Elementary and AC Open Houses – Share Feedback Here

October 23, 2013 at 10:37 am 173 comments


Touring season is upon us.  The SEES elem schools seem to have condensed their open house schedules, for better or for worse.  Here is the most recent schedule from CPS.  Some schools may add tours or didn’t get their tours into the list in time so you may need to give a call…

If you attend an open house, please share your feedback!

Beasley Regional Gifted Center

5255 S. State St.

October 7, 2013 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

Beaubien Regional Gifted Center

5025 N Laramiedates not posted yet

Bell Regional Gifted Center(Grades 1-8)

3730 N. Oakley Ave.

November 8, 2013 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

December 9, 2013 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

(Note: These sessions provide a tour of the building. Parents are asked to call to schedule.)


Coonley Regional Gifted Center (Grades K-7)

4046 N. Leavitt St.

October 17, 2013 9:30 a.m.

November 21, 2013 9:30 a.m.


Decatur Classical School (Grades K-6)

7030 N. Sacramento Ave.

October 16, 2013 9:30 a.m.

November 19, 2013 9:30 a.m.


Edison Regional Gifted Center(Grades K-8)

4929 N. Sawyer Ave.

October 15, 2013 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.


Greeley Regional Gifted Center for English Language Learners (Grades K-8)

832 W. Sheridan Rd.

October 11, 2013 9:30 a.m.

November 17, 2013 9:30 a.m.


Keller Regional Gifted Center (Grades 1-8)

3020 W. 108th St.

October 16, 2013 9 a.m.


Kenwood Academic Center (Grades 7-8)

5015 S. Blackstone Ave.

November 2, 2013 10 a.m. to 12 noon

December 7, 2013 10 a.m. to 12 noon


Lane Tech Academic Center (Grades 7-8)

2501 W. Addison St.

November 3, 2013 10 a.m. to 12 noon


Lenart Regional Gifted Center (Grades K-8)

8101 S. LaSalle St.

October 17, 2013 9 a.m.

November 14, 2013 9 a.m.

Lincoln International Gifted Program (Grades 6-8)

615 W. Kemper Pl.

November 14, 2013 9:15 a.m.


Lindblom Academic Center (Grades 7-8)

6130 S. Wolcott St.

October 27, 2013 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

McDade Classical (Grades K-6)

No dates yet

Ogden International Gifted Program

1250 W. Erie St.

October 20, 2013 10 a.m. to 12 noon


McDade Classical School (K-6)

8801 S. Indiana Ave.

November 7, 2013 9 a.m.


Morgan Park Academic Center (Grades 7-8)

1744 W. Pryor Ave.

October 19, 2013 10 a.m. to 12 noon


National Teachers Academy (K-2)

55 W. Cermak Rd.

October 29, 2013 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
November 13 6-8pm
November 19 6-8pm
December 4, 6-8pm
December 7, 10-12am
December 11, 6-8pm CANCELLED!!!

Poe Classical (K-6)

10538 S Langley Ave

November 19th from 9-11am

Pritzker Regional Gifted Center (K-8)

2009 W. Schiller St.

October 5, 2013 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.


Skinner North Classical School (K-7)

640 W. Scott St.

October 21, 2013 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.

November 21, 2013 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.

December 9, 2013 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Skinner West (K-8)

No dates yet

South Loop Regional Gifted Center (Grades 3-8 and program will be phases out each year a class graduates)

1212 S. Plymouth Ct.

November 20, 2013 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.


Taft Academic Center (Grades 7-8)

6530 W. Bryn Mawr Ave.

November 1, 2013 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Ogden Intl Gifted (Grades 6-8)

No dates yet

Young Academic Center (Grades 7-8)

211 S. Laflin St.

October 20, 2013 10 a.m. to 12 noon

Options for Knowledge guide is here btw:


Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Americans – decidedly below average on school-ish skills? Raise Your Hand Survey

173 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Iheoma  |  October 23, 2013 at 11:49 am


  • 2. LynnJ  |  October 23, 2013 at 11:49 am

    Lenart Regional Gifted Center (Grades K-8)
    I attended this open house and was very impressed with the diversity, and the fact that this school is ranked #5 in the state and #6 in Chicago. French is their world language from K-8 and they have Latin for grades K-1 and are currently in search of a Latin instructor to cover all grade levels. They have a few new programs: partnership with South Chicago Art Center, First Move Chess Club, Right At School After School Program. Parent involvement is very strong. Many other activities, just too much to list here. Their instructional beliefs are: Common Core, 21st Century Learning, Progress Monitoring, Differentiated Instruction, Data-Driven Instruction, and Learning by Doing. There are approximately 30 students per class and there is only one class per grade level. For Kindergarten next year, the cap will be 28 students. If memory serves me correct, they do not have dedicated TAs in each class, but there is a pool of them that support the entire school. I was also impressed by the fact that all of the students went on to SEHS or ACs. There were 13 students that went on to ACs this past school year, so they do see space open up for 7th & 8th grade at this school. I really wanted to rank this school higher on my application but needed to be realistic about the commute time for school and work. I was very impressed.

    Pritzker Regional Gifted Center (K-8)
    Truly enjoyed this tour! This was my second time visiting this school and again, I felt strong about their program. The principal and the gifted program coordinator were both very warm, inviting, and had a lot of energy. Parent involvement is very strong. They have three programs: Neighborhood, Magnet Cluster for the Arts, and RGC. The diversity is strong among the student body. It’s a pretty big school, with about 679 students. Drama, dance, music, and art are part of the curriculum. Before and after school program is offered. They are among the top 6 performing schools in the Fullerton Network. If memory serves me correctly, Spanish was the world language. 28 students max for RGC classrooms. They follow principles of the Responsive Classroom. This is all I can remember! But I really loved the visit.

    Skinner West and North. I visited both these schools earlier this year after all the acceptance letters went out. I cannot find my notes, but overall, when thinking about my child, I felt that Skinner West would be a better fit if my child tests well, and if we got an offer. I loved touring both schools, as they both were extremely impressive (academics, arts, diversity, etc). Skinner West seems to be struggling with some space issues. I was so shocked to learning Skinner North does not use text books.

    I toured NTA back in the Spring when acceptance letters went out. I enjoyed the tour, and the school is HUGE and they have so much space for growth. Loved the pool and the fact they have an onsite clinic and nurse. Please know this is a neighborhood school with a RGC there. The RGC is pretty new, so I am relying on parents on this blog to keep us posted on how well things are going. Enjoyed meeting some of the RGC teachers and the principle was very welcoming. Overall I felt great about their program and where they are going. I wish I could provide more but I cannot find my notes. I do plan to go back to the tour on October 30th.

  • 3. WY Tourist  |  October 23, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    Went to the WY Academic Center Open House this past weekend, and ooh-boy, they really put on the dog for their guests! Felt like a university’s pep rally. Balloon arch onstage, balloons in the auditorium, very talented students playing instruments, singing and dancing to entertain and inspire the crowd. (I won’t lie–I had tears in my eyes at one point–these kids are amazing!)They had four seniors address the crowd (and I mean crowd–probably 1,500 people–they had to pipe in a video feed to the library to accomodate the spillover crowd!). These kids were incredibly articulate and purposeful–I can only dream that my kid will be that poised and well-spoken someday, even as an adult! Frankly, every kid we met there was outstanding, from door-holders to tour guides to the speakers. If THAT is the type of student that emerges after 5+ years, where do I sign? The principal, Dr. Kenner, was awesome. She’s a charcater and may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I loved her and she was high-energy and rightfully proud of what her teachers, administration and students have accomplished. She hammered home the school’s impressive stats, including their 27.5 average ACT score, which includes their special education students (who traditionally score lower), too. Even my kid was dazzled by the opportunities and energy there. Apparently 1,200 kids tried for the 120 AC seats there last year–I can see why! We’re going to check out the Lane one in a couple weeks. Downsides: it’s a huge school, with three buildings. Not for every kid. Lots of independence, again, not for every kid. VERY rigorous–not for every kid, (maybe not even mine, if I am honest with myself). In her speech, Dr. Kenner said many times “have I convinced you yet to apply?” There’s a lot to love here, if it’s the right fit for your child.

  • 4. parent  |  October 23, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    I attended a tour at Beaubien last week. They are having tours the third Thursday of every month at 8:30 AM. The next ones are Nov. 21 and Dec. 19. I enjoyed the tour and felt the school had a positive, busy, friendly feel. There was beautiful student artwork on the walls, smart boards in the classrooms.
    A few things I learned:
    There is a newer annex that is fully air conditioned, but the older part of the building is not.
    Including the Options class, there are 4 classes per grade (except K which has 3, because Options doesn’t start until grade 1).
    First period lunch is at 10:15! (for grades 1 and 2).
    Latin is the foreign language for Options.
    A brand new playground is currently being built for use at recess.
    After school program is on site. Band is an after school program, and not part of the regular music program (starts in 4th grade).
    There is busing for Options students who live more than 1.5 miles away and for neighborhood students who live on the other side of Lawrence (because it is such a busy street, apparently).

  • 5. Jen K  |  October 23, 2013 at 7:40 pm

    While not officially an AC, Disney II 7-8th graders are eligible to take high school level courses and share a campus with the high school grades. We have an open house (for the HS) this Sunday from10-12 at 3800 N Lawndale. In both 7th and 9th grades, 50 additional seats are added. Added bonus: the sibling preference works both directions.

  • 6. Classic and Gifted  |  October 23, 2013 at 7:54 pm

    Please update your list. Poe Classical’s open house is November 19th from 9-11 and is on the CPS OAE website schedule. Thank you.

  • 7. TimeForADoOver  |  October 23, 2013 at 8:03 pm

    @4: Do you plan on visiting Bell, too? I’m curious of the differences between their RGC program vs. Beaubien. Can anybody shed some light on this?

  • 8. southie  |  October 23, 2013 at 8:26 pm

    “There were 13 students that went on to ACs this past school year, so they do see space open up for 7th & 8th grade at this school.”

    So, Lenart could be seen as a kind of AC for rising 7th graders who don’t head into an official AC?

  • 9. LL2 Parent  |  October 23, 2013 at 8:47 pm

    LaSalle II will be having another Open House on November 5th from 4-5pm.

  • 10. Elliott Mason  |  October 23, 2013 at 8:58 pm

    Posting to subscribe.

  • 11. parent  |  October 23, 2013 at 9:24 pm

    @7, Yes, I’m going to attend the tour at Bell. We live closer to Beaubien and I really like the school, so at this point I plan to rank it higher than Bell.

  • 12. Road to AC  |  October 23, 2013 at 10:10 pm

    What #3 said! We were there, too. It was very energizing. Our tour group included a couple that hadn’t brought their child along….?

  • 13. Chicago School GPS  |  October 23, 2013 at 10:58 pm

    We will also try to keep our CSG Calendar as up to date as possible, but we always suggest you call the school to confirm dates as they can and do change. If you see any missing dates, feel free to let us know and we will post them.

  • 14. Chicago School GPS  |  October 23, 2013 at 11:04 pm

    This is the link for CPSOAE’s listing of SEES open houses:

    Click to access Selective%20Enrollment%20Elementary%20-%20Open%20Houses%20for%202014-2015%20School%20Year.pdf

  • 15. cpsobsessed  |  October 24, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    @6 – thanks for the Poe info. It doesn’t seem to be on the CPS sheet yet, so you may want to let them know…

  • 16. cpsobsessed  |  October 24, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    @12 Road to AC, maybe it’s parents who have a 5th grader (like I do) and are previewing the schools before next year when the kid will have to tour?

