Fall 2014: Applying to High School

September 28, 2014 at 10:50 am 654 comments

SEHS Open House Dates 2014

Use this thread to ask questions, post news about open houses (any type of high school) and share testing info.

I’ll try to get more open house dates from the other (non-SEHS high schools) to post.

In the meantime, SEHS Open House dates are above.

Man, that can take up a LOT of time!  Choosing the early test option (that allows your child to know their score early) can help make the touring process more efficient as you may be able to eliminate certain schools from your repertoire (and may want to include others to widen your net.)

Which reminds of me of the CPSObsessed reader High School Mantra:  CAST A WIDE NET

Entry filed under: High school.

Fall 2014: Applying to Academic Centers and Intl Gifted Programs Petition for Illinois to delay the launch of the PARCC test

654 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Chicago School GPS  |  September 28, 2014 at 11:50 am

    There are various public and private open house dates on our CSG Calendar. http://www.chischoolgps.com/Calendar.php
    I recommend checking each school’s website just to verify prior to heading out. Schools have changed dates/times in the past.

  • 2. HSObsessed  |  September 28, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    Lincoln Park High School’s Open House is Sunday, October 19th, starting at 2:00 pm.



    Simultaneous presentations on the 3 Magnet Programs at 2:45, 3:30, 4:15

    Here’s a link to the description of the programs that are open to applicants citywide.


  • 3. maman  |  September 28, 2014 at 8:51 pm


  • 4. cpsobsessed  |  September 29, 2014 at 10:26 am

    New Tier map posted:


  • 5. HSObsessed  |  September 29, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    Re: new tier map — The high-end apartment buildings on LaSalle south of Division should add that to their marketing materials: Ogden boundaries for K-8, Tier 1 (!!!) cut off scores for entrance to any SEHS, including Payton just a few blocks away.

  • 6. Chris  |  September 29, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    “The high-end apartment buildings on LaSalle south of Division should add that to their marketing materials: Ogden boundaries for K-8, Tier 1 (!!!) ”

    You’re misreading the map. LaSalle is solidly in the yellow. The red is west of Orleans (maybe Wells? … [checking census tract map] …ok, Wells–link to that map in next post). So, Wells, west to Larrabee, and Division south to Locust, excluding the row homes.

    Here’s the irony, tho:

    The only portion of Old Cabrini that is still 100% public housing is the Cabrini rowhomes–they are now in Tier 2. The red area is Atrium Village, Parkside of Old Town, Payton Prep, part of Moody, and a lot of vacant land. The rowhomes get lumped in with the Montgomery, and the rowhome kids get to compete directly with (a handful, but still) private school kids who wouldn’t be caught dead going to Jenner.

  • 7. Chris  |  September 29, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    Link to census tract map for (about) Addison to 83d, east of Kedzie:


  • 8. HSObsessed  |  September 29, 2014 at 8:45 pm

    @6- You’re right; I misread the upper right corner of the Tier 1 as being Clark and Division.

  • 9. cpsobsessed  |  September 29, 2014 at 8:52 pm

    I’m always intrigued by those corners with 3-4 tiers at an intersection.

    Can neighbors on 4 corners differ that dramatically by socio-economic level?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 10. HSObsessed  |  September 29, 2014 at 9:26 pm

    Oooh, that would be a good human-interest story. Four kids living in four different tiers, within one block of the corner of Lawrence and Kedzie.

  • 11. cpsobsessed  |  September 29, 2014 at 9:28 pm

    Yes! Although it’s actually just stores there now that I think about it….

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 12. cpsobsessed  |  September 29, 2014 at 9:38 pm

    Just a few notes from the Hidden Gems High School Fair:

    Wow, it feels like there are a lot of parochial school high school options. I have no idea how many of these are “good” as I personally tune them out for my family. But it would be reassuring to know they’re all out there, if that were my thing.

    Wow, there are some nice private school options if you have $$!

    Senn: I continue to be so impressed with the way they present their school strategy. The principal and teachers continue to be impressive every time I see them.

    Amundsen: Lots of energy at the table. I met with the principal recently and she’s been working a lot at improving the school atmosphere so kids enjoy BEING at school. Lots of new school spirit activities to promote enjoyment, which increases attendence, which improves learning. The next focus of attention is on curriculum and improving classroom strategy.

    Disney II – Their materials are very impressive. They certainly position themselves as being very academic focused. They will take around 50 kids, which will be added to the 100 or so kids who move up from D2 elementary.

    Von Steuben – This was the first time I learned about the Scholars program. It starts with all AP and Honors classes freshmen year and the talk was a lot about homework. I was hoping this could be a good less-intensive option than the SEHS, but it sound like just as much work. The 2 students I talked to said that you don’t need to excel in math or science to be there.

    Lakeview High School. … I’ll reserve judgement after theopen house. I’m guessing there wasn’t much prep time for the fair.

    Wolcott School – private school for kids with learning issues – Just have to put in a plug for them because they seemed so nice and earnest. If I had a kid who needed extra attention and I had some $, I’d be all over this place.

    Intrinsic Schools – this is the charter that was started by some ex-CPS teachers and has a unique big-classroom with different learning centers concept that seems kind of cool. They’re in their permanent location at Belmont and Cicero and are settling in. I’m interested to see the place.

    Westinghouse – didn’t talk to anyone but picked up their stuff. I want to keep in on our future list.

    Alcott – also didn’t talk to them this year (I did last year, sounded good). Their brochure lists the colleges that graduates have gone to – many are the “good” state schools.

    If you went, any feedback?

  • 13. HSObsessed  |  September 29, 2014 at 9:39 pm

    Ha, I just used Google Streetview to look at the first blocks of Sawyer and Troy to the north and south of Lawrence and it’s funny that all four “tiers” are completely indistinguishable. I wish I could embed photos. I know the factors that go into calculating tiers don’t include “how fancy the houses look” but still, that kids who live but 2 blocks apart in the same neighborhood have such disparate barriers to hurdle… I don’t know, it doesn’t seem right.

  • 14. Milamom  |  September 29, 2014 at 10:16 pm

    I live in Albany Park (a tier 3 part) & am pretty surprised to see that little tract east of Kedzie designated as the only tier 1 area north of Belmont. It is a densely populated area, mostly mid-sized apartment buildings, and of course would have a high proportion of non-English speaking households, like all of Albany Park, so I guess that drives down the tier score. But it is, I think, actually a scenic and pleasant location, near the Chicago river, the park along it, and Ravenswood Manor. Certainly does not feel or seem unsafe at least at the times of day I would walk or drive through. Not how I would imagine a tier 1 area. Another undeservedly bad press opportunity for Albany Park is my view.

  • 15. SoxSideIrish4  |  September 30, 2014 at 6:21 am

    CPS data error transmits wrong test scores http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/cps-test-score-glitch-met-20140929-story.html

  • 16. Prep  |  September 30, 2014 at 7:07 am

    Can you copy and paste the story – did not allow access.

  • 17. tribune article  |  September 30, 2014 at 9:58 am

    Here is the story from the tribune

    Chicago Public Schools officials said Monday that the district last week sent incorrect test scores to 201 area private school students vying to attend the city’s selective-enrollment schools and academic centers.
    An unspecified “data transfer error” garbled the results of a recent Northwest Evaluation Association Measures of Academic Progress test — also known as NWEA MAP. District spokesman Bill McCaffrey said CPS sent test results to 653 7th and 8th grade private school pupils and transmitted incorrect scores to 30 percent of the students.
    Some students received scores for tests they had not yet taken, according to the district.
    In one instance, a parent of a student received a school eligibility letter from the district’s access and enrollment office dated last Friday that listed reading and math test scores, along with a corresponding personal identification number. But the student has not yet taken either test; the student was scheduled to take them on separate dates early next month, according to CPS documents reviewed by the Tribune.
    McCaffrey said affected students should not yet have received their scores, “as they did not complete both the reading and math portions of the NWEA MAP test as scheduled.”
    Students can still schedule and complete any outstanding portions, McCaffrey said, and the incorrect score letters will not have an impact on affected students’ eventual applications.
    McCaffrey said CPS began notifying parents and students of the error on Monday through robocalls, emails and letters.
    “CPS has already identified and corrected the data transfer error to ensure this will not happen in the future,” McCaffrey said.
    Some parents and teachers were rankled in February to learn the test-in process for Chicago’s highly competitive, selective-enrollment schools would require NWEA MAP scores — a test that replaced the Illinois Standards Achievement Test.
    District officials at the time said they were forced to move to a new test because the Illinois State Board of Education changed the ISAT, taken by third- to eighth-graders, to align with the new Common Core curriculum.
    The state would no longer provide CPS with a percentile score that ranks its students against other students nationwide. District officials said they needed to find an alternative assessment that provided a national percentile and chose the NWEA test, which was administered districtwide last year for the first time. The test will be used for all admissions to selective-enrollment schools for the 2015-16 school year, including high schools.
    Seventh-graders’ NWEA test scores are considered alongside an admissions test and their grades for selective-enrollment school admission.

  • 18. Chris  |  September 30, 2014 at 10:24 am

    “CPS sent test results to 653 7th and 8th grade private school pupils”

    Does that imply that there are only 653 7+8 grade private school kids who are taking the MAP for SEHS? Or am I reading too much in?

  • 19. North Center Mom  |  September 30, 2014 at 10:57 am

    Just to remind everyone, this is how tiers are determined. Crime is not a factor; aesthetics of the neighborhood are not a factor. From OAE website:

    How Tiers Are Created

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

    Based on the results of each of these six areas, each census tract is given a specific score; these scores are ranked and divided into four groups – or ‘tiers’ — each consisting of approximately the same number of school-age children. This is how we establish the four tiers. Consequently, every Chicago address falls into one of the four tiers, based on the characteristics mentioned above.

  • 20. SoxSideIrish4  |  September 30, 2014 at 11:09 am

    18. Chris | September 30, 2014 at 10:24 am

    No, there couldn’t be only 653 private school pupils taking the test. I read somewhere 12% of all the students testing are private. Based on that, it would be much higher. I wish I could find my statistics. I don’t mean to give out numbers without backing them up.

  • 21. tribune article  |  September 30, 2014 at 11:25 am

    I don’t think the 653 represents the total private school students taking the test and applying for admission. Just that at that point in time they had sent letters to 653 students who were somewhere in the process.

  • 22. milamom  |  September 30, 2014 at 11:32 am

    19- I am aware how tiers are created, just genuinely surprised that any part of Albany Park would end up tier 1. It is not at all an economically depressed area compared to many areas on the south or west side. It is however extremely economically and ethnically diverse with many languages spoken, so it is not surprising that tiers 2-4 would be represented in various census blocks in the neighborhood. I guess though since all the factors are weighted equally surprising results can happen.

    There is an error in the info from CPS in your post (not your error, CPS’s error on their website), one of the factors is %age of single parent households, not %age of single family homes.

  • 23. 2Kids.1Dog  |  September 30, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    The 653 number just refers to the number of students who have had their scores sent out at this point in time. The MAP testing continues through October and CPS is sending the scores out on a rolling basis. We were told that scores would be received within 2 weeks after taking the final test.

  • 24. cpsobsessed  |  September 30, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    For those with kids taking the test, let them know that they’ll see their score when they’re done – and ideally can tell it to you.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 26. 2Kids.1Dog  |  September 30, 2014 at 12:17 pm

    @24, that isn’t true for these tests. The feature to see the score upon completion has been disabled. Many kids were confused by this on the first day of testing as they expected to see their scores when done.

  • 27. 2Kids.1Dog  |  September 30, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    And the fact that your kid cannot see their score when they finish the test is why the “mistake” by CPS in sending out erroneous MAP scores is so problematic. There is no way to know if the scores you got in the mail are correct.

  • 28. No transparency  |  September 30, 2014 at 3:47 pm

    Our non-CPS student only got a percentile in the mail and not the actual score. At the testing site, CPS apparently disabled the final screen so the students could not see their score. Now comes news that CPS sent percentiles to kids who never tested? That, combined with the hidden RIT scores, is troubling to me. My daughter’s friends in CPS have all seen their actual scores — why don’t we get them, too?
    Also, it sounds like CPS students are allowed to retake their test just because they didn’t like their scores. Will CPS let non-CPS students have.a retake? If not, why?

  • 29. jgr  |  September 30, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    @2Kids.1Dog My child was one of the 200 who received scores before testing. You can call OAE and request them to send the score sheet from NWEA to confirm your child’s scores in the letter.

  • 30. 2Kids.1Dog  |  October 1, 2014 at 9:46 am

    @29, jgr, thank you for that information. But if CPS can provide the actual underlying score for the MAP test for non-CPS students, the relevant question is WHY they didn’t.

  • 31. Susan A. Lofton  |  October 1, 2014 at 11:55 am

    SENN OPEN HOUSE – 9:00 – 12:00, Saturday, November 1, 2014
    Program information sessions begin at 9:00, 10:00, and 11:00 a.m.

    Learn more about Senn’s International Baccalaureate (IB) program and our magnet fine and performing arts program. Take a building tour and engage in Q and A with students, teachers, and the principal.

    Senn is located at 5900 N. Glenwood, just 2 blocks west of the Thorndale Red Line stop.

    Thank you to Hidden Gems for giving schools a chance to share information and enjoy the afternoon talking to parents and students. We had some really good in-depth conversations about students’ talents, interests, and hopes. This was a great fair.

  • 32. Chicago School GPS  |  October 1, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    We are excited about all the great programs that have been put in place at Senn and definitely encourage families to step inside to take a look for themselves. Thanks for your tireless efforts, Principal Lofton!

  • 33. 19th ward Parent  |  October 1, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    I just saw an announcement on the Suntimes website that CPS announced a 12th Selective Enrollment High School. The new school is Hancock on the SW side and it would start with the 2015 school year. They would phase it in starting with the freshman class in 2015.

    But when I went back to the Sun-times website the article is gone. What gives? Anybody else heard anything about this?

  • 34. Seriously  |  October 1, 2014 at 2:35 pm


    Free tuition for CPS grads with decent gpa. Thanks Rahm. What about the rest of the city????????????? That will go nicely with the extra points on the fire exam.

  • 35. averagemom  |  October 1, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    For the CPS grads from low income families, the Pell and Map grants already should cover the tuition, fees and books for City Colleges. I don’t think it’s going to end up paying much. All he needs to do for most of the kids that would end up there is get them through the financial aid process.
    I saw the article on Hancock, but I can’t find anything on CPS’s site either.

  • 37. HSObsessed  |  October 1, 2014 at 9:35 pm

    Great news that there will be a SEHS in the Midway area, which does not have one nearby. However, 840 students total, with half of all seats going to CTE preference for the neighborhood, means it’s only going to be 105 SEHS seats per year open to citywide enrollment. That’s a pretty small number of new SEHS seats.

  • 38. cpsobsessed  |  October 2, 2014 at 8:05 am

    For those interested in lakeview hs:

    The new “friends of” group is meeting tonight. Consider joining in the effort with other local parents:

    Reminder that this event is today: EventLake View High School WhenThu Oct 2 2014, 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
    WhereLVHSLake View High School Library Media Center (Room 238)
    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 39. klm  |  October 2, 2014 at 8:05 am

    I hope that this makes some people happy. It seems like (on this site at least, which is likely reflective of a wider, similar feeling) that people on the SW Side have been complaining about a lack of a nearby SE HS. Now they’ll have one.

    Time will tell if it’s a :good” one (i.e., with high acjievement test results, admissions scores way above the minimum 650) or the “just about anybody with 650+ gets in” kind.

    I’m not saying SEHSs with lower scores are offering a lesser education, just that a school’s prestige and desirability goes up when it becomes a high average ACT, hard-to-get-into one (a la Jones). Given that it’s not located in a quasi-war zone, high violent crime rate neighborhood (like some other SEHSs), I’m thinking that it’ could easily be Jones-like within a decade.

  • 40. cpsobsessed  |  October 3, 2014 at 6:24 pm

    Hm, I got this press update from cps – looks like it’s been determined that all schools need to be there for the high school fair at mccormick place this weekend.
    If they all show up, that could be an efficient yet exhausting fair to attend.

    “All CPS High Schools to Participate in Chicago School Fair”
    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 41. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  October 4, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    @38 Highly unlikely. The building is old and the neighborhood students who would attend must now go to over-crowded nearby HSs. They will build a brand new building in Near North, but not in the southwest. The school just went through a $5.7 million, 3-year grant with UChicago help. Catalyst quoted the person in charge:

    “You can understand trying to shake up a school that is not performing, but shaking up something that is working really well, it looks like you’re trying to undo it or reduce its effect,” says Sarah Duncan, co-director of the Network for College Success at the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration. “The conspiracy theorists might say they’re undermining high-achieving neighborhood schools on purpose. It kind of looks like that.”

    Not a single parent or community leader was quoted in the CPS press release. 13th ward is Madigan patronage zone — alder-boob Quinn doesn’t have email or most phone calls go unanswered

  • 42. HS Mom  |  October 5, 2014 at 10:08 am

    @41 – Obama High was being funded with TIF. This project is coming from state funds. That on top of the fact that Chicago just wrote a 45mil check to firefighters. I guess reality struck – hard. How do they plan to use the 10Mil?

    The southwest side got exactly what they wanted…..a selective HS with a neighborhood component.

    Maybe these types of lower cost high impact changes will pave the way for other areas of the city like the North East where there are no SE schools located either. Lakeview anyone?

  • 43. Oh those poor northeast siders  |  October 5, 2014 at 10:45 am

    There is only the LARGEST SEHS in the city a mere 1 mile west of Lake View HS. Not to mention most of the best neighborhood schools in the city: LP, Senn, Amundsen… all within a few mile radius. What’s the matter? There’s not a SEHS directly across the street from your house? Sorry, HS Mom, I think you need some perspective.

  • 44. HS Mom  |  October 5, 2014 at 10:56 am

    “Sorry, HS Mom, I think you need some perspective.”

    I don’t understand why you would begrudge any kid proximity access to selective enrollment schools. When Lane Tech or Northside introduces a neighborhood component then I’ll consider your perspective. There are IB schools/programs all over the city so how is the northeast any different?

  • 45. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  October 5, 2014 at 5:21 pm

    @44 Neighborhood preference is only for the CTE program, not the SE. All CTE programs have that.

  • 46. HS Mom  |  October 5, 2014 at 6:17 pm

    @45 – yes I understand that. My original point here and in another thread was that LV would be a great place to have a combination SE program within the neighborhood school – which you’re right, technically would be a new model. Offering further test in options like CTE on top of SE (like the LP DH program) even better! The question was posed – how do we make LV an attractive option to the neighborhood – and this was just a thought. Not too dissimilar to what is happening at Hancock.

    I think that the Hancock SE model/opportunity is fantastic, much needed in the area. I also believe that the addition of SE programs anywhere in the city is a good thing. I’m not sure how the funds come into play and how the 10 mil factors into facilities/programming/technology/all – meaning is this a minimum or average need for conversion. Is this an obstacle?

    There’s no point in lamenting over wishes and speculation. But…just maybe…. there is interest enough in pursuing these kind of ideas in other areas of the city where

    Interestingly enough, in reading the article and some POV’s there seems to be a group that doesn’t want the SE school to take over Hancock so, guess you can’t keep everyone happy.

  • 47. klm  |  October 6, 2014 at 7:41 am

    RE: locations of SE HSs

    Things is, the most logical (as in ‘logistics’) way to build a city-wide SEHS (the formerly-named OBama SEHS, etc.) is to put it where the largest number of students from all over the city can access it.

    Since the public tansportation system in Chicago roughly is set up in an all-roads-lead-to-Rome (i.e., area near Downtown) fashion (which only makes sense, since that where the largest concentration of jobs is located and where the most commercial activity is located), it can seem a little unfair to some people living in the extremities of the city’s geography.

    Plus, (and I don’t want to start the whole ‘concerns about safety in Roseland and West Englewood are overblown’ thing) there’s the element of people wanting their kids to take public transportation in/through an area where they can feel “safe.”

    Given all that, there’s a reason why it makes sense to put more SEHSs in a fairly “central” location in “safer” neighborhoods, in order to make things realistically available.

    Now, it just so happens that the “central” locations tend to be whiter and richer than the rest of the city, so some people think in terms of identity politics, rather than what more logistically practical, and accordingly don’t like how things are set up when they are done in a Central way. Understandably, they want a SEHS in THEIR neighborhood.

    Well, the Southside has them –in Roseland, West Englewood, and South Shore and the near-Bronzeville area around King.

    The Westside has Westinghouse.

    The near-downtown, but technically Southside has WY.

    Payton’s in the formerly no-go area of borderland Carini Green.

    Lane’s in the Northside, and NSCP even further North than that.

    Now the SW/Midway area will have Hancock.

    What about the NW side?

    Then again, I think it makes the most sense to put a new SEHS where the highest number of students will be able to get to it through public transportation. The formerly-Obama SEHS was centrally located on a rare piece of still-available, centrally-located public land. However, it was kinda’ close to lots of rich white people, so that pi**ed some people off –the “richer get richer” or more aptly “the rich get more opportunites, yet again.” (Nevermind all the low-income black kids living within walking disatance and that public schools are a non-issue for the genuinely wealthy, no matter the color of the skin).

    Even if i lived in Oriole Park or Beverly (which means getting a bigger house farther from Downtown, a pay-off most people make with eyes wide open), I’d like to think that I’d understand why CPS was building a new, city-wide SEHS in a more “central” location, without the usual Chicago attitide of “But, where’s MINE?”

    Plus ca change….

  • 48. Chris  |  October 6, 2014 at 10:24 am

    ” without the usual Chicago attitide of “But, where’s MINE?””

    You’re just trying to turn Chicago into Minneapolis, or Des Moines, or something. Keep your greedy hands off our “where’s mine” attitude.

    Here’s the game to play–assume that we can change where *every* SEHS is located, and you have $150 to spend on putting them someplace. If you use existing High School buildings (SEHS or otherwise), it costs $10. If you want to build from scratch on land owned by the city, it costs $50. If you want to build new, and it’s not on city land, inside 312-area, it’s $150, outside it’s $75.

    What do you choose and why? And where are those 15 schools located? You can *completely* ignore the displacement of the neighborhood kids for this game.

    And, of course, you could choose to eliminate the SEHS and spend your $150 on pensions, or janitors, or books or whatever.

  • 49. ELT  |  October 6, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    Anyone have info on how Young, NS and Payton Open Houses are organized (i.e. self-directed or groups every X minutes)? Other schools’ webpages offer more info but not these….

  • 50. ELT  |  October 6, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    Here’s Alcott College Prep Open House info:

    Alcott College Prep’s West Campus will have its annual Open House Satyrday, November 1, 2014 from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm. Please come to Alcott, located at 2957 North Hoyne, in lovely Roscoe Village and see what our school has to offer your students.

    We will provide a short info session, self-guided tours and tour guides for your convenience.

    Come meet our teachers, students and parents and learn about our academic and extra curricular programs.

  • 51. Tours  |  October 6, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    49. ELT | October 6, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    Anyone have info on how Young, NS and Payton Open Houses are organized (i.e. self-directed or groups every X minutes)? Other schools’ webpages offer more info but not these….

    Whitney Young – You start in the gym OR Auditorium with basically a HUGE pep rally with band, sports teams, and cheerleaders and perhaps even a classical music performance. Then the Principal, maybe VP, and a few student leaders speak. Students are very impressive. Whole presentation is very rah, rah and a bit over the top, but school shines at this event. Then large groups of families tour with a student – visit all the main parts of the school and you ask questions of the students and VERY briefly of the teachers whose classroom you visit. Math teachers congregate in center area where you can ask them questions about program. If your child has an IEP, they do a special presentation for you where you can meet teachers, case manager, and students who have disabilities; hearing impaired program is huge at WY. Plus there will be students showing their talents in the halls. Overall a very long day.

    Northside – much less organized, only 1-3 tiny speeches and less rah rah, but similar flow. Meet for brief video in gym OR Auditorium and then off with student for a tour. You can ask the student lots of questions as well as the teachers in the classroom. Student escorts you. Counselors and parents are near the entrance and you can ask them questions (at end is best). TIP: They won’t take you everywhere. If you need to see a specific department, ask if you will see it. If it is not on the agenda, you can quietly depart from your group and join another. They waste a lot of time showing you the pool. It is a pool. You can skip that part. Some parents were frustrated that they didn’t get to see what they came to see.

    Payton – brief presentation and student performance and then you are off on your own to explore. Lots of students around to ask questions. Plus you visit classrooms on your own and teachers do mini-speeches and possibly demonstrations. Art department really shines here – can do an art project.

    GO 1 hour early. WY starts as soon as the gym fills, even if it is 1 hour early. Northside actually starts LATE – don’t open doors until official start time and then spend 15 minutes filing in before presentation starts. Lots of parking in lot and surrounding streets.

    For Payton – take public transportation or prepare to pay for parking a few blocks away and allocate an extra 20-30 minutes to park and walk back. There is not much legal parking around.

    Bring SNACKS. It is a long day.

    Finally, plan on 2 – 3 hours or longer if have lots of questions.

  • 52. North Center Mom  |  October 6, 2014 at 6:00 pm

    Hey Chris @48, can I play?

    I would scrap the SEHS’s, Charters, and IBs. All of the money would go to teachers, facilities, and programs at neighborhood high schools.

  • 53. ELT  |  October 6, 2014 at 6:34 pm

    Tours @51 Thanks! That’s great info. But do I understand correctly that at these schools there’s no “rolling schedule”? Do you have to be there at the very beginning to the very end? Sounds like Jones and Lane at least are a little more flexible. Oy.

  • 54. Tours  |  October 6, 2014 at 7:02 pm

    53. ELT

    It is a rolling schedule at WY and Northside. First group fills up seats, listens, and then goes on a student led tour. While you go off with your student tour leader, another group fills the gym and Auditorium. Student takes you to classrooms where teachers present. You go into the classroom, listen, look, ask questions and leave that classroom As you leave, another group enters while you move onto the next classroom. At any point you can just leave and go home. Or you can leave and go to certain areas where students/parents and possibly teachers are gathered (in a more central area) and go talk to them.

    You don’t have to go early / be the first group there. But at Northside especially, you should plan to be there 1 hour early – it is just too crazy otherwise – halls are not that wide and it is busy.

    WY – you can get there late and you’ll be fine. It is nice to be early though as you can just walk right in and they actually start early.

    Payton – once you get thru the hurdle of parking and waiting in the long line, it is pretty much a self tour after the brief group session. You go to whatever classrooms you like and leave when you like.

    Again, plan on 2-3 hours. It is crowded. It takes time. You spend some time just waiting for classrooms to empty so you can be the next one to listen to the teacher presentation in the Spanish, Physics, or Math classrooms, etc.

  • 55. SM  |  October 7, 2014 at 10:38 am

    I know there is limited time, but I wish that there was not so much overlap for the tours. I really want my kid to see all his options, not just the “big 4.” Whitney & Lincoln Park tours on the same day. Payton, Von, & Westinghouse also on one day. Are there other opportunities to view some of these schools after the Open Houses?

  • 56. HS mom  |  October 7, 2014 at 11:48 am

    @55 – There is plenty of overlap plus other personal appointments. That’s why it’s important to start touring in 6th or 7th grade if you want to see and analyze all the options. If you started early, put what you’ve missed on a calendar for next year. If not, split up spouses or relatives to check it out and report back. You never know what will strike you/your child as important or desirable until you see and get a feel and ask questions.

    You can also tour all the way up to and past admission. Many schools offer shadowing after actual admission so if you think the school is an option but unable to go to open house – apply – you can always check it out later.

    Good luck

  • 57. Tours  |  October 7, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    55. SM | October 7, 2014 at 10:38 am

    Skip the Lincoln Park IB tour because you can get the information you need by going to one of the “regional” type school fairs (see below for one that happens to be on NW side – ask your school counselor for one that involves your school, or is closer to you) and by searching this site for Lincoln Park IB . And you don’t have to rank IB schools. You can apply to as many as you like and get accepted to all, some, or none, so the need to tour is lessened.

    The Annual High School Fair!!!!
    Tuesday October 21st 2014
    @ Solomon School
    6206 N. Hamlin Ave.

    Plus when you apply, you MUST attend the information session in order to be considered (that is different from the upcoming tour). If you don’t, you can’t get in. Lincoln Park has a verrrrrry long information session for those who apply. All the IBs require that you attend their specific information session. Taft’s session is very short and has no tour, so for Taft, you should go to the Open House if you are interested in their IB program and want to actually see the school.

  • 58. A Mom  |  October 7, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    I just called Ogden IB school, their open house is on 10/16 @ 6-8PM. I have a 6th grader and they specifically told me that only 8th graders will be let in (not sure how they check, but my 6th grader doesn’t look like an 8th grader, so maybe by the looks?). Did anyone have an experience of checking out schools while your child is younger than 8th grade?

  • 59. David Gregg, IB MYP Coordinator  |  October 7, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    In addition to our Open House, Saturday, November 1, 9am-12pm, (open to all) another way to see Senn High School is through one of our Tuesday Tours (8th grade families only).

    See a variety of classes in session (including community IB, Magnet Arts and IB Diploma/Diploma Prep). Stand in the hallway during a passing period. Get a REAL feel for the school and its wonderful student body! Enough of the buzz; come see for yourself!

    Further details and registration form available at sennhs.org. Look for the link on our homepage under ‘Announcements’.

  • 60. mom2  |  October 7, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    Chris and North Center Mom – I agree with North Center Mom. Put all the money into neighborhood schools with programs for honors, regular and special ed kids. Build better facilities for sports and science and technology and have neighborhood kids go to school in their neighborhood. If there is room at a neighborhood school for someone from another neighborhood, they must have a minimum grades/test scores in order to apply.

  • 61. (ex) CPS Parent  |  October 7, 2014 at 5:40 pm

    55. SM – In the past Payton has never allowed touring, shadowing or any kind of visit other than on the official open house day.

  • 62. Tours  |  October 7, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    61. (ex) CPS Parent | October 7, 2014 at 5:40 pm

    Actually, last year (Fall 2013), Payton did accommodate a collection of parents who missed the tour and called the school. School waited until they had a big enough group and then did a tour for those folks. They didn’t advertise this, but anyone who called before the ad hoc tour was allowed to tour in a group.

    You can always ask. The standard line will be no so that everyone will go to the big tour. I also wouldn’t depend on it. I think Westinghouse is flexible too.

    I heard Jones actually did a tour just for the Edison Regional Gifted kids alone. Not sure if any other SEHS do so. I guess they wanted to court these students.

  • 63. HSObsessed  |  October 7, 2014 at 8:07 pm

    @57 – According to the CPS website, only 4 IB high schools will host info sessions, each one lasting 45 minutes long. Students must attend one session, but it can be at any of the schools, even if they’re not applying there. They can then list up to six IB schools on their application, which is centralized through CPS. People who are interested in applying should consult the website for the most updated information.

  • 64. A Mom  |  October 7, 2014 at 10:14 pm

    Ok so IB schools are 6 – 8th grade and then high school. Does anyone know if you can apply and get in in 7th grade?

  • 65. SM  |  October 8, 2014 at 9:40 am

    Thanks for all the advice so far. The thing is – we did not start touring in 6th/7th because there is no way my kid would remember two years (or even one) later the details of schools. Plus, kids do so much growing up between 6th and 8th – what appeals to them at 12 may be different at 14. I think it’s unfortunate they can’t evaluate their choices in one year. All of the schools we are looking at are great schools, so it really comes down to “vibe,” which you need to physically be in the building with students to assess.

    Glad to hear about Senn’s approach, wiil definitely be checking out the school.

  • 66. SM  |  October 8, 2014 at 9:44 am

    Anyone care to share their thoughts on IMP Math? I don’t know enough about it, but am somewhat wary of it for a child that wants to head down the engineering path in college. I’ve heard mixed reports from college profs and parents. I believe only NSCP and Jones are using IMP. Not sure if a more traditional track is also available.

  • 67. karet  |  October 8, 2014 at 10:42 am

    @47: klm, it’s interesting that you bring of the NW side as a location for a SEHS. If you look at the far NW side (which I’ll define as north of Lawrence, west of 94), the options at both the elementary and high school level are extremely limited. There are no SE high schools, and no traditional charter high schools. There are no elementary magnets (Thorp is on the NW side, but if you live N of Lawrence, you’re not in proximity; Wildwood doesn’t accept out of neighborhood students any more). There are no SEES. All of the neighborhood schools are overcrowded. As you can imagine, the parochial schools are quite popular.

    I think CPS doesn’t make this part of the city a priority for a few reasons: 1. The schools are mostly high performing. 2. There isn’t a risk of suburban flight, since so many of the residents are city workers. 3. Middle and working class residents aren’t as influential politically/ financially.

    I don’t think it’s fair to say that most people live in Oriole Park because they can get bigger house than they could in other areas. That’s probably the minority – although you do see a few expensive rehabs here and there. The reason so many city workers live in Oriole Park, Gladstone, Jeff Park is because modest houses are actually affordable for middle class families (you know, families whose incomes are less than $150K – you can get a small house for $250K or so). … and the neighborhoods are relatively safe.

    Sadly, I doubt there’s even a remote possibility that a SEHS will be built over here!

  • 68. Looking at colleges  |  October 8, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    I have 2 children in two different CPS high schools and while I think going to open houses is a good idea, I don’t know if you get a great feel for each school. I think a good plan is to try to go to events at schools. Every school has plays, music performances, sports events, etc that the public can attend (sometimes there is a very minimal cost). You can get a feel for the school and the students this way and you can sit next to parents whose kids attend school there and are usually very willing to let you know details about the school that you would not find out at an open house.

    Also, for the person who asked about IMP, my one son had it and the other had a more traditional math program and I really don’t think that it will be looked upon negatively by any university – there are plenty of NCP students that get into excellent engineering programs. IMP is only for years I, 2, 3, which translate to Algebra, Geometry and Trig. If your child tests out of the first year of math, they will only have IMP for 2 years – they will complain about it, but my son who had the traditional math program did lots of complaining also.

  • 69. NW 2  |  October 8, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    67. karet | October 8, 2014 at 10:42 am

    I agree, but Beaubien is a SEES.

  • 70. karet  |  October 8, 2014 at 9:50 pm

    @69, True! Beaubien is located a few blocks N of Lawrence and a few blocks W of 94 — just BARELY makes it into my boundary. Maybe I should change my criteria for “far NW side” to N of Foster, W of 94. Then I believe I’m correct — no magnets, charters, SEES or SEHS, right?

  • 71. klm  |  October 9, 2014 at 7:53 am


    Well, there’s Decatur. Edison RGC WAS there, before it moved to Albany Park to make room for the surging neighborhood CPS enrollment population.

    BTW, when I’ve been in Oriole Park, Edgebrook, Wildwood (which is technically part of ‘Edgebrook’ realtor-speak eise, I think), Norwood, etc., I’ve always been impressed by how attractive those places are and thought, “Wow. This is lovely –I could see why living here is appealing.” I know many must live there because they are nice areas in their own right, never mind commutes to Downtown (after all, most people don’t work Downtown but in other parts of the city or suburbs). Plus, usually their neighborhood public elementary schools are rocking ISATs better than neighboring suburban communities, so that adds even more to their appeal.

    I may be wrong, bit I think NW Chicago stayed “nice” even during Chicago’s nadir (70s-early 90s era) since so many people sent their kids to parochial school, I believe (not just Catholic, but Lutheran, etc.). Even if most CPS schools were still no-way-in-hell ones back then (even Edgebrook Elementary used to be considered ‘lousy’ before a Rock Star principal came in and helped transform it into one of the best public school in the state, helping make some home owners even wealthier in the process).

    It’s interesting how some neighborhoods used to be “nice” DESPITE the lack of good public schools, but now many neighborhoods are more desirable BECAUSE OF their great CPS elementary (so many examples, but Oriole Park, Coonley, Edgebrook, ……the list keeps growing every year which makes me hopeful, long-term, despite all CPS’s perpetual problems with finances, etc.).

    If only we could get more (or really ANY [even LPHS is not universally accepted as a ‘good HS’ by locals]) neighborhood HSs as real-estate pitch “selling points.” We all see things like “Blaine School District, Blaine School District, Edgebrook School District, etc” as selling points for family-size condos and homes, for sale or rent. But when have we ever seen, “Lakeview HS District, Taft HS District, etc.” as a selling point?

    When that happens, we’ll really know things have changed, but i’m not holding my breath –there is still such a long way to go before many/any CPS HSs have comparable ACT scores to suburbs with “good schools” (the way thay quite a few CPS schools are as good or better than schools in Northbrook or Wilmette in that sense).

    Meanwhile, like with this thread, people will consider a reative few SEHSs and maybe LPIB “good,” but avoid most CPS neighborhoo HSs, even if they offer IB. A CPS HS with an average ACT 10+ points LOWER than comparable suburban ones doesn’t have lots of appeal for many middle-class families, no matter how much one puffers up IB or STEM program as selling points. Sad, but true.

    People want schools comparable to good suburban ones. Many people get them automatically K-8 by living in certain neighborhoods, but then feel like they have to scramble to make plans for HS to get the same thing for grades 9-12.

  • 72. cpsobsessed  |  October 9, 2014 at 8:02 am

    I think the best bet for high schools on the north side is on the brink of happening with alderman pawar’s support of lake view and amundsen. He is continuously helping connect the elem to the high schools and helping parents organize, publicizing events etc.
    With new principals at both, and large groups of parents who saw the impact they could make on their neighborhood elementary schools, I think the time is ripe for some change.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 73. klm  |  October 9, 2014 at 8:20 am


    I think you’re right. It’s kinda’ at a “now or never” point, since so people are looking at things as a necessity for having a “good” CPS neighborhood HS, rather than a “nice idea for other people, but not for my kids at this point” slow movement. So many people really NEED a viable non-SE option for their kids who don’t score in the top 1-5% (or want a neighborhood option even if their kids do score that well).

    I’ve got my fingers crossed. Hopefully in 5-10 years time, we’ll be seeing “Lakeview High School District” in front of big homes for sale, like we do for “Blaine School District.” If a $3+m home (like I’ve seen for Lincoln and Blaine) is using a CPS school as a selling point, you know it means that this chool really IS a good one. When that happens, we’ll know things have REALLY changed.

  • 74. karet  |  October 9, 2014 at 10:45 am

    Yes, I agree with you both about northside neighborhood HS — several are on the brink of being really desirable. Even Taft has a much better reputation than it did 10 or 15 years ago. I’ve spoken with lot of the parents on the NW side who grew up in these neighborhoods, and most went to parochial schools for both elementary and HS (Taft was not even considered). The CPS elementary schools on the NW side are considered good now (just overcrowded) — if the HS are the same quality, that would be amazing. As I said above, there are so many city workers who can’t just flee to the suburbs.

