Q & A with OAE (Katy Ellis from the Office of Access and Enrollment)

May 29, 2013 at 11:43 pm 132 comments

Hello. Welcome to the Office of Access and Enrollment.  How may we help you?

Hello. Welcome to the Office of Access and Enrollment. How may we help you?

I attended the session tonight arranged by Alderman Cullerton of the 38th ward.  This ward has a neighborhood split down the middle into Tier 3 and 4 which has some parents questioning the designation so they were able to get Katy Ellis from OAE out for a question and answer session.

I arrived about 15 min late, but apparently there really wasn’t discussion about the specific Tier designations out there in Portage Park, but more a chance to ask Katy questions about OAE and the application process.  It was nice to hear the range of questions that parents (well… moms mostly) had and to hear Katy’s answers in person.  SO much better than reading them online.  It was mainly local parents attending it seemed and the Principal and AP from Decatur were there as was theAlderman and Principal from Portage Park school (big, impressive school building with a HUGE auditorium an stage.  Enviable.)

The BIG news.  Starting this Fall, students can take the SEHS placement test in October or November so they know their final score BEFORE ranking their schools on the application.  This will affect kids in 7th grade now who will be in 8th grade next year, applying to SEHS.  If you don’t sign up for an Oct or Nov test spot, you’ll test in Jan and will get you scores on the usual timeline.

With these scores in hand, families can be more efficient about school tours and where they apply by using the cutoffs from the previous year.  If your score is below but CLOSE to a cutoff you should still apply since they vary each year.  But if you’re wildly off, probably can skip applying to that school.

Will AC kids need to test to stay in their high school?

No. False rumor.

Will the switch to Common Core affect the scores for SEHS admission?

No, not at the individual level as they will still be nationally normed.

Has CPS thought about raising the age at which kids test for and enter the gifted programs?

This is talked about a lot (the implication being that it potentially makes sense logically) but… this would disrupt the existing programs, would be upheaval (and we all know how people feel about change in CPS.)  That’s a broader conversation/decision that isn’t really ready to happen yet.

Will people’s Tiers continue to change?

Census Tracts will not be changed until 2020 (they were changed last year.)  But Tiers can potentially be revised by CPS every year.

What are you doing about cheating in the system (in terms of people lying about addresses.)

If a student signs up for school with a different address than they had when they took the test, they have to prove both addresses or they lose their spot.  Specifically, they need to prove they lived in the Tier they used when they applied for SEHS.

OAE has done some audits on “fishy” situations and in each case the family was able to prove their residence.  OAE relies on self-policing and they are “happy” to hear about suspected (I put “happy” in quotes as this must be a pain in the butt for OAE.)  Cases can be reported to OAE or to the inspector general.  In the past year they got 8 reports.  In some of those cases, the student had some other valid reason for getting into the high school other than straight scores (PD, IEP.)

What’s the deal with Magnet Cluster Enrollment?

First they have to take the neighborhood kids, then siblings, then lottery.  Some schools might now know until the 1st day of school how much space they have.  OAE acknowledges that this can be a problem for families trying to get siblings in and confirms that there are no guarantees.

Why 30% of seats set aside for ranked students?

CPS started with 40% of seats going to ranked students.  On the basis of the results and the recommendation of the Blue Ribbon Committee, CPS decide to switch to 30% rank.  (I assume too many Tier 4 and/or white kids were getting SESH.)

Have there been changes in the student composition as a result of the Tier system (now in it’s 3rd year)?

Diversity is still the same in that Caucasians have 26% of seats and Minorities have 74%.  There has been a shift in that more Hispanic and fewer African American students have seats.

Why isn’t there Principal Discretion for Elementary School?

The number of seats per school is very small, also, on what basis would a principal select a kindergartener other than on something their parents could do/offer the school.

Why aren’t there more SEHS?

Gifted kids are 3-5% of the population.  There are neighborhood schools galore that parents don’t feel are viable options.  So the question is where to put the resources.  Spend money on new schools? Or invest in the neighborhood schools so parents don’t feel as desparate?  The current thinking is to invest in the neighborhood schools.  There were 14,000 SEHS apps this year for what looks to be 4,800 spots.  Parents have a “SEHS or bust” mentality is the message OAE gets.  So there’s more focus on putting advanced curriculums in neighborhood schools so these feels like an option (ie IB programs.)

Why are grades from a neighborhood school counted the same as a gifted/classical school for admission?

This is a question OAE gets a lot.   The kids from the accelerated programs are likely going to score better on the tests which gives them an edge.  But the neighborhood kids might have an easier time with the grades.  It’s too hard in the current environment to adjust for grades because an A is not an A is not an A at a public, private, Catholic school etc.  If we start weighting those, every road you take leads to a mess.

How many kids applied for SEES this year?

14,000 applied.  5,000-6,000 were at the Kindergarten level  so it’s very competitive.

Are Tiers used in subsequent rounds for SEES spots?

After the 2nd round, pure rank order is used.

How can I ask more questions?

Call OAE at 73-553-2060 or http://cpsoae.org/ and select “Contact Us” (I recommend this option.)

Entry filed under: Applying to schools.

Talk Tiers with OAE Weds May 29 6pm at Portage Park Auditorium Tier Admissions for SEHS 2013/4 School Year

132 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jill W.  |  May 30, 2013 at 12:06 am

    Re: no elementary principal discretion: “…on what basis would a principal select a kindergartener other than on something their parents could do/offer the school.”

    What else? How about accommodating children of teachers at that school?

  • 2. cpsobsessed  |  May 30, 2013 at 12:14 am

    That would be a good one! But then would that apply to all schools as well? I’m in favor of keeping families together.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 3. Cpsmom&teacher  |  May 30, 2013 at 5:31 am

    The school that I work for is in a Tier 1 neighborhood and underperforming. For convenience and a variety of other reasons, many parents use a relative’s address to ensure that their children can attend my school.

    I live in a Tier 4 neighborhood with an okay neighborhood school. I also own a condo (we lived there until my child was born) in a Tier 4 neighborhood. This neighborhood has a fantastic school. Would it really be fishy for me to use the address of a home that I own and pay taxes for to send my child to a better school?

    We haven’t done this yet, but I’m curious to hear people’s general feelings about this. For the record, I’ve never reported a student’s family for using an address other than their own.

  • 4. Iheoma  |  May 30, 2013 at 6:17 am


  • 5. Second time around  |  May 30, 2013 at 7:59 am

    I think if you own property and pay taxes on it then you should be able to use that address without any guilt.

  • 6. cpsobsessed  |  May 30, 2013 at 8:22 am

    How about if you rent property?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • […] though that’s what we’re doing. In Chicago, that’s not the image we have of our city.” Q & A with OAE (Katy Ellis from the Office of Access and Enrollment) cpsobsessed: Starting this Fall, students can take the SEHS placement test in October or November […]

  • 8. Second time around  |  May 30, 2013 at 8:34 am

    @cpsobsessed – not so sure about renting as that is done, in most cases, for a temporary time to secure the address. Owning is much more of an investment while renting for six months is not. I guess though that my logic on owning v renting gives an unfair advantage to families who have the income available to do that. And isn’t it funny that for some it’s about owning/renting in tier 4 and then for SEHS it’s about finding a place in tier 1 or 2. Such a frustrating process.

    With two kids in SEHS, I have seen and heard so much craziness. All done because parents want a good safe school for their kids. Who can argue with that? The system is obviously flawed, especially for tier 4 kids….how to fix it is so out of my league.

  • 9. Westeogersparkmom  |  May 30, 2013 at 8:42 am

    In my opinion using income property addresses, grandmas address, or anything other than your actual home address is wrong- especially if you forum shop (home address to get Susie into good neighborhood K; income property to get Johny into Northside). Believe me I know it’s done but that doesn’t make it right; I know of several people with property in suburbs and have kids split b/w CPS and suburban schools-

  • 10. Chicago School GPS  |  May 30, 2013 at 8:44 am

    Thanks so much for the great summary, CPSO! And LOVE the graphic, once again!

    A few more tidbits that I heard earlier from OAE regarding the high school process this Fall:

    Standardized Testing Opportunities for Students Who Did not Take an Approved Test in Seventh Grade
    OAE expects Limited Fall Testing to be available free of charge for eighth grade students in October for students who are residents of the city of Chicago, whether they are attending CPS, charter, contract, private, or faith-based schools, or are being home-schooled. CPS schools order and arrange for the test for students who have requested such testing. Non-CPS parents should contact their local CPS school early in September to inquire about Limited Fall Testing. (Note: this is only for kids who did not take an approved test in 7th grade).