  • 17. Another AC applicant?  |  October 24, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    I also went to the WY AC tour but, unfortunately, was not as crazy about it as I thought I would be. Without question, the student speakers and fine arts performers were amazing (my tour guide was very quiet and didn’t offer up much information — but was poised and answered all questions asked). I was also very impressed by the AC Director and the information she shared about regular team meetings to discuss student progress / success.

    On the flip side, I was unhappy that Dr. Kenner focused most of her speech on test scores and similar data (average ACT score, # of perfect ACT scores, # of students admitted to ivy leagues, etc.). One of my least favorite aspects of CPS, is the focus on test scores as a sole measure of success. I was sorry this was also the focus of Dr. Kenner’s speech. While Dr. Kenner is clearly a bright and dynamic principal, she missed the mark with me. (On a side note, I was also a little uncomfortable at being made to cheer for her new outfit and then again, separately, for her new shoes??).

    There was also a lot of emphasis on students needing to be organized, highly motivated and hard working (unfortunately not strong characteristics of my bright, but sometimes lazy, 6th grader).

    I learned some of the nuts and bolts of the AC program, but never got very inspired. Not sure why. Maybe it’s a sign that my RGC kid is better suited to stay put for 7th and 8th.

  • 18. oneandonly  |  October 25, 2013 at 12:18 am

    @ #4 LynnJ – my dd goes to Pritzker RGC. The classes are NOT maxed @28 as her class had 32 on the rolls last year and a couple either did not show or decided to go else where. Been there 3 years, generally happy with the teachers, not so with the principal. Each RGC is different – at Pritzker there is little coordination between RGC teachers across curriculum. I feel it’s below Edison but above say Carnegie.

    We went to the WY open house as well. DD is in 5th grade and we are very interested in the AC track. I was a bit put off with principal seeking applause for her outfit as well; concerned there was a little too much pep rally (but two athletic teams had just won big over the weekend). It was WAY too crowded. In the end we ditched the tour guide/group. Found the AC 7th grade coordinator and assistant principal and let DD speak with them. Made our way to the science class rooms and clicked. Got 1 on 1 time with science chair and another teacher. THEY WERE WONDERFUL. In the end DD is a little trepidatious (over whelming for a skinny little 10 year old girl, it think) but said “I want to go there”. We’ll also visit Lane in a couple weeks.

    Several families from Pritzker were there as well – one said “Powerful Principal, great leader”. Another went from WY to Near North the same day. At NN, the father said “I was just not feeling it” the same way as he did at WY. I asked why and he replied his wife queried students at NN about what the liked or did not like about the school. At WY, the responses to the same questions were enthusiastic and detailed. At NN, the students hesitated and acted like they did not want to answer and when pushed replied that there were some teachers there who “should not be in the class room”.

    While open houses are your entry into the school, recommend asking questions, lots of questions but also finding ways to attend other events, programs, even visiting the school when they’re not putting on the dog. (We go to programs, plays, events at Lane for example). Talk to other parents t those events and keep your eyes open.

  • 19. Iheoma  |  October 25, 2013 at 6:04 am

    We went through the AC enrollment circus last year and my heart goes out to kids and parents who have to go through it now. My biggest suggestion would be to follow the advice of ‘Oneanonly’. Try to get one-on-one time with teachers in their classrooms to really learn about the culture of the school. I also suggest speaking with parents of current students about real life experiences of kids in the school. While Open Houses are great ways to learn about the physical building and “show” quality of a school, it really doesn’t say much about the day-to-day experiences of a place. At least for an AC kid, the academic and social culture of a place can be more crucial for their success as the ACT scores of the previous years’ graduating seniors. As a parent your life will change when your 12 year old enters a high school setting and needs the support to manage that transition – no matter how smart, organized and motivated they are. If the school’s open house doesn’t acknowledge and address these issues, try to find it out from other sources before making the decision to apply. JMHO.

  • 20. LynnJ  |  October 25, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    @8 Southie. Lenart goes up to 8th grade. It is probably a variety of reasons why parents allow their kids to go on to academic centers. I hear that once you get into an AC, you are guaranteed a spot into that specific high school? Can someone please confirm this notion??

    Also, they had data on the other schools their students matriculated on to this past school year and I remember seeing Whitney Young, Northside Prep, Walter Payment, Lincoln Park. There were other schools, but I remember this distinctively.

  • 21. LynnJ  |  October 25, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    #18 OneandOnly,

    I wrote down 28 students max in my notes because it was mentioned during the tour. Is this something they plan to do for 2014-15 because that was the way they (principal and RGC coordinator) made it seem during the lecture part of the visit. Why are you not thrilled about the principal? Also Near North…. What kind of school is it. I only knew of Near North Montessori. Is this what you are referring to? Thanks.

  • 22. Chicago School GPS  |  October 25, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    @20: Academic Centers start a student on their high school career in 7th grade, and students can stay at that high school without reapplying for 9th. They don’t have to stay, however, and can submit applications for other schools for 9th grade. They still must provide 7th grade test and final grades, however, and there is no weighted grading despite AC’s having high school level core subjects in 7th.

  • 23. WY Tourist  |  October 25, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    Question: I know that 300 of the 900 possible AC points come from “final grades” in fifth grade. Does anyone know if that is a strict average of the four quarters’ grades? For example, say the kid gets 3 As and 1 B in a subject all year. Is the average an A, like math would have it? If so, what about about the kid who gets 2 As and 2 Bs? Our kid is in in fifth now, so we are preparing ourselves! Thanks!

  • 24. local  |  October 25, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    Neighborhood Schools Fair

    Event Date: November 16, 2013 at 11:00 am
    Event Location: Roberto Clemente H.S.

    A Fair to celebrate Chicago’s Public Schools!!!!!

    Location: Roberto Clemente H.S.
    1147 N. Western ave
    Time: 11am-3pm


    A group of parents found each other this past year while facing school closings, budget cuts and teacher layoffs. What connected us was our strong belief in our communities and our children. We believe our neighborhood schools are the foundation of our communities. We know from our involvement that our neighborhood schools are full of exciting programs and amazing students. We wanted to celebrate our neighborhood schools’ accomplishments and diversity. Together, we have organized a fair and have invited schools, community organizations and neighborhood leaders to come together for an educational and fun experience. Bring your whole family to meet your neighbors from across the city!!!

    For more information, contact us at allcityschools@gmail.com or call us at 872-444-6880

  • 25. Chicago School GPS  |  October 25, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    The Neighborhood Schools Fair is free but is accepting registrations to help gauge attendance. Register for participation as an individual: http://bit.ly/14qUnxY

  • 26. west rogers park mom  |  October 25, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    @23- WY Tourist-

    Good question. Traditionally they have averaged the percentages you get each quarter and then give you a final grade. There have been years where my kid’s report looked like this “B, B, A, B” and the final grade was an A. I think each of the B’s were 89’s and the A was a 96 or something like that. I guess its also possible to have A, A, B, A” and end up with a B if the A’s are 90 and the B is an 80. So please tell your kids not to slack off 4th quarter !

    However, this year I am not sure if they have converted to a cumulative semester grading system in elementary school. The only reason I say this is when I look at parent portal it now says, “Cycle 1, Cylce 2, Semester 1” and she currently has grades in Cycle 1 and for Semester 1. This means that they don’t start from scratch next quarter. Before that it didn’t include the semester grades; however the high school grading system looked like the elem system does now.

    My poor fifth grader is stressed out enough as it is and we have stopped even talking to her about ACs. Her sister went to one so she thinks it is expected of her. With her sister we didn’t even consider applying until we got her final numbers and realized it was a possibility. Her 5th grade year was one of those “B, B, B, A” years where she ended up with straight A’s in the classes that count.

  • 27. HS Mom  |  October 25, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    @23 from OAE scoring rubric for academic centers

    Click to access Scoring%20Rubric%20–%20Academic%20Centers%20and%20International%20Gifted%20Program.pdf

    For the 4 core subjects only

    A=75pts B=50pts, C=25pts – there is no consideration of grade scale, grade points or the level of the class.

  • 28. HS Mom  |  October 25, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    to add – this is based upon the final letter grade for the class for the year

  • 29. @23 & @ 26  |  October 25, 2013 at 7:37 pm

    @26-I have a freshman & a 6th grader and you are correct that the grammar schools have a semester grade now. But, I believe grammar schools will still average the percents from the 4 quarters to obtain a final grade. My Freshman’s parent portal says cycle 1 exam 1 cycle 2 exam 2. I know from another parent that in HS the grades “keep rolling through second quarter” to get a final semester grade, which I believe will show in the exam 1 column. Then, for third quarter my freshman starts new with brand new grades. Grammar school is labeled cycle 1 cycle 2 semester cycle 3 cycle 4 semester. My 6th graders grades will start new under cycle 2. BUT I am not sure if it is the average of the 2 semesters or whether a running tally will occur & avg all the quarters so that the last semester is an average of the 4 quarters, My bet is that it ends up being an average of the 4 quarters and maybe CPS is showing grades this way so you will know your child’s final grade from parent portal. Especially if you don’t pay attention to the last box on the report card which is your child’s final grade in the class that is an average of all 4 quarters. It may have been done this way for the SE process so parents aren’t left with wondering where their kids stand gradewise for the 300 points on grades! Clear as mud–right??

  • 30. HS Mom  |  October 25, 2013 at 7:48 pm

    @29 – HS grades are by semester. There is no final grade but 2 semester grades similar to college. Both grades go into GPA calculation. Unless things have changed for elementary within the last couple years, 4 quarter point values averaged together = the final grade

  • 31. Classical and Gifted  |  October 25, 2013 at 9:09 pm

    Thanks. OAE listed Poe Classical’s Open House on the Calendar of Events but not the PDF List. They say they will be updating it shortly. Meanwhile, Poe Classical’s Open House is November 19th from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. (repeat) : )

  • 32. portage park mommabear  |  October 27, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    Just wondering if Decatur has an entire first grade class opening up for 14/15 school year, or is it just the kindergarten class? Thanks!

  • 33. LSmom  |  October 27, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    @32, I’m also curious about that, I’ve heard conflicting things.

  • 34. Decatur Mom  |  October 27, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    As I understand it, Decatur usually takes 1 Kindergarten class, per year. If they had a single (30 kid) 6th grade class graduate the previous year, they take 1 1st Grade class (~30 kids)…If they had a double (60 child) 6th Grade class graduate the previous year, they take 2 1st Grade classes (~60 kids). This year, Decatur has 2 6th Grade classes, so I think in the fall of 2014 there will be 1 Kindergarten (30 new children), and 2 First Grade classes (about 30 new children, plus the 30 children in K at Decatur the previous year). You can get an idea of how many kids per grade go there by checking their teacher list http://www.decaturclassical.org/classrooms.html#teachers. Right now there are 10 classrooms for K-6, which means 3 grades have a double class. Parents are lobbying for the school to have 2 classes per grade K-8 (total 18 classrooms) as soon as possible.

  • 35. Christine Whitley  |  October 27, 2013 at 5:09 pm

    Last year Decatur took one K class and one new 1st grade class so they currently have 2 1st grades classes. Probably means they’ll only take one K class this year but I am not sure. I emailed the Principal but have not yet heard back.

  • 36. TimeForADoOver  |  October 27, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    @35: What about Edison? Do they have plans to add another 1st grade class in 2014/15?

