder for their higher score? And you know this because you personally oversaw every 8th grader doing their homework for the past seven years and was able to make that completely unbiased assessment on their efforts?

  • 49. Gunnery Sgt Hartman  |  March 16, 2012 at 10:50 am

    #48 Isn’t it logical that you’d need to work harder for a higher score?

  • 50. cpsobsessed  |  March 16, 2012 at 10:56 am

    It’s logical if you can assume that all inputs are the same.
    We’re really talking test scores here since I assume grades are normalized to reflect the abilities at each school.
    A child who has been read to, grown up with books and newspapers in the house, NPR and CNN playing, camps, museums, educational toys and game, computers, etc has an inherent edge. That kid didn’t nec sit themselves down and “work hard” every night to attain their base of knowledge.

    Granted, their parents may have ridden their butts more over the years in terms of school work.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 51. junior  |  March 16, 2012 at 10:59 am

    There are about 1,000 or more posts on this topic that you might want to read before jumping in and painting classes of people with a terribly broad brush. You don’t know what obstacles any given kid has worked hard to overcome. The premise of the system is that in general kids in Tier 1/2 have more factors working against them, so to say that Tier 1 kids work less hard is based on what? I know plenty of Tier 4 kids who are lazy, but who get into top schools on their smarts alone. (But I don’t ascribe that quality to Tier 4 in general — I’m sure there are plenty of hard-working kids in Tier 4. )

    But which is harder work — to develop a robust vocabulary because both parents are college educated and bring it into normal conversation daily, or to develop the vocabulary needed to score high on tests by learning it out of a book (because maybe your parents did not go to college or perhaps speak English as a second language). How many other examples of daily enrichment can you find that comes more easily when you have resources?

  • 52. 8th grade mom  |  March 16, 2012 at 11:11 am

    As the parent of one of those Tier 3 high scoring kids – nah, I don’t necessarily think he worked harder than some other kids with equal (or maybe even lower) scores.

    Just as one example – he didn’t have to work to learn a large vocabulary; he’s been exposed to it since the day he was born. The kid in his class with two non-native English speakers probably worked alot harder for her vocabulary.

    Not saying he didn’t also work hard; he had one really tough teacher in 7th grade, and worked really hard to get an A in her class because he wanted to go to SEHS. I’m very proud of him.

    So I think his high score is a combination of three elements, in descending order of impact: 1) innate intelligence (be that genetic or something else); 2) early exposure to educational concepts and support for education; and 3) hard work.

    There are lots of kids with enough of #1 and #3 to make up for their deficiency in #2. But I can recognize that as hard as he worked, my kid didn’t have to work as hard as they did.

  • 53. another CPS mom  |  March 16, 2012 at 11:12 am

    Wait. Aren’t the lower scores because of all the “bad teachers” in Chicago’s neighborhood – or ever southside SEHS – public schools (remind me which section of town those are in)? CPS should fire their a**es. [Tongue firmly in cheek.]

  • 54. Joel  |  March 16, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    I wonder how the school choice breakdown would be if CPS offered one SEHS that was entirely based on merit only and the others based on tier. Would students flock to a school like this? Would parents want their kids to make it a first choice school even if it did not in any way work to “create diversity” in schools? Would others want it because it somehow implied “the best”?
    Another thought based on the future of CPS and its philosophy towards neighborhood schools and potential implications of SEHS:
    As more and more neighborhood schools are turned over to charter operators (and let’s assume an operator like Noble with a good reputation), will those schools start to be better options for Tier 1/2 kids (as this is where charters seem to have the biggest foothold)? Would proximity and the possibility to continue into HS with many of their peers have any influence (assuming that the school option was above decent) on deciding where one would go to HS?
    As many point out, the real solution to this is strong neighborhood schools that can provide the full spectrum of educational opportunity. When a neighborhood CPS school has to shut down an AP class because there are only 12 students, this will drive students away; if class offerings are dictated by positions (teacher positions) nothing will ever change. When a district can offer gifted/talented for say 12-18 kids and special education services for 5-8 kids in the same school that will be a great day. This is (one of) the difference(s) between CPS and other districts.

  • 55. junior  |  March 16, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    All kidding aside, teachers may not be the primary influence in kids’ scores, but they certainly represent a contributing factor among many.

    To bring that back into the context of the current discussion, should we discuss the ways the current system gives Tier 4 kids access to overall better teachers than kids in Tier 1? Access to better teachers is yet another factor that suggests Tier 1 kids need to work harder than Tier 4 kids to get the same results.

    Seems like any environmental factor you can think of tilts the scale toward the higher tiers. Privilege and advantage tends to perpetuate itself. Not because of some evil intent, but because those with advantage — just like those without it — naturally want whats best for their kids.

  • 56. cpsobsessed  |  March 16, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    How do we conclude that Tier 4 kids have better teachers?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 57. Joel  |  March 16, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    Tricky path re: Tier 4 teachers being better overall.

    Just from personal experience, at the last AP conference I went to, many of the brightest and most reflective teachers were from the worst neighborhood schools. I saw a lot of ‘going through the motions’ from SOME of the teachers at better schools and my belief would be that they simply have to assign the kids the work and most will do it. In good schools, the kids often ‘teach themselves’ aka learn the material. Some of the best ‘teaching’ that I have ever seen occurred in some of the worst schools because it takes so much more to engage interact with the students.

