Fall 2013 – Applying to Kindergarten / Elementary School

September 10, 2013 at 7:04 am 560 comments

My mother's dream-kindergarten

My mother’s dream-kindergarten

Kindergarten/Elementary application time is upon us!   Those who have been waiting since their baby was born can now dive head-first into the pool of CPS school application fun.

You can apply for a PIN (needed for online enrollment) beginning September 19th.

Applications will be accepted starting October 1st.


When entering Kindergarten (and older grades as well) parents will often have their child tested for the gifted and classical programs, as well as casting a wide net for magnet schools and neighborhood schools that are likely to accept kids from outside the neighborhood.  Some neighborhood schools don’t take any kids outside their zone, while others have a good number of spaces to enroll for.

Christine Whitley (who is not me, though many people assume we’re the same person) offers affordable workshops to help navigate the process.  The organized materials alone are worth the price of admission, plus the ability to hear the stuff from a live person who’s been through it and ask questions…

This workshop will give you all the essential information you need to kick off your CPS kindergarten search! I will cover attendance areas, Magnet Schools, Selective Enrollment schools, Charters, gifted testing, lotteries, and more! I will lay out the timeline for the Options for Knowledge process and give you some tools to maximize your sucess in finding a great school for your family.
If your child is three or four and you are considering CPS, this workshop is A MUST.

Questions? Contact Christine at christinewhitleyconsulting@gmail.com or 312-218-0329

and the link to register: http://www.eventbrite.com/org/4529122473

Christine is also writing a blog about the Kindergarten application process.  Her goal is to try to get her younger child into the same Gifted Program as the older child, a school with very high cutoff scores for higher Tier kids.  She’s sending her child to a test prep program and will be writing about that experience as well.  You can follow that here:


Entry filed under: Applying to schools.

PreK Update – How’s it Going? High School “Hidden Gems” School Fair Sunday 9/22

560 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Elliott Mason  |  September 10, 2013 at 8:25 am

    How do you tell which neighborhood schools are accepting out-of-map applications and which are area-only? I tried to find out last year and even calling the school and asking wasn’t accurate.

  • 2. Scorching September | District 299: The Inside Scoop on CPS  |  September 10, 2013 at 9:00 am

    […] Public Schools. But the funds will not reverse classroom-level cuts like teacher layoffs. Fall 2013 – Applying to Kindergarten / Elementary School CPS Obsessed: When entering Kindergarten (and older grades as well) parents will often have their […]

  • 3. Brigid Keely  |  September 10, 2013 at 9:44 am

    it utterly kills me that kids in kindergarten are being tested for Gifted status. Research has shown that it’s far too young an age to tell if a kid’s Gifted or not.

  • 4. Jen K  |  September 10, 2013 at 10:53 am

    @3 “Advanced” status would be a more appropriate term for CPS to use than “Gifted” in my opinion.

  • 5. SR  |  September 10, 2013 at 11:04 am

    @1 – most schools accept applications, but some haven’t admitted out-of-boundaries applicants in the past few years for K because they are full with neighborhood kids. I’m guessing that there are people here who would know whether this is the case for a particular school.

  • 6. cpsobsessed  |  September 10, 2013 at 11:11 am

    @4 – that’s what I call it to my son, I refer to it as the “accelerated class” rather than the gifted class.

  • 7. cpsobsessed  |  September 10, 2013 at 11:14 am

    @1 Elliot: When the application is ready there will be some schools who do not list their names for the lottery. Those schools tend to be so full that they don’t take any kids.
    The trouble is that some schools may have room in higher grades but not lower grades but there’s really no way to tell that without calling the school and/or talking to people.
    So I think last year some families were frustrated about using up one of their 20 lottery spots on a school that doesn’t take any kindergarteners.
    I with the application would only let you apply to schools that had lottery spots for your grade, but some of the schools don’t really know what their student count will be by grade until late this year/next summer/first week of school next year.

    But it’s worth asking around to make sure you use your 20 spots on the application wisely.

  • 8. Carla  |  September 10, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    Can anyone comment on how the first year of the Gifted program at NTA is going.

  • 9. Neighborhood schools with spots  |  September 10, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    A friend of mine and I did a ton of research to figure out which neighborhood (or so-called “magnet cluster”) schools actually accept kids out-of-boundaries, and how many spots they typically have. I wanted to make sure we had some options over the summer, and wanted to avoid “wasting” my 20 applications on schools that don’t have room.

    When I started my research, I asked schools (after mid-October) whether they exhausted their KG wait lists from the previous year, and if not, how long the wait list was v. how far they got down it. It’s easier with non-magnets because there are no tiers–it’s just a straight list (except for a sibling list). So, it’s more transparent.

    Another good way is to seek out schools (or “friends of” organizations) who are actively recruiting KG applicants or trying to improve their reputation.

    Here is my list with a few caveats:
    (1) some schools don’t even make offers off the list until August, or after school starts. I generally excluded those, because I did not want to live with that uncertainty.
    (2) available spots changes from year-to-year. For example, when I toured Hamilton in 2011-12, they have exhausted their KG wait list for the previous year. The following year, they only got to 14. (I’m not sure if they even let any non-siblings in this year.) If you tour Hamilton, you’ll see why. The school closings/consolidations really changed how many spots were available at certain schools.
    (3) our research was focused on schools on the North side, and were schools that had decent enough test scores (or are up-and-coming) and were willing to give tours.

    Here is my list of schools that actually have room for out-of-boundary kids, and give out offers in the lottery (as opposed to waiting until August or school starts to give out offers):


    When I asked these in Fall 2011/Spring 2012, Burr, Chappell, Jahn, McPherson, Prescott, and Talcott had exhausted their wait lists. Pierce also used to let everyone in, but I believe that changed this year.

    I also had Chappell and Courtenay on this list, but I’m not sure how many spots after being consolidated with other schools.

    Other schools that MAY have a few spots, but may not release them until the start of the schools year (or close to it):

    Goethe (?)
    Norwood Park
    Nettlehorst (? not sure-I thought I heard someone got in)
    Peterson (?)

    I’m sure there are many more, but I don’t know which schools they are. It drives me crazy that this information is not publicly available for parents!

    For those applying to KG, you may also want to check out CICS-Irving Park (a charter), which has great test scores. There is also a CICS-Bucktown, too. I have a friends at both schools and they really love them.

    And, remember, when you get your lottery results, and you’ve applied to these schools, don’t be too disappointed if you don’t get any offers. The wait lists at these schools often move very quickly. I got no offers initially, but got 5 offers from neighborhood schools in the first 2 weeks of June.

    Overall, we got one magnet offer (after school started), one charter offer, and six neighborhood school offers. And, I didn’t really get that “lucky,” I just applied to schools that actually have spots.

    Good luck everyone!

  • 10. getting ready for K  |  September 10, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    Cps obsessed, do you need to apply for a pin number asap, or can I wait until after I go to the seminar hosted by christine whitley?

  • 11. cpsobsessed  |  September 10, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    @9: that is incredibly helpful – thank you for posting!

    Q10: you don’t need your PIN until you’re ready to start the process, but it comes in the mail so there’s a little lag time. You may want to request it on Sept 19 or 20th just to get a head start on the process, but you can also wait. Just don’t wait until December!

  • 12. logan sq dad  |  September 10, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    @carla: our son is in K at NTA. He loves it. The facility is fantastic and the teachers great (26 kids, one master teacher and two resident teachers, giving a terrific ratio of less than 9:1). We get emails from his master teacher late on Saturday nights — she is really dedicated. Our son went to a private pre-school and he is learning much more at NTA. The younger kids are kept separate from those that are older, but the neighborhood and SEES kids are mixed for lunch, etc. and he has made friends in both groups. There is a lot of work but I think that goes with the territory. SEES class is extremely diverse. In total, we are really, really pleased.

  • 13. neighborhood parent  |  September 10, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    @9 Well done. you’ve definitely mastered the Art of CPS.

    For anybody putting in an app to CPS who needs to understand how to allocate their 20 spots… this is a good post to consider.

  • 14. Totismommi  |  September 10, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    You said shes doing test prep for kindergarten. Where and with who? I’m very curious how that works.

  • 15. UptownMama  |  September 10, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    We’re also in the K RGC program at NTA and really liking it (despite a bit of a commute). Our daughter comes home every day talking about what she did in school and seems really engaged and excited to go back. There’s definitely homework and the days are long, but my sense is that’s the case at a lot of CPS kindergartens. For the most part she’s getting the hang of it. So far, so good.

    Hopeful that we’ll be able to get her little sister in the RGC or the neighborhood program.

  • 16. Pat T  |  September 10, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    I’d rethink sending my kids to the union run Chicago Public Schools:

    “State exam scores plunged to record lows across most grades after the state raised the bar to pass the spring 2013 exams for 3rd through 8th graders, according to results released today. ”


  • 17. neighborhood parent  |  September 10, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    Dear Pat T –

    That discussion is here: https://cpsobsessed.com/2013/08/30/interpretting-new-isat-scores/

    We are already one step ahead of you…. and I, for one, am not living under a rock. Really, the blame goes to the teachers? They changed the cut scores in effort to….. (can’t finish, too annoyed).

  • 18. Peter  |  September 10, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    Pat, the same will happen in union run IL suburban schools. You seem very stupid.

  • 19. cpsobsessed  |  September 10, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    You don’t actually need to even read the article. It mentions the raised passing requirement right in the link!

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 20. Dunning Mom  |  September 10, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    I thought I was going to end up in the loony bin after last year’s kindergarten application process, and now I’m about to do it all over again for my younger one.

    Luckily my 4 year old will have the advantage of being in the sibling lottery. I really don’t want to split them up but we’ll apply to a bunch of other schools just in case the sibling lottery doesn’t work out.

  • 21. Christine  |  September 10, 2013 at 6:11 pm

    #14 Totismommi — I talk about the Test Prep we’re doing in my blog. If you’re interested, get going because the first session is Saturday!

    I don’t know that a child CAN be prepped for the SEES test. No one knows which test they’re being given, for one. But I am highly motivated to get my children in the same school (if possible) and I wanted to see what the experience is like.

    Check out PREP Chicago. They hold classes in Lakeview and Hyde Park.

    Christine Whitley

  • 22. Totismommi  |  September 10, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    Thanks christine, my daughters only 3 so I’m just thinking ahead. Love to know how it works and the results. Ill follow your posts 🙂 thanks for sharing.

  • 23. Carla  |  September 10, 2013 at 10:42 pm

    @12 and 15 – thank you for sharing I have a daughter at Keller and wil be starting the process again with my youngest son. There is a lot of homework but it keeps them moving in the right direction. Thank you for your input.

  • 24. Iheoma  |  September 11, 2013 at 7:06 am


  • 25. Peter  |  September 11, 2013 at 10:20 am

    @Pat T, are really that stupid.?


  • 26. Elliott Mason  |  September 11, 2013 at 10:29 am

    Peter @25: Do you really have to call other members of this community stupid? It’s not helpful and it shuts down discussion (plus makes you look like the kind of person who’d rather sling insults than actually talk to people).

  • 27. Lisa  |  September 11, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    Quick question on the way the “20 spots” work. Last September/October was my first time doing the lottery so I wasn’t really sure how it worked. I only chose magnet schools for my son’s list. Are you able to pick neighborhood schools as well even if you aren’t in that neighborhood?

  • 28. JLM  |  September 11, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    @27 Lisa – as long as it’s a neighborhood school that’s listed in the Options for Knowledge guide, then you can put it on the application as one of your 20 choices. But as stated above, best to call the school to see how many kids they actually expect to pick from the lottery. I know that many n’hood schools list themselves in the Options guide purely because they’re trying to get siblings of current students in.

  • 29. cpsobsessed  |  September 11, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    And DON’T put your own neighborhood school as one of the 20! You can enroll there any time at the school.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 30. Lisa  |  September 11, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    Thank you so much. I am doing my research now so I am better prepared this go around 🙂

  • 31. Counterpoint for discussion  |  September 11, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    To 26:
    Peter at 18 was responding to comment 17 that claimed to be ” too annoyed and one step ahead.” 17 picked the fight, and 18 was anti-CPS. Overall Peter, let comment 17 slide, 18 is a big boy/girl/trans and can defend oneself on the internet.

  • 32. Elliott Mason  |  September 11, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    Counterpoint @31: There’s still no call to go all schoolyard on each other. Better to talk about content and issues than start going for ‘stupid’ and ‘doodyhead’ and ‘ghetto people’. :->

    I’m not defending any individual poster, just hoping we can maintain this site’s usual high quality and information content. One can disagree without being disagreeable, certainly (in fact there’s a whole book about ways to do so).

  • 33. cpsobsessed  |  September 11, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    Another nice visual about disagreement:


    Let’s stay at the top of the pyramid (that was also where all the good stuff on the food pyramid was too, right?)

  • 34. anonymouse teacher  |  September 11, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    K-2 has to give MPG and a running record 3x per year OR Dibels and TRC (a running record) 3x per year. Has to. Without a sub because CPS won’t pay for them for testing at all. Each running record alone takes 15-30 minutes. Multiply that by 30 students. That is approximately 20 days worth of reading group time. Three times per year. That’s 60 school days worth of small group reading groups GONE. Poof!
    Plus, all the RTI progress monitoring. That’s another 30+ days worth of instruction in reading groups, GONE. That’s 50% of the school year where my kindergarten students won’t be getting small group differentiation. On top of the REACH tests and the ACCESS tests and whatever other tests they end up giving us.
    I can no longer do my job. CPS won’t provide subs for this intensive testing. I am pretty sure my very nice principal is sick of me at this point because I’ve talked to her about this 3-4 times now. I am approaching our union rep about it.
    I have 2 choices here. Quit, and give up my salary and health benefits for my family because I can no longer offer even a remotely decent education to my students. Or just be a YES person, give my students a shitty education (and yes, any way you look at it, spending 50% of reading group time is a shitty education—over my dead body would I allow this for my own kids) and continue to take money I am not earning.
    Oh and at the same time, the state cut the funding for bilingual teachers so the help I had last year, the help that allowed me and the bilingual teacher to see nearly every reading group every day? Gone. POOF! This means, not only will I only have half the year to instruct, I will only be able to see groups half as often. My results are going to go down the tubes.

    I hate CPS with a passion. I mean, heck, if CPS is going to ensure I can’t succeed, then this teach who walks in the door at 7 a.m, leaves at 4:30, works on committees and attends PD on her own time is going to become the teacher who says, why even bother anymore? I am terrified I am going to end up being the teacher who walks in at 5 minutes to 8, leaves at 3:10 and does nothing else. I hate what my job has become.

  • 35. IB obsessedh  |  September 11, 2013 at 11:15 pm

    Anonymouse teacher: As another gov’t employee who wants do right by those I serve, and is continually exasperated by the budget cuts and stupidity that make it impossible to do my job in the way it was intended to be done when it was created, demoralized by those who cut the budgets and then point fingers at us and say, “See the tax payer dollars are wasted. They don’t do their jobs, and then deals with the humiliation of the misinformed pubic perception that GOVERNMENT WORKERS ARE INCOMPETENT AND LAZY, I just want to say, I UNDERSTAND WHERE YOU’RE COMING FROM.

    Do go to your union rep. AND PEOPLE SAY PUBLIC EMPLOYEE UNIONS ARE NOT NECESSARY. Well let me tell you, they aren’t perfect, but people, the unions are sometimes the voice in the day to day work place speaking out to protect the integrity of public education and health. They know the nitty gritty of what’s really going on.

    Set up education and social programs for failure and then say, “See they don’t work. So let’s eliminate them or replace them with charter schools or privatize them or invest their retirement funds in the stock market etc…”

    So Anonymouse, keep posting about how budget cuts impact you in the classroom! Know that some of us understand what you’re going through. Don’t stop. And THANK YOU.

  • 36. Veteran  |  September 11, 2013 at 11:34 pm

    #35 Great advice!

  • 37. anonymouse teacher  |  September 12, 2013 at 6:11 am

    Thanks 35. I sent the rep an email last night and will follow up today. Honestly, I came this close to just emailing my principal last night and telling her my last day would be Friday. I even asked my husband if I could pay for 3 days worth of subs out of my paycheck so I could do the testing one to one without interruptions. A sub costs the school $208 a day (the sub doesn’t see all that obviously) since now ALL sub costs come out of the pockets of the individual schools. That’s $624 in one year. My spouse said no way. One colleague said she might have to do the testing during art and music and PE time, her prep, just knowing that would mean less time planning, but we are pretty sure we won’t be allowed to pull kids from those subjects (and don’t really want to) so we and the kids are kinda screwed. I am dreading going to work again today.

  • 38. ConsideringNTA  |  September 12, 2013 at 6:41 am

    @12 @15 Your comments made my day. I have a 3-year-old, live in the NTA boundaries, and am considering it for K. Is there an active parent group? I would love to learn more about the school, especially the neighborhood program in case my son doesn’t get into SEES.

  • 39. Veteran  |  September 12, 2013 at 6:42 am

    I thought subs made about $155.00 a day so why would $208.00 come out of the school’s budget? CPS laid off the sub center employees and now all subbing goes through Aesop which is an automated system so what is the extra $53.00 a day for-to cut a check?

  • 40. Counterpoint for discussion  |  September 12, 2013 at 10:30 am

    To: #34 (anonymouse teacher)
    Your passion for the kids will end up costing your health, finances, and/or family. Do the best you can, but keep your ideas to yourself in the workplace. The principle does not want a dissenter. Remember, the principle is a political hack for the Democratic-Socialist machine. You are “replaceable”. If you don’t like what I wrote, run for office and fight for the children in that capacity.

  • 41. RL Julia  |  September 12, 2013 at 11:09 am

    I don’t think that one can assume that all principals are political hacks for the Democratic-Socialist machines.

  • 42. hamiltonparent  |  September 12, 2013 at 11:26 am

    @9 Neighborhood schools with spots – Hamilton definitely has room for out of neighborhood kids. This year they only had 1 Kindergarten classroom and 1 K/1st gifted classroom. So the total number of K spots available for the 2013-2014 school year was about 36. Since the school has become quite popular with the neighborhood kids and there were a lot of siblings, Hamilton didn’t go far on their waitlist but they did accept several out of neighborhood kids. The reduction of the one K classroom for this year was because enrollment in Hamilton has grown quickly (now at 385 kids) and they are trying to ensure that there is enough space in the school going forward.

    But that will not be the case for next year. There will be 2 1/2 K classrooms next year. So the potential for more non-neighborhood spots will be much higher. We have been incredibly happy to be a part of this school. The parental involvement is fantastic, the teachers are incredibly dedicated and a great principal. It’s a great little community. As a Hamilton parent, I highly encourage all interested parents to tour and apply.

    Feel free to post any questions about Hamilton and I’ll try to answer as best as I can.

    Good luck with this crazy process.

  • 43. hamiltonparent  |  September 12, 2013 at 11:31 am

    Forgot to mention the tour dates.

    Hamilton school tours for this Fall:
    October 9th @ 8:15am
    November 13th @ 8:15am
    December 10th @ 8:15am

  • 44. jfc  |  September 12, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    Does one have to sign up for anything or just show up for the tour at Hamilton? Thanks!

  • 45. hamiltonparent  |  September 12, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    jfc – no need to sign up, just come.

  • 46. cpsobsessed  |  September 12, 2013 at 1:12 pm


    Remember, the principle is a political hack for the Democratic-Socialist machine
    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 47. Lisa  |  September 12, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    hamiltonparent, I went to Hamilton many, many moons ago and I can tell you that Hamilton is my first choice for my son for 1st grade next year. I am glad to know that Hamilton does take lottery if space is available as we no longer live in the area. Thank you for the information.

  • 48. PreK Mom  |  September 12, 2013 at 8:14 pm

    Hamilton Parent, what do you mean by 2.5 K classrooms? Our son will be in K next year and Hamilton is our neighborhood school.

  • 49. hamiltonparent  |  September 12, 2013 at 9:05 pm

    PreK Mom – There will be 2 K classrooms and 1 K/1st gifted classroom.

  • 50. lincoln  |  September 12, 2013 at 10:22 pm

    Does Lincoln have out-of-district spots?

  • 51. Christine Whitley  |  September 12, 2013 at 11:12 pm

    Lincoln is not Open Enrollment. So no, no out-of-attendance boundary spots.

  • 52. IBobsessed  |  September 13, 2013 at 9:25 am

    @50 and @52 In fact, there are no attendance boundaries for the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade international gifted (IB) program at Lincoln. It is selective enrollment, however, anyone city wide can apply.

  • 53. PreK Mom  |  September 13, 2013 at 9:57 am

    Thanks Hamilton mOm!

  • 54. AE  |  September 13, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    To wait or not to wait?? I’m wondering whether there is any benefit to applying early (and therefore testing early), or whether it makes more sense to wait as long as possible (giving the child more time to mature, etc.). Does anyone have any thoughts or insights?? Thanks!

  • 55. ChicagoMomofBoys  |  September 13, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    @54: The earliest your child could test is likely mid to late October and the latest is generally the end of January or beginning of February… so you’re only talking a few months. I doubt that will make much of an impact on your child’s maturity level and, conversely, his/her test results. Plus, there’s no way to predict when a 4 or 5 year old will have an “off” day. I suggest spending more of your energy on school research and less on the testing component because whatever will be will be. Good luck!

  • 56. cpsobsessed  |  September 13, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    I would kind of split the difference and maybe sign up for testing in Mid-late November. If you wait too long, something, you can get stuck testing during January when the weather is terrible- never know when a blizzard will block your alley or something.

  • 57. Elliott Mason  |  September 13, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    So my kid’s pre-K teacher kindly gave us a copy of last year’s Options for Knowledge booklet so I could read up (I’m a geek, I process emotional upset by Seeking Facts and reading instruction manuals, y’know?), and I’m confused. The book makes it sound like the process for SEEs is apply on the form and wait for them to call you about when your testing appointment is. Is there a different necessary step?

    Also, any idea when the new Options for Knowledge (with its new and possibly different lists, etc) will come out?

    Third question: If one is applying to or researching charters, they don’t seem to be on the lists in Options for Knowledge. Is that a separate process?

    Help me, veteran CPS parents, you’re my only hope! :-> Plus I want to be well prepared and already doing research by the time October rolls around, ideally.

  • 58. lincoln  |  September 13, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    @51- Do you know what other northside neighborhood schools have closed enrollment? I never realized how lucky I was to go to Hawthorne.

  • 59. buses  |  September 13, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    Which schools provide school buses?

  • 60. Tracey J  |  September 13, 2013 at 4:36 pm

    Thanks for the NTA update.

  • 61. Christine Whitley  |  September 13, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    I can address some of the questions here:

    #57: That’s right. You apply FIRST for SEES schools and THEN your child is tested. They test everyone who applies, K – 3. You do not have to pre-qualify or anything like that. After you submit your application electronically to OAE, you will get a letter with your appointment.

    The new Options for Knowledge Guide will probably be available October 10th (or so). It comes as a booklet or a PDF (on the OAE website).

    Charters are NOT part of the Options for Knowledge process. They are publicly funded but privately managed so you have to go to their individual websites, look at their timeline, download the application, and mail it in.

    #58 Other northside schools that are closed enrollment: Bell Neighborhood, Sauganash, umm….not sure what others. If they are closed enrollment they will not appear as a choice when you go fill out your application online.

    #59 Busing — most Magnet Schools provide busing if you live more than 1 mile but less than 6 miles. There are some exceptions (Disney II for example). SEES Schools also provide busing if you live in the boundary and each of them has its own boundary.

    Come to my workshop! I address all these questions!!

  • 62. neighborhood parent  |  September 13, 2013 at 8:40 pm

    Interesting article on NYC’s public school app process:


    Appears the NY application has been paper-based, and this year they will make the change to online.
    Also, NYC’s deadline is in March. It’s didn’t reference when acceptances were sent but it brings up a good question:
    Why is our app deadline so early (Dec.)?
    Why does it take so long to run the standard magnet/neighborhood lottery ( March)?

  • 63. WRP Mom  |  September 13, 2013 at 11:37 pm

    57, if you haven’t checked it out already, a lot of information is on the options website cpsoae.org. If you apply electronically, which I recommend, you first need to request a PIN. Don’t wait until the last minute to request this since it is mailed to you.

  • 64. CarolA  |  September 14, 2013 at 6:37 am

    @62 neighborhood parent: You ask why our deadline is so early? Why does it take so long to run the lottery? That’s just too funny. If you haven’t connected the dots yet, we are talking about CPS. Everything takes longer in CPS. Teachers haven’t even gotten their final ratings yet from last school year. They are still working on it. Maybe we will find out how we did last year at the end of this year. Then we can start improving our teaching methods the following year. It all takes time! 🙂

  • 65. Christine Whitley  |  September 14, 2013 at 7:28 am

    #62 — usually the lotteries are all done by March (Magnet, Magnet Cluster & Open Enrollment). Last year was unusual because of the school closings.

  • 66. south loop  |  September 14, 2013 at 8:24 am

    is south loop elem closed admission?

  • 67. cpsobsessed  |  September 14, 2013 at 8:31 am

    South Loop was likely closed because they housed the gifted program and the school was very full. Other similar schools like Coonley and Bell are closed as they have the RGC plus siblings of RGC kids tryings to get into the neighborhood program.

    But I believe the RGC is being phased out of South Loop a grade at a time so that could *potentially* begin to open them back up admission, but for a while you’d still have siblings trying to get K spots which means it still might be tight.

    In my area I’m pretty sure for K that Burley, Blaine, Waters, Coonley, Bell, possibly Nettelhorst, Lincoln do not take any outside K kids.

    Given what the parent above said, Hamilton would certainly be a good north side lottery selection.

  • 68. LynnJ  |  September 14, 2013 at 10:38 am

    RCG is been phased out by grade at South Loop. This year only 2-8 were being accepted for the RGC at South Loop. It is now considered a neighborhood school.

  • 69. Hyde Park Mom  |  September 14, 2013 at 1:24 pm


  • 70. Hyde Park Mom  |  September 14, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    Just so I can understand Christine’s response earlier about bussing…If a child attends a non magnet, non SEES kindegarten , are they eligible for bus service if they live more than 5 or 6 miles away? In other words, do neighborhood schools provide bussing to those who get in via lottery but live further out of the boundary?

  • 71. John  |  September 14, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    No. Neighborhood schools don’t offer bus service. Only magnet and SEES do.

  • 72. cpsobsessed  |  September 14, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    No, neighborhood programs do not provide bussing.
    Charters also do not.
    Only selective and magnets do.

    Another thing to keep in mind about bussing – even though you may live only 5 miles from the school, the bus pickup time can be very early. My son’s school starts at 8:30 and there are kids picked up as early as 7am.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 73. Hyde Park Mom  |  September 14, 2013 at 1:38 pm

    jUST LOOKED AT hAMILTONS WEBSITE.It says they are not a magnet, but rather a magnet cluster school that takes kids outside the boundary thru lottery. So, does that mean they dont provide bus service? Magnet Cluster versus Magnet, how confusing.

  • 74. cpsobsessed  |  September 14, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    Magnet clusters are just neighborhood schools but have an area of specialization. Yes, very confusing!

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 75. Hyde Park Mom  |  September 14, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    darn it, I would love to apply there thru lottery but no bussing…thanks for the info.

  • 76. Even One More CPS Mom  |  September 14, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    Keep in mind though that the newer magnets generally do not have bussing. Disney II and LaSalle II come to mind. STEM???? Not sure but someone will know. I am guessing not being it is pretty new.

  • 77. list  |  September 14, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    do the gifted/classical schools count as part of the twenty?

  • 78. WRP Mom  |  September 14, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    No, SEES schools are a separate application from the lottery schools so they don’t count as part of the twenty.

  • 79. cpsobsessed  |  September 14, 2013 at 6:20 pm

    No, gifted and classical schools are on a separate list where you can choose 6 (combined mix of gifted and classical) ranked in order of preference.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 80. JLM  |  September 14, 2013 at 7:22 pm

    Re: buses – I think that magnets bus if you’re b/t 1.5 and 6 miles (not 1 and 6, as was mentioned above).

    Re: SEES testing – there’s no difference if you get your child tested earlier or later, as the results are based on the child’s age at the time of testing, so scores are in essence age-adjusted.

  • 81. PreK Mom  |  September 14, 2013 at 8:50 pm

    @Christine, I am attending your seminar on october 23rd. Should I apply for a pin prior to that? Should I apply to sees schools for my son who will be entering K in teh 14-15 school year? I didn’t realize that you apply first and then get called for testing. My head is spinning!:)

  • 82. PreK Mom  |  September 14, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    Also, does anyone know when decatur offers tours? Their website has not been updated.

  • 83. Working mommy of 2  |  September 14, 2013 at 9:05 pm

    Re: SEES testing – there’s no difference if you get your child tested earlier or later, as the results are based on the child’s age at the time of testing, so scores are in essence age-adjusted.