  • 37. Chicago School GPS  |  October 27, 2013 at 6:59 pm

    With regard to Decatur, they are definitely graduating 2 6th grade classes this year, so in the past, it meant the next fall they would admit one K class and one 1st grade class. Barring any changes, that should be the case for the 2014-2015 class.

    As for Disney II, they expect to add 50 new 7th graders to the 50 moving up from Disney II’s 6th grade class for a total of 100 7th graders next fall. Their HS also is accepting a full class of 150 freshmen this coming fall but will only be accepting 50 non-Disney II freshman in the 2015-2016 year. They expect their final class sizes to be 100 total 7th graders (50 from Disney II) each year and 150 9th graders (100 from Disney II) each year. Seventh graders demonstrating accelerated ability will be able to take 9th grade classes for credit. Their basic premise is that honors classes are open to all at any time (you can move up or down depending on ability), they are a small school overall, and they are a STEM focused school.

  • 38. CPSNewbie  |  October 27, 2013 at 9:05 pm

    When we went to the Decatur open house, the principal said there were 29 kindergarten seats for 2014-2015–one class.

  • 39. pantherparent  |  October 28, 2013 at 10:17 am

    @5 Jen K. Thank you for the post on Disney II. I visited Sunday with my 6th grader and came away very impressed. The new AP, Mr. Coy, was a beloved science teacher at Northside Prep who left last year to help mold Disney II and you can already see the effects.

    With block scheduling and Wednesday colloquium it appears they are building a SEHS outside the selective enrollment system. Currently the building shares space with Marshall Middle School but I’m fairly certain that over time the buidling will house Disney II solely.

    This is a hidden gem which looks like it will fill that gap between the neighborhood high school and the selectives.

  • 40. Applying to SEES  |  October 28, 2013 at 10:22 am

    @36 as far as I know, Edison has had one class per grade, entering in K, going back a long time. Would be interested if they were adding a 1st grade class. Would also be interested in any opinions of the K and 1st grade teachers at Edison.

  • 41. Vikingmom  |  October 28, 2013 at 10:43 am

    I went to the Disney Open House yesterday as I am looking to enroll my son in a new school for 7th grade. I really liked it. Clearly, it is not for everyone (lack of green space, not really much in terms of sports, building a bit worn down) but there is a lot of positive energy. I couldn’t stay the whole time (they ran over and I had to take my daughter to another activity) but I heard the principal’s presentation as well as the language, music, phys ed, and science teachers. The principal was approachable, professional, welcoming, and did not talk down to parents. I chatted with one of the students leading my group, a 9th grader, who has been there for several years. He clearly was very happy with the school and talked a lot about the positive atmosphere (I read that as little to no peer pressure). They currently offer Mandarin and Spanish and next year will introduce Latin, and these are also available to 7-8 grades. The science lab and the projects were impressive as were the young, smart, and enthusiastic teachers. What I got from all the teachers, and even the students, was the excitement at the ability to more or less create a (high) school from the ground up, adding classes and programs as need arises. The athletic director in particular talked about telling students to vote with their feet — if you want to play a particular sport, help create the program. I also liked that the 7-8 grades are with the high school kids. My son has attended the same school since kindergarten, a school mentioned on this blog, and I have found that while it was good in the early years, his learning is what I consider fairly woeful — which is not entirely the fault of the school — but my take is that often the emphasis is on getting the kids in early, doing a good job, but then petering off as years go by. Having middle and high school together I believe would force a kid/teacher/school to aim high/look forward. Anyway, as everyone knows, it is a matter of fit. This school would not work for my daughter at all (soph at Amundsen) but seems to be right for my son.

  • 42. cpsobsessed  |  October 28, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    **Just a note that the NTA Open House is tomorrow OCTOBER 29, not Oct 30th as originally stated. 6-8pm.
    They now have a range of test dates as well. More info here:

  • 43. South Loop Mom  |  October 28, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    We are happy with NTA RGC this year. The goal is to send our younger kids there as well, likely to the neighborhood program (can’t bet on RGC entrance). I hope more people go to the open houses and give feedback. Overall, we think it is a good program with the potential to be great if more involved families attend.

  • 44. Curious  |  October 29, 2013 at 8:42 am

    @41 I don’t know much about the K teacher at Edison although I have heard favorable things about her. As for the first grade teacher, she is a fine one.. She is there to teach, and students in class will not only learn their math and reading, but also discipline and organization skills. There are parents who dislike her because of her critical and demanding teaching style, but she is one of my favorite teachers there. I suppose I respect a teacher who is tough, not an entertainer wasting my child’s time.

  • 45. ERGCparent  |  October 29, 2013 at 10:22 am

    @44 I can’t agree with your comments. I also have a student at ERGC and do not think the first grade teacher is a “fine one.” A fine teacher is not one that does not communicate with the parents, never changes her assignments or teaching style over the years (she will not give back tests because she uses the same reading series year after year) and intimidates the students and does not allow them to ask questions. As far as her ability to teach I would question that. My child made zero reading progress (evidenced by a pre and post test) during the year in this teachers reading group but over the summer grew 2 years in reading ability just by reading real books not a basal reader. She teaches from a teachers guide and there is little out of the box or creative thinking encouraged or going on. Yes, the children do learn but I believe it is because they are very bright and motivated and not entirely due to this teacher.

  • 46. sfw  |  October 29, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    FWIW, I am not sure how important all the school tours are. The best info RE schools I’ve received is from other parents. So if you are really busy, don’t stress out about not seeing all the schools where you plan to apply.

  • 47. Must chime in  |  October 29, 2013 at 4:09 pm

    RE: Edison’s first grade teacher. Most of the parents truly hated her. I personally loved her, as did my son. Best teacher he’s had to date.

  • 48. cpsobsessed  |  October 29, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    It’s funny, the “old school” teachers tend to be polarizing like that. Some strongly dislike the style while other parents really like it.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 49. Curious  |  October 29, 2013 at 6:20 pm

    45- My experience with Mrs. N was very different from what you have described. She was always prompt with our concern, and my child thrived under her instructions. I had heard of negative feedbacks from other parents, but I had never heard anything about her imtimidating students. My child had no problem communicating with her.

    As for her teaching style, I suppose we all have our own way to define what is good and what is bad. I saw no problem with her style then, albeit that is by no mean she is perfect. She has her idiosyncrasy, but compare to some other teachers at Edison,I take her quirks on any given day. I like teacher who encourages creativity, but creativity alone is not adequate. I don’t want my kid growing up to be a starving artist, so there is nothing wrong with teaching the basic stuffs like math, reading, grammar from the textbook… Most teachers think they assign creative projects, but rarely it is the case. Their creative project is just a flash in the pan, and usually doesnt require critical thinking much.

    Perhaps, the new 4th grade teacher is more to your liking since he focused on” creativity ” ( other parent’s choice of word, not mine) a lot. However, for me, he is no different than Gileroy Lockhart, an entertainer, and I have no aspiration for my kids to become a clown…Yet many other parents adored him….

  • 50. Lasalle II Open House Nov. 5th 4-5pm  |  October 29, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    Families interested in Lasalle II Magnet Elementary are invited to learn more about the school on Tuesday, November 5th, 2013 from 4-5pm during our Open House. Enter through the main entrance on Honore, the door closest to Division.

    Anyone go to the previous open house?

  • 51. CPSNotAsNewbie  |  October 29, 2013 at 8:01 pm

    We went to the previous open house. Beautiful school–and big! We had a great tour guide in the head of the parent’s org. Seems like a good school ready to grow and very proud to move back to Level 1!

  • 52. cpsobsessed  |  October 30, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    Ok, TestingMom is already offering me 80% to sign up — so if you do it, hold out for the sale!

  • 53. One Year To Go  |  October 30, 2013 at 10:00 pm

    I attended the NTA open house last night, and I have to say that I really liked what I saw. I took quite a few notes (I apologize in advance for the length of this post):

    • The school opened in 2002
    • Currently 583 students—90% African American, 90% receive free or reduced lunch
    • The principal is in his second year.
    • Opened in partnership with UIC. Beginning in 2007, they became partners with the Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL)—their contract with UIC was over.
    • It is a teacher training academy, which means that in some classrooms there are two adults in the room—the regular (mentor) teacher and the mentee teacher. The mentee teacher occasionally teaches lessons.
    • Some of the curricula used are Everyday Math, Interactive Science, Words their Way, and FOSS
    • They are big on differentiated learning. For example, the RGC K and 1st grade teachers administered pre-tests at the beginning of the year to see where the kids were with regards to reading. The kids were then broken up into small reading groups based on ability. They are given books and homework that are on their level.
    • They are one of the leading schools in Chicago using technology. They have 330 iPads, laptop carts, chromebook carts, and PC labs. They have a 1-1 iPad program in K, and their goal is to have a 1-1 device program in all levels by the end of the school year.
    • They have an on-site clinic run by UIC, which is staffed at all times. For example, if your kid complains of a sore throat, he can go and get a test for strep. If it is positive, they can write you a prescription for antibiotics.
    • The school is a nut-free facility with a cafeteria that cooks everything on-site (they said the food is actually good.)
    • The athletics are baseball, football, wrestling, soccer, track, basketball, and cross country.
    • The school day is 8-3:30. Recess is every day for 30 mins. Lunch is 25 mins. There are 6 enrichment activities for the younger grades, which rotate every six days—PE, art, music, technology, swimming, and eventually Spanish once they hire a Spanish teacher. The enrichment periods are 64 mins.
    • There are several afterschool programs that go until 5:30. There is also some space in the Chicago Park District program (located on-site) that go until 6:30.
    • There is an inclusion of the RCG and the neighborhood kids at lunch, recess, assemblies, etc.

    My overall impressions:

    • The facilities are gorgeous. The school is huge, clean, bright, with an amazing zero-depth pool, a separate “Young Readers” library (with tiny chairs!), a technology room, and breathtaking art and music rooms. Honestly, this is the nicest looking school in the city I have visited, and that includes the privates I have been to.
    • The K-1 teachers are very well trained and gave a great presentation about what they do and how they educate the children. They stressed their differentiation practices, their educational use of technology, field trips, and interdisciplinary approaches. This presentation included both neighborhood and RGC teachers.
    • The RGC classrooms are very diverse in terms of race and ethnicity. Slowly, the neighborhood classrooms are changing in terms of diversity as well. Students from outside of the neighborhood boundary can enter the Options for Knowledge lottery to enroll in the school.
    • There is some parent involvement, but there needs to be more. I anticipate this changing as the RGC program grows.
    • The scores are bad, and the school is currently listed as level 3. Personally, this doesn’t bother me. They didn’t talk about this during the presentation, but since I’m familiar with the area, I know that as a neighborhood school, the school was initially there for the kids who lived in the projects nearby. Those buildings have since been torn down and the families relocated, which is a big reason for the current small student population of the school.
    • In my opinion, NTA is where South Loop was years ago (albeit, with much better facilities)—an underperforming school with great potential. The RGC began to change South Loop, and as siblings of RGC kids enrolled on the neighborhood side, the school became more desirable across the board. Scores went up, and now the school is so popular that they are overcrowded. I predict that this is the direction NTA is headed.
    • NTA is attractive to me for many reasons, and it will most likely be our #1 choice. DD is only 3, so she won’t test until next year for possible enrollment in 2015, and in that time, I anticipate that the school will only continue to improve.