    In addition, the Chicago School Forensic Center will expand its standardized testing services beginning this summer. The Center will charge $50 per student. Parents interested in scheduling testing may contact the Center starting the third week in May at 312-467-2535.

    Changes Planned for This Fall
    OAE is developing a registration system that will provide the opportunity for students to use the online application site to schedule their own dates for Selective Enrollment High School testing, information sessions, auditions and interviews. Visit http://www.cpsoae.org over the coming months for updates on any changes in procedures for the coming application season. (Note: this means that you should be able to actually pick the date and site you DO want to take the SEHS Exam, and the earlier you register, the more options you will have. Plus, it looks like the earlier you take the test, the sooner you will get your scores).

    And in light of all the high school craziness, we are hosting our Hidden Gems High School Fair on Sept. 22 @1-4PM at Gordon Tech this Fall to help parents “widen their net”. Emphasis is on schools that are NOT the top 5 SEHS or St. Ignatius or Latin, etc. There really are a lot of school choices out there for every type of student!

  • 11. cpsobsessed  |  May 30, 2013 at 9:39 am

    Thanks for the info GPS. Remind me about that hidden gems fair in sept and I’ll post it. Sounds great!

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 12. HS Mom  |  May 30, 2013 at 10:08 am

    @10 – Should I assume that if you take the test early and don’t like your scores there are no retakes. Wouldn’t it be more advantageous to take the test later and get more prep time in?

    Also, regarding the new common core requirements and changes in ISAT testing, is there any move to standardize testing requirements so that all 7th graders wanting to apply to SEHS’s take the same test as opposed to “an approved” test?

  • 13. Do What You Have To Do  |  May 30, 2013 at 10:12 am

    Since CPS isn’t at all fair about providing resources equally to all schools, I see nothing wrong with lying to get your child into something better. We all live in this city, we all pay taxes, so IMHO, you just do what you have to do to. If that means nailing a mailbox to a tree outside of the best neighborhood school in the city and calling it “home,” then fine. They FORCE us to do this by providing a grossly unfair system.

    If you have two addresses, use it to your advantage and don’t think twice about it. BUT BE SMART- having your kid’s birthday party at your “real” house when your are supposed to be living somewhere else- that’s just asking for trouble.

  • 14. cpsobsessed  |  May 30, 2013 at 10:43 am

    @13: What do you feel is grossly unfair about the system?

  • 15. junior  |  May 30, 2013 at 10:49 am

    That’s called fraud. And it should be prosecuted. Report anyone who does this to the IG.

  • 16. cpsobsessed  |  May 30, 2013 at 10:57 am

    It is fraud. I don’t think anyone is arguing that. I’m just curious as to what @13 considers the unfairness of the system to justify it. Not that I want to go down the whole road of the unfairness of the Tier system again as we’ve been through that one so many times and we all obviously have different beliefs about what “fair” is. I was just curious in this specific case since the poster was so adamant about the situation justifying any lack of hesitation to mis-report an address.

  • 17. cpsobsessed  |  May 30, 2013 at 10:58 am

    Is anyone else surprised that only 8 cases were reported to OAE last year? Does that squelch the idea for our reality show to bust people? Actually, I KNOW that OAE says that people were able to provide documentation of “proof of address.” I’d say those people were probably just good at getting it set up well.

  • 18. Parent of 3rd grader @ a CPS charter school.  |  May 30, 2013 at 11:00 am

    My opinion – using either address is FINE. I’m divorced so my child DOES IN FACT have two homes. A room at Mom’s house and a room at Dad’s house. We live in different areas / different tiers, so we use the address that is most advantagous for our child’s educational endeavors.

  • 19. cpsobsessed  |  May 30, 2013 at 11:11 am

    I think a true 2-parent household is a different situation. I was thinking about the property ownership concept and at first it makes sense to me since you DO own a property in that Tier. But some property is just owned basically as a business venture. I know some people who own property all over the city. Should they get their pick of Tier when applying? How is that different than a business owner who owns some businesses around the city on which they pay taxes? It’s just another business venture that happens to be property. Anyhow, we all know the rules and we each know the extent to which we’d feel comfortable bending those rules, especially when it involves both the high stakes of education and the idea of telling our kids we lied to make up for their lower scores to get them into a school unfairly. That part doesn’t sit well with me.

  • 20. Do What You Have To Do  |  May 30, 2013 at 11:12 am

    @CPSO – I have been inside many schools. The inequities are grotesque, especially when comparing schools serving children in poverty to schools serving a higher proportion of middle/upper class students.

    Funding is too low across the board. Unless your school is in a neighborhood where the parents can kick in a big donation each year to buy technology or books or extra teachers, your child will go without.

    Magnet schools are popular because of the extra resources they provide – special arts, science, or technology instruction, for example. But alas, unless you are one of the lucky few to quite literally WIN THE LOTTERY for a spot at one of these schools, you are out of luck.

    Our neighborhood is considered Tier 4 but is in no way a wealthy place. How we can be in the same Tier as the Gold Coast is baffling. But in any event, we are all lumped together and we are competing with the richest of the rich for only a few precious school seats.

    Children with disabilities have it even worse, as they are much less likely to test into selective enrollment schools. For them it is lottery or bust.

    I don’t know what the answer is for making things more fair. Obviously making each and every school a “magnet” should be the goal. In the absence of true open enrollment across the city, parents will continue to fudge their way into the better schools. And why not? We all want the best education for our children. As long as some schools are so much better than others in Chicago, parents will flock to them.

  • 21. RL Julia  |  May 30, 2013 at 11:22 am

    Wanting the best education for your child (which is pretty much a near universal parental goal) does not justify gaming the system. Ever.

  • 22. Do What You Have To Do  |  May 30, 2013 at 11:54 am

    @21 A lot of people probably agree with you. But plenty of people also think that it is worth bending the rules to secure a better life for their children. For example, that is why so many people come to America without going through the proper channels. Is it against the rules? Yes. But take a look at the reasons they are doing it. They aren’t doing it to be “criminals” or “frauds”. They just want a better life.

    A similar argument can be made here, where YES it is against the rules to place your child in a school where you don’t technically live. It is also risky because if you get caught you will get into trouble. But is it immoral? Is it more immoral to play by the rules and let your child suffer the consequences for their entire lifetime, or to break the rules in order to get them a shot at a better life?

    But it also depends on how much trouble you’ll get in if you get caught. There was a mom in Ohio who got thrown into jail (and charged with a felony) for enrolling her child in the neighboring district by using her father’s address. In the case where you might get sent to jail, IMO the moral thing to do would be to NOT break the rules, because being in jail will have an even worse impact on your child in the long run than being in a bad school.

    Also, in terms of the original poster who is wondering about using her second address for a better school – who even knows if it is against the rules? Is it her address? Yes. Does she pay taxes on it? Yes. So it is a very gray area and I don’t think that would be considered fraud at all.

  • 23. junior  |  May 30, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    Clearly, it is immoral and it is clearly illegal (fraud). I hope you get caught. A place of ownership is not a place of residence. The whole point of the system is to even out the socioeconomic disparities, not to reward the people who can afford to own multiple properties. Immoral, absolutely.

  • 24. Esmom  |  May 30, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    “Is it her address? Yes. Does she pay taxes on it? Yes. So it is a very gray area and I don’t think that would be considered fraud at all.”

    You’re missing one key question: Is it her primary residence? If not, then no, she cannot use it. Not much gray ares if you ask me.

    When my kids were in preschool, we lived in one school’s attendance area and owned a 2-flat in another, far superior school’s area, only about 4 blocks away. People kept telling us to use the rental property’s address to get our kids into the better school.

    I was uneasy with that — despite neighbor after neighbor saying it was our “right” as property owners. What finally convinced me not to do it was then I’d also have to tell the kids to lie if it ever came up and I could not imagine making them complicit in something like that. Not to mention the fact that I couldn’t imagine lying to the faces of the office people when going to register, people I would come to know very well.

    So we sold the house we were living in and moved into the rental property. It wasn’t the easiest thing to do but I think it was the right thing to do.

  • 25. interesting  |  May 30, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    I couldn’t agree with you more. The problem is that, as parents, we are desperate to get our kids into a school that we feel is going to allow them every chance at success. And unfortunately, even in tier 4 neighborhoods, those schools are few and far between. Ideally, I would send my daughter to my neighborhood high school in 2 years. However, that school does not have the population of students that I want her around. Nor does it afford her the academic opportunities of the neighborhood school that I am not in the boundaries for. Which, by the way, when I purchased my house my child was 4 and I specifically purchased here because at that time we WERE in the boundaries. They changed them a couple of years ago and now my kid is screwed because of that change. But again, I wouldn’t, and won’t, send her to the neighborhood high school. It’s not a good fit for her at all, nor am I comfortable doing it. So basically, my only other options are private, home school, or bending the rules. I can’t afford private, I can’t afford to stay home and home school, but I do know how to bend the rules. And I don’t want to be “that person” but when my child’s future is at stake, I will do what I have to do to secure it.