    I was reading the back of my older child’s SEES results letter (for this year’s K class) yesterday, and I noticed it said in the Classical section explanation that the scores are age-adjusted, but it made no mention of that under the RGC section. Is it definitely age-adjusted for both? My second child, a July birthday, will be testing for next year so I’m hoping so.

  • 84. Christine Whitley  |  September 14, 2013 at 9:41 pm

    #81 PreK Mom: I know– this whole thing is complicated and crazy. I promise it will all make sense (sorta) after the workshop.

    — You can apply for your PIN as early as Sept. 19 but you can also wait until early December. They send it to you in the mail so don’t wait too long. Also don’t lose it!

    — With the SEES schools, you apply FIRST and then your child is tested. Yes, it’s totally backward. They test everyone who applies, K – 3. If your son is going to Kindergarten in 2014, then you apply Fall 2013.

    Don’t feel bad — the system is almost deliberately complicated.

  • 85. LSmom  |  September 15, 2013 at 5:23 am

    Last year, I waited till the last moment for K testing because I figured it would help with maturity/separation. This year I’ll do sometime around November though.

    Does anyone know if they age-adjust for 1st grade entry, or just the K testing? And does anyone know what the busing boundaries for NTA are?

  • 86. WRP Mom  |  September 15, 2013 at 8:17 am

    82, I checked the calendar on the Decatur website and it shows Oct 16 as a “walk thru” for prospective parents from 9:30-11am. Usually they have 3 of these (Sept, Oct, Nov) but I only see the one for now.

  • 87. area schools  |  September 15, 2013 at 10:40 am

    Do people apply out-of-area for PreK like they do with other grades?

  • 88. cpsobsessed  |  September 15, 2013 at 11:12 am

    According to last year’s elem booklet (thank you, Christine for sending it to me!) Blaine and Burley ARE listed as neighborhood schools you can apply to. I don’t know for sure if that means they were on the computer application, but since they’re in the book I think it underscores the importance of doing some homework to determine which school will actually have more than say 1-2 spots open for Kindergarten.

  • 89. cpsobsessed  |  September 15, 2013 at 11:42 am

    @87: You can apply to any PreK. In the past, PreK programs gave priority to kids in their area, but I don’t know the extent to which that still applies since the program was overhauled last year. Each program could make their own priorities (ie some priorities 4 year olds) so it probably makes sense to contact the individual schools you are interested in.

  • 90. anonymouse teacher  |  September 15, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    @88, My best sense is that for neighborhood schools that are listed as ones you can apply to is this: this is for intermediate and upper grades only. Burley and Blaine are never going to have K spots open. Its a waste to apply. But they *might* have a 5th grade opening or a 7th grade opening (7th grade especially, as schools with high scores are going to have high scoring kids who leave for ACs to have the guarantee of a good high school). My school often has 7th grade openings because we lose our top scoring kids regularly to ACs. We rarely have K-3 openings, but the upper grades are a different story. Especially now that every student counts and we have to fill every single classroom to the max or risk losing money and thus risking a possible split grade classroom of 40 or more kids in it. Better to have 30-34 of one grade level than to have 40 in a split or to risk losing art or music.

  • 91. southside mother  |  September 15, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    Does anyone know of any good neighborhood schools on the southside that take students outside of their attendance boundaries?

  • 92. cpsobsessed  |  September 15, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    I am going off just data along, but 2 south side schools that are Level 1 are Washington (G) and Grissom. Are those near you at all?

  • 93. cpsobsessed  |  September 15, 2013 at 4:37 pm


    Also, if you use this school locator, you can find you local school then move outward from there, looking for Tier 1 schools and call to see if they take students. (Keeping in mind that some schools are very good but for a range of reasons are not Level 1.)

    I know that Shoesmith has a group of parents organizing and sounds worth looking into.

  • 94. SutherlandParent  |  September 15, 2013 at 4:55 pm

    @91, don’t where you’re looking on the South Side, but many of the 19th Ward schools are packed to the gills in each of the grades and rarely take out-of-boundary students. That’s particularly true for Sutherland, Cassell and Mt. Greenwood. (I’ve heard rumors that Sutherland may have a few openings in the 2nd grade for non-attendance area students, but I think that’s the only grade where that could happen.) Kellogg got hammered by the change to per-pupil funding this year and lost a tremendous amount of money, and I’m not sure where they are with attendance. Clissold has the Montessori program in the earlier grades, so that’s always a very competitive school to get into if you live out-of-boundary.

  • 95. klm  |  September 16, 2013 at 11:46 am

    Re: Space in ‘Good’ Schools (or lack thereof), the Upside

    Is there an upside to all this?

    For parents that need to get their kid(s) into a school with scores that approximate something that qualifies as “good” sometime soon, the answer appears to be “no way.”

    However, in terms of the long-term prospects of more and more kids getting a decent education from CPS (at least K-8), things appear to be getting better, IMHO.

    Why? Look at how many “education-minded” parents are doing the grunt work to make CPS a workable option for their families. Every year it seems like the list of “good” CPS schools grows, so this correlates to more spaces at “good” (i.e., middle-class suburban, high-ISATs style ‘good’) schools.

    I know that it’s frustrating that so many popular neighborhood schools (‘popular’ b/c they are the ‘good’ kind) no longer have spaces, but in some positive way it points out that there’s a real positive movement for these kinds of schools –the demand seems to be driving their creation. Even crazy overcrowded ISATs-higher-than-Glencoe Lincoln had space to take in some kids under NCLB up until several years ago. Now? As if. Same for Bell, Edgebrook, Blaine, Oriole Park, …….(the list keeps getting longer),etc.

    It wasn’t too long ago that people the could avoided Alcott and Mayer like the plague. Nettelhorst was famously a no-way-in-hell school not all that long ago. I have friends from my kids’ preschools that are trying (and genuinely liking, sometimes to their almost complete amazement) some of the CPS schools that middle-class+ and education-minded parents would have thought of as almost an act of criminal child neglect to enroll their kids into not all that long ago. There are so many schools that are “ripe” for making this change or that are already much of the way there, not to mention all those that are there now but weren’t just a short while ago..

    I’m not sure if it’s the Great Recession and consequent large numbers of people “stuck” with real-estate, the trend of people of moving moving back to and staying in cities once they have kids, the gentrification and consequent drop in serious crime in many neighborhoods increasing the quality of life and desirability, the growth of ‘foodie’ want-to-walk-to-good-restaurants culture….or some combination of all the above, but it seems to me that, despite all the problems with budgets, teacher strikes, bureaucracy, etc., getting a decent public education in Chicago is more possible now than before.

    CPS has a once-in-a-millennium opportunity here to build a public education infrastructure that for the first time in many years (or maybe even ever –I don’t think there ever was a ‘Golden Age’ of public education in Chicago) satisfies to some degree the wants and demands of families that want their kids to get a decent public education without having to move to Northbrook or Oak Park when the youngest is about to enter school.

    Look at all the issues CPS is up against, but there’s still all of us hanging in there trying to make CPS work for our kids. I, for one, feel like I’ve won the public education jackpot (although I know that I’m far from the ‘norm’) with my kids’ schools. According to the rankings of public schools by ISATs, I really have (which is perhaps the root of my glass-is-half-full analysis, here).

    Now, I know that this narrative doesn’t apply to a large swath of the city. Chicago looks likely to remain a Tale of Two Cities for the time being. However, whenever the city keeps another middle-class+, taxpaying family, it benefits the entire city. Also, between certain magnets, charters, etc., even many low-income Chicagoans have more and better options than before. The problem with Chicago is that there are too many families that are struggling economically, not that there are too many rich people paying lots of taxes. The same goes for schools –too many suck. Things are nowhere where they need to be, but they’re a whole lot better than they were a generation ago.

  • 96. JLM  |  September 16, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    @83 – that’s interesting. I guess you could call OAE to check? I would think they would both be age-adjusted.

  • 97. Tracey J  |  September 16, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    Does anyone have children or friends with children at Lenart or Mark Sheridan? I have called these schools multiple times throughout the year and they never know when their open house will be, especially Sheridan.

    Any info would be helpful.

  • 98. Mayfair Dad  |  September 16, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    As I skim through these comments, I am reminded that the same parents who value education and seek to master the convoluted CPS admissions process are exactly the same parents who ought to get involved in the LSC, PTA, Friends Of organizations at their neighborhood schools and really make a difference.

    It had to be said. Feel free to remind me I am a hypocrite.

  • 99. cpsobsessed  |  September 16, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    My impression is that they’re both age-adjusted.

    My personal (and anecdotal) pov is that 4 year olds can make big leaps during their development so I leaned towards waiting until later to test. But that’s not based on anything but my own instincts and my son’s development and my very limited knowledge of child psychology.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 100. cpsobsessed  |  September 16, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    That is true MFD! At my son’s school it is largely the case, but there are certainly some parents who run so much of the day to day stuff at the school who aren’t cps-obsessed. Thank goodness for those people. We have one guy who works the car dropoff line every morning, just him. But you remind me – I need to attend some LSC meetings this year!

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 101. Neighborhood schools with spots  |  September 16, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    @97–Tracey J.

    I toured Sheridan, and was fairly impressed. I liked the Principal and AP a lot, and they seemed to have a practical, honest, and no-nonsense approach to running the school. There was a lot to like. The only downsides I recall was that there seemed to be less parental involvement/support that other similarly-situated magnet schools, and the outdoor space was really lacking. One big upside is that the is amazingly diverse–something you don’t see at a lot of schools. Sorry I can’t give you more specifics.

    When I called about a tour, they took my name and called me back when they had a tour scheduled. I would call and ask them if they can do this for you.

    We ended up getting an offer after school started, but we decided to stick with our current school, which is far more convenient.

    Good luck!

  • 102. Tracey J  |  September 16, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    @neighborhood schools with spots

    Thanks for your post. Yes, I left my name and number and hope I get a call back. I will call back in a couple of weeks though. I’m just trying to get ahead of this application process and try and tour the remaining schools on my list by Thanksgiving!

  • 103. anonymouse teacher  |  September 16, 2013 at 6:07 pm

    @94, My cousin attends Cassell and she has 42 kids in her room. They also have at least one primary grade that is or was (this year) at nearly 50. Hopefully they’ve now hired someone to split that room at least.

  • 104. SutherlandParent  |  September 16, 2013 at 10:06 pm

    The situation at Cassell is a nightmare, @103. It’s the bane of some neighborhood schools–they have to take all the kids in the district, but CPS doesn’t seem particularly interested in investing in even the most effective neighborhood schools at the moment. We’re obviously not the “priority” that charter schools are, as Cawley recently told Raise Your Hand.

  • 105. Still cares about CPS  |  September 17, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    For parents new to the process: Even if you get 26 of 26 rejections like we did, remember that it is possible, even likely, that you will get calls through the summer or after the school year starts. I was personally not comfortable with that kind of uncertainty, nor with high class sizes, and with three kids, we needed an option that would work for all of our kids, so we opted to move instead. However, calls did come in from Ravenswood (65) and Agassiz (92) in July, and Disney I (I can’t remember, but something in the 40s?) after the school year had started. None of these would have worked for our family long-term, but they would have bought us time if we had had trouble finding an alternative. Also, if you plan to do school tours, use your time strategically. A close friend advised me not to waste a lot of vacation time touring schools where I was unlikely to get a spot anyway. Focus on those “on the cusp” schools that work through their wait-lists. If you actually get an offer on one of the highly desirable schools, then you can usually tour in the spring. If you haven’t spent much time in CPS schools though, you do need to see them in person to see what you like and appreciate as well as those things that will not work for you.

  • 106. ChiBurb  |  September 17, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    We are in the suburbs and I do not have any real complains about my kids’ school. I decided early on that I do not want to be coming home from work feeling unsettled about my kids school. There is enough going on in the office. Between the kids school and office, I rather complain about the office, as most ppl do. Class sz is 17-22, even better than private schools, and kids are in a gifted team. Plus, my communications with the teachers are responded with quick responses and resolution. I know where my tax dollars are going.

  • 107. Tracey J  |  September 17, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    I think this is a good discussion. I am hoping to take this one step further and get some ideas of the type of questions we need to be asking as a prospective parent. As a newbie to this process, I’d like to get some feedback from the moderator and others here replying to this discussion that may have gone through this process with older children. Here are questions that I can think of that I want to know. These are the things I think about and will ask:

    1. Actual open spots they will have for K (specifically for Magnets considering sibling lottery, proximity, etc.)

    2. Thoughts and perspective on common core, curriculum, etc.

    3. Stats/data, to include cut-off scores and how many students were accepted in my tier from the last school year. They may not disclose this.

    4. Student/teacher ratio.

    5. Parent involvement, LSC, friends of organization, etc

    6. Upcoming school improvement projects, etc.

    7. Budget cuts, fundraising, etc.

    8. After school programs, enrichment, location and costs.

    9. School safety, anit-bullying, etc.

    10. Thoughts on differentiation in the class room (some kids learn at a difference pace and have different learning styles and how they go about handling this.)

    11. Why would parents want to send their children to the school, what set them apart, etc.

    What am I missing?

  • 108. mom2  |  September 17, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    @107 – Amount of time offered for “extras” such as music, art, gym, technology, community building within the school (holiday parties, walk-a-thons, school plays, concerts, etc.), amount of time for lunch, amount of homework expected per grade (some parents want more and some think the amount is ridiculous).

  • 109. Tracey J  |  September 17, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    Thanks @mom2

  • 110. Angie  |  September 17, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    @103. anonymouse teacher:

    Per CPS data, Cassell is 98% utilized, and has over 40 students per grade in most of the grades. What do you suggest they should do with it? There is no room to create more classrooms. Should they redraw the boundaries, or turn it into a magnet and accept limited number of students per grade?

    @104. SutherlandParent: ” It’s the bane of some neighborhood schools–they have to take all the kids in the district, but CPS doesn’t seem particularly interested in investing in even the most effective neighborhood schools at the moment. ”

    Funny you should mention that during the week CPS announced several investment initiatives for the neighborhood schools.


  • 111. LUV2europe  |  September 17, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    110 Wildwood getting an annex is WAAAAAAAAAAAAAY overdue. The article mentions losing their cafeteria. There was no cafeteria, the kids ate in the gym which was set up and broken down every day. Well deserved

  • 112. SutherlandParent  |  September 17, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    @110 Angie, not sure what you mean by “funny”–we have, what, more than 400 neighborhood schools in the city? The mayor has made a huge splash about “investment initiatives” at fewer than 10 neighborhood schools, per the article you cite.

    I’m not exactly overwhelmed with this tremendous “investment” in neighborhood schools (seriously, is the new Gallistel site really potentially environmentally contaminated?), but obviously Rahm thinks enough voters will buy into whatever his PR machine is selling.

  • 113. Veteran  |  September 17, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    #112 I agree.
    #111 There are schools in the Midway Network without lunch rooms where gym (some are just big rooms with low ceilings) is stopped and tables are put down and taken up after 3 lunch periods. The schools in the area around Midway have been overcrowded since the early 80’s yet very little was done until lately.
    Go on u-tube and look at the recently produced video on Tonti School if \you want a realistic picture of overcrowding on the southwest side. Rahm is more interested in opening up flashy looking charter schools and paying the directors $250,000 in salaries rather than funding the neighborhood schools.

  • 114. SSide  |  September 17, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    @91 Try Dixon Elementary on 83rd and St. Lawrence.

  • 115. karet  |  September 17, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    What foreign language is offered?
    What are the busing boundaries?
    What is the acceptance rate of students who apply to SE high schools?

  • 116. Angie  |  September 17, 2013 at 5:58 pm

    @112. SutherlandParent: “@110 Angie, not sure what you mean by “funny”–we have, what, more than 400 neighborhood schools in the city? The mayor has made a huge splash about “investment initiatives” at fewer than 10 neighborhood schools, per the article you cite.”

    And how much money do we have for these investments, given the huge budget deficit in CPS, city and state?


    ““While we have a fiscal challenge of a $1 billion deficit, the deficit on the capital facilities side, the report will come out [and] will show you close to $3 billion to $4 billion. We’re barely scratching the surface. I want to do much, much more than we have the resources to do,” Emanuel said.

    “But I don’t think the kids at Melody and Faraday should miss out on a STEM education, which is crucial. I don’t think kids at Wildwood should be using the hallway for a classroom when they’re a No. 1-rated school [and] their principal two years in a row got a performance pay [raise] because they’re making major academic gains. We [need to] make those investments.””

  • 117. Angie  |  September 17, 2013 at 6:00 pm

    And in the meantime: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-09-16/business/chi-chicago-sp-outlook-20130916_1_pension-payments-obligation-rating-ratings-services

    “Citing an upcoming increase in pension payments, Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services revised the outlook on Chicago’s A-plus general obligation rating to negative from stable.

    Using newly revised general obligation rating criteria, S&P on Friday changed the outlook on Chicago’s A-plus general obligation rating to negative from stable.

    “We could lower the rating within the next two years if the city substantially draws down its reserves in an effort to increase its pension payments in line with state mandates, regardless of whatever relief the state legislature may provide,” S&P said in a report.”

  • 118. Veteran  |  September 17, 2013 at 6:31 pm

    Angie, please stop being the Tiny Dancer’s cheerleader. There are many schools on the southwest side similar to Wildwood with high scores and outstanding principals yet they get squat.

    A smart woman like you should be spending your time on advocating for the students with disabilities who are taught in hallways and closets on the southwest side….can’t you see that Tiny Dancer is buying votes by using school monies to fund school related projects in certain wards? Are you aware that during this budget crisis charters schools are getting a lot more money than last year? Why ?

    Safe Passage workers
    Supes Academy
    Hiring admin from out of state and paying the moving costs etc
    passing out hand held fans-should be SNL spoof
    schools without books, furniture and teachers (why are there vacancies?)
    building huge charter schools -investigations in Sun -Times due to nepotism etc
    Chicago is now being called Shi-Raq all under Rahm- oh wait I forget he really cares…..yeah about the money and the power of being in charge -like to see him teach an eighth grade class….
    and the best of all he is so desperate for power that he is now kissing Karen Lewis’ posterior after telling her to get F——love watching his antics lately-karma is a b—–

  • 119. Tracey J  |  September 17, 2013 at 6:32 pm

    @115 Karet I didn’t think about these questions, especially the one about acceptance rates into SE HS. THANK YOU.

  • 120. neighborhood school  |  September 17, 2013 at 7:41 pm

    I toured a neighborhood grade school with a huge koi pond w/ tons of expensive fish, a water fall, and bridge on their campus – I wonder who covers the maintenance of the pond…? Do you think it comes out of the school budget? And, who paid for the expensive landscaping job?

  • 121. neighborhood school  |  September 17, 2013 at 8:02 pm

    – about the previous post: those were just questions that kept running thru my head after I toured

  • 122. anonymouse teacher  |  September 17, 2013 at 8:35 pm

    @110, I think they should use the brains they were born with for once. Build an annex, hire more teachers, put up a mobile unit. CPS is not stupid. (Well, okay, haha, that’s not exactly true!) They have demographic people on board. They know when a neighborhood is booming. They should be able to plan for this to some extent. 42 in 7th grade and nearly 50 in the primary classroom? Totally unacceptable and imo, someone needs to lose their job over this. I also want to know which teacher is teaching nearly 50 1st or 2nd graders, even for just a few weeks until another teacher is hired. If it was me, end of day one without a promise of IMMEDIATE relief by the next morning? Resignation. I love my work and I like my paycheck but nothing on earth is worth that. Nothing. I hope to god they are paying that woman 2 salaries, because she’s teaching 2 classrooms.

  • 123. anonymouse teacher  |  September 17, 2013 at 8:39 pm

    @110, CPS is “investing” in neighborhood schools at a snails pace. My school is overcrowded. We had lunch in the classrooms until our auditorium was renovated into a “lunchroom” finally. I teach in a mobile unit that is 15 years old and they are only supposed to be used 10 years. Our speech path and social worker and psych and 6 other clinicians all share one small office. We are packed to the gills and need an annex. Just like dozens of other schools. So, so, so glad that Wildwood is getting annex. But tons of other schools need them too! Time to use all the money that was “saved” by closing schools to make sure the rest have room. Oh, wait, we didn’t actually save any money, it was all BS.

  • 124. klm  |  September 17, 2013 at 9:04 pm

    Re: neighborhood schools getting more new space

    Is it true that Lincoln’s getting the new annex it wanted at the old Children’s Hospital?

    If so, no Lincoln parent should ever vent against legalized gambling –it’s paying for a Heaven-sent modern building to solve its overcrowding issue and keep its enrollment district intact..

    I’d be all for a casino (and all the goes along with it –the good and the bad) Downtown or elsewhere in the city if a large part of the consequent tax revenue went supported CPS. I’m not a gambling type, but if other people are going to do it legally, I’m all for it helping to fund my kids’ (and other people’s kids) public schools. Better than it all going to Indiana or another city, IMHO.

    Heck if MGM decided to open the CPS Revenue Casino, I’d even go there and gamble for the first time since 1992.

  • 125. ugh  |  September 17, 2013 at 9:26 pm


  • 126. cpsparent  |  September 17, 2013 at 11:20 pm

    @124, klm, Lincoln is our neighborhood school. Though our daughter won’t be attending, I wish Lincoln indeed gets a new building, because the overcrowding issue really turned away a lot of parents. I know a family with 2 young children moved to Indiana for this very reason.

    According to Chicago Sun-Times ranking, Lincoln is the best performing non-SEES school in Chicago. http://www.suntimes.com/news/education/16033380-418/the-top-50-elementary-schools-in-the-chicago-area.html
    Not a bad idea to reward a wonderfully run school. Keeping more tax paying families in Chicago will help the city and CPS in the long run.

    Not sure about legalized gambling though.

  • 127. Anon  |  September 18, 2013 at 8:09 am

    That info is old. While I’m sure Lincoln is still up there, Hawthorne is now the new number one under the SEES.

  • 128. cpsparent  |  September 18, 2013 at 9:30 am

    @127, This might be the latest info:
    I would still rank Lincoln ahead of Hawthorne, because while Hawthorn has 92% meet standards vs Lincoln’s 91%, Lincoln has the edge in terms of more important “Exceeds ” percentage 56% vs 53%. Also, Lincoln is a walk-in, overcrowded neighborhood school, Hawthorn is a fixed class-size lottery school.

  • 129. Anon  |  September 18, 2013 at 9:51 am

    Well considering Lincoln is in the heart of the most affluent community in the city and Hawthorne has to take whoever a computer randomly selects throughout the city, your argument is invalid. Hawthorne is still ranked above Lincoln.

  • 130. Anon  |  September 18, 2013 at 10:00 am

    Oh..and if you look at the IIRC, Hawthorne has larger average class sizes than Lincoln does.

  • 131. Angie  |  September 18, 2013 at 10:10 am

    @118. Veteran: Please stop repeating the lies your union rep is feeding you, even when they are directly contradicted by facts. Have they come up with the suitable script to explain the ridiculously low numbers of special education students at McDade and Poe yet?

    @123. anonymouse teacher: “CPS is “investing” in neighborhood schools at a snails pace. ”

    Again, where’s the money? The cost for the entire Wildwood annex is 15 million, which is less than Illinois wasting EVERY SINGLE DAY on the pension crisis the unions don’t want us solve.

    “Oh, wait, we didn’t actually save any money, it was all BS.”

    Yes, how dare they spend the money on school improvements and new education programs that will directly benefit the children instead of paying the unneeded teachers in half-empty schools? Too bad that the next year, when these one-time expenses are over, all the money CPS has saved will have to be spent on the increased teachers’ pension obligations. The kids will get shafted again and again until this mess is fixed.

  • 132. just saying  |  September 18, 2013 at 10:30 am

    Please, the Lincoln vs. Hawthorne thing is kinda petty. Especially since Tribune, Sun Times, Chgo Mag, etc will rank them differently depending on their methods. They are both great schools with excellent teachers and reputation, good placement, students that work hard to achieve, and great programming. No need for the “mine is bigger/better/different” than yours. Congratulations on your achievements.

  • 133. Veteran  |  September 18, 2013 at 10:49 am

    Teachers do not choose students via the lottery. The admin at Poe and McDade needs to answer the question you raised as to the low numbers of children with disabilities as do the charters.

    BTW admin is non-union….

    FYI I taught on the southwest side for 20 years and it is still overcrowded-please don’t insult me as I have experienced the severe overcrowding on the southwest side first hand and have seen the detrimental effects on both the gen ed population and the
    special education population. CPS takes advantage of SW side working class parents struggling to pay mortgages who can not afford to walk into an IEP meeting with an attorney when their child is being instructed in a windowless closet or dumped into an gen ed room with 36 children.

    I will bet neither of your children are in overcrowded schools similar to what is shown in the Tonti video.

    As far as the pension mess this is fiscal mismanagement by CPS which does NOT pay into SS and now has not paid into the pension for TEN years-ten years and they’re still unable to balance the books. The Feds would have come after CPS if they did not make a SS payment but I guess it is OK to screw the teachers.

    So teachers should be punished because CPS can’t balance the budget……kind of like a teacher who loses a set of mid-terms and because she is disorganized gives everyone an “F” for missing/not turned it tests.

    Read the papers about the charter school mess.

  • 135. Veteran  |  September 18, 2013 at 11:21 am

    Charter School Gravy Train Runs Express To Fat City

  • 136. Angie  |  September 18, 2013 at 11:38 am

    @134. Veteran: That MSNBC article neglected to mention that Noble schools’ strict discipline code is working. Look at the ACT scores HSObsessed posted the other day:


    Only selective enrollment high schools that require testing get better results.

  • 137. Veteran  |  September 18, 2013 at 1:53 pm


    I know that some of you do not listen to teachers’ opinions but Rod Estvan of Access Living is an impartial observer of CPS.

    Noble Street is selective, has low class size, involved parents, counsels out/fines behavior problems so shouldn’t the ACTs be higher?

    I am sure if CPS could expel disruptive students, have a low class size and involved parents our ACT scores would be higher.

    Charter schools are funded with tax dollars but do not follow the rules CPS schools are forced to follow.

    In a general high school in CPS teachers and students are afraid of the violent students CPS refuses to suspend/offer alternative schools- a lot of time is spent on discipline to no avail because CPS does not back the staff, monies are spent on security that could be used for tutoring etc and CPS does not follow its own attendance policy- CPS’ covert policy is to pass them all until they’re 17 and can drop out-esp; those special ed students because they cost too much-how many parents of children with disabilities are told that their child has the legal right to stay in high school until they are 21 if that’s how long it takes them to meet the H.S. requirements?

  • 139. SEESandCharterParent  |  September 18, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    Enough with the charter school bashing. I have 2 kids, one in a “gifted” elementary and one in a charter elementary. They are both solid options that I am thankful that I have. Charters aren’t perfect, but they aren’t the whole problem either.

  • 140. LSmom  |  September 18, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    I don’t think charters are evil, but I wish more of them in Chicago provided a real alternative to CPS, like the Montessori charter in Englewood or Namaste.

  • 141. Angie  |  September 18, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    @138. Veteran: From that article:

    “Sierra says he and his teachers work hard to keep kids from leaving Pritzker—offering after-school tutoring—but many just can’t handle the school’s rigors. “We don’t kick kids out. They may choose to leave on their own,” says Sierra. “We don’t apologize for who we are. We’re demanding. For some students we’re too demanding. They’re probably the students who didn’t want to come here in the first place.””

    I don’t see any problem with schools that have rigorous demands if the goal is to prepare these kids for college. Do you?

    And from the author of the article, Ben Joravsky:

    “But I’ll make a prediction: The us-versus-them attitude will start to change when charter school teachers finally get around to joining a union.”

    Bingo! That’s what the charter bashing is all about – a group of teachers who are not contributing to CTU’s coffers and Karen Lewis’s $300K salary. It’s all about getting more money for the union, and everything else is just smoke and mirrors to cover it up.

  • 142. Elliott Mason  |  September 18, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    Actually, Angie @141, for my family the major objection to charters is that they suck out all the parents with the time and energy to go to the trouble of getting their kids into charters, often leaving the neighborhood schools with only the families whose parents have no time or energy left for such things (because it’s eaten up by work or life conflicts). Charters systematically starve the neighborhood schools of resources and ‘good’ kids, while operating at advantages (like having troublemakers or kids who don’t throw themselves headlong into heavy workloads leave to go somewhere else) that the neighborhood schools simply cannot have, because of their basic mandate: accept all children who live within their boundary.

    And this conflict, especially when there are SO many charters (able to take, numerically, a high percentage of all the families who want their kids to not just thrive but excel), poses an existential threat to the ability of neighborhood schools to provide an equitable, PUBLIC education to all our children.

    Charter schools are not, to me, ‘public’ schools. They are only schools (some of them for-profit) that receive public funding.

    My child will attend proper public schools, and our family supports good, decent, equitable, effective schooling for all children, not just the ones with parents willing and able to throw themselves into their kids’ schooling as a second/third/fifth job.