    Not trying to pass judgment on anything, but couldn’t let that statement slide.

  • 58. Anon88  |  March 16, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    55 – That doesn’t make any sense. My child went to the neightborhood CPS grammar school – Tier 4. About 1/4 of the teachers were super lazy slugs who left with the kids every day at 2:30pm. They couldn’t be bothered with much. They looked the other way during recess when the class bullys were doing their thing because the teachers “were so stressed they need a break”. Get real. It will be interesting to hear how these bums work out the longer school day. That will really stress them.

  • 59. beth  |  March 16, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    I have to agree with RL Julia and Junior here—I think a lot parents (and, yes, I mean specifically upper middle class, college-educated, white parents —and yes I realize not everyone living in these Tiers 4 and 3 fit those demographics) are really clueless to the sorts of disadvantages students who attend typical CPS elementary schools in Tier 1 and 2 neighborhoods face. If fair and deserving is just a numbers game, it’s not fair that kids from Tier 1 and 2 get into SEHS with lower scores than Tier 4 and 3 kids. But that’s not a definition of fair and deserving that has any sort of moral imagination to it. Go to a Tier 1 school in a Tier 1 or 2 neighborhood—i.e. your everyday neighborhood CPS school. No “Friends of” organization, no working library, no science equipment. Classmates who never handled a book, let alone were able to recite the alphabet when they began kindergarten, classmates whose only meals may be the ones provided at school, classmates with chronic health conditions like asthma or who need glasses, plus overcrowded classrooms and broken playgrounds. Is it fair that a child has to go to school under those conditions? Does a child deserve to go to this sort of school? This doesn’t even take into a account that your parents might not speak English or have a high school diploma . . . If a kid from that low income school in a low income tier with a low income background nonetheless works his or her butt off, stays out of trouble, follows the rules and gets into an SEHS like Northside or Payton with an 800 in Tier 1, I say more power to him. Because that kid still has so many more barriers to success than a kid with a Tier 4 family income/background, regardless of what high school he attends.

    Sure ideally everyone would submit their tax returns with their SEHS application—and maybe that day will come (and not only for SEHS). But be careful what you wish for—so many people on this site gripe that their income is not truly representative of Tier 4 or that they’re not part of the one percent. Realize this: if your gross adjusted income is over @$57K you make more than 75% of Americans. The CPS poverty rate is 86% (school year 2010-11)—which means at least a third of all CPS students come from families that live at or below the poverty line. So if Tier slots were divided an allocated by actual income, Tier 4 slots might be fewer.

  • 60. junior  |  March 16, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    @56 CPSO, @57 Joel, @58 Anon88

    Careful what you ask for…

    Yes, the teaching profession has a disproportionate amount of “do-gooder” teachers who come out of school bright-eyed and idealistic, wanting to teach in the toughest areas. I’ve known a few of them, and have not known any of them to have the staying power — and that’s confirmed as a trend if you read the paper linked above.

    Bottom line, Tier 4 schools are more desirable teaching environments and will always have a better pool of applicants wanting jobs there. Furthermore, teacher salaries put their households largely in Tier 3/4 areas, so Tier 4 schools are going to benefit from proximity to the applicant pool. The paper above goes much deeper.

  • 61. Gunnery Sgt Hartman  |  March 16, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    #59 Do you think asian parents know better? Why bring in “white”?

  • 62. Gunnery Sgt Hartman  |  March 16, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    #52 Awesome! Now, with that same score, had you been from a tier 4 neighborhood, would your child have made the cutoff for the school they wanted?

  • 63. cpsobsessed  |  March 16, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    @junior: those factors certainly make sense and I think is also why people jump to the assumption that the schools in the sketchiest areas have the worst teachers (even if they haven’t looked at test scores.) It’s a rational argument. I still have to object on principle though. 🙂

    We all know that some really good school have “bad” teachers (meaning unmotivated, protected by tenure, phoning it in, etc) so I have to believe that all schools have some great, some weak teachers. But you have to imagine that a north shore school gets their pick of the “best and brightest” (hey, why save that for the students) while the schools in dangerious Chicago neighborhoods do not have quite the draw, unfortunately.

  • 64. cpsobsessed  |  March 16, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    Wikipedia income ranking

    HH income $75k+ = top 25% of US households
    HH income $100k+ = top 16% of US households
    HH income $150k+ = top 6% of US households
    HH income $200k+ = top 1.5% of US households

  • 65. edb  |  March 16, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    CPSO – have you seen? CPS has released the 2012-2013 school year calendar:

  • 66. HS Mom  |  March 16, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    @59 point well taken but according to the BEZ article, kids in tier 1 and tier 2 neighborhood schools are not getting into SEHS, Kids from better schools are (which jives with what I see in our school)

  • 67. cps mom  |  March 16, 2012 at 10:10 pm

    I’m impressed with the breadth of comments here.

    What has blown my mind this last week is this detail from Linda Lutton’s WBEZ’s story on SEHS (
    “Half of Chicago grammar schools send no one to the top four high schools. Not their valedictorians. Not their straight-A students. Not the kids who’ve worked hard their entire grammar school career.”

    Why not guarantee spots to top performers from every elementary school in each SEHS? The argument that they can’t compete in these challenging environments is suspect at best – surely a little extra in-school tutoring would bring these hard working kids up to speed.

    The most troubling thread in this comment thread is the notion that tier 3/4 kids deserve more than tier 1/2 kids because….they already have more.

