Tier Changes and Q&A with OAE

November 23, 2012 at 8:17 pm 137 comments

Okay, I know I’m coming in late with a post about the change in tiers.  I got to sit in a call with Katie Ellis from OAE last week to talk about the Tier Changes.  As usual, she is very forthcoming with information.  Some of the questions that came up (I was late to the call) which were sort-of Tier related included:

Why doesn’t CPS guarantee anyone with 90% up on the gifted test a spot in a program like NYC does?

Katie: We simply don’t have the resources.
Me: (Jumping in like a loudmouth) 90% isn’t gifted.  98% is.  Should all bright kids be given a special school to attend?! (okay, I wasn’t that rude, but I did mention that 90% is “bright” and not “gifted.”  I didn’t get around to mentioning that most 90%+ kids could probably have a spot in a gifted program if they were actually open to every school.)

If a family is white and live in Lincoln Park, should they even bother testing for a classical school?

Katie: (I need to point out she is always so diplomatic!)  Yes, you should definitely test!  Kids from all Tiers have a chance to get into the programs and race is not a factor in selection.
Me: (butting in again) 30% of the spots are given out on rank, so for a kid who scores well there are plenty of chances.

Can kids apply to Academic Centers in 8th grade?
Katie: Yes, via the regular application
Me: Thank you (this was my question so I didn’t butt in.)

How about getting into high school after freshman entry year?
Katie: High school transfers can be taken.  Applications are accepted in the spring.  Different schools have different philosophies on whether they’ll take kids and what their criteria is.  Contact the schools directly.

What was done differently in the application process this year?
Katie: Kids were informed of which schools they are eligible for and what data, if any, is missing so they can provide that to apply to certain schools.

Was this done for kids in 7th and 8th grade?
Katie: No, we don’t like to “poach” from existing schools (ie, steal kids from one program for another.)  Also there are very few seats, so the schools promote themselves.
Me:  (I didn’t say this during the call, but this anti-poaching is sort of a beef of mine.  If a kid is really smart and their parent doesn’t know about the whole gifted-testing thing, I wish someone would clue them in….)

How many tracts changed in Tier ranking this year?
Katie: 97 went up 1 tier.  88 went down 1 tier.  2 went up 2 Tiers.

Are Tiers here to stay?
Katie: We’re keeping our eyes on what other cities are doing as well as a few court cases to make sure we’re in compliance.  We don’t want to get challenged in court for any reason so we will continue to examine our policy.  There is currently no impetus to change.  We are currently maintaining socio economic diversity without using race.  We’ll continue to monitor what goes on outside Chicago though.

This is the document I saw that shows the Tier changes.


Here is the Sun Times’ article on it.  It says that Logan Square is the neighborhood that went up in tier ranking the most and the Sun Times and Trib both have articles about people complaining about it (2 Tiers… that is pretty harsh and residents complain that their schools there are 95% low income.)


Julia made a cool spreadsheet that shows the change in minimum cutoffs for the SE High Schools over the past 2 years.  For Tier 3 and 4 Lane (previously a “back-up” school for many Tier 3-4ish kids) and Lindblom had very big increases in score minimums.  Other schools ranged from +7 to +23 point rise over 2 years.   Perhaps not as big as expected?


So I guess we wait to see whether the SEHS cutoff scores go up any more this year…..

CPS’ Tier Calc info is here:


Entry filed under: Tiers. Tags: , , , .

CPS committee to help with community input on school closings Testing Culture Forum (and my experience with a test this week)

137 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Max Weinberg  |  November 23, 2012 at 11:11 pm

    Why do you say that 98% is gifted versus bright. Do you actually think that those tests are a legitimate, accurate reflection of a FOUR YEAR OLD’s intelligence and/or capacity?


  • 2. Y  |  November 23, 2012 at 11:55 pm

    Julia’s spreadsheet is very cool. If available, wish she had put in the high end of each tier score or the low end of merit. Surprisingly, King appears to be getting little traction. The low end is pretty low with Tier 4 lower than Tiers 2 and 3 and almost equal to Tier 1. Weird.

  • 3. HSObsessed  |  November 24, 2012 at 9:38 am

    It’s funny that none of the journalists are really emphasizing the fact that if the tier has been elevated for x kids, it’s been downgraded for another x elsewhere. Where is the article quoting the kids who will now be allowed in with slightly lower grades and scores than they would have been last year? The fact that more census tracts went up than went down doesn’t mean that more applicants now face a tougher time; it just means that the higher socioeconomic tiers contain fewer grade school aged children.

    Thanks for the spreadsheet, Julia. Interesting to see it laid out that way.

  • 4. cpsobsessed  |  November 24, 2012 at 10:26 am

    That is SO true HSO! I think both the Trib and SunTimes did basically the same article about the sad families in those tracts that went up 2 Tiers. I was also curious about which neighborhoods are “getting worse.” On the north side we’ve seen gentrification spread over the past 20 years…. are there neighborhoods that are going the opposite direction? What’s causing it? Or is it just a general ever-shifting that goes on in the city?

  • 5. chicagodad  |  November 24, 2012 at 10:31 am

    Good work, CPS Obsessed.

    Next time, though, you may want to ask why the factors are equally weighted, or why any non-income factors are used at all.

    While it’s somewhat interesting to ask if Lincoln Park parents should even bother to apply to selective enrollment schools, it’s more critical to ask if parents from Dunning (far northwest side), Garfield Ridge (west of Midway Airport) and Clearing (west of Midway Airport) should bother to apply. These are Tier 4 neighborhoods with very modest incomes and would rate a Tier 3 or even Tier 2 if income were the ONLY factor used. The “experts” at CPS have decided to punish these neighborhoods (and others like them) for owning and living in small bungalows, for having 2 parent households and for supporting education and their neighborhood schools.

    Fair? I think not!

  • 6. cpsobsessed  |  November 24, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    @ChicagoDad : just FYI, that wasn’t my questions, but came from a reader of one of the blogs of another person in the meeting. To your point, it clearly is someone who doesn’t really understand the Tier system fully, as based on your point, it is probably the households at the bottom of each tier who are most at a disadvantage.

    I had to remind myself of the 6 factors:

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

    I think we can guess the answer to the question about why it’s more than just income, in that many factors besides income alone predict test-taking success. I would agree that they probably don’t all have equal (1/6) input — but it would be difficult to prove the relative importance of each.

    Not that I think the Tier system is perfect, but couldn’t one argue that kids living in stable neighborhoods where English-speaking families own houses and value education are at a distinct advantage to kids many other kids in the city, even if the actual incomes are not super high? I’m not familiar with those neighborhoods — are the parents college educated? Do the kids seem to have disadvantages compared to Lincoln Park kids? Or if you know any tract numbers, I’d be curious to take a look at the 6 input factors. I just feel like income alone is so hard to use because different professions pay so differently and they use household income, so a well educated family who has decided to let a parent stay at home with the kids for a few years LOOKS lower income but is still probably Tier-3-4 worthy.

    I think what your saying reflects what some probably feel is the desire to have a Tier 5 – the richer people in the city who can afford things like test prep for ISATs AND the SE test (had someone tell me they were doing this when I was at my class reunion recently… it was just a given fact that of course! they’d pay for both of these.) It’s hard not to feel there is an extra advantage there….

    Sidenote: as I was writing this 2 Jehovah’s Witness guys came to my door and handed me a pamphlet about being a single parent (so somebody must feel it’s a disadvantage) 🙂

  • 7. chicagodad  |  November 24, 2012 at 12:56 pm


    Although there are many differences, the biggest difference between the neighborhoods I cited and the Lincoln Park/Lakeview/NorthCenter neighborhoods is that the incomes are so low that private school is not an alternative.

    I invite anyone who reads this to drive to 61st and Melvina on the southwest side, or 3800 North Pacific on the far northwest side, and visit the elementary schools there, to see who the real losers are in the Tier system.

  • 8. CPS Parent  |  November 24, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    I haven’t thought this through completely yet but aren’t a large pool of the Tier 1 kids in the 30% admission-by-grades-and-testing only pool? In other words Tier one kids are the majority in two subsets. I’m assuming that my own kid got in via the 30% pool and not via our Tier 1 address since his score was 900. I’m assuming all the 900’s (32 out of 260) regardless of Tier were in the 30% pool.

  • 9. Cake for all!!  |  November 24, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    I’m confused chicagodad. Who are the real losers? Why are they losers? Will their lives be awful?

  • 10. Cake for all!!  |  November 24, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    Janet • 8 months ago −
    I am really tired of hearing people from Lakeview complain about the tier system. There is not a thing wrong with Lakeview High School except that they don’t think it’s elite enough to send their children too. My home high school is Orr. If I had Lakeview to send my student with nearly perfect scores, I would be happy. You would think a neighborhood full of Wholefood shopping, local and organic buying super hipsters would be happy to take credit for “turning around” the perfectly good high school they already have. Unbelievable. Many northside highschools offer a challenging, engaging education. Go to the school. Step foot inside. Then maybe you’ll realize there isn’t anything to be afraid of.
    2 •Reply•Share › wbez.

  • 11. RL Julia  |  November 24, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    Thanks for the compliments. I’ll see about doing one for the highest score numbers. I think that would be interesting to see too!

  • 12. CPS Parent  |  November 24, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    Made a mistake at #8 – meant “Tier 4”

    I haven’t thought this through completely yet but aren’t a large pool of the Tier 4 kids in the 30% admission-by-grades-and-testing only pool? In other words Tier one kids are the majority in two subsets. I’m assuming that my own kid got in via the 30% pool and not via our Tier 1 address since his score was 900. I’m assuming all the 900′s (32 out of 260) regardless of Tier were in the 30% poo

  • 13. cpsobsessed  |  November 24, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    The WBEZ article last year showed that Tier 4 kids did get a greater share of the rank spots than 25percent of them, but if I recall it wasn’t a huge portion as I had expected it would be.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 14. RL Julia  |  November 24, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    @12 – I’d love to get THAT breakdown myself- I do wonder if especially for the north schools if the merit pool is mostly tier 3 and 4 kids.