  • 143. Angie  |  September 18, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    @142. Elliott Mason: Are you saying that the needs of these ‘good’ kids attending charters and their involved parents should be sacrificed to keep the status quo at the failing neighborhood schools? What about the ‘best’ kids, the ones that go to selective enrollment public schools? Should we sacrifice them, too, or are they allowed to get the good education because their teachers are paying the union dues?

  • 144. HS Mom  |  September 18, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    Hot off the presses. Rahm is on a roll – expansion of Walter Payton


    @149 – charters may not be for you, but do offer some interesting alternatives. Any time there is a choice whether it’s charter or SE or magnet, the neighborhood schools suffer. Don’t see how you get around it. I for one am not willing to sacrifice my child to make a stand.

  • 145. cpsobsessed  |  September 18, 2013 at 6:09 pm

    @HSmom, I’m with you. It’s easy for me to take a stand against charters, but if I’m one of the parents in an other-wise crummy neighborhood and I want my kid to be surrounded by kids of other parents who care, I might not care so much about taking that stand. It’s more “now or never” for your own child.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 146. Veteran  |  September 18, 2013 at 8:59 pm

    #141 Please stop with your anti-CTU vitriol-didn’t you get out all of your teacher bashing on various blogs during the strike? You were/and continue to be quite prolific in your teacher bashing.

    Your hatred of CTU is really quite unusual-yet you do say your children have “teachers you respect” I am wondering if your love of Rahm is coloring your perceptions of teacher unions-the CTU in particular.

    Charter school teachers are unionizing but cannot join CTU-obviously there are problems in charter land…….


  • 147. Angie  |  September 18, 2013 at 10:27 pm

    @Veteran: are you really going to complain about bashing after posting #118?

  • 148. Veteran  |  September 18, 2013 at 10:35 pm

    Rahm is an elected public figure-teachers are not-very simple logic.

  • 149. Angie  |  September 18, 2013 at 10:59 pm

    Teachers are public employees paid with the taxpayers’ money, and CTU exists to represent their interests. As a taxpayer, I have every right to express my opinion about that.

  • 150. Hyde Park Mom  |  September 19, 2013 at 7:02 am

    What a spirited debate! Seems this thread is iff topic, I will check back later….enjoy.

  • 151. LynnJ  |  September 19, 2013 at 7:17 am

    @hyde park mom yes off topic. Remember everyone you request your pin today that is needed to start the application process.

  • 152. klm  |  September 19, 2013 at 8:10 am

    @145 cpsobsessed


    Charter schools were never designed to be a panacea or to take away from deserving public schools that are serving their students well. They are meant to give options to low-income and working-class families (who don’t have the money to move or pay private school tuition) for whom the only other option is a failing school. It’s also worth noting these are almost exclusively black and Latino families, the groups that suffer the most in terms of achievement gaps and the ones that obviously need the most improvement.

    Note that people in Glencoe, Lincoln Park, Edgebrook don’t use or care much about charters because they are fortunate enough to already have good schools (at least in the K-8 grades in better-off Chicago neighborhoods). Why should low-income Chicagoans that care enough to seek out options be denied the same?

    I know I’ve said this before, but if anybody that vehemently anti-charter is happy and willing for their own kid(s) to go the neighborhood CPS elementary and high schools ( mean, Robeson, Roosevelt, Wells, etc.–would you send your kids to these schools?) in places like Lawndale, Roseland, Little Village, etc., then OK. Otherwise, why would anybody want poor Chicagoan to be forced to send their kids to schools that they would not want for their own children?

  • 153. ugh  |  September 19, 2013 at 8:20 am

    Regarding open house/tours, is it generally understood or a rule that I should not bring my kids? The morning tours are tricky to schedule without at least one of my little ones.

  • 154. ugh  |  September 19, 2013 at 8:23 am

    Also, for the veterans out there, what about the ranking of schools on the SEES application. I am anxious to get my application in, but will probably not make it to all the schools on my list very soon. I will not have a great perspective with which to rank the schools. Does this ranking ultimately matter?

  • 155. LynnJ  |  September 19, 2013 at 8:30 am

    @ugh many of the tours are adult only because they happen during the course of a school day when kids are in the class. You will actually be walking around the school and having children their is a distraction to the kids actively in the class during normal a school hours.

  • 156. cpsobsessed  |  September 19, 2013 at 8:39 am

    Also the school tours tend to be lonnnng – little kids get bored quickly.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 157. Curious  |  September 19, 2013 at 9:04 am

    Do you need a new PIN each year you apply? I’m going to look on the web site but I’m guessing I am not the only one with this question.

  • 158. New to CPS  |  September 19, 2013 at 9:11 am

    @154. I’m sure everyone will have their own process and opinion on SEES ranking, but FWIW here’s mine having gone through this process last year. I felt that the ranking only helps you a little anyway, and spending lots of time in advance touring and agonizing over 6 schools that we may or may not get into just didn’t seem to make sense in our busy lives. My approach was to look at what school location and type would potentially be best for my family and my DD without getting into nitty-gritty on each school. They are all highly regarded, and all have their pros and cons as well. In the end I probably would have been happy with any school that could support my accelerated learner. We also had zero time to go on any tours so I ranked based on which SEES schools were closest to my house (so commute or bus option that was reasonable) and which type of SEES test my DD would probably do best at (not knowing the test exactly, but knowing that classical is more connected to reading and math aptitude and she was reading already). Our #1 was a classical school closest to us and our #2 was the RGC closest to us. #3-6 were the other classical and RGC’s in order primarily based on distance to us. I then toured the school we got an offer from after we accepted (most have something for only accepted parents in the spring). We were fortunate to get a first round offer for our #1 school, so my approach did work out for us.

  • 159. ugh  |  September 19, 2013 at 9:21 am

    Thanks a lot to you all. @158 that is my instinct as well. Your comments are very helpful.

  • 160. Tracey J  |  September 19, 2013 at 9:39 am

    @157 Curious, yes you need a new pin each year.

  • 161. klm  |  September 19, 2013 at 9:55 am


    When in doubt, we just ranked according to average ISATs, as we really didn’t know much about each school other than that. We didn’t do the tours to be honest, because, well, we knew the chances were so slim (to get into Edison, for example, Tier 4 kids have to score towards to top end of the top 1%), so what’s the point? When we were offered a place at a RGC, we took the “new admissions offer” tour (I think virtually all SEESs do this the week after admission letters go out so that families can make their final choice) which was helpful (it was the first time we stepped into the building) and we were then also able to meet the actual families of the kids admitted, which was great. It was much easier to ask hard questions, knowing that our kid was admitted and would be enrolled if we wanted it.

    I’m all for touring if you can find the time, have the genuine interest in finding out what different schools are like, etc., but it’s just difficult for many people when they tour a school, kinda’ fall in love with a place, then find out there’s virtually no way their kid’s going to go there.

    Somehow, just filling out the rankings according to what was practical in terms of distance and what schools had the highest ISATs was the easy (and. well, yes ‘lazy’) way, but that way we didn’t have our heart set on any particular school and had great fall-back options. Same for all my kids. One goes to a RGC, the others to the Plan B schools and all’s good, everybody’s happy.

    Also, there are so many Elementary School Fairs where parents represent their kid’s school. I’ve done this, representing my kid’s RGC. I was happy being completely honest, pointing out the good AND the bad (the later which one doesn’t usually get on official tours).

    If I were you, I’d just rank according to what school you want most (taking in proximity to home, if that’s important) then just go from there in terms of school with best test results. What else can you do? Also, keep in mind that CPS does try to keep the commute doable. so it assigns kids on the far South Side to Southside RGCs, kids in Edison Park to Northside RGCs whenever possible, as there are limits to how far the buses will take kids. .

    Also, as a caveat, I’ve heard some parents deplore a school that some others love. There’s no such thing as a “perfect school,” so don’t let one person’s negative view turn you off. I think that if you went to any of the SEESs and polled the parents, 80% would be fine and generally satisfied, 10% would hate the school and 10% totally love it –kinda’ the 80-20 Rule (which I’ve found to be true at all my kids’ genuinely ‘good’ schools).

    Good luck.

  • 162. karet  |  September 19, 2013 at 10:22 am

    @161, I had never heard that CPS assigns kids to SEES close to their home. Is that true?

    That seems a bit problematic — how would that work? Do they disregard the ranking that people submit? What if someone is planning to move, and ranked a school high because it is closer to the neighborhood they will be living in next year? Or they rank a school high because it is close to a parent’s work?

  • 163. cpsparent  |  September 19, 2013 at 11:58 am

    @132. just saying :
    “Please, the Lincoln vs. Hawthorne thing is kinda petty. Especially since Tribune, Sun Times, Chgo Mag, etc will rank them differently depending on their methods. They are both great schools with excellent teachers and reputation, good placement, students that work hard to achieve, and great programming. No need for the “mine is bigger/better/different” than yours. Congratulations on your achievements.”

    I don’t have children in either of Lincoln and Hawthorn, which school is “mine”? Yes, the 3 ranking methods are different, for different audiences:
    (1) Chicago Tribune ranking: They rank based on the percentage of students who “meet standards”. ~75% CPS students meet standards in 2012, ~15% “exceeds”. But less than 10% of 11th graders are “college ready”. If the goal is “meet standards”, then Chicago Tribune is good.

    (2) Chicago Magazine ranking: They consider factors such classroom size, spending etc. So, if the goal is slightly better school experience, then Chicago Magazine ranking is good.

    (3) Chicago Sun-Times ranking: They use average scores of students. The ranking is aligned with the percentage of students who “exceeds” standards. So, if the goal is sending your child to college, Sun-Times ranking makes more sense.

    I want my kids to attend top universities. I look at “exceeds” percentage to rank schools. That’s it. Everybody has their own rankings, in which distance from school is a big factor too.

  • 164. Hyde Park Mom  |  September 19, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    When my DS was applying to K 3 yrs ago, I simply chose the top 6 ranking schools according to ISATS. That was pretty much it.I also looked at the neighborhood, diversity of students (which I didnt weigh too much, but in some cases it did matter a lot. I avoided schools that were over 90% any ethnic group).Distance wasn’t a big priority at all, and now my DS commutes all the way to a north side RGC.I don’t regret it. My only suggestion is if you have a plan B school, such as private or parcochial (i,e., non cps), then definitely visit and compare becuase these schools also may require testing and have deadlines to just apply.I recall touring a bunch of parochial schools as a plan B, and they all differ quite more than CPS does, of course.With CPS, you pretty much know what you are getting, but with private schools, one must really do the research/comparisons.

  • 165. klm  |  September 19, 2013 at 1:58 pm


    Yes, SEES admission is technically “city wide.” At least one kid I know of goes to Edison, but lives in Hyde Park.

    However, from what I understand, there is not automatic busing from one extreme of the city to the other, (there’s some kind of limit for practical reasons) so CPS tries to avoid offering a place to a school where busing would not be possible from the local neighborhood if another closely ranked choice of SEES is possible that would provide busing.

    More than one person has told me this, so I always just assumed it was true. I know that if you go on the CPS website it gives the rules/limits about busing. For example one kid the went to IG Program at Lincoln that live on the far south side had to be driven to something like 63rd by his mother, because that’s as far south as the bus route would go.


    I agree with you. I look at “exceeds,” since it’s the best indicator of the % of students that are doing what they need to in order to have the opportunity to be genuinely successful, academically. Hence, I also like the the Sun-Times way of ranking. For me, I’d rather my kids go to School A, where 55% of kids are exceeding, and 20% are below rather than school B where 20% are exceeding and 10% are below. Yes, school B has fewer kids “not meeting” to bring down the percentage “meeting or exceeding,” but it does mean that its achievement level is really higher than School A’s –in some ways the opposite is true. When I look under the hood of schools by comparing ISAT scores, I find many such examples.

    Also, it’s interesting when comparing schools’ demographic groups. For example, everybody thinks of New Trier as the gold standard for open-enrollment Illinois public HSs (average ACT last year was 27.7 –wow, it really kinda’ is), but when compared to, for example, Evanston (ETHS), the white kids at ETHS have a larger percentage scoring at exceeds on the PSAE than the white kids at NT on every subject. For example with reading: NT- 33%, white ETHS kids 40%, black ETHS kids 1% (!!!). 13% of NT kids are below, 9% of white kids at ETHS are below, and (this is really kinda’ shocking to me) 72% of black kids at ETHS are below standard (17% are on ‘warning’, compared to 1% of NT, white ETHS kids). The sad thing is (and this is so upsetting to me, especially, as the parent of black kids), the black students (1/3 the student population) at Evanston score so poorly that Evanston’s overall average is lower –hence it’s “not as good as New Trier.” Well, when it comes to white kids, maybe that’s not necessarily the case.

    I won’t go on one of me “We’ve got to do something about the achievement gap” diatribes here, but I think it’s clear that I could..

    It’s interesting when one compares CPS schools to ones in the “good schools” suburbs –CPS often does better for particular subsets of kids, including black and Hispanic ones, especially when one looks at the percentage that are “exceeding.”

  • 166. Hyde Park Mom  |  September 19, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    @Klm, to add to your analysis above on ETHS (my former HS!) versus NT, I think so much of it has to do with the kids home environment also and how the parents prioritize education. While a student at ETHS, I noticed firsthand the discrepancies between races, it was huge academically. The kids of the wealthy (they tended to be Caucasian) seemed to be the ones taking honors, AP, and getting into top colleges, whereas the opposite was true for the minorities.However, despite that fact, there were always a tiny few minority students that were in these advanced classes or going to top colleges.The key factor was their parents and outlook on education.
    Regarding the bussing citywide, I did not know that CPS takes distance into consideration when assigning a SEES school that a parent has ranked…! I guess we got lucky, because my DS was the last kid on the route after school.This year, there is a child who lives near 111th street on that route, so I wonder…..

  • 167. cliff  |  September 19, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    @klm (and others!)

    What fairs with parents representing the schools? And which school fairs do you think are the most helpful for prospective parents? I’m thinking particularly for CPS schools; e.g. the NPN fairs seem to have predominantly private schools exhibitors

    Thanks for any insight!

    “Also, there are so many Elementary School Fairs where parents represent their kid’s school. I’ve done this, representing my kid’s RGC. I was happy being completely honest, pointing out the good AND the bad (the later which one doesn’t usually get on official tours).”

  • 168. klm  |  September 19, 2013 at 3:07 pm


    I may be totally wrong. If course I could make a call to the the right office to find out for sure, but I’m too lazy.

    It’s interesting what you say about ETHS. A while back we were thinking of moving to the suburbs. Since our kids (both the homemade ones and the adopted ones) are black, as is the other the parent [I’m white]) and being as we’re middle-class people interested in public education, we were naturally thinking of either Oak Park, River Forest or Evanston. Being the way we are, we researched schools for test scores, etc., and were turned off by the achievement gap at both schools (but especially at ETHS) enough to change our minds, at least in terms of thinking “these would be great schools for our kids.”

    Now, I know that, as you suggested, what happens at home, parental role models, expectations, etc., is most important. However, we’ve all seen good kids go bad (or at least go ‘mediocre’). My spouse honest to God wanted to move to Wilmette, saying something like, “I’d rather our kids be flies in the buttermilk at New Trier than get stereotyped as ‘those kinds of kids’ at Evanston.” I don’t necessarily agree. I know 99% of people at NT would be cool with things, but there’s the protective side of me that doesn’t want my kids to feel isolated or awkward ever about who they are. Then again, we know a black family that lives in Lake Bluff (yes, there really is one) and they love it. Lovie Smith lives in Lake Forest and his son lives in Wilmette, so it happens. We have a few years still, but the perfect place I think would be WY or Payton –lots of really smart black kids along with really smart white, Asian, …whatever kids. Then again, we’re Tier 4, so we’ll have a Plan B…and a Plan C and D.

  • 169. klm  |  September 19, 2013 at 3:21 pm


    Lots of the better know preschools (e.g. Park West Cooperative) have School Fairs and quite a few, relatively speaking, CPS schools are represented. You can check online.

    One problem is that the SEESs do a horrible job of marketing themselves, because, well, they don’t have to. So many people already want their 4-year-old to go there, so there’s no need. Their websites are not especially good (I’ve heard people complain about one SEES’s in particular) and they don’t send representatives to school fairs, unlike some CPS schools that are trying to get the word out and attract more applicants to Up and Coming CPS Elementary School.

    Ultimately, I think people just go to someplace like the Sun-Times “Best Schools” list, go to the top and work their way down in terms of preference, while understanding that commuting from Edison Park to 129th St may not be practical. That’s what we did.

  • 170. karet  |  September 19, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    @klm: People should find out the busing boundaries for each SEES before they rank their schools. I’m not sure why CPS would concern themselves with this — they’ve established the boundaries, and it doesn’t cost them any more to admit someone out those boundaries (in fact it costs them less, since they don’t have to bus them!).

    Also: do not assume that people can drive their kids to the closest bus stop if they don’t live in the busing boundaries. I don’t know about other schools, but students at Skinner North are not allowed to do this. The boundaries are from Foster Ave. (5200 North) to Cermak Road (2200 South) — if you don’t live in that area you can’t ride the bus.

    Here is a link to all of the boundaries:

  • 171. karet  |  September 19, 2013 at 8:54 pm

    One more thing: if CPS did try to put kids in schools close to home, it would be a lot easier to get siblings into the same school. As it is, there are siblings scattered all over the city at different SEES. There are multiple families with one kid at Decatur and one kid at Skinner North!

  • 172. SoxSideIrish4  |  September 19, 2013 at 10:12 pm

    168. klm | September 19, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    “We have a few years still, but the perfect place I think would be WY or Payton –lots of really smart black kids along with really smart white, Asian, …whatever kids [Hispanic]. Then again, we’re Tier 4, so we’ll have a Plan B…and a Plan C and D.”

    That’s the smartest move. We are tier 4 and when my child gets ready for hs, we will have Plan B, C & D!

  • 173. Giftedsonbutwhocares  |  September 20, 2013 at 10:50 am

    This is something EVERYONE should read…. We put too much emphasis on our child being gifted and it may not mean they become more successful in life


  • 174. cpsobsessed  |  September 20, 2013 at 2:06 pm


    FYI, new tier map posted for this year.

  • 175. Tracey J  |  September 20, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    @cpsobsessed, I once saw somewhere on this site (I think) a link to a map where you could put in your address and it would tell your tier. I wonder how accurate it is? I can’t tell what my tier according to the map you posted because according to the map, my home borders two different tiers and it’s hard to pinpoint where my block actually falls!

  • 176. cpsobsessed  |  September 20, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    I would use this for now to determine your Tier:
    Kind of cumbersome but since the changes are new this will be most accurate.
    I believe they’re adding Tier info to CPS’ school locator, but it’s not ready yet.


  • 177. Tracey J  |  September 20, 2013 at 3:17 pm

    Thanks @cpsobsessed. Interesting information. It appears my tier is still the same from last year according to the census data.

  • 178. cpsparent  |  September 21, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    Continue with the above discussion about school rankings. I did a little math. Here is a ranking based on the percentage of students “exceeding” among students who at least “meet standards”. This will minimize the effect of bad students (hopelessly cannot meet standards), especially in non-SEES schools. If your child is expected to at least graduate from high school, the percentages can be considered as the chance of academic success.

    Top 20
    1 Skinner North 83%
    2 Edison 80%
    3 Decatur 78%
    4 Keller 76%
    5 Lenart 70%
    6 Skinner West 67%
    7 Lincoln 62%
    8 McDade 60%
    9 Hawthorne 58%
    10 Bell 55%
    11 Oriole Park 53%
    12 Poe 52%
    13 Coonley 49%
    14 Lasalle 48%
    14 Edgebrook 48%
    14 Burley 48%
    17 Jackson 46%
    17 STEM 46%
    19 Blaine 45%
    20 Beaubien 44%

    While there is little change at the top, it reveals that schools like Lasalle, Burley, Edgebrook, Jackson, STEM, Blaine, etc. are outstanding non-SEES schools. Lincoln, Hawthorne, Bell, Oriole Park are performing almost at SEES level, which is quite impressive.

  • 179. Even One More CPS Mom  |  September 21, 2013 at 6:12 pm

    One note about the rankings, Bell does house a RGC, starting on first grade so although an all around good school, also be aware that there is at least a little bit if a SEES effect on their percentage.

  • 180. Even One More CPS Mom  |  September 21, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    Once again, I should never post from the phone….typos!

  • 181. Christine Whitley  |  September 21, 2013 at 6:53 pm

    I have never heard that OAE/CPS takes location into consideration when determining SEES assignment!

  • 182. Hyde Park Mom  |  September 21, 2013 at 7:01 pm

    @181, me neither! seems irrelevant if they did and also unfair.Best way is to call and ask.

  • 183. southie  |  September 21, 2013 at 7:30 pm

    @ 178. cpsparent | September 21, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    From this list, which ones are in the south half of Chicago? I don’t know all the locations.

  • 184. Even One More CPS Mom  |  September 21, 2013 at 8:01 pm

    Southie – not sure exactly where you are located but look up the following to see which may work for you: Keller, Lenart, Skinner West, McDade, Poe, Jackson and STEM. At least some of those may be reasonable locations to you.

  • 185. southie  |  September 22, 2013 at 12:13 am

    Thanks! That will help to start.

  • 186. Christine Whitley  |  September 22, 2013 at 7:44 am

    southie — I have a map I can email to you.

  • 187. LSmom  |  September 22, 2013 at 8:34 am

    There’s also Murray in Hyde Park

  • 188. Even One More CPS Mom  |  September 22, 2013 at 9:17 am

    @186 Christine – I was recently trying to find a CPS map of schools for a friend. I had a great one of all the elementary schools (all types) several years ago but cannot find a new version. Are you willing to share where one can find the map of schools? I’ve searched the CPS site but no luck other than the school locator.

  • 189. cpsobsessed  |  September 22, 2013 at 9:41 am

    @Even OneMore: Boy, that is frustrating. There used to be a link to a PDF file of elem or HSs in that school’s zone, but now it just connects you to the School Locator, which is handy in many ways, but those maps were nice too.

  • 190. Christine Whitley  |  September 22, 2013 at 9:41 am

    #188 I do have a map but it’s not a new map — STEM isn’t on it much less all the newly closed schools. It would be great if CPS would update the map!

  • 191. Even One More CPS Mom  |  September 22, 2013 at 10:07 am

    Thank you, Christine! Sounds like we have the same map!

  • 192. ugh  |  September 22, 2013 at 10:20 am

    I found this map with school closings:


  • 193. Lisa  |  September 23, 2013 at 10:07 am

    I have a question regarding the tiers. I was reading on the OAE website regarding tiers and found this:

    “After the proximity students are accommodated, the remaining seats are distributed evenly among the four tiers, and the seats are filled by computerized lottery. (Note that the distribution of seats among the four tiers applies to the entry-grade level only – for most elementary schools, the entry-grade level is kindergarten. In the three Montessori magnet schools, the entry-grade level is the PreK-3 level, and in Inter-American Magnet School, the entry-grade level is the PreK-4 level. For high schools, the entry-grade level is ninth grade.)

    There is no proximity or tier consideration for non-entry grades in magnet schools, elementary magnet cluster schools, open enrollment schools, or high school magnet programs. In addition, proximity lotteries are not conducted at magnet schools that have an attendance boundary”

    Does this mean that my son would not have a shot in the lottery for Magnet schools because he will not be going in at an entry level grade? He will be a 1st grader next year.

    Thanks in advance!

  • 194. lisa  |  September 23, 2013 at 10:21 am

    lisa – that just means they don’t use the tier system for non entry grades. You can still apply for 1st grade but everyone is just clumped together in that lottery and its not based on tiers.

  • 195. Lisa  |  September 23, 2013 at 10:31 am

    Thanks 194!

  • 196. Hyde Park Mom  |  September 23, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    Was wondering how twins are admitted to a SEES?does cps allow more than one child into the same grade from same household?if there r 4 tiers,and kindergarten is 28 spots,does that mean up to 7 kids per tier can be admitted?i have twins and hoping both end up with same school for K.

  • 197. cpsobsessed  |  September 23, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    No sibling preference at all for SEES. It is every kid for their own. That said, the grade older than mine at my son’s school has a pair of twins.
    Not impossible but both would need to score incredibly well.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 198. Chris  |  September 23, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    “That said, the grade older than mine at my son’s school has a pair of twins.”

    They would have been admitted before tiers, when there were still spots allocated in part by race and gender.

    And isn’t that the first S-E class there, so less ‘popular’ than now?

  • 199. cpsobsessed  |  September 23, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    Ah yes, no tiers then! And yes, most likely easier to get in at that point.
    I know of twins at northside college prep. So if kids are super smart, it can happen.
    But as pointed out, very few seats per tier in each school and the 4yo factor and always thrown things off.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 200. ChicagoMomofBoys  |  September 23, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    Let’s talk 1st grade SEES admissions for a second. In your opinion, is it easier (less applicants) or harder (less openings) than SEES admissions for kindergarten? We live in tier 4, so it was next to impossible to get a seat for my kindergartener this school year. Will 1st grade be a little less impossible, or is this wishful thinking?

    In the meantime, we’re very happy with our neighborhood school thus far… so there’s a good chance we’ll stay put regardless. Just curious 🙂

  • 201. Christine Whitley  |  September 23, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    We get a set of twins almost every year at Skinner North.

  • 202. Christine Whitley  |  September 23, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    #200 — I would say it’s harder to get in at 1st grade than Kindergarten. Yes, there are fewer applicants but there are also significantly fewer seats available.

    I’m not sure how many apply for 1st grade vs. Kindergarten but I bet it’s not that much less.

    On the plus side, a few SEES programs (like Bell) don’t even start until 1st grade and last year Decatur accepted a K class and a 1st grade class so there’s that.

  • 203. JLM  |  September 23, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    Checked out the new tier map you linked to, CPSObsessed, and am dying to know what that little yellow (tier 3, rather than tier 4) dot is at what appears to be Fullerton and Clark.

  • 204. Chris  |  September 23, 2013 at 4:17 pm

    “dying to know what that little yellow (tier 3, rather than tier 4) dot is at what appears to be Fullerton and Clark.”

    Diversey and Broadway. Looks to go north to Wellington and east to Pine Grove. Probably right as the top of tier 3, and very few kids.

  • 205. cpsobsessed  |  September 23, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    I think it’s Clark/Fullerton also. I used to live over there back in my younger days when I never noticed a school anywhere. I think it’s a highrise. Not sure why it would be a lower Tier. More single people/non-owners maybe? I’m sure none of them in the building even know or care!

  • 206. Chris  |  September 23, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    “I think it’s Clark/Fullerton also.”

    No, it’s definitely NE of Diversey and Broadway/Clark. Lincoln Park Plaza is right there and has a meaningful number of residents with Section 8 vouchers.

    One of the ways to tell the difference is that there are two census tracts east of the Tier 3 blob–and there isn’t space for 3 tracts east of Clark on the northside of Fullerton before getting to the park–the one tract just “covers” the park, too.

  • 207. Cliff  |  September 23, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    @Chris 206

    Then the map is wrong (or incorrectly labelled), as it DEFINITELY shows the yellow section as being northwest of Fullerton and Clark, quite clearly south of Diversey

  • 208. Chris  |  September 23, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    Are y’all looking at the map here:


    Labeled as the 2013-2014 map?

    CPS may very well have it mislabeled, but that’s what I’m looking at and it certainly *claims* to be the new map.

  • 209. Chris  |  September 23, 2013 at 5:39 pm

    Ah, see now–stupid CPS labeling, combined with me thinking that they should have things labeled in a consistent manner (which is naive it best).

    That’s a tiny section, that is from Fullerton to Deming, Geneva Terrace to Clark.

    The stats for that tract will make every ***IRATE*** (that’s underemphasized, btw): These are the “percentages” (dunno how they calculate; seems like it should be ‘percentile’) for the 6 factors:

    99.06% 99.22% 27.32% 2.95% 60.97% 98.80%

    In order, that’s Median Family income; Educational Attainment; Single parent households; Owner-occupied housing; Non-English; Local school ISAT performance

    So, in the top 1.2% in the City for 3 of 6 categories, but they’re almost all renters, so, Tier 3.

    And, for that Median Family Income? The estimated amount is ….

    yes, I’m making you scroll, because, frankly, even I find it shocking…


  • 210. cpsobsessed  |  September 23, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    OMG – scam!

    Thanks for the drama though… 🙂

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 211. Chris  |  September 23, 2013 at 5:49 pm

    And, for further outrage, one can buy this cozy spot:


    and be in Tier 2.

    PS: The reason I find the median income of Tract 701.03 (the LP Tier 3) so shocking is that it is much, much higher than that of my tract, which I think of as unassailably Tier 4.