    There are several other open house dates (all times are 6:00pm-8:00pm except for Sat):

    • Wednesday, Nov 13
    • Tuesday, Nov 19
    • Wednesday, Dec 4
    • Saturday, Dec 7 (10-noon)
    • Wednesday, Dec 11

    Those were just my observations. If anyone has any questions let me know. As an outsider looking in, I’ll try to answer them to the best of my ability!

  • 54. South Loop Mom  |  October 30, 2013 at 10:21 pm

    Thanks so much for the comprehensive breakdown. I am a current parent at NTA in the RGC and agree with everything you’ve said. Our child loves the school, and the differentiation has been excellent. It allows our child to learn at the right pace without getting discouraged. We moved into the school boundaries to ensure our younger kids can attend as well. We very much see the potential and are excited about the NTA community and the South Loop/Motor Row neighborhood as well.

    Did they cover Pre-K at the open house? Last year, NTA offered full day. Next year, I understand it is half day only. I’d love to start Pre-K as well, but a half-day program makes no sense for our family (and many others with sibs at NTA full day). I think a tuition-based Pre-K at NTA would be feasible soon as well.

  • 55. One Year To Go  |  October 31, 2013 at 8:27 am

    @South Loop Mom

    They did briefly mention the Pre-K program. It is half day with two sessions–one morning and one afternoon. They didn’t mention a tuition-based program.

    It was probably smart of you to move into the boundaries. As the word gets out about NTA and the scores improve, I anticipate that they will eventually stop taking out-of-neighborhood kids like South Loop school had to. Unfortunately, we live just out of the boundaries and will not be moving. If DD gets in, in 5 years I hope DS can get in on the neighborhood side if he doesn’t get into the RGC.

  • 56. Applying to SEES  |  October 31, 2013 at 8:33 am

    “Most of the parents truly hated her.”

    That’s deeply alarming to me, especially coming from a parent who liked her. I’m not opposed to a demanding teacher, but it seems like it may be more than a little excessive. These are 6 year olds we are talking about, after all. I get that you may always get some parents who don’t click with a particular teacher, but it’s troubling when most parents are unhappy. I also looked up the summary of the parent survey responses on the CPS site and Edison fares poorly on the parent-teacher relationship questions.

    Does the administration not care about this? Or do they not perceive this to be a problem because test scores are high (which may not be that remarkable given the students they get)?

  • 57. ChicagoMomofBoys  |  October 31, 2013 at 9:39 am

    As a fellow South Loop resident, I’m thrilled to hear that the buzz is escalating about NTA. It never made sense to me that there’s a beautiful building only a few blocks away from a popular school that’s completely underutilized. Personally, I think that South Loop Elementary School and NTA should combine as one school and the 5th from 8th graders from SLES should go to NTA, or vice versa. After all, they’re both part of CPS and this would help relieve the congestion issues at SLES, while improving upon the lack of diversity and parent involvement at NTA.

    Last year, there was no way in heck I was going to rank the NTA RGC due to the program’s infancy and the school’s reported instances of violence on the playground, in addition to some very questionable disciplinary measures (i.e., Wall of Shame). However, I’ll probably include it on my rankings this year for 1st grade… even if it’s currently my last choice. That’s still a vast improvement in my mind.

  • 58. SouthSideMom  |  October 31, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    Hey does anyone know anything about Owen Magnet school. I called the school to ask about an open house but they don’t offer them for some reason.

  • 59. Road to AC  |  November 1, 2013 at 4:10 pm

    Went to the Taft open house this morning. We were told that it was a self-directed visit…waited in the lobby until just before 9, then were allowed in to walk through on our own after taking a handout and mapping our way to where we wanted to go and what we wanted to see. We stopped in the AC room first, though…had a presentation by the coordinator (who is also a literature teacher), and then they had students available to take us on tours and answer questions as we went. The students very much liked their school, the teachers were engaging, but my daughter doesn’t feel it’s the right fit for her….IB doesn’t appeal to her and it just doesn’t feel like a “serious enough” (her words) school. So on to Lane on Sunday….

  • 60. Taft Tourist  |  November 1, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    I too, went on the Taft tour today. I wish they had had a more formal presentation at the beginning that laid some groundwork for us parents, instead of a crowd speech in the main hallway that essentially set us on our own to roam freely through the school.

    The AC sounds good.Challenging, but still some needed hand-holding for these young kids. The kids are separated from the HS kids, except for lunch. Their classes are in a separate area altogether. I really liked the 7th grade science, math and history teachers we met. Oh and the 8th grade science teacher, too.They all sound like they care about the AC kids they teach. They seem to like their jobs and find ways to reach kids.

    It’s what happens after 8th grade that is concerning–how good is the HS program? How will it be in a few years? Not sure if it’s worth leaving our RGC that we love for this at this time just to get a shot at going to HS there, which is an unknown quantity to us.

    One of the kids we met there (bright, lovely and focused girl) said she only went there because Decatur has no 7th grade and she is Tier 4 and she missed the cut offs for WY and Lane. As much as she loves the AC program at Taft, she is working hard to get out of Taft after 8th grade because she would prefer to go to NS for high school, if possible.It’s only fall of her 7th grade and she is already doing test prep and workbooks to make sure she aces her entrance exam and her standardized test! Her parents will send her to private if she does not get into anywhere else, is the impression I got. Sigh.

    It may have been better to have tour guides who are in the HS (who came up through the AC program and could speak about how it prepared them, etc.). The parents I spoke with are all concerned about the HS years after the AC. It would have made me feel better to hear what the AC is like from a sophomore or junior’s or even a senior’s perspective. Plus while these young kids are bright, maybe they should not be giving tours solo of parents and kids at ages 13 and 14 years old. (WY had older kids who went through their AC give their tours and man, it was great to hear their perspective.)

    My impression is that the AC is a good choice, with good teachers. I need to learn more about the HS though before we decide to put it on our wish list.

  • 61. cpsobsessed  |  November 1, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    @taft tourist – thanks for the feedback.
    Agh, I hate to say it but I sometimes cringe when I hear what some of these schools are doing on their tours. Not saying they should all be like WY by any means but a little sense of strategic planning goes a long way.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 62. west rogers park mom  |  November 1, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    My child just graduated from TAFT AC so I can address some of your comments. We never went to the open house so I can’t reply to any of that but as to the rest:

    1) TAFT gets tons of AC kids into SEHS. Last year it seemed as if most of them ended up at Northside and Lane. There seems to be two lines of thought among the administrators. Some want to encourage you to have your child remain. Others take pride that so many end up (and do well at SEHS). Yes, they always get a group of Decatur kids for obvious reasons but everyone else comes from all over the City. The teachers are very understanding when it comes to grades and the importance of 7th grade. In fact, I found the grading extremely generous for my kids.

    2) This year a LOT of kids stayed for the high school program as well; both IB and AVID. Some stayed because they didn’t make it into SEHS, while others didn’t even apply to SEHS. Like other IB programs, it is very strong if you have a kid who can handle its rigor.

    3) It is a neighborhood school. It does have a uniform. There will be smoking in the bathrooms. But if your kid gets with a good group of kids through a club, or team, or program they can thrive and have a great experience. My kid was in the school musical and I was very impressed with the talent and maturity of the high schoolers in the production. I saw the high school as an extremely viable back up, with the biggest negative being the distance from our home.

    4) The AC teachers are dynamic. There is a good mix of challenging and not so challenging classes. They are mostly in the same wing but for French and electives you may have to travel through the rest of the school. Lunch is mostly AC kids with a few freshman. The biggest problem with it was that it was at 9:30 in the morning last year !

    I think Taft is different from Whitney and Lane in that entering for 7th isn’t an almost automatic entry for all 6 years. And depending on where you go for high school you can start with a slew of high school credits (and complete your service hours before you enter high school).

  • 63. Curious  |  November 2, 2013 at 11:04 am

    @56 – ” Most of the parents truly hated her”- I find this statement is an overstatement. It is true that there were several opposed to her teaching style, but I would not classify that more than half of the parents hated her. From my experience with her, there were
    about 10+ parents who wanted to challenge her teaching style. Some of these 10 plus parents were also the parents of the kids who were struggled in class ( either academically or behaviorally), thus the squeaky wheels… Like I had stated previously, the teacher has her idiosyncrasies, but she is not someone who would intimidate the children. Also, pretend that statement “most of the parents truly hated her” is indeed true; it does not validate that the teacher is of poor quality, does it? There is a saying from T. Edison, ” five percent of the people think; ten percent of the people think they think; and the other eighty-five percent would rather die than think”… Oh, I am definitely belong to the 85%.:)

    I can’t answer you whether the administrators care or not. I hope they do, but sometimes I saw them so wrapped up in their glitz and glamour that I wanted to transfer my child to another school. The recent hire of the fourth grade teacher and the AP may be an indication that this school’s dysfunctional…:) JK!

  • 64. Twosides  |  November 2, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    Curious, et al :

    I see your point, but I disagree. I’d say there is a very very large faction of parents that truly dislike (maybe even hate) the 1st & 2nd grade teachers. Those teachers are divisive to say the least. And it’s been this way for years, maybe even decades.

    I find it odd that you dismiss the opinions of parents with struggling kids. There are a lot of kids who struggle in the primary years at ERGC and why should that be the case? These kids scored as well as their counterparts. CPS chose them for the program…why should we accept that they struggle? I’ve heard of these families having to hire outside tutors at a great expense to make up for teaching deficiencies. Back when my kid was with that teacher, I knew a family that was told by their tutor that there was no problem. Meaning that the kid in question was in fact reading at an advanced level and did not have any learning issues. The problem was the teacher. My impression was that there was/is a lack of actual teaching and empathy.

    This is has been going on for years and years at Edison. They’ve never been able to effectively deal with the kids who don’t immediately perform 3 years ahead of grade level. I don’t gave a dog in that fight. Our kid was fine, but I was always sad for these kids over the years and disappointed that our school culture places the blame on them rather than the teachers.

    And, yes, she absolutely intimidates children. They are terrified to ask questions. More than one child over the years has peed or pooped their pants out of fear of asking to use the restroom.

    There are plenty of parents who dislike the 1st & 2nd grade teachers and have kids that are doing just fine. Plenty. I was one of them. The ridiculous projects, the incorrect grading, the lack of communication, etc are all big problems even if your kid is doing the advanced work.

    The most common phrases at Edison are “well, that’s the Edison way” and “we wouldn’t want to water down our program.” Change and innovation are not traditional Edison values. Even this new plan to implement 1:1 devices is rooted in doing the same old, same old. Don’t let the shiny objects fool you. They like to buy “stuff” without an actual plan that aligns “the stuff” with the curriculum. The smart boards were just the beginning. As this is our last year, I’m happy I won’t have to keep paying the exorbitant school fee implemented this year to pay for all this stuff.

    I absolutely agree with you about the admin being wrapped up in the glamour of our reputation. A reputation that was built on the backs of the extremely hard working children. I can’t think of one way that the admin (old & new) actually contributes to learning or organization or, well, anything. The teachers run the show, especially since the old AP became the principal. They are all friends and the principal can’t seem to direct her tenured colleagues.

    My child is graduating this year, so I have no experience with the new K and 4th grade teacher, but they already have very good reputations with the parents. Especially the 4th grade teacher. It seems like parents appreciate his creativity and enthusiasm. And so do the kids as far as I know. But, again, I have no direct experience with them.