  • 68. cpsobsessed  |  March 16, 2012 at 10:17 pm

    @67 You’re right – that was not discussed much and it IS sort of surprising that so many schools send not even 1 child (although again, there are something like 600? elem schools x 2 kids – that alone fills up about a third of the pool.

    In the WBEZ follow up interview they talked about Texas implementing a similar plan for high schoolers – top 10% of kids at each high school get a college seat. I think in this case it’s been felt that kids who are underqualified are getting top spots. If those kids could have gotten a spot, their A’s (most likely if top in class) and test scores would have done it.

    However another question is whether a parent or anyone at the school even talks to them about it. My mom has substituted in the crummiest CPS high schools and some times ran across a kid who seemed out of place for their abilities in these crappy schools. I’m sure nobody “groomed” them for a spot in an SE school so they could have a chance to get out.

  • 69. HS Mom  |  March 16, 2012 at 10:57 pm

    @68 and don’t forget private schools, home schooled and people moving into the city. How could a school chose their top student only for selective education? Every discussion on selective enrollment circles back to not enough supply.

  • 70. cps mom  |  March 17, 2012 at 8:37 am

    @69 – really good points – hadn’t thought of that at all, so thank you! How do we go from discussion to improving neighborhood high schools for those students who (gasp) don’t score in the upper 90s nor get straight A’s?

  • 71. RL Julia  |  March 17, 2012 at 8:40 am

    HS Mom – this is why I am becoming convinced that the only solution is to get rid of the select enrollment high schools (except maybe, like one) and focus on getting the full complement of students to attend their neighborhood high schools – which will all have full offerings for accelerated students and other students. Yeah – I know this suggestion (which I have made before) can now kick off a round of “everyone who is anyone will move to the suburbs/send their kid to parochial school” but quite frankly I don’t believe it or maybe I just don’t care. If we want good schools and want to stop this crazy system of applications and seventh graders having nervous breakdowns etc…. then there has to be a serious charge in community and personal investment to make neighborhood high schools the places you want them to be. I honestly don’t think it is impossible – at least not for most schools on the north side. Since I am guessing that a full 80% of the people purporting their neighborhood school to be “unacceptable” (which as an aside has got to be just about my least favorite word)have never set foot into the school they so readily diss, I challenge every one of us to actually go inside the school – not look at their website, drive by, talk to our neighbor whose kids go somewhere else as well – actually walk into the school – or call and make appointment to talk to someone on the phone where you ask them the following question (if you are under house arrest or your back is out or something….): My child is currently working x grades above level. How will be this addressed at your school? or How many students in your graduating class last year are currently attending a four year educational institution? Report back your findings?

  • 72. HS Mom  |  March 17, 2012 at 10:05 am

    @71. I can certainly see your logic. A creative and viable plan would be to create “hybrid” schools (combined selective and neighborhood programming in the same school) to service the immediate need and ease the population back to the neighborhood school.

  • 73. Publius  |  March 17, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    # 71 – Are you kidding? If your kid is, say, 2 grades ahead and the SE high schools have been abolished, you’re going to bargain with your local HS as to how they are going to challenge her/him? Umm . . . will it be before or after writing lesson plans for those who are 2 grades behind? Or perhaps you would also blow up the gifted elementaries so those troublesome achievement disparities by 9th grade will disappear?

  • 74. RationalRationing  |  March 17, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    Neighborhood schools are great – if you’re in a great neighborhood and if you can exert the forces of persuasion that some neighborhood parents have been able to do. My experience – such neighborhood schools are effectively pre-brown v board segregated schools, with boundaries gerrymandered around “troublesome” locales, with the occasional students from out of boundaries allowed in via principal discretion. Neighborhood schools are effectively sliced-out mini-suburbs within the city limits, and if that’s the hope for the school system, then it’s a hope virtually guaranteed to result in extremes of haves and have nots.

    I’d advocate the complete contrary – more and more selective enrollment schools, scattered throughout the city, but allowing for greater range of scores, and perhaps allowing for unique skills that are not measurable via a scantron bubble sheet.

  • 75. liza  |  March 18, 2012 at 9:48 am

    @68 Many teachers in the elementary school do recognize the students who have the intellect and drive to be top students. What most of the middle grade teachers in my school do is talk to the parents to get the child into a 6th – 8th IB program, or other Options program. I have made phone calls, wrote recommendations, begged, pleaded, etc. to get these students somewhere else so that they would have better opportunities (along with fellow teachers) even though it meant that we were left with less capable and more difficult students in our classroom. I would hope that most teachers at other schools recognize these students and push them and their parents to seek out better options way before high school. By that time, it is usually too late.

  • 76. HS Mom  |  March 18, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    @71 says “get rid of the select enrollment high schools (except maybe, like one) and focus on getting the full complement of students to attend their neighborhood high schools – which will all have full offerings for accelerated students and other students”

    @73, 74 – What you would get by doing this is exactly what we have in the suburbs. A large area high school with all the academic offerings for a variety of students from vocational to college prep to A/P and honors and all the social aspects (sports, dances, clubs). Yes, the quality of school would vary upon the area just as it depends upon which suburb the school services. There are many more low and mid level suburban high schools than there are high level. This seems to be what most posters here complain about – the pressure and undo test prep put upon kids because of our selective enrollment system. How many kids at Northside Prep were “selective prepped” and tutored to gain entry? How many of those kids continue to work above the norm in their new environment – I’m sure some, but they don’t need a special school to do that. How many, many more kids, including the kids working hard in neighborhood schools, are working above grade level (whether due to parental involvement, prepping/tutoring, innate intelligence) deserve a real high school experience that offers an opportunity to make the most of their talents and encourages them to pursue a productive path.