  • 26. RL Julia  |  May 30, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    Exactly. In this case the ends do not justify the means. I think you provide a good test esmom -in that if you cringe about making your kids complicit in your actions, then it probably isn’t a good decision.

    In the end of it all, I do think that in this case CPS is pretty clear about these things – we seek to create gray areas to justify our getting what we want for ourselves/our kids. Don’t confuse the wanting of a better life as a blanket justification to do whatever it takes to get that life – which is primarily what your argument is.

  • 27. Do What You Have To Do  |  May 30, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    If I remember correctly, Mayor Emanuel was able to legally maintain Chicago residency by storing some boxes in the basement of his former home, even though he had rented the house out to another family.

    I’m no lawyer but a few boxes might be all it takes to legally make something your residence, even though you don’t live there.

  • 28. cpsmama  |  May 30, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    Does CPS application ask for “primary residence” or does it ask for address?

    Is it really “gaming the system” if the system’s rules are vague and one takes advantage of the vagueness?

  • 29. RL Julia  |  May 30, 2013 at 1:10 pm


    Here is CPS’s enrollment policies. They are probably different than the laws and policies that governed Emanuel’s residency determination. Unfortunately (or perhaps for you fortunately), I don’t think that CPS has the time, resources or inclination to go to court over every person who wants to claim their rental or business property as their primary domicile, but on the other hand I think the policy while not stating explicitly does make it pretty clear that they consider your residency/address to be the place where you sleep most every night and call home.

  • 30. SutherlandParent  |  May 30, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    I agree there isn’t nearly that much gray area. Tim Cawley, CPS Chief Administrative Officer, had to get a residency requirement exemption, even though according to the Tribune: “Cawley said he and his wife co-own a condo in Streeterville with another couple and spend time there when visiting downtown. They pay property taxes, but it is not their primary residence.” http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-06-22/news/chi-cps-may-grant-residency-waiver-for-highranking-official-20110622_1_waiver-cps-residency

    (Now, CPS giving Cawley a residency requirement waiver is a whole other story…)

    I think one of the few gray areas would be if parents are divorced, have joint physical custody of the kids and live in different school districts. Then you might be able to make an argument that the kids could attend school in either district.

  • 31. bending the rules?  |  May 30, 2013 at 1:19 pm


    “So basically, my only other options are private, home school, or bending the rules.”

    Not really. You can move. I don’t understand why city-folk get so outraged when their only legitimate options are (1) send your kid to your neighborhood school (2) go private, or (3) move. Those are the ONLY options you have in every suburban neighborhood. In the city, there is the possibility of SEES and magnets, but there just is no guarantee. Why is it that people who don’t happen to win the SEES or magnet lottery get so outraged about how unfair CPS is when they are left with exactly the same options you have in the suburbs?

    And. . . while I understand the sentiment that you will do whatever you can for your children. . . good neighborhood schools are overcrowded as it is by the people who legitimately reside within the boundaries. People that fraudulently represent their residency leads to even more overcrowding. Overcrowding leads these schools to have to shrink their attendance boundaries. I’m sorry to hear that you got re-zoned out of your neighborhood school. . . but I would bet that people who felt that “bending the rules” was ok – contributed significantly to that re-zoning.

  • 32. Do What You Have To Do  |  May 30, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    This is the first sentence of the enrollment policy: “Enrollment decisions should be made in the best educational interest of the child.”

    I didn’t see a reference to “Primary Residence”. The policy states, “Children who enroll in the Chicago Public Schools and live within the attendance area of a particular school shall be accepted for enrollment in that school.”

    There is no definition provided for the word “live”. For example it does not say you have to live there a certain number of days a week.

    The only specifics provided are for the paperwork you need to use to prove where you live. So it seems that if you have the correct paperwork, you would be perfectly within the rules.

    Please note that it does state that if they find that you have provided FALSE paperwork, they will transfer your child back to their home school. But if you have the right paperwork, you should be in the clear.

  • 33. Glass half full?  |  May 30, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    @27 LMAO!
    Just like the school closures, strikes, and any other issue parents fight amongst themselves arguing extremes. I have talked to soooooo many people (I work with the public) who pay taxes, follow rules, are heavily involved in their schools but want to have the freedom to make what may be best described as lateral moves. Some people feel their backs against a wall not because they didn’t get into Payton but because they don’t want to enroll their child at a neighborhood school that is not a good fit for their child.

  • 34. Glass half full?  |  May 30, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    I can understand that people not wanting others to real the benefits of the hard work they have done for their school but what about families who want to contribute to that communities success?

  • 35. Glass half full?  |  May 30, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    Reap not real*

  • 36. interesting  |  May 30, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    moving is not an option as my husband is a city employee and I must live in the city. I DID move into the neighborhood that included the high school I wanted, but the boundaries were changed. I can’t move again because the housing market is so poor that my house is not currently worth what I owe. So moving is NOT an option. My options are what I stated. Which essentially, are not options 🙂

    I never claimed that the process was unfair. Nor did I claim that I would not first attempt to go through the proper channels. Should those fail me, I will do what I need to do.

    I completely understand good neighborhood schools being overcrowded. My current elementary school is bursting at the seams, classes are being held in the hallways, there is no lunch room, and each classroom houses approximately 34-35 children. So I get it. I live it. And yes, there are students who attend school with my daughter that I KNOW do not live within the boundaries.

    None of these things changes the fact that I refuse to send my daughter to a school that is known to be overrun with gang members and drugs. As a parent, I can not do that. And the option to move, is just not a valid one. I am stuck in a situation because of the city’s rule that an employee has to live within it’s boundaries and the fact that the housing market tanked. My only remaining option is to bend the rules to keep my child safe and provide her with every academic opportunity I can.

  • 37. junior  |  May 30, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    @Do What You Have To Do said:

    “I’m no lawyer…”

    I guess we agree on something.

  • 38. Esmom  |  May 30, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    It seems ironic that this fraud people are contemplating and/or perpetrating is in the name of education. An education that includes, among many other things of course, learning to make good choices and striving to be ethical citizens. Do we really want to send our kids the message that it’s ok to break the rules? And I think by saying that CPS is being vague or unclear is just rationalizing, pure and simple.

  • 39. RL Julia  |  May 30, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    I think that the CPS definition of “the best educational interests of the child” would differ significantly from yours (or probably just about anyone’s, in fact). In terms of the policy not drilling down to the specific number of hours you have to spend in your house to actually be your primary residence – I think the list of documents they require they imply a definition of residency – however you could split hairs about it…. the same way some people at McDonald’s who order coffee don’t expect it to be hot unless there is a warning on the cup… and then sue over it when they are scalded. Or that some people apparently don’t know that putting a plastic bag over your head might result in suffocation. The examples are endless..

  • 40. cpsobsessed  |  May 30, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    I don’t know… one could argue that extensive test prep is bending the rules as well. Obviously it’s not against any actual rule, but couldn’t one argue that it teaches kids to do what they have to do to get a leg up on kids who can’t afford it/don’t have parents to help them do it?

    Btw, I had a conversation with someone recently who went to school in the suburbs and was bullied in school and he said ‘so we used my grandma’s address so I could enroll in X-suburb school instead.’ So I’m sure it goes on a bit out there as well.

  • 41. junior  |  May 30, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    Here’s a simple way for OAE to prevent the type of fraud people are proposing, while making the system fairer to all.

    Instead of using the % of home ownership and the % of college graduates within a census tract as factors in determining Tier status, they should evaluate those factors on an individual basis and use them to adjust an individual’s tier status.

    So, they would just ask these additional questions: List the child’s parents/guardians and indicate (1) which of them have completed college and (2) which of them own a residential property in the City of Chicago?

    Positive answers for those questions would raise one’s tier status and negative answers would lower those questions.

    People would have little incentive to lie, because these two items are easily verifiable through public records, so the possibility of getting caught would be significant.

    Furthermore, this would eliminate much of the complaints and criticisms about the tier system which focus on how many individuals do not share the socioeconomic characteristics of the census tract in which they live.

    CPS wouldn’t need to verify every applicant, but simple spot-checking for fraud would be easy and a strong deterrent.

  • 42. RL Julia  |  May 30, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    Interesting – actually you do have options – you just don’t like any of them. That doesn’t make them any less real.

  • 43. SoxSideIrish4  |  May 30, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    41. junior | May 30, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    You make a valid point, however in this economy, it would be difficult. I know plumbers who never attended college making a lot more than college educated ppl. CPS doesn’t have resources now, how could they have resources to spot-check fraud.