    Edison is really a great place from the 3rd grade and up (just ignore the admin). Honestly, if you can get in then you can skip over all the bad and enjoy the good. Love the fine arts teacher, the social studies teacher, the new LA teacher, etc. Your kid will learn a tremendous amount and the 7th & 8th grade teachers will over-prepare them for high school, which isn’t a bad thing. Not all “old school” teachers are immediately disliked or polarizing. The social studies teacher is an example. He’s old school, strict, and challenging. But the kids and parents still appreciate and even like him.

    Every school has a teacher or two that has a bad reputation. Every school has kids that excel and kids that struggle. The issue for these situations is how the admin handles it. In Edison’s case, the answer is that they don’t.

  • 65. pantherparent  |  November 2, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    @62 You raise a very valuable point that sometimes gets lost in mix. Taft AC is great but is is harder than a neighborhhood elementary school, as it should be. However, getting straight A’s in 7th grade is crucial to getting into the SEHS of your choice.

    If you live in Tier 4, one full-year B in 7th grade for math, science, reading or social studies and last year you would not have been accepted by Northside, Payton or Whitney Young. Even if you had perfect ISATs and entrance exam.

    I think that’s important to think about. I actually am encouraged to hear they are generous on grades for 7th grade at Taft AC. But we’ve heard stories here of other gifted schools being not so generous and costing kids seats because of that one B in 7th grade.

  • 66. Curious  |  November 2, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    @64 – While I appreciate your honesty, I still find it hard to believe that the first grade teacher was intimidating the children intentionally. My experience with her was different, so that was how I based my opinion. If indeed she is like what you’ve described, I would be furious too. However, I have to say that the result of one child’s unfortunate incident might not be the teacher’s fault. We can’t blame her if that child was too timid to ask for a bathroom break.

    The struggling students – I do not dismiss their struggle (CPS’s fault for testing the kids too young), but to say that all Ed students must perform 3 grade above their current grade doesnt reflect with our case. I find Edison’s primary years almost had no rigor nor challenge, particularly with the second grade teacher ( none of the parents from my class complained about her because there was basically no homework). Likewise with the recent 4th grade teacher, it was a wasted year. My child liked him simply because that teacher was easy and laid back, but I lamented for the loss of one whole year.

    I agree with you that it seems the admin doesn’t contribute to the learning of the students much. They mainly emphasize on fundraising and glamorize the school’s reputation. It saddened me that they even charged the new K parents higher school fees. Nonetheless, the strong parental support and good classmates made up for all the negatives…

  • 67. AE  |  November 3, 2013 at 5:15 pm

    Went to the Lane Tech Academic Center open house today. Others may disagree, but I liked it much better than WYAC (I posted above my impressions after attending the WYAC open house). For me, the biggest reason I preferred the LTAC presentation was its strong focus on student individuality and happiness. This was in contrast to WYAC, where I found the focus of the presentation was primarily on test scores, etc. I also felt I received more tangible information regarding the Lane program (less dog and pony show, more facts). The tour was not particularly helpful because it was so crowded. We left early, in fact. But that was also somewhat true at WY. (As a side note, I can’t imagine how the tours work for high school open houses — which have many more participants!). I will defer to my child re: ranking the schools… But if it were up to me, I would put Lane above Whitney Young. For me, it had a warmer more student-focused vibe.

    Some specifics that I liked:

    — The core courses were similar for both schools. One difference is that LTAC students earn two additional high school credits as compared to WYAC (it appears that 7th grade language arts and social studies are high school courses at Lane, but not so at WY).

    — I like that LTAC students have over-night field trips, including a 3-day Washington D.C. trip in 8th grade. These trips are offered at our elementary school — so it is nice to see them also at Lane.

    — I learned more about the electives at Lane and was intrigued by many, including the aquaponics program (with an aquaponics elective for 8th graders) and the architecture program.

    — I was impressed with the mentor program (ACES) and transition program provided to LTAC students, including summer experiences. (There is probably a mentor program at WYAC — but I didn’t feel I learned much about it.)

    — I like that there are monthly parent meetings for the parents of LTAC students.

    — There appeared to be more clubs and sports exclusive to AC students at Lane. At both schools, all high school clubs are open to academic center students.

    Both are obviously great schools. And the best information on any AC is probably current parents/students… not these open houses. But for those who couldn’t make it today, I thought I’d share.

  • 68. pantherparent  |  November 3, 2013 at 5:21 pm

    Went to the Lane AC tour today and came away with the same feeling I get every time I’ve been there. The pride in their school from 7th grade up through 12th is immeasurable.

    It’s not the over-the-top Whitney Young hey-look-at-us pride, but a genuine belief that they are the best AC and the best high school in the city. I know this really isn’t a nuts-and-bolts review but they call themselves the School of Champions and they believe it.

    Spoke to a couple of students and parents in the AC and asked if they planned on staying at Lane for high school and each one said yes, why would we leave? I think that says a lot.

  • 69. cpsobsessed  |  November 3, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    Thanks, great feedback on Lane.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 70. SoxSideIrish4  |  November 3, 2013 at 9:07 pm

    67. AE | November 3, 2013 at 5:15 pm

    Lane sounds like a wonderful school! Just to clarify~WYAC does give hs credit for english and ss~just like Lane. I don’t know why any1 would want to start an AC program and leave to the school~unless it was for a shorter commute.

  • 71. Sped Mom  |  November 3, 2013 at 9:51 pm

    I am so jealous. I deeply wish my child’s school offered all the transitions, supports, test-prep, travel experiences, community connections, advanced coursework, etc., etc., etc. Oh, well. Happy for the students who get a spot in these fabulous programs.

  • 72. Peirce Parent  |  November 4, 2013 at 5:12 pm

    Posting for a neighborhood school open house:

    Helen C. Peirce School is having 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.


  • 73. WLMom  |  November 4, 2013 at 11:46 pm

    Franklin Fine Arts Center open house is tomorrow 11/5 at 9am.

  • 74. RL Julia  |  November 5, 2013 at 11:44 am

    @60 – I am sorry to hear that students at the Taft AC still are thinking of it as a place to leave for more prestigious pastures. My son’s class had the same vibe and he went from being thrilled to be going to an AC to plotting his exit within two weeks of starting at Taft – which was really too bad given that he was to spend two years there.

    @67 My daughter is in 8th grade at WYAC this year and she is enrolled in ALL high school honors level classes – except for Dance. This includes French and World Studies. For the record, Taft enrolled my son in all high school level classes in eighth grade as well – the biggest difference was that they did not enroll him in honor’s level classes. This has caused some problems with what classes he can take at Northside where he ended up for high school since they only have honors level classes – hence we have had to argue a bit to allow him to take some classes (Spanish 2 was a prime example).

    WYAC also has a three day trip to Washington DC for its 8th grade class.

    I am happy to hear that students are planning on staying at Lane and Whitney for all six years. I think both schools make it very clear that they consider the AC to be a six year program, and I know at least at Whitney, they make sure that both 7th and 8th grades are quite academically challenging. I would encourage any child, regardless of their prior academic record considering an AC to really be interested in going for all six year and not to consider it as a stopping point before trying for another SEHS – especially for the Whitney and Lane programs.

  • 75. LynnJ  |  November 7, 2013 at 9:37 am

    I hope some on the board is attending McDade today. I cannot because I’m sick and my DD has her SEES test today and his home with me. I’m bummed because this is the only date they have on the calendar and I really wanted to see this school.

  • 76. Madison&AidenMOMMY!  |  November 10, 2013 at 12:10 am

    I am really interested to hear about National Teacher Academy gifted program and Beasley Academic Center gifted program. I have a daughter who will be tested (for Kdg) and we listed these schools because their gifted programs are, K-8 and near our home in Bronzeville. So can someone who has a child attending or have attended these two schools, give me some feedback on the academics/curriculum, teachers, and high school placement fir their graduates?


  • 77. CPSMominTraining  |  November 10, 2013 at 1:36 am

    Hearing people interested in NTA, but CPS website says it’s on Level 3 probation. Am I missing something?

  • 78. Christine Whitley  |  November 10, 2013 at 8:24 am

    @CPSMominTraining — NTA is a neighborhood school that just got a new RGC. RGC just started this year. The neighborhood program is Level 3 but I bet that will go up next year.

  • 79. LynnJ  |  November 12, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    Madison&AidenMOMMY, there was some feedback above on NTA. I know I posted a comment on my impression and I also think a few other parents did as well. You may want to scan starting with the first post. NTA also have some upcoming open houses you may want to join. The dates should be posted above at the very beginning of this thread, or call the school and go to their website.

    Back in late September, I called Beasley and they did not have a date on the calendar. Once I learned of the date for their open house, it had passed. When I called no one seemed to have a clue about what I was talking about and felt I was calling too soon. But, I know that was not the case, because CPS had already opened their site to request the PIN to get started on the SEES application process. In fact, I already had my pin! I was immediately turned off! They were not helpful, welcoming or excited that a prospective parent was calling. I would have at least expected for them to offer to take my name, number and call me back when they got the information. Needless to say, I am not interested!

  • 80. WY Tourist  |  November 13, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    For those wondering about the 5th grade “final grades,” I confirmed what many of us suspected–your school decides what your child gets for the final grade at the end of the year. HOWEVER, each school can calculate it in its own way—there’s no standard. Oh, and important: there is no need to despair if your child gets a B or even a C in a quarter, as long as they kick butt the rest of the year.

    In reply to my question, I received an email from OAE which says:
    “The final (cumulative) grades are calculated and provided to our office by the school; our office does not calculate quarter, semester, or trimester grades. If your child’s school does not include final grades on his/her report card, you will need to contact the school to inquire on how your child’s grades will be calculated for submission to our office. Each CPS school determines their own criteria for determining the final grade for a subject at the end of the year.”

    I talked with someone at OAE also, and they confirmed this policy. They also said some schools routinely round down while others routinely round up. So, check with your child’s school now, so you will have that info in your back pocket for when the time comes.

    For example, I checked with my child’s school and they do a straight average of four quarters. Our kid gets four numeric grades (one per quarter) in a core subject, like science, all year. They divide that number by 4 and that score falls into their letter grade system (A=90+, B=80-89, C=70-79). So, let’s pretend your kid gets a 70% in science in the first quarter. If she pulls a 99 in all of the other 3 quarters, she can still get a final grade of an A, with 91.75% average.

    And like high school, there is no weight given to any grade from a more challenging classical or gifted program. An A is an A is an A in these four core subjects.

    Hope this helps anyone else in the same boat!

  • 81. cpsobsessed  |  November 13, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    Great info, thanks for sharing!

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 82. anonymouse teacher  |  November 13, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    @79, you might want to rethink that strategy. Please do not wait for CPS to be nice or professional towards you. It just doesn’t work that way. I’ve had contact over the last dozen years or so with at least 100 different CPS school offices. I can count on less than one hand the times I’ve been treated nicely. If you want to survive CPS you are going to need a very thick skin, try not to take it personally.

  • 83. ChicagoMomofBoys  |  November 13, 2013 at 7:55 pm

    Sorry, LynnJ, but I have to agree with anonymouse teacher. My child has only been part of the CPS system for a quarter now and I’m already becoming immune to the lack of emotion among the majority of the staff — directors, teachers and administrators alike. Even a few of them have jokingly admitted that “it’s the CPS way!” I wouldn’t dismiss Beasley based entirely on one negative experience. Give them the chance to disappoint you in numerous ways 😉

  • 84. jlp  |  November 13, 2013 at 11:11 pm

    Gack — we missed the Pritzker tour, and it looks like perhaps that was the only one. @2 and @18: Thanks for your comments! Does anyone else have feedback from the tour or about the school? I am particularly interested in the amount of differentiation seen in the classrooms. Thanks for any input!