  • 75. cpsobsessed  |  October 9, 2014 at 10:54 am

    Yes, taft and senn are on the brink too (senn possibly past the brink now.)
    The principals there can make a big difference as they move forward. It would be great if they could get the same aldermanic support as lvhs and amundsen are (or maybe they do and I’m not aware.)
    Pawar is unique in his strong school focus.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 76. RL Julia  |  October 9, 2014 at 11:23 am

    @66 – I too have had one kid who took IMP math and one who doesn’t. The kid with IMP thought that it was a little weird but ultimately saw the value in the process. He’s taking pre-calc now and NCP (where he attends) actually ends up assigning the kids two textbooks for that year to make sure that they get enough practice just plowing through problem sets and etc… it seems sort of the best of both world. I particularly liked the IMP curriculum for the following reasons:
    1. if forced kids to develop the ability to articulate and explain what they were doing with their math.
    2. It allowed for kids who don’t have the traditional “math mind” a way to understand and fall in love with math.
    3. it also seemed to promote group work in problem solving in a way not usually seen in math classes.
    4. as a person with an engineer husband, I can assure you that his ability to write and talk about the science and math he does as part of his work in a coherent matter has been tremendously important in his getting better positions – while this ability might not be rewarded at the engineering school level – it will be rewarded in the workplace.

    My daughter is at a school that doesn’t use IMP – I personally wish they would. She might not like math any better but I think it would be presented in a way that is a lot more in step with her preferred learning style – the collaborative aspect of the curriculum would be a definite selling point. We have found her experience with her school’s traditional math curriculum (and that curriculum’s execution) to be quite disengaging and ultimately exclusive.

  • 77. karet  |  October 9, 2014 at 1:27 pm

    @klm, One more thing: I’m not sure most people are as aware of ACT scores as you are. I think there’s more of a general reputation for each school, that we all learn by talking to friends, neighbors, acquaintances. Honestly, no matter how many times you mention the ACT scores at LPHS or LV or wherever, I don’t retain it. Through my job I meet a lot of young people who have gone to various CPS high schools, and what I hear from them is a lot more interesting to me.

    Since I’m not from Chicago, I’m probably a lot more willing to consider some of these CPS schools — I know that old opinions are hard to break! One NW side mom told about how hard it was to convince her husband to send their kid to Skinner North — he had such a long-held view that CPS schools were all terrible, he just assumed they’d send him to Catholic school. But it seems like the tide is turning — which I think is great for everyone (except the parochial schools, I guess!).

  • 78. goPriVatE  |  October 9, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    74, 7 Taft might be headed on the right track with the new principal. He needs to tighten the attendance boundaries. The rep is still bad because of the Albany park gangbangers…ask your CPD friends. Res, St. Pat’s and ND are thriving thanks to Taft’s SLOW uphill climb.

  • 79. mom2  |  October 9, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    karet, not all long time Chicago/CPS parents are ACT obsessed. I want a high school that is safe, with an environment where kids want to learn and will do their homework and don’t think it is cool to get pregnant or join a gang. Where the teachers want to teach and are willing to stay late and come in for after-hours activities, sporting events, etc. Where parents want to go to report card pick up, etc. I think the ACT scores will follow if you can get an environment like that. And besides, if the scores are a bit lower, and your kid is currently doing very well in most of the “good” elementary schools, they will be a star in their high school and that looks especially great when applying to college. Go to an SEHS and you look like everyone else to many colleges. We’ve been there. We know.

  • 80. Mariana  |  October 9, 2014 at 9:45 pm

    I know that Northside College Prep brags about having a 30 ACT average, but there is actually one school which outperforms Northside on the ACT according to CPS.
    On their Options for Knowledge HS guide, Muchin College Prep (Noble) has a 31.3 ACT average.

    http://www.cpsoae.org/2015-2016%20High%20School%20Guide_English_School%20Profiles_Mather-Solorio.pdf (page 16)

    What do people think about this considering that Northside is top in the state?

  • 81. parent  |  October 9, 2014 at 10:09 pm

    http://charterscale.org/muchin-college-prep It’s a lot lower than that. But, I visited it when my daughter was in 8th grade and was impressed. We applied but my daughter got her first choice SE school so she did not attend.

  • 82. Southside parent  |  October 9, 2014 at 11:23 pm

    i think it’s an error. Muchin has 21.3 on ACT not 31.3.

  • 83. SoxSideIrish4  |  October 10, 2014 at 1:02 am

    66. SM | October 8, 2014 at 9:44 am

    I’m not a fan of IMP math at all~I consider it fuzzy math. If you don’t take summer classes~you can only get to pre calc as a senior. If my child was going into engineering, I would want him to have AP Calc BC his senior year. I do know one kid who just graduated from a very fine SEHS with IMP math and is having a difficult time at college with math, but that could also be any child off at college in a calc class.

  • 84. pantherettie  |  October 10, 2014 at 6:02 am


  • 85. HS Mom  |  October 10, 2014 at 8:24 am

    @66 – Jones also uses a combination of IMP with standard math practice. They get the best of both worlds. My son is now an International Business major and has had more math in HS than he’ll need so I really can’t comment on the engineering aspect other than to say there are plenty of Engineering majors from Jones and NSP who go on to be quite successful. There are also many ways to customize the math experience in HS and IMP is very useful in that respect.

    I think you’ll find many different opinions on IMP vs standard track. There are so many other aspects of HS life/curriculum that should enter into the decision making process and it’s so hard to tell at 14 where their talents will take them. There are multiple choices for schools with standard math programs and security is important to some. So – back to the common theme here – it all depends on the kid.

    @82 – 21.3 for a non-select school is impressive.

  • 86. CPS99  |  October 10, 2014 at 9:27 am

    85 21.3 impressive? in what context? Sounds the opposite to me.

  • 87. HS mom  |  October 10, 2014 at 10:29 am

    An average 21.3 at a Chicago public school is impressive to me.

  • 88. luveurope  |  October 10, 2014 at 10:39 am

    87 really? wow. my standards are not that low.

  • 89. HS mom  |  October 10, 2014 at 10:48 am

    to each his own

  • 90. klm  |  October 10, 2014 at 10:49 am


    Thank-you. I’m always a little dismayed by the “lower your expectations –where do you think you are ‘Hinsdale’? We’re talking Chicago, so that’s GOOD for the city…” -type sentiment about achievement.

    I know tests are NOT everything, but they mean a lot. They really do indicate something as to what students know and how they are able to use “learning” to figure out correct answers. No, tests perhaps do not indicate the innate intelligence of a given student population at birth, or even explain the context in which they are learning, given all the challenges that come with living in a socioeconomically depressed environment, etc. –I KNOW that.

    But, as the parent of black kids that live in Chicago, nothing kinda’ creeps me out more than the sentiment or even the “cultural biases” explanation so often given by “nice white people” that are kinda’ a little too self-righteous, IMHO (so my kids can’t be expected to know how to do math problems or understand science on a standardized test as well as white kids because, well, so many other black kids don’t do well on the ISAT, ACT, etc. these test are ipso acto ‘biased’? For real?),and a little too unfazed by the realities surrounding the achievement gap and the about the “irrelevance” of tests tests, (so they don’t care if their doctor or pharmacist was able to pass licensing exams, since these are probably ‘biased’, too, since non-Asian minorites have lower pass rates?) etc., as an easy explanation as to why tests are really “unimportant” and should not be a prime source of information for parents looking at a school,especially if that school is “socioeconomically diverse” -type lectures.

    I’m not buying it, nor is my black spouse.


    I know not all parents are “obsessed” about (I’d rather say I’m very interested in general levels of achievement) ACT scores as me and others, although, frankly, the educated people that moved to the Chicago area that I’ve got to know often tell me that test scores were the driving force when choosing where to live. The fact that certain CPS neighborhoods have top 25-in-the-state -type scores really does attract a fair number of people, including many of the foreign parents at my local elementary, who tell me that they did the research back in Singapore, China, Sweden, Germany or wherever (I swear that’s what they told me, plus ‘relocation’ pro’s pointed out these things) before deciding to move to a neighborhood in Chicago, instead of suburbs “with good schools” like most expat transfers to Chicagoland with kids . I bought my own house because of ISAT scores, for example –not several block North or West. When we looked at homes, the ones within the “really good CPS-high-ISAT” school address were a bit more expensive than ones accross the street zoned for the lower ISAT school (which at the time had a horrible repulation)–people look at this stuff and buy accordingly, believe me.

    If ISATS, ave. ACT, etc., didn’t matter why would this site even exist –all CPS schools should just be “it’s what you make of it” places of learning, no matter if your kid goes to Lincoln or Jenner, Wells or NSCP. Somehow, most of us kinda’ think maybe that’s not exactly true, which is why we don’t just blindly enroll our kids in just any ‘ol school and then expect things to work out the same. These same sentiments and concerns don’t just go out the window when our kids enroll in HS.

    As for HS, I totally get the “good/as-good-as opportunities-wise for students that really want to learn are there, despite whatever average ACT score exists” vs. a simplistic ” ‘good’ school” vs. ” ‘bad’ school” over a few ACT points argument (for example, go to Northbrook. It’s funny, but so many people there are convinced that Glenbrook North is a much ‘better’ HS than Glenbrook South, because it has a higher ACT –25.8 vs 24.9. Same district, same funding/spending, etc. It seems a little petty and obviously a relatively silly argument).

    However, when I look at CPS HSs vs. suburban ones, the differences are kinda’ upsetting to me and I know that I’m not alone. Per ISBE/IIRC stats, the % of kids “ready for college”/ACT ave.: Senn-14%/17.3, Amundsen-18%/16.5, LVHS-33%/18.1, Taft-32%/18.8, Wells (the neighborhood HS my kids would have been zoned for, if we stayed Downtown), 4%/14.8.

    For some suburban HSs: Neuqua Valley -83%/25.2, GBN -83%/25.8, Deerfield/26.5 -93%, Naperville Central- 81%/25.2

    And before anybody starts the “but those are all RICH places!” argument, I’d suggest they google real estate prices for the city vs. suburbs. I know plenty of people that cram their kids into regular houses, so that their kids can go to good, suburban schools. One of my best friends from coilege lives in Naperville and has a kid at Neuqua Valley HS, because they feel like they couldn’t afford to raise their kids in the middle-class parts of the city, given how much more expensive they are. Another moved from the city to a plain 1960s
    ranch (with a decent yard) in Deerfield that wasn’t much more expensive than their townhouse condo in Roscoe village, believe it or not.

    It’s cheaper to live in Naperville for a family instead of the LVHS enrollment zone. If your neighborhood school is Bell or Coonley, you’ll get more space for the same money, that’s for sure.

    I’ve mentioned this a million times, but many CPS K-8 schools really are as good or better than schools in even the most expensive suburbs, never mind the more affordable ones. People kinda’ want the same thing for HS, or at least not something so disparate as the stats I mentioned above.

    And why shouldn’t they want that?

  • 91. klm  |  October 10, 2014 at 11:46 am

    I’ll add a little context to any interest I have re: ACT scores and achievement levels at a HS.

    Here are the 25th-75th ACT percentiles for latest avail. freshman, per collegeboard.com that some of us may be thinking are some real options for our kids:

    UIUC 26-31
    UIC 22-26
    ISU 22-26
    NIU 19-24
    Loyola 24-29
    DePaul 23-28

    Never mind schools like:

    Michigan 28-32
    Northwestern 31-34
    U-Chicago 32-35

    I’m not saying I’m planning on Northwestern or U-Chicago for my kids (nobody should hold their breath about that), but UIUC or ISU would be great, with in-state tuition and all. I know that no HS will turn a mediocre student into one ready to major in and be admitted into computer engineering at UIUC, but I can’t help but believe going to a high-achieving school or being in a high-achieving program (like LPIB or Von Steuben Scholars) really does mean something, in terms of getting kids ready to compete in our modern, post-industrial economy, starting with college.

  • 92. mom2  |  October 10, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    klm, I agree with you about a lot of things. But I wonder if many parents believe that going to a school with a certain average ACT score means your kid will get close to that average ACT score and by going to a school with a lower average, your kids will get that lower average.

    If so, that would indicate that the teachers at the school are the reason for the higher scores. What I was trying to say is that if all the kids that live in the Lake View neighborhood (for example) went to Lake View HS, with the same teachers, same administration, same classes, the ACT score would be much higher. The group would bring the higher scores with them because they care about education, they have parents that are hyper focused on doing homework, studying for tests, etc. But, if only a few of that same group become “go getters” and go to Lake View, they “might” get a lower ACT score but that would be due to the environment of the school – the “negative” influences as far as attitude about learning, disrupting classes, etc. It would not be due to “the school.” Do you agree? I just hate people picking a school based on a score with the thought in mind that the school will give you that score.

  • 93. HS mom  |  October 10, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    KLM – ” nothing kinda’ creeps me out more than the sentiment or even the “cultural biases” explanation so often given by “nice white people” that are kinda’ a little too self-righteous”

    Uh, if that’s me…Honestly, 20 as an average for HS is my threshold – has nothing to do with where it’s at or skin color. That’s just my thing, with no expectations of others feeling the same or insinuations that “it’s OK for black kids but not for my nice white family”.

    FWIW, I have and still do agree with you about the importance of test scores and what they imply. I’m comfortable with where my own kid can and has gone and did apply to HS’s in the 20+ area. This is exactly what I mean by ” to each his own”.

  • 94. possiblyhomeschooling  |  October 10, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    Does anyone here have any experiences with CVCS for high school? I saw their middle school classes, and did not like them (too easy to cheat and get a good grade without learning).

  • 95. HS mom  |  October 10, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    92 – Mom2 yes, exactly. It is possible to have both, personal best scores at a school that is overall moderate. As long as the school can meet your child’s needs. The score is what will prompt families to look into it.

  • 96. klm  |  October 10, 2014 at 1:06 pm


    Like i said, no school will turn a mediocre student into an academic rock star, but I do believe that many/most kids are shaped by their surroundings and that often means “peers” more than “home.”

    At least one of my kids seems to very influenced by friends and peers –I could see that one getting into trouble if the “wrong” group starts taking over his/her spheres of social and academic influence. We all know good parents whose kids did bad stuff, etc.(I know several and guess what they were doing in high school and who they were hanging out with?). That’s everywhere at every school, public or private, rich or poor –I know that. However, at some schools, even the average kids seem to be not doing very well (not just the always present bad a**es that are obvious at most schools), maybe not even very interested in school or their future, never mind caring about whatever score they get on their ACT.

    I’m not a Tiger Mom -type parent, but I’m involved enough and have lived long enough to know, or have seen (not just heard from a friend who knew somebody that …., etc.) what happens when things go wrong with kids during adolescence –and things seem to go wrong at some schools more often than others. I’m not making it up or being petty or overly concerned or paranoid.

    Accordingly, if a school’s average ACT is WAY low and very few kids, relatively speaking, are anywhere near prepared to get their way through freshman year at NIU or ISU, never mind Northwestern or Michigan, I kinda’ have to step back and consider that maybe it’s not a good option.


    Nothing was directed at you, I just ranted. Sorry if it came across that way.

  • 97. mom2  |  October 10, 2014 at 2:09 pm

    klm – I totally agree about the fear of our kid being influenced by peers. I worry about that more than anything else.

    That is why I keep hoping some of the neighborhood high schools will find a way to get a large group of students into the school (by whatever means necessary) that have the right attitude and behavior at school and the right expectations at home. It is critical. Once they are there, the school will have higher ACT scores.

    I realize that right now, the only way a parent can feel they have found a school that will give them that environment, is by getting into a selective school. That way it is almost certain that the majority of potential friends are going to be what they are wanting for their kid. That’s what needs to change. There has to be another way to get that without the torture in 7th and 8th grade.

  • 98. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  October 10, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    @86-88: The national composite average is a 21 and the IL avg. composite in a 20.7. IL is one of only 12 states that required the test for all graduates. So a regular district HS with a composite avg. of 21.3 in a district that has a high poverty and crime rate compared to the state and nation is doing fairly well.

  • 99. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  October 10, 2014 at 2:51 pm


    the educated people that moved to the Chicago area that I’ve got to know often tell me that test scores were the driving force when choosing where to live

    This is not surprising. It is one of the few bits of information people living out of town can get. What @68 suggests:

    I think a good plan is to try to go to events at schools. Every school has plays, music performances, sports events, etc that the public can attend (sometimes there is a very minimal cost). You can get a feel for the school and the students this way and you can sit next to parents whose kids attend school there and are usually very willing to let you know details about the school that you would not find out at an open house.

    is certainly a much better way of finding out about a school than relying primarily on the test scores. But this is hard to do when you live out of town. And even in town it is time-consuming process. How many posts here say “my child got an offer to x; I’ve never been there; tell me about it.”?

    Looking primarily at the ACTs to judge a HS is like a drunkard’s search for his keys — we look at them because that’s where the light is.

  • 100. luveurope  |  October 10, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    99 But when the ACT’s are super low, keep looking. My experience with private hs, the honor students stick together, do homework, test well and keep an eye toward college. They don’t screw around (much).

  • 101. klm  |  October 10, 2014 at 5:29 pm


    So you’d be fine with a HS with an ave, ACT score of 14.8 (with only 4% ‘college-ready’ as deemed by ACT) for your kids (like at Wells, for example —don’t get me wrong I’ve been inside Wells. It’s clean, seems orderly, many teachers are great, but I’d still never in a million years send my own kids there) if you toured it and liked the art profram, the music, sports, etc., more than a school with an ave. ACT of 24, 25 or 27 (where 80-95% of kids are deemed ‘college-ready’)?

    I know ACT scores aren’t everything. Many schools have quite a diverse population of kids and the kids that come in 3 grades behind get what they need, the kids that are looking into going to Princerton and MIT get what they need, too (and are just as successful as they would be if they went to Exeter ot Hotchkiss).

    That works in a place like the proverbial “Middletown, USA”, where kids from trailer parks go the same HS as kids that live in McMansions and have parents that maybe even went to Princeton or MIT themselves (it happens).

    But, we’re talking Chicago and CPS.

    There’s no way anybody’s going to convince lots of people that some CPS HSs with way, way, waaaaay low scores almost accross the board are just fine, and if only the smart kids with parents that went to med school would just enroll there, they’s get the same education as at LPIB, Lab, Latin or Deerfield HS.

    Last thing: Isn’t learning and achievement (as objectively measured) the thing that most educated, middle-class people (or even uneducated, low-income people) want from a school? How is it it like a drunken person grasping at a dim light when people judge a school by what its students are actually achieving? I kinda’ always thought the main objective of a schoosl was learning, but I guess that’s just me.

    I like the attitude of the Senn principal and teacher that posted several weeks ago: Yes, our school was messed up a few years back, but let us show you what we can give your kid. We’re sincere and deicated and care about achievement and you kid’s future and his/her ability to compete for a place in a good college and later on, a good job.

    That kind of attitude attracts me more to a school than how good the basketball team is or how nice the art teacher is (although those things matter, too). I want my kids to learn, not just “be happy” (although that matters, too). In a perfect world, I’d like happy and high-achieving, which i believe is possible, given the right environment and social norms among peers.

  • 102. cpsobsessed  |  October 10, 2014 at 7:19 pm

    Have people gotten the printed version of the high schools guide?

    I just have been flipping through – the ACT score and graduation rate are easy to see. In a blue box at top. It’s depressing, you guys. So many schools with ACTs of 14-15 and grad rates near 50percent. I know I shouldn’t be surprised, but when you see it school after school, knowing how many of those kids have low scores for the average to be so low. Man, that’s sad.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 103. red  |  October 10, 2014 at 7:22 pm

    Let the madness begin.

  • 104. klm  |  October 10, 2014 at 7:22 pm


    I know.

  • 105. otdad  |  October 11, 2014 at 7:36 am

    @102. cpsobsessed:
    That just shows school/academics is not for everyone. One can have a productive and successful life without going to college or even finishing highschool. What sad is that college education has become a prerequisite for a decent job in this country.

  • 106. klm  |  October 11, 2014 at 9:05 am


    People can make decent livings being skilled trades professionals. Manufacturing jobs in this country are far fewer than before, but American manufacurers are begging for the SKILLED worker that they need to keep automated production lines humming (robotics technicians, electricians, logistics people, etc.).

    The problem is, there would be an enormous backlash if we started directing kids to different careers paths after 8th grade, depending on their apparent academic abilities (and apparent disinterst in college-prep -type academics), as shown by tests, grades, etc. ( a la Germany or France). Minority kids (who are already 3 years behind their white or Asian peers by 8th grade) would be disproportionately in the direction of “trades,” (like black and brown immigrant’ populations in France and Germany) white and Asian ones proportionately towards college and whilte-collar professional tracks, etc. This would be untenable for most people. Here, everybody can be whatever they want “as long as they put their mind to it.” Sadly, that kind of attitude (although laudable on many levels) seems to leave some/many kids lost.

    Recall the Urban College Prep article and the student from the article we’ve discussed from a 3 or 4 years back? He got a 15 on his ACT, but he was getting ready to go to college pre-med and pursue his goal of being a cardiologist (it’s heart-breaking –I’d bet a million dollars how that’s worked out for the poor kid. Why wasn’t he given more direction?). Now, we can’t burst kids’ bubbles and tell then “no,” but some kids need to be gently directed into paths that create alternative options (e.g., maybe you’ll not be a cardiologist, but pharnacy tech jobs are available) , if med school doesn’t work out (which is 100% likely if somebody got 15 on their ACT). Many kids in Englewood and Lawndale don’t grow up around or have relatives that are things like IT professionals, pharmaseutical sales people, online sales reps, commercial real estate agents, aviation maintenance engineers, etc. (i.e., the bulk of middle-class jobs today), so all they know is “doctor” or “lawyer” or “rich businessman” when there are literally thousands of things that they can realistically achieve, but don’t know about.

    So, per what they’ve been told, they go to college (sometimes racking up debt that they default on), crash and burn, then the cycle starts (go-nowhere jobs, paycheck-to-paycheck struggle, etc.).

    So, instead, we have lots of kids go to City City after getting their GED, drop out, then try again, etc., while they work part-time at Target without benefits. Many of these same kids would be making $20+/hr., plus benefits if they became plumbers, electricians, robotics maintenance technicians, etc., but they’ve been told that “they need to go to college to get a good job,” even when they got 14 on the ACT and hated school since 6th grade.

  • 107. michele  |  October 11, 2014 at 11:04 am

    Interestingly, when I was in HS – Lane Tech was the high school for students to go to who wanted to achieve competence in trades. The curriculum there was math/science and allowed those who graduated to go directly into skilled trade para professional jobs. At times a year or two of additional on the job training (both classroom and hands on) was required but these young adults were self supporting quickly, in jobs like CAD operators, electricians, car and airplane mechanics, fire safety, police and EMT, professionals, medical and Xray techs, pharmacy techs… etc…
    These are jobs people should be able to do once graduating high school with just a little more education – not necessarily 4 more years of school . These are jobs that can pay for college as you continue your education.so you don’t have to take out loans These are jobs that can provide a basis for future entrepreneurship. These are the jobs that maintain continued city home ownership, community stabilization, and reinvestment into the city’s infrastructure.
    What I see as the real difference from when I attended HS – we as students were expected to be self sufficient at graduation or shortly there after. We had to look for ways to make money and sustain our own advanced education. With that self sufficiency expectation your lens for what you can make money at and what you’re good at is more realistic. You don’t whine, you work, and you become the best at whatever you chose to do, regardless of your high school educational level was. Change favors the prepared mind, prepare kids to work/contribute to their own ends and not only for college and they will achieve.

  • 108. pantherettie  |  October 11, 2014 at 11:25 am

    KLM, are you implying that because the kid made a 16 on his ACT he’s not going to succeed in college and won’t attend med school? I’m not familiar with the story so I don’t know the particular case, but I’m completely unconvinced that an ACT score is the golden ticket for success or the indicator of failure in college or beyond. I think that the emphasis on a particular score is often driven by people who don’t know that admissions to college and success in college are not only about the a test score earned on one day of a kid’s life.

  • 109. HS Mom  |  October 11, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    @108 – point taken about any high stakes test. The ACT however is supposed to measure college readiness and can be taken multiple times to make sure this is not a “one day” thing. As one measure used to nationally norm – it’s a solid indicator. There’s no way a kid with a 15 ACT will possibly be able to ratchet it up through undergrad to make it to med school. That’s why the requirements for pre-med, engineering, pharmacy etc starting with undergrad and HS ACT’s are so much higher than what even the average kid can attain. Sad to say it but there is no way in hell that a kid with a 15ACT will make it to Med School and beyond.

    That’s not to say that soon into his college career he wouldn’t find a more fitting path. A vast majority of kids go in either uncommitted or change their minds multiple times along the way. College counselors are very adept at pointing the direction. Heck, I think it’s good to dream big and work your way from there. I don’t think changing direction has to be a life altering disappointment.

    Seems to me that a school like UIC prep does a good job at exposing kids to all aspects of the health care industry. Maybe more of these type schools – college prep yet all encompassing.

  • 110. Pantherettie  |  October 11, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    @HS Mom – I understand your points. I really agree with your example of how UIC prep does a good job of exposing kids to all aspects of health care industry jobs.

    That said, I can say that I do know people who earned high teens/low 20’s on the ACT and are now doctors. I’m thinking about some HBCU’s with lower than “average” ACT admission scores that routinely produce undergrads that enroll in and complete med school and dentistry school or pursue other STEM careers. Specific examples are Xavier University in New Orleans and Fisk University in Nashville. Both have long histories of graduating students who attend med school/dentistry schools. The average ACT scores for both schools is in the low 20’s. I think that some people on this board wouldn’t even consider either school for their kid, but I can say with confidence that many African American doctors who are over 40 years old, will tell you that for many years, these were the schools to go to for education and support if a medical career was your goal. Maybe the Urban Prep kid was headed to a school where his ACT score didn’t automatically lock him out of programs that could lead to a career as a cardiologist? What I’m saying is that the ACT is a solid indicator of college readiness but it does not really paint a true picture of what it takes for a kid, especially 1st generation college attendee and minority, to succeed in college.

  • 111. klm  |  October 11, 2014 at 1:44 pm


    While it’s true that med schools “differentiate” and have programs specifically for underrepresented minority students (UIC’s Urban Medicine program, Wayne State’s in Detroit, etc.) with, well, lower requirements for admissions and the ability to take 2 years for the typical 1st year of med school, programs for URMS with an extra year of preparation before matriculation, etc., ….(Meharry, Howard, Morehouse all have much lower ave. MCATs and UGPAs than any other alleopathic med schools in the US). At a university where I worked once (low level office job),somebody filed a FOIA request once and got the average UGPA and MCATs for URMs, Asians and white admits to its med school.

    The first year URMs had GPAs lower than a 3.0 and MCATs in the bottom half, while white and Asian 1st years had UGPAs of 3.7+ and MCATs in the top 10% (initial pass rates were pretty skewed for clinical licensing exams –it’s hard to make up for disparities in relative preparation, no matter how much good intentions are the root. Something like 95% vs. a little over 50%). So, yes, given the goals of the AMA to make the medical profession more representative of the U.S. demographic reality (and the pressure it puts on med schools to meet this goal as part of its accrediation process, etc.), the fact that med schools do try to be more “holistic” when looking at URM candidates, etc., I’m sure there are URM kids that get into med school with less than stellar ACT scores from the end of 11th grade. I know this.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against all this. We need to have physicians that reflect the demographics of our nation, so if med schools feel the need to differentiate to get a minimal number of URMS, then I’m OK with it (of course, I’d rather see a higher level of achievement among URMs, but until that happens, some white and Asian kids with higher GPAs and MCATs that are denied a place will feel unfairly treated by comparison, simply having different/quasi-separate admissions standards seems like a nice thing to do, given history, current reality, but it does nothing to reduce the achievement gap……etc. But that’s all just my opinion).

    But 15 on the ACT?

    That’s so low, how can you fault me for feeliing that this kid’s going to have to overcome an insurmountable deficiency? I mean, he’d be in the bottom 20% of freshman at a second tier college like NIU, never mind where he’d rank among pre-med students across the country, even within his own demographic group. And he’s going to ace or at least do fine with physics, calculus, advanced biochem, etc.? How is a student like that suddenly going to leap ahead in his MCATs in a few years (even if he’ll be given the benefit of URM admissions) and then pass his exams to do his clinical work 2 years after that?

    I’m all for encouaging kids to “go for it.”

    But, come on.

  • 112. catbirdbaby  |  October 11, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    We live in the AP tier 1 pocket; it used to be tier 2. It doesn’t make a lot of sense but I’m guessing it is due to the higher concentration of multi-family dwellings, renters and a lot of recent immigrant/refugee situations near the park/river.

    Does anyone know if there is round of spring SEHS open houses too? My daughter is only in 6th grade but we want her to start seeing what these options look like so she can understand why the testing matters. Yet we have a lot of conflicts with soccer for the upcoming fall open houses.

  • 113. pantherettie  |  October 11, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    @111 – I guess I have a far more optimistic view about that kid than you do. I hope he was successful at whatever path he took. I don’t know anything about the kid you were discussing specifically, so I’ll assume that you’re saying “Come on” about his abilities to be a doctor is because that his poor ACT scores were coupled with a less than rigorous academic course record, poor grades and a complete lack of extracurricular activities. Since this is a thread about high school admissions, I’ll leave it alone. I just hope that most people continue to take CPSO’s advice of casting a wide net and choosing a school based on a variety of factors in addition to ACT scores.

  • 114. klm  |  October 11, 2014 at 4:08 pm


    Why don’t you just go to SE open houses this fall? Never too early to look into things, IMHO. Plus, bring your daughter along and get her excited and juiced up about getting the grades in 7th grade to go to these schools. From my experience, teachers and kids at CPS SEHSs are totally into showing off their schools and are happy to do it.

    Plus, the kids that participate in tours at a school like WY can come across as way cool to younger kids –these are model students that are often smart AND totally hip, know about the latest music, art house movie scene, etc. Show your daughter kids like that and hopefully she’ll want to be like them and be motivated to go to their school.

  • 115. karet  |  October 11, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    @97, mom2, I totally agree that peers are important at the HS level. As far as ACT scores go — I’d be interested to see ACTs for, say, the top 20% of a school. That would say more about whether there is a significant group of high achieving students (or not). Especially when you’re dealing with very large schools with diverse populations (often with lots of ESL students), I feel like the average ACT just isn’t very informative. (What’s the range, median, mode? How do ESL kids compare to others? etc.)

    klm, there was a story in the Tribune in Aug. about Urban Prep — the headline is “Where are the First Graduates of Urban Prep?” — although the story details some difficulties, it’s overall a very positive report of the ways these students have successfully found support and success. (I’d post the link but I’m afraid my comment will get lost in mediation-land.)

  • 116. HS Mom  |  October 11, 2014 at 6:17 pm

    115 – That sounded interesting to me so I checked it out…..are we talking about the same article?


    “”We were taught, ‘Each one reach one,’ and ‘It takes courage to excel.’ We all learned to help each other because we all wanted to succeed,” Beck said. “There were people who could say they’d been right where you were from and they could say they knew what your life was like.”

    But four years later, at the idyllic East Coast private college to which Beck was accepted, the atmosphere was dramatically different. And even though he had earned a full academic scholarship to attend, Beck was not prepared.”

  • 117. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  October 11, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    @101 I’m saying that when a parent from out of town decides that it would be better to live in the Lincoln Park HS attendance area than the Senn attendance area because the LPHS ACT score is higher, they are missing a lot of salient info about the relative merits of the two schools. And that info. is costly (in terms of search time) to obtain. So they look at the ACT scores.

    Judging a school’s impact on student achievement primarily by the ACT is akin to a drunkard’s search because the ACT does not differentiate the effects attributable to the school from those attributable to the students, their parents, or other non-school factors. We don’t expect a school to make a silk purse from a pig’s ear, but we don’t expect it to make a pig’s ear from a silk purse either. Even with a high ACT score, the school might have done a poor job increasing the achievement of already high-performing students.

    ACT scores cannot tell me whether the school promotes cooperative accomplishment v. cut-throat competition or whether teachers aim to foster a love of learning in my child or just get her to push-out better test scores. The averages score is too crude a measure to tell me very much about the school — is the median score close to the mean? What’s the distribution of scores?

    Sure most of us want schools to foster learning and achievement, though I don’t know how much many of us care about the objective measurement of achievement v. our subjective assessment and the equally subjective judgment of a college admissions officer. That doesn’t mean I want my child believing that 2+2=5; rather, the weight that I place on knowledge of calculus v. trigonometry is different from that placed on it by the ACT makers (who don’t bother with calculus). The ACT English and reading sections are not asking about literary interpretation, the meaning of tragedy, or use of irony — things that I value highly.

  • 118. pantherettie  |  October 11, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    KLM – did you read the entire story? While you pointed out Beck, there were several other examples of urban prep grads that graduated from college. Beck continues to go to school but transferred Lake Forest.

  • 119. pantherettie  |  October 11, 2014 at 7:14 pm

    My post 118 refers to KLM – sorry about that I meant to write HS Mom. In either case, no irony or disrespect meant.

  • 120. HS Mom  |  October 11, 2014 at 7:35 pm

    BTW, wanted to add that I think their stories are amazing. These are kids at the top of their class at top universities….quite a challenge on top of other challenges.

    Without knowing scores or anything about them, not seeing these top kids talking med school – we’re talking a huge undertaking for any one….tough one to wrap my mind around about a 15 ACT

    If that exists at certain schools for certain kids then I’ll just leave it alone too.

  • 121. HS Mom  |  October 11, 2014 at 7:46 pm

    Yes – I pointed out the first thing I read which backs up what I said about ACT being a measure of college readiness. Judging by the schools these kids got into, I assume they had more than a 15 ACT. They went to some of the toughest colleges in America and made it through. That says a lot. I’m happy for them, happy for those who get this opportunity and think too that it will make a big difference in their lives.

    Back to the point. Is it realistic to think that a kid with a 15 ACT could go on to med school? Should we stir him/her differently? I think probably. What these 4 kids went through….white knuckling through 4+ years on and off probation. What happens next? I say train for the real job.

  • 122. klm  |  October 12, 2014 at 10:30 am


    That’s not the story to which I was referring. I’ve try to Google the story I was thinking of (from the Trib or Sun Times, I’m pretty sure, several years ago….). The story profiled several kids, including one the scored 15 on the ACT and was planning on being a cardilogist.

    Also, let’s clear up something. I’m not saying kids from Englewood or Lawndale can’t go to med school. There are kids from these neighborhood that go to WY, Linblom, etc., that do well enough on tests, classes, etc., to do great things. I know of one kids from one of my kid’s RGC that’s from Lawndale. After the RGC, he went to WY and (I’ve beed told) is at Stanford now.

    Urban Prep is not some kind of SEHS for the inner-city –its students come in way behind, often having not done well, K-8, etc. These generally aren’t the high achievers of the Westside or Southside –there are those (high-achievers) in Lawndale and other similar areas and they go to CPS SEHS, SICP (with tuition aide if they need it), etc. Often, these are kids that are having trouble with school, in life, etc., and Urban Prep tries to get them on the “right” path in life, not be the Harvard of HSs for black males (because it so clearly is not that).

    At least that’s what I’ve gleaned from the many articles written about it (every year there are more when the big, “ceremony” happens with everybody announcing that everybody ‘got into a college’).

    I’m not saying black males from the ‘hood can’t achieve, but I am saying (and this is maybe a little tough,’ but it’s true for everybody, even upper-middle class white kids from Lake Forest that are the fourth generation of their family to go to Exeter) not everybody that wants to be a cardiologist can be a cardiologist. How’s that defeatists or negative? It’s just a fact -especially if all one can do is score a 15 on the ACT (which puts one at the 17th pecentile nationally — which is in the bottom 1/5 for all students, never mind pre-meds).

    And guess what? That doesn’t mean I’m saying he’ll amount to nothing. However, there are many other things to be and do with one’s life than be a physician (especially within the huge medical idustrial complex that is U.S. Healthcare — most people working in healthcare are not physicians and most of those are not making minimum wage).

    I mean, to be a teacher in Illinois now, one has to pass the TAP exam or get a minimum of 23 of the ACT (he was 8 points away from even that). So a kid that can’t teach Kindergarten or phys ed per his ACT score is going to do fine on the MCAT, get a B or higher in Calculus, pass his licensing exams, etc., to practice medicine (a profession that even the brightest, highest-achieving students usually have to make alternative plans around, given how tough it is to get into an American allopathic med school)?

    I’m nor being negative as much as I’m trying to point out how a student like that has been screwed –he’s grades behind his just plain “average” suburban peers and now he’s planning on doing something that will never work out. It’s sad. It’s like he’s being set up for failure and he’s not in the position, given his life circumstances, to ease his way around another failure or a big hole that’s hard to get out of.

    There are other black males in his position (growing up in the inner-city) that can and do become cardiologists, but they attend HSs that get them ready for pre-med classes and the rigors of highly competetive med school admissions, not just plant grandiose notions of doing great things in life without the actual education, knowledge and levels of achievement necessary to get there. I think that one criticaism of Urban Prep is that, for the relative few kids that make it through (it kicks out lots), they get kids dreaming big, which is great, but they don’t get kids on the right path, achievement-wise to really succeed and follow their dreams.

  • 123. klm  |  October 12, 2014 at 11:12 am


    I get all that, but even if want all those things, too, for my kid’s education (which I definitely do), I still want to know how well (or not) kids are achieving compared to kids elsewhere.

    Eventually my kids will competing with everybody else for a place in engineering school, nursing school, occupational therapy programs, etc., so if kids at other schools are doing a whole lot better at certain schools than at others, it kinda’ makes me think about these thinbgs (ACT, ‘exceeds’ % on the PSAE, etc.).

    I know enough about education to realize that the “teach to the test” -type curriculums are happening most often NOT at the high-achieving, lots of kids doing well/exceeding -type schools (they don’t have to ‘teach to the test’ –their kids already are rocking them) but at schools that are under pressure to bring up scores, due to stats that some people (prospective parents, CPS, ISBE, whoever) find troublesome. Lincoln’s principal, for eample, prides himself on the fact that his school educates its students well enough, so that they automaticallty do well on the ISAT. I’ve heard (from parents, although I haven’t actuilly seen it myself) that some CPS schools have kids doing sheet after sheet of ISAT practice work.

    I don’t know, but I’d guess that a HS like Senn or LV is doing more s-increasing-scores-is-more-important–than-broadly-developing-mutifaceted-intellect stuff than, say WY, Jones, LPIB or NSCP.