    If I owned property throughout the city, I would put my child in the best school possible, bc I pay taxes on that property. Spot-checking could be verified since I would own the property. I don’t own property throughout Chicago, but moved specifically into my neighborhood for the neighborhood schools my kids attend.

  • 44. Do What You Have To Do  |  May 30, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    Sometimes the rules themselves are immoral, and one must break them in order to do the right thing.

    CPS attendance boundary rules could be interpreted to say that you must be wealthy in order to attend a good school. This is because CPS provides good schools for rich kids and bad schools for poor children. Seeing as how we are all taxpaying residents in the same beautiful city, those rules just aren’t fair.

  • 45. junior  |  May 30, 2013 at 2:07 pm


    Sure. Tell that to the judge.

    Will you also tell your child to cheat on the test in order to right the wrongs that have been done to him/her?

  • 46. junior  |  May 30, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    @43 SSI

    What’s your point? The system is not based solely on income. That’s why it’s called *socioeconomic*. There are six factors that go into defining the SES of a census tract, and those factors are supposed to be influential of academic success. Having parents who did not go to college is influential in a child’s academics, regardless of their income.

    The point is that you move to a much more *accurate* system by defining whether a specific child’s parents went to college or own their own home — instead of the current system which looks at how many people in the kid’s neighborhood went to college or own their own home. Hard to argue against the fairness of making such a switch.

  • 47. chicagomom  |  May 30, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    interesting – which are the neighborhood high schools are you talking about?

  • 48. Interesting  |  May 30, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    RL Julia….
    The options I am presented with are not viable. My like or dislike of those options is not a factor.

  • 49. junior  |  May 30, 2013 at 2:34 pm

    @48 interesting

    And the Tier 1 kid that you’d be stealing a seat away from? Do you think they have more “viable” options?

  • 50. Interesting  |  May 30, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    I prefer not to name the schools I am talking about.

  • 51. Interesting  |  May 30, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    If I am claiming residency for a 9th grade seat in a high school it has nothing to do with tiers.

  • 52. RL Julia  |  May 30, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    Interesting – actually since these schools/this school is considered a viable option for some people (as evidenced because 1. the school exists, 2.other kids attend this school and 3.it is an accredited school), your like or dislike of this school as an option is really ALL there is. The school is not a viable option for your child because you don’t think this school is good enough. In short – you don’t like this school … for your child. Thus it is not a viable option… for you/your family. But because the school does exist and is an option for other people, your decision about it not being a viable option for you is really only about your liking or disliking the school as an option. There is no empirical evidence that you have shared thus far, where you have demonstrated that aside from your opinion that this school, which is an option for so many other children is not an option for your child. This is why the viability of the school is an opinion, not a fact.

    In the end of it all, I feel for you – you tried your hardest to make a good decision about schools with the information you had at the time but things changed (in this case, school boundaries) and you were shafted. Happens to everyone. The real question is: when life hands you lemons, are you going to make lemonade or are you going to stuff them into the car mufflers of your neighbors who are still in the desirable school’s boundaries?

  • 53. HS Mom  |  May 30, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    @40 CPSO – yes, extensive test prep can be an advantage for the rich. That’s why I think this new early test option is going to bite cps right in the “bleep”. As it stands now, many kids vie for the latest possible test date so that they can take prep and cram classes and study over the breaks. Now, kids who have parents that aren’t quite involved or go to schools that aren’t offering guidance and who can’t pay for extra classes will test and get results early. We are sure to hear about the “privileged” kids able to get into SEHS because they had test prep and later testing.

    I actually like the idea of early testing/early answers. But, it should be the same for everyone. Just like the ISAT should be the same test for everyone. Another big advantage is that test prep does not interfere with school work and quarter finals since the prep could be done over the summer.

  • 54. Interesting  |  May 30, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    Agreed Julia. And yes it does completely suck because 9 years ago I forced myself to consider high school options while I was selecting preschool. Quite the experience to be dealing with both of those things at the same time.

    And I have been handed some lemons to which I will happily add some vodka to…in my place of “residence.” 😉

  • 55. B  |  May 30, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    Parents do this every which way. A family I know used grandma’s address NOT in proximity to their preferred magnet because chances were better getting in if you are NOT in that magnet’s proximity. The child got in.

    I don’t believe it is true that only 8 families were investigated, there are 3 lawyers in the City’s employ who work on those cases. Yikes, unless they each have just a couple cases each, which may be true.

  • 56. cpsobsessed  |  May 30, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    @55, those 8 cases may have been the only ones reported directly to OAE. There may have been other reported to the Inspector General I *think* is what she was saying.

  • 57. west rogers park mom  |  May 30, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    @Interesting- Why don’t you just approach the school?Neighborhood high schools are not (as of yet) as competitive as neighborhood elementary schools. Perhaps the school you are interested in has an out of neighborhood application process and you could get your kid in legitimately? I have just gone through this process and can’t think of a sought after neighborhood high school that doesn’t have out of neighborhood programs. My kid was accepted into out of neighborhood programs at Lincoln Park(3 different programs), Taft, Senn, Lakeview, and Mather.

  • 58. chicago taxpayer  |  May 30, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    Why aren’t there more SEHS?

    Gifted kids are 3-5% of the population. There are neighborhood schools galore that parents don’t feel are viable options. So the question is where to put the resources. Spend money on new schools? Or invest in the neighborhood schools so parents don’t feel as desparate? The current thinking is to invest in the neighborhood schools. There were 14,000 SEHS apps this year for what looks to be 4,800 spots. Parents have a “SEHS or bust” mentality is the message OAE gets. So there’s more focus on putting advanced curriculums in neighborhood schools so these feels like an option (ie IB programs.)
    In a competitive environment when the customers’ desires mattered the provider would be trying to meet customer demand. HA, HA. There is clearly a high demand for Selective Enrollment Schools on both the elementary and high school. This is an undisputed fact. The reaction that Ms. Ellis has to this demand which says in fact that WE (CPS) knows better than you (parents & taxpayers) about what you need is offensive. Ms. Ellis: What you need are more neighborhood options. What you MUST do — parent and taxpayers — risk your kid’s future that these unproven and lower quality options will work out.

    Question for Ms. Ellis: Would you put your kid in a neighborhood high school? I didn’t think so.

    Ms. Ellis: You do not know better than your customers.

  • 59. interesting  |  May 30, 2013 at 5:35 pm

    West Rogers Park Mom…
    Believe me, I plan on attempting all legitimate avenues first. I don’t want to have to not follow the rules. Approaching the school and inquiring about an out of neighborhood application process. However, the school I prefer for her to attend is over crowded already. So I am guessing that this won’t be an option. But definitely worth trying…

  • 60. Patricia  |  May 30, 2013 at 7:30 pm

    @20 you said ” I have been inside many schools. The inequities are grotesque, especially when comparing schools serving children in poverty to schools serving a higher proportion of middle/upper class students.
    Funding is too low across the board. Unless your school is in a neighborhood where the parents can kick in a big donation each year to buy technology or books or extra teachers, your child will go without.”

    Just to make sure we rehash the same fair/unfair school inequities conversation yet again 😉

    I don’t deny that there are gross inequities. However, schools in higher income areas DO NOT GET MORE FUNDING!!!!! They get LESS because of fewer kids on free and reduced lunch. Parent fundraising ONLY makes up for some of the gap compared to low income schools. Low income schools should be able to afford technology too.

    Low income area schools get a lot of money and NO it it not used for additional security guards. There is also a significant line item to cover security.

    I and others on this blog have asked this many times. Why don’t many schools in low income areas have technology, music, etc? It really doesn’t seem to be budget driven.

    Of course, a ton of additional money in all schools would be great, but this is the horribly mismanaged state of Illinois………….state motto, “We are proud to be last in line of the 50 states for education funding.”

  • 61. local  |  May 30, 2013 at 8:17 pm

    It was good to read/see Mother Courage in college. 😉

  • 62. local  |  May 30, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    “There really are a lot of school choices out there for every type of student!”

    Looking for HS options on the southside. Any ideas?

  • 63. SutherlandParent  |  May 30, 2013 at 9:13 pm

    @62, Well, there’s the Ag School and… um, give me a minute 🙂

    There’s also Brooks College Prep, of course. There are always questions about the safety of the neighborhood, but I was a little shocked when I read recently how much lower Brooks students score across the board compared with Whitney Young. According to CPS, 75.8% of Brooks students meet/exceed PSAE state standards, compared with 96.3% at WY; 76.9% of Brooks students score 20 or higher on the ACT, compared with 97% at WY, etc.