  • 15. cpsobsessed  |  November 24, 2012 at 4:21 pm


    Here is the post from last year.
    The breakout of kids applying to a SEHS:
    Tier 4 23%
    Tier 3 29%
    Tier 2 25%
    Tier 1 23%

    Kids admitted to a SEHS:
    Tier 4 35%
    Tier 3: 26%
    Tier 2: 20%
    Tier 20%

    If indexed on admission vs share of students:
    Tier 4: 152
    Tier 3 90
    Tier 2: 80
    Tier 1: 87

    So… what do we make of that? It’s worse to be in Tier 2 since they have the lowest rate of acceptance?

  • 16. RationalRationing  |  November 24, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    Please note that the tier change spreadsheet referenced above and the SunTimes article still refer to the (utterly implausible) demotion of two tracts in Lincoln Park from tier 4 to tier 3. They are definitely tier 4 and were quietly corrected, on the same day that a few of us on this board were asking questions about them (deeper questions, apparently, than the Sun-Time reporters asked.) Furthermore, the fact that they were “accidentally” determined to be tier 3 is suspect, if not downright evidence of corruption.

    In “explaining” the mistake the CPS site states “Since this revised information was posted, the tiers have changed for three of the 799 census tracts: 0712, 0715, and 2828. This is due to an update in school performance data.”

    Really? The interesting thing about that explanation is this: EVEN if Tract 712 (I like to pick on that one) had a “non-updated” school performance value of 10% (instead of the “corrected” 99%), its 6-factor economic score would be .6580 – still in Tier 4 territory.

    I hate to play the Javert character in pursuing the cause of the mis-allocated tiers through the sewers, but the error highlights the need to keep the data in the daylight.

  • 17. Y  |  November 24, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    Has anyone questioned or researched the history of tract 17031063301 (Diversey/Broadway/Wellington/PineGrove) in Lake View? It’s on the southern boundary of Lake View/Lincoln Park and went from Tier 4 to 3 this year. Is it really possible to be 1/2 to 1/3 the annual income of the adjacent tracts in a fairly consistent area? I know there’s one large building with some Section 8 housing and one senior CHA property in 63301 but the disparity between it and the adjacent tracts seems very high.

  • 18. HS Mom  |  November 24, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    Agree chicagodad. We have the same senario. Lakeview is not our high school either. Now tier 4, there is little chance of the neighborhood kids getting into Lane and we live very close.

    Rational – thanks for that well defined summary. Many questions still out there. I would like to know how the changes were determined -up or down to make these determinations. Yes, I’m glad there’s a trade-off and some kids will benefit from the reclass of neighborhoods but the system is “by the numbers” and should be determined as such. Again, why is it that tract 8383 tier 1 with obviously outdated data remains unchanged while other areas are scrutinized?

  • 19. CPS Parent  |  November 24, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    13. cpsobsessed – Where the kids live, who are in the 30% which are admitted by grades/testing only (not by Tier), is not made public, I think. My suspicion is that many, if not most, are in Tier 4 for Payton, Jones, NS.

  • 20. RL Julia  |  November 24, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    at some point, the sample/class sizes at most of the SEHS’s are small enough that CPS couldn’t really release the individual school’s merit score information since it would become relatively easy to figure identity. That being said, it is at some very obsessively level tempting to go through the student phone books for the schools and geocode the addresses that way…. and see where the tiers fall (and see if the percentages have changed – which would satisfy the urban legend of people in tier 4 using tier 1 addresses etc…).

  • 21. cpsobsessed  |  November 24, 2012 at 7:28 pm

    @19: The link I posted has the Tier info by school (but not for the rank kids.) The highest is Northside with 41% from Tier 4. (skewed a bit because it has the highest % of Tier 4 applicants.) The more central schools are 39% Tier 4. If we assume that 17% of spots are allocated to Tier 4 kids, that means that 22% of the school is Tier 4 in the rank spots — so that is 73% of rank spots going to Tier 4.

  • 22. cpsobsessed  |  November 24, 2012 at 9:44 pm

    RL Julia has made another sheet with the max scores and changes over 2 years for the SEHS. It’s interesting that the max scores do not vary much across tiers within each school. kids from every tier are doing equally well on the high end.

    Northside and Payton unchanged (max scores for all tiers are super high)

    W Young – up about 15 points for all tiers over 2 years

    Westinghouse – up 24-31 point for all tiers over 2 years

    Lane – up 32-37 for all tiers over 2 years

    Jones – up 22-24 for all tiers over 2 years

    Brooks – up 15 for tiers 2-4, down for tier 1

    King – flat/down a little for all tiers.

  • 23. marcsims  |  November 25, 2012 at 9:39 am

    Can low income African American parents transform their neighborhood school like the parents of Nettlehorst school? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=59pbjTY08ac


  • 24. cpsobsessed  |  November 25, 2012 at 11:20 am

    @23: As Jaclyn says in that video “You need parents and a principal who wants it.” She undersells what they did in that statement. NO school has ever been able to replicate what Nettlehorst did in terms of outside donations to the school. They had some unique personalities, connections, and perseverance. I think striving for change like some of the other neighborhood schools did is doable IF there are a couple unstoppable strong, inspiring, resourceful leaders who can forge a relationship with the school admin.

  • 25. NoName  |  November 25, 2012 at 11:24 am

    OK, I shouldn’t complain, but I’m mystified by the new Tiers as it affects my family.

    We live in LP (the same block as Roger Ebert). There are 2 homes for sale on our block –one for $2.25m the other for $1.75m, which is about average for the area, post Real-Estate Crash. I’m not pontificating here, just pointing out facts. The neighborhood school is high-achieving Lincoln.

    Now, we’re Tier 3 instead of Tier 4. It’s cool for us (although I think it’ll change again by the time my kids apply to HS, but point-wise it helps for now w/ SE elementaries), but WTH? I guess it has to do with so many people renting in the neighborhood.

  • 26. anonymouse teacher  |  November 25, 2012 at 11:34 am

    @24, I also think Nettelhorst families encountered a tremendous amount of good luck. Yes, they worked their rears off no doubt about it. But other people have done the same only to encounter all kinds of road blocks that either hindered their efforts or stopped them completely. Luck can’t be discounted. And, like you said, the admin has to be completely on board. Without that, it doesn’t matter what parents do.

  • 27. cpsobsessed  |  November 25, 2012 at 11:37 am

    @NoName, wow, that is mind boggling. YOu do raise a good point about the % of renter factor being skewed right now — instead of indicating lower socio-ec, it is indicating areas with a glut of condos that are underwater (and the renters are probably paying a decent penny for them.)

  • 28. klm  |  November 25, 2012 at 12:10 pm


    Yes, you’re right about luck (the right place at the right time –more people staying in the city, even when the kids get older, etc.). However, the most glaringly obvious point is that Nettelhorst was/is smack dab in the middle of a vibrant, comparatively upscale neighborhood with lots of educated middle-class (even lots of upper-middle-class), professional-types longing for a decent elementary school like people in the Lincoln, Bell, Blaine, et al., school districts had/have. These kinds of people have the hard and soft skills that come with higher education and professional experience to get things dome. The kids from East Lakeview will normally have gone to good preschools and have parents that have taught them the alphabet, phonics, numbers, etc. These kinds of skills and projects cannot be easily replicated in a less educated, struggling neighborhood, no matter how much some parents may try.

    East Lakeview is a universe away from Lawndale in terms of socioeconomics. No matter how much some parents may try to change a neighborhood elementary school, there will still be so many kids (especially given the usually transient nature of low-income neighborhoods) that are struggling academically and domestically that it’s hard to imagine things working out in the same way. Not that I’m saying people shouldn’t try, it’s just that I don’t see it happening in the same way.

    So much of the “transformation” of Nettelhorst had to do with making it less frightening to the local middle-class population who viewed the low-income, bused-in kids as rough, thuggish and creepy to their middle-class sensibilities (no judgment –I’d have the same concerns, to be honest). Now that it’s more “middle-class” feeling, people are happy to send their kids there and naturally test scores have climbed.

  • 29. cpsobsessed  |  November 25, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    I agree with you KLM about right place, right time. when you add that “etc” to Lincoln, Bell, Blaine… I don’t really think there WAS an etc at that point. Maybe Edgebrook? Blaine was even on the verge back then I think. The timing was ripe for parents to transform a neighborhood school.

    I think one of the key questions is what it means to transform a school like Nettelhorst did. The initial changes were mainly to the school environment – making a school look fantastic and marketing the hell out of it so the upper income parents would find it acceptable. It took a while for the test scores to follow. So the question is – in what way does a low income Af-Am school want to transform themselves? The answer on how to transform the school stems from that.

    I was on the Nettelhorst tour once and I asked “HOW did you get all these companies to donate stuff to this school?” The answer was something like “A woman never reveals her secrets.” which conjured up images of Forrest Gump’s mother to me. But seriously, I once heard Jaclyn say that she approached every person she met with the thought of “what can you do for this school?” You really need someone with the motivation, networking, and collaboration skills to make that kind of impact. At my neighborhood school we had one unstoppable leader, and several significant key players to keep it moving along.

  • 30. chicagodad  |  November 25, 2012 at 1:46 pm


    your story is exactly why there should be NO non-income factors for the tiers, or if CPS insists on keeping them, have them weighted much less than income.

    To date CPS has still not produced any objective explanation (though I’m sure there are subjective ones) as to why these non-income factors are included, or why they have the same weight as income.

    For the owner occuoied housing factor, my guess is that the developers of the model believe (subjectively) that owners are generally rich and renters are generally poor. This is wrong for 2 reasons—it’s double counting (statistically, this effect would have already been captured by income) and just flat-out incorrect, as evidenced by the vast swaths of very modest bungalows throughout the city (i.e., the neighborhoods on the northwest and southwest sides where the names of streets begin with M, N, O, P—generally from Pulaski westward, populated by immigrants and the lower middle class).