    The drill-and-kill sheets prepping kids for the ISAT or PSAE, etc., happen at lower scoring schools. Yes, in literature, math, science, etc., I want my kids to have context, higher order thinking, the ability to learn-how-to-learn/think, etc. —but it’s so often the higher scoring schools that are providing that, IMHO.

    Also, there are published figures about public HSs and the average first year GPA at state college like UIUC (the Trib’s ‘school finder’/best schools section used to go into detail, from ISBE stats). Guess what? The HSs with the kids doing best on the ACT had way higher GPAs at UIUC than school where kids were admitted with lower ACTs (often something significant, like 3.4 vs. 2.3).

    I KNOW the ACT, % of kids that “exceed” standards on the PSAE, etc., are not the end all and be all in terms of a HS and its educational experience provided to students, but it still means a lot. How can it not?

    I think that among some people (the ‘Fair Test’ crowd that’s always mentioning how at Lab they don’t make kids take many achievement tests like at CPS schools [well, not kidding –it’s one of the best schools in the country, public or private, with some of the highest SATs at the end of it all –who doesn’t already know those kids are getting a ‘good’ education’]), there’s such a anti-testing sentiment that they sometimes refuse to see anything worthy or especially informative about ACT results, even when they clearly show that med school’s a no-way-in-hell-ever dream or that certain HSs are failing too many students, academically. However, that’s not how most parents think (and that’s not how things work out in Physics 101 freshman year at UIUC –I’d bet a million dollars that the kids that perform 30+ on the ACT do better, on average). Also, it appears that, all things being equal, kids that score higher on the ACT actually do better in college and are more able to perform higher-level thinking activities and fulfill their dreams through educatuion, no matter if they major in philosophy, French literature, Physics, Computer Science or Social Work.

    Meanwhile, i want to know how my kids’ schools are measuring up in terms of achievement. I care about how any potential HS is doing, too. Why would I not?

  • 124. Susan A. Lofton  |  October 12, 2014 at 10:02 pm

    Ah yes. Teach to the test/raise scores vs. a more open-ended, socratic curriculum. Is one sacrificed for the other, especially in neighborhood schools where some students have not arrived with all the desired study skills and have NWEA scores that are average or below average?

    Regarding schools like Senn or LV raising ACT scores in sacrifice of intellectual and conceptual thought–can’t speak for LV, but I can speak for Senn. The entire reason that ACT scores at Senn are going up is because of the heavily conceptual and deeply intellectual engagement with ideas, texts, problems, and such. Test prep helps but can only do so much. Students need to be thinkers. That’s really the crux of IB. To be perfectly blunt, we have had some high performing students on ISAT/NWEA wind up in tutoring because they couldn’t write well, form an independent hypothesis, or find more than one solution to a math problem. But they sure could pick out the best answer of the choices offered. Not the same thing.

    There has got to be a balance.

    I have noticed a lot of metrical research on this thread. The numbers cited from IL and CPS are from 2013 or earlier.Please keep doing your research. 2014 is about to post soon (we hope), and you will see gains for many neighborhood schools.

    You will see that Senn’s ACT went up more than a point from last year for the entire school (including LEP and IEP) and has gone up every year since 2010. The school as a whole made a 4.2 gain from Grade 9 to ACT. IB diploma prep students made a 7 point gain from Explore to ACT; fine arts honors made a 5-6 point gain. Comparatively, a good magnet or selective school made between a 3.8 to 5 point gain.

    We know ACT scores can bring in college acceptances and scholarships, but just as important is writing, discussion, and self-efficacy, which aren’t really scored by the ACT. The IB program does measure these kinds of skills through open-ended, essay, and oral exams. The Theory of Knowledge course is possibly the best prep for college. This course asks students to consider how they learn, how they construct knowledge, and to explore what is knowledge. Students engage in independent research and serious debate. At Senn, it requires an extended essay, and the majority of students say it is one of their favorite courses.

    Our 2014 IB diplomas earned rate is 71% (worldwide, usually fully selective or elite schools, is 75%). At Senn, 3 subject areas had a higher composite than the world wide average (humanities,art, and Spanish). English and maths came within a .5 of the worldwide average. And this is IB, which is far more conceptual and analytic than the ACT. IB places a premium on writing and explaining one’s thinking rather than pick A, B, C, D . . . . Senn IB diploma prep/MYP students were not perfect students in 7th grade. But their families were committed to learning and supported the program. Teachers provided opportunties for discourse, analysis, and reflection. And yes, ACT prep afterschool in Grade 11.

    We have a student attendance rate that is right there along side selective schools. Our graduation rate is about to catch up to the more selective schools. This is the metric that is the absolute slowest to catch up to current reality. We won’t see accurate Senn metrics for the students who have been in the school since the administrative, program, and curriculum change until 2015, given that the very first year (2010-11) was a “straightening out” year. The currently posted rate reflects students who were in the school prior to IB wall to wall, magnet arts, wrap arounds, and other supports.

    The best way to see is to come into the school and have your child do a shadow date. Empircal evidence can be really helpful and has its place.

    Senn’s open house is November 1st, 9:00 – 12:00. Also, go online at cps.edu or sennhs. org to learn about IB info sessions (a CPS must to remain in the IB selection process). We also do Tuesday shadow days.

    Not that the other principals need me to speak for them, but I am putting this out here for the neighborhood schools discussed in this thread. CPS O families, your community needs you to check out your local high school and provide feedback to the principal, whether or not you choose to send your child there. Your insights help us improve.

    CPS O readers do great research! Multiple forms of evidence will help you make the best decision. Best wishes to all as we enter the high school selection process. Hope you will come visit us!

    Susan A. Lofton
    Senn High School

  • 125. klm  |  October 13, 2014 at 7:04 am


    Ms. Lofton, thank-you so much for your thoughtful and informative contribution. I means so much for me and parents like me (who are ‘pro-public education’ and want so bad for certain schools to be viable options, but who may be leary, given stats, scores, negative things we’ve heard, etc.).

    Your response alone would make me consider your school, if it were time.

    In the past, when some people have brought concerns about test scores, relative rigor, etc., it seems like the reaction has been too dismiisive or simply to ignore genuine concerns –the usual “tests are biased, so they don’t represent anything important, the schools with high scores have them only because most of their kids come from affluent homes where they’ve been coddled since before they were born, unlike our “real” kids, etc.

    You don’t do that, which I respect. Plus you do a great job talking up your IB program –you’ve kinda’ sold me on that one. Thanks.

  • 126. edgewatermom  |  October 13, 2014 at 10:05 am

    @124 Ms. Lofton,

    Thank you for your thoughtful response. Like KLM, you have also sold me on the idea of IB! Your post made me remember the many things that I have heard about the IB programs and why I like them.

    When we are looking at test scores for schools, you are right that it is really important to look at the improvement in a student’s scores from one year to the next. I think that this gives parents a much better ability to predict how their child might do at a given school.

    It is great to read a breakdown of the schools by program. I really wish that when students and parents are evaluating schools, they could look at the results for the program that their child is interested in. For example, it would be much more useful to compare the Senn IB program to the Lincoln Park IB program than Senn to Lincoln Park as a whole, or the Senn Fine Arts Program to ChiArts. I would love to be able to see how students in these programs scored year to year.

    Thanks again for all of your hard work at Senn. It is wonderful to have such an excellent choice available in our neighborhood!

  • 127. CPS mom too  |  October 13, 2014 at 10:28 am

    @124 Ms Lofton

    As the parent of young kids (preK and 1st grade) in the Senn attendance area, we are so excited to read about the good things going on at Senn. Thank you, Ms. Lofton, for all your hard work and enthusiasm.

    I’ve got a younger family member who just graduated from an IB diploma program and went to a competitive east coast college (not an Ivy, but a good one). She said that she felt like the IB curriculum was a great preparation for college work, even going so far as to say that some of her first and second year humanities classes are easier than what she took in high school.

  • 128. mom2  |  October 13, 2014 at 10:46 am

    Thank you, Ms. Lofton. That was so helpful. If anyone has contact with the principal at Lakeview, please ask him to post here with some similar type of information. It would be great to have updates on the progress at Senn and LV as the school year goes on, too. We all really appreciate it!

  • 129. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  October 13, 2014 at 1:46 pm


    Our 2014 IB diplomas earned rate is 71% (worldwide, usually fully selective or elite schools, is 75%).

    This is impressive.

  • 130. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  October 13, 2014 at 3:07 pm


    The ACTs can tell you this, at least on average:

    …I still want to know how well (or not) kids are achieving compared to kids elsewhere.

    but they cannot tell you this:

    …they sometimes refuse to see anything worthy or especially informative about ACT results, even when they clearly show…that certain HSs are failing too many students, academically.

    The ACTs don’t measure input, only output. That’s the point of my 2nd graf @117. If not for the efforts of teachers at school x, the average might well have been lower than 14. We should equally ask why the ACT avgs. for Payton and Northside aren’t in the 30s given the selectivity of the schools, but most people would be apoplectic if I suggested this as evidence that these schools were failing their students.

    The ACT’s High School to College Freshmen Success Report for UIUC shows that students with ACT scores in the 1-15 range had an avg. 1st year GPA of 2.85 v. 3.35 for students with ACTs in the 33-36 range (chart 5, p.5). So poor ACT scores on average yield a B- and high ACT scores yield a B+. A difference, I grant, but one that separates educational failure from educational success.

  • 131. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  October 13, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    …but [not] one that separates failure from success.

  • 132. pantherparent  |  October 13, 2014 at 4:38 pm

    Although imperfect, it only makes sense to use average ACT scores as a comparison tool between high schools. Especially neighborhood schools. If school A has a 20.1 average and school B has a 17.2, I’m leaning to school A.

    Isn’t this one of the goals of publishing test results? To give parents something tangible to look at for just these purposes?

    @130 A fair assumption is that a student at UIUC with an ACT score of 1-15 is in an “easy” major. Liberal Arts, General Studies, Theory of Basketball. While a student with an average ACT score of 33-36 is in engineering or commerce. Are you really suggesting that a B- average in basic algebra is statistically insignificant to a B+ in differential equations?

  • 133. HSObsessed  |  October 13, 2014 at 8:35 pm

    I just spent some time looking at the on line high school guide for the 2015-2016 year, and I like the layout of it. Like you say CPSO @102, it’s got boxes of information nicely laid out like the # of AP course each school offers and college enrollment rate. But yeah, too many average ACT scores of 15 or so, and woefully low percentage of kids who are meeting or exceeding state standards by junior year. Karet @152 said it would be good to get the top 20% of ACT scorers and although we can’t get that data easily, if you look at a school and see that only 14.5% are meeting or exceeding PSAE standards by junior year (like at Schurz HS), you can glean information from just that alone.

    I heard a statistic via some media source a few weeks ago, that only 8% of CPS students entering high school eventually earn a bachelor’s degree. That’s so depressing. Although I’m a firm believer that you don’t need to go to college to have a happy and productive life, this number is way, way too low.

  • 134. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  October 14, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    @132 You are correct that ACT averages by school get published so that parents can compare the schools, but it is a lousy metric for this for the reasons that I gave. Say you were comparing the IB Diploma programs at Prosser and Amundsen. Amundsen has a non-selective neighborhood education program while Prosser does not. But the ACT or PSAE scores for IB contingents at each school are not available. So we have an apples-to-oranges comparison, even if you relied on the ACT score.

    On ACT to GPA, that’s how ACT reports the data and treats the GPAs across initial ACTs as comparable. In the same document, you can compare Lake View students, who with 5 pt. lower ACTs than Payton students at UIUC put in more credit hours on average and get a 2.9 GPA v. Payton students, who get a 3.13 (only 1 Lake View student took a remedial course). Not a big payoff from having a higher incoming ACT.

  • 135. edgewatermom  |  October 14, 2014 at 1:21 pm


    Say you were comparing the IB Diploma programs at Prosser and Amundsen. Amundsen has a non-selective neighborhood education program while Prosser does not. But the ACT or PSAE scores for IB contingents at each school are not available. So we have an apples-to-oranges comparison, even if you relied on the ACT score.

    This is why I REALLY wish that CPS would publish the scores of programs within schools (IB, Fine Arts, Von Steuben Scholars etc). I do not understand why the do not publish this information. It makes it really difficult when you cannot compare programs.

    Has anybody ever pushed CPS to publish this information? Is there a reason that they do not. I am pretty sure that each school HAS that information, so I am not clear why it is not made available to the public.

    It would also be really helpful to see the pass rate for IB and AP exams, but I would settle for ACT scores.

  • 136. cpsobsessed  |  October 14, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    It IS frustrating. In most cases I suspect it would only help to draw interest in these programs as the scores would look better.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 137. karet  |  October 14, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    klm, I found an excerpt of the article about Urban Prep that you mentioned on a blog (it appears the original article appeared in the Sun Times, but the link to it didn’t work). The student is Robert Lee Henderson, who also is profiled in the more recent Tribune article. He’s the one from Englewood who graduated from Lake Forest (no mention of medical school in the recent article).

    This is from the first article (2010):
    Senior Robert Lee Henderson III said Urban Prep helped him develop a resume that won him acceptance at prestigious Johns Hopkins, even though he scored only a 15 on his ACT.

    Urban Prep requires every student to join after-school activities. All are offered internships. Henderson ran with this, eventually becoming, among other things, captain of the varsity football and wrestling teams, vice president of the science club, and a summer intern at the city treasurer’s office and the city comptroller’s office.

    Urban Prep’s four years of double-period English, as well as a senior class that helps kids write personal college statements, prepared Henderson for the heavy writing needed just to apply for college.

    Johns Hopkins seemed more impressed with his 3.8 GPA and his extracurriculars than his ACT, said Henderson, who will probably attend another college that is offering him a better financial package.

    “The ACT does not determine how smart you are,” he said.

    Four years ago, Henderson said, he chose Urban Prep over Whitney Young Magnet because “I needed positive male role models.” His father killed his mother when he was 2 years old, he said, and he and his six siblings have been raised by their grandmother in West Englewood.

    At Urban Prep, Henderson said, he learned more than math and science, which he hopes to use some day to become a cardiologist. The school’s strict discipline, strong work ethic and “no excuses” philosophy has stuck with him.

    “The school puts it in your head, ‘Don’t make any excuses,’” Henderson said. “Freshman year, everybody got a watch, so you’d know to always be on time.”

    “I learned how to be a better man, how to have civilized conversations with adults, how to be responsible for my own actions.”

  • 138. edgewatermom  |  October 14, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    @137 When he says that he chose Urban Prep over Whitney Young, is he saying that he was accepted at Whitney Young but chose to go to Urban Prep, or does he mean that he chose not to apply to Whitney Young?

  • 139. Uncertain0  |  October 14, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    137. This is interesting. 3.8 GPA (on a 4.0 scale?) and a 15 ACT? Something seems really off here.

    138 . If he got into Whitney Young, how? The tier system?

  • 140. ACT overrated?  |  October 14, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    I have worked with a number of young people who have stories somewhat like this young man’s. I once mentored a CPS student who had an ACT of 14 and went on to earn a master’s degree. I can’t explain why but I do know that low ACT scores do not always correlate to low grades and/or low academic potential. I have seen research that suggests high school grades are actually better predictors of success in college than ACT scores because grades are better indicators of the non-cognitive traits like persistence that will help students succeed in the long run.

  • 141. mom2  |  October 14, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    I so agree with ACT overrated. One test, one day in your life compared with grades which is an entire school year (or 4 school years) worth of effort. No comparison. That’s why many colleges are getting away from caring about the ACT or SAT for admissions. Schools like UIUC and other big ten schools should wake up and realize they are making decisions based on the wrong things and offering financial aid based on these same wrong things. They aren’t really looking at the whole child even though they claim that they do.

  • 142. (ex) CPS Parent  |  October 14, 2014 at 5:49 pm

    Good schools do look at the whole child – ACT/SAT is just one component. Bad schools (and/or financially limited schools like UIUC) look at gpa and standardized tests only. In their defense, UIUC admissions staffers will readily admit that essays although required, are not read and admission is purely a gpa SAT calculation. UIUC does not claim to do “holistic” admission.

  • 143. HSObsessed  |  October 14, 2014 at 7:59 pm

    @135 – There is tons of data on the AP participation rate and pass rate, broken down by school and over the course of several years, on the CPS Data website.

  • 144. karet  |  October 14, 2014 at 9:14 pm

    @138, It sounds like he got into Whitney Young, doesn’t it? Perhaps PD. He certainly has a compelling story — and he’s a good athlete.

  • 145. pantherettie  |  October 14, 2014 at 10:39 pm

    Wow – does it really matter how he got into WY or what tier he lived in when he applied? Why question the validity of his GPA? Is an “A” only an “A” at certain SEHS and not other non-SEHS schools? Isn’t the story that he got into Hopkins with his 15 on the ACT and his stellar grades and strong extracurriculars? Isn’t it interesting that Hopkins admissions thought that his score on the ACT wasn’t indicative of his ability to attend the school. I’m glad he had a college counselor that didn’t tell him to adjust his goals downward to
    a more “attainable” school. I hope that he receives strong support and mentoring at Hopkins so that he can continue to pursue his goals.

  • 146. karet  |  October 14, 2014 at 10:49 pm

    @145, I agree — I didn’t mean to discredit his achievements. It’s interesting that he chose Urban Prep over WY, though — don’t you think?

  • 147. pantherettie  |  October 15, 2014 at 5:55 am

    @146 – I think that WY is not the top choice of a school for many kids. So, no I’m not surprised that this student chose not to attend it. For many kids, the transportation to and from WY could be the difference between school success and failure. Maybe he wanted the experience and support of a smaller school? Who knows, I just think that it’s a very strong possibility that there are kids just like him who make the decision to decline the “honor” of attending an SEHS that doesn’t fit them for a neighborhood or charter school. It may seem like it never happens when reading this posts from this board, but it does in my community. Specific personal example – my dd did not like anything about WY. If we had made the mistake of putting it as her first choice AC we would have declined. She has the 7th grade grades and MAPs scores ( based on last year’s cutoffs and if she does reasonably well on the entrance exam) to get into WY(or Jones or WP). She won’t leave Lindblom and she still wouldn’t consider WY. Just so you know we’re a solid middle class family, live in tier 4 neighborhood, 2 college educated parents and WY was not our destination/goal school either. Casting a wide net sometimes really brings up gems that you may not have considered.

  • 148. klm  |  October 15, 2014 at 7:26 am


    I’m thinking that maybe that student was talking in terms of where he was “considering” for HS. We all know the pointes needed for WY, even Tier 1, etc., so a kid that’s getting a 15 on the ACT (the 17th percentile) like would not have got in, IMO. Also, don’t forget the NCLB mechanism that’s been used to get a certain % of kids from the worst performing CPS K-8 schools with the highest % of low-income kids in all the SEHSs.

    I will say this, having black relatives and friends (ranging from lower-middle to upper-middle class/black bourgeoisie) from the Southside and being married to a black person (although not from Chicago). WY does have a special place in many black Chicagoans’ hearts. It’s an established school with lots of really smart black kids who compete (and get the high scores on achievement tests, along with the white and Asian kids, unlike at say, Evanston Twp HS, or OPRF HS [where there’s a chasm b/t the achievement levels of white and black kids and often a subsequent ‘cultural devide’ b/t groups of the high-achievers vs. keeping-it–real kids that’s upsetting ]).

    I know of, for example, one of my spouses’s second cousins (grew up middle-class in South Shore, Southside parochial school, then WY, Name College, then med school, now an OBGYN, nice house in Hyde Park) had a child at Lenart, now 2nd generation WY (over both Lab [which would have cost $120k] and SICP where he was accepted, he told me) and he’s proud, proud, proud of that kid (looking into Ivy League colleges, etc.,–one kid on their block went to WY and now’s at Yale, he told me, playing football and doing well). Would they have beenseriously looking at Urpan Prep? I can’t imagine.

    There’s something very special about seeing one’s black child in a high-achieving environment where the AP Calculus and AP Chemistry classes have lots of other black kinds in them, not the fly-in-the-buttermilk atmosphere at some other “good” HSs, private or public.

    “Keeping it real” at WY means getting a good score on the AP Statistics exam and considering a career in computer engineering or medicine (for real, not as a daydream), not coming to school to ‘chill and succumb to the “cool posse” peer group that’s going nowhere in life, at least in terms of high-achieving-good-grades-test-scores-required careers, except for maybe dreams of NBA or Entertainment/Music stardom (and how likely is that?).

    Now there’s Payton (which gets its fair share of smart kids of all races) and NSCP (but that’s WAY far north for kids from Pill Hill, Chatham, Hyde Park, etc., which makes WY even more desirable b/c of its location and ‘tradition’ for some people).

    I understand that it’s just my experience and observation, so I’m not saying “Here is how it is, let me tell you The Truth.” But I kinda’ think that there’s seomething to it.

    If there’s a school that’s “Harvard” of public HSs for lots of black Chicagoans, tradition-wise, many would say WY.

    Urban Prep’s for kids that are coming from very difficult backgrounds, dysfunctional family structures, war-zone crime levels, etc., and that need a boost and structure to get on track, especially since they’re typically grades behind, unlike a school like WY where, no matter where one comes (Eglewood or Hyde Park, Lawndale or Lincoln Park) from, one’s “smart” and capable of competing and must have been a good student just to get in (unless it’s through some kind of back-door process to get the best players on the basketball team or some kind of NCLB mechanism), so there’s not the ” ‘token’ smart black kid” atmosphere that can seem exist at some schools (real or not, but it may still feel that way).

  • 149. pantherettie  |  October 15, 2014 at 8:14 am

    Interesting perspective KLM. Maybe someone else could also give a perspective? I am not from Chicago so I don’t share the same historical opinion of WY. My DH is and he and his family don’t have the same vision/thoughts about WY. Do your kids go to WY?

  • 150. klm  |  October 15, 2014 at 9:16 am


    Living where I live (Northside) and from the people around me (parents of my kids’ classmates, neighbord friends, etc.–among those ‘from Chicago,’ lots went to SICP, a few to Lane, there’s Parker and Latin, of course, many had families that moved to the suburbs to go to New Trier, etc. ) I’d never have thought of WY in that way, either.

    While in 2014 it’s, if anything, a big advantage to be an URM in private school admissions, 2+ generations ago it was the complete opposite. Acorrdingly, there likely has not been as much as much “tradition” of private schools for many black families (plus fewer black families were Catholic or Lutheran back then), even among those that could afford it, from what I’ve gathered. There was also the fear of sending one’s kid to a school “where they’ll be in a fish bowl” as the only or one of a few black kids, etc, especially back when there was more open hostility to integration in Chicago (death threats for black families moving in to certain neighborhoods, etc. –in that kind of atmoshere who’d want their kid to be in the ‘target group’ at a first-one-ever integration move at certain schools).

    I think for the tippy top of Chicago’s black elite (the Obamas, Jarrets, etc. [although Valerie Jarret went to the same New England boarding school as my spouse]) Lab’s THE place to send one’s kids since it’s been nicely integrated for a while and close by to Hyde Park and Kenwood (the ‘Gold Coast’ of Chicago’s black elite).

    For lots of black families that I know, however, WY is kinda’ the gold standard, since there wasn’t the family tradition of going to SICP, Loyola, Latin, etc. (even if they could afford it which very few black families generations back then couid –they would have been precluded or “discouraged’ from attending because of their race). By the 1970s, many CPS neighborhood HSs were dysfunctional failure factories, so WY was a real improvement –a public high school among the best in the state, but with a diverse student body. My spouse’s cousin that i mentioned above graduated from WY a year before Michelle Obama.

  • 151. mom2  |  October 15, 2014 at 10:51 am

    @142 (ex)CPS Parent – I disagree about UIUC. When my kid was applying to college, their rep that visited our school told us they look at the whole child. I just agreeing with you that they don’t (and maybe they should).

  • 152. Chris  |  October 15, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    “When my kid was applying to college, their rep that visited our school told us they look at the whole child.”

    Well of course they do in recruiting presentations–need to keep the application numbers up to keep the acceptance rate down to keep the USNews ranking up.

    (ex)CPS was talking about those private moments of honesty. Don’t know if it is actually 100% true, but your experience is certainly not dispositive.

  • 153. AW  |  October 15, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    AMUNDSEN HIGH SCHOOL will host an Open House on Saturday, November 8, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Amundsen is a rapidly improving neighborhood high school with a strong IB program, an excellent safety record and many extracurriculars and sports.

    Enter the school through its main entrance (Door 4) located on the East side of the building. Free parking is available to the immediate south of the school along Damen Avenue, just east of the 42 acre Winnemac Park.

    Regular school tours are also offered every first Friday and second Thursday of the month at 10 a.m. No appointment necessary but you can call the school at (773) 534-2320 for details.

    And for those 8th graders (only) applying to the IB, there will be a meeting at Amundsen at 9am on Saturday, January 17, 2015 You must register ahead of time. Parents are welcome.


  • 154. (ex) CPS Parent  |  October 15, 2014 at 4:12 pm

    152. Chris – Yes, this was directly from a admission person doing a group presentation at the school for the tour we did two years ago – they do not read the essays. It is purely a GPA and SAT rubric by which admission is determined for each intended major/school within the institution.

  • 155. IB Obsessed  |  October 15, 2014 at 5:30 pm

    It is faster and easier to base judgments upon simple metrics. Takes less staff less time and costs less $. No need for reflection or thought over what an essay reveals about a student…..
    The illusion of objectivity
    The ability to automate the decision

    … these are the reasons education has become ‘data’ obsessed, from ISATs to SE entrance exams, to parent conclusions about worthy schools, to measurement of school yearly progress …

    But only low those ACT liberal arts majors would be concerned about that 😉

  • 156. (ex) CPS Parent  |  October 15, 2014 at 5:50 pm

    155. IB Obsessed, yes, consequences of the dire financial shape of Illinois has an impact at UIUC. The dilapidated physical plant, the simplistic admissions process and the reason for 600 mainland Chinese freshmen this year out of a class of 8,000.

  • 157. klm  |  October 16, 2014 at 7:29 am


    Yes, it’s troubling. UIUC’s Engineering School is still one of the best in the world per pretty much anybody’s or any publication’s “ranking.” Many other programs are still great, too. Being the state’s flagship school, UIUC still gets lots of smart kids, etc.

    But how much longer, if it continues down the road as a financially troubled institution that’s not keeing up with its peers (Michigan, Northwestern, Wisconsin, etc.)?

    Anybody been to Ann Arbor lately? Talk about impressive, almost constantly improving infrastructure, especially in the STEM areas. U-M is in a state school that’s in a state that’s been even worse economically than Illinois, but it’s raised lots of private money, made smart infrastructure investments to attract and keep world-class academics, makes keeping faculty remuneration high to get the best people in its faculty, has tons of highly-qualified out-of-staters that are happy to pay as much for undergrad tuition as it costs to go to Northwestern (and it’s TOUGH for an out-of-state student to get in, since there’s a 40% ‘limit’ for undergrads). Michigan’s had no choice but to become a quasi-private school with a “public” mantle that still gives preference to state residents, despite getting hardly anything from its state government anymore, all the while building a big, muli-billion endowment with private money….. etc.

    U-M’s a fantastic state school in an economically lousy state whose fortunes have gone down the tubes more than any other in the country, but it still manages to have and remain one of the best universitis in the country/world with graduate programs that Ivy Leaguers are thrilled to be admitted to.

    Illinois’s got Chicago, Michigan has Detroit, for God’s sake.

    So, why can’t UIUC be more like U-M?

  • 158. klm  |  October 16, 2014 at 7:30 am

    I meant “@156.”

  • 159. pantherparent  |  October 16, 2014 at 9:48 am

    As a U of I graduate and someone who just visited the campus with my son last week, I feel compelled to mention that U of I has always had this simplistic admission model. In the 80s they put out a chart with ACT score and GPA and you’d find where your scores intersect and it told you yes or no on admissions. Money savings may be a factor but the policy is nothing new to the school. And our new data-based obsession didn’t even exist when the procedure started.

    I’m not sure what the “dilapidated physical plant” means, but the campus looked as good as ever, especially the relatively new engineering campus. Throw in Blue Waters, the fastest supercomputer on any campus, and the College of Engineering maintains its status as one of the best in the country. That’s not ending any time soon.

    Finally, the reason UIUC can’t be more like UM is Michigan State University. The overflow of in-state students that can’t get into Michigan can go to Michigan State, another large, prestigious public university. This allows the University of Michigan to be more choosy and allows them to accept a large number of out-of-state students thus building a national reputation. UIUC doesn’t have the luxury.

  • 160. HS Mom  |  October 16, 2014 at 9:01 pm

    @132 “A fair assumption is that a student at UIUC with an ACT score of 1-15 is in an “easy” major. Liberal Arts, General Studies, Theory of Basketball”

    The middle 50% of Liberal Arts majors have ACTs of 27-32 putting LAS towards the top of their charts for academic requirements.

    While U of M is accepting larger numbers of out of state students and offering their kids a viable alternative, UIUC continues to grow it’s foreign population instead of lowering the bar to allow Illinois kids who do not have “the luxury”. The other important difference in how Michigan takes care of their own – U of M will pay 100% need for all in state students who get in.

    UIUC, on the other hand, is frequently rejected by Illinois kids who get scholarships to other schools in other states.


    “University of Illinois officials say they may need to boost financial aid because state students are increasingly choosing to go elsewhere for college.”

  • 161. IBobsessed  |  October 16, 2014 at 9:34 pm

    Thanks for that info HS Mom. Despite the assumptions of some engineering types, talented students do choose liberal arts. (And no, LA was not my major).

    It would make an interesting study to look at the history of the Michigan public higher ed. institutions as compared to IL. What did they do differently. It makes no sense that MI’s public university system should be healthier than IL’s. We have native, in-state wealth and brain power that MI does not.

  • 162. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  October 17, 2014 at 9:49 am

    UM is much larger than UIUC — UM’s Health & Medicine revenue is greater than all UIUC’s revenue. In absolute dollars, UM receives more state aid than UICU — $316 million in FY14 v. $237 million for UIUC, but far less in % of total revenue. UIUC has much smaller endowment income in than UM. UM’s endowment is more than 4x the size of the endowment for the entire UI system, not just the UC campus.

  • 163. Linda M  |  October 18, 2014 at 7:38 am

    I love the NWEA. Our daughter scored in the 99th percentile. On the SAT-10 she only scored in the mid 80’s. We will probably send her to private school, but it will be nice to have Payton as a backup (or a move to the burbs). She had some test prep and her school does Algebra I in 7th grade so that helped (math is her weaker subject). Now to prep for ISEE & SSAT. Good luck to all on the SEHS!

  • 164. cpsobsessed  |  October 18, 2014 at 8:12 am

    @lindaM – how do you/your child feel about a possible suburb move?
    It’s hard not to covet what the high school’s offer there for sure, but I really like the idea of the chicago high school experience – kids being indep in getting to school, friends from throughout the city

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 165. pantherparent  |  October 19, 2014 at 9:19 am

    As someone who has been through this process twice (and currently has two children at SEHS), here’s a quick list of things I’ve learned to look for:

    1. Fit. The most important factor is how does this school fit my child’s personality. Yes, you can get a feel for a school and its culture during these visits. Schools and students have vibes.

    2. Commute. This is often overlooked but is hugely important. How will your child get to school? You will both be going back and forth to the school more than you realize. Your child, an overachiever, will be in clubs/sports/band. That sometimes means a 12 hour day. How will they get home? Or when you want to see their game or they forgot a paper at home (yes, it happens in high school too) it’s much better to have a 20 minute drive instead of 45.

    3. Ask questions to everyone at the tour. The adults you see helping at these events are parents of students. Talk to them. The tour guide is a student. Talk to her. The parent next to you in line may have another child. Talk to him. My favorite question to students is “What’s the worst thing about going here?” Usually they say “The food.” but sometimes you get a helpful answer.

    4. Every SEHS school is good. And so are many locals. And don’t let anyone tell you different. Our list-based society has many parents ruling out schools automatically that aren’t at the top. Don’t be a Northside or nothing parent. I know even Lane is often overlooked by the PaNYJ crowd. But spend 5 minutes there and you’ll realize that Lane kids truly feel their high school is the city’s best. Don’t let outside forces choose the high school. It’s your child.

    5. Get to these tours either very early or very late. They get jammed. We’ve had great luck going at the end. Yes, we’ve missed the occasional dog-and-pony show at the auditorium, but better than standing in line for 2 hours. And you usually have a chance to talk to the teachers and often the principal since its less crowded.

    6. It’s your child’s decision. Yes, this will be the toughest one. Of course you will suggest and guide and steer, but your child will succeed when it’s his choice instead of yours.

    Good luck, everyone.

  • 166. klae  |  October 19, 2014 at 11:03 am

    Went to Jones’ open house yesterday. They said they would accept 425 total students this year, 75 CTE students and 350 SEHS students.

  • 167. edgewatermom  |  October 19, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    I also went to the Jones’ open house yesterday and was very impressed with the school. We attended one of the Math sessions to learn a bit more about IMP and I really like the approach. (Unfortunately dd did NOT want to stay for the actual sample IMP Math lesson. 🙂 )

    She mentioned that Jones and Northside are the only 2 CPS schools using IMP. Does anybody here have experience with IMP? I am curious to get feedback from people who have used the curriculum.

  • 168. HS Mom  |  October 19, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    @167 – Although we did not choose Jones for its IMP math, it wound up being a “bonus” for us. My son has a sense for numbers and does everything in his head. IMP is more about explaining the concept than showing your work type of approach. After 3 years of IMP, he scored over 30 on the ACT (whatever value that has). Many colleges consider IMP a plus in that it is very compatible with their teaching philosophies.

    Having said that, I don’t know how comparatively he would have done under the standard track, which I can only assume offers it’s own advantages. I find the comments from a couple commentators above with 1 kid in IMP and the other in regular to be interesting and insightful. For us, it was a good fit and I’m glad to have had the opportunity.

  • 169. klae  |  October 19, 2014 at 4:55 pm

    We made the trek to Whitney’s open house today as well. Was impressed with how organized the thing was, and especially the school spirit atmosphere. Our tour guide said that they would be accepting a total of 400 freshman I think? Because the academic center already has a 100 coming in.

    Can anyone help us with deciding between the two? (Whitney and Jones) to put for our first choice? Was really impressed with the state of Jones’ new building and all, but Whitney had its advantages too.

  • 170. cpsobsessed  |  October 19, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    Potentially helpful article on decision-making. A friend of mine just posted it on FB, relating it to the HS decision process.


  • 171. edgewatermom  |  October 19, 2014 at 5:27 pm

    @169 klae I have heard that Whitney is a bit more intense and competitive than Jones, but that is really just hearsay. For us, the commute would definitely factor in. If your child is equally interested in both schools, I would definitely want to do a trial run of public transport to and from each school.

  • 172. SM  |  October 19, 2014 at 9:21 pm

    Thoughts on this weekend’s tours: Jones & Whitney.

    I was sure that my kid was going to prefer Jones over Whitney, but I was wrong. My kid was certainly impressed with the Jones building and also liked the IMP math. But the enthusiasm and variety of course offerings at Whitney won him over. For him, the science and language opportunities were the most important items on his wish list. Having spent more time this evening going over course offerings from all the schools we are looking at, I think it will come down to Lane or Whitney. The variety of class offerings at Lane is impressive.

    #169: did you look over the course catalogs with your child? Maybe that will help you decide?

  • 173. Dimples  |  October 19, 2014 at 9:29 pm

    is there a general opinion on whether it’s advantageous to take the high school entrance exam early or wait until Jan. or Feb? Our 8th grade Algebra teacher said he didn’t think it would make a difference.

  • 174. SM  |  October 19, 2014 at 9:37 pm

    Aw, CPSO, wish I could read your link, but have to be digital subscriber.

  • 175. cpsobsessed  |  October 19, 2014 at 9:48 pm

    Boo, that’s weird – I’m not… let me see if I can post it differently.

  • 176. cpsobsessed  |  October 19, 2014 at 9:50 pm

    Couple key points:

    Q: Isn’t one alternative always ultimately going to be better?

    A: No. It’s common for people to think that having one superior outcome is just a fact in the world, and there’s the assumption that everything containing value has to be lineally ordered. That might work for lengths and weights, but it doesn’t work for values. One outcome will be better in some ways, the other better in other ways. That’s what I think of as an important third step: recognition. The world doesn’t have the answer to what you should do.

    Q: Is it still of use to solicit advice from others?

    A: Absolutely. Asking trusted advisers what they think also often sheds light on how you should understand the options. The opinions of other people and the impact our choices will have on them affect our thinking, but ultimately you have to make a decision for yourself.

  • 177. IBobsessed  |  October 19, 2014 at 10:50 pm

    Did most HS parents on here let the student choose the HS they would attend assuming they got in? Anyone’s student just become overwhelmed and not know what they wanted or flip/flop preferences? Did you steer yours away from/towards a particular school? Did you forbid any school?

  • 178. cpsobsessed  |  October 19, 2014 at 11:21 pm

    There will be a northside local high school fair at Lake View this Weds night. I will be chaperoneing a 2 day school field trip (yikes) so I can’t go, but it could be an easy way to conquer schools fairs. Not sure who will be there (other than Lake View, obviously) but likely good chance to meet the new principal there.

    High School Fair

    Coonley in collaboration with area schools will host a High School Fair on Wednesday, October 22nd from 5:00-7:00 at Lake View High School (4015 N. Ashland Ave.) Students will have an opportunity to meet and speak with representatives from area high schools: public, private and charter.

  • 179. pantherettie  |  October 20, 2014 at 5:45 am

    165 – Pantherparent’s advice about picking a school is spot-on. I suggest going to an LSC meeting at the school. It will give you an idea of big issues facing the school community, parental involvement and perhaps some teacher views. It may provide nothing or may provide an interesting glimpse. I also suggest trying to connect with parents whose kids don’t absolutely love the school and will be honest about challenges. People at open houses *love* their kid’s school. People whose kids are struggling don’t participate in open houses. Ask one of the cheerleader parents for the name and contact info of a parent that would share their experiences but couldn’t make it to the Open House. You may get some useful information to make the decision. Finally, let the kid have the final and deciding vote. It’s not elementary school. If he/she doesn’t want to be there, he/she won’t be successful.

  • 180. klm  |  October 20, 2014 at 7:40 am


    Yours are words of wisdom.

    Also, everybody needs to keep in mind that (let’s all think back to that period in our own lives) that some kids would not be happy, no matter where they go to HS.

    Anybody could go to the “best” HSs and find kids (and subsequently their parents) that hate it, since, well it’s the prime teenage angst period and they haven’t found a good group of friends, hate not having control of their lives, so every jerk teacher or jerk peer seems like the worst person ever and will forever go down in their own personal history as such , etc. Some kids are being themselves, exploring their individuality, trying news things, etc., but this makes them come off as “weird” to other kids, so they get labels and are shinned socially, ……….and it will forever be that way as long as there is HS filled with teens.