  • 77. RL Julia  |  March 18, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    @ Publicus – No, I am not kidding. I have sent both my kids to our neighborhood elementary school and both children stayed there working several grades above level. If I can do this at one school, why not another. Its really not rocket science. Additionally, since I am committed to the school, the neighborhood and my kid’s education, other academically capable children in my kid’s grade’s have directly or indirectly benefited as part of my discussion about any accelerated accommodation includes a line about how my kid couldn’t possibly be the only bright, academically capable student in the classroom and how I am just sure that they could identify a few other kids who also might benefit from whatever.

    If the SEHS’s were abolished, the local high schools who ALREADY offer some honors and AP level classes would have more high achieving students to place in those classes. Remember, its the kids who make the school as much as the school makes the kid.

  • 78. RationalRationing  |  March 18, 2012 at 9:20 pm

    77 – extending this logic, after the SEHS has been abolished, then the honors and AP classes at the neighborhood school should be abolished, too. Then the non-honors classes would have more high achieving students.

  • 79. James  |  March 18, 2012 at 9:58 pm

    @ 71 and 77 RL Julia —

    Your comments about neighborhood high schools are interesting, laced as they are with arrogance. In fact, I have reviewed, examined, and been inside my neighborhood high school more than once — and it is unacceptable, a word that perfectly describes the school and, unfortunately, many other neighborhood high schools. If CPS were to adopt your extreme proposal and do away with SE high schools altogether, thereby trying to force me to send my kids to my unaccepatble neighborhood high school, I would flee the system and go private. In a heartbeat. You may doubt it or just not care, but it is true. And I assure you, I wouldn’t be alone. Exactly how would that help the neighborhood high schools or CPS in general?

    Furthermore, as I have noted before, turning around an unacceptable neighborhood high school is a much more difficult task than turning around an unacceptable neighborhood elementary school. It may not be “rocket science,” but the stakes and risks are much, much higher. You really claim not to see that sending a 16-year-old into a low performing high school full of gangs, fights, drugs, and kids who have no desire to learn is a lot different than sending a 7-year-old into a low performing elementary school? Really?

    Finally, I find it rich that you speak so eloquently in favor of neighborhood high schools and that you so arrogantly look down on parents who wouldn’t send their kids there — and yet you are sending your kid to Northside next year. So neighborhood high schools are good enough for everyone else, but not you? How about putting your money where your mouth is? Until you are wiling to do that, I urge you to get off your high horse.

    We all agree that the plight of many neighborhood high schools is heartbreaking, and this issue is a damn tough nut to figure out how to crack. But your claim that all it takes is a few parents sitting down with the principal and then sending their kids there (their kids, of course, not yours) is woefully unrealistic and simplistic.

  • 80. HS Mom  |  March 19, 2012 at 8:13 am

    @79 I’m sorry, but RLJ is the antithesis of “arrogance”.

    And please, no need to badger her about high school choice. I find her opinions and views about CPS, in particular high schools, to be very open minded. If you follow her posts at all you would see how much she has personally contributed to her neighborhood school. Do not fault her because her son performs well enough to go to Northside Prep. She was happy to consider all options, including the neighborhood program, and went with her sons 1st choice. So what, I did the same and I’m sure many others did too. I guess in your opinion, the neighborhood schools are good enough for the unlucky kids that miss tier cut-offs just not your kid.

  • 81. mom2  |  March 19, 2012 at 9:02 am

    @James – Is there something wrong with the building that houses your neighborhood high school, the teachers, the principal – or is it just the kids that currently go there? If it is just the kids, what if the high school had a student body that was 80% from your child’s elementary school and others with similar or a more affluent student body? Would it then be acceptable? Or must it be 100% students from your child’s elementary school? Or is it something else? I’m just trying to get a sense of what CPS is up against with parents like you that can afford private but who they would really like to keep in the CPS system.

  • 82. cpsobsessed  |  March 19, 2012 at 9:05 am

    Jame, I’m curious too. As I prepare to investigate my local school, what did you look for and what specifically did you find unacceptable?

    I don’t think anyone is arguing that every neighborhood HS is a hidden gem. The argument is to check it out. You did and did not see potential. But if you can share more about that experience it would help other parents.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 83. RL Julia  |  March 19, 2012 at 9:36 am

    80,81,and 82 – Thanks for the support.
    James, I too understand the double standard of sending my son to Northside – in fact I am decidedly uncomfortable about his decision because it seems so elistist to me- but at 14 he has a right to make his own decisions about school – at least to an extent. At this point in his life, I don’t feel like its really appropriate to force my political views on a decision that effects his day to day life a whole lot more than it effects mine. However, if for some reason Northside doesn’t work out for him, I would suggest Schurz like nobody’s business. I like to think I still have some influence on him 🙂 .

    As I might of mentioned before, I went to a high school very much like Schurz, so no, I am not particularly afraid to send my kid(s) there. If I learned anything in high school -it was how to get along with lots of people and that what was posturing and what wasn’t. I guess, I just don’t see the “stakes” and “risks” as being any more horrible than the are at Northside – just different for the most part. Life is full of risk.