  • 85. LynnJ  |  November 14, 2013 at 10:45 am

    Lol yeah it is so much more for me about Beasley. I also have very thick skin and have experienced CPS shenanigans first hand. This is our second year in CPS.

  • 86. Peter  |  November 14, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    “@79, you might want to rethink that strategy. Please do not wait for CPS to be nice or professional towards you. It just doesn’t work that way. I’ve had contact over the last dozen years or so with at least 100 different CPS school offices. I can count on less than one hand the times I’ve been treated nicely. If you want to survive CPS you are going to need a very thick skin, try not to take it personally.”

    I have never been treated unprofessionaly by CPS. We’ve had kids in CPS for 6 year. No plans to change either. Nice is subjective.

  • 87. jlp  |  November 14, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    An update on Pritzker in case it is useful to anyone — they have tours every first and third Friday of the month, from 12:20-1:10. So there are two tours before the deadline: one tomorrow, Nov 15, and another Dec 6. Per the main office, the tour is not specific to the options program, but includes information about the program.


  • 88. Oneandonly  |  November 14, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    My dd is in the the RGC at Pritzker, 5th grade. We have been there since 3rd grade. If anyone would like information or to chat, I’m happy to help.

  • 89. Gobemouche  |  November 14, 2013 at 9:51 pm

    @80 – Interesting. I’ve wondered about that for a long time. The lack of consistency is curious.

    Our school does it this way:

    Quarter 1 & 2 are averaged. Quarter 3 & 4 are averaged. Then those two semester averages are averaged together for the final grade. Although, this would yield the same results as 4 grades added then divided by 4 anyway, right?

    I have heard that teachers can simply enter a letter grade into the grade book, rather than a number. Anyone know if this is true?

  • 90. Classic and Gifted  |  November 14, 2013 at 10:55 pm

    You are all cordially invited to visit Poe Classical at 10538 S. Langley Ave. The Open House is Tuesday, November 19th from 9 am to 11 am. ! The administration is very friendly and energetic!

  • 91. One Year To Go  |  November 14, 2013 at 11:26 pm

    I went to Lenart’s open house today, and I agree with @ LynnJ’s assessment of the school.

    My overall impression is that Lenart is a small school full of absolutely adorable nerdy kids who fall over themselves to answer math questions (yes, I saw this), and who aren’t afraid to be smart. I love that about the school and could see my daughter there.

    There are a few things, however, that keep it from being #1 on my list. The biggest thing is that there is a lack of resources. Because the school is so small (less than 300 students), they don’t receive a lot of funding from CPS. For example, there isn’t a library. There’s a room with books, but they lost their librarian when he retired and CPS cut the budget to hire a new one. And unlike NTA, who also lost their librarian, they didn’t seem to be brainstorming ways to staff the library, even on a part-time basis. The “library” looked like it was being used as a storage closet.

    They don’t have an art teacher. They bring in someone from the South Chicago Art Center to do projects with the kids. They have a lot of great partnerships with organizations around the city, but it would be nice if more of these specials were available in-house

    I did like that the parent association was strong, but it was clear that the school relies heavily upon their fundraising to do anything extra for the kids. For example, the gala last year raised enough money to buy one iPad cart with 30 iPads. Parent volunteers are also responsible for some of the extra-curricular activities. For example, one parent coaches high school football, so he was able to get the kids involved in a Park District flag football team. Another parent was able to get soccer balls and nets donated to the school because the kids were interested in soccer. I love that the parents are so involved, but the idea of having to rely so heavily on fundraisers is part of what keeps Lenart from being #1 for me.

    That said, I think this is a nice little school that does the basics very well–helps gifted kids reach their potential in a warm and friendly environment.

    It’s definitely on my list, and if my daughter were lucky enough to get the offer, I would gladly send her there.

  • 92. Gobemouche  |  November 15, 2013 at 1:06 am

    One Year To Go – unfortunately, this is the case pretty much everywhere. I think you’d be hard pressed to find a cps school that does not rely heavily on parent fundraising. Unless you are in the ‘burbs. Maybe.

  • 93. jlp  |  November 16, 2013 at 1:45 am

    Can anyone point me at the cutoffs by Tier for the RGCs from last year? I looked at the CPS website, but only found cutoffs for SEHS and ACs. Was I looking in the wrong place? Thanks!

  • 94. cpsobsessed  |  November 16, 2013 at 3:27 am

    Those are not posted for RGCs or classicals because there is only one class per school so it makes it (theoretically) possible to identify the scores of specific kids.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 95. jlp  |  November 16, 2013 at 7:42 pm

    Ah, thanks for clarifying! That makes sense, though it does make it a bit trickier for decision making.

    Any chance there is conventional wisdom on which schools are populated by kids with higher scores and which are populated by kids with lower (relatively speaking, of course) scores?

  • 96. cpsdad  |  November 16, 2013 at 9:39 pm

    I’m not sure there is a conventional wisdom, but the percentage of “low-income” students is a good indicator. Another one is large percentage of White + Asian. For example,
    Skinner North: 20% low-income, 41% White, 25% Asian (top classical)
    Edison: 10% low-income, 52% White, 21% Asian (top RGC)
    Hawthorne: 19% low-income, 50% White, 5% Asian (top magnet)
    Lincoln: 13% low-income, 64% White, 7% Asian (top neighborhood)

    Manierre 99% low-income, 0% White + Asian (among the worst cps schools)

  • 97. cpsobsessed  |  November 16, 2013 at 10:16 pm

    I saw at the neighborhood school fair that manniere offers classes for parents to help them learn to help their kids learn. Hopefully a step in the right direction to improving the school’s outcome.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 98. Deni  |  November 18, 2013 at 5:09 am

    @88 Yes, very interested in hearing about Pritzker. We missed the open house date due to traveling and they look like they won’t be having another one.

  • 99. cpsobsessed  |  November 20, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    Please note that the NTA 12/11 open house has been cancelled.

  • 100. Chris  |  November 20, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    “manniere offers classes for parents to help them learn to help their kids learn”

    Haven’t they had that for a long while? Maybe just a false/wishful memory.

  • 101. cpsobsessed  |  November 20, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    No idea, Chris. I’m sure it’s making a small dent, but obviously there is so much more to be done there…

  • 102. Questions about LP schools like Alcott  |  November 20, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    What is the general thought on Alcott? Do most people list it for the lottery?

  • 103. ChicagoMomofBoys  |  November 20, 2013 at 6:12 pm

    @102: I suggest including Alcott on your application if it’s within driving distance for you, as there was a ton of movement on their wait list for this school year. We got an offer with a WL number in the 50s and if it wasn’t so far from our house, we would’ve likely accepted. The school has lots of merits.

  • 104. CPSNotAsNewbie  |  November 20, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    Went to the Alcott open house today and it was a decent school. Very ambitious new principal has lots of plans.

  • 105. WaitListed Parent  |  November 21, 2013 at 10:24 am

    I second @ ChicagoMomofBoys.
    I have been there last year and I know how stressful this whole situation can be. I was going in sane for months worrying where my son will go to K. We didn’t get in anywhere in the beginning but had few low WL numbers.
    We didn’t get in to some of those relatively low WL numbers school ( did get some offers), but several other school with our WL numbers in 100s called us / emailed us in the summer to offer us spots.
    I heard that Burr and Agassiz went down into 200s+ on the WLs. Not sure about Alcott.
    If your neighborhood school is a definite no, make sure you include some those “less popular” but still very good schools on your list.

  • 106. MJ  |  November 21, 2013 at 10:52 am

    Parent fistfight over Lincoln Elementary expansion when under-enrolled Alcott is so close?? What’s up?


  • 107. MJ  |  November 21, 2013 at 10:52 am

    What I mean is why don’t they just have the kids go to Alcott since Alcott has to go down so far on its waitlist just to fill up its empty spaces? I don’t get it.

  • 108. cpsobsessed  |  November 21, 2013 at 11:24 am

    Lincoln parents want to stay at lincoln. Nobody wanted to be re-district’d.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 109. cpsobsessed  |  November 21, 2013 at 11:37 am

    wow, that Lincoln story is wild. The opposition is from people who don’t have kids in the school, but the article doesn’t state the reason they oppose it, other than not being informed about it. (Not sure that neighbors are always informed about building plans…)
    Also, I happen to know the woman in the photo shaking her fist. 🙂 heh heh.
    Not well enough to ask her about it, unfortunately.

  • 110. OutsideLookingIn  |  November 21, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    Watched the video. Those neighborhood senior citizens are a vicious bunch! I didn’t see a fistfight though. Still don’t understand why all these old folks are mad…there was mention of “nobody asked them for their opinion” (shocking) and “the loss of the asphalt playlot” (grandkids use it maybe?). Or maybe they don’t want the noise and construction. The old dude shouting at the principal: I live here! Where do you live? You don’t live here! Geeez…

  • 111. cpsobsessed  |  November 21, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    Yeah, worth watching. Total train wreck.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 112. SoxSideIrish4  |  November 21, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    Lincoln’s LSC had dismissed an annex several years back bc they didn’t want to give up the playground. The last person on the LSC who was part of it is no longer on it bc her child graduated. This had been an option for years, but the school fought it then too. I wonder if the school feels it has no options, but it does have manierre which has room.

  • 113. LynnJ  |  November 21, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    I just makes me smh to see people fighting over a school expanding when so many schools on the South and West sides were closed. This is a blessing. Who cares if no one consulted them? And the fact that they don’t even have kids at the school. Go sit down and behave.

  • 114. Another CPS Mom  |  November 21, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    Some people truly don’t care about kids. God forbid they are inconvenienced for a couple months during construction. Boo hoo for them. They would rather young children suffer in a very overcrowded school building than they be a bit inconvenienced. Cripes. And why should they be consulted. Really? Seriously? Lots of construction and changes going on in my neighborhood and no one ever consulted me.

  • 115. HS Mom  |  November 21, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    Maybe needed to remind them of the increase to their property values.

  • 116. ChicagoMomofBoys  |  November 21, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    @108: I understand that Lincoln parents don’t want to be re-districted, but why should they have the choice when others don’t? I know a family whose two oldest children attended Burley and due to out-of-the-blue boundary changes, their youngest was re-assigned to Prescott for kindergarten. When he didn’t get into Burley via the sibling lottery, they upped and moved to the ‘burbs. What makes Lincoln any different?

  • 117. cpsobsessed  |  November 21, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    New post! Go to the new post!!

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 118. Skinner North Mom  |  November 21, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    Reminder: Skinner North has an open house TODAY from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m.

  • 119. just another mom  |  November 21, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    @89 I noticed in the parent portal that some of my kids teachers enter a letter grade. When an “a” is entered it is calculated at a 95, a “b” is calculated as 85, etc. It has actually had the effect of lowering my son’s “A” average in the one class where his teacher does this frequently. The special’s teachers seem to do this quite a bit as well.

  • 120. WLMom  |  November 21, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    I went to Skinner West open house today. I am going move to West Loop for sure.

  • 121. Deni  |  November 21, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    I was there as well, at Skinner West. Very impressed with it, and the principal seemed great. Still need to visit Skinner North on Dec. 9th.