    I haven’t paid that much attention to the different SEHS schools (not quite there yet), but I didn’t realize there was THAT big a range.

  • 64. Do What You Have To Do  |  May 30, 2013 at 9:34 pm

    @60 Patricia- ok I’ll bite 😉 – so even if funding is the most inequitable thing…what about academics? As a rule, schools in higher income areas have much higher test scores than schools in low income areas. If you live in a low income neighborhood, should you just accept that your child is doomed to fail, because “those are the rules?” Even though the richer neighborhood school just a few blocks away has much higher scores?

    I think there are many parents believe that attendance boundaries are designed to keep lower income children out of high performing schools.

    All I am saying is that fudging a little to get your child into a better school isn’t necessarily bad, since the system itself is so unfair anyways. I would be a fan of open enrollment city-wide, where anyone who lives in the city could enroll their child in any public school they want.

  • 65. Iheoma  |  May 30, 2013 at 9:34 pm

    Kenwood is on the south side. It’s a strong neighborhood school and I believe that they take applications for our of neighborhood kids for the school. If you’re talking SEHS, did you see if Lindblom has any seats available? They also take transfer students. What about King College Prep? I hate to use the “c” word but Charter schools may be an option as well.

  • 66. SoxSideIrish4  |  May 30, 2013 at 10:22 pm

    62. local | May 30, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    The principal of Lindblom has posted on this site numberous times. He seems like a great principal and the school may be what you are looking for. You may want to schedule a tour.

  • 67. Patricia  |  May 30, 2013 at 10:42 pm

    @64 My only point was to comment on your funding comment, not the fudging aspect. Funding within CPS is not really the issue with inequities. I think we can all agree that no one is flush with cash in CPS regardless of zip code.

    In regards to low income neighborhoods. You said, “If you live in a low income neighborhood, should you just accept that your child is doomed to fail, because “those are the rules?” I do not think parents should just accept their school if it is low performing. Parents should demand better. They should also participate in their child’s education and make education a priority. Get the kids to school, help with homework, take advantage of free services, etc. Before people pitch a fit, yes, I know and agree that there are horrible circumstances in some areas of the city that I cannot even imagine. But I do not think those parents should give up either. Many many neighborhood schools have gotten better over the past 15 years (that I have been “obsessively” engaged) because parents have demanded a good education and helped schools make the necessary changes to improve. This blog is living proof of parents making education a priority. (I am way off track from your original point 😉

    Aren’t there low income schools that are pretty darn good? Haines comes to mind. About 90% low income but test scores in the 90’s.

  • 68. realchicagomama  |  May 30, 2013 at 11:24 pm

    @1/@2 – my understanding is that teachers at neighborhood schools can already enroll their kids there. I’d rather eliminate principals from the enrollment of teachers’ children question, although I am hugely in favor of keeping ALL families together within CPS.

    @36 -“None of these things changes the fact that I refuse to send my daughter to a school that is known to be overrun with gang members and drugs. ” Known by whom? And how is it known?

    @58 – I think Katy Ellis’s point is that just because there IS stated demand for SEHS doesn’t mean that there is academic need for it. If you cream off the top 2%, it doesn’t make the next 8% any richer. I think it would be interesting to see the # of students who are struggling at SEHS. Does the bottom 25% of Lane Tech get to college prepared to do college work?

    @64 – schools in higher income neighborhoods score better _if the neighborhood residents send their children to those schools_.

  • 69. WRP Mom  |  May 31, 2013 at 7:21 am

    @53- I, too, like the option of getting your SEHS test scores early. The idea of ranking your choices without knowing how your child did on the test has always bothered me. I wish they would do the same thing with Academic Centers since they use the same point system, just use a different kind of test.

    I get what you’re saying regarding kids test prepping and waiting until the last possible test date to try to get an advantage. Maybe the best solution would be for everyone to do early testing. Sure, there would be less time to prep, but everyone else would be in the same boat.

  • 70. Mayfair Dad  |  May 31, 2013 at 9:43 am


    Interesting read. Pokes holes in the current school reform theories without devolving into pro-union sound bytes.

  • 71. interesting  |  May 31, 2013 at 10:05 am

    Known by myself and other parents in the neighborhood because we live within the boundaries of the school. Not only do we see the students who attend the school, but we are friends with parents who have sent their children to the school.

    So to answer your questions…it is known to the community members by witnessing particular events.

  • 72. HScoming  |  May 31, 2013 at 10:08 am

    I am also interested in the early test date. Because it will be 4-5 months before the “traditional” test will the the scoring criteria take this into consideration? Did they talk about this?

  • 73. cpsobsessed  |  May 31, 2013 at 11:06 am

    I’m asking OAE about whether scoring differs depending when you take the test – will let you know what they say.
    Ideally everyone would test around the same time, otherwise parents have yet another choice to make to complicate things! It’s a tough call….

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 74. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  May 31, 2013 at 11:16 am

    It is frustrating that OAE won’t put out more helpful data, or that parents aren’t asking useful questions. 14,000 seEs applications, with 5-6k at kindergarten doesn’t tell us how many slots are open.

    @58 Because of the lack of data, we don’t know what the qualified demand is for elementary level.

    For SEHS, 4800 slots for 14,000 applicants puts the overall acceptance rate at over 1/3rd, much better than NYC specialized HS chances. See @37 in the other post. But the mix of applicant-choices means that the actually acceptance rate for a particular school is much lower. Those in the upper 60% of scorers in the national sample (stanine 5 and up) can sit for the exam, and presumably some in that range choose not to. So, in principle, granted a big if, the current SEHS could accomodate the top 20% of nationally normed scorers. So the system — even if it were done by score alone — would be taking in people who score in the 80th percentile on up. That’s rather generous. The trouble is that the tier system distorts who actually gets in.

    CPS really has a choice: drop the tiers but reduce the number of seats, or build more SEHS. Under the former, you want the top 5% at best, and since some will stay in strong neighborhood schools or go private, the actual amount could be about 4.5%, or working off NYC HS data, CPS is about 37% the size of NYCs school system, and NYC SHS hold about 14,000 students, CPS should be able to accomodate 5,155 in total. (It actually holds about 12,000 in the 8 SEHS.) So, the tier-less system would see people chasing about 1,300 freshmen seats (you take more than 1/4 to adjust for attrition). Shut down Lane and two or three others, and CPS would be right-sized at the HS level.

  • 75. RL Julia  |  May 31, 2013 at 11:23 am

    Or CPS could continue to try and improve neighborhood high school schools adding whatever bells and whistles that might make parents give them a second look.

    So…. are you actually suggesting fewer SEHS’s – if I understand your argument correctly? That would be political suicide.

  • 76. cpsobsessed  |  May 31, 2013 at 11:27 am

    FYI, I’ve got the info on what % of kids at each SEHS this year came from each Tier so I will post that later — left it at home.

  • 77. trice  |  May 31, 2013 at 11:35 am

    Is there a chart showing the scores needed to gain acceptance at a classical or RGC? I see the ones for high school, but couldn’t locate one for entering kindergarten. Thanks

  • 78. cpsobsessed  |  May 31, 2013 at 11:38 am

    @77: Unfortunately, they don’t publish that info for elem schools, because many of them have just 28 kids entering if they break it out by tier someone could potentially identify which kid got what score. Even the principals don’t know what their own cutoff scores were! (My son’s principal asked ME what they were this year, which I thought was pretty funny – but they’re not provided with that info or with the kids’ scores.)

  • 79. cpsobsessed  |  May 31, 2013 at 11:41 am

    And actually that is one of the reasons why this blog started getting people posting on it. This and NPN’s message board are the only place that people could share info to get a sense for what the cutoff scores are. Before having a common place to share this information, nobody really knew what the cutoffs were except anecdotally. And we still mostly have a sense of just certain schools and certain tiers, based on the blog readership…

  • 80. trice  |  May 31, 2013 at 11:50 am

    @79: I knew about the non-official posting, but I thought there was some sort of chart that someone posted on here a long time ago. Also, I know ppl have asked where are the south side parents on this blog and, only speaking for myself, we’re here but many are lurkers (like myself). 🙂

  • 81. RL Julia  |  May 31, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    @70 Thank you Mayfair Dad! Awesome article. Here are few for you to read….
    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/31/education/college-slots-for-poorer-students-still-limited.html?hp&_r=0 – (We’d like to be diverse but well…. it’s expensive!)
    and …. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/31/opinion/from-the-mouths-of-babes.html?ref=opinion (a nice one-two punch – food stamps, you don’t need no lousy food stamps!).

  • 82. junior  |  May 31, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    @70 MFD

    Thanks. Good stuff. I know many of us have come to similar conclusions as that article after long debates here. I particularly like the messages on out-of-school supports, early childhood ed and improving teacher quality.