  • 212. cpsobsessed  |  September 23, 2013 at 5:55 pm

    60 percent non english speaking?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 213. Chris  |  September 23, 2013 at 6:03 pm

    “OMG – scam!”

    Yeah, sorry. Penance was looking up the deets on the new mystery LP Tier 3.

    For further annoyance, last years yellow dot (that I was looking at) is Tract 633.01, with the following %-iles (same order):

    51.18% 96.85% 100.00% 3.56% 56.94% 95.32%

    Income; College; Single Parent; Homeowners; Non-English; local school

    And a median income of $47,624.

    If only a few more of the parents had gotten divorced, 633.01 might have held on to that Tier 3.

    Do note that 633.01 has 64 school-aged kids and 701.03 has 50. For reference, the tract with the most has 1,891 (and there are dozens with over 1,000) is in Brighton Park (Tract 8428) and is Tier 1.

  • 214. Chris  |  September 23, 2013 at 6:07 pm

    “60 percent non english speaking?”

    No, but the chart is mega-confusing on quick look.

    The factors are ranked by “percentile” in some fashion–it doesn’t look like a straight ranking, but I haven’t tried to manipulate the pdf data.

    Seems it is saying that 60% of the school-aged kids live in census tracts with MORE non-english speaking households. (but then I am assuming some logic, again, which is a fateful error).

  • 215. IBobsessed  |  September 23, 2013 at 6:10 pm

    And Chris, don’t you think a chunk of those tier 1 & 2 students at Payton, providing the “diversity” and justifying in the minds of some the expansion as benefitting not only the privileged, also hail from addresses similar to 900 N Kingsbury?

  • 216. cpsobsessed  |  September 23, 2013 at 6:12 pm

    Ah, so it’s a percentile, not a percent.

    It’s a puzzling building. I say we all meet for brunch over there one day and scope it out for our reality tv show “CPSObsessed Undercover.”

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 217. Chris  |  September 23, 2013 at 6:25 pm

    IBobsessed: Of course they do; I’m not blind or stupid.

    Here’s the link to the table:


    Interesting facts (all tier 4 tracts):

    Highest Median Income: $304,666, for the tract including East LSD.

    The top tract for ‘parent’ education is in Hyde Park–mostly Harper, Blackstone and Dorchesterfrom 55th to 59th (median $= $142,188).

    Tops for Home Owners is 95th-103d, Damen to Western (median $= $114,471).

    The top local school on the list is Lincoln, with several tracts covered.

    There are a lot of tracts, scattered around a bit, tied for 0% single parents and 0% non-english.

  • 218. Chris  |  September 23, 2013 at 6:30 pm

    also, IBO: “justifying in the minds of some the expansion”

    Whats your counter proposal for a $17m capital project?

    That’s about half of a new elementary school, or not quite two additions to an elementary school. Or a similar-sized addition to a pretty new HS. Dunno how much a/c that provides, but my understanding is it’s over $1m to add to an old elementary.

  • 219. 1st grade admissions to SEES  |  September 23, 2013 at 8:39 pm


    I also thought it was a wishful thinking, but we got bunch of RGC offers for the 1st grade. The pattern that parents have described here, has been a drop by about 20 or so points between K and 1st grade gifted test. I was expecting that to happen, but our daughter’s actually went up by few points.

    Our daughter got into Skinner North for K. We were very happy with the school, but the commute was very long, so I wanted to keep our options open and had her take the test again, the next year.
    She got and offer for Beaubien in the 1st round, mid summer offer to Pritzker, and first week of school we got an offer for Coonley.

    I also applied for few magnet schools, just in case, got a low waitlist number for Blaine and got the call sometime mid summer.
    After all those offers we stayed at Skinner, because it is really a very, very good school.

  • 220. ChicagoMomofBoys  |  September 24, 2013 at 8:25 am

    @219: Thanks for giving me some hope! It sounds like you have one smart cookie!

  • 221. Tracey J  |  September 24, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    Can someone give some perspective on how the test is actually scheduled? So, I hear that if you apply closer to the deadline, you may get a test date sometime in January or February? If you apply as soon as the process begins, you may get a test date in November or December? Is there any truth to this?

  • 222. cpsobsessed  |  September 24, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    @traceyJ – yes, that is my impression. If you sign up sooner you get a sooner date and the later dates are saved for those who sign up later. (And obviously if you apply later, but nature your test date will be later, as late as into late February.)

  • 223. Tracey J  |  September 24, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    Thanks @cpsobsessed.

  • 224. PatientCPSMom  |  September 24, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    @211 Just wanted to share this observation about the census tract you referenced and the tract I happen to live in. There are people of varying income levels living here, so imagine how many people live in this census tract who also can’t afford the unit you referenced -hence why it’s a tier 2 tract. The census tract is mixed income by design and luckily everyone who lives in it gets to benefit in different ways from the transformative thinking that allowed people from different educational backgrounds and incomes to live together.

  • 225. Chris  |  September 24, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    ” There are people of varying income levels living here, so imagine how many people live in this census tract who also can’t afford the unit you referenced -hence why it’s a tier 2 tract.”

    There are people of varying income levels living in my census tract, too, and the vast majority of my neighbors *also* couldn’t afford that apartment, but we are solidly (and I wouldn’t dispute it for a second) a Tier 4 tract.

    8422 is not tier 2 just because of income; it’s tier 2 because of income AND high % of single parent families AND the poor ISAT performance of Jenner.

    And, just as it’s “unfair” (I’d argue that point, but many/most see it that way) that to the child of a non-native-english speaking, low-income, single parent who rents in my neighborhood is a “Tier 4” kid, it’s also “unfair” that the child of whoever buys that apartment is a “Tier 2” kid–it’s not as if she would be going to Jenner.

  • 226. Tracey J  |  September 25, 2013 at 1:38 pm

    Interesting article in the Reader yesterday. Seems relevant to this discussion. But, I’m keeping the faith!


  • 227. Hyde Park Mom  |  September 25, 2013 at 3:17 pm

    @226, those parents moving for their kids’ sakes are to be admired.If it were just myself( sans husband, whose views on education are very different from mine), I would also move in a heartbeat to the burbs, even if I had to rent my home out while renting another place to live in.As one parent said, peer influences are a major impact, and CPS has too many iffy schools.

  • 228. Tracey J  |  September 25, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    @hypde park mom, I understand where you are coming from. We are going to stick it out for now and see where we land for Kindergarten.

    On another note….. Something I am noticing. We are looking into plan B aka private schools in case DD does not get into a SEES or Magnet. I am noticing the deadlines, with app fee, etc are due BEFORE test results/lottery results are mailed to us. Another thing to worry about. It would be great if CPS could get info to us by end of February so we know where we stand, and go the private school route if necessary.

  • 229. Chris  |  September 25, 2013 at 5:20 pm

    ” It would be great if CPS could get info to us by end of February so we know where we stand, and go the private school route if necessary.”

    It would also be great if the Privates shifted their policies. But they are even less likely to change, even tho they have more latitude to do so.

  • 230. Tracey J  |  September 25, 2013 at 6:11 pm

    Yes, true @Chris. It’s all wishful thinking.

  • 231. UptownMama  |  September 25, 2013 at 9:12 pm

    @228 I posted something similar last year when our neighborhood school was on the closing list–which wasn’t finalized until the spring. How exactly were we supposed to plan for kindergarten when we didn’t even know what our neighborhood school would be? Several of the potential receiving schools would have been good options; the one we were eventually assigned to was a no-go.

    Fast forward to this summer: We didn’t end up getting into the school DD is in now until two weeks before school started. What’s even crazier, we got into what we’d thought of as our first choice two weeks AFTER school started. We decided not to move at that point. I know a lot of people who had similar experiences -mostly with kids in good schools that they’re happy with.

    Anyway it’s a messed up system, but good to know that going in.

  • 232. lisa  |  September 26, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    Does anyone have any insight in Galileo, Sabin or Talcott schools.

  • 233. Tracey J  |  September 26, 2013 at 8:15 pm

    I got my pin today.

  • 234. Hyde Park Mom  |  September 27, 2013 at 11:59 am

    I confirmed with cps the bus service issue,and its limiting my selection of rgcs and classicals.Can any parents at skinnerwest
    ,coonley, etc who dont get bus service and live far from school pls tell me how you transport your kids,if you pay a private company.I know akinner west parents sometimes pay a company…….

  • 235. SEESandCharterParent  |  September 27, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    @234 Hyde Park Mom – what bus service issue?

  • 236. Hyde Park Mom  |  September 27, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    Not all rgcs have bus for kida out of their boundaries on map.

  • 237. LSmom  |  September 27, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    @Hyde Park Mom, did they have any information about NTA’s busing boundaries?

  • 238. JLM  |  September 27, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    @234 Hyde Park Mom – My daughter goes to Skinner West and we are out of busing boundaries. I drive her down there daily and pick her up daily. All of the other parents I know do the same thing. It seems that there are more people out of busing boundaries than in boundaries (excluding neighborhood kids, of course).

  • 239. Hyde Park Mom  |  September 27, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    @237, no sorry, I didn’t inquire about NTA…

  • 240. UptownMama  |  September 28, 2013 at 2:34 pm

    NTA’s boundaries:
    North: 500 South
    South: 5900 South
    East: Lakefront
    West: 4800 West

    We’re driving and taking the el with our daughter. There are a lot other parents doing pick up and drop off each day.

  • 241. LSmom  |  September 29, 2013 at 5:11 am

    Thanks @UptownMama, the el commute might work for us.

    Our neighbors who go to Skinner West carpool.

  • 242. Chicago School GPS  |  September 29, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    The latest Options for Knowledge Guide is online and page 41 talks about transportation. http://cpsoae.org/2014-2015%20Options%20for%20Knowledge%20Guide%20-%20English.pdf

  • 243. Hyde Park Mom  |  September 30, 2013 at 7:19 am

    Does anyone know much about Greeley RGC?NTA?Just became aware of these,and the cps school finder doesnt have them.Wanted to know their scorecarc,SCORES,demographics,etc.

  • 244. Hyde Park Mom  |  September 30, 2013 at 7:41 am

    pls disregard my question, I googled and found them….

  • 245. CPSMom  |  October 1, 2013 at 9:59 am

    @221 – yes, that was our experience last year. My DD didn’t ask about applying until about 2 weeks before the deadline. So we didn’t get our pin and do the application until very near the end, and we wound up testing in….January? Her friends who had applied in October were testing much earlier than we were…November and December, I think.

  • 246. CPSMom  |  October 1, 2013 at 10:02 am

    @Chris: I enjoy reading your input. Love the appropriately applied snark.

  • 247. MamaBlue  |  October 1, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    I just submitted the applications for SEES and magnet/open enrollment for my son for kindergarten for the 2014 school year. Can anyone tell me if he was to do well on the two SEES tests (we applied for classical and RGC schools), is it possible to get an offer from more than one SEES school? Or do they just base their offer on your ranked order from the application? This is our first child in CPS and I am already overwhelmed and frustrated. We also originally had a list of 12 schools for the magnet/open enrollment app, but 4 of them are not taking non neighborhood kids next year. Our options are so limited. Can’t afford private school and our neighborhood school is not so good. My son is smart (of course every parent thinks so about his/her child!), but I don’t like the pressure to try to get him into one of these schools. Also, we are Tier 4, which is ridiculous given the mixed income area we live in. I find it odd that all of the neighborhood schools close to my house, which are in Tier 4 areas, are made up of at least %50 low income students, and high percentages of ESL kids. I know this is rambling, I’m just trying to absorb everything!

  • 248. mom2  |  October 1, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    Not that this makes you feel better, MamaBlue, but the reason why your tier 4 neighborhood school has a large amount of low income and ESL kids is because parents like you don’t send your kids to that school. If and everyone else from tier 4 did, there wouldn’t be room for the kids from outside the neighborhood. It is sort of a catch 22. In many places, that is changing for elementary schools, but still a big issue in high schools.

  • 249. MamaBlue  |  October 1, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    mom2….I get that. It’s just so frustrating!!! We stretched ourselves financially to buy a home for our family in a nice neighborhood, and the payoff is that my kids have to go to a not-so-great school or compete with thousands of other kids to get into a good one. I’m also a little annoyed that there are so few choices for magnet schools on the north side. A majority are south or west. How do parents not pull their hair out during this process?!

  • 250. MD  |  October 1, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    @249 The classical & RGA tests are different and apply to different programs. Each school (classical/RGA) only looks at the test given for their program. Try not to panic…get your applications in on time, apply to as many schools as are feasible distance wise-don’t limit yourself, and keep in mind that are are other options if your child does not get in to a magnet/classical/RGC…I’m not sure where you live on the NS but there are several good neighborhood schools that accept applications outside their district. Ravenswood comes to mind. I am sure their are many people on this site that could point you in the direction of similar type schools.

  • 251. JLM  |  October 1, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    @247 MamaBlue – You can only get 1 offer from a SEES school. If you get an offer and it is not for your first choice SEES school, you can accept it, and that’s that and you’re out of the running for additional offers, or turn it down and hope you get a 2nd/3rd/4th round offer from a school higher up on your list. However, then the initial offer is gone, even if an offer to one of your higher-ranked choices never materializes.

  • 252. JLM  |  October 1, 2013 at 4:37 pm

    Oh, and MamaBlue – where on the North Side do you live? There are many magnets (and neighborhood schools that often go decently high off the waitlists) on the North Side. Unfortunately, it is often a nailbiter as offers may not materialize until late in the summer (or during the first 2 weeks of school), but we ultimately received offers from 5 of the 18 magnets and neighborhood schools on our list.

  • 253. ChicagoMomofBoys  |  October 1, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    @249: As a South Side resident, I feel like most of the “better” schools are up north. I think that this is a case of the grass is always greener. Also, it’s important to note that just because a magnet cluster/neighborhood school is listed on the application, it doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily accept out-of-boundary students in 2014-15… especially for the lower grades. Some desirable magnet clusters (i.e., Alcott, Agassiz) on the North Side, however, dug fairly deep on their wait list this year so there’s hope for you there in case SEES doesn’t pan out. Good luck!

  • 254. Mayfair Dad  |  October 1, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    @ 247 Mama Blue: take a deep breath. If this doesn’t help, pour a glass of wine. Feel better? Good.

    “I find it odd that all of the neighborhood schools close to my house, which are in Tier 4 areas, are made up of at least 50% low income students, and high percentages of ESL kids.”

    Fairly typical of the North side. Remember CPS averages: 86.6% low income and 16.6% limited English, so I wouldn’t be overly freaked out about your neighborhood school’s demographics. How are they doing otherwise? ISBE report cards are a good place to start. Talk to other parents on the school yard. Vist the school and interview the principal. Find out what’s going on before you make a decision based solely on socioeconomics.

    Do not fall prey to the my-kid’s-school-as-status-symbol syndrome so prevalent among first-time CPS parents. Do your homework and be diligent about filling out applications, adhering to deadlines, etc. It will not be the end of the world if your Buffy or Jody attends kindergarten with poor kids. Heck, you might even fall in love with your neighborhood school and do something crazy like join the LSC!

    Tier 4 is cray cray. Any socioeconomic-based system that has me and Penny Pritzker in the same category is waaaaay out of whack.

  • 255. LSmom  |  October 1, 2013 at 5:58 pm

    @247, agreed that it is a frustrating and crazy process! We applied to 26 schools and ended up with one SE offer and five neighborhood/magnet cluster offers. We didn’t get into any of the most sought-after SEES or magnet schools, but we’re happy with where we ended up.

    The one thing is, if you’re not interested in your neighborhood school, you should be sure you are casting a wide enough net and listing some of the schools that take many kids from the lottery — it’s very easy to amend your CPS application if necessary.

  • 256. Hyde Park Mom  |  October 1, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    HOW DOES ONE FIND OUT WHICH SCHOOLS TAKE MANY OUT OF area kids via lottery? thanks, sorry for the caps, not yelling 🙂

  • 257. LSmom  |  October 1, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    Hyde Park Mom, check out post #9 on this thread for a great list of schools that let in many out of neighborhood kids.

  • 258. Christine Whitley  |  October 1, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    @MamaBlue (and others) please come take my workshop! It will all make so much more sense and be much less anxiety-provoking! If you are financially stretched, and can’t afford the fee for the workshop, email me! I’ll work with you.

  • 259. MamaBlue  |  October 1, 2013 at 7:10 pm

    I really appreciate all of the feedback. We were only able to choose 8 schools on the magnet/open enrollment application. I have done a LOT of research on schools around us and like I said earlier, we originally had 12, but 4 aren’t open for applications. Unfortunately my husband and I work odd hours. We had to choose schools that are reasonably close to us because of that, and because we also have a younger daughter and have child care issues to work out with her. Traveling long distances to get the kids to school just isn’t possible. Even getting my son to a bus stop isn’t practical because we don’t have anyone home at that time to do it. I found out that we live within 1.5 miles of one of the magnet schools on our list so at least he should be in the proximity lottery for that. On the plus side of all of this madness, I should be well versed in the CPS mayhem for when we have to go through it for my daughter in 2 years!! I am hoping my son does well on the gifted/classical tests. I have no idea what skills the kids that do well have, so I don’t know how to judge where he is. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

  • 260. SEESandCharterParent  |  October 2, 2013 at 9:42 am

    @MamaBlue – I know this post is largely down on Charters, but don’t rule them out. I have a son at CICS Irving Park and couldn’t be happier. The application process is completely separate from the applications you’ve already completed.

  • 261. Seth Lavin  |  October 2, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    Hi all– Brentano Elementary in Logan Square is another great neighborhood school option that has room and can take out-of-district students. We were just moved up to Level 1, are still a small, tight-knit school, and have an excellent, growing parent community. Read about our move to Level 1: http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20131002/logan-square/brentano-officials-feel-vindicated-by-bump-cps-performance-rating

    Email me sethlavin@gmail.com or call the school (773) 534-4100 to learn more, talk to other parents, or set up a tour.

  • 262. cpsobsessed  |  October 2, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    Okay, so to keep this list going – schools that are well regarded and have room for outside students. I know there are a few more. Does Hamilton still take a decent share outside the hood?


    Maybes? (I thought Edgebrook fills up.)
    Goethe (?)
    Norwood Park
    Peterson (?)

  • 263. cpsobsessed  |  October 2, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    Please add any others (and this list is northside centric, so other additions are welcomed.)

  • 264. sethlavin  |  October 2, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    Hi all,

    Brentano Elementary in Logan Square also has room and can accept out-of-district students. Brentano’s an awesome school that just reached Level 1, but still has a very small student population and a tight-knit community. Email me sethlavin@gmail.com or call the school at (773) 534-4100 to learn more, talk to parents, or set up a tour.

    Here’s a story on our recent move to Level 1: http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20131002/logan-square/brentano-officials-feel-vindicated-by-bump-cps-performance-rating

  • 265. UptownMama  |  October 2, 2013 at 6:27 pm

    For posterity, Ravenswood just called to offer us a spot for K. High 300s WL if I remember right.

  • 266. JLM  |  October 2, 2013 at 7:57 pm

    @262/cpsobsessed – Someone on NPN said that only 1 non-n’hood, non-sibling got into Hamilton for K this year, but that’s b/c they only had 1.5 K classes, and next year they’ll have 2.5 K classes, so presumably there will be some space for non n’hood applicants.

  • 267. JKmom  |  October 2, 2013 at 9:26 pm

    How long does it take to receive the test date once an application has been submitted, generally?

  • 268. Tracey J  |  October 3, 2013 at 10:14 am

    Are there any parents on here that hire a private transportation company to take your DD or DS to school? If so, can you please disclose your monthly rate you pay the company? Just trying to get a sense of what this looks like now.

  • 269. lisa  |  October 3, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    can anyone comment on Jahn that just got moved to level 3 on probation. What is happening at this school. Thought it might be a good option for my list but now I am questioning that choice.
    Also, any feedback on Talcott or Mitchell.

  • 270. lisa  |  October 3, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    Really excited to see that Brentano in Logan Square moved to CPS Level 1 standing.

  • 271. cpsobsessed  |  October 3, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    @269: I don’t know anyone with direct experience with Jahn, but one thing to keep in mind is that levels and test scores are all for grades 3+.. Many of the schools that went through “transition” (which typically involves attracting families with more education/english speaking, etc) are schools where parents took a chance on the school despite low test scores. Those scores tend to transition over time as a different demographic of kid enters 3rd grade. At some point if you have confidence in the school leadership and mission, you may need to overlook scores with the faith that it will improve over time (and/or that your child can still likely excel there even if other kids are not.) The school is still fairly high on low income kids and that is going to affect test scores, which is not nec a reflection on the school resources. Again, I don’t know if this is the case with Jahn, but certainly parents entered Nettelhorst, Waters, Coonley, Pierce, etc when test scores didn’t make them look like the most appealing school on the planet.

  • 272. Seth Lavin  |  October 3, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    @cpsobsessed — totally agree with you that influx of more affluent families to a CPS school usually starts in pre-tested grades. This makes me think a lot about the impressiveness of schools like Hamilton, Goethe and Brentano that have changing populations in the early grades but are seeing scores rise in the tested grades. That means they’re raising their levels because of improved instruction and performance among all kids, not just the newer families.

    Also, Cps.edu just updated the data and levels on their school pages. It’s all current now!

  • 273. cpsobsessed  |  October 3, 2013 at 6:03 pm

    @seth, that’s is true ie amundsen roosevelt now level 2.
    senn too, althought they have shifted population a bit.

    And not to be a complianer but…I don’t like the new layout of the school pages on cpe.edu.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 274. HS Mom  |  October 3, 2013 at 7:07 pm

    CPSO – the new CPS tool is interesting. Looks like the HS ACT graph is “broken” the gauge is at the bottom has all schools showing solid blue above average no matter what the score. It amazes me that a school with every measuring factor below the already low average is considered to be a “level 2” school.

  • 275. neighborhood parent  |  October 3, 2013 at 7:52 pm

    more concerning than Jahn’s Level 3 would be Lake View’s level 3. And didn’t they earn a Level 1 during the last performance eval?

  • 276. cpsobsessed  |  October 3, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    See new post… Lake view has the highest acts scores of 4 northside neighborhood high schools, so the level designation needs some digging into…

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 277. MayfairMama  |  October 4, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    I just wanted to say that one shouldn’t rule out some of the neighborhood schools. If you have space on the application, fill it up. We received offers for 2nd grade from Solomon this summer and Edgebrook a week into the school year.
    I also suggest that if you are waitlisted at several schools, it’s a good idea to tour the ones with lower waitlist numbers in the spring. It’s really tough to make a decision to transfer during the summer or once the school year starts if you haven’t seen the school. Both our offers were waitlist numbers under 20.

  • 278. MamaBlue  |  October 4, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    Ok, another question. We submitted our application for K on October 1st. We applied (for my son) for some SEES schools and magnet/neighborhood. I’ve been looking at schools again and thought I thought I had found all that we wanted to apply to, but I found two (magnets) that slipped through my net. I know I can do the modification form, but I’m afraid this will mess up the assignment of the SEES test dates. We want to get the tests out of the way so we can get them off of our minds! The website says the modification form replaces the one you already submitted, so doesn’t this mean we could end up with a later test date? Don’t know if I should do the form or just let it ride as is. Thoughts? Advice? Thanks

  • 279. MamaBlue  |  October 4, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    Excuse my typos please….very tired!!

  • 280. ChicagoMomofBoys  |  October 4, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    MamaBlue: There’s no guarantee of an early testing date no matter when your form has been submitted. If I were you, I’d follow through with the modification as it’s far more important to cast a wide net of school choices than secure a “prime” testing date. What’s stressing you out so much about the test? It’s really not that big of a deal.

  • 281. cpsobsessed  |  October 4, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    I agree – I’d modify the form. Having more options will serve you better than an early test date will.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 282. Hyde Park Mom  |  October 4, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    I wish I felt that test wasnt a big deal,but it is huge.My area school is onprobation,id rather work 3 jobs before sending my kids there.This test means everything….

  • 283. ChicagoMomofBoys  |  October 4, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    @282: I get that. But at the same time, aside from prepping your child, there’s little you can do… so why stress about it? If your child is truly gifted (and tests well), he/she will ideally secure an SEES spot. However, most kids aren’t and the spots are in very limited supply. You’d be wise to focus your efforts on figuring out Plans A, B and even C.

  • 284. MamaBlue  |  October 4, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    Thanks for the advice all. ChicagoMomofBoys…I didn’t really say the tests were stressing me out. My son will either do well or he won’t. The application process is what’s stressful. I think it’s an absolutely absurd part of “living in Chicago” reality that we have to apply to get our children into good PUBLIC schools. But again, it’s reality so we are dealing with it head-on. We want to get the tests and applications out of the way so we can take one more thing off of our very full plates. We would rather not wait until January or February. Of course, as a lot of moms find, I have navigated through this process alone and when I brought up to my husband that two possible schools missed my radar, we began discussing why we applied on the first day possible. We wanted to get this all done ASAP so we can move on to other things and just wait until March to see where the dust settles. I have been doing research on schools since my son was two and I guess recently my mind just blanked and two good options disappeared from my list.

    Being familiar with how the city works, I also fear that in making changes, things may get lost or mixed up. (I’ve had that happen SEVERAL times with different city departments). My husband doesn’t want me to mess with the application at all. I’m torn. Has anyone actually done it before?

    As I said in an earlier post, we found out that we live within the 1.5 mile proximity of a magnet school on our list. Anyone have experience with how this affects our odds of getting in? I know it puts us in an earlier lottery for the school, just wondering how much that really affects our chance of getting him in.

    Thanks again to everyone. I really appreciate the input.

  • 285. ChicagoMomofBoys  |  October 4, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    One thing to keep in mind is that the sooner you submit the application and take the test, the longer the wait for results. I found the waiting to be the hardest part of the process by far. It was agonizing! And lots of offers for SEES (i.e., 3rd rounds) and magnets don’t ultimately happen until right before school begins… and sometimes even after. There’s absolutely no need to rush.

  • 286. HS Mom  |  October 4, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    @284 – just a PS to all the other good advice here…..if you change your app consider adding up to 20 schools. Better to have more (or any) options and weed out later.

  • 287. MamaBlue  |  October 4, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    HS Mom…I really wish we could put 20 schools on the list, but it just isn’t possible. We work odd hours and transportation is a huge issue. It just isn’t feasible for us to drive across the city. As the CPS website says, we only applied to schools we would accept an offer from. I am hoping against hope that we get a school that has the bus as an option, or that is close enough for us to drive and still be able to get to work. Anyway, we are thinking of just waiting until we get a test date for the SEES and then amending the magnet/neighborhood app. We have until December to apply so I would think that would work out ok since the two applications are separate.

  • 288. Tracey J  |  October 4, 2013 at 5:48 pm

    I have to agree with Hyde Park mom. The school across the street from me is on probation and has been for at least 4 years. It was a receiving school for one of the schools that closed in my area and that school was also on probation. This test is everything for my family and I lose alot of sleep over it.

  • 289. MamaBlue  |  October 4, 2013 at 6:21 pm

    TraceyJ and HydeParkMom…..I completely understand where you both are coming from. If we don’t get any of our options, my husband and I will both have to take on second jobs to send our kids to Catholic school. I don’t mind working for my kids’ education, but I’d like to be able to spend time with them while they grow up and not always be at work! I wish you both the best of luck with this whole process. I am not stressing about the test because I know I can’t control it. Whatever’s going to happen is going to happen. Again, I hope it all works out for you both. Your children are lucky to have parents that care so much about giving them the best education possible.

  • 290. Tracey J  |  October 4, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    Thanks mamablue. Yes, I know everyone here feels the same and understands the stakes. Yes, thinking about plan A, B & C. Yes, private school is the only other option and it is VERY scary considering the cost. Thank you for the kind words and you are right it cannot be controlled. All I can do is continue to prep, utilize my 20 options, and pray for the best!

  • 291. LSmom  |  October 5, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    @mamablue, I had to amend my application last year (new address) and it was as easy as can be. You can also give them a call a week or two after you’ve done the amendment to confirm things if you’d like the extra reassurance. I would definitely amend your form, the more schools you can include, the better, especially if the alternative is your family taking on more jobs.

  • 292. Kaylea  |  October 5, 2013 at 5:39 pm

    Putting in a quick plug for Carnegie RGC — we love it! The teacher is outstanding and highly available (and she sends her own child to the school), the kids are forming a community, and there’s great communication from the school to the home.

    Parent involvement is a work in progress but the principal is great — you can see in the test data that the neighborhood program has struggled historically. However, that was before the new school leadership came in. I feel like the new administration has a solid plan for making the entire school stronger.

    We are in K but also have spent time observing the 1st and 2nd grade class. Now our only stress is hoping that the sibling can also get in during the 2014-2015 admissions season!

  • 293. PatientCPSMom  |  October 6, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    @289 there are many amazing CPS schools children can go to that you don’t have to test into. Patience is the key. Keep applying until you find the school that fits your family. The lottery (when you cast a wide net) can work. Just remember you have to work the process. No need to get a second job or go over to religious based education. Many folks give up too soon.