    Add in girl drama, slut-shaming, sexting, rumors, mean girls, cliques, drugs, alchohol, neurochemical changes, surging physical appetities, online creeps, other social media stuff and all the bad things that happen in Chicago/everywhere.

    I mean, how many people LOVED HS? Some, maybe. But who’d want to go back to being 14-17? Not me –and I was relatively well-adjusted, had friends and kinda’ liked my HS. It’s a tough age.

    That said, some schools really do have negative aspects that are a concern. It’s hard to find the right fit for every individual, but some schools just “feel” better than others.

    If somebody doesn’t like homework, stay the heck away from LPIB, for example. If a kid hates getting up early and lives in Edison Park, maybe WY’s not the best match.

    Problems is, we all “get what we get” with CPS HS admissions (and private school admissions, for that matter), so it’s not like we can always pick the HS that’s the “right fit.”

    Que sera sera.

    Sometimes, I feel like the suburbs with automatic admissions to the same, great HS for all my kids (no matter their abilities or interests) are calling me.

  • 181. HSObsessed  |  October 20, 2014 at 8:05 am

    @177 – We let our kid decide where to go to high school. She had four offers and went with the one she felt best about all around. We would have liked her to try one of two other options that she was given, but in the end, it was her decision. She was very confident in her choice. We didn’t forbid any school.

  • 182. far northsider  |  October 20, 2014 at 10:37 am

    @177 – We let our kid make the final decisions in ranking the SEHS preference on her application, and ultimately between the two acceptances she received. She had a definite first choice school, mostly because it had the highest match in the class selection and extracurriculars that were important to her (language, clubs, music opportunities, location); my strategy was to accentuate the (many!) positives of all the other schools we visited so that she could envision herself happy at any of the schools she applied to. There was one school that she decided not to apply to because she didn’t like how it felt to her; if she didn’t feel like she would be comfortable there, I was fine with leaving it out.

    We’ve just started visiting high schools for our middle school-aged kid, who will likely need a wider net cast than First Kid. We’re trying to follow the same strategy – find the positive aspects of all the schools, SEHS and non-SEHS alike.

  • 183. RL Julia  |  October 21, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    We let the kids make their own decision about school and they chose well for themselves. However, we did stress to them that while it was o.k. to have a first choice – they couldn’t limit themselves to the idea that they could only possibly be happy at one specific school – that they had the capacity to be happy anywhere should they set their mind to it – and that all the schools they were applying to were great schools to attend. That all were places ultimately where “fit” could happen. There has to be that aspect of the kid makes the school to the process as well.

  • 184. Andr  |  October 22, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    Is anybody looking at Chicago Ag? It is a unique program with a fast track to jobs for the right kind of kids. As an example, Maggie Kendall, formerly a chemistry teacher at Payton, is at Ag now, runs the equestrian program and is in the running for a high prestige grant which would support building a year round equine therapy facility.

  • 185. North Side Parent  |  October 23, 2014 at 1:00 pm

    New Topic/Post: CPS 20th Day Enrollment for ’14/’15 is posted:

    Some North / Central elementary schools with notable enrollment growth trends:
    (Listed as: K/1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8)

    Bell (85/149/126/116/115/99/113/105/117) – lower Kindergarten reflects lack of gifted program (begins in 1st grade at Bell)

    Coonley (112/110/107/97/90/97/93/68/29)

    Blaine (119/91/94/81/92/83/62/86/64)

    Hamilton (62/37/62/59/64/28/40/22/10)

    Ravenswood (71/72/52/56/50/60/38/40/27)

    Nettlehorst (109/100/100/85/83/86/81/55/61)

    Mayer (75/78/62/57/57/75/53/31/40)

    Prescott (59/60/54/28/31/19/10/15/15)

    Ogden (173/170/158/127/121/90/105/110/103) – 6th-8th at HS location

    South Loop (111/91/87/ 114/99/96/98/79/81)

    I have not heard much about the growth at Prescott, anyone have any info? Could be the start of something?

    Mayer/Hamilton/Ravenswood definitely mid-transformation. Some “rich-get-richer” on here, except that leads to overcrowding. Others in the area I looked at were roughly flat (Audubon/Burley/Waters/McPherson / Lincoln/Alcott / Jahn/Agassiz). No decliners though.

    Also does anyone know if CPS reports % in vs out -of-neighborhood enrollment on a systematic basis? I can’t find that info. Thanks!

  • 186. North Side Parent  |  October 23, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    PS – Note South Loop dropped Gifted program (first grade w/out this year is 2nd grade), so that’s growing neighborhood enrollment much faster than it looks.

  • 187. cpsobsessed  |  October 23, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    Hey, awesome find!
    Wow, yes southloop seems to be growing briskly so it likely made sense to move the rgc.

    Prescott has some parents start “marketing” efforts a few years ago so they look to be successfully filling 2 classes a year which is good.

    I can’t tell if the lower class sizes in 6-7-8 grade reflect a time before people started flocking to these schools, families leaving for suburbs or both. Bell seems to be an exception with little dropoff.

    Thanks for posting!

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 188. mom2  |  October 23, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    Sometimes kids leave in 7 and 8 for academic centers, too – or try to go to a school like Ogden or now Disney II so they have a high school guarantee.

    I wonder if Lake View and/or Amundsen added 7th and 8th grades to their schools if it might help with their already amazing turn-around. It would be another place for kids from the k-6 schools to go and would guarantee them a good high school.

  • 189. North Side Parent  |  October 23, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    Prescott looks like it’s got a solid neighborhood component & is well on it’s way now:


    ISAT Meet or Exceed % (Composite, excl. ESL students):

    Prescott, from 2004-2013:

    17.5% / 23.5 / 39.7 / 28.7 / 34.4 / 38.9 / 45.8 / 49.2 / 57.3 / 67.7

    Exceed Only:

    0.5% / 0.0 / 0.8 /1.3 /0.8 / 2.0 / 4.5 / 5.2 / 6.5 / 18.4

  • 190. North Side Parent  |  October 23, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    @ 188:

    7th grade enrollment at Disney II / Lane Tech / Whitney Young:

    106 / 120 / 126 = 352

    Odgen isn’t a material increase from 5th to 7th grade.

    Do ACs apply the Tier system? If so you have to remember all the kids above are eligible for maybe ~40% of the spots, and they compete against both private school and the test-in elementary programs for those. I could see 5-10 per school per grade leaving though. I wonder if those schools allow those spots to be back filled with open enrollment? You’d have to ask someone at the schools for that info though, my child is younger so this is all from 10k feet.

  • 191. cpsobsessed  |  October 23, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    I was told years ago that decatur itself wasn’t that enthused with the idea of adding a 7-8th grade because so many kids would still leave for academic centers. At that time I think a good number of decatur kids were getting spots at WY (lane wasn’t open yet.) But perhaps as cps has become a more acceptible option and the ACs are more popular, they may not lose as many kids as in the past.
    Coonley lost maybe 10-12/30 kids last year to an AC, so I assume the test rate would be similar at decatur.

    The other challenge is that a classical school doesn’t have neighbors mobilizing for the expansion, nor does an alderman have a strongly vested interest since the student families are not nec constituents.

    Cps would ultimately need to see a benefit to expanding the seats.

    The question is: if all the classical schools went through 8th grade, would they fill the empty seats left by kids leaving for ACs? Or would it be an inefficient proposition?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 192. Chris  |  October 23, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    “Bell (85/149/126/116/115/99/113/105/117) – lower Kindergarten reflects lack of gifted program”

    Even reflecting the gifted program (28), there are 36 more 1st graders than K.

  • 193. Melinda  |  October 25, 2014 at 2:36 am

    “Prescott looks like it’s got a solid neighborhood component & is well on it’s way now:
    ISAT Meet or Exceed %
    Prescott, from 2004-2013”

    I guess you don’t know that Springfield constantly moved the goalposts of test score requirements needed to achieve meet/exceed. Kids could have scored the same each year but % meeting or exceeding would rise because lower and lower scores were required to hit meet. Instead of improving education and the failed system in Illinois the politicians just changed the rules. Ignorance is bliss.

  • 194. Melinda  |  October 25, 2014 at 2:39 am

    “Does anybody here have experience with IMP?”

    As long as your child has no desire to pursue a math, science or engineering at college, then IMP is fine. It is basically a “fun” math.

  • 195. Melinda  |  October 25, 2014 at 2:41 am

    …math, science or engineering “degree”

  • 196. cpsobsessed  |  October 25, 2014 at 7:00 am

    Melinda, can you describe what’s fun about it? That’s the first time I’ve paid attention. I’d love to think some high school math could be made fun for non-mathy kids. I find all math inferently fun. My son does not share that opinion.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 197. far northsider  |  October 25, 2014 at 10:18 am

    My daughter has had IMP math at Northside and HATES it. She’s very adept with math concepts, and IMP feels to her like a lot of wheel-spinning and not much forward movement.

    If I remember correctly IMP has large units centered around one problem; according to my daughter the class gets the problem and is supposed to figure out how to solve it before they learn the new math concepts that support it. I don’t know if this is actually how it works or if this is her being bitter about it. End result, though, she feels like she can’t remember what she was supposed to have learned from year to year. And she’s good at math!

    In theory Northside only uses IMP for the first three years of math and not for precalculus on, so if you pass out of algebra you should only have two years of IMP (for geometry and algebra 2/trig) – but her precalc teacher pulled out a fourth-year IMP book and said they’d work with that in addition to the non-IMP materials, so no guarantee of that.

    I know lots of Northside (and presumably Jones) kids go on to math/science fields in college, but I believe it’s in spite of IMP, not because IMP is good preparation. It seems more like a side excursion in math for the not-very-math-oriented. We’re starting to visit high schools for Second Kid who is even more math oriented than First Kid, and he’s already side-eyeing Northside and Jones because of his sister’s loathing of IMP.

  • 198. klm  |  October 25, 2014 at 10:58 am


    Those stats show that middle-class people with kids are straying in the city and putting faith in CPS, which is a good thing.

    Sadly, this is still too much of a Northside thing —the Southside is still losing much of its middle-class (many of my middle-class friends and extended family either did move out of the city or will as soon as they are no longer ‘under water’ –but’s hard to sell a home in Chatham or South Shore when random shootings are frightenly common and in the news), which is upsetting on so many levels and has a huge impact on us all (we need as many middle-class people as we can get and keep in Chicago). Note that CPS’s enrollment is actually going DOWN, due largely because of “black flight,” even while so many Northside schools are bursting.

    Also (I know this is outta’ nowhere and will seem like a rub, which i guess it kinda’ is), seeing the growth in enrollment at Mayer and Alcott for K-2 seems to prove the point that many people who supported the Lincoln annex tried to make when some people kept pointing to schools like Alcott and Mayer and insisted that they were “half empty” and “begging” for more students (even when the LSCs at those schools insisted that this wasn’t true). Alcott’s got 88 kids in K vs. 46 in 7th, Mayer 78 in 1st vs. 31 in 7th, etc. In other words, these are “rising” schools that are just now seriously attracting neighborhood families (even just several years ago, Mayer’s neighborhood enrollment was barely 10%, if that –this was per the administration when I toured it [and i couldn’t wait to get the heck outta there, believe me. It was definitely a no-way-in-hell-EVER school for me at that time, but if it were my neighborhood school now, i’d be happy. How things change!]).

    Now that construction’s well underway, it’s a non-issue now, but it does seem more “well thought out” than some people made/make it sound, at least in the long-tem –especially given all the little kids in the neighborhood living in family-size homes.

    It really is great to see so many people that could move to the suburbs staying in the city and enrolling their kids in public schools (what a change from from a generation ago when a move to the suburbs was the norm for 80-90% of middle-class people when their oldest was nearing school age).

    But, what’s going to happen when all those kids are applying to HS in several years? I’m afraid things will go from bad to worse, competition-wise (especially for Tier 4 families), given supply and demand.

  • 199. Mld  |  October 25, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    This link provides a good description of IMP math & how it may differ from a traditional math program:


  • 200. pantherparent  |  October 25, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    Rather than traffic in blanket statements about IMP math and how it prepares one for a future in math or engineering, I actually looked up the ACT scores for the Big 5 in math and science. Lo and behold, Northside was number one in both categories. Pretty good for a school that doesn’t prepare students for that type of career.

    Math ACT, average score, 2013
    1. Northside, 29.3
    2. Young, 27.6
    3. Payton, 27.3
    4, Jones, 25.4
    5. Lane, 24.1

    Science ACT, average score, 2013
    1. Northside, 28.8
    2. Payton, 26.9
    3. Young, 26.1
    4. Jones, 24.6
    5. Lane, 23.8

  • 201. far northsider  |  October 25, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    @200, I think this speaks more to the test-taking abilities of Northside students and less to the efficacy of IMP; otherwise you’d expect to see the Jones scores at a similarly high level since they use the same program.

    There’s no academic consensus on whether IMP works well or not (Google brings up both sides of the traditional vs constructivist math debates). For us it’s been hard to watch our daughter – who consistently tests in the 99th percentile in math, including the Plan and Explore tests – lose enthusiasm for the subject.

    (I should add, in pretty much every other way, Northside has been fantastic – she’s not at all sorry to be there, math is the only sticking point.)

  • 202. klm  |  October 25, 2014 at 2:00 pm


    That’s so sad.

    What is it about this country and math instruction?

    it seems like it really is the one area where we objectively suck, compared to much of the rest of the rich world.

    It seems like we go from one extreme to the other, but never really get a handle on the best way to get kids learning math (or rather thinking like little mathmaticians). We have all kinds of reading specialists, do pretty well in terms of getting dyslexics learning, etc., American kids do OK in science–but for math, it’s so up in the air and it seems like schools, districts, etc., seem to try everything and hope it works, then totally change everything once every 10 years or so, then hope THAT works.

    Math is the the one area I hear, read and actually see as being a real issue.

    Now, this is very anecdotal, but the one area I hear the “foreign” parents complain about or have concerns with in my kids’ otherwise excellent schools is math instruction.

  • 203. pantherparent  |  October 25, 2014 at 3:40 pm

    @201 But if traditional math is “better” than IMP math, I would expect to see Payton’s scores higher than Northside, or at least equal. Yet Payton, a school with test-takers as good as Northside, is a full 2 points behind in math.

    Personally I just think it’s a mistake to disqualify a school because of IMP math, which some parents do.

  • 204. karet  |  October 25, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    @198 – klm, the reason Alcott’s enrollments are up isn’t because it’s attracting so many more neighborhood kids. It’s because it’s become so popular with out-of-neighborhood families. It practically functions like a magnet. If the boundaries had been changed to accommodate some of the Lincoln kids, Alcott would just accept fewer of these out-of-boundary students by lottery.

  • 205. ScoutingSEHS  |  October 25, 2014 at 4:40 pm

    I would say all the selective enrollment schools have good test takers. Typically,Payton is a point or two harder to get into than Northside so they must be equal in their test taking abilities. I would love to see a comparsion of the top 500 students at each selective enrollment high school. Guessing the math grades and ACT scores would be comparable. Further, I would like to see the matriculation list and chosen major of these top students. That comparison may tell the tale.

  • 206. far northsider  |  October 25, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    @202 klm – Agreed. There has to be a better balance between making math accessible/not scary (like Everyday Math, Trailblazers, IMP, etc.) and giving adequate practice with math problems. Outside of some of the SEES, there’s talk of math differentiation but very little actual differentiation that I can see if kids that could handle working grade levels ahead aren’t allowed to move forward. Not sure how the move to Common Core will affect math programs at CPS yet.

    @203 – Overall the 2013 ACTs quoted were, I believe, pretty much in the same order as the selectivity (if that’s a word) of those schools a few years back (for kids entering SEHS in 2010); now that Payton and Northside have been within a point of each other in entry scores on the 900 point scale for the last few years, it’ll be interesting to see if their ACTs converge in 2014 or 2015. Good testers are going to test well on the ACT; I don’t see any evidence that IMP is going to bring my kid’s math score up or down when she takes the ACT this year, but what I do see is that she has found her math classes pointless and needlessly frustrating. (And I don’t see anything wrong with considering her experience when looking at HS for her brother; there’s only so much frustration we can handle in one house.)

    On the plus side for Northside, though, it’s the only CPS school I’m aware of that offers multivariable calculus as a post-AP calculus option, so it’s worth considering if your kid will have a HS geometry credit from an academic center upon entry. (Though maybe LPIB’s IB Further Mathematics covers that territory too?)

    It would be great if there were a SEHS, or any other school really, that offered both a traditional and an IMP-like math program and families could decide between them at registration. Or an elementary school with a choice between Everyday Math and Singapore Math!

  • 207. HS Mom  |  October 25, 2014 at 6:54 pm

    CPSO – There is a component of IMP where the student takes a concept studied/learned then tries to apply it to material they have not practiced yet. This process tests their thinking ability and ensues that they “got it”. They also work out problems in groups as a class. Both Northside and Jones have a block schedule which lends itself to these types of class projects instead of the regular “present the lesson and practice at home” method. I think this is the fun part.

  • 208. HS Mom  |  October 25, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    KLM – “Math is the the one area I hear, read and actually see as being a real issue.”

    I’m guessing it’s not uncommon for kids abilities and interests to change (sometimes drastically) from elementary school to high school. As 205 points out, the curriculum’s at all SEHS’s are not too dissimilar – the small difference in approaches will not necessarily make a difference where you land. It’s the individual that makes the difference.

  • 209. chitown2  |  October 25, 2014 at 8:38 pm

    IMP is not traditional math teaching. my son at Northside explained it this way. IMP makes them explain how and why they get the answer and not just use formulas. They have to understand the theory and justify it in coherant sentences and not just write down the right answer. He loved math and continued to BC Calc, Statistics, Multivariate Calc and is majoring in Eng in college. Once, he got zero points because the teacher didn’t like his explanation even though he got the right answer. That was eye opening for him.

  • 210. cpsobsessed  |  October 25, 2014 at 9:01 pm

    Having a hard time seeing the “fun” in that. Same as some people call CC “new math” or “fuzzy math” doesn’t equate with “fun”.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 211. HS Mom  |  October 26, 2014 at 12:12 am

    210 – Totally get that…..the thinking part is fun, like doing a puzzle. Not everyone’s cup of tea. Not sure what fuzzy math is.but I would not describe IMP as that.

    IMO – issues of teaching style, abilities and changing interest of students can be said about any subject.

  • 212. klm  |  October 26, 2014 at 6:18 am


    I think it really IS attracting lots of neighborhood kids. From all the parents that I talk to at Oz Park, Jonqui Park, etc., people have told me how Alcott’s perceived to be a good school NOW and they are happy with it (people especially like the Mandarin Chinese language instruction), etc. I see lots of neighborhood kids with Alcott T-shirts, –that wasn’t so much the case when I moved into my currrent home in LP several years ago. Alcott was still kinda’ a low-scores, probably-will-have-to-go-private or move -type school, at least among the chattering parents at the playgounds. Not to mention, the makeup of the school has changes so much –it’s much more reflective of the surrounding neighborhood now than it was in the past.

    Nothing like high ISATs (which came about relatively recently) to make people consider sending their kids to a CPS school like Alcott.

    When we were house hunting several years ago, we avoided Alcott-zoned houses since it was still a low-performing school (its scores were pretty lousy).

    Also, I’ve mentioned this before, but when we tried to get a kid into Alcott for K (when Lincoln still had only hald-day) a few years back, we were so far down the WL, even with the within-1.5-miles preference. For 1st (I tried again just to see what would happen), same thing.

    I don’t think most kids at Alcott are coming from elsewhere, at least not for the K-3 grades. Not any more.

  • 213. klm  |  October 26, 2014 at 7:26 am


    OK, I’ll add this, then I’ll shut up (sorry, but this obviously is an issue I’m a little too obsessed with, i know).

    When Bell, then Blaine, Burley and now Coonley, Nettelhorst and Audubon, etc. became “good” the neighborhood families started sending their kids to those schools. Indeed, people started moving into their enrollment zones purposely for the schools. We’ve all seen the “Bell School District” -type notes on real-estate advertisements. Well, I wear on my life, I’ve seen “Alcott School District” in front of a big house for sale a few months back.

    Why do so many people have a problem believing that Alcott is now “good” and is attracting kids from its enrollment zone, just like Lincoln, Bell, Coonley, Burley, etc., instead of having to “get” kids in from outside the enrollment zone? Alcott’s 3rd graders are scoring as well as kids in Northbrook and Naperville (that definitely was not the case several years ago), so people feel like it’s “good” now.

    Again, I went to the LSC meetings at Mayer and Alcott (at the time of the big bru ha re: Lincoln’s overcrowding) —people at these schools would always bring up how in the lower grades neighborhood families were filling up spaces, discuss all the work they’ve done to help create a “good” neighborhood school, so where does the idea come from that their schools should suddenly have to change entire plans, forget all the hard work that they’ve done, drop ‘marketing’ efforts, etc., and suddenly be made to deal with Lincoln’s problems (or at least that was the common theme) and just throw out their schools’ own curriculums, community input, parents’ concerns, etc., down the drain.

    What if all the parents and neighborhood residents that worked to turn Coonley into a neighborhood gem a few years back were just suddenly told “Forget your plans, we’re changing everything” by CPS? Why would anybody ever work to create a Nettelhorst or Coonley, if the neighborhood doing all the hard work to create a high-achieving school is just thrown under the bus and all their work was for naught?

    Also, shouldn’t we want as many spaces at high-achieving, successful CPS schools as possible? I think so. Just changing around enrollment zones may relieve over-crowding in the very short-term, but in just a few years, it will be an issue once again.

    We need to think “long-term” not just “whatever works to get us through another year” like CPS has done since, well, forever.

    To me, Lincoln’s annex was thinking “long-term.”

    I know I’m being a little snippy, but just saying.

  • 214. cpsobsessed  |  October 26, 2014 at 7:58 am

    I don’t there has been the perception that alcott isn’t good enough for neighbors (I know a family who happily bought there and many neighbors attend as well) but I think the demographics of the neighborhood (lots of condos, not as many houses) may limit the student pool there. The school size seems bigger than the student base resulting in extra spots every year. That’s my perception.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 215. cpsobsessed  |  October 26, 2014 at 10:52 am

    Lake View High School Open House Sat Nov 1 11am-2pm.

    Not sure if we need to be there at 11am or if it’s a true open house style where you can show up any time.

  • 216. cpsobsessed  |  October 26, 2014 at 10:55 am

    Amundsen High School Open House Sat Nov 8 10am-1pm

  • 217. cpsobsessed  |  October 26, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    If anyone got the sunday trib today (paper version) there’s a caldwell banker high end real estate insert that’s fun to look at.
    Anyhow, I see alcott school district listed for a $1.7 million home.

    Several options in Blaine in the $2-3 million range. The same price will get you an estate with a pool in the suburbs!

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 218. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  October 26, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    @199 Thank you for the link. I had no clue what everyone was talking about with “IMP”.

    @193 Between 2002 and 2013 the ISAT cut-points changed twice, in 2006 (when they were re-scaled) and in 2013. Twice in 13 years doesn’t seems like constantly moving the goalposts to me.

  • 219. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  October 26, 2014 at 5:21 pm

    @200 @201 First, you need to control for the incoming math scores of the students (no a priori reason to believe they would be identical). Second, you should be looking at the trend, not single year scores. Third, does ACT cover same domains that IMP covers?

  • 220. ELT  |  October 26, 2014 at 5:32 pm

    klm, karet,CPSObsessed,

    Our family has been at Alcott for 11 years (starting in pre-school and graduating this year). I’m more than happy to comment on our recent growth.

    There is truth to the comment that — at least up until about 2010 — Alcott functioned much like a magnet school as shown by our family. We are committed to public education but — like so many Chicagoans — felt that our neighborhood school was not an option (literally — no preschool). We weren’t going to move in order to find a decent school and some others in the neighborhood told us about Alcott. (Alcott’s success with parents has, until lately, been largely word of mouth). We enrolled with the notion that we’d revisit the situation every year.

    Back then, the “mindset” of the school on small class size at any cost — literally. Being “underutilized” was considered an advantage for Pete’s sake and parents raised tons of money every year to offset the money we weren’t getting from CPS just “to keep our classes small.” Looking back now, I’m not sure why we all bought into that but….whatever. I guess what I’m saying is no one at Alcott was at all concerned about “growing the school” — just the opposite. We liked our close knit family and wanted to keep it that way.

    Well, a confluence of factors caused that to change. First, there was growing disagreement between parents and administration about the school’s vision for the future; second being underutilized became “bad” (i.e., Lincoln threatened to swallow Alcott) and third, CPS went into financial meltdown mode resulting in Student Based Budgeting.

    I’m not going to dwell on how sausage gets made, but coming out on the other side of this “process” Alcott got a new administration with a much broader vision for the school and a commitment to make Alcott a viable Pre-K through 12 option for our families while protecting our Alcott autonomy (our “Alcottishness”) at a fully funded level.

    The past several years are evidence of that change. In the past we had two full day kindergarten classes; this year we have three. We have a commitment from CPS to allow(for a limited time) our preschoolers priority for kindergarten. In all but our upper middle school grades we are at capacity. And, yes, it is largely neighborhood kids.

    I think there are many elements to the growth: not the least of which is the striking academic growth of our High School and the option it provides. I don’t think you can underestimate the attraction this presents to new parents who’ve been hearing horror stories about the state of CPS high schools. Add to that a recognition that it is not the size of the class that matters so much as the individualized instruction each student’s receives. And knowing that, as a parent you are an equal member of the Alcott Community, meaning your thoughts and concerns are as highly valued as your time and money, doesn’t hurt.

    I consider our family extremely lucky to have enrolled in Alcott when we did, and truth be told, as an out-of-neighborhood family I feel sad that Alcott elementary is likely not an option for my neighbors with young kids.

    But that’s a different post…..

  • 221. karet  |  October 26, 2014 at 7:04 pm

    @ELT, klm, I certainly didn’t mean to suggest that Alcott isn’t a good school or that neighborhood kids don’t go there! Out-of-boundary kids want to go there because it has a good reputation. It would be nice to have some data (how many out-of-neighborhood kids were admitted for the last few years), but it’s clear from this website that that out-of-neighborhood kids are still getting in. If the school has a good reputation, feeds into a HS that’s improving, and is next to an overcrowded school, yet STILL has room for out-of neighborhood kids, it seems clear that some boundary tweaking would make sense.

    Norwood Park on the NW side is similar — it’s a good school, neighborhood kids do happily go there, yet they admit a lot of out-of-boundary kids — and it’s surrounded by overcrowded schools. Seems like it would make sense to adjust the boundaries (it’s next to Oriole Park — but those families specifically bought houses in that neighborhood so they could send their kids there, etc etc — so, like Lincoln, they get an addition).

    CPS seems totally unwilling to adjust boundaries around popular and well-performing schools. (I have no personal interest in either school — just an observation).

  • 222. NW 2  |  October 26, 2014 at 8:42 pm

    221. karet | October 26, 2014 at 7:04 pm

    Norwood Park on the NW side is similar — it’s a good school, neighborhood kids do happily go there, yet they admit a lot of out-of-boundary kids

    Have you just asked the Principal and LSC why that is the case? Less kids in the neighborhood? Not knowing Norwood that well, a few things that would come to mind for not changing boundaries would be the location/ transportation. CPS would be fighting busing requests if current Oriole boundary families would have to cross busy Harlem Avenue. And it really is a long way to go from Oriole to Norwood. Onahan would be similar – lots of busy streets to cross.

    Norwood, I believe, also has an elevator. So it is one of the few schools that is accessible and has been so for some time. This alone would account for some of the bused in students.

    Enrollment seems to drop in upper grades at Northwest side schools. I wonder if any thought has ever been given to building a 7th and 8th grade school that takes in kids from the most crowded NW side schools. That would free up about 4 classrooms per school (guesstimate), perhaps decreasing overcrowding at local schools. Could expand to 6th grade if needed.

    Albany Park is a middle school with Edison RGC sharing the building, so at a minimum there are middle schools in Chicago.

    Just brainstorming.

  • 223. Yon  |  October 27, 2014 at 7:34 am

    Did anyone attend northside prep’s open house yesterday?
    How was it?

  • 224. cpsobsessed  |  October 27, 2014 at 7:54 am

    On Alderman Pawar’s efforts to draw neighbors to local high schools in his area (Lake View and Amundsen:)

  • 225. klm  |  October 27, 2014 at 8:08 am


    Sorry, i didn’t mean to sound like I was putting words in your mouth.

    It’s just that that the “all surrounding CPS schools are half-empty and begging for students –anybody that applies gets in, they are so wanting for warm bodies– so the Lincoln annex is stupid! Stupid! Stupid!” mantra (pretty much to the word) I’ve been hearing from a few vocal neighbors (who kept asking me for money to hire lawyers to stop the Lincoln annex and prevent the effective destruction of the neighborhood that will apparently occur if the local public school buids an annex to relieve crowing. If you don’t get your way, SUE!).

    Thing is, whenever somebody comes up with a “solution” other than building an annex on a crowded school, it usually involves something with lots of unintended consequences that will hurt CPS and Chicago in the long run.

    Mess with boundaries for people that have invested much of their net worth in a home, so that kids can go to particular school and people won’t just get mad, they’ll feel like they have no controi, since CPS just changes boundaries, willy-nilly to get through another year, without long-term planning. Drop RGC’s, IG’s, hearing-impaired, other programs from a school and you’ll sever links in terms of curriculums (foreign language instruction comes to mind) that have been successfully carefully worked out and nicely integrated through the years . Suddenly send kids accross a busy highway when they could have walked to school if boundaries remained to same and see how much that makes somebody want to move to Evanston…..etc.

    CPS right now (and the city in general) is a very delicate ecosystem as far as middle/upper-middle class families are concerned. Some neighborhood are going “up,” some are going “down.” There’s always a “tipping point” where things get bad enough or good enough to attract or repel the middle-class, stable families, which is very important as far as the socioeconomic health of not just single neighborhoods is concerned, but the entire city. Not to mention the property taxes that fund so much (a neighborhood that goes to heck will bleed revenue, one that goes ‘up’ will benefit every other Chicagoan b/c of increased preoperty tax revenue for schools, parks, better infrastructure, etc.).

    These middle-class families with options are willing to send their kids to the “good” CPS school that they have carefully researched, for which they have carefully located a home, etc. Given that CPS schools are so “hit or miss,” it really does matter when attracting and keeping families that can just as easily move to Northbrook or River Forest.

    As it is, there aren’t enough middle-class families in Chicago. Shouldn’t we want to keep the ones that we have happy, so that they don’t just move out (like they so often did in the 60s-early 90s period)?

    So, if we throw people under the bus and change their zoned CPS school from a “good” one to a “bad” or just plain “mediocre” one, the consequences will ripple far and wide for a very long time.


    I know. Sometimes I wonder why I stay in the city.

    Things is, those expensive homes more often than not have kids in them. I know (actually, many of us know) so many families that are refugees from the private school admissions battles and come out with nothing, in terms of offers. Sure, they could find a parochial school somewhere that will take their kid, but is it any better than the local CPS school (especially if it’s Lincoln, Coonley, Bell or Blaine), really? Not to mention, how some people feel about sending their kid to a Catholic ot Lutheran school when they’re a different religion or not religious at all. Who’s want their kids to be the only Jewish or Hindu one in cathecism class?

    So, these people end up going CPS and usually that means their local K-8 school. Lincoln, Bell, Blaine, etc., are often people’s Plan B if their kids don’t get into Sacred Heart, City Day, FXW, the Big Three, etc. I’ve seem it so many times.

    Now, take away Plan B and people will just up and move to Wilmette –I’ve also seen that many times, too: Private school didn’t work out, CPS ‘”good” magnets or SEs didn’t work out (we all know how that goes), either. The neighborhood CPS school has crap ISATs, so we’re moving now and do you blame us?

    Sure, in a perfect world people would just stay in the city and work to help make their local CPS school a “good” one. But most people feel like they don’t have the time, evergy or (honestly) deep desire to do this when they can just move to a safe, pleasant community and give their kids K-12 education at high-achieving, world-class schools, 100% guaranteed –and without paying tuition.

    Plus, what they pay for a house is likely no more or like even less than what they’s pay to live in the “good” CPS schools’ enrollment zones, at least for the ones closer to the lake.

  • 226. SM  |  October 27, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    @223 Yon – NSCP tour was long. Principal spoke, seemed like very caring person. Then a NSCP senior gave a speech. Modern dance duo performed, followed by the choir. Broke into groups. Visited science room for a presentation with a teacher. I’m still not clear on why NSCP (and Jones) chooses to do the science sequence “backwards”: physics then chem then bio. Then we went to a math room where a teacher gave a good presentation on their math program. They had all the books laid out, which was useful. We also spoke with students about their Robotics team. Saw lots of art and walked around outside in the prairie/garden area.

    I think the programs at NSCP and Jones are very similar, comes down to location.

    In terms of culture, NSCP really likes to emphasize that they are “quirky and unconventional.” I heard this phrase at least 3 times. Jones really emphasized diversity. Whitney emphasized excellence (winning). All are great programs, so it comes down to the “vibe” that fits your kid.

    My kid liked it, but not as much as I thought he would. He was really a sucker for the Whitney presentation, I guess. He also preferred the fiery intensity of the Whitney principal. On the other hand, he felt the Robotics program at NSCP seemed to be better established. Robotics is important to him, so he’s torn.

  • 227. North Side Parent  |  October 27, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    Speaking of lawsuits, I would love to see CPS try to remove some homes from the Lincoln Elementary school district. Ha! The cost of K-8 private education is ~75-200K per child, in a 4 bedroom home, you could argue CPS eliminated half a million dollars worth of property value with the stroke of a pen (if they got shoved into Manierre, etc.). Roll that into a class action suit…. I’m not a lawyer, but I’m sure someone would try it.

    The city definitely is growing it’s new family base and winning some back from the ‘burbs. I think you’ve seen enough schools improve that people understand that turning a school around “works” if you have a core of new upper-middle class families buy into the neighborhood at the same time. Public safety comes first though, and unfortunately there are many neighborhoods in the city that aren’t giving residents much of any reason to stay. As they said in Detroit, “those who can… leave”. However I’m optimistic this will not be just an Lincoln Park plus phenomenon with schools like South Loop, Prescott, Hamilton, Waters, McPherson starting to catch some buzz. The blue line corridor is in the midst of massive gentrification and is only a matter of time before those schools start to blossom. I’ll post more data someday when I have more time, but I’m looking forward to watching the city grow.

  • 228. maman  |  October 27, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    @227 North Side Parent brings up a good point about safety. Crime is becoming an issue in Northcenter around the Bell School neighborhood. Last week there was a rash of vandalism in the neighborhood which included graffiti and lots of (I’ve heard as many as 30) vehicles had their tires slashed, and no police officers to be found. Bell is super popular, but are families willing to sacrifice their property, and possibly their safety, when the city refuses to hire more police officers for the neighborhood and district?


  • 229. cpsobsessed  |  October 27, 2014 at 1:58 pm

    Busy school tour weekend:
    Alcott HS Saturday Nov 1st 11am-2pm/

  • 230. cpsobsessed  |  October 27, 2014 at 2:04 pm

    @228 – thos issues are not uncommon across much of the northside, unfortunately. given some of the issues in other neighborhoods, I doubt increased police presence is likely.
    My son hears me complain about teenagers whenever I complain about graffiti, ect… I probably need to stop that since he’ll be a teen soon.

  • 231. North Side Parent  |  October 27, 2014 at 5:13 pm

    @228 I don’t see any significant uptick in crime in North Center:


    However it is well documented that the 019 district lost manpower in the consolidation (2011/12), and crime resulted (particularly robberies, near the Belmont red line stop):


    It’s a budget / pension issue. Rahm claims he can fix it by moving the property tax rate from 1.6% to 1.7%, but he claims he’s trying to avoid it before the upcoming election:


    That’s not the type of safety I was talking about though. North Center is not at risk of significant population loss. People are lining up to throw their wallets at tear-down-rebuilds across the brown line corridor. Affordability beginning to spiral out of control. We may be hitting the peak of the cycle, but it’s pushing buyers into new cheaper school districts to “fix”.

    I’m referring to expectations that population declines will persist in the truly sad neighborhoods (Austin/Garfield Park/Englewood, etc.)


    City-wide, the Tribune is tracking shootings/homicides down ~10% year over year, but other sources have it roughly flat:


    Although the numbers have been subject to some controversy:


    If you’ve got a vandalism problem, I highly recommend picking up some drop cams / motion detecting lights, and coordinating with neighbors on your block,


    Or find a security provider to rig it up for you (ADT/Vivint/local contractor), they are amenable to group discounts.

  • 232. Chris  |  October 27, 2014 at 5:42 pm

    “Last week there was a rash of vandalism in the neighborhood which included graffiti and lots of (I’ve heard as many as 30) vehicles had their tires slashed, and no police officers to be found.”

    1. 50+ cars. Many with 2 tires slashed.

    2. Graffiti was of the stoopid teenager variety–almost certainly neighborhood kids, or at least friends-of. Not gang-esque at all.

    3. It was sometime b/t 2 and 6 am–is Grace & Leavitt *really* where a cop should be hanging out at 3 am Sunday morning?

    4. “sacrifice … their safety”? and that link? C’mon. If you were being an anti-Rahm concern troll (not that you are), you’d have done your job for the week.

  • 233. HS Mom  |  October 27, 2014 at 6:45 pm

    “I’m still not clear on why NSCP (and Jones) chooses to do the science sequence “backwards”: physics then chem then bio.”

    Because the principals of physics are relevant to all areas of science. It would be debatable as to which way is “backwards”. Also, students who go on to take AP physics Jr/Sr year will have a solid foundation.

  • 234. Jones Math  |  October 27, 2014 at 7:16 pm

    got this e-mail update today about PSAE scores and thought it might tie in with the math discussion


  • 235. klae  |  October 27, 2014 at 8:58 pm

    Does anyone know when kids can go shadow people at schools like WY and Jones? Or if they even do that at all? We are still having difficulty ranking them and if there was a day we could experience what a school day is like it would help tremendously. The thing is that I doubt it would happen before the application deadlines. Does anyone know?

  • 236. parent  |  October 28, 2014 at 12:10 am

    My son got a D in Algebra 2 at Lane even though he got a 95 on the final because he didn’t turn in homework. At Jones, homework only counts for quiz retakes. The final counts for the grade because you are graded on what you know.