  • 31. HSObsessed  |  November 25, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    @25. just FYI that you’re back in Tier 4 again already. CPS changed three census tracts, allegedly based on updated school performance data.


  • 32. HS Mom  |  November 25, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    @10 Interesting point about HS and tier 4 relationship. Eyeballing the tier map and the HS boundaries, there are quite a few tier 4 families whose schools test well below 17

    Tilden 13.5
    Crane 13.8
    Fenger 14.1
    Phillips 14.1
    Sullivan 15.1
    Roosevelt 15.4
    Schurz 15.6
    Bogan 15.8
    Steinmetz 16.5

    These schools are on the North and South sides. How would you propose that T4 families “step inside” and make a go of it? Possible, maybe, and I’m sure there’s some bright kids making it. Not a viable college prep venue.

  • 33. RL Julia  |  November 25, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    @32 – You have to remember that these are average scores – so say for a school like Schurz, I’d imagine the story is something like this – now thanks to CPS changes, EVERYONE takes the ACT (whether they are college bound or interested or prepared or not). So you have 80 kids taking AP classes and etc… and who score decently on the ACT and are moderately to well prepared for college work and you have another 100 kids who are prepared for community college and/or in a vocational program of some sort who probably score average and then you have the remainder taking the ACT and doing horribly. In theory – the average is usually somewhere in the middle of the curve – right?

    I’d argue that is it a viable (although probably not the most attractive) college prep venue for the student who is motivated, who has their eye on the prize and is fairly mature about school (or has parents pushing behind them). College is not going to be a given at Schurz the way it is going to be at a Northside or Lane where EVERYONE is going to college but it is not hopeless. As I have mentioned countless times before, I went to a high school very much like Schurz. Sure most of my graduating class DIDN’T go to college – but I did – and I was reasonably well prepared for the experience. When looking at a Schurz type school – the averages mean very little because your kid probably isn’t going to be average in that school – they will be above average.

    R.e. The Nettlehorst model – you want to improve your CPS neighborhood school – develop a good plan on what where you want to go with the school and then go out and raise roughly 100-200K a year extra for five to seven to forever years and then – plus the right people with unlimited energy and the right connections and a somewhat stable neighborhood that pledges not to destroy what you are bringing to the school with any luck you’ll have a success. Sorry to sound so cynical and don’t get me wrong, I think Nettlehorst is a great, shining example and all but those people had the right skills and the right connections to money and power – and were able to leverage them – and the money they got was flexible -so they could spend it on whatever was needed at the moment. Very few other Chicago neighborhoods have those sort of connections.

  • 34. LR  |  November 25, 2012 at 11:03 pm

    I’m so glad my son wasn’t born a year later. We were Tier 3 last year and now are Tier 4.

  • 35. NoName  |  November 26, 2012 at 9:26 am


    Thanks. I figured it was too good to last.

  • 36. HS Mom  |  November 26, 2012 at 10:32 am

    RLJ – yes, I do see your point. These schools do offer something for kids wanting to go on to college. I also agree that a kid would need to be extremely disciplined and self motivated in this environment.

    To the point that T4 people should be content with their neighborhood fall back, I still see issue. It’s about giving your kid the best possible positioning for the future and you only get one (maybe two) chances at it. The Reader article about the girl getting straight A’s and a 19 Act at the neighborhood school did little to promote confidence in such a program.

    Fortunately, there seems to be multiple programs/options now available. It’s very concerning once families are stripped of their options – Tier 4 SE questionable, can’t afford private, neighborhood school with limited success, dependent on a lottery or out of area application.

    Like I said, the point was interesting. Maybe those with suitable neighborhood options like Lincoln, Lakeview, Taft, Morgan Park etc should by default be tier 4 and others gradated accordingly to create an equal number of students per tier.

  • 37. RL Julia  |  November 26, 2012 at 11:11 am

    I am not saying that T4 or any other tier for that matter be content with their neighborhood fall back if they feel it is inadequate. However, the neighborhood school is the only place where they have to take you and because of that, you have a lot more voice and ability to change the school/make sure your kid gets the education that they need than a test into school.

    That being said, it is a daunting job…. it is much easier to just try and get said child into an established program – in which case I highly recommend Von Steuben or one of the IB programs.

    While I understand your idea about “suitable neighborhood options”, it’s all about where your personal threshold lays – many people in the neighborhoods you mentioned no doubt consider the local high schools also to be unacceptable choices for whatever reason.

  • 38. HS Mom  |  November 26, 2012 at 11:34 am

    @37 – agreed and my comments were geared toward #9, 10 – life is not “awful” at the neighborhood school and they do perform some educational function but don’t necessarily fulfill ambitions and goals that many have either.

  • 39. Bookworm  |  November 26, 2012 at 11:56 am

    Part of the “Nettlehorst model” is ending all busing to a neighborhood school from other communities into a now gentrified neighborhood.
    Neighborhood schools shunned by middle class families often still serve families attending that are poorer but were displaced to other neighborhoods from their original residences in Lakeview. This might be difficult to pull off in a school in a neighborhood that is actually poor not only because they actually live there but because….. that’s what the charter does for you.

    My favorite part of the Nettlehorst book is this cheerful lack of awareness on the part of the parent author ‘s commentary on first shutting off the busing as big a plus to begin your campaign.

    That and the small paragraph where she happily relates that parents looking in the windows of the classrooms and observing the teachers thought the next step to creating the right school for their children would next be getting rid of the SPED students. Shen notes that sadly the principal then explained that SPED students had a legal right to continue to attend. It seems even CPS can’t figure out yet how to change that.

  • 40. Y  |  November 26, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    @39. During the turnaround, Nettelhorst stopped taking in buses but they did allow students who were already enrolled to stay. Nettelhorst didn’t have any magnet or special program that required busing. It was designated as an underutilized school and took in students from overcrowded or poorer performing schools. I don’t think many of the students were originally from the neighborhood and displaced due to changes in the neighborhood.

  • 41. James  |  November 26, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    @30 Chicagodad —

    “To date CPS has still not produced any objective explanation (though I’m sure there are subjective ones) as to why these non-income factors are included, or why they have the same weight as income.”

    I’m certainly not going to defend CPS’s transparency on the tiers, but this assertion isn’t quite right. At the time the system was adopted three years ago (i.e., for the class of students who are now juniors in high school), CPS did openly discuss its rationale for adopting the tier system. The system was designed by an academic consultant (whose name is now escaping me) and he and CPS jointly published some detailed papers explaining how the socio-economic tiers would maintain the diversity in the schools without expressly relying on race. I’ve tried to go back and find those documents, but, in true CPS fashion, they appear to have been removed for some reason.

    Now, whether or not the rationale that CPS provided is convincing or not is another story. I think the tier system has turned out to be more complicated to implement than perhaps they initially anticipated — and it certainly isn’t without controversy. But it just isn’t the case that CPS has never explained what it was doing or why it chose to use the identified socio-economic factors to categorize the city’s census tracts into tiers. And they had data and research to back it up at the time.

  • 42. chicagodad  |  November 26, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    @41 James

    Kahlenburg was the educational consultant.

    He was the one who recommended 50% rank and 50% Tier. CPS has never explained why they moved away from their own comsultant’s recommendation (it is now 30% rank and 70% Tier), other than to say their “Blue Ribbon Panel” said so..

    He testified that this sort of socio-economic model works best when trying to integrate poor kids into a predominantly middle class school system, and was unsure whether it would work in a predominantly poor school system.

    He also testified that he favored using income only, since there were no examples of other school systems that used other factors to the degree CPS does.

    He also never advocated giving equal weights to each of the factors.

  • 43. James  |  November 26, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    @42 chicagodad —

    Thanks for the name and the information. I thought that a version of the tier system had been tried elsewhere — Philadelphia, I think?

    My understanding is that Kahlenburg helped design the tier system. Is that wrong? From what you are claiming, he is actually completely opposed to it — never wanted a multi-factored test, wanted income to be the sole factor used, never thought it would work in an urban school system. Is all that right? If so, what exactly was he paid to do? I wouldn’t put it past CPS to hire a consultant who objects to every single decision CPS then makes, but it sure does seem odd.

  • 44. chicagodad  |  November 26, 2012 at 1:53 pm


    From my reading of his testimony (it’s been a few years, but if I dig in my files I may find it again), while he did help design it, he knew he was to some extent in uncharted territory, and was not afraid to say so. And at the time, CPS was desperate to come up with something.

    If CPS puts the testimony back up online, we can all read it for ourselves.

  • 45. James  |  November 26, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    Well, I wasted a little more work time looking into Richard Kahlenburg.

    Contra Chicagodad, I didn’t find anything where Mr. Kahlenburg “testified that he favored using income only” rather than a mix of socio-economic factors.

    Nor did I find anything where he “testified that this sort of socio-economic model works best when trying to integrate poor kids into a predominantly middle class school system, and was unsure whether it would work in a predominantly poor school system.” In fact, in an interview with Catalyst a couple years ago, he said exactly the opposite. He was asked: “Much of your research has focused on the benefits of schools where the majority of students come from middle-class families. Is this an attainable goal in Chicago?” And he answered: “I think it is quite possible to get an economic cross-section of students within selective and magnet schools. And Chicago’s four-tiered integration plan is educationally sound.”

    Finally, I found a couple Powerpoint presentations in which he noted that 60 other U.S. school districts use socio-economic status in admissions decisions. It wasn’t clear exactly how those 60 districts used the socio-economic factors, but it is clear that Chicago isn’t alone here by any means.

    The bottom line is that Mr. Kahlenburg is not on record opposing CPS’s tier system. In fact, he appears to support it. Perhaps not every detail of it, of course, but in general.

    Chicagodad, where does your information to the contrary come from?