    Don’t get me wrong – I do think it would easier to get an college -preparatory education at Northside but I also think it could be done at Schurz. As for improving high schools, yeah – I gave you my simplified version – I’d be happy to bore you with my world vision on the subject in another forum, if you are really interested. I’m sure you could find plenty of holes in it.

    Like cpsobsessed, I commend you for visiting your neighborhood school and would love to read your list of plusses and minuses.

  • 84. vb  |  March 19, 2012 at 10:42 am

    @59 Beth, I don’t see how the current tier system finds and rewards hardworking kids. The relationship between hard work and home address eludes me. A hardworking kid can have any home address.

    It would be great if the selective process did indeed find hardworking kids and rewarded them. But the current tier system is nothing more than another version of an ovarian lottery. I think it’s better than the previous ovarian lottery. We’ve gone from “who-are-your-parents” to “where-do-your-parents-live”. We’re still judging kids based on their parents. I don’t find that “fair” or “moral”.

  • 85. beth  |  March 19, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    @84 vb–Your mistake is you keep turning to words like hard-working, deserving, and fair which are ultimately subjective—these are value judgments which, by their very nature as value judgments, are open to contestation. The Tier 1 kid who scored an 800 worked perhaps just as hard as the Tier 4 kid who scored an 895, but they didn’t perform as well on the instrument used to measure their academic achievement. Either you think that the Tier 1 kid faces barriers to academic achievement due to their background– income, parental education, and neighborhood–or you don’t. If you don’t, then of course you’ll think the system is unfair.

    I think there are real barriers to academic achievement that can be linked to parental income, education, and neighborhood, and the current research shows this. Indeed, the tier system in fact tries to remedy a system that would otherwise statistically favor kids based on “who their parents were” and “where they live,” which is in fact the “ovarian lottery” of the fortune of birth (hasn’t that, in fact, been the analysis on this site—that most of the rank seats at SEHSs have gone to kids from Tier 4 neighborhoods? If there was no Tier 4 advantage in academic achievement, then the rank scores would split evenly among the tiers.)

    Ideally the “ovarian lottery” of who your parents are/ where you live would be addressed by removing barriers to academic achievement early in life through intensive early childhood development and education programs and well-resourced elementary schools, but that’s not what happens. So we try to social engineer later. Do I think the current tier system is perfect? No. But I too think it’s better than the last system.

  • 86. Mayfair Dad  |  March 19, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    @ 79; ease up on the pious juice there Jimbo. RLJ’s moral compass is true north. Disbanding SE and magnet schools altogether is an idea that has a lot of traction. Not likely to happen, but not a bad idea. Heck, I’ve even endorsed it a time or two.

  • 87. James  |  March 20, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    RL J and others —

    I didn’t take RL Julia to task, or badger her, or act piously towards her. And I certainly didn’t suggest there was anything wrong with where she has decided to send her kid to high school. Far from it. Her son got into Northside and so is fortunate enough to escape the neighborhood school and attend a great selective enrollment public high school. Good for him and good for her. What I did note, however, was the rich irony of RL Julia simultaneously sending her kid to a SE high school while lecturing everyone else about how we need to stop looking down on the neighborhood high schools, and stop calling them “unacceptable,” and just meet with the principal and learn that the school is good enough — not good enough for her child, mind you, but good enough for mine and for yours. And then she suggests that the door be closed behind her son and all SE high schools be shut down — and if we don’t like it, if we don’t want to send our kids to the neighborhood school (where her kids aren’t), then too bad. Again, kudos for her sending her bright kid to Northside. But to then lecture everyone else about how great the neighborhood high school is (the one she’s not sending her kid to) is just too much for me.

    As for my unacceptable neighborhood high school, I evaluated it in a number of ways. I visited the school when classes let out a couple times. I saw police cars there every time, and an ambulance was needed one day to get a kid who had been beat up to the ER. I went to an LSC meeting, which was essentially a joke: no one was motivated and there appeared to be more concern for ending the meeting as soon as possible as there was for improving the school. (The principal did not show.) There is no “Friends Of” organization, which was also telling. I talked to some current high school kids our family knows who go to different schools. None of them had anything good to say about the school. One said she knew a female student there who’d recently been attacked by other girls in the locker room, thrown outside the locker room naked, and had to walk around through the gym in the middle of the school day to get back to her clothes. I have no way of knowing if this story was true or exaggerated, but it sure didn’t fill me with a good feeling.

    I then looked at published report cards on the school. They were awful. Average ACT of less than 17, state tests well below state averages, a fraction (something like 20%) of kids meeting state standards, etc. I then checked out the IB program at the school. I liked the director of the program, but it was clear that the program was an afterthought within the school and was an isolated, under-resourced island of (at best) adequacy in a sea of unacceptable. There was no way I was going to send my kids there.

    I should say that I wish this weren’t so. I’d love for my neighborhood high school (it was Amundsen, by the way) to be acceptable. It is terrible that so many kids aren’t learning in that school. We, as a city and society, need to do something about it. But my kids aren’t going to be in the front line or guinea pigs for that effort. No way. And if RL Julia or CPS try to force that on me, I will leave CPS immediately. And, as I’ve said, I will not be alone.