    If you want some more thought-provoking stuff, also devoid of the tired union/anti-union dichotomies, check out this TED talk:

    Delves into a lot of the issues surrounding class size, teacher quality and other factors that may or may not contribute to improving schools.

  • 83. realchicagomama  |  May 31, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    @71 – now I’m curious which high school is your local one. Is it Schurz?

  • 84. realchicagomama  |  May 31, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    @74 – exactly. IMO, creating more SEHS really just creates even MORE of a stratified HS system. I’d personally hate to see my kids’ HS options become either cut-throat brain trust or dregs of society. Shouldn’t there be a middle ground somewhere? I could see cutting some SEHS by making them magnets – it creates a middle ground. I remember reading that Whitney Young started as a magnet, but morphed into a SEHS somewhere along the way.

  • 85. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  May 31, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    @74 Good link. My favorite line: ” A different interpretation of accountability suggests accounting for results – as in explaining causes – and then assuming collective responsibility for improvement.” Every time I hear an ISBE or CPS official tell me that more standardized tests based on undisclosed contents are needed for accountability purposes, I think back to The Princess Bride: “You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.”

  • 86. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  May 31, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    I meant @ 70. Mayfair Dad.

  • 87. cpsobsessed  |  May 31, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    “I think back to The Princess Bride: “You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.”

  • 88. cpsobsessed  |  May 31, 2013 at 3:52 pm

    Hey, good news from OAE regarding the earlier testing for the SEHS enrollment test:

    The Selective Enrollment High Schools examination will be scored utilizing the norms for the specific time of year/month of school that the test is taken. That is, a test taken in October will not be scored the same as a test taken in January.

  • 89. HScoming  |  May 31, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    great! Thanks for checking..makes sense

    they won’t be allowing retakes will they? We can dream…

  • 90. Chicago mom  |  May 31, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    The SE test in the past has been early Dec- end of January. From what I have read there will be early testing and early results for tests take. I. oct and Nov. Am I I correct from a previous post that early test takers will be scored on a curve? It really is not much earlier. Can someone confirm this? Thx

  • 91. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  May 31, 2013 at 6:06 pm

    @75 If you switched from the tier system to a exam score only system for admissions, Chicago ought to have fewer students in SEHS than it now does because in principle, students scoring in the 81st percentile would be admitted. But because Chicago has decided that the selective schools should somewhat mirror the demographics of the city, it adopted the tier system that requires more SEHS seats than the city should otherwise have.

    What is unclear is how many tier 3 & 4 students who currently get excluded would be included under an exam-only system with fewer seats.

    For families in tiers 4 and 3 whose students scored above the lowest score for lower tiered students at Jones, Lane, Northside, Payton and Young, there’s considerable resentment. But tier 3 Brooks parents, tier 2 & 3 Lindblom parents, tier 1 & 2 South Shore parents, and tiers 1-3 Westinghouse parents would have the same resentment of tier 4 students who got in with lower scores at those schools.

    There’s obviously a racial component but from the point-of-view of black and Hispanic leaders, 34% of HS age whites in CPS attend SEHS and they account for 22% of SEHS enrollment even though they account for less than 8% of HS age CPS students, according to 2012-13 academic year data.

  • 92. Patricia  |  May 31, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    @85 Christopher. LOL!! The Princess Bride is one of my all time favorites! “inconceivable……..stop using those words now I mean it………….anybody want a peanut”

    @Mayfair Dad. Good article. Thanks.

  • 93. RLJulia  |  June 1, 2013 at 6:57 am

    Could CPS start by upping the stanine requirement to even sit for the SEHS exam? Would that make sense?

  • 94. SoxSideIrish4  |  June 1, 2013 at 7:32 am

    93. RLJulia | June 1, 2013 at 6:57 am

    I agree~they should be higher and instead of a 5 for Magnets, they should be at least a 7.~just my 2 pennies

  • 95. tchr  |  June 1, 2013 at 8:58 am

    Giant jump here. But RL Julia mentioned the McDonalds coffee incident. Have you seen the HBO documentary Hot Coffee? Taken from my favorite source to cite (Wikipedia) but the only one that had a good overview:

    On February 27, 1992, Stella Liebeck, a 79-year-old woman from Albuquerque, New Mexico, ordered a 49-cent cup of coffee from the drive-through window of a local McDonald’s restaurant located at 5001 Gibson Boulevard S.E. Liebeck was in the passenger’s seat of her grandson’s Ford Probe, and her grandson Chris parked the car so that Liebeck could add cream and sugar to her coffee. Liebeck placed the coffee cup between her knees and pulled the far side of the lid toward her to remove it. In the process, she spilled the entire cup of coffee on her lap.[12] Liebeck was wearing cotton sweatpants; they absorbed the coffee and held it against her skin, scalding her thighs, buttocks, and groin.[13] Liebeck was taken to the hospital, where it was determined that she had suffered third-degree burns on six percent of her skin and lesser burns over sixteen percent.[14] She remained in the hospital for eight days while she underwent skin grafting. During this period, Liebeck lost 20 pounds (9 kg, nearly 20% of her body weight), reducing her down to 83 pounds (38 kg).[15] Two years of medical treatment followed.


  • 96. Iheoma  |  June 1, 2013 at 9:55 am

    I don’t understand the stanine 5 cutoff either. I don’t think that there are many kids with the minimum scores really have a chance of getting a spot at an SEHS. If anything the lower stanine minimum requirements may be inflating the number of applications. If it really takes 8 and 9 stanine scores to gain admissions that what the cutoff scores should be. I understand exceptions for kids with special needs and think that the standards should reflect flexibility in this area.

  • 97. HS Mom  |  June 1, 2013 at 10:39 am

    @91 – do community leaders and others feel that whites should only have 8% of SEHS seats?

    “What is unclear is how many tier 3 & 4 students who currently get excluded would be included under an exam-only system with fewer seats.”

    What is also unclear given the cut-off scores listed for SEHS is how many tier 1 students that score over 650 get excluded.

    @90 I agree to an extent. Having extra time to study especially over holiday break does make a difference. The first thing the test prep companies tell you is do not to pick the December date. I’m sure there are plenty of exceptions testing earlier or later and not everyone agrees with or has benefited from test prep – but, that’s the thinking. Really, I think it would just be better if everyone took it in the same relative time frame and earlier

  • 98. anotherchicagoparent  |  June 1, 2013 at 11:02 am

    I know Kids who tested In November this year and did very well on the selective enrollment test.Testing ran from November 17th to end of February maybe beginning of March with make up tests I believe.So you kind of just have to know your child and choose what date is best.Sometimes extra time has helped ,sometimes it has hindered.Parents have been complaining for years that they want the results before they choose schools so kind of another be careful what you wish for at CPS kind of thing.They did have a survey on HS apps this year of course wording was kind of one sided again.

  • 99. JMOChicago  |  June 1, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    @ # 25 Re: ” Ideally, I would send my daughter to my neighborhood high school in 2 years. However, that school does not have the population of students that I want her around. ”

    What does this mean, exactly?

  • 100. SN Dad  |  June 1, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    @64 Do What You Have To Do :
    “… attendance boundaries are designed to keep lower income children out of high performing schools. ”

    That’s a unique perspective. If all the lower income parents “Do What You Have To Do”, sending their kids to “high performing schools”, soon it will not be high performing anymore, and the higher income families will move, so will the previously high performing school. The results are the same.

    It is the parents, not the school.

  • 101. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  June 1, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    @97 No, I don’t think that’s the case, but the current system seems to do well for a significant number of white students compared to non-white students. The macro view really doesn’t matter much to someone whose child just missed the cut-off, however.

    What I’m saying is that a truly selective system — which would be aiming at those in 95th percentile nationally — would mean an exam-only admission with many fewer seats than currently exists. While some tier 4 students would get in who currently do not, I am not sure how many more would. At Lane, Jones, Northside, Payton, and Young, the maximum score of tier 1 students was above the minimum of tier 4 students. If the exam-only method yielded a cut-off of 880 across the city, would parents be satisfied? I’m dubious. I think the real problem is that not enough attention is being paid to improvements in neighborhood schools.

    @93 94 96 : It shouldn’t matter what the stanine is to take the test. If 5th stanine interval students cannot score competitively on the exam, and their ISAT percentile is below the 60th percentile, their points would be dismal too. A student who was at the 59th percentile on the ISAT would get 178 points, and even if he managed to score at the 70th percentile on the exam, he would get only 212 points. So even with straight As (300 points) he wouldn’t even get 700 points total, much lower than the lowest tier 1 acceptance cut for northside and loop schools.