    Here is the Catalyst interview for anyone interested: http://www.catalyst-chicago.org/notebook/2009/11/17/qa-richard-kahlenberg-consultant-magnet-school-admissions

  • 46. cpsobsessed  |  November 26, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    One other point about Nettlehorst is that they didn’t have parents fundraise for the first several years. It was all corporate donations and grants and that was sort of a selling point for the school in the early days (we won’t ask you for money.).
    Over time, as with most schools where parents have the means, my understanding is that they have begun internal fundraising.
    I imagine the corp donations are difficult to maintain over time and also become harder to get when the school isn’t all low income and is performing well (this is based on some grant research I did a few years back — foundations are not chomping at the bit to give $ to urban yuppies).

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  • 47. Y  |  November 26, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    Nettelhorst has been fundraising for at least 7 or 8 years from families. The donations they received early on helped make the place look more inviting and attractive but there has always been a need for $$.

  • 48. HSObsessed  |  November 26, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    While trying to find an old thread that discussed the Kahlenberg input pretty extensively (but I can’t find it), I came across my inaugural guest post from two years ago, which was a collection of five predictions about the future of CPS high schools. Maybe I’m biased, but I think they’ve all materialized or are definitely heading that way. I also forgot that Mayfair Dad gave me my name — thanks, MD!


  • 49. James  |  November 26, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    @48 HSObsessed —

    Nice job on that old post! Prescient. Now, can you tell me what next week’s Powerball numbers will be?!!

  • 50. pantherparent  |  November 26, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    Just got back from listening to Barbara Byrd-Bennett speak at the Chicago City Club and she was asked about the tiers. Her answer as best I can remember was “I’ve never seen anything like it.” Then she went on to talk about IB programs and STEM schools.

  • 51. Con  |  November 26, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    The Tier system is supposed to introduce socio-economic diversity, effectively make it easier for poor kids to get a place in SEES. If this is in fact true, why is it that Edison Regional Gifted Center has only 6% of its students designated low income? and Decatur only has 12% of its students designated as low income? Other Northside and Northwest schools in Tier 1 neighborhoods have as much higher percentage of students classified as low income anything from 20% – 50% low income students. Who verifies the families applying as low income are in fact low income? If the objective is to introduce diverse socio-economic groups then why not look at income tax returns. This Tier system is too easy to abuse.

  • 52. cpsobsessed  |  November 26, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    1. Income is but 1/6 of the tier equation.
    2. If you look at the map, I *think* those 2 schools are located squarely in the land of tier 3-4 which makes it tougher to pull kids from tier 1-2 areas who would have to travel far to get there. CPS makes its best attempt to fill spots with kids from all tiers but at some point it is up to the families to accept those spots.
    3. The tier system is relatively new. Until 3 (?) years ago Race was the criteria so as you can imagine, the kids who tested into the schools from white and non-white homes were more likely to be higher income. The new tier system *could* even that out a bit more once it’s been in place longer.

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  • 53. fgregg  |  November 26, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    You can find a copy of the Kahlenberg report here: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/524908-kahlenberg.html

  • 54. RL Julia  |  November 26, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    Edison is actually located smack in the middle of a tier 2 neighborhood.. which is surrounded by tier 3 and 4 neighborhoods. However, given that my neighborhood schools with a tier 3 and 4 catchment area is sporting a 89% free/reduced lunch eligibility this year, I would hedge a guess that perhaps the kids from tiers 1 and 2 testing into Edison are from tier 1 and 2 neighborhoods but not families. When you are talking an admitting class of abouyt 30 kids per year (one classroom- right?) then I think the tier system probably does favor the kid from a tier 1/2 neighborhood with living in a tier 3/4 household. THat being said, I don’t think that the argument carries up to the SEHS’s since the enrolling classes are so much larger.

  • 55. cpsobsessed  |  November 26, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    Thank you FGregg for your magic cloud of documents!

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  • 56. CPS Parent  |  November 26, 2012 at 7:32 pm

    51. Con – Looking at income tax returns is a philosophical shift that requires active participation from parents. Many capable, low income, kids would not make it into SE schools due to parental issues. The Tiers allow kids to make decisions for themselves and many do so at the high school level. The effects of poverty, drugs, neglect affects every decision CPS has to make.

  • 57. HSObsessed  |  November 26, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    I found the December 2009 presentation by CPS on how the tier system will work and what it’s based on. Some things have changed now, most notably that the rank is 30% and not 40%. But it gives some background to those of you wondering how this all came about.


  • 58. Curious  |  November 26, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    I have to wonder, does this tier change apply to those kids who have already applied to schools expecting a lower Tier? It seems that if it does, it would be very unfair to them.

  • 59. Bookworm  |  November 26, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    @40 I think that a good number of the students cut off when busing ended to Nettlehorst were former residents or very long term families at the school. The whole point of cutting off the busing was only to cut these families out of being present at the school.

    Middle class families getting free transportation to Se and magnet programs don’t deserve the perk of free transportation any more than the poor former students at Nettlehorst. The families effectively closed out kept the school open for years just by being there. Cutting off the busing for many families effectively ends their ability to travel to a school. I believe the book even refers to the families left as those who are willing to really earn or make the effort to attend and thus more valuable as a remainder.

    The se testing in Chicago, better funding and free transport creates a de facto caste system in Chicago.. Better funding, free transportation to what end for mostly middle to upper class families? Why doesn’t the city require that every student enrolled in CPS is tested for gifted programs and each child is put into every lottery for every magnet.

    The city should level the playing field for students whose parents are not informed or able to jump the hurdle that rises before the vast majority of families in Chicago. Children should also not be tested until the second grade– the se testing in Chicago is largely an economic indicator of readiness in the home not the the “giftedness” of the children who succeed.

  • 60. anonymouse teacher  |  November 26, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    @59, I totally agree with you in that free bus service should not be provided to families who can pay for it. I would have gladly paid for bus service when my kid were in a magnet. I also agree that testing for SE schools should not start until the year before 3rd grade. And I don’t think SE’s or magnets or other specialty schools should get any extra funding for anything at all unless all other schools are getting that same funding. For the longest time, my kids’ school had a staff that got 7, yes 7 preps per week to collaborate and plan and spend tons of time creating great lessons and analyzing data. This was at a time when the rest of CPS got 4 (and only if they were lucky) preps per week. Our planning time, to created the best of the best for our students was nearly half theirs. Not fair to those students at all. And that was on top of the nearly half a million dollars per year that the parents raised at their school while my school where I was employed could only raise around 2-3K per year, and then only because the teachers raised that.

  • 61. anonymouse teacher  |  November 26, 2012 at 10:40 pm

    Wow, I should proof read before I hit send….sorry for the typos.

  • 62. James  |  November 27, 2012 at 10:38 am

    The link to the Kahlenberg report doesn’t work — at least for me.

  • 63. HS Mom  |  November 27, 2012 at 10:48 am

    @53 – Fgregg, thanks for the document, interesting reading.

    Looks like Kahlenburg endorsed a socio-economic model based upon income but also discusses that other factors have been used. He maintains that the goal is to achieve a more meaningful diversification based upon income and that racial mix would follow. He states:

    “On the one hand, a system in which the selective schools based admissions solely on test scores could, given the strong association between test scores and socioeconomic status, result in an enclave of highly privileged schools that overwhelmingly consists of students from wealthy backgrounds, many of whom may be white. Many low income and minority students would miss out on the opportunity to learn at a selective institution and wealthier white students would miss out on the benefits of learning in a diverse environment.

    On the other hand, a system which sought strict proportionality of students from the existing public school population (with a 85% low income and 92% minority student population), would simply replicate the high poverty environment that makes learning more difficult, as well as the extreme racial isolation that makes it more difficult to build a tolerant citizenship in a democracy. In addition, as a practical matter, selective and magnet schools that strictly mirrored the economic makeup of CPS students as a whole might make it difficult to attract middle class families.

    A policy that steers between these two extremes would best serve students. One possibility would be to set a goal that magnet and selective schools reflect the socioeconomic makeup of the eligible public and private school population within the Chicago public school boundaries. Magnet and selective schools currently draw upon this larger applicant pool.”

    As we know, implementing this diversification based upon census numbers was/is an issue due to the complexity of neighborhood dynamics in Chicago. The 6th criteria – school performance was added in 2011 in order to better capture the intended “income” diversification.

  • 64. HS Mom  |  November 27, 2012 at 11:09 am

    @59 Why doesn’t the city require that every student enrolled in CPS is tested for gifted programs and each child is put into every lottery for every magnet.

    I don’t think every family wants their child tested and enrolled in gifted programs nor would they necessarily be interested in every or any magnet. Would there be an opt out 🙂

    @60 – really the question would then be should we even have citywide special programs that require funding for that particular program. This is where you lose the middle class. If the school becomes dependent upon parental funding only to provide the resources for success in it’s programing there comes a breaking point where you say “let’s go private”.

  • 65. cpsobsessed  |  November 27, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    Thanks for summarizing it HSMom, that’s really interesting. I have to say, I kind of like his point of view on it.

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  • 66. Bookworm  |  November 27, 2012 at 12:40 pm


    Why does equitable funding mean the loss of the middle class or special programs? Perhaps a special program is the only way to get a functioning library in CPS at this point. I find white flight arguments as weak as the typical neighborhood schools are so much better/ brain drain excuse for not creating a district wide baseline for quality funding.

    To be a decent city we need to fund all of the schools to a baseline that is higher than the current one- in every neighborhood. Let’s start with libraries and functioning playgrounds for all if the mayor wants to hang his hat on recess. Is this so outrageous?

    I wish good luck to all of the parents constantly threatening to move to the suburbs or go private. Though I doubt the city has anywhere close to enough private school places for families with the means to move to a private school. Even if you could fill all of those empty Catholic schools.

  • 67. RL Julia  |  November 27, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    Maybe test every kid but also realize that IMO the difference between an awful CPS school and a great CPS school is about $100,000 – $200,000 a year in fundraising/grant writing. Adjust upward if your school has a higher than average mobility rate, reduced/free school lunch subscription, ESL population or is in a neighborhood with high unemployment.