  • 294. MamaBlue  |  October 6, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    Casting a “wide net” of 20 schools just isn’t an option for everyone. Work schedules, time restrictions, travel distances and other children are huge factors. The lottery is exactly that….a lottery. You can’t count on it. You have to be prepared for any outcome. If we don’t get my son into a good CPS school by test or lottery, he will go to Catholic school, which would absolutely require second jobs. He is actually in a Catholic preschool right now, which we love. Unfortunately tuition goes WAY up for K-8 which puts it out of our reach. It’s not a matter of giving up. There is only so much you can do, and I have done as much research and planning as I can. I would like to utilize CPS because we are paying for it and it would give us some financial breathing room by avoiding private school tuition. But if we end up at Catholic school and with second jobs, we’ll have to be ok with that. We don’t have the option to move out of the city so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

  • 295. Hyde Park Mom  |  October 6, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    @292, for the Carnegie plug in:I live close to Carnegie, and although I am applying for SEE’s, I decided not to put that school down. Their test scores are rather low, plus when I pick up my son there from his bus (that’s our stop), I observe the kids-very rowdy, obnoxious, and foul language.Wouldn’t be surprised if bullying was a problem there.But I am glad it is working out for you, just my 2 cents.

  • 296. Kaylea  |  October 6, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    @295 – Pickup/dropoff at Carnegie is definitely congested. Fortunately we are able to walk and have not had any issues. I have no idea how it compares to other schools during that part of the day.

    It’s true that the neighborhood part of the school has test score issues — I think the new principal has a good plan, but there’s definitely work to be done. Last year I was about where you are — walked past the school almost daily, and I almost wrote the school off based on my impressions & research. But I talked to someone who does a lot of volunteer work in schools all over the south side and was convinced to give it a closer look. You might be pleasantly surprised if you toured/observed the program — I know I was.

  • 297. new at this  |  October 7, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    Does solomon have after school care? The info on the website is from March 2013 Thx

  • 298. ugh  |  October 7, 2013 at 7:48 pm

    @297 – Solomon is starting something later this month with Orion’s University. Who knows if it will continue next year, but it sounds like an interesting program.

  • 299. new at this  |  October 8, 2013 at 11:56 am

    Thank you, I just looked up Orion and it looks good. Do they work at any other schools? Also what’s up with the playground? Thx

  • 300. ugh  |  October 8, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    @299 – I do not know if they work with other schools. The new playground equipment should be up in the next couple of weeks as far as I know.

  • 301. new at this  |  October 8, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    thank you 300. I had heard the playground will not be built because there is no money for labor. thanks for clarfying

  • 302. Tracey J  |  October 8, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    If you have children or know someone that goes to the following schools, can you give me feedback? Thanks.

    LaSalle II, Oscar Mayer, Suder, and Galileo

  • 303. Another LaSalle II Mom  |  October 8, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    @302 Tracey J – What type of feedback are you looking for?

  • 304. Another LaSalle II Mom  |  October 8, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    From the LaSalle II web site: “Families interested in Lasalle II Magnet Elementary are invited to learn more about the school on Saturday, October 19th, 2013 from 10-11am during our Open House. Enter through the main entrance on Honore, the door closest to Division.”

    If I am not mistaken, this is the only prospective parent tour until after the lottery results letters arrive. Then there is often another tour held for families who have received offers. If you are at all interested, be sure to attend!

  • 305. Another LaSalle II Mom  |  October 8, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    And a link to the new LaSalle II web site…… http://lasalle2school.com/

  • 306. Tracey J  |  October 8, 2013 at 1:38 pm

    @LaSalle II Mom, thanks for the info and I will be sure to attend. I want to know, what is working well at the school? As a parent, why would you encourage others to send their children to LaSalle II. I looked at the scores and trying to understand how the school is level 1. I look at other schools that are level 1 and scores are in the 80s and 90s. Just trying to connect the dots and not being critical. Thanks.

  • 307. JLM  |  October 8, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    @MamaBlue – any way you can see if your local Catholic school offers any financial aid? Also, I would be prepared to possibly put down (and lose) a deposit on the Catholic school, b/c you may get into a desired CPS school late in the game – all the way up until the first 2 weeks of school. Many people turn down offers that late in the game b/c they feel their child is settled or they’ve already paid tuition at a private. Just be prepared and know that losing out on some money in K would still save you from paying tuition for a full 9 years.

    Re: the application – I made a change to my SEES app last year – reordered my choices. I think I applied around Halloween, but not sure when I revised the app. Daughter tested in early December.

    Good luck!

  • 308. Another LaSalle II Mom  |  October 8, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    @306 Tracey J – I understand what you are saying. One thing to keep in mind is that compared to many of the other magnets, LaSalle II is still fairly new. The first group of kindergarten students at the school are now in the 5th grade. The school was growing one grade at a time (I think it started at K-2nd, but I could be wrong) but several years ago CPS added on the top several grades all at once so overall scores include those of several grades of students suddenly coming in from other schools. In a couple years the scores will reflect those of a whole school of students who have basically been in the program since kindergarten (obviously there is some percentage of students who leave and arrive in following grades), or soon after. At least, that is my personal understanding and interpretation. Others may elaborate differently. If you can find a report of grade by grade ISAT results, that may be helpful to you. Also, the performance policy reports show how levels are determined. Personally, I am excited about the new leadership at the school, I love that our school has a good group of involved, invested parents and the school is located in the midst of a business community that is very supportive of the school and wants to see it succeed and thrive. There is a great plan for school grounds and building improvement. The first phase of that is about to break ground. I have had very positive experiences with the teachers, students and other parents. The foreign language department is about to embark on the school’s first foreign country trip, a service learning trip to Peru for 7th and 8th grade students this spring. I am sure others can chime in as well.

  • 309. MamaBlue  |  October 8, 2013 at 2:37 pm

    JLM…sadly, according to the financial aid system in place at Catholic schools (we already looked into it for pre-k), we don’t qualify for any aid. I guess they don’t factor in our mortgage, or other bills when determining that! I have actually spoken to my son’s current catholic school about tuition if he was to get into a CPS school later in the summer. They are willing to work with us so we won’t lose anything but the application fee, as long as we don’t pull him out after the school year has already started. If we had to pull him out after the year started, it would be worth losing that first payment to get him into a CPS school.

    Thanks for the input!

  • 310. cpsobsessed  |  October 8, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    Selective Enrollment Elem Tour Schedule (love that they have it all in one place now!)
    This includes the Academic Centers


  • 311. Tracey J  |  October 8, 2013 at 3:17 pm

    @LaSalle II Mom, thank you for the feedback. Sounds very promising. I will be attending the open house. Thanks for the information.

    I’m a bit nervous about this process so I appreciate all the feedback from this site!

  • 312. ChicagoMomofBoys  |  October 8, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    @Tracey J: I don’t know if this will help or not, but we were thisclose to sending my son to Suder for kindergarten (a non-entry year). While I had heard positive things about the program from a few casual acquaintances — one being a former teacher there — the offer via lottery seemed too good to be true when we first received it. However, upon visiting the school and digging a little further, my husband and I felt unsettled about the school. At the top of our list of cons, Suder has been through something like four principals in seven years and the current one is apparently not well liked. Among other issues, he doesn’t seem committed to a true Montessori environment and many teachers there aren’t Montessori trained. The neighborhood is also very, very sketchy. Still, I wouldn’t base your decision on mine. It’s worthy of a visit.

  • 313. WRP Mom  |  October 8, 2013 at 6:53 pm

    310, I notice that Beaubien is not on the open house list. I wonder what that’s about?

  • 314. cpsobsessed  |  October 8, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    Either a conspiracy plot on the part of CPS to replace them with a charter. Or they didn’t get their open house dates to CPS in time for the list to be published.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 315. Tracey J  |  October 8, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    @ChicagoMomOfBoys I visited Suder a couple of years ago, I am almost certain they were level 1. I am certain their scores all around were solid in the 80s. I look now, and they are way below what they used to be. I wonder what is going on there? Also, the principal was a woman at that time. Yeah, I knew the neighborhood was sketchy, but that didn’t concern me much. Someone could say my neighborhood is sketchy. 🙂 They have an open house coming up soon and I plan to check them out again.

  • 316. cpsobsessed  |  October 8, 2013 at 7:39 pm

    I might be getting myself confused, but the test scores are now recalibrated to the new standards of meets/exceeds so I believe many schools will look lower than you may remember in the past.
    Suder looks around on par with Mayer (although Mayer gets more points for growth). But with Suder having more lower income kids, the scores look decent.

  • 317. Tracey J  |  October 8, 2013 at 8:03 pm

    Thanks cpsobsessed. I need to educate myself on the new standards. I think you recently posted a new discussion on that. 🙂

  • 318. cpsobsessed  |  October 8, 2013 at 8:37 pm


    More on Suder…

  • 319. edgebrookmom  |  October 11, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    Edgebrook is a little random for K lately. In 2012, each K class (of 2) had about 5 non-neighborhood kids, even with class sizes of 25 or less. So about 10 spots total. That’s unheard of from years past and turns out it was a completely random population thing, or perhaps reaction to the strike in a neighborhood that can often afford private school and has 2 excellent catholic schools nearby. The 2 Ks this year are back up to 26-27 kids and only had a few non-neighborhood kids to even them out (I think 5 or less total for both classes). No matter what, Edgebrook will not call you for K until the last week of summer and more likely the first few days of school. They wait to see the exact number that shows up. And unless your wait list is below 50, you probably don’t have a great chance – the spots are usually accepted in the first round or two of calls. That is, its a first choice school for a lot of people applying, not a backup.

    Edgebrook always has space at the 7th-8th grade levels as the neighborhood kids start shifting to the programs that can gain them entry to their high schools of choice.

  • 320. MamaBlue  |  October 15, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    Went to the open House at Edison Regional today. Overall, I found it to be very informative. We got to walk through classrooms when classes were in session to really get an idea of how things are done.

    I did find the different perspectives interesting. For one, the principal told us all in the beginning that the tests for classical school admission are achievement tests, while the RGC tests are supposed to assess the child’s potential (how they think). For example, she said for classical schools, knowledge about particular subjects (math and reading) is evaluated. The gifted tests are designed to evaluate how children use their knowledge of certain subjects to figure out broader concepts. I sort of gathered that they look for “thinking outside of the box”. She said for this current year’s kindergarten class, only about 4 kids knew how to read when they started school. She also told us that contrary to popular opinion, the gifted curriculum is not merely one to two grades ahead.

    The other perspective came from a parent volunteer who led one of the tours. She very clearly said that the curriculum was merely about one to one and a half years ahead. She also relayed that the children do get a lot of homework, (except kindergarten) but that most of the kids there are very motivated learners who don’t need to be pushed to get their work done.

    I asked some of the kids in the classes if they liked their school and every one of them told me they loved it. It seems that the school has a lot of parent involvement and the teachers that we met really seemed motivated and have a genuine love of their jobs and the kids.

    The only discouraging part was facing the reality that out of thousands of applicants, only 28 will get a spot next year for kindergarten. But it’s like they say, you can’t win if you don’t play…..so we’ll give it a shot like everyone else!

  • 321. Hyde Park Mom  |  October 15, 2013 at 4:34 pm

    The principal is correct,my son didnt know how to read but got into Edison.She also told us at our open house last month that it was harder getting into Edison than Harvard,lol,due to so many applicants.I feel very blessed.Good luck.

  • 322. Ivana  |  October 15, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    Dose any one know how hard is to be accepted to RGC in second grade?

  • 323. MamaBlue  |  October 15, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    HydeParkMom…..I have been talking to a lot of other parents going through this testing process and I get SO tired of hearing “My son/daughter is definitely gifted. He/She can do……blah, blah, blah.” I am just curious to hear from a parent who actually has a child in one of the “gifted” schools, whether or not you knew that your child was ahead of the game. I’m not trying to anticipate results or ask what skills your child has, I just wonder if this test is more of an evaluation of obvious knowledge, or more an assessment of hidden abilities that parents may not recognize.

  • 324. cpsparent  |  October 15, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    “…only about 4 kids knew how to read when they started school.”
    “….the gifted curriculum is not merely one to two grades ahead.”

    I don’t think it’s hard to find 4 kids in a neighborhood school class who can read when they started school. So, instead of one or two grades ahead, they cannot go ahead at all, at least in terms of reading. Without reading, it’s pretty hard to do 1st grade/2nd grade math.

  • 325. Hyde Park Mom  |  October 15, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    From my understanding,the gifted tests measdure the kids potential and thinking ability.Its not looking for hard core knowledge of math and reading,but how your kid applies their knowledge to solve problems,make logical connections.I did not prep my son,he did not know how to add,read,or write.I reecall that while he scored high on gifted test,his classical score just average.Go figure….

  • 326. MamaBlue  |  October 15, 2013 at 5:52 pm

    cpsparent…I’m sorry, but I’m a little confused by your post. I was simply repeating what the principal at the school said. She was trying to convey that the rumors about the RGCs just being an accelerated curriculum are incorrect. She was trying to say that they have a different method of teaching that involves the children thinking beyond just the facts. She was saying that it isn’t necessary for a child to be reading to do well on the entry test for kindergarten. The teaching methods they use allow them to teach the children concepts such as math without necessarily knowing how to read because of the different way that the children there learn. From what I gathered, because of the children’s natural abilities, they are able to teach fundamentals like reading and the basics of numbers and math at an accelerated pace. The children’s abilities to learn quickly make it unnecessary for them to know how to read before school even begins.

    Having said all of that, after talking to a parent who led the tour, she believes (she has children in the school) that the curriculum IS actually just accelerated versus an entirely different model of teaching. I imagine it’s probably a combination of both.

  • 327. Even One More CPS Mom  |  October 15, 2013 at 7:30 pm

    Just would like to add something about parent feedback on tours. Several years ago I toured about 20 schools. On numerous occasions I was given inaccurate information by parents who were giving the tours and often they simply did not have the answers to basic questions. I am not saying that these parents were not passionate about the schools they were representing, just that perhaps school administrators would have known more on depth and accurate information. I am not trying to put these in olved parents who donate their valuable time down ( and thank goodness for them – they are helping improve our schools), just suggesting to touring parents that if the answer to a question to you about something like curriculum is very important that an employee of the school may be better suited to answer the question. I say this from my own experience.

  • 328. Even One More CPS Mom  |  October 15, 2013 at 7:31 pm

    Please forgive typos and misspelled words…..on phone…..

  • 329. Gifted  |  October 16, 2013 at 8:56 am

    It’s a known fact CPS gifted schools are accelerated, not true ‘gifted programs’ in the technical sense of the word. If you are interested in a true gifted program, cps is not for you

  • 330. Tracey J  |  October 16, 2013 at 10:55 am

    Anway have/had children at Franklin? Can you share your experience? Thanks.

  • 331. JLM  |  October 16, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    I have a child at a classical school, and I don’t necessarily think everybody in her K class is reading, either – at least not in by definition of the word, meaning able to read full sentences and, hopefully, paragraphs.

    I see #327’s point about parent not always knowing the full answers to curriculum questions at tours, but I also think that admin sometimes embellishes the truth, since part of their job is PR. I think CPS SEES, whether classical or gifted, are really just accelerated, and not enriched. But I guess you could consider anything enriched – field trips, quarterly projects (I believe both SN an SW have these), etc. They get foreign language, music, art, etc. – that’s enrichment! And hey, gobs of homework? Enrichment!

    Re: how far ahead these schools teach, I would have to think that the schools could only teach one year ahead in the early years, and maybe by the time the kids are in later elementary school, they may be able to teach two years ahead. If kids come into K not knowing how to read or do basic addition and subtraction, they’re not going to start the class off in September with 2nd grade math and reading. But if they get them a full grade ahead by the end of first grade, and then get through 1.25 years of curriculum per year after that, they’ll be two years ahead by end of 5th grade.

  • 332. MD  |  October 16, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    @323 Did you have any idea your child was gifted? Short answer: no. My child is at the RGC at Bell & scored very high on the test. He was a non reader when he took the test & still wasn’t reading when he started the program in 1st grade. His teacher classified him as a ‘reluctant reader’. The 1st semester was rough in the sense that I had to read him the HW but by the 2nd semester he was fine. I also recall parents telling me that their child was “reading Harry Potter at 5” & capable of x,y & z. Don’t let that concern you. The only skill I noticed my son had at a young age was a gift for doing puzzles & that ability has continued…but now it’s the Rubic’s cube etc…FYI: he still doesn’t enjoy reading.
    Re: whether RGC is accelerated v. enriched, I think each center is different. At our RGC, I would say it is a combination of both. In math, they will be 2 years ahead by 8th grade. They enter HS having already completed Algebra & Geometry. The science program is also much different. It is very hands on and lab oriented with Physics in 6th, Chemistry in 7th & Biology in 8th. Hope this helps.

  • 333. MamaBlue  |  October 16, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    Toured Decatur today. Again, it was interesting. First I was SHOCKED by how incredibly tiny the school is. It is literally one hallway of classrooms. It infuriates me that a school that is obviously in high demand is not more properly equipped. But that’s a whole separate issue on CPS funding. They do seem to have all of the necessary technology for teaching today’s kids (smart boards, science lab, computers etc)

    One of the teachers informed us that they teach one year ahead in math and reading only and that the rest of the subjects are taught at grade level. I wasn’t aware that was the case at classical schools. Is it the same for all of them? Maybe I misunderstood what she said? I thought the whole curriculum was accelerated. Maybe someone can clarify for me.

    Anyway, aside from the size of the school the children seemed to be enjoying themselves, and you could tell how involved the teachers are. I also found the classrooms to be very diverse. There was a very even mix of every race in each class.

    Overall it seemed like a good program, when you take the facility out of the equation.

  • 334. NC-Mom  |  October 16, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    @333, my child is in K at an RGC and at our open house we were told the same thing, that reading and math are 1 grade ahead and other subjects are not. The math is definitely 1 grade ahead because some of the homework is the same as our first grade friend.

    @323 did I know my child was gifted? Well, I guess I thought my child was smart, otherwise I wouldn’t have bothered with the testing in the first place. I still think my child is smart. Gifted is a loaded term IMO and I’m not sure what it really means. If I had to give an answer or die, no, I don’t think my child is gifted at all. However I think she’ll do well in the RGC program.

    @329 Gifted… What does a true gifted program look like? I hear this ‘It’s not gifted, it’s accelerated’ a lot and while I don’t necessarily disagree, it isn’t clear to me what a true gifted program does look like.

  • 335. west rogers park mom  |  October 16, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    @323 did I know my child was gifted? Not in the least- her big sister took all of the tests as well and never came close to qualifying, let alone being accepted. I signed her up because we lived near Decatur and why not? Even when we got her initial scores (back in those days you received the scores and acceptances in separate letters) I just glanced at the sheet and didn’t realize what they meant until my husband mentioned something to me about it on the way to work one morning. I still thought they were a fluke, but when she tested again a few years later her gifted scores improved significantly (while her classical scores decreased a bit).

    She was an early reader, but with both my kids I didn’t recognize beginning reading. She wasn’t even four when people told me she was reading (I thought it was memorizing). One of her big activities as a toddler was being the ‘student’ when her big sister played school with her.

    Now I would say she is extremely inquisitive and a problem solver. Even if something mundane goes wrong at home, she is always coming up with ideas and solutions. While her gross and fine motor skills aren’t phenomenal she is incredibly persistent and will work incredibly hard to reach a goal if it matters to her. When not pressured she writes amazing stories, and by that I mean stories that you sit down and read and are drawn into. Now, in 5th grade she is extremely independent when it comes to school work. All I have to do for projects is procure poster board and make sure the printer has enough ink!

    She isn’t into manipulative puzzles, legos or minecraft, but loves logic games and riddles. She is far from the brightest in her class but definitely holds her on.

    I don’t know if she is like this now because she of the education she has received at the RGC or because of her ‘smartness’. I do know that I feel fortunate that I decided to take the morning off work in the fall of 2007 so should could ‘talk to the nice lady at IIT’.

  • 336. a mom  |  October 16, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    @331 “and maybe by the time the kids are in later elementary school, they may be able to teach two years ahead”

    Two years ahead of what? Grade level? The “standard” neighborhood school? The national average?

    There are many schools within CPS that are not RGC or classical that offer advanced options in differentiation or within the regular class. Working at grade level seems to me to be just the basic starting point.

  • 337. cpsobsessed  |  October 16, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    My impression was that the RGC/Classicals work 1 grade ahead in the lower grades and 2 grades ahead in the higher grades. But often it’s up to the teacher to determine the class’s readiness. I felt like math was moving too fast last year (it was like a major concept every other week) but now it’s been slowed down a bit (perhaps having 3 curriculums in 3 years has something to do with that, but I digress…)

    @336 – there are definitely schools that offer advanced options, but unless it is a specifically defined program (ie Disney’s gifted/accelerated program, or other schools that have those) I think it’s hard to pin down whether it’ll happen each year and to what extent. It seems to be up to the individual teacher from what I’ve seen. Everyone seems to throw around the word “differentiation” but I found it hard to determine where it was truly happening.

    Two years ahead is of whatever CPS deems is the grade level. So in 4th grade,my son had text books that said 6th grade on them. I can’t really tell for all the subjects though. ie, 5th graders probably aren’t ready to do 7th grade level science experiments because they’d still goof around too much.

  • 338. MamaBlue  |  October 16, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    I also have to add one more thing. While I’m glad I’m doing the tours of these schools, I sort of feel like I’m going house hunting for mansions just because I bought a lottery ticket. It’s very easy to get caught up in loving these schools as long as you don’t focus on the astronomical odds that your child will actually get into one! Not trying to bring anyone down, I just had to get that out. I feel like I’m over preparing myself for something that is a huge longshot….even if my child is a genius (which he’s not…I’m just saying). Ok, I apologize for the drama. I’m done now 😉

  • 339. Gifted  |  October 16, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    No I had no idea my child would test high in CPS’ gifted test – she was not reading at all but loved brain teaser type puzzles, mazes, sequencing games, etc that were meant for much older kids.

  • 340. Gifted  |  October 16, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    Someone asked for true gifted curric. quest is a great example of both the thematic units and the discovery-based methods – http://www.questacademy.org/documents/Quest_Curr_GRID_1019.pdf

  • 341. anonymouse teacher  |  October 16, 2013 at 5:21 pm

    What does a true gifted program look like? For PreK/K I will give an example. 1 teacher, no more than 12 kids, or a teacher and an aide, no more than 16-18 kids. Thematic study around Physics. Learn about different basic tools, conduct experiments around how the angle of a plane affects the speed of Matchbox cars. Watch an OKGo! video on a Rube Goldberg machine. Create a classroom Rube Goldberg machine and video tape it. Study and make catapults. Read and write about simple tools. Estimate how much weight a simple pulley can manage. Etc, etc. All materials on hand and provided, no teacher/classroom left without needed materials.
    This type of thing cannot happen in a CPS classroom. First of all, the class sizes are double to triple what is needed for gifted ed (and really, for any kind of deeply good education). Second, this kind of curriculum needs to be created from scratch (or highly supplemented) and takes many, many hours. Third, this curriculum requires funding and CPS doesn’t have anywhere near the resourcing needed. And last, its so much easier just to hand a teacher a set of texts for a grade or two up and use that with younger children. Its not so easy to get teachers (and parents) to understand that gifted ed is far, far more than accelerated learning. The depth of learning that can and should take place in gifted rooms isn’t something I believe CPS is capable of based on all of the above. I’ve worked extensively with gifted children and its exciting and very difficult. This year, I am trying to bring in some of the principles into my own classroom and the limitations of CPS, that I can’t do anything about, are making 90% of it impossible. I do what I can with the other 10% that I can implement. My students aren’t so interested in learning which # is which. But they are very interested in which car goes down the slide the fastest and exploring why that happens is very interesting. (fwiw, I do not currently teach in a gifted room and as of now, I haven’t identified any students who stand out with gifted characteristics, but its still early and the past two years I have had gifted kids in my room)

  • 342. CPSNewbie  |  October 16, 2013 at 8:31 pm

    Starting the whole process and appreciate this blog! I went to the boot camp Christine W. put on and have started touring schools (even though it’s really hard with working full-time!) I have two questions: 1) Is there a good list of neighborhood/magnet cluster schools with a gifted curriculum (ex. just saw Bateman has one)? I think my son would benefit from having that option and doesn’t necessarily need to get into classical or RGC.

    2) Anyone have students at/ or thoughts on Courtenay and Inter-American?

  • 343. cpsparent  |  October 16, 2013 at 8:40 pm

    @326. MamaBlue:
    I was pointing out the seemly contradictions in what the principle said. I guess she probably meant only 4 kids could really read, like reading chapter books. I’ll be very surprised that only 4 Edison Kindergarten kids can read picture books

    My daughter tested in SEES last year. Did I know? Her pre-K teacher told us we should get her tested because she was way ahead of her class. I’m not sure if she is truly “gifted”, but I do think she is a bright kid: observant, quick grasping new concepts, and full of questions and ideas. Now, her reading and math are both at 2nd grade level according to NWEA scores.

    The CPS SEES curriculum is mostly just accelerated, probably a little bit extra. Truly “gifted” needs individual attention, which CPS cannot provide. IMHO, what CPS SEES truly provides are: good peers and a accelerated curriculum.

  • 344. JLM  |  October 16, 2013 at 8:49 pm

    To whomever was asking about whether the SEES teach ahead in every subject or just some, my daughter’s teacher at SW said that they teach one grade ahead for math and reading and at grade level for everything else, including writing. This definitely bums me out. As to the question, “one year ahead of what?”, I’m with CPSObsessed – my kid’s textbooks/workbooks say grade 1 and she’s in K.

    As far as differentiation, SW has two classical classrooms per grade, and in the K classes, they split the kids up for reading and math. One teacher takes the more advanced group while the other takes the less advanced group. Then within the classroom, it appears that the teacher breaks them up into smaller subgroups, as least for reading, which is what was being taught while I was volunteering in the classroom.

    Did I know my child was gifted? Like a previous poster, I like to use a less-loaded term, like “bright”, especially when CPS is testing 4-year olds. But yes, I believe my child is bright, and her CPS pre-K teacher told me to have her tested, so I figured it wasn’t just a parent’s pride. But did I think she’d get into one of the SEES? I hoped, but figured the chances were low – low enough that I didn’t bother touring any of the schools in the fall. I stuck to touring magnets and neighborhood schools.

    As far as the enrichment/acceleration debate – I was in a gifted program many years ago that probably qualified as enriched but not accelerated. We were taken out of the classroom one morning and one afternoon a week (so out of the regular class 20% of the time) and were just given any work we needed to take home. In the gifted program, we did things like opera, foreign language, and chemistry – with the exception of foreign language, it was very theme-based, and great fun. The stuff anonymouse teacher is talking about sounds awesome!

  • 345. LSmom  |  October 16, 2013 at 8:55 pm

    @mamablue, I have said that exact same thing about the lottery tickets and house shopping! I didn’t tour at all and it worked out (was able to tour almost all of our options once we got in).

    @CPSNewbie, OAE has a link to a map of all the schools with comprehensive gifted programs: http://cpsmagnet.org/apps/pages/index.jsp?uREC_ID=72695&type=d&termREC_ID=&pREC_ID=151388

  • 346. CPSNewbie  |  October 16, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    Thanks, LSmom- appreciate the link! A couple more questions for the blog:

    For the schools where the entrance year is Pre-K (Drummond, Mayer, Suder, Inter-American)–does this mean that there might be little to no Kindergarten seats available? Should I just give up on those on move on? I’m literally reading the Options for Knowledge Guide line by line. When it says that a school is “nearly at capacity” is this CPS-speak for “don’t bother–you won’t get in”?

  • 347. cpsobsessed  |  October 16, 2013 at 9:47 pm

    @cosnewbie, for those schools I’d avoid using your application space on them unless you have a good neighborhood backup.
    I assume they fill any empty spots via lottery but it’s probably a couple a year if any.

    For “nearly at capacity” that usually means long shot in the lower grades, but I’d ask people here to get feedback.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 348. WL  |  October 16, 2013 at 10:01 pm

    I agree. If you don’t get a space on Suder and Drummond on Pre-K year. Forget about it. Drummond def. no chance.

  • 349. LSmom  |  October 16, 2013 at 10:53 pm

    Drummond is a long shot, but I think Suder got to at least #15 on their K list last year.

  • 350. ChicagoMomofBoys  |  October 17, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    @346: Do you know if the list of near capacity schools is available online? I only have last year’s Options for Knowledge Guide. FWIW, my child got accepted into Suder as a kindergartener this year. We ultimately declined. Based on where they were on the WL at the time, I was under the impression we were #15 or so. Then, lo and behold, I recently dug out our old OAE letter and our WL number was in the 50s!?!? Such a huge error on their part; I’ve never heard of anything like this happening. If you’re interested in Suder, you should definitely include them on your application as I’m pretty sure that they got into the low 20s.