  • 102. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  June 1, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    @100 @64

    I’d spin this around. The schools cannot fix everything that other elements of the polity and society have fouled up. There are plenty of low-income parents pushing their children to do better — indeed, this is the charter-school demographic in Chicago. But if all you have is a HS education from a middling school and work two minimum-wage jobs, your ability to help your children is limited.

    Selective admissions schools, by their very nature, cull the brightest students. Teaching there is easier. Getting a kid who has mastered algebra in middle school to learn calculus in HS is much easier than teaching a kid who still has trouble with exponents to learn calculus by senior year.

    A higher-performing school (presumably based on the annual ISATs, which is how most people seem to judge the elementary schools) may be high-performing because great teachers helped struggling students or because competent teachers have high-performing students. The former is what low-income neighborhoods need, and sending students who struggle to the latter won’t help most of them succeed. Some certainly will benefit, but the broader problems won’t be addressed. The essay cited @70 discusses the range of challenges very well.

  • 103. OutsideLookingIn  |  June 1, 2013 at 6:59 pm

    @94 – I hope they don’t raise the stanine too high for the magnets. My kid desperately wants to go to the Ag HS!

  • 104. SoxSideIrish4  |  June 1, 2013 at 9:49 pm

    103. OutsideLookingIn | June 1, 2013 at 6:59 pm

    Do you live in the MPHS district? I received this email

    There’s a Morgan Park High School Showcase–June 10th.

    Come see what’s new at Morgan Park High School! After a lengthy search, Dr. Carolyn Epps, a Beverly resident, recently became the new principal. Also, a $20 million campus upgrade is nearly complete.

    On Monday, June 10, 2013, Alderman Matt O’Shea and the Friends of Morgan Park will host a Community Showcase at 7:00 pm in the recently renovated auditorium at Morgan Park High School (1744 W. Pryor). Neighborhood residents are invited to meet Dr. Epps and learn about her vision for the future of the school. There, we will highlight the many great programs and curriculum options available and share your thoughts and ideas for improvement. We will also discuss several future improvements that we are currently pursuing, including new curriculum options and potential partnerships with other institutions.

    Morgan Park is our neighborhood school! A $20 million renovation is almost finished and many other improvements are on the way. Join us on June 10th to learn more. If you have any questions, please contact Matt O’Shea at mattoshea@19thward.com.

  • 105. JMOChicago  |  June 1, 2013 at 10:16 pm

    @36–None of these things changes the fact that I refuse to send my daughter to a school that is known to be overrun with gang members and drugs.

    No HS is immune from drug problems. Even Northside Prep (Although CPS will not disclose per school on their reports, thus not complying w/ state law), Wilmette, New Trier, etc. ALL have drug problems. Gangs aren’t just in the city anymore, the suburbs have them. Even Glen Ellyn (La Raza & Cons Vice Lords), Hinsdale (Latin Kinds, 2-6’s), Wilmette (Gangster Disc, Latin Kings). And even if you kids don’t run into gangs, there is still lots of other things for them to get tangled up in, even in the most posh schools. Your neighborhood HS might not be a good fit for your student(s), but I wouldn’t write off all neighborhood HS w/o some thorough first-hand check-ins.

  • 106. OutsideLookingIn  |  June 2, 2013 at 12:06 am

    @104 – SSI4
    We’re not in the neighborhood but we’re mobile. HS is a few years away for my kid so i’m hoping (selfishly) that Ag doesn’t become the next “impossible to get into” school in the meantime. There are several neighborhood schools that I like but kid only has eyes for Ag. Great news about Morgan Park HS!

  • 107. Do What You Have To Do  |  June 2, 2013 at 12:11 am

    @105 – I don’t think it is necessarily helpful to compare a crime-ridden CPS inner city high school to New Trier and Wilmette – we all know that their problems are miles apart.

    It sounds like “interesting” has already found a good school for her child and plans to enroll him or her there, address or no address. Which is just fine, IMO. She should not be expected to sit back and waste her child’s educational years on a school that the community knows to be unsafe and of poor quality.

  • 108. local  |  June 2, 2013 at 8:47 am

    MPHS needs racial integration. How can that happen?

  • 109. RL Julia  |  June 2, 2013 at 11:26 am

    105 – gotta say that while I don’t think Northside or Whitney Young have an extraordinary or unusual amount of drugs in them, I have been surprised at how much drug activity there is at these schools – at least pot -perhaps its just my kids…

  • 110. JMOChicago  |  June 2, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    @107–I don’t think it is necessarily helpful to compare a crime-ridden CPS inner city high school to New Trier and Wilmette – we all know that their problems are miles apart.

    Well, absolutely. No argument there. I’m just pointing out that A) moving out of the city is not the “total escape” from social issues that may affect schools/teens, and B) don’t believe that SEHS are going to be entirely w/o issues, and C) don’t stereotype all neighborhood high schools with the same broad brush. Are SEHS excellent? Well, of course! Any school where you have to test in will post excellent test scores. It’s like starting on 3rd base and sliding into home plate. But that doesn’t mean schools where more kids start out running to first base aren’t going to deliver on education outcomes…it just means you can’t compare SEHS and neighborhood schools…it’s Apples and Oranges.

  • 111. it wont happen..  |  June 2, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    @108 MPHS does need racial integration, but it wont happen. The only way I could see it happening is to phase out all the current students and then get the white people in Beverly/MorganPark/Mt. Greenwood to fill it up with their darlings. But that wont happen because MPHS is nowhere near desperate enough to turn around or shut down – 18 ACT is not bad for a school that has gang problems and drug use.
    At the end of the day, my white neighbors in Beverly/Morgan Park are some of the most nice racists I’ve ever met.
    I graduated for MPHS a few years ago. I love how posters regularly say that MPHS has drugs and gangs. Really? Besides the occasional fight or fire alarm, I experienced none of this. What I did experience was the IB program, which now has people from my class at Stanford, Washington Univ. in St. Louis, Northwestern, – but no one cares about that. At all.

  • 112. SE Teacher  |  June 2, 2013 at 4:31 pm

    Sad that many parents won’t consider the SE high school that had not only 2 Posse scholarship recipients, 1 4-year U of C scholarship AND 2 (out of 1000 nationwide) Gates scholarships.

  • 113. interesting  |  June 2, 2013 at 8:26 pm

    “What does this mean, exactly?”

    It means that I won’t send her to a school with students who are known gang members and involved in drugs. I’ve already stated that. And, to be preemptive, it has nothing to do with race or culture or anything of that nature. I understand that all races and cultures produce unsavory characters 😉

    “No HS is immune from drug problems. Even Northside Prep (Although CPS will not disclose per school on their reports, thus not complying w/ state law), Wilmette, New Trier, etc. ALL have drug problems. Gangs aren’t just in the city anymore, the suburbs have them. Even Glen Ellyn (La Raza & Cons Vice Lords), Hinsdale (Latin Kinds, 2-6′s), Wilmette (Gangster Disc, Latin Kings). And even if you kids don’t run into gangs, there is still lots of other things for them to get tangled up in, even in the most posh schools. Your neighborhood HS might not be a good fit for your student(s), but I wouldn’t write off all neighborhood HS w/o some thorough first-hand check-ins.”

    I agree that all high schools have their problems. I am not naive to think that sending her to any particular school will shield her from all societal problems. I do believe however that some schools are better than others in handling the issues of gangs and drugs (and that could also mean they are just better at hiding it!) But I absolutely would not write off all neighborhood schools without first hand knowledge. As a matter of fact, the school I will be sending her to is a neighborhood school. It’s just better academically and student body wise than my own neighborhood school.

    I also know my kid, and our neighborhood school is NOT a good fit for her. Which is why we did not buy a house within the boundaries of that school. That didn’t work out to our favor 9 years later though 😦

    “now I’m curious which high school is your local one. Is it Schurz?”

    It is not Schurz. I will not name the schools.

  • 114. Iheoma  |  June 2, 2013 at 10:07 pm

    Thanks for sharing good info about MPHS. I think that people need to know as much as possible about neighborhood schools. I think that there are a lot of folks on this board that say negative things about schools and are truly surprised when there are real life examples of the good things that exist there.

  • 115. cpsmama  |  June 3, 2013 at 10:02 am

    Drugs are at all CPS SEHS- mostly pot, but also cocaine and ecstacy. There is also significant prescription drug sharing/selling (mosty Aderall) among high achieving HS students which, is almost more scary than the illegal drugs 😦

    Here’s a link to an eye-opening article from NYT:


  • 116. RL Julia  |  June 3, 2013 at 10:08 am

    @113 – As far as Whitney Young is concerned, I have been pretty pleased with how proactive and on top of things they seem to be in terms of drug use. My daughter reports that they are told repeatedly that their lockers are checked for contraband every night (or every other night). Northside I am less certain about. That being said, I know that kids have been expelled/suspended for bringing drugs to school at both schools this school year. While I am less certain, I didn’t hear about this level of activity/action etc… happening at Taft.