  • 68. JT  |  November 27, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    HSMom: You quoted: “On the one hand, a system in which the selective schools based admissions solely on test scores could, given the strong association between test scores and socioeconomic status, result in an enclave of highly privileged schools that overwhelmingly consists of students from wealthy backgrounds, many of whom may be white.”

    NYC (which reportedly has a purely score-based system) has shown that this won’t necessarily be the case. A recent article (posted on this blog maybe – I’ll try to find it) discussed that the system has resulted in a disproportionate number of Asian students – from a range of economic circumstances. According to the article, many of the Asian students work extremely hard to test-prep for the selective entrance exams.


  • 69. HS Mom  |  November 27, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    @66 – my comment was to 60 about magnets receiving extra funding for their programs plus parental funding. My thought was that if you take away the special funding for programs and look to parents that can afford to pay if they want such programs then you are now looking at a “tuition” like decision. And yes, I can imagine that having 3 or 4 languages or other specials can be quite expensive which would be the reason they are only offered at some schools open to a citywide lottery.

    “White flight” is your assumption.

    @68 – yes, I thought the same. I’m guessing that Chicago’s poverty would be less Asian.

  • 70. local  |  November 27, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    “Why doesn’t the city require that every student enrolled in CPS is tested for gifted programs and each child is put into every lottery for every magnet.”

    Ah! Now there’s something. Yes, WHY wouldn’t the city do this? Discuss. 🙂

  • 71. RL Julia  |  November 27, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    1. Costs too much.
    2. If you administer the test and the kid gets in – would it follow that CPS would be on the hook for providing free transportation.
    3. Would make more sense that CPS develop capacity in EVERY school to accomodate gifted kids.
    4. CPS has no legal mandate to accomodate “gifted” children – why even go there. Why not require that every kid be tested for a learning disability instead? CPS is required to provide those services.
    5. Did I mention it would costs too much?

  • 72. JT  |  November 27, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    @71 “1. Costs too much.”

    The newly-instituted NWEA MAP testing should give a very accurate insight into each student’s abilty. It’s scored on a common scale (what NWEA calls a “RIT” score) across grade levels and offers predictors of how many “RIT” points each student should grow from test-to-test (2 or three tests per year). Money is already being spent, and I presume it’s significant.

  • 73. Bookworm  |  November 27, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    @ RL Julia – So does it follow that only those children with parents area wise enough to apply to gifted programs and then test in are entitled to gifted program transport? Or that these children deserve this in the first place to a larger extent than sub par children traveling on a bus to another neighborhood to keep the school pen until the neighborhood decides to ” take it back”?

    How much would it cost exactly? That is what I want CPS to figure out. What is the SE system costing us now?

  • 74. CPC4Chicago  |  November 27, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    “Why doesn’t the city require that…each child is put into every lottery for every magnet.”

    If strong parental involvement is correlated with student performance, I would say the mere fact that the magnets aren’t just a default option but one where parents have to do at least a little bit of research and put forth a little bit of effort into the application process gives the magnets a student populace derived from a more involved group of parents from the get go.

    Since *theoretically* the magnets don’t offer an inherently superior education, just like the successful neighborhood schools, involved parents contributing some combination of time, treasure and talent is part of the equation.

  • 75. RL Julia  |  November 27, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    @73 – pretty much, yes – I don’t think they are entitled but they get it anyway. The savvier parent gets the worm in this case.

    I don’t know how much it would cost to test every kid – but since the current system is scrounging for dollars at this point and doesn’t do such a hot job accommodating it’s special ed students – who they are federally mandated to provide services for, what is CPS’s incentive to go out their way to create another pool of students who will require different accommodations of any kind?

    Don’t get me wrong – I’d love to see this – I think a lot of really bright kids slip through the cracks – but on the other hand, once you open that can of worms it’s hard to figure out how to say no and where to draw the line.

    If the program is voluntary – CPS can offer transportation out of the goodness of their heart (but can threaten to withdraw it every year – which they do – should funds not be available etc…) – something they can’t do when they are bussing kids from an over subscribed school to an under subscribed one. CPS can threaten this because it is not a mandated or normal educational offering. The minute you require the testing, CPS will also be expected to help families act upon the test’s results which currently might require transportation services. – which cost a lot and gum up traffic. Would this ultimately save society money? Probably – but until we as a society start valuing education over incarceration, it’s a hard sell. So what is better – being told that your kid is really bright but that the school system at large isn’t going to help you educate them to the fullest extent (unless you are willing to make it your part time job?) or just not to go down that path in the first place.

  • 76. cpsobsessed  |  November 27, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    Why won’t cps test every child for gifted and put them in the lottery?
    I’m going to guess it has something to do with the anti-poaching mentality that katie ellis mentioned when talking about AC testing. They consider it uncool. And the testing and lottery for kids going into kinder is basically impossible since the kids aren’t in the system yet. How would you get 28,000 kids tested before kindergarten?

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  • 77. cpsobsessed  |  November 27, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    Good point about cost RLJulia. It would be great for schools to identify how many gifted/really bright kids they have as an incentive to offer a higher level of instruction.

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  • 78. HS Mom  |  November 27, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    One way to ease transportation costs would be to have some type of exchange venue. It seems that many families travel a great distance because they can’t get in at great schools in their area. If there there was a way to switch offers we might be able to better pair schools with neighborhoods and save the time, energy and money involved.

  • 79. Paul  |  November 27, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    @63 Thanks for that summary. Very interesting. And a reasonable suggested goal: “that magnet and selective schools reflect the socioeconomic makeup of the eligible public and private school population within the Chicago public school boundaries.”

    But, I would prefer enrollment criteria that was focused on the student’s needs rather than their race or socio-economic status. Almost the flip-side of the special education system. In special ed, it’s first assumed that the student is best served in the general education classroom and only if a parent or teacher asks for tests is the student tests to determine if they have a disability. Then, a plan is developed and their placed in a special ed program. A similar gifted education system could first assume that the child is best served in the general education classroom. Then, only if the parents or teachers ask for tests to determine the child’s needs, is a test given to determine their placement in a separate program or school. The number of gifted programs, schools, and seats should be based on need.

  • 80. Anonymous  |  November 27, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    Why should tests be done before kindergarten? Time and again, it has been proven that “giftedness” may not be apparent until 3rd grade or so.

  • 81. cpsobsessed  |  November 27, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    Because people don’t want to move their kids in 4th grade into a different school?

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  • 82. HS Mom  |  November 27, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    Because gifted kids would benefit by being exposed to an accelerated program earlier than grade 3?

  • 83. cpsobsessed  |  November 27, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    What happened in the olden days (ie our childhoods) with gifted kids/ very bright kids? I don’t recall anything more than maybe different reading groups in the early years.

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  • 84. CPS TBPK momma  |  November 27, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    re: the discussion regarding equitable funding . . . I’ve heard principals claim that fundraising often only covers the Title I funds other schools receive.

    According to http://www.formulafairness.com/inequities, CPS gets almost $2300 per Title I child. (Question whether all of this goes to the school.) If we are having a discussion about parent fundraising and equitable funding, shouldn’t we be talking about how Title I aspect as well? Excluding the CPS schools that seem to have “extreme fundraising,” are the Title I schools “richer” than non-Title I schools?

  • 85. RL Julia  |  November 27, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    It would be great if school’s identified bright kids- but it gets really complicated – a neighborhood school would at some point encounter pressure in how it evens defines brightness in the first place…is it ISAT scores? What about musical ability? Compassion? Leadership? Aren’t those also forms of intelligence worth recognizing, celebrating and nuturing?

    And so you offer a higher level of instruction? What does this mean ultimately – more field trips? More individuation? More one on one? More homework? And the kids who don’t make this cut don’t get these perks as well? Even though they might be great athletes, leaders, citizens etc… So it’s pretty great for the kids identified as worth the extra effort but what about those who had a bad testing day in the classroom next door? They feel pretty bad about themselves – they know they weren’t chosen, they aren’t special enough…. I know a few kids who have gone to CPS schools where there was a “smart” class and an “everyone else” class. Great if you are in the smart class – not so great when you aren’t – and how can you really justify the smart class getting two field trips because they can handle it or whatever while the other class (inevitably containing kids who have gone nowhere) only gets one? The parents with kids in the everyone else class end up justifably feeling slighted .

    I ended up on my neighborhood school’s LSC for ten years because I went to the school when my son was three or four (and starting to read) and when I asked the principal what they might do for a kid like him for kindergarten, she looked at me like I had just grown another head and pretty much told me there was nothing they could do. In the end of it all, there was a lot they could and did do for him. That being said, in all of my years on the LSC, the problems we thought about seemed so much more dire, pervasive and widespread than my son’s accelerated pace that I really didn’t bring the idea up much until the last year I was there. It just seemed too self serving and ultimately small potatoes.

  • 86. cpsobsessed  |  November 27, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    It thought I remembered it being like $700-$900 per kid for title 1. Don’t recall it being that high but I could be wrong.
    So say $1000 per kid, that is maybe $350-$400k per school. not sure what that might cover. Extra security? Few more teachers so hopefully smaller classes? It would be interesting to see how it’s used (as it isn’t creating better output it seems.).

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  • 87. IBobsessed  |  November 27, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    @84 Don’t think Title I schools are “richer”, at least not in Chicago. For an eye opener on this see

    “Schools with some form of an exclusive enrollment process (includes selective enrollment schools and charters, magnets, etc) received nearly 50% of all TIF funds used for school construction projects”

  • 88. RL Julia  |  November 27, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    Back in the day, many bright kids were pulled out for a few hours a week for gifted services – like SPED kids but only in districts that could afford to do so and etc… before that, brighter kids got to help the one’s who were behind or got in trouble for being disruptive….

    At my neighborhood school Title I covered the cost of a part time social worker and parts of a few other positions…

  • 89. donna  |  November 27, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    @83:What happened in the olden days (ie our childhoods) with gifted kids/ very bright kids? I don’t recall anything more than maybe different reading groups in the early years.