    Finally, I will say that Lakeview may be a different story. There are a number of factors coming together — an engaged principal, active parents, already-turned-around feeder elementary schools, the new STEM program, a stable neighborhood — that may result in that school becoming a successful and acceptable neighborhood high school. I wish it the best. But that’s not my neighborhood school, and what is my neighborhood high school, is unacceptable.

  • 88. vb  |  March 20, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    @85 Beth. I agree that the best solution is removing barriers to academic achievement early. But I think you’re wrong if you think that social engineering is going to work based on “where-do-your-parents-live”.

    I’ll leave you with this thought that someone expressed about the “ovarian lottery” of the fortune of birth: “Your place in life is not randomly chosen for you, but passed down by the hard work of your parents and grandparents. It is the product of those who came before me, and it is my responsibility to pass this good lifestyle on to my children. I am not the product of a lottery – I am the product of my parent’s dedication and hard work.”

  • 89. RL Julia  |  March 20, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    For what it is worth, I never suggested that all the SEHS’s be immeadiately closed leaving everyone else high and dry while my family enjoyed the riches of Northside…. what I suggested is that the neighborhood high schools on the north side of Chicago could be made academically stronger schools and that the process would happen more quickly if the SEHS’s were closed and if every family with a high school aged kid went to their neighborhood school.

    I think I have made it overly clear that I do think my local high school is good enough for my children and I would send them there readily. I have another child younger than my son – so there is still hope! I guess I am o.k. with the idea that yes, my kids might be guinea pigs. After all, I did send them to my neighborhood elementary school (even though I know that the two (elementary school and high school) don’t compare in your eyes).

    I also agree with Mayfair dad in that while I doubt CPS is going to open any more SEHS’s, I really don’t see them getting rid of the SEHS system anytime soon either.

    As for everyone in the Admunsen catchement area- do you concur with James’s assessment? Betting on what James shared- it seems to me that Admunsen is probably like Lakeview 3-5 years ago (and a new principal and I don’t know what else, probably a bunch of stuff).

  • 90. 8th grade mom  |  March 20, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    I would like to believe that it would be possible to send my kids to a neighborhood high school, and that it might turn around. But I don’t see that being the case for Kelvyn Park. They have less than 10% of students meeting state standards. If there are 50 or so kids from the neighborhood who go to SEHSs, and they all went there, it might go up to 12%. If there are 250 neighborhood kids in SEHS, charter, and catholic schools all added in (who would all meet state standards) it might bring it up to a whopping 20%.

    There were two gang fights there last fall big enough to make the news (one sent someone to the hospital, the other resulted in felony charges.)

    As much as I’d really like to believe in neighborhood schools, I can’t let my kids be the guinea pigs in that environment.

  • 91. Working mommy of 2  |  March 20, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    I was outside Amundsen when school let out once (about 3 years ago), and had a similar reaction to the numerous police cars idling outside. Not the best first impression.

    My boys are just 4 and 2, so I haven’t looked seriously into Amundsen, which is our neighborhood H.S., yet, beyond that chance encounter and checking into the test scores (not good.)

    The school’s campus is really nice but it looks like what goes on indoors could be improved. I hope it’ll be worth considering in 10 years when my first son is a high schooler. I hope parents (myself included) could step in and make it another Lakeview situation.

    I was disappointed that the new ward map will take Amundsen out of the 47th ward. I appreciate the way Pawar has been putting the TIF money into the schools.

  • 92. You nailed it!  |  March 20, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    @88:vb: “Your place in life is not randomly chosen for you, but passed down by the hard work of your parents and grandparents. It is the product of those who came before me, and it is my responsibility to pass this good lifestyle on to my children. I am not the product of a lottery – I am the product of my parent’s dedication and hard work.”

    Your quote is dead-on. It’s why so many of us parents work so hard to give our kids the best shot–it’s for posterity. We don’t want to have to play the lottery with every succeeding generation!

  • 93. mom2  |  March 20, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    James, thank you for sharing your thoughts on Amundsen. Do you happen to know what percent of kids currently at Amundsen are considered neighborhood kids? This is really what I am trying to determine…if some of the local neighborhood high schools were really filled with 80-90% neighborhood students, would parents feel differently about the school or not? I have absolutely no idea how many of these troubled kids with poor performance and other issues are really “from the neighborhood.”
    And thank you for the hopeful comments about Lakeview. With a principal willing and eager to get local parents involved, willing to even come onto this forum and comment, and with new programs such as STEM, it just might work!

  • 94. James  |  March 20, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    @ 93 mom2 —

    No, I don’t know what percentage is of students from outside the area at Amundsen. Good question. Frankly, with everything else we saw, it was clear that the school was unacceptable, so we didn’t inquire further into issues like that. I’ll also note that the school is far from diverse. It is more than 66% Hispanic. Shoot, even Northside is more diverse than that. Just one more problem with it in my eyes.

    And I really don’t want to prolong this any further with RL Julia since I think your heart is in the right place (and hopefully you think that about me too). But when you say things like “I guess I am o.k. with the idea that yes, my kids might be guinea pigs,” I simply have to laugh. You’re not OK with it or your son would be heading to your neighborhood high school and not to Northside. I, of course, think that choice is perfectly fine. Why do you insist on claiming that you’re doing your bit, or willing to do your bit, for the downtrodden neighborhood high schools when you plainly are not? I do not get it.