  • 117. cpsobsessed  |  June 3, 2013 at 10:13 am

    @RLJ: As a parent I think “who in their right mind would bring drugs to school?!?” and then I remember being a teen and how I wasn’t always operating in my “right mind.”

  • 118. southie  |  June 3, 2013 at 11:42 am

    Morgan Park H.S., for some reason, isn’t an acceptable option for some middle-class black families within its attendance boundaries. What would explain that? They’ve said it’s the overall achievement level of the school. So, it’s Catholic, private and selective-enrollment or the Ag school for them. I have no children at Morgan Park, so I don’t know what it is like for any kids that attend there. Apparently, the IB program works for its kids.

  • 119. Years to think about it  |  June 3, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    I live mphs boundaries and I know it is possible to get a great education there, but my children will likely not be attending this school. I will not play social experiment with my children’s education and safety. Maybe things will be different years down the road, but right now the white students are often bullied and ostracized. I want my daughter to enjoy high school. Finally if every student in the boundaries enrolled they wouldn’t even fit in the school, which is why AG should be a neighborhood school for Mt. Greenwood students just as the person who donated the land intended.

  • 120. Jonathan Goldstein  |  June 3, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    Hello parents ~ I wanted to let you know about a new option for tutoring. Test Prep Chicago, which ran its first classes last year, is offering an 8th grade test prep course this August at the Welles Park Field House in Lincoln Square. I don’t want to bog down the comments, but please take a look at our website (www.testprepchicago.com) to learn more about our 7th and 8th grade tutoring programs. And, for those parents interested in signing up their children for the October and November SEHS entrance exam dates, our August prep course will be perfect! Thank you!

  • 121. glad hs is far away  |  June 5, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    ” I’m wondering if one problem is that people in Chicago think that Northside, Payton, Whitney Young, Jones and Lane are the only “decent” public high schools in the city.

    These schools aren’t “decent”. They are the top high schools in the state! … all but Lane are ranked higher than New Trier, Hinsdale — and Lane is ranked above Evanston, Lake Forest, Maine South and other highly regarded suburban schools (by US News).”

    Okay, but how many “decent” schools are there, especially on the southside? It seems we habe the best of the best, or the lowest of the low…no middle ground

  • 122. cps alum  |  June 5, 2013 at 6:41 pm

    @ that the top 4 are the best in the state—

    Now way would I put the big 4 ahead of the top suburban schools. CPS just doesn’t have the resources those schools have. Scores aren’t everything, and they way the big 4 gets their population of students skews scores.

    Northside, Payton etc. are relatively small schools that choose their students. Hinsdale, Stevenson, New Trier, are large open enrollment and take all students regardless of ability yet still don’t rank too far behind the big 4 on ACT data.

    For example Northside’s 2012-ACT was 29.2, Payton’s 2012 ACT was 27.7 and New Trier’s 2012 ACT was 27.7. I bet if you took the top 25% of New Trier students which roughly equals the population of Northside/Payton New Trier would definitely rank better. I wouldn’t be surprised if you could even go as far as the top 75% or 80% of students at New Trier students and still outrank Northside.

  • 123. ChiTownLSCCommunityRep  |  June 6, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    What I don’t understand is why people who are planning on having kids move into a neighborhood that doesn’t have a strong school and then complain about it. You knew what you were getting into so you should have either moved elsewhere or did what the parents in my neighborhood did — develop a “Friends Of…” group and SUPPORT THAT SCHOOL. We all know CPS doesn’t provide enough funding for strong neighborhood schools. Neighborhood schools that are strong, are so because of parents and community members who support that school. Basically you’re saying you want others to volunteer their time and donate their $ but your child should get the benefits? If we all did that, there wouldn’t be strong neighborhood options.

  • 124. NS mom  |  June 7, 2013 at 11:33 am

    what no one wants to talk about is the race and poverty issue (CPS calls socioeconomic). tier 4 kids are punished because they live in a 2 working parent household who’s parents went to college and made a good living. Why should the kid be punished for the parents excelling and doing what is best for their family? Instead they cannot get into good, geographically close schools because they HAVE to take all tiers

    @123 what if you do move into an area with a good neighborhood school and then they re-draw the lines?

  • 125. cpsobsessed  |  June 7, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    @NS mom _ um, I think everyone wants to talk about race and poverty?

    Do you think many tier 1 parents wouldn’t gladly trade the SEHS spots for their kids to have the upbringing you describe that bestows a punishment on a child of not getting into one of 4 cps high schools? I suspect many would find that a decent trade-off. Which do you think is more beneficial in life, in the long run?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 126. Chicago Mama  |  June 7, 2013 at 10:27 pm

    I’m sure it feels that way, but I think the system is designed to make things more equitable, and this is one way it has to do that. Why should a tier 1 kid be punished because her parents didn’t have the resources to move into a better part of the city? Or because her parents want what is best for her, but they don’t necessarily have the resources (and by resources, I don’t necessarily mean money) to do so? Maybe it’s self-selection, but I’ve met very few parents at any school in the city who are not concerned about their children’s education.

  • 127. cpsobsessed  |  June 7, 2013 at 11:55 pm

    @chicago mama: very well put — much better than I’ve ever stated it 🙂

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 128. Chicago School GPS  |  June 23, 2013 at 7:17 am

    More info on the new HS scheduling procedures coming this Fall, whereby you can schedule ahead of time your preferred SEHS test date, IB info session date, audition times, etc. FAQs from CPSOAE:

    High Schools Admissions Scheduling Frequently Asked Questions
    1. What is high school admissions scheduling?
    Beginning this fall, parents of students applying to ninth grade high school programs through the Office of Access and Enrollment’s centralized application processes will be able to schedule their own Selective Enrollment High School exams, International Baccalaureate information meetings, Military Academy information meetings, and Magnet auditions through our online application website.
    2. How will I be able to schedule my child’s admissions screenings?
    In order to access the website to begin scheduling your appointments, you will have to first obtain an eligibility letter. The eligibility letter will provide a Personal Identification Number (PIN) that will be used to access the website.
    CPS and Charter School students will receive the eligibility letter through their counselor in September.
    Non-CPS (private, parochial, students in public schools outside of Chicago) students will have to request an eligibility letter beginning in August by completing a form and submitting their academic data to the Office of Access and Enrollment. Detailed instructions will be made available later this summer.
    3. What if I don’t have access to the internet?
    You can only schedule appointment times through our website, so internet access is required. CPS parents can contact their child’s school counselor to inquire about the possibility of using computers at their schools. Families can also access the internet at any Chicago public library. To get more information and to find your nearest Chicago public library, call 311 or 312-747-4300.
    Alternatively, students may submit paper applications and they will be assigned appointment times by the Office of Access and Enrollment.
    4. I have more than one child who will be applying to ninth grade. Will I receive different PINs for each child?
    Yes. Students applying online to ninth grade each need unique PINs to tie them to their academic information, so each student will be assigned different PINs. Step-by-step instructions will be available at a later date to help you manage two different students under the same online account.
    5. I also have a younger child that I would like to apply for elementary school options. Will I have to apply for a different PIN for my younger child?
    No. If you have a child who is applying to ninth grade, your younger child(ren) can use their sibling’s assigned PIN to access the application website. Step-by-step instructions will be available at a later date to help you add a younger sibling to your child’s account.
    6. Will I also be able to reschedule my own high school admissions appointments online?
    Yes, once you access the online site, you will be able to reschedule your appointments, depending on availability.
    7. Once I schedule my admissions screenings, will my application be complete?
    No. “Scheduling” and “Applying” are two different things! You must ensure that you both schedule and attend your admissions screenings AND ALSO complete an application. The online application website will display the status of each step to guide you in completing these steps successfully.
    8. What incentives are there to scheduling online?
    There are many great incentives for scheduling online. Online scheduling will allow you to pick appointment dates, times and locations that work best with your calendar. If your schedule changes, you will be able to reschedule yourself at your convenience. If you lose your confirmation form for an appointment, you can log back on to print another copy. After you schedule your appointment(s), you will also be able to begin your applications on the same website starting October 1st.
    9. I heard that if my child takes his Selective Enrollment High School exam early, he will receive his test results early. Is this true?
    Yes. All students who take the Selective Enrollment High School exam in October or November will receive their exam results within three weeks. This will allow students to know their final total point score before they select and rank their Selective Enrollment High School options and submit their application.

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