    Back in the late 70’s, I think the districts (the big district, Chicago, was divided into little districts, neighborhoods) had their own programs. I was in a “gifted center” at my neighborhood school. Those children deemed “gifted” were put in a program that met once a week. We visited museums, reviewed test taking skills, wrote poetry and did things that were out of the norm. I don’t think there was anything really advanced. It was more about exposure to all kinds of other things. It was suddenly cancelled in the early 80’s. Another program was a gifted math program at kenwood. I was picked up at my school on the north side and taken to kenwood once a week for math enrichment. It was also cancelled abruptly.

    After that, it was just a regular neighborhood program….the gifted children just became everyday kids. 🙂

  • 90. HS Mom  |  November 27, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    @89 – prior to the 70’s, CPS double promoted.

    @79 Paul. Interesting point. Yes, ideally the need should be established and met for any child. That’s why it is not necessary to test every child for giftedness or for disability. Is your child gifted? Does your child have a disability? 80 to 90% of us can just say “no” and be accurate. It takes an observant parent or teacher to identify the signs and take it from there.

    At the HS level, I don’t think the selective schools are necessarily geared toward gifted (although they do have the ability to accommodate higher level thinkers). Kids need to work hard, have a certain level of understanding and be committed. From that POV I see no difficulties and more benefits really in providing a dedicated learning atmosphere to a range of achieving students. I like the Kahlenburg’s philosophy. Rereading the line you posted – “set a goal that magnet and selective schools reflect the socioeconomic makeup of the ELIGIBLE public and private school population” – I’m wondering if his intent was to diversify the applicant pool only. Would we get better diversity economically, racially and capture the highest ranking by dividing the applicant pool only into tiers by income only not using general census figures but something more specific (using what, I don’t know).

    Just a thought.

  • 91. local  |  November 27, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    “The minute you require the testing, CPS will also be expected to help families act upon the test’s results which currently might require transportation services. – which cost a lot and gum up traffic. Would this ultimately save society money? Probably – but until we as a society start valuing education over incarceration, it’s a hard sell.”

    Doesn’t our economy fundamentally demand an underclass?

  • 92. local  |  November 27, 2012 at 8:42 pm

    Frankly, my own high school education at WY was not all that
    innovative or spectacular, truth be told. The fact that students wanted to be there and had high-ish academic performance seemed to be the main secret sauce. That, and the racial and class integration. Teachers were a mixed bunch too. Some fabulous, some sucky. Accelerated-pace really isn’t innovative pedagogy. Still not seeing much that’s radical in CPS (or its charters).

  • 93. Workingmommyof2  |  November 27, 2012 at 9:07 pm

    @83, CPSo, I asked my mom about this just the other day. When I was entering K in the mid-70s (Bolingbrook, public school), she said they did something similar to the MAP test the first week. Since I was already reading, I got to walk up to 1st grade for reading.

    After K, they did have a class in each grade at my school for the “gifted” kids (probably similar to what they do at the CPS schools with comprehensive gifted programs). Interestingly (to me) my mom chose to pull me from that after 2nd grade because she thought it was too isolating socially for me to be with the same kids every year. She said she was happy with the differentiated teaching in the regular track.

  • 94. chicago taxpayer  |  November 27, 2012 at 10:15 pm

    I think that what Chicago Dad was saying is that while Kahlenberg was in favor of multiple factors, he did testify that this is new territory and in fact is the first time that he himself designed such a model. This statement can be found directly in the testimony. The other socio economic models use ONLY income. Bottom line — Chicago’s model is very different from those used elsewhere and as such is very much an experiment.Yet no one has bothered to dissect these factors and determine their effect and appropriateness.
    Another point — perhaps not made here is that in ALL of those other situations the rate of poverty was much lower — 20-30% while in Chicago the poverty rate is 86% in CPS with 400K students and the private sector is relatively small in comparison with that. The goal of s-e diversity is to have a minimum of 50% low income to achieve the achievement benefits. This goal is inherently difficult given Chicago’s demographics — perhaps impossible and is not being met by many of the SE schools currently.

  • 95. anonymouse teacher  |  November 27, 2012 at 10:24 pm

    I do have to laugh when I hear about families leaving a decent neighborhood school for a local private school that I know first hand (based on observations of teaching, observations of the kind of work being given out, kids not getting any differentiation, etc) that is worse than the local public. Parents often think private is better, but that is not always (and I’d argue, not often) the case. Sometimes the student body is better, but the school and the teaching quality, not so much.

  • 96. anonymouse teacher  |  November 27, 2012 at 10:27 pm

    @82, gifted kids can be served in the regular classroom just fine. I can tell you that in twenty years of teaching, outside of a non-public gifted program I’ve taught in, I’ve only encountered 1, yes 1, child who was so gifted he really could not be served in the public school setting. I have worked with a lot of early readers and a lot of advanced kids. Not one of them–other than the child referenced above– were “gifted”. Accelerated, yes, gifted, not a chance.

  • 97. SutherlandParent  |  November 27, 2012 at 10:31 pm

    @86 CPSO, “It would be interesting to see how it’s used (as it isn’t creating better output it seems.)”

    Excellent point–but I doubt CPS could provide that type of information, even if it wanted to. After BBB’s request to Springfield for an extension on a proposal for school closings, I’ve started to wonder if the Board of Ed is deliberately opaque (my long-time pet theory), or really has no handle on any type of quantitative data at the individual school level (which is even scarier).

  • 98. SutherlandParent  |  November 27, 2012 at 10:48 pm

    @96, totally agree that gifted kids CAN be served in a regular class room just fine. I do question whether many CPS teachers, through no fault of their own, have the time to provide the differentiated learning those kids need. I know of a couple of kids at our school who are very bright but not truly gifted–they wouldn’t necessarily thrive in a Regional Gifted Center, for example. But these kids are bored in classes where the teacher has 34 other kids to work with. The kids who are well-behaved and perform extremely well on assignments and tests compared to many of their classmates tend to get overlooked, in my experience.

  • 99. NotsoFast  |  November 28, 2012 at 10:45 am

    95 – like everything else, certain schools are better for certain kids, families. Just because you didn’t think much of the school, it may be great for others.

  • 100. Paul  |  November 28, 2012 at 11:13 am

    I think teachers rightly focus on kids who fall below the bar. And while many teachers differentiate very effectively, parents of these gifted/advanced kids fear that the bar in many CPS schools is too low. They want the bar to be higher so the teacher focuses on their kids’ needs too. Hence the obsessiveness with finding the gifted/classical/magnet/private/super-fundraising neighborhood school. Parents think the bar is higher in these schools and that their kids’ needs are more likely to be met there.

  • 101. Mayfair Dad  |  November 28, 2012 at 11:25 am

    The Tier system is fatally flawed because it relies on imprecise census tract information, not household-specific financial reality.
    Also, to Chicago Dad’s point, the fact that Tier 4 includes everyone from plumbers to Pritzkers is just plain stupid. (I’ve lived in one of those extravagent posh Tier 4 bungalow neighborhoods for the past 17 years and I haven’t met one billionaire yet.)

  • 102. southie  |  November 28, 2012 at 11:36 am

    Bungalow-Beverly has plumbers and millionaires. Billionaires?

  • 103. Momof5  |  November 28, 2012 at 11:44 am

    @83 – Back in the day, gifted kids in 4th, 5th and 6th grade were given the opportunity to go to a gifted center twice a week for half of the school day. My other gifted friends and I would hop on 2 city buses to go to a separate school where we learned french, had academic competitions resembling Jeopardy, were encouraged to study the weather, etc.

    The downside was that you were singled out for being gifted – not always the best thing when dealing with peers. But the upside was being exposed to so much more than the regular classroom had to offer.

  • 104. RationalRationing  |  November 28, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    Just to amplify @101 – the other factors in the tier system are even more flawed when applied from a census tract to an individual family. No one is “29% married.” You can be a renter in one of those high home-ownership tracts. English is either the first language in the household, or it isn’t.

  • 105. lawmom  |  November 28, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    Thought folks might like to read about the “selective” school scenario on a more national level.


  • 106. RL Julia  |  November 28, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    Great article! Thanks.

  • 107. Esmom  |  November 28, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    @90, during the 70s, too, kids in CPS were double promoted all the time. I grew up in the city and went to Catholic school (where they differentiated by placing us in groups for reading and math — as a result everyone knew who the “smartest” and “dumbest” kids were and it had serious social consequences for both ends, I think). 9 out of 10 kids in my neighborhood who were in the CPS school were double promoted, some more than once. And I am sure the majority of them, maybe not even one of them, were not gifted.

    I agree with those who’ve said that the brightest kids tend to get overlooked. My son didn’t score high enough for a gifted center but spent much of his primary grades bored out of his mind and got straight As by barely lifting a finger. Thankfully he is more engaged and challenged in middle school.

  • 108. James  |  November 28, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    @101 and 104 —

    I’m now going to the do the crazy and actually defend the tier system.

    You have both correctly noted that the tier system is not individualized, and so it therefore isn’t perfect. But just what would you replace it with? The Supreme Court says we can’t go back to using race as a primary factor in admissions. Period — and that isn’t going to change in our lifetimes. And I don’t think anyone really wants to swing radically the other way and use NYC’s pure test score system, which results in top schools being 97% Asian and white, with virtually no black or Hispanic kids. So what now? What do we do?

    If we accept that seeking socioeconomic diversity is a goal worth pursuing (for a number of reasons, but also, yes, because it tends to pay a racial dividend and keep the schools racially diverse without expressly using race as an admissions factor), how do we achieve that? You might say, “Make every family submit last year’s income tax returns so each household is examined individually.” But beyond the immense practical difficulties with that, it doesn’t completely capture what “socioeconomic” means. (Nor would it capture the uber-rich, who have great wealth, but sometimes relatively modest incomes.) “Socioeconomic” means more than just last year’s income. It also means the very “socio” factors examined under the current tier system: home ownership or not, single-parent households or not, facility with the primary language or not, education attainment of the household or lack thereof, etc. If we really want socioeconomic diversity, we need to examine ALL those factors — just like Mr. Kahlenburg says we should.