  • 95. EdgewaterMom  |  March 20, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    @James I disagree that you cannot be willing to work to help improve your neighborhood school and still send your child to a SEHS. We are currently working with our neighborhood school and I think that turning things around will be a huge positive for our neighborhood – regardless of where my daughter ends up going to school.

    Would I be willing to send my daughter to the neighborhood school in a few years if things look like they are improving? Quite likely. Will I send my daughter to a SEHS if it seems like a good fit and she qualifies? Also quite likely. We have to work with the system that we have. I think that we all agree that we have to work with our local schools. However, that does not mean that we have to rule out SEHS as an option for our children. It just can’t be the ONLY option.

  • 96. Chicago Gawker  |  March 20, 2012 at 10:31 pm

    Hey, a couple of north side HSs still have 0 candidates running for the 2 community rep positions on the LSC.

    shows all the schools and how many candidates have filed for their LSC openings. Schurz and Senn have 0 community candidates. Even sadder, Senn has 1 parent candidate for multiple parent seats on the LSC.

    OK, I’m going over to Senn tomorrow to file as a community candidate, gulp.

  • 97. Chicago Gawker  |  March 20, 2012 at 11:05 pm

    P.S. You have until Friday to stroll into your neighborhood HS and nominate yourself for a community seat on the LSC. One meeting a month for 2 years, not so bad.

  • 98. PortageParent  |  March 20, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    96- Chicago Gawker- thanks for the heads up on 0 community candidates. I had just been wondering about Shurz. I think I’ll step up and run, too.

  • 99. cpsmomx5  |  March 21, 2012 at 10:05 am

    I love to see how many of the recent posts are announcements for LSC candidacy! No sarcasm here. It is easy to type-up some complaints about CPS’ failures and the inadequate conditions of our neighborhood schools, but rolling-up our sleeves to do something about it is quite another task.

    I have been impressed by the depth of the insight and thoughtfulness of most of the posters above (although I don’t agree with much of what I’ve read), and I believe that any neighborhood school would benefit from having your input as an LSC member.

    Hey, it’s easier that sending your kid there as “the guinea pig,” right?

    And so we can all agree with the poetic, “Your place in life is not randomly chosen for you, but passed down by the hard work of your parents and grandparents…and it is my responsibility to pass this good lifestyle on to my children.” Our duty to pass on a good lifestyle, however, should not be exclusively for the benefit of our own children. Other children need us as well.

    You all have until Friday, go nominate yourselves!!

  • 100. HS Mom  |  March 21, 2012 at 11:32 am

    RLJ and Mom2

    The schools that seem to be making traction are located in better neighborhoods. Lincoln Park, Lakeview, Taft. Lincoln Park only seemed to become “in demand” once Cabrini was gone and they still managed to have a major incident involving teens from the projects. Having gone to a large “middle of the road” suburban school myself, these schools are not far different so I could consider them as options. Once you get to our neighborhood school, Roosevelt, you have a different scenario. It services Albany Park and you really can’t ignore or tolerate the gang aspect. The horrific details about Amundsen are, with a lot of work, curable – student behavior, parental involvement, school pride as long as there is no gang activity.

    We love our SE school. If this format/environment could be largely duplicated, I would prefer to stay with the neighborhood. What makes that environment? Aside from classes and curriculum it’s the teachers and the students. Teen issues (behavior, attitude, smoking, acting out) yes – we have them. There are consequences that matter. But, there is a sense of comradery and fellowship striving to get through the rigors of an intensive education. The kids are way too busy with their studies to get into some of the serious trouble that comes with hanging out and being bored. They of course have activities, plays, sports and they get together after school and have fun too. The teachers are very dedicated to both the kids and the school. They show up early, stay late, make themselves available as much as they reasonably can which is all you can expect and hope for. The teachers have pride in their work and it shows.

    One other thing to mention. People seem to think that SE high schools get more funding and “extras”. I’m not sure if they do or not but we do have older books and make do with the basics. These teachers don’t need a lot of frills to make class interesting. I have not seen chemistry labs with fancy test tubes and gadgets. We pay for graphing calculators. We need to supply our kids with notebooks, paper and pencils. Any excess or left overs are donated and made available to anyone that needs it. We have fund-raised for language lab computers that replaced antiques, microscopes and an internet accessible hand held calculator for some science classes. We are not a “rich” school. Our budget goes towards keeping our great teachers. We are very lean on admin and rely on parent volunteers. Most parents are “working class” and need to work so parents do what they can. Those that can do more, do so. I can’t imagine that we are much different than a neighborhood population.

    Sorry this is so long but I thought it might be helpful for those looking to get involved with the neighborhood school.

    Chg Gawker – Looked up Roosevelt on your link looks like there is plenty of community interest but they are in need of parents. Thanks for that info.

  • 101. RL Julia  |  March 21, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    Roosevelt LSC meeting tonight.
    Called Schurz – they actually have two people on the ballot for community already.

    I have thought a lot about why all schools couldn’t be like SEHS and while I don’t like the answer – I think it boils down to that not all kids are academically focused. My son once pointed out the that the biggest difference between the kids he went to the neighborhood elementary with and the kids he goes to school with at Taft AC was that the kids at Taft did their homework. It wasn’t that they were necessarily any smarter – at least in his opinion.

    I am curious about Roosevelt – I met some fantastic teachers from there a few months ago and they were very optimistic about the re-vamp into several smaller schools that is new this year. As for the gang stuff- Roosevelt is located in the middle of an active gang turf so there is no denying that there are most likely kids in the school who are affiliated one way or another. The real trick is can the administration keep the gang stuff out of the school.