  • 237. klm  |  October 28, 2014 at 6:08 am


    Assessments are so all over the place, depending on which teacher one has, etc. It’s kinda’ a crap shoot. Some seem fair, some are all about busy work, being the teacher’s pet who gets extra credit for brining in brownies, etc. –that kind of stuff makes me so mad.

    Ask a parent with a kid at Edison RGC how they feel about their kid’s social studies grade and “class notes.” Kids can get A’s on projects, quizzes, papers, etc., but if they don’t do the needless busy work of entering their written class notes in social studies onto a computer at home (for what reason, nobody can really explain — simply recopying notes is doing nothing in terms of learning, especially if kids aren’t being tested on these ‘notes.’). Some “A” students have got C’s and D’s for not doing “notes.”

    I think if your son was able to show that he learned Algebra 2 as shown on his final and other knowledge-based assessments, what difference does it make as to what he’s doing or not doing “busy work” outside the classroom? Especially with math, some kids learn it their own way, not the old school way some teachers prefer.

    Then again, that’s life. Sometimes we have to do what a teacher/boss/higher-up person wants for whatever reason, even it doesn’t seem to make sense. At least that’s what I try to tell my kids –i make it a “life lesson.”

    That said, I’d still be really “pi**ed off” if i were you. Did you talk to anybody? Sometimes administrators are more understanding than teachers when parents advocate for their kids in a reasonable manner, but be careful not to burn bridges.

    The best assessments are ones that show the true knowledge a student has obtained, not how good they are at doing busy work. if a brainiac is smart enough to get a 95 on the final, so what if homework isn’t handed in (your son could have just copid from a friend, but that wouldn’t mean he did anything of ‘value’).

    Don’t get me wrong, final exams and classroom assessments are important. But how somebody get there, in terms of learning, is not the same for every kid. A good teacher (maybe the Lane teacher’s hands were tied by department rules), school, curriculum should recognize this.

  • 238. NCPmom  |  October 28, 2014 at 8:16 am

    @klae none of the SEHS do shadow days. The amount of students signing up would be overwhelming at the schools. Open house is your best bet. If your child is in any outside sports and if they use these HS facilities it can be a way to view the school as well, at least that is how my child was able to look around NCP & Jones peacefully.
    We are happy at NCP. She is having a great experience and the decision was tough for her. As parents we want the absolute best available, but they need to make that decision on their own being that they will be the ones attending.

  • 239. Patricia  |  October 28, 2014 at 9:11 am

    My kid experienced the social studies notes at ERGC and I think it was great. The teacher who does this is demanding, but an incredible teacher. My son continues to benefit several years later from what he learned in one year with this teacher and he will continue to benefit through out his life. This teachers method did not just focus on rote memory or just typing notes, it was to learn the concepts in a way you remember the rest of your life. This teacher has a rare talent. Very demanding, but the kids tend to rise to the occasion. Notes are just part of his teaching and he is very clear about his expectations. Some kids retype at home, others use the chrome books that they now have for the classes. Also, learning to take notes and review notes is a life skill that will help in college. No complaints from this ergc parent.

  • 240. LindblomPrincipal  |  October 28, 2014 at 9:27 am

    I know this is posted at the front, but I wanted to put out a reminder that Lindblom’s Open House for prospective ninth graders is this Saturday, starting at 12:30. (I’ll put in the same post about our Ackie one below).
    I hope to see many of those obsessed with CPS here at Lindblom November 1!
    Go, Eagles!

  • 241. RL Julia  |  October 28, 2014 at 10:24 am

    @klae – maybe your child could talk to some kids/friends who attend these schools and/or their parents. Since there are no wrong decisions here you could just randomly rank them if you wanted. If had to summarize the two schools (I have a kid at WY and know plenty of kids who go to Jones) I would say the following:

    As mentioned in a prior post, Jones emphasizes diversity while WY emphasizes excellence as (part of) their core cultures – although both places are both diverse and excellent. WY is a place where excellence is celebrated. Last spring my daughter went to no fewer than FIVE pep rallies – celebrating the success of everything from the basketball team to math team (yes, they really did have a pep rally for the math team).

    Think about transportation. If you are coming from the north side and depending on how you are getting to school (and from which direction) – WY might add an extra 15 minutes to your commute. On the other hand, parking is feasible.

    Jones has a block scheduling option so you will not necessarily get homework everyday in every class -or even go to every class everyday. WY has a traditional schedule with classes everyday. 100 minute classes are great for some kids and horrible for others.

    Hope this helps. Really don’t think there is a wrong choice here.

  • 242. cpsobsessed  |  October 28, 2014 at 11:43 am

    Von Steuben OPEN HOUSE——-Saturday, November 8th

    Info sessions & tours start at 8am (Scholars), 10am & 11 am

    Um… 8am?!?! Eek.

  • 243. cpsobsessed  |  October 28, 2014 at 11:45 am

    Disney II Magnet, Lawndale Campus
    3900 N Lawndale Avenue (High School)
    Chicago IL 60618

    OPEN HOUSE for ALL Lawndale Campus prospective families!

    Join us on November 8 from 10:00 to 12:00 PM at our Lawndale Campus for our prospective families OPEN HOUSE!

    CPSO note; hey Alcott and DII, can you please call your schools HS and elem to make it easier to figure out (instead of Lawndale campus, etc.)

  • 244. Chicago School GPS  |  October 28, 2014 at 11:55 am

    Same with Ogden, too, as I try to categorize them on our CSG Calendar according to if they are elementary or high school open houses and they have East and West campuses.

    But with Disney II and Ogden, their middle schools are within their high schools.

  • 245. klm  |  October 28, 2014 at 12:53 pm


    There’s something to what you say.

    However, at times it has been “busy work” for kids in lower grades, rather than a genuinely beneficial learning tool, IMO.

    Also, let it be known that this is an “adults-only” opinion and that I have NEVER EVER passed it on to my kid(s). My official-to-my-kid(s) attitude is and always will be that one has to do what one’s teacher wants and whatever one needs to do to make them happy, since they are the “teacher” and you need to respect them for that –you may not like it, but they are the “professional” and you are the “student.” Too bad if you don’t like him/her –that’s life, so do what they want you to do and and move on, …etc.

    That said, sometimes it was hard for me to see the value of “notes” in lower grades (and from what other parents [including ones that are teachers themselves] have said, I am definitely not alone). I’m all for rigor, hard work, rules, respect for authority, etc., but…….sometimes it’s all a bit too much mindless copying from handwritten notes to computer notes.

    I like the rigor, projects, dedication of this particular teacher, etc., but having 3rd and 4th graders frantically copying the same exact word from one form to another doesn’t seem like the best use of mental energy, especially when it’s 11:15 PM and there’s still another hour’s worth of typing to do to meet the “deadline” from an exhausted 9-year-old.

    BTW, my kid’s always been fine with that teacher, we do things ahead, always got A’s, etc. –it’s just that I know it’s what every parent talked about at every birthday party for a period of 2 years and nobody ever really understood the point (in those grades, at least).

  • 246. Patricia  |  October 28, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    My other child is starting the notes thing and she actually really likes it. It makes her feel “grown up” and helps her further take responsibility for getting things done. It feels like an accomplishment to her and overall helps her keep herself organized. She makes sure it won’t pile up at the end. Now my middle child would probably complain all month long about it. While it may seem like busy work, IMO it is a great way to teach kids that it is much better to stay on top of it and do a little all month long instead of waiting and cramming at the last minute. Plus, what a great way to practice keyboarding at home! Anyway, we do not need to continue debating this on a HS thread………we can agree to agree a bit and disagree a bit 🙂

  • 247. WannaKnow  |  October 28, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    OK, so we’ve been to all the open houses so far. It’s been a good experience seeing the different atmospheres at these schools.

    I have heard so many things about Northside — how strenuous it is and how the kids are soooo competitive — that I was pleasantly surprised at how low key everyone seemed to be. Downright mellow! Is this real or Open House posture? I know that NSCP has had a number of different principals in the past few years and most of my info comes from those (students and teachers) from a number of years ago.

    And what about Peyton? Will I see the same thing?

  • 248. RL Julia  |  October 28, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    @246 – Northside has had exactly two principals in the past few years. Barry Rogers and now Kelly Meist and the culture of the school hasn’t changed drastically between the two -at least as far as I can figure. As far as the kids being soooo competitive – well, you don’t gain admission to ANY SEHS these days without being at least a little competitive if not a lot (or at least well enough organized to show up for the entrance exam). You can and will find some kids stressing and flipping out grades in all of these schools. A lot of it is the age.

    In general, I think the parents are probably pushier and more competitive about their kids than the kids are themselves.

  • 249. pantherparent  |  October 29, 2014 at 8:17 am

    @246 Northside definitely projects a casual/mellow vibe. Or as someone earlier mentioned quirky and unconventional. I think part of it comes from a confidence of yes, we’re smart, but we don’t need to prove it to anyone. It just is.

  • 250. parent  |  October 29, 2014 at 10:24 am

    @248. Seriously?

  • 251. chitown2  |  October 29, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    4 yrs ago at the open house, the NS students were ” we may be smart, but we have fun and like being around each other”. At WY, it was “we are the best” with rah rah “we’re #1” and completely turned off my kid – he said they are full of themselves. At NS, he said “this is it” and it was his only choice in his mind. I’m not sure what he would have done if he didn’t get in but then again, he had 900 / 900 points. At NS, you will see kids gathering together doing projects, socializing, dancing, practicing, etc all hours before and after school. It has a completely different vibe. You’re OK – I’m OK. Yes, it is competitive academically but the kids are wired that way to get in. Some are more stressed than others. I think the kids push themselves way more than the teachers.

  • 252. RL Julia  |  October 29, 2014 at 3:05 pm

    @250 – totally agree about NCP – but with a child at WY I would also add all of the stuff you said about the kids at NCP also applied to WY. to go all Harry Potter – NCP is more Ravenclaw-y while WY is perhaps more Gryffindor-y. Both schools are competitive places to one degree or another WY perhaps like to compete for the sake of the game, where NCP is perhaps more about the pursuit of knowledge for the sake of it…. At least that is how it seems to have fallen out in my house – feel free to disagree and/or add to it (and of course no one is Slytherin).

  • 253. cpsobsessed  |  October 29, 2014 at 5:43 pm

    So as a reminder, here are the open houses this weekend:

    Brooks 9am
    Senn 9am
    Alcott 11am
    Lake View 11am
    Lindblom 12:30pm

    Lane 12noon

    It would be kind of fun to try to get to as many as possible with a video camera hidden on me somewhere.

    Please report back after you visit! I will probably try to make the Lake View tour. Kind of want to get my son to start thinking about the Senn arts program, but 9am the morning after Halloween is unthinkable for him.

  • 254. Chicago School GPS  |  October 29, 2014 at 5:50 pm

    Taft is also this Saturday at 1PM

    Plus several charter schools like CICS Northtown and Noble St. And IMSA in Aurora, too. Busy open house weekend!

  • 255. cpsobsessed  |  October 29, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    Thanks, Chi Schol GPS (and thanks for the handy calendar!)

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 256. IBobsessed  |  October 29, 2014 at 9:41 pm

    CPSob-Senn has shadow/tour Tuesdays you could take your son to. Go to the Senn website for the email you use to request this. It’s 2 hours and you get a chance to observe some classes and get a tour. Well worth it. Wish all the schools offered a chance to observe some classes.

  • 257. Arnold Davis, Lake View HS LSC Member  |  October 30, 2014 at 12:11 am

    Lake View High School is having its open house on Saturday, 11/1. Details are below. Please stop on by.

    Also, we just published a detailed guide to much of what a parent or student needs to know about Lake View High School to get excited about going there. You can find it at lakeivewhs.com –> About us –> At a glance.

    Lake View High School Open House
    Finally, an opportunity to experience Chicago’s Premier Neighborhood High School first-hand – find out why parents are raving about the outstanding high school that’s been hidden in plain sight! The Lake View High School open house is this Saturday, Nov. 1, 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Come see why you should choose your high school, not the other way around. 4015 N. Ashland Ave.

  • 258. David Gregg, IB MYP Coordinator  |  October 30, 2014 at 9:15 am

    @225 and all – The registration page for the Tuesday Tours at Senn can be accessed off the homepage on our website http://www.sennhs.org. (The November date is already at capacity, but there are three in December.)

    Or you can copy and paste the following link:

    Simply complete the form online and/or contact me with any questions.

    Also – while our Open House starts at 9am, there are info/q&a sessions that cycle on the hour, so families may come as late as 11am and still see everything. Or pick and choose; it is an open format.

  • 259. cpsobsessed  |  October 30, 2014 at 9:23 am

    Thanks @Arnold and @David for the information!

  • 260. cpsobsessed  |  October 30, 2014 at 9:25 am

    @IBObsessed: My son is just in 6th grade so not *quite* readyfor a shadow day at high school. 🙂

    I just would like to plant the seed about an art-focused program so he can think of it as a possible goal to pursue to stay involved in performing for the next few years.

  • 261. mom2  |  October 30, 2014 at 9:29 am

    @Arnold, thank you so much! We are eager to visit and learn more. Is this a true open house where you can just come at any time? The new principal sounds amazing!

  • 262. HSObsessed  |  October 30, 2014 at 11:26 am

    @256 – Love it: “Come see why you should choose your high school, not the other way around.”

    Your new brochure laying out all the basics about Lake View HS is awesome, and just the kind of information all CPS high schools should have in order to market themselves, including the top quartile ACT average score, list of AP courses, colleges that recent graduates went to, etc.

  • 263. Arnold Davis, Lake View HS LSC Member  |  October 30, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    @260 and everyone else – The Lake View High School open house on Saturday (11/1) is a true open house. Drop by anytime between 11 – 2 and check it out.

    @258, 260 and 261 – Thank you for your comments!

  • 264. edgewatermom  |  October 30, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    @256 I agree with HSObsessed – the “At a Glance” pamphlet is really helpful! I love seeing the scores broken down that way and to see all of the AP classes that are offered. http://www.lakeviewhs.com/about/documents/LVHS-School-at-a-Glance-Fall2014.pdf

  • 265. ACT  |  October 31, 2014 at 8:56 am

    New ACT scores posted for selective enrollment high schools:

    Brooks 22.0
    Jones 26.5
    King 21.5
    Lane 25.1
    Lindblom 23.7
    Northside 30.2
    Payton 30.0
    Westinghouse 21.1
    Young 27.9

  • 266. @ ACT  |  October 31, 2014 at 9:30 am

    Where are they posted?

  • 267. ACT  |  October 31, 2014 at 9:42 am

    I got them from Chicago Tribune website

  • 268. Chicago School GPS  |  October 31, 2014 at 9:56 am

    Not sure if this is one of those “need to be a digital subscriber” things: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-college-school-report-card-met-1031-20141031-story.html#page=1

  • 269. IB Obsessed  |  October 31, 2014 at 2:42 pm

    @267 The school report cards in that link show that per pupil spending in CPS has dropped below 2010 levels.
    Every time I get excited about a HS after a tour (Senn, LPHS, Von Steuben, Jones), I think about that and I’m not quite so ‘up’. In Evanston, for your property taxes you get the equivalent of Lab School tuition per pupil spending at the high school level. It is jaw dropping how much more they spend per pupil than does CPS.

  • 270. CPS is a disaster  |  October 31, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    Edited. Because please troll elsewhere.

  • 271. pantherettie  |  October 31, 2014 at 4:04 pm

    @264 – please don’t bash Brooks or Westinghouse. If you don’t want to send your kids to either school, don’t send them there. There are so many reasons that people choose schools aside from/in addition to ACT scores. Say what you will about the quality of the schools based on facts – including ACT scores- but that nasty nasty blanket statement is just ugly. My kid doesn’t go to Brooks or Westinghouse, she goes to Lindblom and I’m speaking for as a parent of a very smart kid that goes to a fantastic school, with a fantastic staff and slightly above average ACT scores.

  • 272. pantherettie  |  October 31, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    @269 – don’t bash King either

  • 273. chitown2  |  October 31, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    realize that these ACT scores are higher than some suburban schools and well above the average of many neighborhood CPS schools. These kids are above average 18/36. What is truly informative is the range and median ACT scores at these schools, not just the avg

  • 274. cpsobsessed  |  October 31, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    It also reflects the school “input” in that kids who test well coming in (by function a nature of entry in SEHS) will test well coming out of the school.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 275. CPS Parent  |  October 31, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    @273 The scores for Brooks, Lindblom, Westinghouse and King are not even the AVERAGE ACT score for a University of Illinois freshman, which is a 26. These schools do not prepare their students for college, they have not proven themselves as such, so why do we fund them?

  • 276. @274 CPS Parent  |  October 31, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    What school does your child attend? I am a proud King parent and they do amazing things with the students who come in with much lower scores because the elementary schools did not prepare them well. I bet my kid ends up in college and he will graduate. According to you, I guess then none of the Brooks, Westinghouse, King or Lindblom students will go or graduate college??? Did you look at the ISBE snapshot of students from these schools who DO attend college and their persistence rate? It might surprise you to know (I looked at a lot of data today so I think I have this right) both of these stats for all of the schools were at 80%%. You sound ridiculous so go crawl back under your rock! Your racist, covert statements are not welcome here!

  • 277. cpsobsessed  |  October 31, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    Its a completely unrealistic comparison given the difference in population socioeconomics.
    An ACT of 21 is much better than most neighborhood schools.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 278. @274 CPS Parent  |  October 31, 2014 at 5:49 pm

    Thank you CPSO! Sorry, my emotions got the best of me! The work @ King is very rigorous and challenging and they don’t “dumb” it down because the kids come in at lower scores! My once stellar boy is now average! I would rather him be average in an extraordinary environment instead of extraordinary in an ordinary environment! The rigor will and does help him grow academically. He NEEDS to apply himself more! But he’s a boy & you know how that goes…

  • 279. Curious  |  October 31, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    @275 Just curious: Why did you call the poster racist? I looked at the post but did not see any thing that brought up the race of the students, just wondering how/why you came to that conclusion?

  • 280. @278 Curious  |  October 31, 2014 at 7:06 pm

    The impression I have from reading this blog is that the only schools good enough for people’s children on this blog are Jones, WY, Payton & Northside. I do believe many of the parents that read this blog are Caucasian. I also think sometimes the Lane parents get a little offended too by the exclusion of Lane as a desirable school. King is easily accessible to many white families who choose not to send their children because it is predominately African-American. Lindblom, Brooks and King are predominately African-American & I believe Westinghouse is pretty evenly split between African-American and Latino. All of these schools are waaaaaaaaaaaaay better than many of CPS neighborhood, so for the poster to just say why do we fund them–I felt it was “covert” racism. You need to just read between the lines. I think the southside SE schools provide a great education and are rigorous. Since, we don’t know the range of scores, people just can’t blanketly say a school is sub par.

  • 281. @279 Curious  |  October 31, 2014 at 9:17 pm

    @279 Numbers are colorblind, the ACT scores are what they are, slightly above average. Is this one of those B.S. “You’re racist b.c you are pointing out numbers I don’t like”???

  • 282. Cleetus  |  November 1, 2014 at 6:55 am

    ” It is jaw dropping how much more they spend per pupil than does CPS.”

    Per student is higher, but per classroom spending is about the same. Evanston instructional spending is about $11.5k per pupil while Chicago is at $8.5k per pupil. Evanston averages 20 kids per class and Chicago 24 kids. So “per classroom” Evanston is at $230k per year and Chicago at $205k. Do 4 kids more kids in a class of 24 make a difference? Maybe, but not significant as far as overall performance. And depending on the kids it could be a plus. Evanston schools perform no better than CPS once you factor in race (47% white/asian vs 14% white/asian) and economics (40% low income vs 85% low income). You could take the Evanston kids and put them in CPS schools and the CPS kids and put them in Evanston schools and the kids will perform the same as they did before.

    Evanston’s residential property taxes are higher because Chicago has a much greater commercial property tax base (at higher rates) that allows for a lower residential rate. Once you take all taxes in account (property, sales, fees, state), Chicago residents are one of the highest taxed in the country on a per capita basis.

    We all know that throwing more money at the public school system, like we have for the last 50+ years has done nothing to improve education and in fact things have gotten worse. You have more money going to the unions and outrageous benefits that are taking money from the kids education. You get stuck with the worse teachers who can’t get fired. And those spending numbers above are just instructional spending, both Chicago and Evanston spend almost double those amounts in “operational” expenses. Of total spending, 35% instructional, 65% operational. Your efficient government in action.

    Final note, an even bigger issue than the schools and the teachers, are the parents. If parents aren’t making sure their kids go to school, study each night and stay out of trouble, all of the money in the world will not help.

  • 283. klm  |  November 1, 2014 at 9:45 am


    Per collegeboard.com, the 25-75th percentiles for freshman at UIUC, is 26-31, so the median seems like it’s in the 28-29 range.

    For UIUC Engineering, the ave. ACT is 32 (per its own site).

    I know certain people on this site totally hate talk of test scores, averages, etc.

    That’s fine, I get their points, etc., but for all the rest of us that want our kids to have the option of being physical therapists, pharmacists, computer engineers, nurse practioners or whatever else they may want to be (and for which they’ll need to do well on the ACT, especially if they’re not URMs without the benefit of differentiated admissions), it’s kinda’ important, right or wrong.

    This is especially so when one looks at ACT scores, admissions facts, etc., at not just schools like HYP, Northwestern, U-Chicago, etc., but places like UIUC, Michigan State, Purdue, Indiana, etc. (i.e., ones that many Chicago parents themselves attended and consider just ‘regular’ colleges).

    Accordingly, i don’t think it’s outta’ nowhere to consider ACT scores at schools, averages, etc. While the scores one get on the Explore are more indicative of what one will do on the ACT 3 years later than which HS one attends, the ACT scores (including % of kids that meet ACT ‘college ready’ minimums on each subjects, etc.) seems to be indicative of the overall academic atmosphere, no matter how much some people insist that it’s stupid to think so.

  • 284. cpsobsessed  |  November 1, 2014 at 11:15 am

    Oh lord, LVHS parking makes me want to cry. Don’t go in the lot for the open house. If you see a spot a few blocks away, grab it!!

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 285. edgewatermom  |  November 1, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    We just got back from Senn’s open house, which was very impressive! I really love the whole philosophy of the IB program and was thrilled to see that last year 71% of Senn’s IB students earned the diploma. I also really like that the school is 1/3 Fine Arts, 1/3 neighborhood seats, and 1/3 IB Diploma prep (and that there can be some movement in between those programs if necessary).

    One of the statistics that Susan Lofton highlighted in her speech was Senn’s Explore to ACT growth. She had a slide that compared the point increase for Lakeview (2.2), Von Stueben (3.8), Lane (4.5) , and Senn (4.2). I think that this is more helpful to me than just knowing the schools average ACT score. So, even though the average ACT score at Senn is on the low side, the growth is probably a better indicator for us of how our child would actually do on the ACT if they went to Senn (based on current test scores).

  • 286. parent  |  November 1, 2014 at 3:35 pm

    I’ve seen that Senn power point several times over the years. If you are interested in the school, make sure you attend all the open houses and shadow days that are available.

  • 287. @ 280  |  November 1, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    No, it is stop bashing the other SE schools that have predominantly more students of color. Why point out these 4 schools and ask why do we fund them. What about the other CPS schools that function way below these schools? Do we stop funding those too? What about the other schools through out the state that function below these 4 schools? Stop funding those too???

  • 288. cpsobsessed  |  November 1, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    The question of “why do we fund these” is an understandable question among people who don’t know much yet about CPS’s student base and the significant impact that socio economics make on the challenge of educational success.

    I remember when I first was able to look at schools’ test scores online and was looking around, realizing that many CPS elem schools had performance of like … 35% of kids at meet/exceeds levels. I was horrified. There might even be a blog post about it. That was maybe 8 years ago, before I’d done a lot of learning and research about education in Chicago/America. I probably would have suggested shutting those schools down, opening charters,etc, – doing SOMETHING other than the status quo which clearly didn’t look to be working. It’s a logical conclusion in absence of context.

    Now I know the complexity of the whole situation. As I thought about explaining to the poster, I didn’t even really know where to start. It’s taken me years to fully understand the challenge.

  • 289. Curious  |  November 1, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    Again, numbers are color-blind. These schools are supposed to be the BEST of CPS, but the education the students are getting only achieve slightly above average.

    So wtf? Do the teachers not know how to teach (probably, as this is CPS)? Are the kids who go to these schools not that smart? IF this is supposedly the best education CPS can give to these kids, and they can’t get better than average results, you seriously don’t wonder what’s going on???

    If my kid were at one of these schools and I saw that the other SEHS schools were kicking their asses, I’d be SUPER-PISSED.

  • 290. cpsobsessed  |  November 1, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    I went to the Lake View open house today. Heard the new principal speak, walked around and talked to a lot of students and some teachers.

    The most noticeable thing is the excitement about the place from the feeder school families. Families were in attendence and others there to help greet people. There clearly is interest/expectation in this working out as a neighborhood HS option.

    A parent was telling me that they’ve estimated there to be 600 kids/year in the attendance boundary. Each class holds 300 kids. (Currently is at 25% in-boundary attendance.) If say 1/3 of the feeder kids chose LVHS, that would be 2/3 of the school coming from blaine, coonley, netterhorst, hamilton, etc. Seems feasible.

    From the teachers and students I talked to the, school had an academic focus with a laid back vibe that I like. Kids can have a “regular high school experience” then supplement with AP classes. The kids I met were all well spoken and very enthusiastic about the school (remember, 75% are out of neighborhood, meaning some of them travel quite a ways to get to THAT specific school because they have chosen it.)

    I like the chorus program (and a student said the teacher was great.) There are some fun class offerings (mock trial, photography) that I could see my son enjoying. Start time is 8:30 (yeah!) They had some fun science and art activities set up that I participated in which made it seem like the classes would be fun.

    They said that around 1/3 of kids focus on a tech curriculum, 1/3 on humanities, and 1/3 on arts. Seems like good options.

    I still need to learn more about STEM and what that all means for most students. Also, the million dollar question, will the challenge/curriculum prepare a kid for admission criteria to competitive colleges? (such as U of I + some stretch schools.) (Same question I have for any of the non-SE high schools.)

  • 291. cpsobsessed  |  November 1, 2014 at 4:55 pm

    @288 Curious: take a look at a few things:
    Income, and ingoing (cutoff) test scores at each SE high school. There will be a correlation, mainly % low income and ACT scores. In addition, the schools who have the “best” incoming students product the highest ACT scores. Do you think that is a coincidence? The teachers at some SE schools would need to work virtual magic to get their freshmen up to the level of Northside college prep students within 4 year, overcoming the entirety of the kids’ upbringing and elementary education.
    It’s not an apples to apples comparison. Look at the numbers, it’s pretty self evident why there is variation.
    I guarantee you that if the NSCP student body, the test scores would follow them.
    And based on that, it should answer my question about LVHS that I posted just above this!

  • 292. pantherettie  |  November 1, 2014 at 5:10 pm

    @288 – As a proud Lindblom parent let me say again that I’m not pissed at all that the ACT test scores at the school don’t average 30. Truly I can’t begin to to slightly understand why anyone would choose any school based upon only test scores. Have you stepped foot into any of the schools you’re talking about? Do you know anything about the college retention rates of students who graduate from these schools? Do you know that my daughter has a Golden Apple Teacher for science and a Golden Apple Principal? Give me a break!

  • 293. Curious  |  November 1, 2014 at 5:21 pm

    @Cpsobsessed: Serious question: Why would someone from Northside or Jones choose King or Lindblom if the scores those schools achieve are WAYYY lower? Is the curriculum dumbed down so that the “smart” kids at the school aren’t as smart as the kids at Jones?

    Or are you saying that if you put a wealthy kid in a lower-performing SEHS, he would somehow bring the other kids up because with wealth comes higher intelligence?

    @Pantherettie: Impressive, no doubt, but the scores are what they are.

  • 294. cpsobsessed  |  November 1, 2014 at 5:39 pm

    @Curious: It’s a valid question and basically the answer is “they don’t” which is what prevents say King/Lindblom from getting ACT averages of 30. They don’t have kids with the same background/ingoing test scores to work with.
    What i mean is that if Kid X chose Lindblom instead of Payton, Kid X would likely come out of Lindblom with the same ACT scores (within a few points) as it they’d gone to Payton since the same learning opportunities are there.

    Now the next question is: would that kid get the same score (or close) if they’d gone to a neighborhood high school? My suburban high school growing up had opportunities for kids of a wide range of abilities. We had kids go to Ivy leagues and other kids not attend college at all. Smart kids (or kids from beneficial socio economic backgrounds) can excel in many types of schools as long as the right stimuli is there.
    Were the teachers at my high school “bad” when they taught some of the kids and “good” when they taught the future ivy league kids? They were the same teachers, but the outputs were different based on the inputs and what the teachers were able to do with each student.

    One other example from elementary:
    My neighborhood elementary CPS school experienced an influx of “gentrified” parents who decided to embrace the school and help build it as a neighborhood option. When their kids starts, the % meets/exceeds on ISAT was around 60%. The first year their kids were tested, the % rose to like 90%. Same school, same teachers, different socio economics of the kids. Was the school suddenly “good?” Or was it now able to look lots better because of the student base?

    Oh wait, one FINAL example (I use this one a lot.) When I was new to looking at CPS data, I randomly met a principal from one of the top magnet schools. I asked “how do you get SO many kids to score so well when they’re randomly admitted to the school? What’s the secret?” Her answer: “we could probably lock most of those kids in a room all year and they’d test just as well.. most of it is about what happens at home.” I think she was being modest, but it helped me begin to understand the impact of a child’s family and background on their academic success.

  • 295. pantherettie  |  November 1, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    @CPSO – well said and exactly correct. @curious – you’re right – the scores are the scores and I don’t feel any reason to apologize or explain them. Just answering the loaded question regarding why I’m not “super pissed”.

  • 296. cpsobsessed  |  November 1, 2014 at 7:53 pm

    Lake View high school’s average ACT is currently 18, top score 31, top quartile average is 23. So I would assume my kid could get somewhere between a 23 and 31 (ok, maybe 23-28ish) even though the average is 18.

  • 297. Curious  |  November 2, 2014 at 7:35 am

    @293 I don’t know what to make of your post.Is your point that the socio-economic background of a child means more than the school itself?

    If so, that means that you could put any well-off kid, put him in a school like Dunbar or Juarez, and that kid would perform like a rock star because of his background. Turning that inside out, you could take a smart kid from Dunbar or Juarez, put him into Walter Payton or Jones, but he would never perform as well as his classmates because of his background.

  • 298. pantherettie  |  November 2, 2014 at 8:28 am

    @Curious – I can’t speak for CPSO but here’s my response to your question. Yes – socioeconomic factors influence ACT scores. The scores that are required to gain admission into Lindlom, King, Brooks and Westinghouse are lower than the scores requires to gain admission into P,WY,N,J,L. I think that the scores are lower because the pool of children attempting admission does not include the same variety of test takers. The result is that the schools that you bashed have had a significantly different “average” student population than the ones you didn’t. When you have a SEHS on the southside pulling the same group of test takers and having similar admissions scores, then we can start comparing them in the way that you describe.
    Also, forgetting about money for a second – consider this. If the average score required to gain admission to NSCP was something like 890 – near perfection regarding grades, standardized tests scores and achievement test scores – why wouldn’t those same kids have an average ACT score close to perfect? In fact why isn’t the average higher given the near genius status these kids demonstrated earlier in their high school career? Why aren’t these parents “super pissed” that the school doesn’t uniformly produce higher scores? I’m just using this as an example to say that what kids start with influence what they achieve, especially when it comes to standardized tests. What I rejected in your initial comment was the idea that because the average ACT score was lower, the schools were less effective in teaching and students attending them couldn’t compete with their counterparts at other SEHS. I also reject the idea of the curriculum being “dumbed down” or significantly changed to reflect the student body. At Lindblom it isnt. The difference is that some kids who came in with lower tests scores are working their butts off like they never did before. There are teachers at the school who give their time extensively to help kids who need it. The building stays open and the teachers are around until after 5pm to make sure kids have access to extra resources. That said, when I ask my friends who have kids at Lane and WY what they are reading in English – it’s the same thing that they are reading at Lindblom. The concepts and types of work as well as the pace is similar as well in almost all of the subjects. The only difference is math because Lindblom offers a 2 year sequence for Algebra for AC students or a 1 year sequence (this is actually changing because more kids are entering and taking the 1 year 7th grade Algebra and the 8th grade Geometry) I’m just saying that you should really stop
    making judgements and blanket statements about the school based on ACT scores alone.

  • 299. Curious  |  November 2, 2014 at 9:53 am

    Pantherettie – This is what you are saying: A. SEHS have the same coursework, it isn’t dumbed down; B. The kids who go to schools on the southside/westside are at an economic disadvantage when they get into the SEHS, which is why their ACT scores are lower.

    From this, the kids at southside/westside SEHS will *NEVER* achieve the same ACT scores as kids from other SEHS in the city???

    This is one of the most racist things I have ever read.

  • 300. Questioner  |  November 2, 2014 at 10:29 am

    @298 “This is one of the most racist things I have ever read.” Well, you are the one who wrote it. You made a leap from @pantherettie’s post. @pantherettie did not say that southside/westside SEHS will never achieve the same ACT scores as kids from other SEHS in the city.

  • 301. pantherettie  |  November 2, 2014 at 10:45 am

    @ Curious – what I’m saying is not racist it’s that the scores are lower because the pool of kids who are applying to schools have lower scores to begin with. What’s racist about that? If the average scores for entrance at all of the schools were the same and the average ACT scores were significantly different, then your argument about quality differences among the schools would be very reasonable. That’s simply not the case. Pointing this out does not make my comment racist. You’ve ignored countless posts that provide information about SES and ACT scores. In Chicago SES is a proxy for race. If you go to place where there that isn’t the case and just look at SES and ACT scores, you’ll find the same thing. Lower SES = lower ACT scores that’s not race. These are indications of differences in parent education, school resources and funding differences, ect.

    *You*, my friend, drew the connection between ACT scores and the quality of the school. *You* implied that if the average scores aren’t the same, then the quality of the education wasn’t the same. I did not and do not equate ACT scores as the sole benchmark to judge anything. I think that it’s easier for you to discount my remarks as racist than to address why you made the earlier statement that lower ACT scores indicated that the students at Lindblom, King, Westinghouse and Brooks were “getting their butts kicked” by students at other SEHS. It was that statement that I have issues with – not the fact that the scores are lower.

  • 302. Curious  |  November 2, 2014 at 11:26 am

    @Pantherettie You are saying that b.c. the kids who go to a SE school and come from low socio-economic backgrounds, they will not get as high an ACT score as kids who go to the same school but are from a higher socio-economic background, even when given the same exact education.

    You also said that SES is a proxy for race.

    The ACT scores are one of the key determinants on how prepared an applicant is to get into a college program, and how well they will succeed OR NOT. This is why you may not see it, but that is heartbreakingly racist.

  • 303. pantherettie  |  November 2, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    @Curious – You’ve drawn conclusions from my comments that I never made. As an African American woman, I am personally offended by being called,”heartbreakingly racist”. Of course people of color can exhibit racism, it’s just that in this case I’m not. You drew conclusions that I didn’t make and then attributed them to me and then called them racist. In your original post you judged the quality of the schools and the intelligence of their students based soley on ACT scores when there is a wealth of information available about college acceptance and persistence rates available that could inform your statements. I’m not going to call you racist, I’ll just say that your comments are ill informed. Maybe you’re just trying to spark a discussion. I hope that my comments will help families interested in considering a variety of schools don’t rule out great schools based on your comments.

  • 304. (ex) CPS Parent  |  November 2, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    If you look at the ACT scores broken down by ethnicity at Payton you will find a significant difference between Latino/Black and Caucasian/Asian. At the “top” SE high schools the performance gap between ethnic groups, which in Chicago correlates highly with income, persists.

    It is also notable that the gap doesn’t change over the four years of high school – the school is inherently not fixing the difference.

    In the past there was a link to ACT scores by school and by ethnicity. I haven’t looked for it lately.

  • 305. Curious  |  November 2, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    @pantherettie – You do not see that your comments have serious racial overtones. I believe that all children can perofrm, regardless of skin color or socio-economic background, and that CPS is failing the children by not providing them with the same educational expectations as at Jones, Young and Peyton.

    I will pray for you, that one day you will see the soft prejudice of lowered expectations of children in SEHS where we say a lower ACT score is OK b.c. they don’t come to the schools as well-prepared as other kids, so we shouldn’t expect as much.

  • 306. pantherettie  |  November 2, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    @Curious – get a grip. I never said anything about having lowered expectations. In fact, I’ve routinely stated that the quality of the schools and the expectations for kids at Lindblom, Brooks,ect is just as high as it is for other schools. I do not have lower expectations for kids of color. The numbers of college admissions and college persistence for Lindblom show that it’s your insistence that ACT scores as *the* indication of college success is wrong. It’s that limited view of kids that is truly a problem. Again, just pointing out the fact that there is a difference in admissions scores does not mean that there is an expectation of lower achievement.

  • 307. Curious  |  November 2, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    @Pantherettie — If all schools provide the same education, why are the results so marketly different then? We say it’s the socio-economic thing but that is a cop-out to say that “It’s allright that the kids in one school do not perform as well as the kids in another school, when given the same education”.

    You say that Brooks and Lindblom and King are just as good as the Peyton and Jones schools. But when you use a non-CPS measurement, they clearly aren’t. I am not okay with this.

  • 308. cpsobsessed  |  November 2, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    @curious: google “achievement gap.”

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 309. pantherettie  |  November 2, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    Ok Curious -you’ve got to have the last word so go ahead and say that Lindblom and other southside SEHS are not as good as their northside counterparts and don’t produce college ready students. Go ahead and say that those students “kick the butt” of all others based entirely ACT scores. Go ahead and say that parents at these schools – predominantly AA and Latino – have lower expectations than their counterparts at other schools. Yeah Right.

  • 310. Curious  |  November 2, 2014 at 4:20 pm

    Pantherite, what other objective measurement should we use? Why are you so eager to apologize for the shortcomings of the CPS SE schools on the southside and westside???

  • 311. North Center Mom  |  November 2, 2014 at 6:08 pm

    Changing subject here just a bit…

    DD seemed genuinely interested at Lane open house today. Up until today she seemed to be sleepwalking through the other tours. Big sigh of relief for parents. Thank you to Lane Tech for putting your best foot forward today.

    p.s. The school looked great. Many changes in just a few years.

  • 312. cpsobsessed  |  November 2, 2014 at 6:12 pm

    Thanks and no need to apologize! We all want feedback on the schools.