    Could we add or subtract factors from this list? Sure, and hopefully CPS is looking at that. Could we weight them differently, so that income carries perhaps more weight than the others? Sure. But if we actually want socioeconomic diversity, there is only one to achieve it: base admissions on some reasonable measure of those factors, which the tier system does.

    One last point. I think examining the socioeconomic factors at the level of the census tract makes sense. That’s much smaller than zip codes, which would result in HUGE disparities. But it avoids the impossibility of examining each and every individual household. And it avoids the corrupt rat’s nest if we were to have politicians draw the boundaries for the units of measure. Is the census tract system perfect? No. But I actually think it does a damn good job of navigating very tricky legal waters and maintaining the racial and socioeconomic diversity of most of the SEHSs, all while keeping those schools among the very best academically in the state, if not the nation.

    Until our political environment changes radically and we can afford to spend lots of money creating more and more SE-type schools (which we probably all want), we have to have some legal and reasonably fair system for admitting kids to these schools. For all its many many flaws, the tier system basically works.

    Fire away…

  • 109. Mayfair Dad  |  November 28, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    @ James 108

    “You have both correctly noted that the tier system is not individualized, and so it therefore isn’t perfect. But just what would you replace it with?”

    Well, that’s the rub, isn’t it? If we all agree diversity is a noble goal then a little imperfection is a small price to pay. I am properly categorized by my census tract. However, it would really suck to be mis-categorized, i.e. the impoverished family of 8 renting a 2 BR basement apartment in a Tier 4 neighborhood, hoping to escape the gang violence of their former ‘hood.

    Seems like these families get screwed, exactly the same families the system is supposed to help.

    Still, I don’t know what you could replace it with.

  • 110. tired  |  November 28, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    We could replace it with integration through bussing. 🙂

  • 111. HS Mom  |  November 28, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    James – couple comments

    ” If we really want socioeconomic diversity, we need to examine ALL those factors — just like Mr. Kahlenburg says we should”

    I did not see in the document posted above that he said “we should”. I read that he said some use income only and others use additional factors. Maybe he does say so elsewhere? The gist of what I read emphasizes income/poverty as the driving force of socio economic diversity. The factors you list that enrich diversification “home ownership or not, single-parent households or not, facility with the primary language or not, education attainment of the household or lack thereof” no longer mean what they used to and are really a bit dated and stereotypical. Divorce. Co-parenting. Foreclosure. International relocation. The multitude of financially successful people with limited formal education….etc.

    I believe it possible to get more precise income information and possibly better more meaningful diversity if we assign tiers to the application pool only – 15,000 vs Chicago school age children 500,000+

    With tier 4 income starting at 59,000, I don’t think you would need to worry about the Uber rich with lower incomes slipping by.

  • 112. Paul  |  November 28, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    @105 lawmom. Great article, especially this quote that seems to also be true for CPS:

    “It’s evident from multiple studies that our K–12 education system overall is doing a mediocre job of serving its “gifted and talented” youngsters and is paying too little attention to creating appealing and viable opportunities for advanced learning. What policymakers have seen as more urgent needs (for basic literacy, adequate teachers, sufficient skills to earn a living, for example) have generally prevailed. The argument for across-the-board talent development has been trumped by “closing the achievement gap” and focusing on test scores at the low end.”

    I like the “across-the-board talent development” phrase. “Closing the achievement gap” always struck me as odd because theoretically you could close the gap by bringing down scores for high-scoring groups instead of raising scores for low-scoring groups.

  • 113. Bookworm  |  November 28, 2012 at 11:23 pm

    What kid isn’t bored in a room of 34 kids? What kid doesn’t deserve differentiated instruction. Or field trips.

    . Testing every kid if that is the bar for getting any meaningful funding from the city- regardless of if their parents wish to enroll them- is the only way to justify the extra funding that schools in the se system currently garner. Parents can surely choose not to send their kids to an SE program but all kids deserve to have the access to the process.

    It’s exactly becauseTitle 1 funds rarely cover the gaps in funding between CPS schools that all kids should get this chance to be “found.” Regardless of their parent’s ability to help them get found.

    Of course then parents should have to sign a waiver stating they have been informed of the dangers of ” back when I was in the gifted program”……syndrome for their kids as well. The best reason not to test my kid was to avoid any label so that they don’t spend middle age talking up their gifted heyday.

    Or get stuck in a not really gifted program with a bunch of not gifted either kids in an over accelerated trophy homework program/ test factory.

  • 114. kiki h.  |  November 29, 2012 at 9:26 am

    @113, I loved this line:

    Or get stuck in a not really gifted program with a bunch of not gifted either kids in an over accelerated trophy homework program/ test factory.

    There’s so much truth there. I ended up taking both of my kids out of the gifted program for that reason. Their new school has a more dynamic program, more art, more math, and more of everything I wanted for my kids’ education.

  • 115. lawmom  |  November 29, 2012 at 9:57 am

    Since we’ve been talking about Nettelhorst and fundraising, I thought this post by the principal would be of interest to some of you.

    Dear Nettelhorst Families,

    By now, I hope you have seen the Helping Hands postcard that your child brought home. I wanted to take a moment to personally tell you about this important annual fall fundraiser and why I hope you will consider participating. The successful outcome of this campaign will directly and positively influence each of your children in their continued growth and development.

    Why do we need Helping Hands?

    Nettelhorst has two immediate goals for the 2013 Helping Hands Fundraiser:

    1. We need to keep class size as low—or lower—than it is today. It costs approximately $85,000 per classroom to achieve this goal, and not all of this funding is provided by CPS or the state. Nettelhorst must use its discretionary funds and proceeds from fundraising efforts to pay for what we see as a necessity: a low number of students in each classroom. Not only is learning more challenging with a larger class size, but there also are other impacts we don’t often consider. Physical space becomes an issue in a larger class, constraining our ability to have resources such as classroom libraries and computer centers if the room is too crowded. We view these classroom components as necessary for daily learning. Please help us maintain a low number of students in each class to accommodate the right tools and resources in an ideal learning environment for our children.

    2. We need a new math curriculum. Our current curriculum is outdated, not aligning with the Common Core Standards, and it is organized in a manner that is not intuitive to our learners. We need to ensure we provide our students with the best possible materials from which to learn mathematics—from the language of math, to its techniques and sequences, to the real-world problems to which they apply. This necessary investment in our children will cost between $60,000 and $70,000, and our CPS budget will not fully cover this expense. Please help give our children the tools they need and deserve so that they are prepared for success in our global economy.

    We are just one family—can we really make a difference?

    The short answer is YES! Last year, 30 percent of our families participated in the Helping Hands campaign and we raised $80,000. With every family at Nettelhorst contributing whatever they can—be it $1 or $10,000—we will reach our goals. I want you to know that we value every one of our families, and we hope you will consider participating in this fundraiser, no matter what the size of your donation. Every dollar makes a difference.

    Shouldn’t CPS or the state take care of these costs?

    Most of us were raised at a time when our tax dollars were sufficient to cover the cost of education. However, today’s public education system cannot meet our children’s academic needs with tax revenue alone. As you know, we are living in an unprecedented time of challenging economic conditions, and we must become creative in our solutions to ensure our children have what they need to learn and prosper.

    I have faith in Nettelhorst. Based on our past achievements and successes, I am confident that if there is one school community that is willing and able to tackle any new set of issues—financial or otherwise—it is surely Nettelhorst. I know there may be some people that feel that only larger donations make a difference. I think differently; I believe in community and the success we will share together if we all believe that every donation makes a difference. Together, we can and will make our own success, but it will take the coordinated efforts across our Nettelhorst family to realize these goals for our children.

    How do I contribute?

    Please fill out your postcard and bring it with your donation to the Helping Hands box in the school office. If you need another post card, please ask in the office. You can also donate here.

    Did I hear there was a thank you gift for participating?

    Yes! I want to thank Nettelhorst parent Mike Baker of the Wine Discount Center for graciously offering to invite all Helping Hands donors to a wine tasting party! Watch for these details soon. You won’t want to miss the party!

    I urge you to consider participating in this year’s Helping Hands campaign. Our children can use a hand.


    Cindy Wulbert, Principal

  • 116. mom2  |  November 29, 2012 at 10:02 am

    I have a question. Does anyone know the percent of CPS students living in tier 4 that score at least a 750 for SE admissions? I ask this because I am trying to come up with an “out of the box” idea. I know it is not well thought out.

    If the percent is very large, why not stop allowing tier 4 students to attend the SE schools? Instead, have them all go to their neighborhood high school, but also don’t allow anyone not in the neighborhood to go there. Wouldn’t their neighborhood school end up being just like an SE high school (or certainly close to it)? Then that would free up the SE high schools for all the tier 1,2 and 3 students. Would that end up causing less diversity at the SE high schools? I don’t think it would because I see a huge variety of types of people living in tiers 2 and 3. It just seems that everyone talks about how we need more SE high schools but we don’t have the funds to do this, so I was trying to think of a way to create those high schools without spending anything more. Would tier 4 parents go for this if they knew all other kids would be from the neighborhood or would they “go private”?

  • 117. CPStired  |  November 29, 2012 at 10:15 am

    116 – Too many variables in your idea. I’m tier 4, and yes, most kids at the local CPS grammar school score at least a 750 for SE admissions. Since there are so many with good scores, most don’t get into SE. They go private. Private schools (yes, I know expensive) actually gives students what they promise….books, science equipment, discipline (yes, nonsense does exist, but not like CPS).

  • 118. Mayfair Dad  |  November 29, 2012 at 10:47 am

    @ 116: So high achieving upper middle class children would be deprived the opportunity to test into the best public high schools in Chicago because of the (relative) affluence of their tax-paying parents? I don’t see this idea having legs.