  • 351. WorkingMommyof2  |  October 17, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    Here’s a pdf of the Options for Knowledge guide.


  • 352. ChicagoMomofBoys  |  October 17, 2013 at 5:14 pm

    Thanks, WMof2!

  • 353. parent  |  October 17, 2013 at 7:09 pm

    I attended the open house at Beaubien today. The person leading the tour (a parent) said that for the options program, some spots are saved for neighborhood students. Is that true? Some other parents on the tour seemed to think she was wrong.

  • 354. NC-Mom  |  October 17, 2013 at 9:01 pm

    @353, I’m fairly certain that all Options seats are allocated by the OAE and neighborhood/otherwise doesn’t come into it.

    That said, I had no idea until yesterday that you can accept an SEES seat, hang onto it for a while, then decline it and be put back into the applicant pool. That directly contradicted what was written on our offer letter that we received in the spring, which clearly stated that acceptance would mean no offers from any other SEES school. However one of my daughter’s classmates took a seat at one SEES, declined it in August due to a better located magnet placement, was put back in the pool at that point and eventually ended up at a different SEES school. So it seems that at least one of the stated ‘rules’ can be broken!

  • 355. cpsobsessed  |  October 17, 2013 at 9:06 pm

    I also have never heard of seats being allocated to the neighborhood. Perhaps if a child leaves midyear and there’s a seat to fill? But not set aside as part of the initial selection.
    Maybe she was thinking of proximity lottery, which is for magnets.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 356. EVmom  |  October 18, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    @302. Our 3 y.o. son attends Suder and we are very happy with the program. There were some concerns regarding his transition to the Montessori environment but he’s doing great. Quite pleased with the staff, PTA and families. We are not worried about the neighborhood, he plays on the playground everyday before and after school.

  • 357. AE  |  October 18, 2013 at 7:18 pm

    @ 341 My child in a RGC has done many of the activities you have described and more: Small groups created (very complicated!) Rube Goldberg machines that they shared with classmates and parents in the school gym (while a video compilation of their machines played); physics lab groups used matchbox cars/marbles and various ramps to study angle of a plane and speed, etc.; students created their own government or underground newspapers re: the Chinese Cultural Revolution; they created unique Animal Farm propaganda posters; etc.

    Of course, these projects were done with larger than ideal class size (although small groups are often used). But they were very successful and engaging projects.

    From my perspective, whether RGC, classical or neighborhood program, the key to enrichment is a good teacher with a creative curriculum.

    I imagine my experience may not be the norm in CPS, and some years are better than others, but I definitely wouldn’t go as far as you to say that “this type of thing cannot happen in a CPS classroom.” It does at my school.

  • 358. anonymouse teacher  |  October 18, 2013 at 8:14 pm

    @357, thanks for the correction. Are those kinds of projects happening in the PreK-K rooms? This is the age group I have worked with on those projects and the age group I currently teach. I have 30 students with multiple behavior challenges and if an RGC can do that kind of work with 5 year olds and no help (I say no help because we have no extra staff and no parent volunteers), then I want to go watch those teachers to learn from them!

  • 359. Veteran  |  October 18, 2013 at 8:28 pm

    I would like to observe these groups, also.

  • 360. AE  |  October 18, 2013 at 9:36 pm

    No, not preK-K. I didn’t realize you were speaking to this age group only. The projects I referenced are geared toward middle elementary age kids (grades 4-6 maybe). There are enrichment projects for the younger grades too — but they tend to less involved. For example, the first grade teacher creates a list of 8-10 enrichment activities each week and students have to pick 4 to complete. These 6 year olds are not creating Rube Goldberg machines themselves (as the older kids do), but making a map of their neighborhood with a key and scale, creating a simple hypothesis and testing it (how many gulps will it take to drink 8 oz. of water), or surveying family members and making a graph.

    I have children in both RGC and neighborhood programs, and have seen some amazing and creative work from teachers in both types of classes (although more often in the RGC setting).

    I whole-heartedly agree that smaller class sizes (esp. at the early elementary level) would allow teachers more opportunity for enrichment. But I wanted to give a shout out to the amazing teachers I’ve seen work magic despite the large CPS class sizes!

  • 361. MamaBlue  |  October 19, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    Just an update. We sent in our SEES application for kindergarten on October 1st. We just got our test date letter in the mail today. November 3rd (Sunday). Two more weeks and we can relax and leave our fate in the hands of the testing gods! Anyone that has any positive thoughts or good luck to spare, please feel free to send them our way 🙂

  • 362. AE  |  October 20, 2013 at 6:52 pm

    I attended the WY Academic Center Open House today…. Anyone else? Thoughts?

  • 363. Tracey J  |  October 20, 2013 at 8:39 pm

    Something I’ve thought about. So, I’m on mailbox watch for the letter indicating my DD’s test date for the SEES assessment. Are you telling your child about the test beforehand? Do you plan to tell your child night before or day of the exam? I really don’t want to freak her out, but we tell her “one day you are going to take an important test with a teacher and you must pay attention and answer all the questions to the best of your ability.” I don’t want to add any additional pressure on her than I have already. I’m curious what others are doing.

  • 364. MamaBlue  |  October 20, 2013 at 9:49 pm

    Tracey J…..we haven’t really said much to my son about it. After reading other’s posts on here, we decided to bring up the word “test” so it doesn’t confuse him if that word is used on the day of. We told him that a test is a way for you to show someone what you know. I have probably used the exact same words with him that you’ve used…”you must pay attention and answer all the questions….” I don’t think he’s really bothered by the concept of the test at this point (I hope anyway!). While he knows that he may take a test at some point, we have not and will not tell him what the test is for. We have decided that my husband will be the one to take him on that day so our son doesn’t pick up on any nervous energy I may have. He plans on telling him that he’s going to go and take a test and play some games. We have thought about telling him that we would go do something really fun afterwards, but even when we have a fun day coming up for something else (a birthday party etc) he tends to not be able to sleep the night before so we don’t want him to be distracted on test day. Of course, we have no idea what we’re doing with any of this! We are just going to treat it like no big deal and then try not think about it until March! Hopefully our method won’t bite us in the butts!

  • 365. Even One More CPS Mom  |  October 20, 2013 at 9:53 pm

    I know of people who described the testing to their child as “brain games”. You could just mention that the morning of the test when you go over your plans for the day. Perhaps that would put it in a frame of reference that your child would understand and they would be motivated to try and do well. Just an idea any way. I also had told my child we would go get a treat afterwards (I can’t remember what exactly – may have been a cupcake or McDonald’s….something like that.)

  • 366. Brain games  |  October 20, 2013 at 10:37 pm

    We also used something along the lines of “brain games”. We let our child know the week of the test. I promissed he could pick any reasonably priced gift if he paid attention and tried his best.

  • 367. ChicagoMomofBoys  |  October 21, 2013 at 8:44 am

    I’m pretty sure that I skirted around the word “test,” for fear it would alarm my son. Instead, I told him the week of the test that he’d be meeting with a kindergarten teacher who wants to see what he knows. The idea of kindergarten was exciting to him at the time. I also promised him a fun day with mommy afterwards, during which I took him to the Museum of Science & Industry. This time around, though, I’m relying on a lot more test prep. The lack thereof, based on advice I received, was a mistake IMO.

  • 368. Roberta  |  October 21, 2013 at 9:51 am

    Told my child it was just something kids do for kindergarten. I think I called it games. Did not make much of it, did not prep at all. We did not tell child about it till night before. Called it “fun kindergarten test”, implied it was just something all kids did before kindergarten. Received offers to classical schools, turned them down and the child is currently happy at RGC. Only this year (second grade) did I actually explain to him what the test was for, when he asked, now that he is old enough to have noticed that he is covering material that his sibling did in 3rd and 4th grade. Not bragging, just suggesting that NOT stressing the importance of this test might be better for their stress level. I know kids who are devastated and feel like failures at age 7 because they did not test out of a (fine) neighborhood program into SEES, because of the pressure placed on them at this test. This is not something any child should go through. Test-prepping 4 year olds may produce some testing gains but I’m concerned about the long-term effects of this approach on the kids. [From a parent with a background in education, test prep., and college admissions.]

  • 369. Tracey J  |  October 21, 2013 at 10:21 am

    Roberta, I see your point. In my opinion, shame on CPS for putting us in this position to fight for limited seats to get in a “good” school”. It’s sad and alot of pressure on families.

    Thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts on my question.

  • 370. WorkingMommyof2  |  October 21, 2013 at 10:21 am

    I told my son he was going to do a “testing game” because the teachers wanted to see what all the kids knew heading into Kindergarten so they would know what to teach them next year.

    I told him that he should do his best, but that no kids would get them all right and he shouldn’t worry about it if he didn’t know all the answers.

    I decided to use the word “test” when I explained it to him just in case the staff at IIT used that word. Also, my son took a few assessments in Pre-K and he would come home and calmly tell me he did a counting “test” or ABC “test” so I knew that word wouldn’t freak him out.Really, unless your 4-year-old has had some sort of bad testing experience before (and why would they?), it’s not a loaded word for them yet. Might be different even at age 6 or 7.

  • 371. New to CPS  |  October 21, 2013 at 10:24 am

    @ 363 When we did this last year, I never used the word “test” and didn’t even bring it up until the week before. I just told her she was going to go and talk with a teacher and they just want to know what she knows before she goes to K and this is just something all kids do before they go to K. She still doesn’t have any idea that it was a test and that her results – which we have never shared with her – lead to her placement at her current SEES school. Every kid is different, but we felt the less of a deal we made of it the better… she was already pretty independent and likes to show adults what she knows so we didn’t have too many concerns about her comfort level.

  • 372. cpsparent  |  October 21, 2013 at 11:46 am

    We didn’t mention the word “test” either. The day before the test, we told her that “Tomorrow, we are going to see a teacher who will ask you some questions and play some games with you.” We also tried our best to hide our anxiety, just pretend it was just another day.

  • 373. Chris  |  October 21, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    “I’m fairly certain that all Options seats are allocated by the OAE and neighborhood/otherwise doesn’t come into it.”

    My recollection may be incorrect, but I had thought that, before tiers, in at least some years, there was a proximity/attendance area component, too.

    It is certainly not the case now.

  • 374. ugh  |  October 21, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    Thanks for all of the input from those of you who have gone through this process. That information is so helpful. I have a question for those who received a place for their child in a RGC or Classical school: What tier are you? Thanks.

  • 375. Gifted  |  October 21, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    Tier 4. RGC

  • 376. Mama  |  October 21, 2013 at 5:06 pm

    My 1st grader took NWEA MAP test this fall and scored at 95 precentil in math and 86 in reading. English is his second language. Should I test him for RGC?

  • 377. TotallyClueless  |  October 21, 2013 at 8:12 pm

    “No I had no idea my child would test high in CPS’ gifted test”

    Several people have mentioned their child tested “high” on the gifted test. Just curious — what are you calling a high score? What do the kids score to get into Edison or Bell? (or other schools – it’s just that these were mentioned) Thanks!

  • 378. Even One More CPS Mom  |  October 21, 2013 at 8:27 pm

    I can tell you that two years ago my child scored in the 98th percentile for RGC and did not receive any offers for kindergarten (Edison, Coonley not Pritzker.). Tier 4.

  • 379. Even One More CPS Mom  |  October 21, 2013 at 8:28 pm

    That is neither Edison, Coonley nor Pritzker….

  • 380. classical and RCG score  |  October 21, 2013 at 8:46 pm

    @even one more cps mom

    the classical score comes in percentile, so your child did not get a classical offer?
    how about your child’s RGC score? that one comes in points and to get into Edison K, it would have to be roughly above 145 (for tier4) or so, if I remember correctly from the last two years of the posts on this forum

  • 381. Even One More CPS Mom  |  October 21, 2013 at 8:59 pm

    Yes, but on the letter with the RGC score there were a couple sentences to help give some perspective. This was something along the lines of stating what the 99th percentile was, what the 98th percentile was (130, I think – don’t remember what 99 th percentile was exactly). I believe that was based on national numbers and was (maybe) on the back of the letter. It was a while ago now so my memory is a bit fuzzy. They also said something about the national average being 100. I remember that my child’s score fell closer to the 98th than the 99th and short of where offers ended at the schools we applied to. The classical scores were indeed percentiles. My child did what I considered well for them at the time but not near what would be needed for an offer to Skinner North or Decatur.

  • 382. Even One More CPS Mom  |  October 21, 2013 at 9:05 pm

    Basically, I was just trying to make the point that getting into the most popular RGC’s is very competitive and that really, the kids who get in score very, very high. It’s not a matter of making the cut-off, it’s a matter if being in that top 1% or very, very close to that.

  • 383. MamaBlue  |  October 21, 2013 at 9:10 pm

    So we went to the open house at Skinner North today. Very impressed! The problem is, now I’m debating changing our preference order on the application. We had originally ranked Decatur as our first choice for Classical schools, but now I may switch Skinner North and Decatur. Both seem to be wonderful schools, but I am having a few issues with Decatur. #1, it is SO small! While it doesn’t seem to affect the kids’ performance, they don’t have a gym or auditorium or even a cafeteria. I know they use other facilities when they can, it just bugs me that they are sort of robbed of essentials. #2, I am concerned with the fact that there is no 7th or 8th grade at Decatur. To go through this testing process again in a few years would probably be the death of me. And then if your kid doesn’t get into an advanced 7th and 8th grade program, what do you do? He or she could be too far ahead to go into a neighborhood program with kids in the same grade. I don’t know…both are great schools and we would consider ourselves incredibly fortunate to get our child into either one. I just wonder how much difference our ranking really makes. We aren’t the gambling type, so we wouldn’t want to be in a position to have to turn down one school in hopes of a “better” offer. Any thoughts? This may all be a moot point depending on test results, we just want to make a decision that is best for our son in case all of the stars align and he tests well and gets an offer.

  • 384. classical and RCG score  |  October 21, 2013 at 9:17 pm

    @even more more cps mom

    I get it. I just remembered reading the same explanation on the back of the letter.
    I still encourage everyone to have their kid tested. We did it because we wanted to keep our options open. Our child was very advanced reader, not so much math (in our opinion) but scored very well in both and got a SN offer.
    We never had him take any other test or assessment, until the CPS test. It was not until the preschool teachers pointed out, how much ahead of his classmates he was, when we realized that we should do it.

  • 385. Even One More CPS Mom  |  October 21, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    @384 For sure, I agree. Nothing to lose by testing!

  • 386. karet  |  October 21, 2013 at 10:03 pm

    @383, Is location a factor for you? You may want to consider whether you are in the busing boundaries for each school. For Decatur you need to live north of Fullerton. For SN you need to live south of Foster, north of S Cermak.(If you live between Foster and Fullerton, you’re in the boundaries for both).

  • 387. Christine Whitley  |  October 21, 2013 at 11:09 pm

    Don’t apply to Skinner North! STAY FAR FAR AWAY!!! (says this mom who already has one child there and wants to get the 4-year-old in for K next year) LOL

  • 388. WRP Mom  |  October 22, 2013 at 6:14 am

    Where do Decatur graduates go for 7th/8th grade? Besides Academic Centers, some land at RGC’s which will be at a comparable academic level they’re used to. (Remember, RGC spots open up at that grade level because some kids from RGC’s also get AC offers.) It is still a nerve-wracking process & I totally understand you’re apprehension.

  • 389. Ranking System  |  October 22, 2013 at 7:55 am

    “I just wonder how much difference our ranking really makes.”

    Isn’t it supposed to work so that you get into your top choice that you qualify for? That is, if for example you ranked Skinner North above Decatur, but, hypothetically Skinner North was harder to get into than Decatur, and your child would qualify for Decatur but not Skinner North, then you would be offered Decatur. And the fact that you had ranked Decatur lower has no impact. (If you’d ranked Skinner North first and your child qualified for Skinner North, then you would of course get offered Skinner North.)

    That’s my understanding of how it is supposed to work, at least. In which case you can rank schools by your true preference. With CPS, I’m not sure there are any guarantees that this is in fact the case.

  • 390. Tracey J  |  October 22, 2013 at 9:49 am

    @RankingSystem. This is my understanding as well, based on following parents on this blog last year on this topic. Not sure if my thought on this is correct, but it would be great if OAE spelled this out for us in their application booklet.

    I am actually thinking about going back and revising my application. I am thinking of adding a couple more magnet schools and ranking my SEES options differently. Concerned though about doing this!!! I want to rank Skinner lower, because the odds of getting in may be slim given the competitiveness of this school and the high scores. I’d rather rank them much lower on my my list of 6. I don’t know though. I’m torn on this.

  • 391. Ranking System  |  October 22, 2013 at 10:00 am

    “I want to rank Skinner lower, because the odds of getting in may be slim given the competitiveness of this school and the high scores. I’d rather rank them much lower on my my list of 6. I don’t know though. I’m torn on this.”

    If what I said is correct (I am not vouching for it, but that is my understanding), then ranking Skinner North lower than a “less competitive” classical school would virtually guarantee you don’t get an offer at Skinner, as you would presumably get an offer from the less competitive one. On the other hand, ranking Skinner high shouldn’t affect your child’s chances of getting into the less competitive classical school if s/he doesn’t get into Skinner. But again, depends how much you would trust that understanding of how the rankings work.

    I guess the question is whether someone has evidence that their child was not offered a school they had ranked lower on their list when the child’s score was higher than others that reported getting in (from the same tier).

  • 392. Tracey J  |  October 22, 2013 at 10:09 am

    “I guess the question is whether someone has evidence that their child was not offered a school they had ranked lower on their list when the child’s score was higher than others that reported getting in (from the same tier).”

    @RankingSystem good point…. I wish we could hear from some parents with this scenario. I need to go back and revisit the thread from March of this year. I think it was called mailbox watch or something like that. I think cpsobessed was keeping tally of what everyone was reporting.

    I personally ranking SN second.

  • 393. TimeForADoOver  |  October 22, 2013 at 10:24 am

    It’s my understanding that you should rank schools in your order of preference. Period. I wouldn’t worry too much about the likelihood of getting accepted into said school. Also, it’s important to note that if your child tests higher on the RGC test than classical, then your child will get an RGC offer and your classical rankings won’t come into play (and vice versa)… at least initially.

  • 394. cpsobsessed  |  October 22, 2013 at 10:33 am

    I agree, the ranking process is one of the most efficient processes within CPS. 🙂

    I’d keep distance in mind though. The bus rides can be very long so kids who are on the edge of the routes can easily have a one hour bus ride each way.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 395. Tracey J  |  October 22, 2013 at 10:42 am

    @cpsobessed distance is what I kept in mind when ranking the schools. One of the schools I ranked 4th, I would have loved to rank 1st.

  • 396. MD  |  October 22, 2013 at 11:14 am

    Question for all prospective parents taking tours of RGC…what information or questions would you most like answered on your tour? As a parent, I have conducted many & will again be leading tours this year & thought I would put the question out there. Thanks in advance for your input!

  • 397. milmom  |  October 22, 2013 at 11:17 am

    391-there is no penalty of any sort based on how you rank the schools. If you get an offer, you get into your highest ranked choice that your score qualifies you for, period. There should not be any exceptions to this, so rank the schools in your order of preference.

    Also, to clarify the point made by 393, the classical and gifted scores are looked at separately, so it is possible that if both scores were extremely high that you would get an offer from the type of school you’d ranked higher (but would have gotten an offer to the other type of school had you ranked that first).

    Also, many entering K scores for RGC have been really, really high the last few years, higher than would seem possible on a normed IQ type test, so although the materials say that 135+ is 99th% (and would, one would hope, qualify for some sort of offer), based on the info reported here, kids often have to be well over 140, from any tier, to get any sort of northside offer, so it unfortunately a high score in itself isn’t enough, what matters is how the score compares to that of other applicants in your tier. (On the other hand not every kid scores high-my youngest, who later tested into an RGC for first grade, got a score of 102 his first time taking the test). It is all very mysterious.

    I think it is very wise to take distance into account, it makes a huge difference in your ability to be involved in the school and general quality of life for you and your child.

  • 398. Tracey J  |  October 22, 2013 at 11:18 am

    MD, read above. I posted several questions awhile back and a few other parents chimmed in. This discussion starts around #107.

  • 399. Ranking System  |  October 22, 2013 at 11:39 am

    “Also, to clarify the point made by 393, the classical and gifted scores are looked at separately, so it is possible that if both scores were extremely high that you would get an offer from the type of school you’d ranked higher (but would have gotten an offer to the other type of school had you ranked that first).”

    It’s possible it is done this way (though a means of comparing classical and gifted scores would be needed). It is different from the view I have seen that your child would get into the highest rank school for which they qualified. On a quick look, I can’t see anything in the information book or the application that specifies how this the ranking is done.

  • 400. Tracey J  |  October 22, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    Nope, there is nothing that breaks down the ranking. Another way of keeping parents in the dark about this process.

  • 401. west rogers park mom  |  October 22, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    Re: distance

    Also, please don’t assume that even if you don’t live particularly far from school your bus ride will be reasonable. Every year it has gotten worse. This year my kid has to be at the stop 90 minutes before school starts and the bus ride is an hour long. And we are only three miles away from the school ! When she gets older it would be quicker for her to take public transportation.

  • 402. Bussing  |  October 22, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    Our child’s bus ride takes anywhere from 70-90 minutes, each way. It can be really taxing mostly sitting at school for 7 hours and nearly 3 more hours on the bus.

  • 403. SR  |  October 22, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    @399 – My understanding is the same as @397. Here’s the way I visualize the process. You get a classical score and a gifted score. The computer looks at the first school on your list (could be RGC or classical). If your score for that type of school is high enough, you get in. If not, it goes to the second school and looks to see if your score is high enough, and so on. So if you have scores that make you eligible for your top RGC and your top classical school, you get into the school you put as your overall top choice. There doesn’t need to be a way to compare the two scores because you get into the first-ranked school on your list that you qualify for.

    If you get two really high scores and end up deciding you’d rather do classical than RGC (or vice versa), you would get into your new top choice in round 2 unless it fill up in round 1. So it seems more important to rank the schools in each category in the right order, rather than worry about RGC vs. classical.

  • 404. curious neighborhood parent  |  October 22, 2013 at 2:34 pm

    403- have you assumed that your/this visualized process happens within each tier? So that, scores are ordered/ranked, cutoffs determined based on #of seats, then the offers are made based on app. rankings.

    Also, do Classical / RGC’s balance their classes for gender?
    (i’m assuming not, but thought i’d ask)

  • 405. Carla  |  October 22, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    Does anyone have any feedback on Suder and Chopin schools? Thank you.

  • 406. SR  |  October 22, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    @404 – it would have to be within each tier, after the initial top % of spots are filled. I know the actual computerized process is much more complicated than what I wrote, but I thought the different way of thinking about it might make sense to someone. Maybe it just made it more complicated…

    Classical/RGCs do not balance their classes for gender – there have been some really lopsided classes (both ways) in past years.

  • 407. Christine Whitley  |  October 22, 2013 at 7:11 pm

    SEES schools do not balance for gender.

    30% of the seats city-wide go to the top ranked kids city-wide.
    70% of the seats go to the top ranked kids in each of the tiers and they are apportioned equally across the 4 tiers.

  • 408. UptownMama  |  October 22, 2013 at 8:17 pm

    Kind of a strange question, but we were told on a tour last year that if you have a score high enough to get into a classical school, you’ll get an offer from that classical school (assuming there’s at least one on your list) even if you ranked a RGC higher and had a high enough score to get into the RGC. Of course this only matters if you have sky high RGC and classical scores, but I’ve never seen that spelled out in any of the CPS materials. Has anyone else heard this? Maybe it’s an old practice no longer in use. I’d discount what I heard entirely except that the source was an AP at a RGC.

  • 409. Ranking System  |  October 22, 2013 at 8:34 pm

    “I’d discount what I heard entirely except that the source was an AP at a RGC.”

    I don’t know that I’d trust an AP at an RGC on this. Supporting evidence would be someone who knows that (1) kid had scores that, based on reported scores here, would have been high enough to get into RGC and Classical, (2) ranked the RGC higher, and (3) was offered the Classical.

    I’d still like to know what the basis is for the understanding that most of us seem to have about how the ranking works. I guess it is logical and there is not any clear evidence to the contrary, but is there anything more substantial?

  • 410. CPS Montessori Schools Question  |  October 22, 2013 at 9:36 pm

    Can anyone please tell me, for 3 year and 4 year old preschool, are Drummond and Oscar Mayer 7 hour a day programs or are these programs half day? Also, I am assuming there is no tuition for these programs since (3 year old) preschool is the entry year for these schools. Am I correct? Thank you!

  • 411. LSmom  |  October 22, 2013 at 9:44 pm

    @410, you’re correct, the 3 and 4 year old programs at Drummond, Mayer and Suder are full day, and there’s no tuition.

  • 412. southie  |  October 22, 2013 at 9:58 pm

    Is it time for a SEHS open house feedback post? 🙂

  • 413. LynnJ  |  October 22, 2013 at 10:03 pm

    @southie email cpsobsessed. Maybe she may be planning to start a thread on the SEHS process.

  • 414. cpsobsessed  |  October 22, 2013 at 10:14 pm

    All fabulous ideas! I was just wondering what to post next…

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 415. Chris  |  October 23, 2013 at 6:14 am

    “The computer looks at the first school on your list (could be RGC or classical). If your score for that type of school is high enough, you get in.”

    I think it’s more like column b, then column a: kids get sorted by scores; top 8 scoring kids gets 1st ranked school even if all put same #1 (30% by rank), top couple in each tier get #1 no matter what, etc, etc. Get to 100th highest scoring kid, computer looks at list, if 1st choice is full of 30% by rank and full of 17.5% of Kid’s tier, then go to choice 2, repeat until seat found at school on preference list; move on to #101. (Having two test scores but only one preference list complicates the process significantly, as their are two rankings of scores, and so the sorting has to go back and forth.)

    So, if Edison (eg) is generally considered #1 RGC choice, but you rank it behind any other RGC (bc you dont think kid will get a high enough score), even if your kid got the highest test score in the city, no chance of Edison admit, bc you will get whatever you rank #1. Basically, whatever the first choice is, rank it first, regardless of what you think the chance of admission is; it won’t prejudice the chance at a “lower ranked” school. Only reason not to is if putting Edison on as #1 means you are leaving a “lower ranked” school that you perceive to be more ‘realistic’ off of the list entirely.

  • 416. cpsobsessed  |  October 23, 2013 at 7:09 am

    @Chris, that’s how I would describe it as well. Imagine a giant list of all the kids ranked in the city. Once the rank spots are filled, it then becomes 4 tier ranked lists and the assignment continue.
    Outcome for families are the same as the other description though, in that you get your #1 spot choice first, if that class is full, then your 2nd and so on down the line.

    CPS doesn’t describe it in this detail but it’s well implied in the description of the assignment process by score/tier.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 417. Ranking System  |  October 23, 2013 at 7:39 am

    “Having two test scores but only one preference list complicates the process significantly, as their are two rankings of scores, and so the sorting has to go back and forth.”

    Suppose we ignored tiers and assumed there was just one RGC and one classical school to simplify, is it clear how to proceed even then? Suppose the highest scoring RGC kid ranked classical first. You know the kid should at least get into the RGC, but you don’t know whether s/he should get into the classical. And suppose that kid’s classical score was outside of the top 28 (or whatev) classical scores, so there is no guarantee of getting into the classical school. But you can’t rule it out either, as the some of the higher scoring classical kids may have ranked the RGC higher.

    I’m not even 100% sure the “everyone gets into the highest ranked school s/he qualifies for” is entirely well defined. A proof would be nice.

  • 418. cpsobsessed  |  October 23, 2013 at 7:58 am

    I don’t know if 6 years of having this blog and no obsessive parents complaining that the process didn’t work is enough proof, but I can offer that up.

    It may not be easy to accomplish by hand but I believe that’s the beauty of computer programs.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 419. Ranking System  |  October 23, 2013 at 8:13 am

    “I don’t know if 6 years of having this blog and no obsessive parents complaining that the process didn’t work is enough proof, but I can offer that up.”

    Proof by blog. I like it! I’m just not sure if there can’t be some sort of Condorcet voting paradox type effect. I don’t think so but can’t be sure without a proof.

    “It may not be easy to accomplish by hand but I believe that’s the beauty of computer programs.”

    It’s a little hard to state how the program should proceed, at least from only thinking about it for 5 minutes. It should be easy to check once the assignments are made though. Check each student to see if s/he had a higher ranked school they should have been offered instead. Easy to check by computer or obsessive parents.