    What was interesting to her about it? I am having trouble envisioning what it is that appeal to 8th graders about the different schools?
    The 8th graders at Lake View all looked so young! compared to the high school kids who were there.

  • 313. SM  |  November 2, 2014 at 6:59 pm

    @ 310 North Center Mom – Had the same experience today with my kid. Went from shoulder shrugging at previous tours to genuine excitement. It was thrilling to watch. From the robotics to aquaponics to all the little demonstrations going on in the halls, it was a fantastic tour.

  • 314. stemmom  |  November 2, 2014 at 9:32 pm

    I agree about the Lane Tech AC open house. They did a great job! My son told me to rank Lane Tech first after today’s tour. He also really liked WYAC (as did I), but I think the science programs at Lane really won him over. He was very excited about the robotics lab and the science demonstrations, along with the different art electives. We were very impressed and would be thrilled if son gets a spot.

  • 315. stressedmom  |  November 2, 2014 at 9:59 pm

    Went to the Taft open house and was impressed! DS liked it better than Lane. IB program seems like a good fit for him and a new 17 million dollar facility upgrade. We are putting Taft at the top of our list. Still going to visit Disney II, and Loyola….

  • 316. More info for Curious and anyone else interested  |  November 2, 2014 at 10:27 pm

    309 Curious, I don’t care if you call me or the researchers who wrote the paper linked to below “heartbreakingly racist,” but here’s the deal:


    Achievement gaps by race and income begin before children enter school. All the research I’ve ever seen indicates that those gaps either stay about the same through K-12 or get worse. So yes, you could put a kid from a middle or upper-income family in a school with bad test scores and that kid would still score well. And you could put a kid who grew up in poverty in a school with high test scores, and that kid would probably still score below peers.

    The conclusions I draw from this are:
    In general, we have not figured out how to do K-12 schooling–public, charter, or private–that makes a real dent in these gaps at scale. (There are isolated success stories of individual schools or teachers.)

    The real answers probably lie in early childhood education and more support for families in poverty, of all races. That includes everything from better prenatal care to reliable work schedules for parents, parent training and counseling, better-quality child care, etc. There is research to suggest that early intervention can close achievement gaps and even eliminate the need for special education in some cases. So where we ought to be putting a lot more money is in early education.

    And by the way, income is rapidly overshadowing race as a factor in achievement gaps. It used to be that the income gap in achievement basically fell between the poor and everyone else–middle class and the wealthy. Now it is changing. The very wealthy (think top 10 percent) are investing in their kids in ways even middle-class folk can’t keep up with. This paper will probably strike fear in the hearts of most readers of this site, but here goes: https://cepa.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/reardon%20whither%20opportunity%20-%20chapter%205.pdf

  • 317. ELT  |  November 2, 2014 at 10:39 pm

    OK, another different topic. My kid asked me how CPS’ tiebreaker works. I went to the website and found this:

    “To differentiate between these students, tiebreakers are used that include the core percentile on the ADMISSIONS exam, and the individual sections of the ENTRANCE exam (e.g., reading comprehension, vocabulary, etc.). This allows us to rank the students with identical total points from top to bottom.
    The order of the tiebreaker is the following:

    Core total
    Reading comprehension
    Language arts”

    The ALL CAPS is my emphasis.

    Is the “admissions” exam the NWEA and the cores are math and reading? Does that make the “entrance” exam the SEHS exam? Or vice versa?

    And what the heck is the “core total”?

    Anybody remember the movie “Jumping Jack Flash” with Whoopi Goldberg? I love the scene where she pounds her fist in frustration because she can’t figure out what the hell Jagger’s singing.

    All I can say is:

    “CPS, speak ENGLISH!”

    Man, I love that movie.

  • 318. lane  |  November 2, 2014 at 11:06 pm

    I have a Lane graduate. From the moment we visited at open house, it just felt right and very normal. It is a terrific school–although I was not thrilled with the direction the new principal has taken.

  • 319. stemmom  |  November 2, 2014 at 11:07 pm

    @314– Great to hear about Taft, we weren’t able to make it to that OH.

  • 320. AC  |  November 2, 2014 at 11:32 pm

    317. lane | November 2, 2014 at 11:06 pm

    I have heard people rumblings from folks I know that parents don’t like the new Principal. Not being at the school, I didn’t even know there was a new one. Can you shed some light on what is going on at Lane?

  • 321. Chicago mom  |  November 2, 2014 at 11:43 pm

    We also toured Lane today and was very impressed. It was very organized but relaxed. We didn’t feel like they were putting on a show like Whitney does. They offer so many course options. There is really something for every student. You really felt like your child can get a real high school experience .

  • 322. WRP Mom  |  November 3, 2014 at 7:16 am

    @319. I know there were people upset that they eliminated drafting, which was a holdover from Lane’s vocational school roots. It used to be a graduation requirement for most Lane students. The emphasis now is on 21st century tech, stuff like more computer labs, robotics and a sound engineering lab.

  • 323. CPS Parent  |  November 3, 2014 at 9:15 am

    “Also, forgetting about money for a second – consider this. If the average score required to gain admission to NSCP was something like 890 – near perfection regarding grades, standardized tests scores and achievement test scores – why wouldn’t those same kids have an average ACT score close to perfect? In fact why isn’t the average higher given the near genius status these kids demonstrated earlier in their high school career? Why aren’t these parents “super pissed” that the school doesn’t uniformly produce higher scores?”

    This is one of the most powerful questions asked on this board. Those students at NSCP should be scoring near, if not perfect ACT scores. I am continually amazed that parents do not question this. Also, the college enrollment rate is significantly lower than NSCP’s suburban counterpart. Another “why?”

  • 324. edgewatermom  |  November 3, 2014 at 9:24 am

    @322 I have a feeling that the college enrollment rate may be lower than its suburban counterparts because not all NSCP students can afford to go to college.

  • 325. cpsobsessed  |  November 3, 2014 at 9:40 am

    That certainly seems like the answer to me about colleges.
    There’s no way every single kid at a school is going to get a full free ride somewhere.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 326. (ex) CPS Parent  |  November 3, 2014 at 9:55 am

    800 on the CPS SEHS is does not correlate to 36 on the ACT. Not even close. My kids freshman class had about 30 800’s (out of 225 incoming freshmen). There were a dozen or so 35’s come senior year – no 36’s at all.

  • 327. ACT percentiles  |  November 3, 2014 at 10:04 am

    “If the average score required to gain admission to NSCP was something like 890 – near perfection regarding grades, standardized tests scores and achievement test scores – why wouldn’t those same kids have an average ACT score close to perfect? In fact why isn’t the average higher given the near genius status these kids demonstrated earlier in their high school career? Why aren’t these parents “super pissed” that the school doesn’t uniformly produce higher scores?”

    “This is one of the most powerful questions asked on this board. Those students at NSCP should be scoring near, if not perfect ACT scores. I am continually amazed that parents do not question this. Also, the college enrollment rate is significantly lower than NSCP’s suburban counterpart. Another “why?””

    Several things.

    1. There is no way that the average entering student into Northside is “near genius.”
    2. The average score is more like 880 than 890.
    3. A score of 880 corresponds to (I think) something like 95-96th percentile if you assume that essentially all the lost points are for tests rather than grades.
    4. A 95-96th percentile ACT score is not much different than the Northside ACT average.
    5. Further to (1), being at exactly 99.0 percentile does not get you a perfect score ACT. It’s probably much closer to 99.99 percentile (I didn’t get a chance to scrutinize ACT percentiles but I think that’s about right).

    I don’t know if I have all the numbers exactly right, but I think that is the gist of it.

  • 328. HSObsessed  |  November 3, 2014 at 10:25 am

    Here’s a link to the corresponding percentiles for ACT. If you score 28 on the ACT, you’re in the top 10% of the nation. An ACT of 30 means you’re in the top 5%. A 32 or above means you’re in the top 2%. Like any bell curve, there are more scorers closer to the mean of 20, so improving a score from 21 to 23 kicks you up 12 percentiles, whereas increasing a score from 30 to 32 only moves you up 3 percentiles.


  • 329. CPS alum  |  November 3, 2014 at 10:42 am

    It is unreasonable to expect an perfect ACT score just because a student got a perfect score for cps admission.

    A perfect score for cps SEHS admissions means all A’s and 99th percentile on standardized tests. 99th percentile is not the sane thing as perfect. An ACT composite of 33+ is in the 99th percentile.

    A student who scored less than 900 but more than 890 in cps, most likely got all As but lower percentiles in standardized test scores. Perhaps 98/98/97. A score of 31 on the ACT is the 97th percentile.

    In 2014 the lowest cut off score was Northside 804.
    For payton 838, Jones 805, WY 806. It is very likely that students with lower cut off scores had all As and lower percentiles on the cps tests. All As and 90th percentiles admissions tests gives you an 845. 90th percentile is an act score of 28.

  • 330. pantherparent  |  November 3, 2014 at 12:15 pm

    @ 322 The Tribune article mentions that for the percentage of college-bound students, “The state uses data from the National Student Clearinghouse, which includes most, but not all colleges.”

    So in a class of 260 or so, a few kids not counted skews the percentage. I would think the true NCP number would be similar to Payton/Young/Jones since they are similar everywhere else.

  • 331. mom2  |  November 3, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    Regarding Lane, we had a child there until last year and we loved the school and thought the new principal was making all the right moves. The school is amazing.

    We also went to the Lake View open house this weekend. Very impressed with the principal and every student we met told us how much they loved the school and the teachers and the classes and how proud they were to get to go there. We wanted to see the pool which they said was recently remodeled but they said it wasn’t open to see. Sad about that. There were tons of people from the neighborhood coming to visit and that was positive, too. We met students that were getting Microsoft certified while in high school. We met some really great teachers. High hopes! Agree, however, the parking lot is way too small! Thank goodness for the beautiful neighborhood surrounding the school.

  • 332. otdad  |  November 3, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    I couldn’t agree more. It’s too late when a kid reach high school.

    “The real answers probably lie in early childhood education and more support for families in poverty, of all races.”

    Like father like son. Parents are the most important teachers in children’s life, and have the most impact on how they do in school. It’s not really about family income or resources, more about the education level of the parents, which may be closely related to family income. Why? I would expect children with well educated parents (even though they somehow in poverty) do better in school than those with less educated parents (even though they are not in poverty).

    Recently, there are countless campaign ads saying “the schools are failing…..”. Come on, it’s the parents! S&W side schools are low performing has a lot more to do with the parents education level than school themselves. Not an easy problem to solve. I doubt it’s even possible without drastic changes.

  • 333. SM  |  November 3, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    Referring to #284 Edgewater mom from above:

    Anybody know where to find those Explore to ACT growth figures for all schools?

  • 335. North Center Mom  |  November 3, 2014 at 2:45 pm

    re: Lane open house

    I believe that my DD has the impression that the SEHS’s are going to be all work and no play (something about fun sponges…). But at Lane, they demonstrated that the students can pursue so many different things. Yes, they have every kind of AP class that you could want. But also the Ceramics, Guitar, and Sound Labs, the many musical offerings, and dance studio. I think that she can see herself going there and not having to give up any aspect of herself.

    Honestly, there are so many basic classes required for graduation, I don’t know how the kids can reasonably take advantage of the many things that Lane offers. Do the kids take extra classes? And with so many students there, are there wait lists to get into some of them? Follow up questions…

  • 336. bethleistensnider  |  November 3, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    Our LTAC tour guide alluded to seniority rankings for getting into popular electives. And said that graduating from LTAC would let freshmen be at the same place in that priority list as rising juniors.

  • 337. Northside Mom  |  November 3, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    @ 335 Lane Tech. We were absolutely thrilled with the direction of the new principal from day one and better yet for our academic center bound child. Lane is our number one choice. It’s a tech school and needed an infusion of relevant tech classes. From the robotics lab to aquaponics, sound engineering/recording class to makers lab, we have been blown away. If you talk to most parents they are thrilled with the direction the new principal has taken the school. Nothing was improving there for a really long time and the past few years have been phenomenal.

  • 338. Chris  |  November 3, 2014 at 7:08 pm

    322. CPS Parent: “Also, the college enrollment rate is significantly lower than NSCP’s suburban counterpart. ”

    What are these “counterparts”???

    Hinsdale Central (83 12-month/85 16-month) is slightly *lower* than NSCP (84/85).
    As is Hinsdale South (77/81)
    So is New Trier (80/85).
    And Lake Forest (78/83)
    And both Naperville Central (81/84) and North (78/81)
    Stevenson is right there with HC and NSCP at 83/85–still not *higher* tho.

    I don’t find ANY suburban schools with higher post-secondary enrollment stats, let alone SIGNIFICANTLY higher, so, maybe I’m not looking in the right place.

    So, please to explain what you meant? And what counterparts to which you were referring?

  • 339. bethleistensnider  |  November 3, 2014 at 7:16 pm

    I’m surprised they are that low for all those schools, though I’d rather see 12- and 24-months stays to see how many take a year off. My suburban upstate NY high school had 97% entering college post graduation. Of course it was an affluent area and college cost waaay less 20 years ago.

  • 340. cpsobsessed  |  November 3, 2014 at 7:18 pm

    Nice find, chris. Thanks for the context.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 341. Chris  |  November 3, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    326: “Further to (1), being at exactly 99.0 percentile does not get you a perfect score ACT. It’s probably much closer to 99.99 percentile (I didn’t get a chance to scrutinize ACT percentiles but I think that’s about right).”

    For the Class of 2012 (what I found quickly), a composite 36 was higher than 99.953% of the cohort. 781 perfect scores out of 1,666,017 test takers.

    Which probably equates to over 99.99%-ile, because the pool of test takers is going to skew somewhat high–there are 1.57 times as many scores of “99+” as there are of “1-“.

    Again using the 2012 cohort, the “exact” 99.0 rank was about 5/6 of the way up the 33s–all the 34+ scorers were higher than *more* than 99.0 percent of test-takers. A 33 was really 98.22, rather than 99.

  • 342. Chris  |  November 3, 2014 at 7:37 pm

    Beth: “I’d rather see 12- and 24-months stays to see how many take a year off. ”

    The 16-month number is supposed to capture that–those enrolling the 2d fall after graduation.

    I’m more interested in those completing 2+ years within 4 after graduation and either earning some sort of degree or remaining on track to earn a 4-year degree. But that’s a significantly larger undertaking.

  • 343. bethleistensnider  |  November 3, 2014 at 8:02 pm

    Of course. I’m thinking from when they apply not graduate, my mistake.

  • 344. HS Mom  |  November 3, 2014 at 8:35 pm

    Regarding Northside Prep comments

    One of the things I’ve pointed out in the discussion about private schools is the fact that SEHS’s have a range of talent due to the tier system. A large percentage of students enter at a lower percentiles.

    If I’m not mistaken, this would have been the first year that NSP was forced to drop its policy of having its own appointed cut off score. So, not only should NSP parents not be “super pissed” but they should feel accomplished that in spite of lowering admissions, their scores went up. Great job!

  • 345. ELT  |  November 3, 2014 at 8:58 pm


    What is “its own appointed cut off score”? Not sure I understand your point.

  • 346. HS Mom  |  November 3, 2014 at 9:20 pm

    Historically (2010 and earlier), NSCP cut off scores at a point they determined (outside of CPS/OAE) that they wanted to accept students. The 2010 year was 850/900 cut off. Lindbloom also had a cut off in order to maintain a minimum score. So, if there were not enough tier 1, 2, 3 applicants scoring over 850 (which there weren’t in this first year of the tier system) they took additional tier 4 students by rank. The other schools accepted students using the required tier percentages. This didn’t go over too well. I believe the 2011 year is when they disallowed this practice and some tier 1/2 students entered with high 700’s

  • 347. ELT  |  November 3, 2014 at 9:26 pm

    @ HS Mom

    Thanks. I thought all the SEHS were required to take the same number/percentage of students from each tier. Is that the case now?

  • 348. HS Mom  |  November 3, 2014 at 9:30 pm

    Yes, it’s supposed to be. Lot’s of growing pains all documented in the CPSO archives of distressed and concerned parents.

  • 349. cpsobsessed  |  November 3, 2014 at 9:35 pm

    Ha, it IS the archive of angst, isn’t it??

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 350. pantherettie  |  November 3, 2014 at 10:18 pm


    I actually don’t think that NSCP parents should be “super pissed” about the school’s ACT scores. I was using an outrageous example to try to illustrate how the parents’ expectations about schools should not be based entirely on ACT scores. I didn’t do a good job of expressing the irony I was trying to convey.

  • 351. HS Mom  |  November 3, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    @349 – we’re well aware that “super pissed” did not come from you. No worries.

  • 353. lane  |  November 3, 2014 at 11:44 pm


  • 355. klm  |  November 4, 2014 at 8:40 am

    RE: Test scores, growth in HS, etc.

    I think people need to remember that things need to be put in context.

    If an average entering 9th grader is scoring over the 90th percentile (or 95th or 98th, as the case may be), their “increase” will be more incremental than a stident’s whose score is lower.

    Once one gets over 30 on the ACT/Explore, it’s much harder to increase the total number of points, so it’s not like NSCP is doing a crappy job vs. some other schools.

    In some ways, a smaller increase in ACT scores (points-wise) indicates how already-very-qualified the students at a place like NSCP are –they’re already so smart and high-scoring that it’s hard to make “large” gains, as opposed to a school where kids come in with “lagging” scores.

    In other words, it’s easier to get a kid from a 15 to a 19 than a kid from a 31 to a 35 –isn’t that obvious?

    Also, one point people forget is that WY, NSCP, etc., still get kids in through a NCLB mechansm –from what I understand, it’s not widely discussed, but it’s still there in order to increase (by design) black enroilment. I believe that where much of the disparities in PSAE scores come from, comebined with Tiers that are designed for race diversity (not economic diversity, like so many people seem to complain about when certain Tier 3 and 4 ‘hoods are visibly not affluent in any way).

  • 356. SM  |  November 4, 2014 at 9:37 am

    I think the principal made the right call in choosing robotics, aquaponics, and the creation/invention space over the ceramics and architecture programs. It is these new programs that are drawing students to Lane. There is a real sense of excitement among the 8th graders I know about Lane specifically because of the emphasis on engineering, computer science, etc. Of course, ceramics and architecture are wonderful pursuits, but it seems like student/parent demand has fallen off in favor of robotics, etc.

  • 357. (ex) CPS Parent  |  November 4, 2014 at 10:07 am

    354. klm I don’t think the NCLB entry route has been used for the last couple of years. I believe it was only used for two years. I think the fine tuning of the tiers has made it unnecessary.

  • 358. klm  |  November 4, 2014 at 11:14 am


    That’s what I always thought, too. However, i was told that there still is some use of it, but the source (a CPS teacher, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything –they don’t really know more than any of us) is maybe wrong.

    Maybe it’s used when a particular class’s demos aren’t where CPS wants them to be, given current use of Tiers, etc?

    I’m pretty sure that it’s still a mechanism that CPS would use to get entering classes more “representative” of CPS student populations.

    I know that NCLB was still used after the end of the race-based Consent Decree, unless what I read was wrong.

  • 359. klm  |  November 4, 2014 at 11:27 am

    I checked with the CPS Manual re: SE Admissions. Under Section VII, NCLB transfers are allowed into CPS SE schools. That rule still appears to be standing.

  • 360. former lane parent  |  November 4, 2014 at 11:47 am


    Well, apparently the demise of Lane’s amazing art program was a boon for Senn. I am certainly not surprised that the market for many data driven type parents is different, but that now makes Lane different.

    By the way, for those who think Lane is a tech school from reading these comments, please know that my child had amazing history and english teachers. It is very well rounded and hopefully it will remain somewhat so.

    I will also say that the ONLY staff member that I reached out to when I had a Lane student that did NOT return my call/email was the current principal when he was an AP.

  • 361. mom2  |  November 4, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    I do agree that Lane’s art program was fabulous. My kid enjoyed art and ceramics was wonderful. I didn’t know they were losing those options. I’m sure it is hard to decide what to keep and what has to go. Glad other schools will still be around for those more creative types. Lake View HS arts looked really good.

  • 362. cpsobsessed  |  November 4, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    I got this information directly from Lane admin this morning in regards to some of the confusion over information posted so far:

    Lane Tech still offers ceramics. We invested over $30,000 into a new room solely dedicated to wheel throwing and ceramics. The wheel throwing courses are running this school year with wheels and kilns. We also dedicated funds to rehabbing a new Arts Multimedia Lab Center. That new room is running this school year with kilns and AP 3D with ceramics.

    We also just opened the first Art gallery in the school 106 year history. We have doubled the size of the art department in the past three school years.

    The drafting program closed three school years ago. In addition, we were still running architecture but were only able to recruit 2.5 sections of courses for the current school year and the architecture teacher retired a couple of weeks prior to school starting. We spent a few weeks looking for a new teacher and could not find one so the students had to enroll in other courses.

  • 363. cpsobsessed  |  November 4, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    @360: what impressed you about the LV arts program? I didn’t get a chance to learn much about that this weekend (although I did enjoy the photography project they had set up.)

  • 364. mom2  |  November 4, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    @362 – We didn’t have much time to really look into it, but we saw some cool art projects and we liked the 3 options – the technology track (with all Freshmen taking computer science their first year to see if they like programming and web design), the humanities track or the art/music track. The art/music track is exactly what my kid currently loves. The digital imaging and photography class sounded great, too.

  • 365. cpsobsessed  |  November 4, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    yes, the way you describe the music/art track I agree – could see my son being enthused about that as well!

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 366. HSHSHS  |  November 6, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    Can anyone explain the SEHS test day structure? I know it’s about 3 hours and 4 areas (I think), but do they break up each area or do the kids sit and do the entire assessment w/o breaks?
    Does anyone know?

  • 367. NCPMom  |  November 6, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    @365 HSHSHS – they are told to bring a snack. I forget after which section they get a break, but know that they do not sit straight and test for 3+ hours. It is only 1 break however.

  • 368. North Side Parent  |  November 6, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    New Topic: A shooting occurred near Lake View High School on Monday night, statement from Alderman Pawar below. I encourage all to check out crimeinboystown dot blogspot dot com (links blocked here) to see the full info and comments from a number of parents in the area, including numerous standing up for LVHS. Unfortunate timing with the push to improve neighborhood enrollment at the school.

    Good Afternoon,
    I want to update you on the events that happened last night near Clark and Southport. Please share this information with neighbors or other concerned residents and ask that they call 911 if they see any suspicious or criminal activity in the neighborhood.
    Our office was first alerted to the shots fired incident around 11pm last night. I have been working with the community and police department to piece together the series of events here and give an official account of what happened last night since 5:30 this morning. Below, is a summary of events based on the report we received from Commander Voulgaris in the 19th District.

    1. Numerous calls were made to 911 to report the shooting and officers were dispatched at 9:39pm.
    2. Two beat patrol cars from Beat 1911 and Beat 1923 responded and were the first on the scene at 9:45pm.
    3. 1911 stopped individuals at 1426 W Warner and 1923 stopped individuals at Clark and Southport.
    4. 1923 began to search the area and arrested an individual running through gangways. This is individual is a known Latin Eagle who claimed he was shot at (not hit) by a Spanish Gangster Disciple. Ten (10), 9mm casings were found on the ground around 1454 W Warner.
    5. Later, a beat car (1921R) observed a white van travelling southbound on Greenview in the area of shots fired. The driver of the van attempted to strike an unknown bicyclist at Greenview and Irving, at which time a passenger got out with a wooden board. Officers on Beat 1921R gave chase to this offender and placed him under arrest. Two other subjects fled in the van.
    6. Beat 1912 saw the flash alert message once the van had fled the scene and stopped the van at Lawrence and Wolcott. Both subjects were placed under arrest.

    As a result of community’s calls to 911 and subsequent patrol by the police, the Chicago Police Department was able to arrest three adults and one juvenile. None of these individuals is from the area and one has a home address in Melrose Park.

    It is currently believed that, although none arrested are students at Lake View High School, that this incident is tied to tensions around Lake View High School. There was a much larger gang presence in this area in the past, but some of these tensions continue and seem to have contributed to the incident that occurred last night. While we have seen a dramatic decrease in the level of gang activity at and around the school over the past two decades, it is important to continue being mindful of this type of activity and to keep eyes on the street and call if you ever see anything of concern.

    In the wake of the incident we will be taking the following steps.
    1. Commander Voulgaris has assigned tactical officers to provide extra patrol and support to the regular patrol cars in the area, and will be in the area personally to oversee operations.
    2. Commander Voulgaris has directed his school officers to monitor activity at Lake View High School. He has also requested a meeting with Principal Grens to discuss the matter further and talk through the possible connection to LVHS and how the school can help the police monitor this activity.
    3. Our office is also going to work with those responsible for care of Warner Garden Park on possible safety improvements there. We are still in the very early stages of reaching out to them and will know more on this at a later date.
    Please call 911 if you see any suspicious or criminal activity in the neighborhood. Sometimes people are hesitant to contact 911 because they don’t feel it rises to that level, but it is best to let dispatchers and police make that determination. If you ever feel that response is inadequate, please let us know and we will troubleshoot with the police. I have copied Commander Voulgaris on this email [Link added in lieu of email copy – Ed.]. Please feel free to reach out to him or me with any further questions.
    The safety of our community is of paramount importance, and we will continue doing everything we can to ensure that the 47th Ward remains one of the safest places in Chicago.

    Take Care,
    Jim Poole
    Chief of Staff

  • 369. edgewatermom  |  November 6, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    I have another question about the SEHS. In general, is there usually a correlation between the standardized test and the SEHS. I guess there is no way to tell with the MAP since this is the first year it is being used, but does anybody know if there was one with the ISAT. In other words, if a kid scored in the 90th percentile on the ISAT, were they likely to score in the 90th percentile of the SEHS?

    Obviously this would be a generalization, but I am just curious. Also, what sections is the SEHS test broken into?

  • 370. HSObsessed  |  November 6, 2014 at 3:37 pm

    @368 – I don’t know whether it can be extrapolated to all test takers, but my kid scored nearly the same percentile for the SEHS exam than she had for her 6th/7th grade ISATs. As for the parts, I vaguely recall that there are four parts, but three of them are language oriented (like vocab, grammar, reading comprehension?), and only one math oriented, but that if there was a tie-breaker, the math score was used. Again, this is fuzzy memories for me as it was two years ago, and maybe someone else can confirm or correct.

  • 371. Patricia  |  November 6, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    @367 Concerning incident. The sooner the neighborhood takes charge of Lakeview HS and fills its halls with neighborhood students, the less likely these incidents occur. Neighborhood families will support the school and the community will work together to continue to improve. Part of the beauty/benefit of strong neighborhood schools.

  • 372. vb  |  November 6, 2014 at 6:03 pm

    @cpsobsessed “if Kid X chose Lindblom instead of Payton, Kid X would likely come out of Lindblom with the same ACT scores”

    When Kid X applies for college admission his high school’s ranking matters. A graduate of Payton gets more respect than a graduate of Lindblom, even with the same ACT score.

  • 373. cpsobsessed  |  November 6, 2014 at 6:16 pm

    So would the same kid get the same ranking at both schools? The ranking is a lot tougher to achieve at payton.
    Which outcome is the best?
    Same ACT score.
    Lower ranking at payton
    Higher ranking at (insert any other school)

    Also, for schools that look at the “whole child” don’t other things factor in as well? Or are you talking more about good state schools that are more score/gpa focused?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 374. Pantherettie  |  November 6, 2014 at 7:35 pm

    @371 – Vb, just curious -what do you base your statements on? College admissions officers, stats from particular university, available admissions policies, personal experience? I’m not implying that you’re incorrect – just genuinely curious about what is fact vs. what is perception.

  • 375. ELT  |  November 6, 2014 at 7:37 pm

    Purely anecdotal, but a longtime acquaintance who was also a longtime admissions office staff at Univ. of Chicago told me: “Degree from the top school only goes so far. We’d rather have a student in the top 5% from a good school than one in the the top 30% from a so called great school.”


  • 376. ELT  |  November 6, 2014 at 7:41 pm

    I should also add she said that colleges like to take students from a range of schools rather than overload with one or two top ranked. It helps with overall recruiting, reputation, etc.

    Something to be said for standing out among your peers.

  • 377. bethleistensnider  |  November 6, 2014 at 7:58 pm

    I have heard this many times as well. DH works in educational publishing and has heard many times that elite colleges will prioritize a good student from an urban high school (and that most colleges would consider ETSH and OPRFHS “urban”) over an equally good student from an affluent suburban district. I went to a top-ranked public HS in upstate NY, but very much a high socioeconomic tier and being a good student there was not seen as impressive because of course good students come out of your district was the line I heard. I was top 8% in my class in a top 50 national public high school and did not get into first choice universities. The crop of students year to year matters as well, depending on if there are a lot of students applying or not.

  • 378. PaytonStudent  |  November 6, 2014 at 10:17 pm

    Just an FYI: Payton does not rank their students

  • 379. parent  |  November 7, 2014 at 12:22 am

    Only the first questions on the ISAT counted for the national percentiles. I found that both my kids scored the highest on the SEHS test (99%) and somewhere in the 90’s on the Terra Novas when they were in catholic school. The ISATs were the lowest–80’s and 90’s. The explore test actually seemed to correlate with the SEHS–my son got in the 100% in reading, which I did not know was a possible score. His reading score on the ACT was a 35. BTW, he graduated in the bottom quarter at Lane . . . .

    Don’t let them take a phone to the SEHS test. My daughter said that someone’s phone went off during testing at Lane Tech and supposedly that student was kicked out. Her’s started vibrating her pocket and she was afraid to touch it to turn it off and then lost her train of thought and was crying in the car when I went to pick her up because she said she bombed math. She ended up getting into her first choice–in fact, everywhere she applied–we cast a wide net. Keep your options open. The whole process is crazy.

  • 380. SoxSideIrish4  |  November 7, 2014 at 5:02 am

    371. vb | November 6, 2014 at 6:03 pm

    FWIW~I don’t think any SEHS rank their students…these schools are considered college prep…so no ranking…Also, it’s really not true that “A graduate of Payton gets more respect than a graduate of Lindblom, even with the same ACT score.” from anything I’ve ever been told. May be in IL but in reality there are a LOT of universities that don’t know the hs in IL like the cpsobsessed group.

  • 381. pantherparent  |  November 7, 2014 at 8:57 am

    Having a senior at a SEHS, we are in the middle of this process of determining what a college wants. In speaking to counselors and admissions people, what courses you take is more important than where you take them.

    Assuming identical ACT scores, a kid at Payton who took only 2 AP courses would be much less respected than a kid at Lindblom who took 5.

  • 382. klm  |  November 7, 2014 at 9:02 am

    RE: HSs and college admissions

    When college admissions officers look at students’ HSs, they’ll have a Profile for the HS the applicant attended. Unless, it’s stictly-number-and-points big state U (ACT, GPA, –plus class rank, race/ehtnicity, first generation, etc.), an admissions officer will know how well you did, compared to other apllicants from the same school and what kinds of kids go to that school (SATs, ACT, % taking APs, etc.).

    Admissions officers know it’s more difficult to be a rock star student at NSCP, Latin, Lab or Payton, tahn, sat, Senn, Wells, or Lake View, believe me. What they decide to do with this information is up to them (if they’re advocating for an applicant, it’s relevant, if they’re tending to decline, they’ll tend not to care as much –the the applicant is an underrepresented minority this info tends to be made less relevant if the one’s tending/advocating for admission, etc.)

    When I worked at the undergraduate admissions office of a big state U. we imputed ACT, GPA (self-reported black and Hispanic students automatically were given a 0.5 [on a 4.0 scale] boost to their GPA), and if one attended a more competetive HS (New Trier, NSCP, Lab, Exeter, etc.) a certain point (depending on that school’s perceived academic rigor) was also added –anywhere from 0.1 to 0.5 (with the understanding that it’s harder to be a 3.5 student at the Lab School than a low-performing HS with an average ACT of 15, for example).

    Later (after I left), that school switched to a point system, with similar results (although being black or Hispanic got 20 pints added [25 for engineering] out of 100 needed for admission), GPA was given more weight, standardized teast scores only up to 12 points. A few points were given to kids from rural areas of the state, 2 for children of alumni, male applicants to the nursing school were given a few extra points, female applicants to the engineering school a few extra points, etc. .

    I’m pretty sure thaty a school like UIUC pretty much does the same, athough recent Supreme Court ruling require a more “holistic” approach for reaching racial, ethnicity, gender goals, etc., althjough UIUC still used race/ethnicity in admissions, I’m sure.

  • 383. cpsobsessed  |  November 7, 2014 at 9:35 am

    So basically what you’re saying is the kid needs to look like they’re excelling given their specific school and one can’t really “game” the system by attending an easier school.

    I suppose that is reassuring and fair.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 384. mom2  |  November 7, 2014 at 10:11 am

    @370 Patricia – You are exactly right about Lake View or any neighborhood high school in a normally “safe” neighborhood. If people from the neighborhood go there, concerns about crime before, during, after school or the evening diminish greatly.
    I’ve heard Lake View is back to considering setting a minimum test score/grades for out of neighborhood kids for next year. That will also help a great deal.

  • 385. mom2  |  November 7, 2014 at 10:12 am

    Oh, and during our open house visit, every student I asked about safety said they feel very safe and very “at home” at school. I’d hate for people to start rumors about gang issues that were dealing with people that weren’t even from the school or the neighborhood.

  • 386. klm  |  November 7, 2014 at 10:37 am

    Yes, I think that’s basically correct. Admissions officers will have a “Profile” of the HS that the applicant attended (one can go to the web sites for schools like Lab, Loyola, SICP, etc. and they give ‘profile’ info there for public view, –at Lab the 25th-75th percentiles for ACT composite is 27-33, school will give state that % of kids taking APs and getting 4’s, 5s, % going on to college, etc.) Many public HSs keep this info more “private,” but, believe me, NSCP can’t wait to let admissions officers at Vassar or Carnegie-Mellon know the school’s ACT stats, etc. —so as to give a boost to its applicants.

    Also, the College Board has info for colleges as to the stats from kids from HSs, their scores relative to their GPA, the number of kids from that school taking AP exams, the numbers they get, etc. –so this is another “profile” source.

    Schools like New Trier, Lab, Payton, NSCP, etc., don’t rank, but an admissions officer will have a good idea of where the applicant stands, vis a vis the rest of their class, believe me.

    If anybody thinks that their kid’s chances of getting into Northwestern are better at HS A with an ave. ACT of 21 vs. HS B, chock-full-o-braniacs, with an ave. ACT of 30, I think that they are mistaken. The admissions officers at Northwestern know all about HS A and HS B and what kinds of scores, AP exams #’s, etc. that each school has –and they’ll have a good idea of what kinds of academic skills it takes to be a rock star at each.

    Even at the Big State U. where I worked, kids that went to “tough” academic HSs were given added points, so evwen at a ‘holistic’ competetive college, admissions officers will almost certainly give more respect to a GPA of 3.7/4.0 from a school like NSCP (ave. ACT 30) than from a HS where where the ave. ACT is below 20.

    Right or wrong, most people understand that it’s harder to get A’s at the University of Chicago than at Chicago State, not that there aren’t smart students at Chicago State. Same for HSs.

    Now, some kids will be miserable at a high-powered, everybody’s-really-smart HS like NSCP, so this will mean that they’re unhappy and get bad grades. THAT kid would be better off at another “regular” HS with much less competition, etc. But, if a kid’s hard-working and capable, loves to be challenged, etc., it won’t much matter which HS she/he attends as long as they have the ACT/SAT?AP scores to match their GPA (and how difficult it is to get an A at certaoin schools is given consideration). In fact, it will impress an admissions officer that they made it to the “toughest” (academics-wise) HS that was available to him/her, so, if anything, they’ll get more respect from an admissions officer.

  • 387. Chris  |  November 7, 2014 at 10:46 am

    Beth: “DH works in educational publishing and has heard many times that elite colleges will prioritize a good student from an urban high school … over an equally good student from an affluent suburban district. ”

    Think about it from their perspective…this is certainly true to at least some extent. It will NOT (neverevernever. ever) be universally true, and my be demonstrably false for any given college. But for some ‘elite’ colleges, in some pairings of HSs, this is *definitely* happening. For other colleges, the opposite effect likely happens as well–they’d prefer the ‘affluent suburban kid’.

    CPSO: “So basically what you’re saying is the kid needs to look like they’re excelling given their specific school and one can’t really “game” the system by attending an easier school.”

    Depends what you mean by “game” and “easier”.

    If a kid is at a HS that has 6 AP classes, and kid takes all 6, gets As, etc, etc, that kid is excelling.

    If a kid is at a HS with 26 AP classes, and kid takes 8 (ie, *more* than the kid at the ‘worse’ school), gets As, etc, etc, that kid is (maybe) not trying hard enough.

    I know *for a fact* that some “elite” colleges will look more favorably on the former kid than they do on the latter (in any given year). Even if the kids are so identical, that they are twins, living separately with their divorced parents, the former at “average HS” and the latter at “elite HS”.

    So, if that is ‘gaming the system’ and going to an ‘easier’ school, then, yes, it can be an advantage, at a certain point, for admissions to certain schools.

    Now, can you do that in CPS? Probably not–if you’re a kid who is seen by admissions as smart enough to get into some selective enrollment situation (from Payton down to … (??) LP HH? Von Steuben (non-scholars)?? South Shore??? whatever is seen as the easiest ‘get’) and you (1) didn’t and (2) don’t explain that failure compellingly (homeless/parents-are-criminals/deaths-in-family/serious illness) in one’s admissions essay or otherwise, then *most* admissions folks will say “why didn’t s/he go to *anyplace* better than [Wells/Dunbar/whatever]?”

  • 388. SoxSideIrish4  |  November 7, 2014 at 10:51 am

    385. klm | November 7, 2014 at 10:37 am

    ” In fact, it will impress an admissions officer that they made it to the “toughest” (academics-wise) HS that was available to him/her, so, if anything, they’ll get more respect from an admissions officer.” That is so interesting~I know someone in a situation where the exact opposite happened at NU. I’m beginning to think it’s all a crap shoot! Thanks for all your inside knowledge. It’s so helpful….as I sit here waiting for college acceptance/rejections to start soon for my child!

  • 389. bethleistensnider  |  November 7, 2014 at 10:52 am

    Absolutely I know it won’t be universally true, but he has heard a number of times that some admissions officers are likely to want the good student from an urban high school over the good student from the stellar suburban district, which I thought interesting.

  • 390. parent  |  November 7, 2014 at 10:56 am

    Isn’t there another thread for getting your kids into Harvard while they are still in 7th grade? Get a grip folks.