    While I don’t see Schurz and Roosevelt as being the easiest high schools to target for a turn around, they are the schools that most of my son’s classmates from my neighborhood’s school are going to end up at. I’ve known most of these kids since Kindergarten and while all but two were eligible to take the SEHS exam (and did) only two kids got in. Hence my motivation (in case you were wondering James 😉 ).

  • 102. RL Julia  |  March 21, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    In case you are wondering if your local school need LSC candidates: . Apparently, its updated daily.

  • 103. another CPS mom  |  March 21, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    Could LSC elections to improve schools be a new post?

  • 104. ChicagoGawker  |  March 22, 2012 at 9:59 am

    RL Julia, Yeah, the map is not being updated apparently. I went to Senn yesterday and read the candidate statements of 2 fabulous sounding, well connected candidates. Decided not to compete with them.

    However, I went to the school at around 2:15 pm and saw admin. people and faculty, but very few students around. I don’t know the hours of this school, but why is a HS quiet at 2pm? I expected it to be buzzing with activity, but it was almost like a ghost town. Do the neighborhood HSs empty out after the official attendance hours? Is this typical?

  • 105. RL Julia  |  March 22, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    @104 – I can’t say I know why Senn was so quiet at 2:15 on a Wednesday. I can only hope it was for something good. Did you find anything about Senn’s art focu? They seem like they are gung ho arts and IB – don’t know what they are doing with vocational stuff these days but about a decade ago they had one of the best metal shop/tool/diemaker type programs in Illinois. I think has been dismanteld though….

    So the lastest news from Schurz which I am posting here because I don’t know where else to is that they are petitioning the central office to build upon their already strong music/band program for a fine arts magnet program. I think this is pretty cool although my enthusiasm is dampened for finding out that Senn is petitioning for exactly the same – and seems farther along in the process as far as I can tell. On the other hand, the arts are a nice compliment to a strong academic program and even just the north side of the city is geographically large enough to sustain many arts programs. Additionally, its a nice “feeder” element from my neighborhood school’s arts magnet program. I personally would concentrate on building up/showcasing the academics first but…. that’s just me – and I wasn’t there so….

    All that aside, a neighbor who is in the arts herself (and is by her own admission a harsh critic of student performances) went to an arts event at Schurz yesterday and had this to say about the experience:

    “Today I had the privilege of attending a fabulous performance at Schurz High School. This event was put on by the Performing Arts arm of the school. It consisted of a band concert, drama presentation and a few choral pieces. There is movement from this school to try to make it a Performing Arts School and they want community support. I was duly impressed – with the talent of the kids, with the commitment of the teachers. Schurz is actively working with the CPD to change the focus of the school. “

  • 106. EdgewaterMom  |  March 23, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    Rahm just announced that CPS will create 5 IB high schools (1 per region) and 5 new IB programs within neighborhood schools (1 per region). I think that this is fabulous news – more options for high school!

  • 107. cpsobsessed  |  March 23, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    Whoa – where did you hear the IB info? Now more kids in the city can do 3 hours of homework a night. 🙂

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 108. EdgewaterMom  |  March 23, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    Here is the link to the video

  • 109. HSObsessed  |  March 23, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    Ha, I was watching the video and posted a little summary on the “Do It Yourself” thread. Huge news. Great news.

  • 110. HS Mom  |  March 23, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    This is great news! They say by 2013 – more applications??

    One thing Rahm has done more so than any other mayor has been to recognize accomplishments in education.

  • 111. trade fin  |  March 25, 2012 at 9:18 pm

    Tier 4 and 3 people just rent an apartment for a year in tier 1

  • 112. Bernadette Byrnes  |  March 26, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    Are the Tier locations changing in April??

  • 113. Concerned Dad  |  September 11, 2012 at 9:58 am

    Upon moving to Chicago I knew that we’d run into some type of Big Brother “let’s level the playing field” program, but have to admit the Tier System is pretty ingenious, now that race-based discrimination in Grad School and I believe Undergrad college admissions is now illegal.

    That said, my question is this: Has anyone challenged the legality of this Tiered System yet?

  • 114. Gone through  |  November 29, 2015 at 3:29 pm

    I have two kids in selective admission programs one in high school and one in elementary. My older one also went to a selective enrollment elementary and had gone to an academic center. As for one who had gone through all and had been pretty upset about our humble neighborhood included in tier 4 I do see some problems with the current system. When my older child started elementary school it was 40% white and 60% non white. Kids usually came from nice and pleasant families to work with but the economic and social cultural backgrounds of kids were all diverse. After they banned using race as criteria (although i agree with the idea) the selective enrollment schools became much less diverse. It is about 75% white two parent families and the rest mostly asian background. My younger child’s gifted classroom does not have one single African American. I am sure some kids come from tier 1 but most families i meet live in more affluent areas of the city. I have heard about families who own rental units in not as great part of the city using that address to apply for selective enrollment programs. Also even though we don’t really consider ourselves wealthy if our kids did not get into those programs we would have either sent them to private schools or moved out to suburbs. (Our neighborhood school has pretty bad reputation) In other words we are rather fortunate to have choice. I feel a little but hypocrite saying this since honestly I didn’t really feel this way while my kids were taking the tests. But as a principle our public school system should help those children with less privilege to have choice.

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