  • 420. CPSNewbie  |  October 23, 2013 at 9:27 am

    Just spent the morning calling some schools for open house/tour information and wanted to share a couple of things:
    – Skinner West has no open house scheduled–yet. They told me to call back Friday.
    -Solomon Elementary offers no tours until you are selected because “they accept so few from the lottery”
    How are open house tours going for folks? Would appreciate if people could post because there’s no way we’re making all of them as my husband and I both work full time! Thanks!

  • 421. Chris  |  October 23, 2013 at 10:15 am

    “I’m not even 100% sure the “everyone gets into the highest ranked school s/he qualifies for” is entirely well defined.”

    Well, ‘qualifies for’ is squishy, bc of tiers, tiebreakers, etc.

  • 422. Ranking System  |  October 23, 2013 at 10:43 am

    “Well, ‘qualifies for’ is squishy, bc of tiers, tiebreakers, etc.”

    Those are certainly complications. I’m not sure they alter things fundamentally What is supposed to happen w tiers can be well defined, as can tiebreakers.

    In any event, let’s say I’m willing to assume those away. Let’s define “qualified for” as an outcome where the following is NOT observed: a student fails to receive an offer from a school for which the student has a higher score than those students who did receive offers that school. Is it necessarily the case that for all possible sets of scores we can always find an allocation of offers that meets that condition? Might be easy to show proof by contradiction, and certainly proof by blog.

  • 423. cpsobsessed  |  October 23, 2013 at 10:45 am

    I assume we could do some kind of simulation using Excel or post-its to show how it works, but it makes my brain hurt to think about….

  • 424. Ranking System  |  October 23, 2013 at 10:46 am

    “I’m not even 100% sure the “everyone gets into the highest ranked school s/he qualifies for” is entirely well defined.”

    By well defined I kinda meant that a condition that would nec be satisfied by some allocation of offers.

  • 425. Chris  |  October 23, 2013 at 11:03 am

    “a student fails to receive an offer from a school for which the student has a higher score than those students who did receive offers that school.”

    There’s another condition that has to be observed: the school in question must have been ranked on the student’s application ahead of the school to which student was offered a spot.

    Because it is *absolutely* the case that your outcome occurs, but it is the result of the ranking of the schools on the application–it’s easier to describe in the context of HS: A student with a 900, who would get into *any* SEHS, *every* year, who ranks Westinghouse 1st, then Payton, NSCP, Young, Jones, Lane 2 to 6, will get an offer to Westinghouse and not any of the others. Same thing plays out at the Elem level.

    The scenario that I do not know the answer to is: Student places Skinner first, and Edison 2d. Has a classical score that would make student the ‘last one in’ to Skinner, but has the highest gifted test score for the year, and would be the 1st placed into Edison (or reverse everything). Should be that student is placed at Skinner, but I dunno for sure.

  • 426. LynnJ  |  October 23, 2013 at 11:05 am

    @cpsobsessed, if everyone reports their child’s scores here in March, you may have a large enough sample size to test the theory.

  • 427. WorkingMommyof2  |  October 23, 2013 at 11:17 am

    Yes, Lynn, that’s exactly what I was just going to post.

    Last year my Tier 4 child had a great, but borderline for north side RGCs, score of 144. I (and many others!) watched this blog throughout the summer as scores/acceptances continued to be posted here by parents. If someone reported their child with a lower score than my child had received an offer to the school we were hoping for, you can bet I’d have been on the phone with OAE in a heartbeat.

    The system is as Chris and CPSO explained above. Whatever it’s flaws, it does work as described.

  • 428. WorkingMommyof2  |  October 23, 2013 at 11:19 am

    And Chris (425) that child would definitely be placed in Skinner in that situation. I have a friend with an SEES second grader who had that situation.

  • 429. Ranking System  |  October 23, 2013 at 11:22 am

    “There’s another condition that has to be observed: the school in question must have been ranked on the student’s application ahead of the school to which student was offered a spot.”

    Yes, I absolutely meant to include that (and absolutely did not).

    “The scenario that I do not know the answer to is: Student places Skinner first, and Edison 2d. Has a classical score that would make student the ‘last one in’ to Skinner, but has the highest gifted test score for the year, and would be the 1st placed into Edison (or reverse everything). Should be that student is placed at Skinner, but I dunno for sure.”

    And if it’s last one in to Skinner among those preferring Skinner over other qualified alternatives, then it is not going to be obvious if you have some kind of algorithm that starts w the highest scores that the kid qualifies for Skinner, as the score would not likely be among the top 28 (or however many are accepted). So the program would see that the kid clearly qualifies for Edison but it can’t know about Skinner until the others are sorted. And did the programmers understand this and do checks after a preliminary allocation of slots? Assuming a solution exists, I guess it’s not that hard to iteratively reallocate students until no student violates the conditions set above.

    Also in this scenario, if the student was offered Edison, it won’t be clear from reading scores here that s/he should have been offered Skinner unless the 29th qualified student’s parent posts the score.

  • 430. Ranking System  |  October 23, 2013 at 11:24 am

    “I assume we could do some kind of simulation using Excel or post-its to show how it works, but it makes my brain hurt to think about….”

    We should prob crowdsource this to the kids. How are they ever going to get into SEHS, or SEES for that matter, unless they can prove this?

  • 431. Chris  |  October 23, 2013 at 11:44 am

    ” it won’t be clear from reading scores here that s/he should have been offered Skinner unless the 29th qualified student’s parent posts the score”

    The likelihood of a tie in the reported score in that scenario is quite high. So even then, with perfect parent reporting, *no one* (w/o full access to results) would know for sure.

  • 432. cpsobsessed  |  October 23, 2013 at 11:47 am

    Regarding the ties, there are something like 5-6 levels of tie breakers that can be used, and CPS says they have never gotten to the final level yet, but in case needed I think it is something like the child’s birthdate (ie older or younger gets the spot, I can’t recall which)

  • 433. JLM  |  October 23, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    CPS has been open about the tiebreakers used for SEHS, but pretty mum on those used for SEES. They clearly must be used, but they’re either difficult to explain (the “scores” have underlying raw scores which may differ) or completely stupid and parents would be up in arms if they knew what the tiebreaker was.

  • 434. cpsparent  |  October 23, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    @417 Ranking System: “…I’m not even 100% sure the “everyone gets into the highest ranked school s/he qualifies for” is entirely well defined. A proof would be nice.”

    If I were the programmer for CPS, I would use a straight forward admission algorithm like the following:
    (1) For each SEES school, keep 5 ranking lists (regardless of students order of choice): ranked list, tier 1, 2, 3, 4 lists.
    (2) For each SEES school, ranked list first. Each school mark the students on the top of the ranked list (such as top 10) as “admitted”. At this stage, a student can be marked “admitted” by as many as 6 schools.
    (3) conflict checking: If a student is “admitted” by more than one schools, keep the highest on the student’s preference ranking, other schools who “admitted” the student need to mark the next student down the list as “admitted”. Do conflict checking again.
    After that, do the same for tier 1, 2, 3,4 list.

    All done by the computer in no time.

    For future rounds, do the same too.

    I think this simple algorithm indeed can guarantee everyone gets into the highest ranked school s/he qualifies for.

  • 435. cpsparent  |  October 23, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    In plain language, the rank of preference only comes into play when the student is “admitted” by multiple schools, used as a tie breaker. So, when filling out the forms, you should put in your TRUE order of preference, because the order has no effect on whether your child will get admitted or not.

  • 436. LynnJ  |  October 23, 2013 at 7:05 pm

    I could not make the Hawthorne open house this evening. Can someone give feedback on this school. I don’t know anything about it beyond what I see on the website. Thanks.

  • 437. NoraM  |  October 23, 2013 at 10:39 pm

    Any feedback on Interamerican elementary?

  • 438. CPSNewbie  |  October 24, 2013 at 7:05 pm

    Has anyone sent their 4 year old to Critical Thinking Boot Camp for Kids (PreK-3rd Grade) by ChicagoTestPrep? We are thinking about it just to familiarize our son with the puzzles/critical thinking, but don’t want to send him someplace he’ll get freaked out by test talk. It’s four Saturdays in Nov/Dec. Thoughts?

  • 439. Takashi  |  October 24, 2013 at 11:44 pm

    My son is turning 3 in November. When should he start the test prep for the kindergarten entry? Does anyone have a good test prep center? Thanks!

  • 440. Christine Whitley  |  October 25, 2013 at 8:31 am

    The Prep classes usually happen in the Fall the year before your child goes to Kindergarten (so, Prek 4).

  • 441. Ranking System  |  October 25, 2013 at 9:52 am

    “I think this simple algorithm indeed can guarantee everyone gets into the highest ranked school s/he qualifies for.”

    The thing you have to make sure to do is to allow a student to continue to get offers from additional schools even though s/he has gotten an offer in the initial iteration. Students could qualify for a different school in later “rounds” as other students get moved around. As I mentioned, as long as for a proposed final allocation of slots there is a check that there are no students that qualify for a school s/he ranked higher.

    (Strictly speaking, this isn’t a proof by construction, as existence of a solution is not demonstrated. Also, in thinking about this, I think solutions may not be Pareto optimal, in the sense of two students preferring to switch allocations, and no one being worse off. But that wasn’t a required property of the solution to being with.)

  • 442. Takashi  |  October 25, 2013 at 10:04 am

    @Christine Whitley: Thanks. About how many months before the test would be the right time to start test prepping. I don’t want to start too early becasue I’m afraid that he may get discouraged by it but I also don’t want to start it too late. Please advise.

  • 443. cpsobsessed  |  October 25, 2013 at 10:07 am

    I don’t think you should think of the early time as “prepping” but more so as making it fun for your child to learn new words, do logic puzzles, play with simple math. Those are the same skills the test measures and that many parents are teaching otherwise, outside of “prepping.”

    I think if you do that and lots of reading, that’s the best you can do. Maybe a couple months of practice sheets before the test if you want, but I would make it more part of everyday development.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 444. New to CPS  |  October 25, 2013 at 11:09 am

    Completely agree with CPS Obsessed on test prep for the content. We did zero conscious prep purposefully so that whatever result our daughter had was based on what she naturally can do or not do. But just in our approach to parenting we have constantly exposed her to books, numbers, puzzles, etc. since birth plus she had lots of work with her “basics” in preschool. We didn’t do any of that with a CPS test in mind, but all of that certainly didn’t hurt her ability to learn.

    A friend of mine knew one of the grad students they used for facilitating the CPS tests last year and the only “prep” she recommended (and obviously she couldn’t divulge test content) was making sure your child can comfortably separate from you and go alone with the test giver. Apparently for many kids, even the ones that probably could/should score high, their inability to be comfortable on their own in the test room trips them up more than any lack of content prep.

  • 445. LynnJ  |  October 25, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    Tell me more about logic puzzles. We’ve done all the following as NewtoCPS and cpsobsessed mentioned as well. Lately, we’ve been going over a great Common Core K-1 readiness workbook I got from Lakeshore Learning.

  • 446. mom  |  October 25, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    To those who want your child in Gifted/Classical – don’t believe the don’t-prep hype. Every year many people prep to get kids in. It does work in many instances.

  • 447. cpsobsessed  |  October 25, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    @mom, what kind of prep do you consider to be most effective among these people who use it to get their kids in?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 448. Takashi  |  October 25, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    Unfortunately, I have so much things to do at work and I don’t have much time to sit with my son playing logic puzzles, reading books, and doing other activities. I know I’m not a good parent. Moreover, I don’t have patience. If something that my son doesn’t get repeatedly, I will get frustrated. I know it’s not healthy. What can I do? I want him to get into a good school so I want to know any good test prep providers or person who can help. Any suggestions?Thank you!

  • 449. New to CPS  |  October 25, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    @mom – How is it that we can know if a kid who had some type of formal prep got an offer because of that prep and wouldn’t have without it? I’m sure many kids that test prep get in, but they might have anyway. I don’t think that there is anything inherently wrong with test prep if a parent feels strongly about doing it, just that it isn’t a guarantee of an offer or success afterwards.

    A question I have, which is why we avoided formal prep, is if we somehow know that test prep can help get a child an offer who otherwise would not have gotten one, is that child currently thriving at their gifted/classical school or are they not really at that level/pace but their prep helped them show up on their test that way and they would have done better in a different environment?

    If the child doesn’t already have the aptitude and/or learning support on a regular basis then test prep is almost like cramming for a test you haven’t taken any classes in. You might pass, but how well will you apply that knowledge down the road? And does that serve the child by putting them in a school they may or may not fit with, or just serve the parents’ desire to get their child into what is considered a good school? I’d be curious to find out if any parents have found themselves in that situation…tested in and the level or pace of the curriculum K class was not working for their child.

  • 450. TimeForADoOver  |  October 25, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    @Takashi: I didn’t formally test prep my child for kindergarten and regret it. As such, I’m taking an entirely different approach this year. I’ve subscribed to TestingMom.com (check it out!) and printed off pages and pages of test questions. Many of the questions are unbelievably tricky; no wonder my child didn’t perform to his abilities. My challenge now is to get him to regularly review the questions and familiarize himself with the logic behind them. While I have the time and patience to work with him, he’d rather play with his friends after his 7-hour school day and I don’t blame him. Kids need to be kids. So, I’ve decided to hire a friend who is a tutor for 30-45 minutes per week leading up to the test to get him up to snuff and make it part of his routine. Who knows if it’ll help significantly, but it certainly can’t hurt.

  • 451. RGC Parent  |  October 25, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    “I’d be curious to find out if any parents have found themselves in that situation…tested in and the level or pace of the curriculum K class was not working for their child.”

    My sense as an RGC K parent this year is that the problems kids tend to have are related more to getting used to the routines of the particular teacher and class, the long school day, being disciplined about doing homework, etc., rather than any inherent difficulties with the material. At least so far, it is just not that “difficult”. And I don’t mean that in an elitist way–I think most kids with involved families would do fine in terms of the material we have had so far and it’s not as if the kids in the RGC are that off the charts smart. Now, maybe there are more challenges in future years, where a child might feel out of place, but it’s very hard to predict that far anyway.

  • 452. LynnJ  |  October 25, 2013 at 3:20 pm

    @Takashi, I feel for you and understand about the level of patience it requires to actually sit down and spend 30-60 minutes each day with a child. It requires time and ALOT of patience. My child tests my sanity all the time. I say right, she says left. She is VERY strong willed. I cannot afford to do the traditional test prep with a psychologist, gifted test prep program etc. However, I do buy workbooks. Go to Lakeshore Learning and ask them about a line of books called Spectrum. There is a common core K and 1st grade that will give you some material that will be good for you to work with your child on. I also subscribed to testingmom.com and those test bank questions are good. Above all, if you can afford to get your child to a test prep, do so. In addition, we play alot of games with math and sight words and we read everyday.

    May I ask if your child is is pre-school?

    Contant Lemi at Minds Eye. She will be able to help with test prep. I went to a seminar she held about gifted and classical schools and this CPS process, and it really opened my eyes. I learned about Lemi through one of Testing Mom’s books. Here info is:


  • 453. Takashi  |  October 25, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    Thank you TimeForADoOver! I just wanted to do whatever i can so I don’t want to regret in the end. Hopefully, he would have another option to choose if he get accepted to one of the RGC/classical schools. Unfortunately, CPS doesn’t have many great neighborhood schools. The great ones are all in the high income family neighhborhood. I can’t afford to live there. The top 20 schools are mostly selective or magnet schools). And I don’t think I’m a lucky person. So, I will look for a private tutor or provider for my son and get him prepared for the test. Thank you!

  • 454. Takashi  |  October 25, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    Thank you LynnJ. He’s not in preschool yet. He’s turning 3 in Nov. But I have applied some CPS preschools for the Next Fall. Does anyone know any good CPS tuition-based preschools? I know Skinner West has one but they are full. The waitlist is crazy!

  • 455. LynnJ  |  October 25, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    @Takashi, My child goes to South Loop Tuition Based Pre-K. She loves it! I know about the Skinner PK. I think I started calling from the time my child was in the womb up until she was about 3 (so basically from 2008-2011). I stopped calling. I always challenged the validity of their process and it does not appear to be fair. I hear you have to know someone. You are in a good position to start calling about the test prep as well. I think it starts around Pre-K4. Good for you!

    But, I am happy where my child is now. This is our last year there. The Pre-K is located at the Branch Building on Federal. Here is the website.


    Scroll all the way down on the website and you will see the Branch building contact info.

  • 456. New to CPS  |  October 25, 2013 at 4:34 pm

    @ RGC Parent. You may be right that any issues would potentially show up more down the road and that certainly for K the biggest adjustment is the new environment, kids, teachers, etc.

    My daughter’s classical school has been the perfect fit for her – not too hard/not too easy, but I don’t see how her classmates are doing so I don’t have any sense if that is the case for all of them or not and I obviously don’t know what paths her classmates’ parents took to prepare or not for the tests.

    That said, I also know some bright kids from my daughters pre-K class and/or family friends who didn’t get into any SEES schools who would be struggling to keep up with what is coming home with my daughter which kind of brings me back to my question – if those kids had done test prep and somehow that made the difference for them in getting an offer, would they succeed?

  • 457. SoxSideIrish4  |  October 25, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    454. Takashi | October 25, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    There is a Neighborhood Schools Fair on Saturday, Nov. 6th, 11-3pm, at Clemente High School w/22 schools (so far) representing 15 neighborhoods. You may want to check it out. They also have a fb page called “Neighborhood Schools Fair” you may want to look over. There are a lot of strong neighborhood schools all over the City.

  • 458. LynnJ  |  October 25, 2013 at 6:31 pm

    I am very concerned. I went on the OAE website and completed my DDs application sometime during the week of October 1st or October 7th. To date, I still have not received my letter with the test date.

    Can someone tell me how soon after you completed the application did the letter come in the mail with your child’s test date? Did it come certified mailed, regular mail, carrier pigeon, etc.

    I’m going to make a visit to CPS on Tuesday.

  • 459. Takashi  |  October 25, 2013 at 8:35 pm

    @LynnJ: I heard that it comes in regular mail. My friend said the test dates usually held in Dec – Feb.

  • 460. LynnJ  |  October 25, 2013 at 8:49 pm

    Thanks Takashi. Perhaps I am a nervous Nellie. One of the parents on this thread sent her application in on October 1st and she already has her letter and her child’s test date is in November. I completed my application online the same week or a few days afterwards. I got the PIN without incident. It seems like after Columbus day, our mail delivery was off. They were delivering mail at night! WTH? The delivery can be very inconsistent.

    As such I am very nervous and will go down there Tuesday. I will be salty if I miss my child’s test date due to administrative error or mail delivery issues.

    I hope they don’t blow me off when I go down there. I plan to take my PIN letter and the confirmations I received that shows I successful submitted my child’s application. I better take her birth certificate just in case. LOL

  • 461. cpsobsessed  |  October 25, 2013 at 8:51 pm

    I would call OAE before going downtown. I don’t know that anybody will know where to send you and OAE is much more organized than the rest of CPS.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 462. Hyde park mom  |  October 25, 2013 at 9:12 pm

    I am hoping to get a test date for my 4 yr old twins that is in january, or at least after christmas.I’m thinking I should wait until the very last day to apply, but that makes me a tad nervous.Any advice?

  • 463. cpsobsessed  |  October 25, 2013 at 9:13 pm

    Last day could give you a february date….

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 464. LynnJ  |  October 25, 2013 at 9:17 pm

    @Hyde Park Mom, I really want to get this test out of the way before all the holiday’s and my DDs b-day is a week before Christmas. I want her to enjoy the holidays and her bday. Quite frankly I can use a break from all this and really want it to be over. The reality is it’s only getting started. 🙂

    I also hear the test is age adjusted? Another reason I wanted an early test date.

  • 465. Hyde park mom  |  October 25, 2013 at 9:21 pm

    Also, I’m hoping I’m wrong , but the older your four yr old is, aren’t they expected to score higher….so if a kid tests in nov, they would not need to score as high as a kid testing in dec,or later? Kids are compared aginst others in their age group, by three month bands, that is what my so called research has gathered.

  • 466. Takashi  |  October 25, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    Did anyone apply for Critical Thinking Boot Camp for Kids (PreK – 3rd Grade) at Depaul starting on Nov 9?

  • 467. Takashi  |  October 25, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    I mean register

  • 468. LynnJ  |  October 25, 2013 at 9:53 pm

    @Hyde Park Mom, I heard the same that you mentioned.

  • 469. JLM  |  October 25, 2013 at 10:32 pm

    @LynnJ – I sent in my app on October 1 and have not received a test date yet. I’m not terribly concerned – the nice thing about applying early is that if you think something went awry with your app, there’s plenty of time to sort it out.

  • 470. cpsparent  |  October 26, 2013 at 12:49 am

    @411 Ranking System:
    Yes, I agree that future rounds are the tricky ones. It’s possible that the #1 scoring kid could not get in at all if he/she declines the initial offer because future rounds depend on the availability of seats. It’s not all that unfair because he/she didn’t provide the real preference ranking.

  • 471. TimeForADoOver  |  October 26, 2013 at 11:02 am

    @464-468: I think that the age adjustment factor is much ado about nothing. From what I understand, it’s more about leveling the playing field for, say, a preschooler born in August (on the older end of the spectrum) vs. September (on the younger end) than rushing to beat the clock before your kid turns 5. We’re talking miniscule percentages that probably don’t carry much weight unless faced with a tie-breaker.

  • 472. sn  |  October 26, 2013 at 11:28 am

    Going back to the algorithm of how to assign seats in the SEES application topic, I think the easiest algorithm is very easy to visualize.

    The unknown thing to me, however, is how SEES compares classical scores to gifted score, since there are two different scales, but assume that it can be easily done by reducing all the scores to a single %. This may explain why a classical score of (97%M, 99.9%V) seems to be much better than a classical score of (99%M, 99%V). So I assume each child has 1 (if he only applied for either gifted or classical) or 2 (if he applied to both) scores, each on the continuous scale of (0-100).

    To steal the scene from Harry Potter with the hat assigning children to the houses, this is how it can be applied to SEES:

    Gather all the children in the Great Hall. Each child brings with them their written list of 6 preferences. Each child has their tier number pinned to their lapel. Each child brings their test score(s). If a child has two scores, then we clone this child into two children (here is the beauty of computer programming!): the classical child-doppelganger gets the classical score and keeps only the classical schools on the preferences list, the gifted child-doppelganger gets the opposite.

    Now we line all children up by their scores. If there is a tie, then some tie-breaker is used (by birthday, I assume). And yes, most children have two versions of them standing in that line, the gifted doppelganger and the classical doppelganger .

    Back to the Great Hall: each selective school has a table, with the number of chairs equal to the number of incoming slots. A portion (approximately 40%, depends on rounding logic) of each chairs at each table is colored red – ‘rank chairs’. The rest of the chairs have the tier number on them. So, for a school with one K classroom, we will have a table with 28 chairs with 12 chairs red, 4 tier 1, 4 tier 2, 4 tier 3, tier 4.

    Back to the Hat:
    Each child (in order of the link, from highest to lowest) walks up to the Hat. He reads his first choice from his preferences list, if there is an empty red chair at that table, he takes it. If not, if there is an empty chair at that table for his own tier, he takes it. If not, he reads his next choice, till he is either placed somewhere or not. If he is placed, then his classical/gifted doppelganger is yanked out of the line (if not, that doppelganger stays and waits his chance).

    This system seems fair, and all the preferences are followed.

  • 473. LynnJ  |  October 26, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    The wait is over! Got the letter in the mail today. Test date is November 7th. Yippie!

  • 474. CPSNewbie  |  October 27, 2013 at 10:33 am

    @466-Takashi. We just signed our son up for the boot camp. Figured it would be fun for him and good exposure to people other than his parents asking him those types of questions. 🙂

  • 475. Athens  |  October 27, 2013 at 9:45 pm

    Wait a sec…How fair is it that some kids are tested in November and others in feb??? Especially at 4 and 5 years old. A few months mean a world of difference. Am I overreacting based on my November test date?

  • 476. cpsobsessed  |  October 27, 2013 at 9:47 pm

    The scores are scaled based on the child’s birthdate.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 477. Chicago School GPS  |  October 28, 2013 at 10:48 am

    @472- nice analogy! The one correction is that 30% of seats are awarded by rank, the remaining tiers each get 17.5% of seats. Only for entry years, so subsequent years are fill-in only and are therefore rank only.

  • 478. Ranking System  |  October 28, 2013 at 11:08 am

    “The unknown thing to me, however, is how SEES compares classical scores to gifted score, since there are two different scales, but assume that it can be easily done by reducing all the scores to a single %.”

    I don’t think the two scores necessarily need to be compared.

    “If he is placed, then his classical/gifted doppelganger is yanked out of the line (if not, that doppelganger stays and waits his chance).”

    Don’t think this works, as I understand it. E.g., if for a particular kid, the classical score is higher (however you compare) and if the kid would be admitted to a classical school, based on the score, then this approach would give the kid an offer to that classical school. The kid may,however, have ranked an RGC higher and could have also earned admittance to the RGC, even if his/her classical score was “higher”. This approach would not give the kid a chance at getting into the RGC that s/he ranked higher.

  • 479. Ranking System  |  October 28, 2013 at 11:13 am

    “Yes, I agree that future rounds are the tricky ones. It’s possible that the #1 scoring kid could not get in at all if he/she declines the initial offer because future rounds depend on the availability of seats. It’s not all that unfair because he/she didn’t provide the real preference ranking.”

    By “rounds” I meant the process of figuring out whether a student who isn’t initially among the top X students for a school nevertheless gets admitted to the school because some of the higher scoring students preferred other schools. You have to consider this, otherwise a student may not get an offer to a school for which s/he scored higher than students who did get offers (and that was higher in his/her rankings than other schools he/she qualified for). I didn’t mean rounds after students who had received offers started declining.

  • 480. Hyde park mom  |  October 28, 2013 at 11:40 am

    @475 and 476-this has also been bugging me and Im not sure how the month a child tests in affects their score.yes, their scores are scaled with their birthdate in 3 month bands, but still…doesnt that mean the “younger” 4 yr olds (i.e., born in august) will compete with the “older” 4 yr olds (i.e born in june), so hence an earlier test date is better? this is driving me nuts, might even call oae and ask, doubt theyd help much…

  • 481. AE  |  October 28, 2013 at 11:48 am

    @480 I am also curious about this, so let us know if you get any information from OAE or other reliable source. My digging suggests any benefit to testing early (so the child is younger) created by age norming is negligible, and possibly offset entirely by the benefits of waiting (maturity, more exposure to content, etc.). That being said, I still can’t help but wonder….

  • 482. pantherparent  |  October 28, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    I remember going through this process three times and having none of my children accepted to a SEES. As a parent you can’t help but feel like a failure when you are “forced” to go to the neighborhood school.

    Well I can tell you from experience that sometimes that can be the best thing that ever happens. My kids were able to walk to school, make lifelong friends, and not have to worry about hours and hours of homework.

    The two oldest, apparently “non-gifted” when they were 5 years old, are now both at Northside Prep as a junior and a freshman, while the youngest is looking at academic centers.

    This process is not the end of the world. It’s the beginning.

  • 483. mom2  |  October 28, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    Do you love your neighborhood? Do you enjoy and feel comfortable with your neighbors? If so, if we would all stop obsessing and send our kids to our neighborhood school, we would get the suburban experience everyone talks about without all the crazy stress of SEES and Magnet lotteries. Just do it.

  • 484. Hyde park mom  |  October 28, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    Totally agree.Plse, for those of you lucky enough to live in a nice area, good neighborhood school, pls be happy and andre yourselves this stress of applying to a SEES.My son commutes an hr each way to his SEE, but if we had the choice to attend a neighborhood school, I’d be thrilled, but our neigjborhood school is terrible.In fact, its in tier 1, so need I say more.If I had the chance to walk or drive my son to schooL, have his classmates nearby, I’d be in heaven.I think some parents just want to be able to brag that their kid goes to such and such school, and some of them live in nice neigjborhoods with great local schools already.Let those who really need a better school get a shot.

  • 485. west rogers park mom  |  October 28, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    @482 (Pantherparent)- Well said ! Wish we could ‘like’ comments here. And remember in most instances even scoring in the 99% isn’t ‘good enough’ for a SEES. Having had kids in magnet, SEES, AC, and a non SEHS, I can say that there are certain advantages to each program.

    My theory is that early testing dates help with younger kids. My kid wasn’t even 4 1/2 when she took her test in November. Since development can be rapid at that age I can only imagine that there is much less of a threshold for a 4 year old than an almost 5 1/2 year old. But this is just a theory –

  • 486. TimeForADoOver  |  October 28, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    Here, here, pantherparent and mom2!!! There’s a lack of chatter on this blog (and elsewhere) about the merits of neighborhood schools. You usually only hear the negatives. After “striking out” on the SEES test and magnet lottery, I felt like a failure for sending my kindergartener to our neighborhood school… and, truthfully, this had been our master plan since moving to the ‘hood years ago. The CPS application process is so time consuming and all-encompassing that it flooded my head with notions that neighborhood schools are second rate. Well, a quarter into the school year, I can assure you that many are not and, rather, they offer wonderful educational opportunities, among other benefits that crosstown commuters don’t get. My child, despite his larger than ideal classroom size, has learned A TON already and better yet, he’s excited about his progress. It’s been a happy surprise and eye opener.