  • 122. SoxSideIrish4  |  November 21, 2013 at 7:54 pm

    Skinner West’s 2nd grade teacher, Ms Beaudry, was the teacher of the month for November


  • 123. jlp  |  November 22, 2013 at 12:40 am

    @98: Pritzker is having another tour on the Dec 6 from 12:20 to 1:10. When we went to the previous lunchtime tour, it was led by the Options Coordinator, who is also the Kindergarten Options teacher. We felt the info was great.

  • 124. Deni  |  November 22, 2013 at 8:44 am

    Thank jlp for the info. Some of these schools don’t have the information listed on their websites so I don’t know how they expect people to know!

    Does anyone know if Franklin will be having another open house? No info on their website and I’ve had no response from emailing them.

  • 125. MamaBlue  |  November 22, 2013 at 9:35 am

    I went to the Skinner West open house yesterday as well. I was impressed with their program, but I’m not really thrilled with the kindergarten changes for next year. We were informed that all 5 (2 classical and 3 neighborhood) kindergarten classes will be moved to another location at Madison/Aberdeen for next year because SW is so over crowded. The kids will be bused from SW to the satellite location after breakfast, and for the end of school. They will also get bused back to SW for gym. The satellite building is old, needs work and was designed as a preschool. The K classrooms at the SW building are great (big, bright, etc) and it really stinks that the kids next year won’t get to use them. They also plan on expanding the neighborhood school to include 5th grade for next year. So how is it that they are so overcrowded already and are adding another grade for next year? And if they have 3 neighborhood K classes this year, how are they going to accommodate all of those kids as they move up a grade each year? My concern is that it is going to be so overcrowded that the Classical program may have to move to another location, as the neighborhood kids have to be able to attend their neighborhood school. While the West loop is a great neighborhood, some neighborhoods west of there that have empty school buildings from closures, are not so great. I know some of these empty buildings have been discussed as possible locations for some SEES schools to move to, and that bothers me tremendously. I know there’s a lot of “what ifs” here, but it’s something to consider when looking at SW.

  • 126. LynnJ  |  November 22, 2013 at 10:10 am

    Mama blue did not know about these changes and thanks for posting. I visited back in April. I was so impressed with this school and loved the same brightest as you noted. I actually ranked this first above Skinner North because I felt it was a better fit between the two. I am so concerned they will lose the classical portion of their school.

  • 127. One Year To Go  |  November 22, 2013 at 3:28 pm

    Can someone help clarify something for me?

    Let’s say I list Lenart as my #1 pick and Skinner West as my #2. DD takes the test and has high scores on the gifted and classical exam–scores high enough to gain entry to either school. If her classical score is slightly higher than her gifted score, would she get an offer from SW, or would she get an offer from Lenart because Lenart is the #1 pick?

    Thanks for clearing this up for me!

  • 128. cpsobsessed  |  November 22, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    It depends how the other kids ranked. If she’s at the top of both lists she’d get lenart. Bascially they will rank the kids who picked lenart by score and tier. Is she’s in she’ll get a spot. If not, they’ll see if she falls into the top spots for SW. So the 2 scores are not really compared.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 129. Chicago School GPS  |  November 22, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    If your child earns a spot to their #1 pick, the computer does not even look to their #2 pick. If your child does not qualify for their #1 pick, the computer looks to see if their score qualifies them entry to their #2 pick and if not, the #3 pick, etc.

    For example: your child took both tests but scored low on RGC and high on Classical; you ranked #1 & #2 RGC schools, then #3 a Classical. He/she may not have qualified for the #1 & #2 picks, but did score high enough on the Classical test to get his/her #3 pick.

    For SEES & SEHS, the #1-6 ranking really reduces your chiid down to a number (or in the case of Classical & RGC, two numbers) but makes it very straightforward for selection. Highest scoring kid in the city gets his/her first choice, and it goes on down the list until spots are filled. If your child is low on the RGC score but high on the Classical, he will be slotted based on his higher, Classical score.

  • 130. One Year To Go  |  November 22, 2013 at 7:42 pm

    Thank you all for clarifying. I feel like I’m finally getting somewhat of a handle on how to navigate this crazy process.

  • 131. FranklinParent  |  November 22, 2013 at 9:45 pm

    @124 Deni: Franklin will have another open house on Tuesday Dec 3 at 9am. I’m a Franklin parent and I know they are not so good in responding emails. It’s much better if you call their office instead. Good luck!

  • 132. LynnJ  |  November 22, 2013 at 11:45 pm

    I called Franklin back in October and was told an open house would be on November 5th. I show up and no one is there! The assistant principal came into the cafeteria and told me the principal was out of town, so they decided to cancel it. Really? Anyway, he was nice enough to sit and talk with me and walk me around, but it was the full blown tour. I was a little bummed.

  • 133. LynnJ  |  November 22, 2013 at 11:46 pm

    FranklinParent, what grade is your child in? What has been your experience thus far?

  • 134. Deni  |  November 23, 2013 at 11:10 am

    Thanks for the info. I suppose a good rule of thumb will be to call to confirm it is not cancelled.

    Same question as LynnJ – how do you like Franklin?

  • 135. LynnJ  |  November 23, 2013 at 11:41 am

    Deni yes when dealing with CPS schools yes call and confirm! But as mentioned the asst principal sat with me. So it was not a total loss!

  • 136. FranklinParent  |  November 23, 2013 at 5:59 pm

    @Deni and LynnJ: My son is in 2nd grade now and he’s doing pretty good. We have had good experience thus far. The K and 1st grade teachers were excellent! Unfortunately, the K teacher has left to Hamilton now because she wants to teach preschool but I heard the new K teacher is good too. The fine arts program is awesome. They have fine art class 4 days a week. I think if your child likes fine arts, this is the place to be. However, I do think the principal’s leadership needs some improvement. She needs to know how to promote the school and communicate well with the parents. The kids are great here. There are some special ed kids here and we have more than 40% low income students. However, we have a strong parental involvement. We do a lot of fundraising for school each year and we’re doing pretty well. In terms of the test scores last year, I think they did pretty well within the Fullerton network. Franklin ranked #38 for middle school in the State. I think it’s something. Last year, many of the graduates went to the selective enrollment high school like NorthSide Prep, Walton Payton and Lane. Also, some better and brighter students have left in their 7th grade to Whitney Young ACs. Franklin is relatively a small school. Each grade has no more than 2 classes. Some grade levels have only one. It’s a small and safe community which many people would know each other pretty well. The facility is kind of old and I wish they have a nicer gym. I can’t say this is the best school but I think it’s a very good CPS in terms of the quality of education. The teachers and staff are great! The principal is caring about the children. I feel that I’m pretty fortunate that my son goes here. Best wishes.

  • 137. jlp  |  November 23, 2013 at 11:35 pm

    Any SEES parents out there who would be willing to talk about how much differentiation (or lack of) they see at their child’s school?

    I am concerned about all 28 or 30 kids in the class being taught at the same level. I have gotten conflicting reports about differentiation at both Lenart and Beaubien (in both cases, official channels said differentiation occurs and parents said maybe not so much), and I’m wondering about other schools.

    I’m particularly interested in hearing about Edison, Decatur, Coonley, and Skinner North, but would love to hear about any SEES.


  • 138. OTdad  |  November 24, 2013 at 12:42 am

    From what I’ve seen for 3 months as a Skinner North parent, the K students work on the same 1st grade math. Differentiation seems occur for the left side of the bell curve. Not so much for the right. Reading class seems differentiated because each group get different level reading homework. No idea on higher grades.

  • 139. jlp  |  November 24, 2013 at 11:21 am

    @OTdad: Thanks so much for your perspective! I really appreciate it. When you say there is a lack of differentiation on the righthand side of the bell curve, you mean in math – yes? Out of curiosity, have you discussed the lack of differentiation (if that is a concern for you) with your child’s teacher or the administration? And if so, what was the response?

    Thanks again for the information!

  • 140. WorkingMommyof2  |  November 24, 2013 at 11:42 am

    Coonley K sounds similar to Skinner North.

    For math, all the students are working from the first-grade Everyday Math book. I don’t believe there is any math differentiation in the classroom, although I’ve heard there is tutoring after school if any children are struggling to keep up. (The tutoring is on a teacher-recommended basis and is for all classrooms/subjects at Coonley, not just for the RGC students.)

    For language arts, the kids are in reading groups of four, grouped by ability. They rotate around the room during language arts, getting to three or four centers, which have either reading or writing lesson materials, during about 45 minutes. At any time six groups are working independently (with a parent volunteer assisting as needed) and one is with the teacher. They do whole-class literacy activities as well, but the centers are where the differentiation occurs.

    The other subjects (science, social studies, spanish, art, etc.) are on the same curriculum as the regular kindergarten classrooms. I’m not sure if any of those get ramped up in the upper grades, but this is how it works for kindergarten. Right now in science the students each have picked an animal to research and will present their findings in a presentation to the class.

  • 141. jlp  |  November 24, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    Wow, WorkingMommyof2, thanks for the great information! That really fleshes out my picture of Coonley, and the differentiation in reading (7 groups) sounds fantastic.

  • 142. cpsobsessed  |  November 24, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    My sense is that differentiation seems to occur more in the younger grades when kids are at a lot of diff levels, the goal being to get the kids who are “behind” to catch up, which tends to happen over time.
    In 5th grade I don’t know that as much differentiation takes place. Kids who need extra help find ways to work that out (extra time with teacher, tutoring.)
    I don’t know how much differnet it is for advanced kids though. As far as I know, all the kids are getting the same homework and reading the same books in 5th grade.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 143. WorkingMommyof2  |  November 24, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    jlp, it’s definitely nice to have any differentiation, but keep in mind that each group’s one-on-one time with the teacher comes maybe twice a week for 15 mins each time.

    I have seen a solid improvement in my child’s reading so far this year, so even a little must help.

  • 144. anonymouse teacher  |  November 24, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    @143, once or twice a week does make a difference ,especially if your school is pairing that small group work with a management system called Daily 5 (where kids engage in real reading and writing and work work for anywhere between 45-120 minutes per day, independently).

  • 145. LynnJ  |  November 24, 2013 at 8:34 pm

    @Deni, from what I saw and heard from the vice principal, I really like it! My child gravitates towards the arts, so it would be a very good fit for her and would be very happy sending her their if we got lucky in the lottery. Given this is an arts school, there is no language offered. Perhaps it maybe in after school programs, but is not part of the curriculum. The school itself is a bit old inside, as with many other CPS schools. Overall, I liked what I saw, but would have liked to get a “real” tour and hear a presentation and hear other parent questions and perspectives. I cannot remember if they have a library and librarian though.

  • 146. jlp  |  November 24, 2013 at 9:46 pm

    WorkingMommyof2: I hear your concern about one-on-one time, and I appreciate you mentioning it.

    cpsobsessed: Thanks much for the info on later grades as well! I’m not surprised, but I am disheartened to learn that the differentiation does not continue. Though honestly, I am impressed with any teacher that can manage differentiation in a class of 28-32 kids.

    Any Edison or Decatur parents who can fill me in on differentiation at those schools? When we did the Edison tour, all 28 Kindergarteners were working on the same math problems in unison — is this typical?

  • 147. Differentiation  |  November 24, 2013 at 11:08 pm

    146. jlp | November 24, 2013 at 9:46 pm
    Former Decatur Parent

    Decatur differentiates Kindergarten to improve the reading skills of those who are not skilled readers. They do absolutely NO differentiation with Math. Zilch, nada. And no differentiation after kindergarten.