  • 391. Chris  |  November 7, 2014 at 11:00 am

    SSI: “I know someone in a situation where the exact opposite happened at NU”

    You know someone that opted against going to [Elite HS X] and instead went to {demonstrably below average HS Y], and got into NU without being Valedictorian, or top [athlete/debater/actor/something] at HS Y?? And with no compelling reason for choosing HS Y?

  • 392. Chris  |  November 7, 2014 at 11:02 am

    “Isn’t there another thread for getting your kids into Harvard while they are still in 7th grade?”

    I think it is the same thread that is about getting your kid into SEHS when they take the K-level SEES test.

  • 393. mom2  |  November 7, 2014 at 11:33 am

    @388 – I’ve heard that, too. That certain schools don’t want too many kids from one particular school so they will pick student X from a different school over student Y from a school that already has tons of kids admitted. Trying to get variety. That is one drawback to SEHS – at least for schools where many kids apply such as the big ten around here.

  • 394. mom2  |  November 7, 2014 at 11:37 am

    Maybe you should look at this one other way – a student with a 24 on their ACT and straight A’s and the top of their class seems more likely to be admitted to many schools that than a student with a 24 on their ACT and A’s and B’s and an occasional C at a SEHS. They stand out at the first school. Most likely, they are really similar in terms of college readiness.

  • 395. IB Obsessed  |  November 7, 2014 at 11:40 am

    There is potentially such a wealth of information available from this board regarding inside knowledge of the culture of schools, admin. and counselor effectiveness, how parents deal with inexperienced kids taking the L home in the dark for 45 minutes each way, the degree/impact of stress upon kids/families at the various schools, the prospect of being a minority at a school….and so much else. BUT with rare exceptions what you’ll find discussed here is SCORES and TIERS and how to get ahead, and people repeating their same points and opinions over and over Can we please go back to discussing other things to help sort through the HS thing?
    Or am I going to be called a troll again?

  • 396. pantherparent  |  November 7, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    @394 I think this discussion is hugely important for picking a high school. Does a child with an ACT score of 30 at Lakeview have a better or worse chance of getting into the college of his choice than a child with an ACT score of 30 at Payton?

    Unfortunately it seems like the collective answer is “who knows what colleges want” but it doesn’t make the discussion any less relevant.

    I guess when SEHS and colleges stop looking at scores, then we can stop talking about them.

  • 397. HSObsessed  |  November 7, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    I’m fully planning to take advantage of geographic diversity when my kid applies to colleges. I believe she’ll be applying not to the most selective 10-15 universities, but the larger set of 30-40 schools after that (like Tulane, Vanderbilt). National private universities want a diversity of students from as many states/cities/schools as possible. I would think that the number of applicants to non-Midwest universities from the city of Chicago (not the suburbs) is pretty small, and the subset of applicants from a CPS high school smaller yet, and the subset of applicants from a non-SEHS smaller again. Maybe I’m wrong, but I feel that will be an advantage. Of course, it has to be in conjunction with strong ACT scores, solid GPA and a record of taking AP and IB classes as well.

  • 398. parent  |  November 7, 2014 at 12:17 pm

    How about where will my child get the best education that will prepare him or her for after high school. There are plenty of colleges out there and in my opinion, going to a lower tier high school because you think it will help college chances is absurd.

  • 399. HSObsessed  |  November 7, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    Also want to add that I just read an article the other day that the data shows it’s easier that ever to gain admission to college. There are 9% more students applying vs. years ago (can’t remember how many, maybe 20?) but there are 55% more freshman seats available. Dozens of very good colleges/universities have added hundreds or even thousands of new freshmen seats. Also, the decrease in the % of students being admitted to many schools is more a function of the widespread use of the common application, which allows kids to easily apply to a far greater number of schools than they used to.

  • 400. Chris  |  November 7, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    parent: “There are plenty of colleges out there and in my opinion, going to a lower tier high school because you think it will help college chances is absurd.”

    One could say the same thing about colleges, too–that it’s “absurd” to settle for a ‘good enough’ college for whatever reason. Like the (many) people I knew in HS who said “I’ll go to State School X, bc grad school is what’s really important, and it’s easier to get good grades there than at Private School Y”. It’s a continuum.

    HSO: “decrease in the % of students being admitted to many schools is more a function of the widespread use of the common application, which allows kids to easily apply to a far greater number of schools than they used to”

    This is totally true. Combined with the perception that it’s just a crapshoot, and youneverknow when you might be the “missing piece” to [School X’s] freshman class–since they all say something like “in 2015, we might need that oboe player to complete our orchestra” or similar nonsense.

  • 401. IB Obsessed  |  November 7, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    “I guess when SEHS and colleges stop looking at scores, then we can stop talking about them.”

    It’s not an either/or issue. No one is proposing we stop talking about scores. Some grudgingly acknowledge that scores are not the be-all and end-all, but then what do they extend the discussion on? Almost without exception: scores.

  • 402. parent  |  November 7, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    I keep thinking about Abraham Lincoln reading these comments. He had little formal education but because of his hunger for knowledge was able to craft the Gettysburg Address.

    None of this discussion is about quality of education. It is about how to get access to what is perceived to be the best commodity based on what other people want. It is now possible to watch the best professors in the world give FREE lectures on line.

    I went to one of the universities that people are foaming at the mouth about on this blog and it was not that great. I would have gotten a better education if I had gone to St. Johns. I mentioned it to my daughter and she was turned off by the 85% or maybe higher acceptance rate.

    The president of GW university found that he could make the university much more desirable if he charged more. So did my son’s travel baseball league.

  • 403. IB Obsessed  |  November 7, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    Yeah @401. It disturbs me most that the kids pick up this mentality just by breathing the air at CPS. My kid is starting to blow off assignments that she could learn from because she has learned that homework doesn’t count that much for the grade and grades are not all that important either. Show us the numbers.

  • 404. parent  |  November 7, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    My daughter initially resisted taking APUSH because the teacher is a hard grader and it is hard to get an A or even a B. I told her to take it and do her best. I’d rather that she not get a C but if she does but learns a lot, it’s fine.

  • 405. mom2  |  November 7, 2014 at 1:53 pm

    @401 – agree, too. IB Obsessed, I think many parents on this site just want bragging rights about their kids – SEES, SEHS, top college (all based on rankings which are based on scores). I think finding the best fit for your kids is way more important and will ultimately benefit them in life. I work in business and I know the people at my company are not impressed by a specific college on resumes. It is all about past experience and the interview.

    And in regards to getting to and from school on the train or bus, I vote strongly for picking a school close to your home. My kid didn’t have far to travel and had to be at school very early and stay late and come back for things. Friends had it really rough when they lived far away. While they enjoyed the ride with friends, they were often doing homework while traveling.

  • 406. cpsobsessed  |  November 7, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    @parent: that is what we in the marketing world like to call “effective marketing”. 🙂

    Unfortunately, name has come to matter with schools – for getting your foot in the door, at least. So much of it is perception (and what is probably similar to the sorting that goes on in cps – the school deemed the best have the highest scoring incoming kids, so the image is perpetuated.)

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 407. RL Julia  |  November 7, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    I am a little dismayed with the mentions of “gaming the system”. One of the great things about this blog is that it identifies options for casting a wide net for both elementary AND high schools. Not to sound completely naïve but to also echo the sentiments of 403 – I’d prefer my kid to have an experience where they knew that wherever they went to school they got into by playing fairly (even if the rules themselves might not be completely fair) than otherwise – if only to preserve their conscience and sense of self worth.

  • 408. parent  |  November 7, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    @405 Funny–I remember when a summer associate from {VERY ELITE LAW SCHOOL] wracked up a Lexis bill for 20k because it was free at school and it caused a major commotion, I still, 25 years late, associate that [VERY ELITE LAW SCHOOL] with that incident!

  • 409. Beth  |  November 7, 2014 at 6:00 pm

    Regardless if you should or shouldn’t, you can’t game the college acceptance system because it doesn’t work the same way as HSES acceptance does. HSES admission is a numbers game, manipulate the numbers and you can gain your objective. Acceptance at elite colleges is not based solely on numbers, not transparent, and not objective. I think KLM has really good insight into the college admission process, which is the higher the high school ranking, the higher the applicants GPA/test scores, the better known the high school is to college admissions officers, the more likely the candidate is competitive for entrance. Competitive only, no guarantee of acceptance, and there are always exceptions. There are so many variables to acceptance—many more that you can’t control than you can, which makes the very thought of gaming the system laughable. If you’re applying to nationally ranked colleges with under 25 percent acceptance rates (let alone the Ivies, which are all under 10), your competition has similar GPAs, scores, APs/IBs, etc. so visualize that–it’s like 5,000 acceptances out of 30,000 applicants (17 percent acceptance rate)— it’s almost like winning a lottery. Which I think is liberating. Make high school decisions, which to attend (if you’re lucky enough to have choices), what classes to take, what interests to pursue, based on the best fit for your child and his or her passions, because there is no one factor that is determinant.

  • 410. Chris  |  November 7, 2014 at 6:39 pm

    “I still, 25 years late, associate that [VERY ELITE LAW SCHOOL] with that incident!”

    I once met someone from Canada. He was an obnoxious jerk. Ever since then, when I think of Canada, I think of obnoxious jerks.

  • 411. I G  |  November 7, 2014 at 6:42 pm

    ” I think finding the best fit for your kids is way more important and will ultimately benefit them in life.”

    No offense, but that is spoken like the parent of a kid who is just not that smart.

  • 412. La 6  |  November 7, 2014 at 6:45 pm

    ” Does a child with an ACT score of 30 at Lakeview have a better or worse chance of getting into the college of his choice than a child with an ACT score of 30 at Payton?”

    Depends on how much each school spends on test prep. It seems like Payton has been increasing the test prep, so I’d pick the Lakeview kid. The ACT is not a great indicator since it driven by memorization. The SAT or an IQ test is a much better indicator.

  • 413. edgewatermom  |  November 7, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    @410 Spoken like an arrogant ass. Offense intended.

  • 414. SoxSideIrish4  |  November 8, 2014 at 5:02 am

    390. Chris | November 7, 2014 at 11:00 am

    Yes, but I can’t say if the child was valedictorian at the time (I don’t know)…the reason for not attending SEHS was the child’s parents wouldn’t allow it…they didn’t want the student commuting and I’m sure there were other factors.

    408. Beth | November 7, 2014 at 6:00 pm

    I totally agree with you.

    412. edgewatermom | November 7, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    Thanks for the laugh this early in the AM!!!

  • 415. nscp parent  |  November 8, 2014 at 11:47 am

    My son goes to NSCP and is a Sophomore. We are also looking at colleges for my Senior daughter at Chicago Academy for the Arts. 385-Kim is so correct about the scoring etc. We have talked to multiple colleges and yes colleges do look at NSCP and some other selective enrollment schools in a different light. Some high schools say they are college prep but really are not (look at their college entrance numbers). Some kids take AP courses but they are not true AP courses. Colleges want diversity. Does your kid volunteer? Are they part of clubs/teams? What other interests set your kids apart? We are having this discussion with my son now. We told him most of the kids from your school will have great grades and scores so what sets you apart and makes you interesting to a college? I think that this is so overlooked as we all just focus on grades. Many kids go to U of C, Northwestern, etc etc and don’t have superior grades but have things that make them interesting and diverse for that University.

    As far as ACT at Northside, this fluctuates but last time I checked they were number 1 in the state in ACT and just rated number 3 high school in the US. Does this make a college look at this school a little different, of course it does.

    As far as IMP at Northside or their whole philosophy in teaching. My son is a great math student but IMP was a whole new ball game. It teaches them to think much deeper and at different levels. Being a math kids he was not extremely verbal. Well, after one year that has changed dramatically and his confidence is much higher. Their way of having all the kids sit in groups of like 4-6 and talk about each subject has been wonderful. I think this is one of the things that sets this school apart. When you talk to the teachers they also are on a whole different educational level. It is really a mini college atmosphere and yes they talk to the kids about getting into college in 9th grade.

    Jones School has adopted some of this also and I have talked to Dr.Powers in the past and he said something like Heh, what they are doing must be working so we are going to give it a try.

    Btw- Even though we don’t go there I think Jones is the “it” school the last few years. He has really changed that school around.

    About Lakeview high Violence… I live since 1992 around Addison and Cornelia and the school is really being turned around. The violence is everywhere in the city and this had nothing to do with the students going there.

    We were too early for Blaine and too late for Lakeview. Too bad since I would rather send my kids to their local schools and support it .

    So no matter where you live, if you can get your kids into NSCP I would do it. Even if you have to drive them and inconvenience yourself. Very nice kids and very supportive parents and administration.

    If not, your kids will do best with strong parent/teacher involvement. Don’t talk no for an answer.

  • 416. HS Mom  |  November 8, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    Regarding earlier comment about Payton/Lindblom

    Did I miss something in the discussion that supports the allegation that it’s easier at Lindblom. Do Payton kids work harder to get A’s than other kids at other SEHS’s and other solid college prep programs in CPS? They get points added by colleges????

    In all honesty, I think (and have seen) that the Lindblom kid has a greater chance at admission than the equal scoring Payton kid as their kids start out lower score wise.

    Everything Beth says is true – to add

    – UIUC – the school that most people here are interested in, goes by straight points GPA/ACT. For certain majors like Engineering, they will look at the level of classes and A/P that you take given what your school offers. No school will know your AP scores until you submit them which is usually done after admission – unless you volunteer that info. It is not asked on the application.

    – The rest of the world – there are so many options. With high grades and tests to support – refer back to Beth

    – Regarding Chicago as diversity/advantage – we thought this too (applied to 1 east coast and 1 west coast & got into 1). Used the “live in/ go to school in a truly diverse community” in essays. It may have meant something to someone but it seems that no matter where “Chicago” included Chicago area (and why wouldn’t a school want to include the Northshore in their Chicago roundup). Most importantly, the money didn’t make a difference with the long distance schools coming up as the most expensive on our list both in terms of tuition (out of state or private) and traveling.

    – Regarding point values and bonuses for “top schools”. Not having an inside track, the closest thing I’m aware of in this regard is that some schools (eg Payton, NS, Jones) offer only honors level courses. This adds something to the GPA calculation. BTW our experience was that taking all honors was more highly regarded than doing a satisfactory job and overextending in the A/P’s

    @402 IBO – I think this is more a teenage dilemma than it is a CPS thing. Kids grow fast 😉

  • 417. edgewatermom  |  November 8, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    We attended the Open House at Von Steuben this morning and was very impressed. It seems like a solid academic program (average ACT of last year’s Von Steuben’s scholars was 25 according to the slide). They really stress that they want their students to be well-rounded and have time to be able to do more than just homework. They seem to offer a lot of support for students and really encourage kids in the scholars program to bond with each other.

    I have to say that after going to a few Open Houses this year I feel much better about high school options in Chicago. I do not buy into the idea that there are only 4 “acceptable” schools in Chicago. I really like one of the SEHS high schools that we saw, but I would not be devastated if my child does not get in there. In fact, it may be a tough decision to make if she does get in.

    I am glad that we have another year and a half to decide if the SEHS environment will be the right fit. I want her to have a great education, but I also want her to have a great overall high school experience and not feel that she is in a pressure-cooker.

  • 418. NSCP parent  |  November 8, 2014 at 3:58 pm

    Keep in mind the learning style of your child and school environment. Von Stuben is a great school.

    At NS my son was worried that the classes would be too long since they are like double period classes. What he found out was that he can get his homework done in class in most of his classes. Trust me he spends way to much time playing PS4 online with his friends….(at Northside). We were worried since we did not see him doing a lot of homework at home but he explained to us in Chemistry once they start a project since the class is longer they can finish it also. Since lunch is long , he goes to the library with friends and they do some homework THEN play Magic (card game) till the next class.

    Don’t get me wrong, he does homework at home but not the amount that we thought he would get.

    Some schools are very clicky also.

    At NS the one thing that struck us was that a lot of the group discussion was in small groups. We found out that in 8th grade that he excelled in this type of learning, (to our surprise). We did not see this at some of the other schools. The kids here are also very nice. One thing my son was impressed with. Not many ego’s here. Kids help each other out with homework or whatever and sports is actually much better then what the stereotype is and getting better. Many state level wins.

    Some of the open houses are chaotic also. If there is a school you are really interested in. Make an appointment to meet the principal. Do this early, like now! They might tell you they don’t have the time but from experienced at two SEHS, persistent always wins and this alone helped us make our decision.

  • 419. Girlmom  |  November 8, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    My neighbor pushed me to go to Amundsen’s open house today and it was actually a nice surprise. I liked the principal and the kids we met were all very sweet and working so hard to make a good impression and be friendly. My daughter really liked the girls basketball coach and was thrilled to find out the the women’s soccer team plays at the premier level. She also was told that she could join the golf team even though she has literally only played once (if you don’t count mini-golf!) she and her friend spent a big chunk of time doing a science experiment in the physics room and talking to an IB math teacher she liked. Overall it felt kind of like a smaller version of Lane.

  • 420. SoxSideIrish4  |  November 8, 2014 at 5:38 pm

    417. NSCP parent | November 8, 2014 at 3:58 pm

    Just hearing from kids talk~it appears that SEHS’ students are eager to help each other out from homework to whatever a student needs. I found that to be at the schools I’ve heard kids talk about, which would be: Payton, WY, Jones, Lindblom, Brooks, Lane, Lincoln Park, Chicago Ag (I realize they are not all SEHS). It seems like each student when speaking really felt that and took pride in their school/classmates~like their school was the best place. I’m interested to know which schools did you not get that vibe from?

  • 421. SoxSideIrish4  |  November 8, 2014 at 5:40 pm

    418. Girlmom | November 8, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    That sounded like a fantastic openhouse~so glad your neighbor inspired/pushed you to go.

  • 422. Amundsen  |  November 8, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    Thanks for the information on Amundsen open house…any additional information you can share would be appreciated. Really sorry my son & I didn’t make it there today.

  • 423. parent  |  November 8, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    We visited two years ago and liked it.

  • 424. HS Concerned  |  November 8, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    Agree with Girlmom. Our family attended the open house today as well and the school definitely exceeded our expectations. We live close to the school and therefore would be a great logistical option. Was definitely skeptical but no longer. We were very impressed with the IB program, student safety within school, and importantly for our son, the ability to make both the baseball and football team.

  • 425. NSCP parent  |  November 8, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    HI Soxsiderisish4,

    I have done this twice (open houses) and I felt the same way you did. The kids really love their schools. I know kids/families at most of the SEHS and private schools like Latin, Parker, etc.

    My kids middle school just had a lot of clicks and it seems like those kids went to Payton (please don’t ambush me here…..just being honest) or Private schools. When I talked with parents that had kids going there is was the same story of the kids having a harder time fitting in, staying home on weekends, etc etc. It is a great school, don’t get me wrong, and maybe it is just the families that we know?

  • 426. FOA  |  November 8, 2014 at 6:27 pm

    421 Amundsen: I am one of the cofounders of the Friends of Amundsen. We launched the group/effort 2.5 years ago which coincided with the incoming new principal.

    If you missed the open house, I encourage you to take a tour or set up a meeting with the Principal. They are very open and welcoming.
    For more information, please visit both


    It was a busy day today and was great to see so many families interested and visiting the school.

    Thank you

  • 427. PaytonParent  |  November 8, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    Hi everyone – just wondering if anyone attended the Payton Open House today? We have a freshman daughter there who has been having a wonderful experience, despite doubts going in. She ranked Payton first last year, with Jones second, but wasn’t really excited about any of the choices. She chose Payton because of it’s size (relatively small); diversity (nice mix, though could be better); and location (central and close to downtown…where she and her friends walk a lot after school!) She is very shy and more on the artistic side (vs math/science) so we wondered about Northside and ChiArts, but in the end she decided she wanted a more well-rounded experience. Payton has not disappointed. While there are plenty of math and science kids (really crazy smart kids!) her art teacher noticed her within the first couple of weeks and has been giving her extra (more challenging/fun) art assignments. She also discovered PALM (Payton Art and Literary Magazine) which she is thrilled to now be on staff. So what we have found is that she can really shine in this environment where she stands out from the crowd.

    Also, for those that don’t know, the last hour of every day at Payton is for Enrichment, which the kids choose….It can be a club meeting, sports practice, tutoring, etc…Really wonderful as it has opened up her afternoons after the final bell. For kids who play sports, their practice usually starts at 2ish (during enrichment) but then goes on till maybe 4:30 or 5, dependent on the sport. Still…they are home a lot earlier than when practice starts AFTER school, so we have found this to be a wonderful thing. Also, while her grades have not been all As so far, we have found all of her teachers very responsive to her emails and questions…and willing to meet during Enrichment to work out a plan when necessary. Truly, this is happening on a daily basis! We have been so impressed and feel very grateful to have stumbled into this warm place. It is not at all the “hot cooker” that we have heard about at some other SE schools. No doubt there are kids there who are focused on college and straight As, but for my daughter, it has not been like that thus far, and she has had an easy and relatively stress-free transition.

    So…just wondering what the Open House was like today and whether any of this kind of info was conveyed? For us, we really had no idea what to expect going in as a freshman family..so just thinking that maybe the Open House needs to change a bit to really convey what Payton is about. Would love to hear any good or bad reactions. Good luck to all. I have a 7th grader just starting the process so we are back at square 1!!!

  • 428. Girlmom  |  November 8, 2014 at 8:16 pm

    Okay so I didn’t really take notes but they told me that last year 17 Amundsen kids earned the actual full on IB diploma which I guess doesn’t really happen a lot outside of Lincoln park’s program (in other IB programs lots of kids take the classes but don’t necessarily get the international diploma?) Also they do really well at science fair too.
    My neighbor says the principal (Mrs P…) totally cleaned house a few years ago and doesn’t tolerate drugs in any way shape or form and that she brought in all these fun things the kids love like a big Homecoming Week (which was one of the things that made us think it was kind of like Lane.)
    They said there are 10am tours on the first Friday of the month and the second Thursday and you can just show up without signing up for it. I’m pretty sure I’ll do that to see how Amundsen feels when school is in session, but we really liked the kids we met. Hope this helps!

  • 429. edgewatermom  |  November 8, 2014 at 8:48 pm

    @426 That is great to hear about Amundsen. It seems like many neighborhood schools are starting to make a comeback – including Lakeview, Senn, & Amundsen (sorry, I am not familiar with the schools on the south side). I hope that parents are starting to believe that there are options beyond the holy grail of SEHS schools.

    I really wish the IB programs would publish these stats! I remember that Senn had an impressive IB diploma rate (higher than the international average) but I don’t remember what it was now. I wish that all of the neighborhood schools that have specialty programs would publish stats for the “school within a school” so that it would be easier for parents and students to compare various schools (ACT scores, Explore to Act, IB success rate etc). I know that it is NOT all about the test scores, but obviously it is a major component in the decision.

    If anybody from CPS is reading, please consider making this information easily available to the public. If you want families to believe that there are viable options for their kids in CPS, you should make it easier for them to find this information.

  • 430. Touring  |  November 8, 2014 at 9:50 pm

    @425 PaytonParent – Thanks for giving your perspective on Payton. We attended the tour today and to be honest my kid really did not like it. Admittedly, we skipped the presentation and just wandered around (were pressed for time). For my kid the issue was that of all the schools we have toured, Payton seemed to place the least amount of emphasis on Robotics or STEM in general. Of course, not all kids care about that. We asked a few students and they said they thought there was some kind of after school robotics club and it is sometimes included in seminars/enrichment. For my kid, this just wasn’t enough. It wasn’t even listed in the brochure. Compare this to Lane for example, which offers robotics for classes and a team and has a dedicated robotics room. Or NSCP, which had their robotics kids demonstrating their contraptions and talking to students.

    I thought the building was great and the kids we spoke with were polite and articulate. We both thought that the rock climbing was a wonderful offering. Our needs/wants are just super specific, so I hope that doesn’t deter anyone else from seeing Payton as a great place. All the SEHS (and many other HSs) are great places, so it’s just up to individual fit.

  • 431. Touring  |  November 8, 2014 at 9:58 pm

    Any Lane parents care to comment on lack of block-scheduling at Lane? If I remember correctly, Lane is the only SEHS without it (maybe Whitney too?). Do you wish there was block scheduling? Does it affect homework, testing, etc? I went to high schools with block, so I’m not sure what the HS experience is like with a regular bell schedule.

  • 432. AW  |  November 8, 2014 at 10:04 pm

    Big neighborhood turnout @ Amundsen High School today. Good buzz, lots of parents who are sick of SEHS politics.

  • 433. cpsobsessed  |  November 8, 2014 at 10:09 pm

    I went to the Amundsen open house today as well. HUGE improvement over a couple years ago – the whole thing was well organized and very professional. There was a great relaxed vibe about the place.

    I have talked with the principal several times and she’s worked hard to make the school an enjoyable place to be where kids can feel safe, valued, and engaged – and it certainly seems to be showing. (True that ‘no drugs’ is a big deal to her.)

    I attended the IB presentation where the graduates where very impressive. They had a lot of good stats on how IB improves college readiness which the grads reiterated. IB grads average ACT is currently 22.

    My one point of feedback for them (which I shared afterwards and the person I talked to was very receptive) was that while they sold me (parent) on IB, I wanted to hear more about why IB is a great high school experience in a way that will appeal to my (soon to be) 8th grader. A 13yo needs to hear about the positives of that style of learning, which seems to be really appealing for a certain kind of kid. I don’t know if any of the other IB programs do this really well — if anyone has any pointers on how to excited a kid about it, please share!

  • 434. NSCP parent  |  November 8, 2014 at 11:44 pm

    HI Touring,

    FYI- NS has very strong STEM. Great Robotics team . My son took Java programming as a freshman. You can take a STEM tract each year if you want to. Some are doing database and cpu building and others things that I have no idea about. Some kids get hired in the summer for companies due to these experiences…….The one thing we are finding out is that NS has great opportunities if you take advantage of them.

  • 435. NSCP parent  |  November 8, 2014 at 11:47 pm

    Sorry I have to ad this also. Great Chess team. Top 5 in the state. My son is on the varsity team and they just won the Prep Bowl tonight with a major upset victory over Whitney Young………

    Sorry just proud…. ):

  • 436. Touring  |  November 9, 2014 at 12:54 am

    Thanks, NSCP Parent. My kid is debating whether to rank Northside or Lane #1. Both seem to have great opportunities in STEM, robotics, and computers. Other Northside pros were IMP math and block scheduling. And a great chess team – congrats! On the other hand, my kid loves how big Lane is and that robotics is offered in two classes, not just a team/club. Such a tough choice! But luckily there is no downside to the outcome – both schools are excellent! We are lucky to have such choices!

  • 437. NSCP parent  |  November 9, 2014 at 8:05 am

    HI Touring,

    There are several kids from the Lane 7/8 grade enrichment program here at NS and they love it. We also know a lot of families that stayed at Lane or went through regular selective enrollment and love it also. Every kid that we have talked to at most of the Selective Enrollment or other schools just tend to love where they end up.

    My son is the only child from his middle school here also but wanted to meet different kids also. He was with the same kids since Kindergarten.

    Also if there is a school you want and don’t get in……Do principal discretion. One of the Lane kids we know did that for NS and is thriving greatly here.

    We were between NS and Payton and my son actually gave up the idea of playing football at Payton for the academics at NS. He played since he was 7 at Wells Park and was on their travel team the last few years and would of started at Payton…..yes this was a big deal. Most of the better baseball kids on the Wells Travel team went to Lane as a pack also.

    Sounds like your son has the grades and scores to get into either one. This was the situation for us. We let him decide after reviewing pro/cons. It was a tough decision but he ended up at the better school for “him”.

    You might want to reach out to the schools teachers (can contact on the schools website) for further information.

    These two summer programs might peak your son’s interest and my son did them last year and loved them. It was his first year not doing any sports or away camp per se. Both have scholarships also and are 5-7 day programs with room and board included and very good value and look great on college resume’s.

    He did the Milwaukee School of Engineering summer high school program. Your child can pick whatever he wants to do. My son did a program that reviewed different engineering programs instead of a select one. The kids sleep in dorms. They did some very cool things with programming and robotics. One hour away from Chicago.

    The other one is Michigan State University Robotics for high school students. It is part of their engineering school. My son again did some very cool projects and their honors college talked to them about keeping their grades up since 3.4 and above can get them close to a free ride for out of state. There were kids from different countries also . A professor that invented a robotic fish for the US government to detect pollution in our ocean ways through sensors was the person teaching his part of the course…..both courses each day was a new adventure and both courses the kids did fun things at night like paintball or the like.

    BTW- Lane also has a very good chess team and one of our main competitors.

    Good Luck to your son.

  • 438. Vikingmom2  |  November 9, 2014 at 10:05 am

    For anyone thinking about Amundsen, my son just finished his first quarter as a freshman in the IB program. We are really happy with the program. The teachers are great and want the kids to succeed; they’re very accessible to the kids.There are tons of clubs, and the sports programs are really taking off. He has homework every night, but it’s reasonable, and he can still have a social life. It feels like a normal high school experience.

  • 439. Pantherettie  |  November 9, 2014 at 10:40 am

    I am so happy to hear people talking about neighborhood school options. I love hearing about IB programs, Arts programs, strong and positive school environments, ect. As a southsider, I wish that there were more schools like Senn, Lakeview, and Amundsen south of Roosevelt road. I think that Kenwood and Chicago Agriculture are good examples but I’m just not aware of others (and I’m sure there are some). I know that there is a southside thread, but I hope that other folks that may be ‘lurking’ might pipe in with some recent high school open house experiences or student/parent experiences too.

  • 440. klm  |  November 9, 2014 at 11:17 am

    RE: college admissions and which HS one attends

    One last thing I think anybody familiar with college admissions (at least as it relates to SELECTIVE admissions) also knows is a HUGE factor is having a “hook”: being a star athlete (nationally ranked), an underrepresented minroity, exceptional life story (e.g., being homesless as verified by HS recommendations –but still never missing a day of school and still excelling, having a wealthy alumnus in the family that gives the school mega$money, etc.).

    If one is “unhooked” it truly is a crap shoot and one needs to be truly exceptional on every level –the kind of kid most likely to be President or CEO of GE, etc, plus personable enough to elected captain of the soccer team. Even if one got 34, 35 or even 36 on the ACT, if one’s just plain smart and not in some other way(s) exceptional, I’d hold my breath in terms of thinking of the best driving route to New Haven or Cambridge. There are literally thousands of kids with perfect or near-perfect scores (I recall a few years back a story about how something like 7 seniors at Stevenson got perfect 36s on the ACT and something amazing [I think close to 30!] got 35 –how many of those kids in just one graduating class at one HS in suburban Chicago ended up at Harvard, Yale, Stanford, etc? [not many I’m guessing]), so standing out among those kids is crucial.

    I mean, how many members of Duke’s basketball team or Stanford’s football team would have admitted without an exceptional athletic talent?

    If somebody gets the right scores/grades and has the right hooks, it won’t much matter where they went to HS. i’m thinking of basketball players from Simeon HS (where between 0 and 1% of kids meet ACT college-readiness standards) that go on to enroll at Duke, for example. Or the kids from certain charter HSs that end up going to Amherst, Brown, etc. (they may be ‘double hooked’ –underrepresented minorities PLUS exceptional life stories –violent neighborhoods, childhood friends getting shot, both brothers in prison, very difficult-against-all-odds life stories, etc. –admissions officers love that stuff).

    However, without any hooks, I’m pretty sure that the admissions people at some colleges will wonder why, if you have a love of learning and like being challenged intellectually (a trait they want, without exception), push yourself, etc., why are you attending a “less competetive” HS (i.e., non-SE or non-LPIB, etc.) if you are a CPS student and have these kinds of options and opportunities that students that live in Palookaville, Elsewhere, don’t have? And if your school offers lots of APs, you’d better take advantage, otherwise, what kind of initiative towards excelling and challenging oneself does that show?

    There have been articles written about all the efforts Northwestern and U-C have made to get more CPS students prepared and applying to their respective schools, so maybe for those 2 schools, just being a CPS student is, if not an ENTIRE hook, at least a partial one.

    If a student is really wanting to get into a Big Name college, they should start planning things in middle-school (activities, volunteering, leadership stuff, etc.–read up and make a plan) to makes themselves into Uber-candidate and hope that an admissions officer at Princeton or Swarthmore sees something exceptional to make them stand out among the hundreds or even thousands of other “unhooked” candidates with similarly great grades, scores, etc.
    Then again, most successful people don’t go to these kinds of colleges. Sure, if one wants to get an entree into the world of investment banking or venture capital right outta’ college, it totally makes a difference where one went to college. But what fraction of 1 percent of our kids want that?

    I’m still hoping for UIUC for my kids –anything else “higher” up the college rankings is icing on the cake (but I’d be thrilled).

  • 441. IBobsessed  |  November 9, 2014 at 12:17 pm

    @437 Viking 2 Mom, is your son a minority at Amundson? Was this an issue for his comfort level in considering the school? One difference between the SEHSs and the IB schools (with the exception of LPHS) is that white students are a minority. SEHSs are much more balanced 1/3 Hispanic, 1/3 AA, 1/3 white. . It is/will be a new experience for the white students who be a minority at these schools. Adding the awkward feel of sticking out because of your coloring (my child would blend in in Sweden) to the awkwardness of being a Freshman And this is not something my kid prefers, socially
    It’s helpful to hear all the reports!

  • 442. AW  |  November 9, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    IBObsessed: There are definitely more than a few “Swedish” kids at Amundsen — along with probably every other nationality you can name!

  • 443. Touring  |  November 9, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    Thank you, NSCP parent, for all the info. I appreciate your taking the time. Very interesting summer ideas, will look into those.

  • 444. Touring  |  November 9, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    Klm, What are your thoughts in terms of HS choice and Big Ten schools? For example, university of Michigan. Do you need a “hook”? What about kids who are third or fourth generation legacies?

  • 445. (ex) CPS Parent  |  November 9, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    Big Ten schools are middling for the kids aiming (and have the stats/resume) for HPYM and their peer institutions. UIUC is the “safety” school.

    Note – in the college admission sphere “hooks” are only those things you are born into – under represented minority (URM), legacy, first generation, low income, female, etc.

  • 446. Vikingmom  |  November 9, 2014 at 1:43 pm

    I am so glad to hear everyone’s positive comments on Amundsen, (having trumpeted the school for the past few years)! @Vikingmom2, sounds like your son is on his way to having a similar experience to my junior daughter. Homework is still manageable for her without staying up all hours, and she is active in sports. @IBO…not Sweden, but my daughter would blend in in Ireland. Its a valid concern but let me say it is/has not been a problem. One aspect of Amundsen is a large and diverse population. My daughter has African American friends, Asian, Latino and white. it is not the same as going to a school with, say, 80-90% population of one race/ethnic group. For what its worth my daughter has said she has noticed the white population rising over the years. But really, in my/her experience, it is not a school where ethnic groups generally tend to keep to themselves. Similar to what people say about SEHS, the kids are all supportive of each other. I’ve seen this at various games, and my daughter tells me how in certain IB classes the kid who is better at math, say, keeps others focused and a different one will keep everyone together in biology. The teachers are very supportive and accessible, and want the kids to succeed. @CPO I see what you mean. When we were first hearing about IB it was more like “its really hard, lots of work, but we’re all in it together, and it really helps for college” but I think more specific talking points would be helpful for a prospective student.

  • 447. Vikingmom  |  November 9, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    Forgot to also mention Homecoming week revival….numbers people may scoff at this but it realllllly does a lot for school spirit—making everyone feel that they are part of something great, regardless if one is an athlete or not.

  • 448. PaytonParent  |  November 9, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    Thanks @touring for your great feedback on Payton. It is refreshing to hear a neutral point of view. Sounds like you are looking at all the right things for your son….best of luck to you! I’m sure he will do well wherever he goes. For us STEM was not important, but we have great friends at Lane in the 7/8 program who love it, esp robotics. Sounds awesome.

  • 449. SoxSideIrish4  |  November 9, 2014 at 2:51 pm

    443. Touring | November 9, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    If a child is a legacy, he/she will probably get into the school; however, I’ve known kids who got into schools because of legacy but left because the school was too hard (I’m referring to 2 private schools).

  • 450. Vikingmom2  |  November 9, 2014 at 8:45 pm

    @440, It’s funny you mention Sweden – I’m half Swedish and my son looks 100% Swedish. Viking mom is right, Amundsen is like the United Nations, no dominant race. Out of curiosity I just asked my son if he ever feels like a minority at Amundsen, and how it makes him feel. He said he does feel a bit like a minority (for perspective, he went to a predominantly white elementary school), but it doesn’t bother him at all. He said, “I think more about the people and who they are then their race”.

  • 451. Vikingmom2  |  November 9, 2014 at 9:51 pm

    @ Vikingmom – My son loved homecoming. The pep rally, the dance, getting nervous asking a girl…. classic high school. Thanks for mentioning that!

  • 452. merelyastudent  |  November 9, 2014 at 10:02 pm


    Hey, I’m currently a Lane freshman coming from the LTAC program. Personally, I’ve never had block scheduling, so I don’t know how it compares, but I like having a regular everyday schedule. I’m a pretty bad procrastinator, and I feel like it would be even worse if I was on a block schedule (oh, I don’t have that class until Wednesday, I totally don’t have to study tonight). Other pros would be that concepts are reinforced better because there aren’t big breaks between classes, less of a chance of forgetting material. It really depends on what kind of a learner your kid is and what kind of environment they’d do best in.

    Homework load isn’t terrible, usually about 2-3 hours total per night. However, if your kid goes into Alpha, which is Lane’s intensive STEM track, there’s going to be a lot more work, just from what I’ve gathered from my friends in the program. It’s worth the commitment if your kid is extremely dedicated to STEM, (and likes science fair), although that isn’t to say you won’t get a good STEM education by being in the general/honors track, because trust me, you will. You still have the option to do robotics, AP science classes, etc, regardless of whether you’re in Alpha or not. It’s just that the Alpha classes will be a little more accelerated.

    If you have any other questions about Lane, I’d be happy to answer them.

  • 453. Looking at colleges  |  November 10, 2014 at 10:38 am

    I have a child at Lane and a child in a SEHS with block scheduling and there is a huge difference in the homework situation. At Lane the teachers give a lot of homework and it is inconsistent, some days somewhat lighter on homework and other days very heavy on homework. It is very difficult to plan activities.

    The best part of the block schedule, besides being able to plan your week and spreading out the homework over several days is that you can get help with your homework over several days. What I mean by this is that one Monday evening, both of my children were having difficultly with math homework. My Lane child was very upset because homework is graded and he had the class first thing in the morning. My other child simply went on to another subject. I asked why he wasn’t upset and he said that he had until Thursday to get help with his homework. He said he could ask another student, ask the teacher or go to tutoring tables. All in all, I think the block schedule much less stressful on students and families.