  • 487. LynnJ  |  October 28, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    Panther parent is wish it were that easy for is. I do feel bad that we spend so much time prepping and it frustrates my child because she wants to play and be a child. She does not understand and I try not to put too much pressure on her. We cannot send her to neighborhood school as it has been on probation at least 4 years and is a receiving school to a school that was on probation that closed recently.

  • 488. Chicago School GPS  |  October 28, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    Check out the Neighborhood School Fair put on by some folks with the exact same idea regarding the merits of families giving their neighborhood schools a chance.
    Saturday, Nov 16 at Clemente HS from 11-3PM
    Join in a celebration of Chicago’s neighborhood schools! The Neighborhood School Fair will let prospective parents know that neighborhood schools are a good choice for their children and help parents already at neighborhood schools strengthen their schools. We want to highlight the many wonderful programs and involved families at neighborhood schools across the city and bring together parents and students for a meet and greet that reaches across neighborhood boundaries.

  • 489. Hyde park mom  |  October 28, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    My 4 yr olds go to Ray hafday prek, we got in luckily through some powers that be, since we aren’t within the boundaries.Itd great neighborhood school, diverse, parentd are involved, teachers caring.I envy the parents I see each morning walking their child to school.What a privelege.There are indeed great local schools, but not enough are within reach for some families.I’d love to mbrace my local school, but not when the area is crime ridden, shootings, liquor stores abound.Until things change,or we sell our home, my children will not be going a foot near there.

  • 490. pantherparent  |  October 28, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    @487 LynnJ. Understood. We were lucky that our fallback was a very good neighborhood school.

    And agree with Hyde Park Mom that it is a win-win for people with good local schools that they get to go there while those truly in need for a better option will have more seats available.

  • 491. WorkingMommyof2  |  October 28, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    Re: the best time/age to test for K:

    I’ve decided to wait to complete my July-birthday son’s K application this year until late in the process to get a later test date and I hope he matures a little more in the meantime. While there might be a benefit to being compared to younger kids by testing earlier, he currently is just flat out silly a lot of the time (why not, he is barely 4!) and I doubt he’s ready to really show what he knows. I can totally see him going off on tangents in the room about whatever pictures he is shown and getting way off-task!

    His older brother, with a birthday right in the middle of the age range, tested into an RGC K this year. He, however, was strangely serious even at age 2. 🙂

    One thing I found interesting about son No.1’s RGC K class this year? Six Sept. birthdays and three in Oct. So that is pretty much a third of the class in the first two months of the year. I wonder if that’s unusual or if the older kids really do have an advantage in the end.

  • 492. Hyde park mom  |  October 28, 2013 at 3:17 pm

    @workingmommy, I think your decision to wsit is wise.My one twin has an Aug bday and is so fidgety, he probably won’t be able to sit long enough to show what he knows.I wish twins could test separately, because my other twin is ready now to test, much more mature, she’s a girl, lol.CPS said I could ask for a differen test date, but I don’t want them to mess anything up, we know how they can be.Funny, but also in my oldest sons RGC class, there were only two kids with an August bday, most of the class was way older….maturity really matters on this test.

  • 493. Hyde park mom  |  October 28, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    @ workingmommy, I just reread your post.The kids with Sept, Oct bdays are actually the youngest in his class, if I’m not mistaken.I am starting with January as the beginning of the year.Hope I make sense….can we IM hete, that’d be nice…

  • 494. WorkingMommyof2  |  October 28, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    @Hyde Park the Sept-Oct. birthdays are the oldest in his class. They are now 6. In CPS the Sept. birthdays are the oldest kids and the August kids are the youngest.

    There is at least one August birthday in his RGC class, so it’s certainly not impossible for the youngest in the grade to test high enough for a spot.

  • 495. LSmom  |  October 28, 2013 at 3:52 pm

    My late August birthday tested into an RGC, and if we’d moved a few months later than we did, he’d have made it into our first choice. Where I think waiting would have made a bigger difference is with the classical schools — he made a huge jump with reading soon after the test. For now, we are happy in our neighborhood school though (we got in through the lottery, it’s close but not in our neighborhood).

  • 496. Anxiousmom  |  October 28, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    Has anyone used a tutoring service for the SEES? If so which one?
    Thank you

  • 497. cpsobsessed  |  October 28, 2013 at 5:57 pm

    Agh, TestingMom is also SpammingMom. I signed up for the free service (100 questions) on Friday and I have already received 5 emails beyond the intro email (one of which had a sample test question, so — bonus!) I like the concept but she’s going to drive me to unsubscribe, I have a feeling.

    One email was titled “Bad News” and the bad news was that some kids don’t do test prep. A little manipulative in my book, but I’ll see how the free questions go. My son isn’t testing for anything this year, but I’m curious to see what kinds of questions are being offered for his grade level.

  • 498. cpsobsessed  |  October 28, 2013 at 5:58 pm

    FYI, my son’s class has kids with birthdays from Sept to late August so there didn’t seem to be a skew there. In fact one of the kids who seems to breeze through all the work has a birthday in the last week of August.

  • 499. Anxiousmom  |  October 28, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    @CPSobsessed. I used a program that based all their tutoring sessions off testing mom material and my daughter scored great but for our tier it wasn’t the best and we did not receive one offer! After that the tutoring program forgot about us!! Very stressful. I buy her workbooks we frequently go over and BOBS books that she is able to get through pretty good. The homework she gets is material she already knows. I’m just trying to see if there is any other program or material that I can try for 1st grade test.

  • 500. LynnJ  |  October 28, 2013 at 6:09 pm

    @cpsobsessed, I subscribed to testingmom.com and yes she will try to get you to subscribe. After all, that’s her job! LOL I got like a 70% or 80% off subscription price around the Independence Day holiday. We have been using it to prep and I like it. I find the site interesting and useful. I commend her for the research she has put into the gifted testing process.

  • 501. cpsobsessed  |  October 28, 2013 at 6:16 pm

    My thoughts about test prep for K/1st entry:

    Test prep is big business in NYC because they have a lot more gifted slots there. So a somewhat bright kid who does prep probably has a halfway decent shot at getting a spot somewhere (maybe not the ideal location, but if you get a certain score there, you are guaranteed a seat *somewhere*.)

    The challenge in Chicago is the very very limited number of seats and thus the very very high scores required for admission, especially for Tiers 3 and 4 for parents who don’t want to travel too far. The best test prep in the world may not get a kid to score a 99%. That is part innate smarts and part luck. So it’s much harder for a service to drive success in Chicago than in NYC where it may be bumping kids into the 90% range.

    That’s not so say that I’m against test prep. I’m in favor of it when the kids are a little older and it can “pay off” better because they can concentrate more etc. I’m in favor of it for K/1st if it’s fun for the kid. It’ll still help them learn, so why not as long as you’re not torturing them. I just think that the potential payoff odds are lower in Chicago, so it’s harder to justify the time/expense of it.

    But certainly keep us posted, everyone!

  • 502. TimeForADoOver  |  October 28, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    SpammingMom… hahaha!! Funny because it’s so true. And her customer service reps could benefit from the site’s brain games; the two I spoke with were clueless. However, if you’re gifted enough to navigate the confusing site and cut through all of the B.S., there’s some valuable info to be found. I particularly like the daily practice questions and printable tests. Tip: You can get a three-month membership for 60% off if you sign onto the site and wait two weeks to buy. It’s a good deal for what you get.

  • 503. LynnJ  |  October 28, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    I totally agree with TimeForADoOver! I really wish testingmom.com would redesign the way the site is set up. It takes some time to get use to the set-up and how to access the material, but once you do it is easy.

  • 504. LynnJ  |  October 28, 2013 at 8:41 pm

    I am going to be reordering my SEES choices and adding three additional schools to the magnet choices. I am apprehensive about doing so, but I am really rethinking how I ranked the SEES choices and 3 magnets at the last minute I decided to put them back on the list.

    Ugh I hate this, but I gotta do what I gotta do.

  • 505. MamaBlue  |  October 28, 2013 at 9:26 pm

    LynnJ…I’m doing the same thing. Not happy about it either!

  • 506. LynnJ  |  October 28, 2013 at 9:52 pm

    MamaBlue, we must do it! It only increases our odds on the magnet side. After reading all the posts about ranking, I really felt that I ranked them incorrectly.

  • 507. LynnJ  |  October 28, 2013 at 10:18 pm

    I meant to say I re-ranked the SEES and added more Magnets. I am now actually dreaming about this process. This is sad!

  • 508. MamaBlue  |  October 29, 2013 at 10:41 am

    I think I got caught up in the opinions of the masses as far as rankings go. I ranked our SEES choices after doing a ton of research on the schools, but going to the open houses and seeing them in person really changed my perspective. A school that we thought should be fourth on our list jumped up to number two because it just felt like it could be a better fit. I wish the schools would start doing tours BEFORE the application process begins!
    I just really hope and pray this isn’t all being done in vain!

  • 509. Chicagogiftedtestprep.com  |  October 30, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    @496 Critical Thinking Boot Camp for Kids (PreK-3rd grade) is being offered by Chicago Gifted Test Prep. Here is the link:

  • 510. CPSNotAsNewbie  |  October 30, 2013 at 9:27 pm

    FYI–I went to the Burley tour today and the parent tour guide there said that they haven’t taken out of district kids for years….

  • 511. cpsparent  |  October 31, 2013 at 6:26 am

    Sun-Times school rankings

  • 512. TimeForADoOver  |  October 31, 2013 at 10:40 am

    I’d love to hear from Bell and Beaubien RGC parents about your experiences. Anybody out there? These programs don’t get a lot of mention on this site and I’m curious about their strengths/weaknesses, as well as the differences between the two.

  • 513. Lisa  |  November 1, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    We have a 1st grader in the RGC at Bell. I can’t compare w/ Beaubien and, of course, we have only been in the program for a few months, but if you have questions I will try to answer them. I can tell you that we love it! Our child love school and loves all the interesting work and field trips. The school is huge, but has a really good community vibe.

  • 514. TimeForADoOver  |  November 1, 2013 at 6:55 pm

    @513: Oooh, I’m glad to hear this and thanks for responding! Bell is currently one of our top choices; I’m scheduled to tour it in a few weeks. Any advice for the 1st grade test? This site focuses so much on SEES admissions for kindergarten that I feel a little unprepared for 1st. If only the odds didn’t suck 😦

  • 515. MamaBlue  |  November 2, 2013 at 8:38 am

    My son takes his SEES test for kindergarten tomorrow morning! I can’t wait until it’s done so we can forget about this nonsense for a few months. I will be happy to pass along any info that he tells me about it. However, I will say that every day when I ask him what he did in preschool he either says “nothing” or “I don’t remember”, so I assume he will say something similar after this. Fingers crossed that he doesn’t wake up crabby tomorrow…the test is very early!

  • 516. LynnJ  |  November 2, 2013 at 10:01 am

    Fingers crossed for your son MamaBlue! Bless his heart! We go November 7th.

  • 517. MD  |  November 2, 2013 at 10:26 am

    @512 I have a son in the RGC at Bell & will be there on Nov. 8th to help answer parent’s questions. Comparing programs (Bell v. Beaubien) is always difficult unless you have had direct experience with both…which I have not. Bell has been a great fit for our family. Regarding the test for K v 1st, I’m sure they are pretty similar just that the expectations for 1st are higher…if you have any specific questions, I would be happy to answer them. Otherwise, I hope to see you on the 8th!

  • 518. Even One More CPS Mom  |  November 2, 2013 at 10:46 am

    I would think the biggest difference between the K and 1st grade tests (besides the material) is the fact that the K test is one on one with the test giver, verbal or pointing to answers. Some reading too. The test for 1st grade is taken in a room with a number of other children, sitting at a desk and filling in bubbles. To me, that makes a huge difference for a number of children. Some may do better in one situation versus the other.

  • 519. Lisa  |  November 2, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    @514 The only advice I can give as far as the test is to do your best to have your kid well rested, well fed, and relaxed as possible–her dad took her to the test because we know from experience that she can have a hard time separating from me if she is feeling nervous. The test givers and monitors were great in our case. Our daughter came back saying that they had “told them all to just do their best” and there was no pressure.

  • 520. TimeForADoOver  |  November 2, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    @517-519: Thanks for all of the advice! I actually think that my son will have a better time in a group setting vs. one-on-one… or so I hope. He’s very social and likes being around other kids. We’ve also been practicing how to fill in the bubbles. Staying in the lines is a weakness of his. Depending on the test times (I understand classical and gifted are usually administered on different days), I might have his dad take him, too. He tends to act more grown up without me around. I’m actually not holding out for an SEES spot (there are so few); my ultimate goal is for his test scores to be a better representation of his abilities than they were for K.

  • 521. cpsobsessed  |  November 2, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    I think the younger grade tests might be circling stuff rather than filling in dots. I think my 5th grade son is just mastering dots now…

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 522. TimeForADoOver  |  November 2, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    @521: I wish this was true. From what I’ve read on TestingMom, they have to fill in bubbles. Kind of ridiculous for 5-6 year olds.

  • 523. cpsobsessed  |  November 2, 2013 at 5:54 pm

    That’s crazy!

    Anyone with a kid taking the test can you ask them about circling or bubbles?

    NYC may have a diff test than we do, but crazy that they use bubbles.

    Hey, I haven’t heard from TestingMom yet today….maybe when I ignored her 3 emails on halloween she got mad. 🙂

    I really liked on of the sample questions she sent in one of the emails though. If my kid were testing I’m sure I’d be checking it out.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 524. RGC & Classical Dad  |  November 2, 2013 at 9:46 pm

    Kids have to fill in bubbles even for 1st grade test. I asked about this to my daughter who is in 2nd grade in a RGC. I have been let my kids take test every year in the hope of putting my two kids in the same school.

  • 525. MamaBlue  |  November 3, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    Our test is done! Whew!! As far as how it went, I have no idea. My husband took our son (so I wouldn’t add any nervous energy). From the report I got, the test taker was a nice man. When I asked my son how the test was, he said it was hard. I don’t really know what he meant by that! I asked him what kind of questions they asked and he said he didn’t remember. We asked him if there was any math and he said no. To him that would mean there were no equations. He was in the room for a little over 30 minutes. So, as I expected, he did not give us any real insight into what he was tested on. I was hoping he would come running out saying that it was super easy and he knew all the answers, but I also hope I’ll win the Powerball. He did say he had fun though so at least it wasn’t stressful for him. If I get any more info out of him I will pass it on. I wish everyone with future test dates the best of luck. We are all in the same boat here and I truly do wish that we didn’t have to go through all of this to give our kids the best education possible. Hopefully everyone will have great news in their mailboxes in March!

  • 526. Hyde park mom  |  November 3, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    Thnx for posting about your sons experience, mamablue.What grade was he testing for? Best of luck.

  • 527. cpsobsessed  |  November 3, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    Good luck mamablue – thanks for sharing!

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 528. MamaBlue  |  November 3, 2013 at 3:08 pm

    He tested for kindergarten.
    @cpsobsessed….Thank you for keeping this site going. I heard about it a few years ago and was a bit apprehensive about reading it. I didn’t want to let this process consume me! However, I’ve found that this has been an invaluable resource for getting questions answered and for help in making some of these very difficult decisions. I don’t know how you find time to do it, but I’m certainly grateful that you do!

  • 529. LynnJ  |  November 3, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    MamaBlue, thanks for letting us know. Best of luck to your DS. My DD will be tested Thursday. MamaBlue, did he point to the answers or did he circle the one he thought was right. There is some discussion about about kids filling in bubbles on the answer sheet. I could not imagine them asking a preK child to do that.

  • 530. MamaBlue  |  November 3, 2013 at 6:10 pm

    I just asked him and he said there were no pencils. He pointed to answers with his finger.

  • 531. TimeForADoOver  |  November 3, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    @529: There aren’t any bubbles for the K test; that starts in 1st. It’s a questionable method even for 5-6 year olds.

  • 532. SR  |  November 3, 2013 at 10:52 pm

    @MamaBlue – After my DS took the kindergarten test (several years ago) the one comment that he had was that the tester let him answer again when he got the questions wrong. That didn’t inspire confidence in him getting a spot, but he ended up scoring really well on the RGC portion. So if our experience is any indication, you shouldn’t base much on what your child says afterward.

    This year we’re applying/testing for K for our second child and again have no expectations. Though it would be lovely to have both kids at the same school!

  • 533. MamaBlue  |  November 4, 2013 at 9:34 am

    SR..thanks for that. I’m a bit worried because he said it was hard. I asked him if the tester told him which ones he got right or wrong and he said no. Of course, I don’t know how accurate the info he’s telling me is (he also tells me he didn’t hit his sister when he knows that I SAW him do it!) I’m going to try very hard to put all of the stress out of my head because there isn’t a thing I can do about it now. I’ll give myself about a week to question everything, and then I’ll just let it go until March….hopefully!

  • 534. LynnJ  |  November 4, 2013 at 11:26 am

    @TimeForADoOver, I cannot agree with you more. Even for a pre 1st grader, 5-6 yo, I cannot imagine them filling in bubbles. I guarantee you, if we do not get a spot this time around in March, we will be looking to a do ever with the process, and I will start working with her on filling in those bubbles. Insane. I have heard that they were tested in groups for the non-entry grades and it sounds like they are given a bubble sheet.

    MamaBlue, thank you for the update. I am keeping my fingers crossed for you son. Do you mind disclosing what SEES you are looking into?

    Who else has a test date coming up?

  • 535. MamaBlue  |  November 4, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    LynnJ….We put 5 on our list. In order: Edison, Skinner North, Coonley, Decatur, Skinner West. I would have liked to put a sixth but we need to have the bus as an option. As it is, Skinner West probably wouldn’t work because we are about 8 blocks outside of the boundary.

  • 536. Hyde park mom  |  November 4, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    @MamaBlue, was wondering if you had done any kind of formal or informal test prep with your son? I am curious if you think it helped or not, etc. since you mentioned that he said it was hard.Now go get yourself a martini, the test is over!

  • 537. Even One More CPS Mom  |  November 4, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    @MamaBlue – I would suggest trying to not make yourself crazy guessing how your child did on the test based on what they say about their experience. For K my child said some random stuff about the test, nothing too informative, did not seem over confident about getting answers right and scored above the 98th percentile for RGC. As they did not get an offer that year we tested again for 1st. My child came out of the test saying how easy the test was and that they got every question right. Said they answered every question, got done early, etc…. Results arrived and my child scored a 106! That’s only six points above the national average (or is it the median they use – I can’t remember) of 100. Didn’t even make the lowest cutoff score to qualify for a RGC. So, at least in my experience, what the child says coming out of the test doesn’t necessarily mean a whole lot in regards to how they actually did! 🙂 Also, I have an opinion that the difference in scores that my child achieved does have at least in some part to do with the K test being one on one, verbal/pointing and the 1st grade test being ‘fill in the bubble’ in a room with a bunch of other kids. When my child came out of the 1st grade test and I asked them how it went they also told me that they learned how to fill in a bubble. When I heard that all I could think was, “Uh oh, this can’t be good.” Oh well!

  • 538. MamaBlue  |  November 4, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    Hyde Park mom….we didn’t do any formal test prep. As far as informal, I guess we did. When he was very young we got him those Brain Quest cards. I later discovered they had workbooks. I bought some and my son loved them! He has asked to do workbooks almost every day for the last couple of years. I’ve also made up a bunch of board games and other types of games to teach him different concepts (time, letters, numbers etc) since he was around 2. I didn’t do it for test prep, I just did it because I wanted to teach him everything I could. So I guess you could call that informal test prep, but it wasn’t done with that intention at all. My husband and I talked very briefly about formal prep and decided almost instantly that it wasn’t right for us.
    I can’t really define what my son meant by the test being hard, and it’s driving me crazy!! I wonder if he thought the whole thing was hard, or if they increase the difficulty of the questions as the test progresses.
    All of that said, we’ve had so much craziness in our house lately with work things, tests and all sorts of other chaos. I am so glad this test is done! Now I don’t have to do any of this again until my daughter is ready for kindergarten in 3 more years!

  • 539. LynnJ  |  November 4, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    MamaBlue, did the same for my daughter. Got my hands on whatever I could that looked like a great supplement to what she may have been getting in pre-school. Didn’t do any formal test prep. Started using testingmoms website and got access to similiar questions you may find on the OLSAT, CoAg, Iowa, etc. I did not do any of the formal classes that some put their kids in. Already paying so much for TBPS, just could not do it!

    As far as the 6 SEES, looking at SKinner North & West, Lenart, McDade, NTA and Pritzker. This is what I submitted ORIGINALLY. I revised my school list and just have to deliver it down to CPS. I am thinking of totally removing Skinner North and putting Poe on the list. But, I am somewhat concerned about what that distance going back South and getting to work on time, etc. I plan to go visit Poe when they have the open house.

  • 540. MamaBlue  |  November 4, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    LynnJ…the list I posted is actually our revised list. We originally had Decatur as #2 and Skinner North as #4. After touring Skinner North though we were super impressed. They seem to have a very well rounded program there and I liked the principal and his whole approach. We liked Decatur but I really don’t like the fact that it stops at 6th grade.
    Distance is a huge factor in this whole process for us too. We can’t have our kids at a school that doesn’t have a bus. It doesn’t work with our work schedules. I really wish that CPS would have taken those things into consideration when designing this whole ridiculous system. It’s just absurd to expect parents to drive across the city to have access to good schools!

  • 541. Peirce Parent  |  November 4, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    Posting for a neighborhood school open house:

    Helen C. Peirce School is hosting an Open House on
    Thursday Nov. 14th at 8:30 am.
    1423 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. (between Clark/Broadway, South of Ridge)

    A presentation followed by a tour is offered to address parents inquiries on curriculum, offerings, social-emotional approach, & the MYP IB programme.

    Please RSVP to PeirceOpenHouse@gmail.com or 312.534.2440.


  • 542. LynnJ  |  November 6, 2013 at 9:32 pm

    I visited STEM Magnet Academy and I must say I was impressed with what I saw! Here are a few of my notes. They are choppy and I jotted down things randomly.

    The staff appears to be caring and motivated to give the children structure and a good education. They prided themselves on having a safe and fun environment for children. They welcome parent volunteers and they also mention that the staff is very responsive when parents call or email. They follow common core. I remember someone asking a question about preparing for ISAT. The principal mentioned they do a ISAT prep in January and February on Saturday for 3rd-5th graders. They have a library, but no librarian. They also require school uniforms.

    One of the things I heard loud and clear is that they have run out of space and have been in talks with CPS and the mayor about it. No commitments or plans about what to do about it thus far. The principal mentioned they only have one empty classroom. Parking is terrible, playground is small. Next year they will be K-6.

    Lots of great technology in each class with the smart boards, etc. They also have a Mac lab, Dell lab, and a traveling cart with iPads.

    The children have art, gym, music, library, literacy, technology, science, engineering, social studies, geography each week, even Kindergartens have engineering! Homework packets are passed out on Monday and they are due each Friday, exceptions!

    Hours are 8-3 and they have after school program through Youth Guidance that goes from 3-5:15. No sports of any kind are offered. Again, speaking to the space issue because Youth Guidance uses the gym after school.

    Thus far, they have two classes per grade and for 4th grade there are 3. They take 40% neighborhood and 60% citywide through the lottery, and use the tiers to determine who gets a seat. That was new to me. I always thought magnets were purely lottery, luck of the draw and that’s it.

    The principal did mention that chances of getting in beyond K is almost impossible.

    There is a small population of ELL, around 60.

    Last tour will be held December 4th. After that, there will be an open house for parents whose child got a seat.

  • 543. LynnJ  |  November 6, 2013 at 9:34 pm

    I meant no exceptions on late homework!

  • 544. LynnJ  |  November 7, 2013 at 5:14 pm

    My daughter took the test today. Word to the wise… Insure you give yourself plenty of time to circle around to find parking. I drove around for 20 minutes waiting for a parking space to open up in parking lot A4. Eventually drove over to lot B5 off 32nd & Federal and found a park. Parking is a nightmare because you are there with students and faculty! Maybe better if you are testing over the weekend.

    When we arrived, we were called with 15 minutes on arrival. My DD went with the test administrator around 1:50 and she was done at 2:30 p.m. I did make a couple of observations…. 2 little girls went in about 5 minutes before my DD. One was done in about 15 minutes. I did not think this was a good sign. The other one was done in about 25 minutes. There were 3 families waiting when I got there so I cannot tell you what time their kids went with test admins. Each child had been given a sticker on the hand. My daughter had two and I asked why was she given two and she said the teacher said she did a super dooper job. We’ll see in March! LOL.

    When she came back into the waiting area I immediately asked her what did the teacher ask her, and she said she didn’t remember!!!! So I then asked her was it like the brain games we play (OLSAT, CoAg, Iowa, NNAT, etc) and she told me yes, and she also mentioned she was asked about colors and shapes and was asked to point to her answers. So, not much to offer, but something.

    So, we’ll see in March. I am sooooo glad this over! Well, it’s not REALLY over, but at least the testing is. I pray we don’t have to do this for 1st grade.

  • 545. Wondering  |  November 7, 2013 at 7:19 pm

    How quickly are people receiving their test dates after submitting an application.

  • 546. JLM  |  November 8, 2013 at 11:08 am

    @545 – I applied )ct. 1 and just got a test date in the mail on Wednesday for RGC testing only. This is for 1st grade. Still waiting on a Classical test date.

  • 547. LynnJ  |  November 8, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    I applied the week of Oct 1st. I didn’t get the letter until a week before the test date.

  • 548. MelissaO  |  November 11, 2013 at 12:28 am

    @545 I applied online on Thursday November 7, really late in the evening. I got the letter with the test date just two days later, Sat. the 9th. Way quicker than I thought it would be! The test is scheduled for Nov 22nd.

  • 549. LynnJ  |  November 12, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    For those in the Hyde Park, Kenwood, Oakland, Bronzeville area:

    On Tuesday, November 19 there will be a information night about CPS elementary schools serving Hyde Park and Kenwood, including:

    Bret Harte Elementary School
    Carnegie Regional Gifted Center
    Kozminski Elementary School
    Murray Language Academy
    Ray Elementary School
    Reavis Elementary School

    Following a Meet and Greet with principals, there will be a short presentation of the Options for Knowledge process. After, there will be a Q&A session with parents of students enrolled in neighborhood CPS schools.

    Email staczalipinski@yahoo.com ahead of time so she can answer your questions at the event.

    Date: 11.19.13 (Tuesday)
    Time: 6:00pm -7:30pm
    Location: Hyde Park Neighborhood Club, 5480 S. Kenwood Avenue

  • 550. MamaBlue  |  November 12, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    For those that need to do the application modification to re-order your SEES preferences or add/delete schools from your magnet/neighborhood list….We printed out the modification form from the CPS OAE website on Saturday and scanned it and emailed it that day. I got an email today from CPS confirming that they got it. I was worried that it would get lost in the shuffle (ok, I’m STILL worried about that!), but at least I know they received it. I didn’t know if they would let me know that they got it, so I’m glad they did.

  • 551. BridgeportMom  |  November 17, 2013 at 11:52 am

    Applied on Nov 14 at night. Received a letter yesterday for test day on Nov 30.

  • 552. LynnJ  |  January 22, 2014 at 8:34 pm

    Very quiet on this thread. I take it everyone has been tested and now we’re anxiously waiting.

  • 553. Hyde park mom  |  January 22, 2014 at 10:00 pm

    Lol,Lynn,wish it were true,our twins test friday for K…..originally was fir jan 6,but cps and iit were closed due to that arctic weather.I just want it over with,I had even stopped prepping.Let the cards fall,and for me to say that is an indication of how tired I am,since my area school is on probation.Good luck.How was your childs test day?

  • 554. LynnJ  |  February 1, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    hydeparkmom, my daughter’s test day was November 7th. It went well (I think). We are way beyond and just waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting.

  • 555. northsider  |  March 7, 2014 at 5:02 pm

    when are letters being sent out with school acceptance and waiting lists?

  • 556. Even One More CPS Mom  |  March 7, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    The OAE web site should have a running banner at the top announcing elementary letters mailing dates.

  • 557. LynnJ  |  March 7, 2014 at 6:39 pm

    The letters are supposed to be mailed March 21st.

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  • 559. LynnJ  |  March 17, 2014 at 11:24 pm

    Well this is our weekend coming up. Does anyone know if cps will actually mail the letters on time Friday? I have not heard of any delays other than testing that was moved back due to snow days. Mail delivery sucks in my area so I’m not 100% certain about getting our letter Saturday if they are mailed one time. Good luck all.

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