  • 148. Math  |  November 24, 2013 at 11:19 pm

    Beaubien differentiates in the upper grades for Math (don’t know about the lower grades at all). There are 2 – 3 tables in Math classroom. Kids write an essay stating which table they want to sit at and why. One table is ready for the Algebra exit exam and is choosing not to do IMP Math. One table is doing review for the exam and learning Algebra II and Geometry using IMP Math and some of the same materials as Northside.. There was a 3rd table initially, but think it merged with the other 2 after 1st quarter.

    Kids work by themselves and in groups and teacher goes around helping them. She also teaches lessons – not sure how that works exactly. She does work a lot with people individually. There are some brilliant Math students in the classroom and some who struggle.

    Math teacher is available until 9 p.m. daily to respond to questions. She’ll respond with a video clip walking thru an example (she emails it or posts it via Edmodo).

    No differentiation in any other subject in upper grades that I am aware of.

  • 149. Math  |  November 24, 2013 at 11:21 pm

    Also, the non-IMP Math table does not really work in groups (more traditional math with textbook). The IMP Math table works in groups and does individual work.

  • 150. jlp  |  November 24, 2013 at 11:37 pm

    @147/Former Decatur Parent: Thanks so much for the info! It’s invaluable. May I ask where your child is now?

  • 151. jlp  |  November 24, 2013 at 11:42 pm

    @148/149: Thanks for the info on Beaubien! The math teacher sounds dedicated.

  • 152. Taft  |  November 25, 2013 at 12:03 am

    From parents and children in the Taft AC program, I have heard they absolutely hate it and desperately want out (this comes from those who have been at SEES; those from neighborhood schools seem to expect less and talk positively of the school; those who come from SEES, not AT ALL). Interactions with high schoolers – not pleasant or always safe no matter what school says on their tours about keeping kids separate (interaction in halls where hard to monitor). For top students who just couldn’t get a spot at WY or Lane, just not a good place. Plus strategy wise, neighborhood school would be a better option for 7th & 8th to get into H.S. Though I know 6 of the kids (former SEES) who were able to transfer out to Northside for H.S. this Fall. It was never a question that they would get out if they got into another school.

    Again, if coming form a neighborhood school, Taft AC o.k. or even great from your perspective. Coming from a SEES, probably will hate it – both student and parent from what I have seen throughout the years. I was surprised to the extent of the lack of love for Taft AC. I think they keep these kids off the tour too much – they know more than we give them credit for – what we as parents don’t want to see sometimes.

  • 153. WorkingMommyof2  |  November 25, 2013 at 12:38 am

    Anonymouse, Coonley does use the Daily 5 in all kindergarten classrooms. I’m glad to hear it’s a good program.

  • 154. WRP Mom  |  November 25, 2013 at 1:09 am

    Taft, I have known quite a few former Decatur kids who went to the Taft AC. The feedback I have heard is not so much “hate” as it being easy for them. They seem to be enjoying themselves, though. Most are not looking to stay there for high school, since it is not a SEHS.

    You seem to be discouraging SEES kids from going to Taft AC. Since Decatur only goes to 6th grade, where else do you propose they go if they can’t make it in to WY of Lane?

  • 155. New to CPS  |  November 25, 2013 at 10:34 am


    There may not be as much structured differentiation at SEES schools, but there maybe doesn’t always need to be. I have a Decatur K student this year and as I went through the process and researched schools last year, differentiation was something I was concerned about based on how far ahead she was from her pre-K classmates. 3 months into the school year, my concern about differentiation is significantly lessened because her SEES class is made up of kids who all had to test at a similar high threshold to get in making them more similar in their current abilities.

    I’m not saying they are all at the exact same place skill wise, but the degree of difference is less than you might see at a neighborhood or even magnet school whose students are selected/have access to the school based only on lottery and geographical location,

  • 156. west rogers park mom  |  November 25, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    re: Taft

    I have a graduate from Taft and a younger child in a SEES. I don’t know if I would send her to Taft when the time comes (and if she could get in- every years their scores are higher and higher). I am a huge proponent of middle school and unfortunately AC’s are one of the few places that offer that structure. I am also a huge proponent of the high school credits early on, which gives your child a potential advantage in high school.

    I do think the Decatur kids (and others that come from SEES’s) are not challenged but as one parent told me, “It’s a nice break for them”. But for the kid coming from a neighborhood elementary or magnet school that is looking for more of a challenge, and a middle school environment Taft is a good choice. And don’t let the distance keep you away- the bus makes it doable and while your kid will have to be on the bus crazy early— that’s just one more adjustment that won’t need to be made in high school.

    Strategically, I don’t think Taft is a bad choice. I found them extremely generous with grades, especially in 7th grade. At least 1/2 her class went on to SEES or other schools. Most of those that stayed went to IB or AVID, both good programs. If you have a neighborhood high school that is not an option, Taft gives you a good high school for a back up plan.

    I also disagree about interaction with the HS kids; my kid was involved in the theater program and I was impressed with the caliber of the kids, their families, and the teachers. She had friends in other high school clubs that had similar positive experiences.

    But I am also happy with the SEES. I think my youngest is ‘smarter’, not because she is actually ‘smarter’ but because she is getting a better education than my oldest received at her magnet school. She is logical, intuitive, independent, and a true problem solver. So when the time comes, I don’t know if I would pick Taft over two more years at the SEES (though I think we will try for Whitney and even Lane).

  • 157. jlp  |  November 25, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    New to CPS — you make a great point about the constricted range of abilities in SEES, and I appreciate your reassurances.

    I continue to be interested in learning more about which SEES have a focus on differentiation, however. (In case anyone else wants to chime in!) In part for philosophical reasons, and in part because my child is wildly asynchronous in one particular domain (I suspect we are not alone in this situation either). I realize that we will most likely have to address this outside of school, but the closer we get at school, the better.

  • 158. RL Julia  |  November 25, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    R.e.: Taft
    As a parent of a kid who went to Taft AC coming from a neighborhood school, I agree with much of what was written about Taft. I really liked their program and thought it was developmentally appropriate for the age in ways that WY and Lane aren’t. I also did think that they were generous with the grades in 7th grade – as are many, many other schools in the city. In regards to Decatur kids going to Taft – well, I never had a child at Decatur, but I can attest that the kids who were at Taft when my kid was seemed to be fairly miserable there as a group. I don’t know if it was because the classes were easier or if they were just very disappointed not have been admitted to WY or what, but they really seemed to loathe Taft and feel that some terrible mistake had been made. I am disappointed to hear on this blog, that this is still happening. I really just thought that maybe it was that one class.

    Another thing to keep in mind – there has been a lot of turnover at Taft administratively in the past few years – I don’t know how this has impacted the AC program but there might be some room for cultural change at the school. When my kid was there, it was very strict about some things (like uniforms) but all the kids seemed nice and my kid never had any issue with the high schoolers there.

  • 159. anonymouse teacher  |  November 25, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    Does Decatur differentiate in reading at all? When I say differentiation, I mean: offer multi-leveled reading and or math groups, offer different levels/types of homework, etc. (these are the norm in most of the teacher’s classrooms that I am familiar with, though not all) There’s no way to adequately meet students’ needs without some amount of differentiating, be it classical or neighborhood and no way they are all on one level. I can only assume Decatur is differentiating but parents aren’t aware of it. I’m in just a regular old, nothing fancy, ESL neighborhood school kindergarten and I typically have a 4 year span of reading levels by year’s end. I’d be shocked if Decatur didn’t have the same or greater span, just higher.

    JLP, you are definitely not alone. What you describe is common. I personally would not feel comfortable at a school without a significant amount of differentiation because I believe in it so strongly.

  • 160. Deni  |  November 26, 2013 at 11:50 am

    I got an email from Franklin that said their last open house will be on 12/10 at 9:00am, not on 12/3. I plan to call to confirm that.

  • 161. SEESandCharterParent  |  November 26, 2013 at 11:54 am

    Edison does differentiate – in reading starting in Kindergarten, and in math starting in 1st grade. Kids will travel to other classes to work with whatever group they were assigned. I do not believe there is any differentiation in the other classes (at least not in the early years).

  • 162. CPSDAD  |  November 26, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    Differentiation = First World White People Problems

  • 163. jlp  |  November 27, 2013 at 7:11 pm

    SEESandCharterParent: Thanks for the info regarding Edison! That’s great to hear.

    We heard on the tour from the principal that they are working on initiating a flipped classroom model (kids watching instructional videos as “homework” and then working on exercises in class, where they can get immediate help from the teacher, maybe using Khan Academy?). Can I ask — have you seen any of that in action? And if so, how’s it going? Not sure which grade(s) were going to be included.

  • 164. Skinner North Mom  |  December 8, 2013 at 8:50 pm

    Skinner North has a Prospective Parent Open House tomorrow, 12/9, from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m.

  • 165. Deni  |  December 8, 2013 at 11:42 pm

    I talked to someone in the office at Pritzker and I was told they will be having another open house. The date hasn’t been chosen yet but will likely be in Februrary.

  • 166. parent  |  December 9, 2013 at 8:59 pm

    I attended a delightful tour at Bell today. Parents were split up into small groups and led through the school by 2 8th graders. Each group stopped at 7 “stations” where 2 more 8th graders gave a short talk about some aspect of the options program or the school in general. The students were so poised and gracious. They really showed the community spirit of the school.
    Then we were led into the auditorium for Q an A with the 8th grade teacher and the principal. Here are a few things I learned:

    Chinese is the foreign language, but the program only goes from K-4 (due to budget cuts this year; it used to go to 8). There is an after school program for students who wish to continue after 4th grade. There is no foreign language during regular school hours for grades 5-8.
    None of the classrooms are air conditioned (not even window units).
    The new annex will contain music, art, science lab, and a multi-purpose room (classrooms will remain in the old part of the building).
    Due to budget cuts this year, half of the grades have art for half the year, and music half the year. The other grades have both all year.
    There is a a lot of emphasis on performing arts (theater productions, talent shows, etc).
    All students have sign language once a week.

  • 167. cpsobsessed  |  December 9, 2013 at 9:22 pm

    Thanks for the Bell update!

    I wanted to put in a final plug for Ravenswood as we near the application deadline. I met the new principal at the neighborhood school fair and he seemed like a good addition to the school. He plans to continue the school mission for now (had just been there 1 month when I saw him.) He and a school parent were saying that it is still a good option for families looking for a good neighborhood lottery school.

  • 168. Onahan? Solomon?  |  December 11, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    Would you choose Onahan or Solomon if you had the choice? Deciding between two houses affordable for us and both schools look good. There is hardly any information out there on these schools, not sure why.

  • 169. curious mom  |  December 11, 2013 at 8:54 pm

    Did anyone go to the open house at Franklin? How was it?

  • 170. Onahan? Solomon?  |  December 16, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    Anyone know much about Onahan? Pros/Cons?

  • 171. Deni  |  February 11, 2014 at 11:15 am

    Pritzker has still not picked a date for their next open house, just telling me on the phone that it will be sometime in the Spring. I’m also curious to hear from someone who went to Franklin as I had to miss their open house.

  • 172. Admissions  |  February 11, 2014 at 11:52 am

    #170. Onahan – I know one parent who has children there. I understand overcrowding is still a problem. I think she said her 4th grader has 45 kids in the classroom. If you haven’t already bought a house, would be good to tour and talk to parents.

  • 173. Charlesincharge  |  March 28, 2014 at 10:45 pm

    @one year to go

    how do you like South Loop? We were just accepted into the RGC for grade 5 and are looking for perspective.

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