  • 119. RL Julia  |  November 29, 2012 at 11:00 am

    But lower scoring tier 4 kids would be saved the stigma of going to a lesser SE high school and would be guranteed a good education! Actually – this goal could be achieved- just convince all the tier 4 parents not to apply for the SE’s a send their kids to their local high schools and voila! Everyone would be happy! Of course once the school was up to Tier 4 standards, I suppose EVERYONE ELSE would want in and move into the neighborhood and ruin it.

  • 120. HSObsessed  |  November 29, 2012 at 11:02 am

    @115 – Nice letter by Principal Wulbert but I had to chuckle at the part about how schools were well-funded back when we were kids. If I’ve learned anything in my 12 years of following CPS, it’s that there are certain issues have been around forever, in good fiscal times and in bad: Schools are not provided the funds they need; Teachers are not paid enough; We need to get rid of the bad teachers; Some schools need to close and be reorganized. When you look at education news articles from 10, 20, 50 years ago that could be reprinted word for word on today’s front page, it’s kind of depressing.

  • 121. LR  |  November 29, 2012 at 11:16 am

    @101 Mayfair Dad: Interesting thought about having an individualized component within the Tier system. What if CPS gave people the option of submitting individualized data to get an exemption? So maybe people’s tier could be adjusted if they prove they have an income that is well below the average level for their Tier? Just an idea. I actually don’t think it would help our family personally, but may help some people who happen to live in Tier 4, but really should not be classified as such.

    As far as gifted programs, speaking from my own point of view, we would not be a part of CPS if my kids did not get into an RGC (or classical program). Bell has been great and although I was wary about Beaubien at first, it has FAR exceeded my expectations. My son’s teacher shared the NWEA assessment test data with us. I am not a big fan of testing, but believe me, this is useful! And even within his class – his teacher is differentiating. For instance, based on my son’s NWEA math score, he is now getting supplemented with 3rd grade Singapore math. Based on where he is now, that is what he needs to keep moving ahead. When I see what the neighborhood 1st graders are doing, it would not be a good use of 7 hours a day for him. We tried to accommodate both my kids within a regular tracked class through Kindergarten. The school was helpful in trying all sorts of things, but when they are light years ahead, it makes things really difficult. They are either sort of isolated among their chronologically aged classmates, or they are getting singled out because they are walking up to be with other students of more equally matched academic ability.

    Now, I would have had no problem doing a neighborhood program if they would have made an exception for my fall b-day kids and let them start Kindergarten early when they were ready to start (turning 5, not turning 6). This is part of the problem, in my opinion. If my kids lived in Michigan or California, they would have just started a year earlier – and they would have been in the highest academic group within that class. But because we live in Chicago, Illinois and CPS makes no exceptions, I am forced to find some way to get them a curriculum that matches their level. RGC or classical were the only options that gave them the right level of reading/language arts/math.

  • 122. UptownMama  |  November 29, 2012 at 11:24 am

    @120 As a graduate of CPS and a parent of a soon to be kindergartner, I have to agree that things were not so much better when we were kids. (At least not at CPS.) I was lucky to go through a magnet and a SE high school (not perfect, but good), but there were very, very few decent neighborhood options and the schools themselves were physically falling apart. I remember when Secretary of Education William Bennett called CPS the worst school system in the country. I worry as much as anyone about finding a decent option for my daughters (our neighborhood school is Trumbull which really doesn’t feel like a possibility), and the school search has been a frustrating and exhausting process. Still, I’d argue that while there’s still tons of progress to be made, any nostalgia for the 70s and 80s is misplaced.

  • 123. local  |  November 29, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    One word: unschooling. 🙂

  • 124. RL Julia  |  November 29, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    LR – have a fall birthday child as well – the neighborhood school skipped her in her kindergarten year to first grade -so there is a little wiggle room -but it was a pretty comprehensive process. Ultimately thought – skipping a grade only solves your problems for a year or two.

  • 125. SutherlandParent  |  November 29, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    @121 regarding kindergarten age, I’ve heard of countries where kids can start kindergarten on their 5th birthday, regardless of when that falls. That makes sense to me on a few levels. While you would have a flow of new students throughout the year, you wouldn’t have an entire classroom of really little ones all trying to adjust on the first day.

    And it would minimize the potential for an enormous age range in kindergarten. We have a kid with an August birthday, and she’s always been one of the youngest in her class. Even though she’s academically fine, and a social butterfly to boot, it was sometimes a struggle for her, considering she was nearly an entire year younger than some of the other kids in her class. It’s a huge difference in maturity between 5 and 6.

  • 126. LR  |  November 30, 2012 at 11:21 am

    @124: I never thought about it that way. That’s true…it probably makes more of a difference when they are young.

    @125: I totally get this. We actually did have the option of skipping my daughter ahead at our Catholic school (a very rare exception, due to her maturity and academic ability), but decided to go the RGC route instead. Interestingly, when the issue of going ahead a year came up, my husband and I were not even thinking about the younger years. We were thinking about high school. His hesitation was that she would be competing against kids that are a whole year older for a spot in high school – which is fine – but maybe not when you take into account that some of these kids would have been a whole year older AND coming out of Options programs. But, again, our hesitation had less to do with her ability and more to do with the scarcity of SE high school seats, which is sad.

  • 127. RL Julia  |  November 30, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    By the time it is time to apply for SEHS’s and the like, if you had skipped your daughter, she would have probably caught up and risen to the top of that class. The only problem we’ve had to date was that the computer system couldn’t reconcile her birth year with her grade and kept trying to drop her into 5th grade when she was in 6th. She got into Whitney Young’s AC no problem… Skipping her was hard because she had to catch up a year’s worth of work and probably didn’t completely catch up until about the middle of second grade. It was the little things that were hardest – she hit first grade not knowing how to write lowercase letters for example…. However, after she caught up, school was a lot less engaging/work for her.

  • 128. FP  |  December 2, 2012 at 3:46 am

    All I can tell you is that I am livid. A street of several blocks that have mansions on them in Hyde Park is in Tier 1!!! When I say mansions I mean mansions! I called about this and they said that it was because it fell within a certain zone with the surrounding streets. My point is if the tier can move up blocks and cut off blocks they should cut off thus block!!!!

    There is no way that 4600 s. Ellis-5100 S. Ellis should be considered Tier 1! Please look it up if you don’t believe me! Drive down the street.

    I should also mention I’m that part of the reason I’m so upset is that we moved to Tier 3.

  • 129. CPSAppalled  |  February 6, 2013 at 11:53 am

    Does anyone know of a formal process to appeal one’s tier being changed this year? Last year our neighborhood (Albany Park) was tier 3, which seemed appropriate. Now we are tier 4 and seem to be lumped in with Ravenswood Manor, where home prices are over $600,000. My neighborhood school is Bateman, which in now way compares to R.M’s neighborhood school (Waters). There are many foreclosures in my neighborhood with most housing in the $200,000 range. How could CPS possibly argue that my neighborhood has gone up in “value” and is more advantaged? Since there has not been a census since 2010, what legitimacy does CPS’s data have? How is it possible that there are less children in tier 4 neighborhoods applying for SE schools (the only way CPS could justify expanding tier 4), when last year there were 14,000 kids applying for SE high schools? Any insights would be welcome.

  • 130. RL Julia  |  February 6, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    @129 – I think the tier system is calibrated so that there are equal numbers of kids assigned to each tier – not equal numbers of same aged children or equal numbers of children eligible to take the SE exams – just an equal number of children. Since there are generally more CPS students living in poorer areas than richer areas, this has meant that geographically speaking tier 4 has been increased and that means that property values that are lower than in prior years have been included into tier 4 that previously were tier 3.

    The last quarter of 2012, the median selling price of houses in Chicago was about $190,000, slightly below the housing value in your neighborhood. However, CPS also takes other criteria into account – such as the quality of the neighborhood schools (in this case Bateman and Waters -which are both strong elementary schools with good attendance), median family income, percentage of single-family homes, percentage of homes where English is not the first language, percentage of homes occupied by the homeowner, and level of adult education attainment. Hence, while you might not be as affluent as your neighbors – you are still more affluent or scoring higher on the above criteria than most of the city.

  • 131. CPSAppalled  |  February 6, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    @130–I just checked the stats on Bateman, and it is 93% low income, which is very reflective of the neighborhood. How can CPS say that our part of Albany Park should be tier 4? In addition, the percentage of homes where English is not the primary language has not noticeably changed. My question is still: is there any formal process to appeal the tier change? I was happy with the old tier (3) and felt it was accurate for the neighborhood.

  • 132. HS Mom  |  February 6, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    @129 – I agree with you. Working class neighborhood all the way. Here’s the stats – avg income $62,298, 36% single parent households, 44% owner occupied, 52% non english, 85% ISAT (remember CICS Northtown is in the community) 63% do not have college education. The issue here is that this neighborhood has been updated but the New Old Town filled with new luxury condos and townhouses tier 1 and 2 have not. There is an inequity going on.

  • 133. RL Julia  |  February 6, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    The way CPS looks at this however, isn’t about working class or not – it’s about if you are better off than the rest of the city or not and where the kids are. Also – what CPS is counting about the school is attendance (not low income percentage). I don’t necessarily agree with the criteria they are using in the first place – but ultimately, you ended up in tier 4 because most of the city is that much more below you (regardless of how you/your neighborhood stacks up in the larger regional or national context wealth-wise) – which means that on average, the people living in tier 1(and tier 2 and tier 3) are just that much poorer. That being said, it is a disappointment.

  • 134. CPSAppalled  |  February 6, 2013 at 2:34 pm

    I find it ludicrous that Albany Park is now in the same category as Lincoln Park, Lakeview and Old Town. If it is accurate that the poorest children in the city are getting poorer (which seems true), and thus more children are going to get pushed “up” to higher tiers to meet the 25% of kids in each category, than shouldn’t there be a Tier 5, for the wealthiest?

  • 135. iSaidIt  |  February 6, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    134 NO

  • 136. Mildly Disgusted  |  September 22, 2013 at 9:27 pm

    You people would all be world class Pokemon trainers. Please don’t ruin us children’s life

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