  • 454. North Side Parent  |  November 10, 2014 at 10:48 am

    @444/445, RE: College Admissions

    For some context to frame the discussion, here are the “middle 50%” or 25th and 75th percentile ACT scores for Big Ten and Ivy League enrolled students. (Links delay comments, but these are available via google search at collegeapps dot about dot com.)

    Northwestern: 31 / 34
    Michigan: 28 / 32
    Illinois: 26 / 31
    Wisconsin: 26 / 30
    Ohio State: 26 / 30
    Minnesota: 25 / 30
    Purdue: 24 / 30
    Penn State: 25 / 29
    Indiana: 24 / 29
    Nebraska: 22 / 29
    Michigan State: 23 / 28
    Iowa : 22 / 28

    Harvard: 32 / 35
    Yale: 32 / 35
    Princeton: 31 / 35
    Columbia: 31 / 34
    Cornell: 30 / 34
    Dartmouth: 30 / 34
    Penn: 30 / 34
    Brown: 29 / 34

    For most of the Big Ten, scoring at the 75th percentile is a pretty safe bet for admission, assuming a solid GPA (cue outlier “rejected” stories). For the Ivy League, high scores are pretty much a requirement and not a way to differentiate yourself, which is what leads the discussion on “hooks”.

    Related specifically to the University of Michigan, they consider legacies but claim to have abolished their “points-based” admissions system, following a change to the Michigan state constitution that banned affirmative action in admissions (Prop 2 / MCRI) that passed referendum in ’06 (supreme court upheld in April ’14).

    Prior to that, circa 2003, this was their disclosed scale (although it is fair to say that many things have likely changed over the past decade in higher ed!):

    “The Selection Index used for the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts has 150 total points. Race is only one of a variety of factors that are considered. By far the greatest weight—up to 80 points—goes to high school G.P.A. Applicants can earn up to 12 points for SAT or ACT scores, up to 10 points for attending a competitive high school, and up to 8 points for taking the most challenging curriculum. Points are awarded for personal achievement, leadership and service, and for being an alumni legacy. Students also can earn points for coming from a geographic area that is less well represented on our campus. For instance, 16 points are given to students from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

    In a miscellaneous category, students can earn a total of 20 points for having an economically disadvantaged background, being an underrepresented minority, attending a high school serving a predominately minority population, or being a scholarship athlete, among others. The essay is an important portion of the application where students can communicate their unique personal histories and circumstances. Even though we only give 3 points (it used to be 1) for the quality of writing in the essay, the content of the essay may factor into many other portions of the admissions process.”

  • 455. klm  |  November 10, 2014 at 11:45 am


    Thanks for that update and info.

    Yes, since the prohibition of the use of race, U-M (per its own site) uses holistic -type admissions, using things like an applicant’s neighborhood, coming from a single parent household, and other socioeconomic factors (probably like CPS uses legally permissible non-race/ethnic census data to create Tiers to increase black and Hispanic enrollment). Per its undergraduate admissions “factoid” info, coming from a family where there’s a U-M grad still gets one some extra consideration.

    I quickly went to U-M’s admissions page and one thing that totally blew me away was the stats that it gave for the “Freshman ’14” class: the middle 50% (25th-75th) percentile for the ACT was 30-33(!!!!).

    I remember when I was in HS in the early-mid 80s: at my academically “good” HS, it was pretty much understood that anybody with ACT in the mid-20s and a B+ or higher GPA would get into U-M. Not any longer, apparently –those were the day (sigh).

    Being a Michigan native, I have a friend from there whose state-resident daughter got 30 on the ACT and had a high GPA and she still wasn’t admitted to U-M (not even wait-listed).

    One thing I often hear now is, “I’d never be admitted to the college that I attended if I had to get in now.”

    For whoever said it was easier to get into college now than in the past (a generation ago), I’m not so sure that that’s the case, at least at “selective” colleges.

    Also, per my living-in-Michigan friends, as U-M gives makes it a little easier for students from the types of schools and neighborhoods underrepresented in the freshman class (i.e., low-income ones), apparently it’s easier if one attends a Title I HS (which I believe would include CPS schools like Jones and LPHS, since isn’t Title I dependent on at least 40% of kids being low-income?). Same goes for awarding financial aid (since race and ethnicity can no longer be used attract to URMs by awarding a larger financial aid package). Some white or Asian middle-class kids have an easier time getting admitted and get more financial aid for attending “urban” HSs (like Kalamazoo Central) with lot of low-income kids, instead of attending a suburban HS in a place like Okemos, Northville or Portage (all middle-class suburban communities known for having ‘good’ schools)..

    I’m assuming the same is true for CPS schools with at least 40% low-income kids, so it’s perhaps another bonus of going CPS over going private or moving for the suburban “good” schools.

  • 456. North Side Parent  |  November 10, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    @ KLM, Michigan has had a long tradition of emphasizing diversity in admissions. The Grutter v. Bollinger case that made in to the Supreme Court in 2003 and upheld the use of race in admissions in higher education was in reference to the U-M law school. The relationship with the state populace is obviously somewhat tenuous, because three years later Michigan amended it’s constitution to outlaw that policy.

    The outgoing University President, Mary Sue Coleman was very public in her acknowledgement that the University disagrees (that is, she & her successor, President Schlissel) with the amendment, and has been seeking “work around” strategies ever since. The easiest methods are largely income/geography based, much like the CPS Tier system, so I’m sure that in some way is the method they employ. However black enrollment has declined in recent years (from 6.2% to 4.9% over the ’09 to ’13 period).

    Some draw the line to Prop 2, and speculate that black students that meet the new “tougher” standards are also being admitted to Ivy League schools and are not choosing Michigan. Others point to the recession and population decline in Detroit city proper (overwhelmingly black, ~90%), and point out that it is likely that fewer black students qualify for in-state tuition rates. Perhaps another factor, applications at Michigan increased ~20% when the University made the transition to “the Common App” in 2011.

    Whatever the issues as related to minorities, virtually all the Big Ten schools are seeing ACT scores across the entire student body trend up over time. While that may cause alumni parents some trepidation, I think the positive take away is that you can get a VERY high quality education at every Big Ten school today, and at a lot of other places too.

  • 457. Touring  |  November 10, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    Thanks Klm and North side Parent for the UofM info. It’s four years away, but it’s a big issue in our family. Or rather, it’s a big issue for my husbands family. My kid would be fourth generation. Plus every single cousin from my husbands side of the family has gone to michigan. Every single one. My kid dreams of MIT (blame it on that pirate certificate they offer), but the family pressure to go blue is strong. My father in law is convinced that legacy is a definitive trump card, but I keep trying to explain the way things are now. Plus, I want my kid to have a real choice. Sigh. Family politics.

  • 458. Touring  |  November 10, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    Also, I try to argue “value” and the incredible expense associated with being out of state. Father in law is willing to pay for tradition I guess. But I think that’s crazy when Illinois offers equally good options.

  • 459. @ klm  |  November 10, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    If what klm says at @454 is true about title one than the big four SE schools and Lane won’t get points for title one money. Well I guess there is something to be said about the other SE schools that most of you won’t let your children attend…they are all title I. I think the threshold is like 62% of students need to be in poverty. Also, Lincoln Park at 58% is not a title I school. Go to the cps website and under schools look at each school’s profile page. Scroll down to demographics and the writing below it. Title one status is denoted at the bottom of the page.

  • 460. klm  |  November 10, 2014 at 2:46 pm


    I know, especially if one’s going into engineering or computer science –UIUC totally rocks. Plus, best of all —in-state tuition!

    For some reason. some people think U-M’s a bit better, but I’m sure UIUC offers the same education. Just at U-M there are more East Coast kids and a very slightly higher ave. ACT, and has a higher rejection rate, so somehow U’M’s “better” than UIUC in the eyes of lots of people (especially if they’re the kind of people that live in Scarsdale, New Canaan or Bethesda).


    I guess since U-M’s in a cooler college town with better restaurants and more out-of-staters from NY, DC, (plus, lots of kids from the North Shore), etc. it’s therefore more “attractive” as a college choice for some kids. Not to mention how nice the pleasantly tasteful “Maize and Blue” colors look on clothing, bumper stickers, and license plate holders (compared to the “loud” clashing, fighting Illini colors that I never look good in and that clashes with the color of my car).

  • 461. parent  |  November 10, 2014 at 2:58 pm

    Madonna’s daughter goes to Michigan.

  • 462. parent  |  November 10, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    Have you folks heard of College Confidential? People engage in this obsessive discussion over there. I thought this was how to navigate entrance to SEHS?

    By the way, I’m pretty sure that rich people sending their kids to a SEHS are going to get any bonus points. Nor should they.

  • 463. NSCP parent  |  November 10, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    Not sure about UIUC but University of Illinois solidly has some of the best engineering degree’s in the country. They are like number 1-3 in most categories in engineering. I was really surprised about this and we have a few years since my son is a sophomore, but my wife went to U of M……Great campus and Great School….but you could say that about any University.

    My son did a engineering high school robotics camp for high school age kids last summer at Michigan State. Besides since then, meeting lots of people that went there for engineering and everyone has great jobs, they offer out of state kids with good grades and boat load of money. The honor college came to speak to these kids. There are specific scholarships for Illinois kids and there is actually a scholarship for women over like 5.2″……..one thing they stressed was if your kid has the grades, they have the money for them to go there. If the grades are there (not as tough as U of M), it would almost be a free ride.

    First hand knowledge, my niece went there on a full ride in the honors college and got accepted to U of M also. But the full ride was just to tempting. She now has a great job in journalism.


  • 464. Chris  |  November 10, 2014 at 6:19 pm

    ” I thought this was how to navigate entrance to SEHS?”

    Do you have a question to pose, or a contribution to make?

  • 465. cpsobsessed  |  November 10, 2014 at 9:08 pm

    Saw this on facebook today, a funny-ish writeup from someone with admissions experience:

  • 466. HS Mom  |  November 10, 2014 at 9:17 pm

    @453 “The essay is an important portion of the application where students can communicate their unique personal histories and circumstances.”

    Yes, things have changed a lot in a decade. The essay is not the spot to tell your hardship story. Doing that may even count against you. There are other places within the application. Every application asks for your race, who your parents are, what your household income is and if you’re the first in family to go to college. Some give you a separate section to explain extenuating circumstances or a disability and some don’t. UIUC, for example, asked if there was anything that they needed to know about your grades. Perfect spot to talk about the death in the family or struggling with lifelong poverty.

    Regarding block scheduling

    My child had both since Jones flipped to a block schedule midway through HS. Block scheduling was much better for all the reasons stated by 452. For us, math homework every night was very stressful. A set of practice problems that would take “20 minutes, 30 tops” became a big burden once you figured in after school clubs, other distractions and other homework. Under the block schedule the homework was much more manageable (even with procrastination) because there were more opportunities to work through the issues with the teacher in school. Another advantage, with an extended period comes the opportunity for a richer learning experience that becomes more intensive due to fewer breaks and the continuous flow of material. In addition, it seemed that certain days were lighter than others due to the type of class on that day. Block scheduling presented more opportunity for better presentations and class study. All around, as 452 suggests, less stressful.

    This alone is not a reason to accept or reject a school but it certainly would go on the plus side of your tally sheet.

    Block schedule is something that parents might want to learn about and consider rallying for at their schools.

    To take it one step further there’s also block scheduling for college…..that’s another subject.

  • 467. CPS graduate  |  November 10, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    I lost all respect for U of M when they accepted me in the early 90’s. I started the application, filled out most of the paper work, sent in my scores, transcripts and letters of recommendations…. BUT I never sent in the required essay. I had already decided on UIUC for the lower price since I wasn’t applying for financial aid and my parents were paying for college. Imagine my shock when I recived an acceptance!

    Well later I realized that they only accepted me because I was an out of state student applying without financial aid and ready to pay full price. Not cool.

  • 468. IBobsessed  |  November 11, 2014 at 12:36 am

    @463″ Do you have a question to pose, or a contribution to make?”

    Chris, you must have overlooked this part of the post:

    “Have you folks heard of College Confidential? People engage in this obsessive discussion over there. “

  • 469. SoxSideIrish4  |  November 11, 2014 at 1:38 am

    467. IBobsessed | November 11, 2014 at 12:36 am

    Yes, I’ve been on college confidential for years~a lot of good info.

  • 470. to pantherettie on south side high schools  |  November 11, 2014 at 3:50 am

    Regarding south side high schools: Curie and Hubbard are two of the south side high schools with IB programs–there are more but those are the ones I know most about. I hear great things about Curie (and it’s right off the Orange Line at Pulaski for families willing to put their kids on the el)–very diverse, the IB program is quite strong (though I don’t know recent numbers of diploma earners, would be nice to know). A friend of mine has a child there now in IB and they love it.

    Many years ago I met the very first class of IB students at Hubbard and they were an amazing group of kids–many of them came out of elementary at Sheridan Math & Science Academy. I wish I knew where things stand there now, but they certainly got off to a very strong start (someone from Lincoln Park’s IB went out to Hubbard and was their first IB coordinator–he has since retired but he got them off on the right foot).

  • 471. pantherettie  |  November 11, 2014 at 6:47 am

    That’s really good info about Curie. I had no idea.

  • 472. Fam  |  November 11, 2014 at 7:10 am

    @469 Curie also has a strong dance program. Do you happen to know if a student can succeed in IB and the dance program, taking both at the same time? Just wondering if it’s too much at once.

  • 473. cpsobsessed  |  November 11, 2014 at 7:10 am

    Not sure if I posted this but have also heard really good things about curie IB. One of chicago’s education reporters has a child there.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 474. Chris  |  November 11, 2014 at 7:28 am

    “Chris, you must have overlooked this part of the post:”

    No, I saw that. Suspected an extended discussion of the merits of college confidential and other college info sites wasn’t the point, tho.

  • 475. parent  |  November 11, 2014 at 9:06 am

    Food for thought. Google is a trend setter:


  • 476. Chris  |  November 11, 2014 at 9:18 am

    “Food for thought. Google is a trend setter:”

    Brought to you by a guy with degrees from Pomona and Yale (MBA) and a tour with McKinsey on his resume.

  • 477. H  |  November 11, 2014 at 10:49 am

    “Brought to you by a guy with degrees from Pomona and Yale (MBA) and a tour with McKinsey on his resume.”

    Indeed. It’s impressive how far he got with an international relations degree from a non-CHYMPS school and an “MBA” from a second-tier (perhaps third-tier) quasi B-school.

  • 478. cpsobsessed  |  November 11, 2014 at 10:55 am

    Sorry, I’m dense. Who are you referring to?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 479. Chris  |  November 11, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    “Who are you referring to?”

    The guy at google who “doesn’t care about hiring top college graduates”. (Said while something like 10% of the google workforce has a degree from Berkeley, Stanford, MIT, Carnegie Mellon or UCLA–aka, 5 “top colleges”.)

  • 480. Sally milito  |  November 11, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    The Head of Curie dance is a Golden Apple winner and justifibly so.

  • 481. HSObsessed  |  November 12, 2014 at 9:52 am

    Random question: Does anyone know whether colleges now spend gobs more than they used to to market themselves? I went to a suburban high school in the mid-80s, and don’t remember a single college rep coming to our school personally to give a presentation. I’m astounded at the number of colleges and universities coming to my kid’s CPS high school each fall to make their individual pitch. Also wondering if that means that they’d particularly welcome applications from kids from the schools they visit, or do they just pretty much hit up 90% of the high schools out there. Any insight?

  • 482. (ex) CPS Parent  |  November 12, 2014 at 11:25 am

    Most good colleges spend money on diversity recruiting which may not have been the case when you were in high school. The better CPS high schools are perfect for reaching high performing minority students. It’s an efficient use of the admission person’s time.

  • 483. xCPS2  |  November 12, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    482 My child is a HS senior this year. The amount of mailings, emails and tele calls to my house are crazy. I believe colleges/ universities get info from ACT. I noticed most of the brochures we get are “diverse” sometimes so staged its awful.

  • 484. west rogers park mom  |  November 12, 2014 at 2:27 pm

    @466 (and to get this post back to High school admissions)

    Your Michigan experience sounds a bit like Von Scholars. I’ve heard stories of acceptances where the essays were not submitted. My kid got in without technically qualifying due to her science ISAT- when we got the call from the waiting list I asked if she could be in scholars as opposed to science and was told she could be in scholars.

  • 485. patientCPSmom  |  November 12, 2014 at 8:25 pm

    Just though I’d post this info about a proposed new High School- Anyone out there with younger kids who take world language in grade school 3 or more times a week or speak/read a second language at home there may be hope your kids can continue their advanced second language skills into High School. Great proposal.


  • 486. NSCP Parent  |  November 12, 2014 at 8:40 pm

    482-xcps2-We are going through the same thing with my senior. It is amazing what some colleges are spending. Love the letter’s…..”your high achievements and grades make you a great candidate” ….blah blah and they have no clue about her.

    But, colleges that she has visited and likes seem to be really eager for interview’s. She is in performance and design and the feedback we are hearing after interview’s when visiting is at the very least encouraging……Of course I tell my daughter, “did they mention the “S” word??? Scholarship’s? Ha….

  • 487. parent  |  November 12, 2014 at 9:58 pm


    “One chapter is devoted to Google’s unique hiring process, the most important practice at any company, the authors note. Companies should pursue versatile “learning animals” whose private passions suggest dedication and personal pride.”

    Sounds a bit unquantifiable to me. But perhaps having the credentials you cite liberates one to look beyond them.

  • 488. IBobsessed  |  November 12, 2014 at 11:38 pm

    @484 signed and shared the petition. A HS language academy with business courses interfacing with the many consulates in the city, would provide an attractive alternative to SEHSs. This school could have a curriculum attractive that would set its students apart in the college admissions race. It would be great to have a HS where the admissions criteria are not centered primarily on test scores but another solid indicator of academic potential-acquisition of a 2nd language .

  • 489. cpsobsessed  |  November 13, 2014 at 12:56 am

    Ah, that makes more sense about google not caring about which school you attended. It sounds like they’re looking for people like from the “high to be a high school superstar” (recommended read) book — formal ed isn’t as important as show you have pursued and excelled at a passion/interest. And excelled is outside the realm of old-school excelling. Today it could be an internet following, building an app, getting self published with a modest following etc. Lots more ways to show passion these days.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 490. ETHS Open House-IBobsessed  |  November 13, 2014 at 12:56 am

    Attended info night for 8th graders. Up thread there was a comment that the nearly triple the amount spent per HS pupil in Evanston was attributable to mostly operating budget, implying students don’t really benefit from all that spending. I think the $ was attributed to greedy teacher salaries. Well,,learned that ETHS has extensive mental health services, school nurses, freshman advisory that meets individually with each student, summer freshman transition course, as well as “a culture of taking summer courses to get ahead” ( according to a student panel), before school tutoring in every subject, 16 gyms, a dance studio, an aquatic center, a football field, another ball/soccer field, 3 auditoriums -from enormous to small and intimate,a nature center as a lab for biology, an urban farm, career tracks in pharmacy tech, automotive repair, Microsoft certification….., 3 cafeterias, Chrome books for each student, I’m leaving some stuff out….. All the above require big operating expenditures, but isn’t it reasonable to conclude the students DO benefit and are enriched by the operating expenditures?

    Every rising Freshman at this school is strongly encouraged to do summer school. There is a fee per course, but it is waived/reduced significantly for free/reduced price lunch students. Does every Freshman in CPS have a summer transition opportunity? No. Better be in IB or at a northside school if you want that.

    ANY student who scores above the 50th %tile can take honors courses or take one of the 29 AP courses offered. (ie. the most rigorous curriculum available at the school)

    They take ANY student in the district, no matter how low their elementary school achievement was. 40something % reduced price lunch. Students are self tracking; they’re given opportunities and support (extensive before school tutoring), high achieving UMC and poor not so turned on to school students all take classes together Freshman year. The student, not a track they are sorted into, determines if they get honors credit, by demonstrating depth of knowledge, doing more sophisticated assignments.

    No age inappropriate stress in 7th grade. No prep course necessary for an entrance exam. No determination of your HS fate based on 2 test days out of your entire elementary school performance.

    If you max out in achievement in math, a language, English;, then you get to take a suitable course at NWU. Free.

    Sane. No obsession required.

    Anyone who would look down their nose at this school because the average ACT is 23.5 is short sighted.

    We should be demanding this kind of HS in CPS

  • 491. parent  |  November 13, 2014 at 1:05 am

    take a look at the original article, which was dismissed here because the HR person went to name schools. It explains that they are in interested in smart passionate people but they want people who can admit they are wrong and who are not intellectually arrogant.

  • 492. pantherettie  |  November 13, 2014 at 7:02 am

    @490 – I absolutely agree with you. I read the original article and understood it the same way. I’m surprised by the dismissive responses that some had on this board given the idea that most of us are trying to take the incredibly sound advice offered by CPSO to “cast a wide net” for both high school and college choices with our kids. When I’m involved with hiring decisions in my work, I absolutely take the same approach as Google. I don’t *only*want a person who has only successful in a highly structured, high pressure academic environment among just like themselves, I want to work with and lead people who have learned and worked in a variety of environments. When I speak with young graduates from Northwestern or U of C (my alma mater) I encourage them to take a gap year to actually learn the skills that it takes to work and live independently in the real world. I encourage them to take a risk – something that most likely did not do in order to get into and then be successful at their college – before jumping into graduate training. This doesn’t mean that they should join the peace corps. It means taking a job or learning a skill with a different group of people instead of getting an “internship” doing the exact same stuff and showing the exact same skills they have their whole lives. So I’m just saying that Google is not alone in this trend. BTW, my most recent experience with this type of conversation was being a part of a panel of employers who sponsored internship and practicum opportunities for Northwestern students. Several participants from a variety of for-profit and not-for- profits gave similar advice.

  • 493. (ex) CPS Parent  |  November 13, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    Don’t forget that for CS coding jobs 99% of the “interview” is coding and logic puzzles specially for entry level positions. It doesn’t matter where you learned what you know. It’s what you know and how well your brain is wired. This type of interview method is somewhat unique to coding jobs but routine in the industry.

  • 494. michele  |  November 13, 2014 at 6:55 pm

    @487 thanks for signing and thanks for sharing!

  • 495. Another "selective" high school?  |  November 13, 2014 at 7:50 pm

    #484 Just not sure we NEED another H.S. — especially one that all magnet language kids have automatic entry into. I’m getting tired of schools creating their own high schools that their kids have automatic entry into … and then others, only if there’s room. Ogden. Disney. Alcott. But the fact that it’s magnet schools makes it worse for me. You win a lottery seat at 5 years old and you’re set through high school?

    CPS. Separate and unequal.

    ALL CPS schools should teach languages. I doubt very much that, despite what they try to “sell” you, LaSalleII, LaSalle, Andrew Jackson, etc., kids are fluent in another language when they graduate. I understand they use Rosetta Stone at LaSalle. Why don’t ALL CPS kids have access to Rosetta Stone. Why don’t they?

    Separate and unequal.

    Another SEHS? Enough already. Put the money back into neighborhood schools. ALL should have languages. Most do. The only difference is that the lucky few who have kids who already benefitted from free foreign language and cultural instruction in elementary school get to keep their kids separate from their respective neighborhood “riff raff.”

    #489.Wow. Go, ETHS — and a school with open access to all its residents at that.

  • 497. mom2  |  November 14, 2014 at 9:48 am

    @494 – agree. But in order to stop all this craziness with SEHS, we need to make the neighborhood high schools a place where many of the currently “obsessed” parents are willing to send their kids. To me, that means having a selective element in each one. Something to brag about. Something that appears exclusive even if after the kids are there, the kids shift around to other programs. Something like Lincoln Park’s double honors or Von’s honors/scholars program. I almost think they have overdone it with the IB programs because I’m not hearing parents all excited about IB at some of the high schools.

  • 498. Nope37  |  November 14, 2014 at 11:07 am

    496 Parents brag about Trinity IB….that’s about it.

  • 499. klm  |  November 14, 2014 at 11:49 am

    RE: another “good” HS, getting a HS in CPS like ETHS, etc,

    Well, I like the idea of having an excellent ETHS -type open-enrollment HS as much as anybody,

    Thing is about CPS, we have to look at its demo’s.

    When people think of a “good” HS, they think of one where lots of students are achieving and where the mean or median is pretty good, too.

    Half the school-age white school-age kids in Chicago go CPS and that still means only 9%. Even if 90% of all school-age white kids in Chicago went CPS, that would be, what, 16%? The majority of black and Latino kids go CPS, and they are by far the most represented in school-age population.

    When we consider that average black American student is 3 grades behind their white and Asian peers in 8th grade and 4 grades behind by 12 (with Latino kids not doing much better), even kids that from these groups that are “average” or even “above average” for their same group are still way behind their white and Asian peers. So, any CPS HS that’s reflective of the city’s demos, WITHOUT some kind of SE component is effectively going to be always be a “low scores” “low achievement” school in the eyes of many, no matter what programs it offers.

    The achievement gap really is that bad.

    Look at ETHS. The white kids there outscore even white kids at New Trier (look it up on IIRC), but the black kids (a significant % of enrollment) are so far behind (the majority being below or far below grade level), that ETHS’s “average” achievement seems lower than New Trier’s and 99% of parents in Wilmette think their kids are getting a “better” education at New Trier, since its ave. ACT and other achievement test scores are significantly higher than ETHS’s.

    So, the black and Latino kids would have to be doing 3-4 grades ahead their peers in other schools, just to be doing “average” for their white/Asian peers, nationally. To be doing North Shore suburban -type scores, they’s need to be 4-5 years ahead of their fellow black and Latino peers. This DOES happen –at schools like WY, Jones, etc. However, at an open-enrollment, CPS -type school, how likely is that?

    If people look, there are many programs out there to engage, encourage interest in STEM (even partnered with Northwestern, etc.) at CPS non-SE HS’s, but many people are frightened away from these schools due to that fact that only between 0-2% of kids are achieving anything near what they need to to really score well enough to get into a “decent” (i.e., Michigan State, Indiana ….NOT talking Northwestern or Pamona, here) college, without the benefit of affirmative action (which white and Asian kids don’t have).

    You can create all kinds of awesome “bells and whistles” for a school: great theater program, partnerships with local universities, amazing art program, etc. —but if its average achievement is low and relatively few kids are even meeting the seemingly low scores needed just to meet the ACT “college readiness” standards, etc., that won’t be a “good” HS in the eyes of parents that could move to a community where the open-enrollment HS’s average act is 25, 26 or 27 and where the vast majority of kids are ready for college –it’s just the way it is.

    In a nutshell, that’s why I believe there will never be an open-enrollment CPS HS that will attract a significant number of middle-class and upper-middle-class families, especially ones that can just easily move to suburbs with “good” public HSs (ones where 90+%.are doing grade-level and above and where many students are exceeding standards for college-readiness) or pay tuition at SICP, Loyola, DePaul College Prep, etc.

    The disparities in measured outcome are just too huge to ignore for most people in that situation.

    Even LPHS –the closest thing CPS has to a “good” neighborhood HS– is attractive only because of its SE aspects: IB and maybe HH, or DH, but virtually nobody in LP who is not poor has their kids enroll in the “regular” classes there, since they are the ones filled with the some of the kids that frighten many parents (one LPHS student got shot a few weeks back near his home –sorry, I kinda’ don’t want my black son hanging around people/friends-from-school that get shot walking on the street near their home during early evening hours and I don’t care what anybody says, there are just too many ‘wrong black guy/mistaken target/thought-he-was-somebody-else’ shootings in this city. My spouse’s cousin was killed that way years back and it still haunts us).

    So, should be work to create a ETHS -type open-enrollment CPS neighborhood HS? Yes, yes, yes, of course!

    But I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for the kinds of people that can afford single family homes in Lakeview, Lincoln Park, Roscoe Village, North Central, Wildwood, Ravenswood, etc., to start running to it when it comes time to enroll their kids in 9th grade.

  • 500. luveurope  |  November 14, 2014 at 11:58 am

    498 The Wildwood – Edbebrook kids run to Loyola or NICP. A very, very small group goes to CPS SE high schools. They don’t go south of Devon from Edgebrook because they enjoy being north shore wannabees at Loyola.

  • 501. west rogers park mom  |  November 14, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    @499- thanks for making me laugh. What is NICP?

  • 502. luveurope  |  November 14, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    500 typo…meant to say SICP

  • 503. pantherparent  |  November 14, 2014 at 2:41 pm

    As long as there are selective enrollment high schools, the idea of a suburban-type open enrollment neighborhood high school in Chicago is a pipe dream.

    Geographically, Taft is the best positioned to be that school, since it draws on Oriole Park, Norwood Park, Edgebrook, etc. But those top kids who want to go public go to Northside, Lane and Payton. Then you pull out the kids who go to Loyola, Notre Dame and St. Pats and you’ve lost the academic top 20%.

    That’s why you see so much discussion here of it’s either SEHS or suburbs. I think that’s a fair mindset.

  • 504. HSObsessed  |  November 14, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    I’m not sure if anyone already posted a link to this WBEZ piece which answers the question “what percentage of Chicago’s white children enroll in public schools?” — 51% — and then goes on to discuss other related topics.


    I never quite understand why it’s brought up occasionally how many schools have no white kids. When you have only 9% of a school district’s enrollment one race (white), then there just aren’t enough kids of that race to “de-segregate” the schools.

  • 505. Curious  |  November 14, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    @504 This is a pipe dream, but man it’d be nice to have an ETHS -type school that didn’t have 2+ hours of homework a night, and also wasn’t packed full of $hitheads from the inner-city who were there to f*ck around and disrupt the kids who want to learn.

  • 506. cpsobsessed  |  November 14, 2014 at 5:55 pm

    @curious – I would contend that amundsen, lake view and senn offer that.
    (Not to leave out others hs, just are not familiar with others.)

    What is it about eths that is more appealing (other than the demo profile of the kids who attend?) They seem to spend a lot more but as a given that won’t happen in the city.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 507. IB Obsessed  |  November 14, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    @Curious, I would love to know what HS your kid attends, and I have a bad feeling I could guess correctly.

  • 508. HS mom  |  November 14, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    The eths model has as “a culture of taking summer courses to get ahead”

    That’s what people want? Summer school on top of the multiple AP classes and all night homework. This tips the scales for me. Talk about burn out and teen suicide. The SEHS model offers aggressive learning and select college opportunities without those kind of pressures (unless you choose it). If this is what it takes to stand out at the neighborhood school, no thanks.

  • 509. pantherettie  |  November 14, 2014 at 6:39 pm

    @KLM would you please stop making generalizations about black and Latino students without some reference to where you get your “facts”. I’m particularly frustrated with your comments that state that even when AA or Latino kids are “above average” they are not performing at the same level as their white and Asian peers. Make all those comments but please back it up a bit better.

  • 510. Chris  |  November 14, 2014 at 7:04 pm

    “What is it about eths that is more appealing”


    “before school tutoring in every subject,
    16 gyms,
    a dance studio,
    an aquatic center,
    a football field,
    another ball/soccer field,
    3 auditoriums -from enormous to small and intimate,
    a nature center as a lab for biology,
    an urban farm,
    career tracks in:
    pharmacy tech,
    automotive repair,
    Microsoft certification…..,
    3 cafeterias,
    Chrome books for each student”


  • 511. IBobsessed  |  November 14, 2014 at 9:23 pm

    HS Mom- Huh? “the summer course culture” thing is about having the OPTION of getting the district required consumer education and career tech course out of the way, so you have time in your schedule during the school year to take another elective, or maybe an extra science or advanced math class. Or take a ‘bridge’ course-math review. That was how they talked about it. 6 weeks of 1 summer course, not an entire summer of AP classes that would push a kid over the edge.. And who said anything about all night homework there? A summer course would be suicide inducing pressure, but Saturday morning SEHS test prep classes during the school year are just doing what it takes to get ahead? I don’t get it.

  • 512. michele  |  November 14, 2014 at 9:24 pm

    @494 Thank you so much for your reply. Many of your observations might be ones that others share, but interestingly the kids who have had 6 or more years of 3+ days a week of second language at grade school enter the CPS HS system at such an advanced level that they are taking 3rd year AP language classes and are the Teacher’s assistant or worse know as much as their instructors. This proposed Language Academy High School would not be a Selective Enrollment school as CPS defines it but a school where a very average B-C student who is proficient in another language could test in based on language skill. This school extends the racial diversity that the grade school Language Academies already have. There is a far higher number of successful low income minority students that are coming out of the Language Academy grade schools than other schools in CPS. We have the stats if you’d like to see. It is amazing what the kids from these schools accomplish just from being exposed to early learning of a second language. Not that surprising though other than the US all industrialized nations as well as many advanced 2nd world countries require students to learn a second language. Besides there is a ton of academic research that shows when Students learn and use second languages it improves all their skills. These students score higher on ACTs, SATs,. are more likely to pick up a programming language, are more likely to score higher in science, are more likely to score higher in math etc.. My final point being the research and the rest of the world knows students who study and maintain their second language skills are more likely to academically succeed. This is a model CPS rightfully embraces at grade school and the High School would only extend what is already an extremely successful model for all children of the city, not just a few. For more information please feel free to e-,mail me mdmessina1@hotmail.com. I am happy to share the academic research and the diverse student profiles of the students that attend the 4 Language Academies and 40+ World Language Magnet Cluster Schools that CPS has. Our Committee was organized around the success of the CPS Language program I hope everyone can embrace the success of second language learning as a way to advance academics regardless of the racial or economic status of the student. This is the future of World Citizenry and hopefully the city leadership embraces it as a model for our future. Thanks for reading.

  • 513. Language  |  November 14, 2014 at 9:36 pm

    511 – I’m sorry, but I’m not buying that CPS kids who get foreign language instruction are that advanced. Maybe some, but not most. My kids get language 3-4 days a week and, frankly, it’s a bit of a joke. There’s not an 8th grader in the building that could carry on an actual conversation in French. I feel like this HS is just another way for an elementary school(s) to get their “own” high school. Not that I blame them for trying. It certainly worked for Disney II.

  • 514. HS Mom  |  November 14, 2014 at 10:19 pm

    @510 IBO – OK, I will qualify my statement. The description of eths sounded like there was a culture of summer school. The statements about AP and homework were meant to be general. My point was that if kids were expected to attend summer school on top of AP and the load of homework that they get at SE and other schools that this was too much. Teen suicide references an article that someone posted further up that has a teen enumerating the pressures that drive a kid to the extreme. Eths sounds like a model school, likely tough to emulate for reasons suggested by KLM/

    @512 – Thank you and agreed. Kids do not come out of language academies fluent. That’s not even the goal. It’s just an extra class that they get 3 or 4 times a week that is about language and culture. Some teachers use Rosetta Stone and others don’t – bought out of their class budget or fund raised. It would be rare for a kid to come out of elementary knowing more than the teacher unless maybe they spoke the language at home. Most kids may be able to place out of the first year of high school or take honors instead or regular. That said, I think a magnet language HS is a great option. I did not get the impression from the article that language magnet students had a “guaranteed” seat. I think international business and global careers will be (are) desirable.

  • 515. Language  |  November 15, 2014 at 1:46 am

    512 HS Mom – my understanding of the article is that, yes, certain schools would get guaranteed seats:

    “In addition to graduates of the CPS elementary-level Language Academies, admission would be open to other students from across the city who can demonstrate a proficiency in the core languages that would be taught at the school. ”

    “Each of the CPS elementary-level Language Academies that would feed into this Chicago Language Academy High School – Murray, LaSalle, LaSalle II and Andrew Jackson…”

    That sounds like guaranteed spots to me. And everybody else has to prove “proficiency.” Which…makes it another selective school, just with a language test instead of an academic test. Pretty sneaky.

  • 516. klm  |  November 15, 2014 at 8:55 am


    Look at the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which is what most education expert agree is the best measure of national achievement. When I say that the “average” kid is 3 grades behind by 8th grade, 4 grades behind by 12th, this is something that I first heard from a lecture by a black education professor giving a lecture on urban education years ago –it seemed too huge to be quite that bad, but the NAEP stats show it to be true.

    So do state and district results all over the country.

    Look at test results broken down by race at (on IIRC or wherever) for ETHS, OPRF HS, CPS, etc. Do that and try not to be upset by the racial disparities in outcome.

    I didn’t make this up. There are books, scholarly articles, academic careers, etc., based on the achievment gap (which, again, per the NAEP and other measures really is a big and depressing as I said) and trying to figure out what to do about it.

    For the record, i think the size of the achievement gap is a national scandal that needs to dealt with, not dismissed because many people don’t like achievement tests, talking about race, etc. How’s that going to help get more non-Asian minority kids at grade-level and beyond?

  • 517. klm  |  November 15, 2014 at 9:18 am


    I understand your concerns about “summer school” becoming the norm.

    However, as was suggested, many kids take things like PE, etc., just to “get it out of the way.” This may leave more space for electives like art, music appreciation, journalism, etc., not necessarily just for another AP class.

    I agree things have gotten outta’ hand, in terms of pressure, expectarions, etc., but in some cases, summer school can act as a pressure valve.

    The only time anybody went to summer school when I was in school was when they flunked a required class, so there was a “stigma” attached to it (i.e., ‘He’s such a bad-a** that he had to go to summer school.’). The idea that somebody would voluntarily take a summer school class was foreign to me and my friends.

    Some of my friends’ kids have taken PE over the summer mostly to avoid the whole locker room and communal shower thing ( which can be tough for kids with weight issues, atypical bodies, late bloomers, etc., that worry about being gawked at or made fun of when they have to change and shower in fron of so many other peoiple, even the bullies, etc.), so it’s one less teenage quasi-trama for them, which is obviouisly a good thing.

  • 518. Summer  |  November 15, 2014 at 10:32 am

    Speaking of summer classes, where can kids take summer classes in Chicago for H.S. credit? Like for PE or another subject? Anyone have a list or know of who offers classes.

  • 519. cpsobsessed  |  November 15, 2014 at 10:35 am

    Wow, I forgot about the idea of taking high school summer PE. I always did that so I could avoid having to swim during the school year. In summer we got to go bowling as part of gym which was fun – you’d show up at a bowling alley for class.

    Curious if CPS offers such an option.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 520. HS Mom  |  November 15, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    Other than a math placement class, summer school is still about taking failed classes. Even then, most schools do not offer summer school and there are designated schools. There is no summer school PE – which is why this new PE requirement is problematic. Why not enjoy the break….they’ll need it once they start taking on upper level courses. College enrichment camps – some offered at very low cost – is a much better use of summer break. Fun, gets kids excited about college, meet new friends, stay in dorms etc.

  • 521. HS Mom  |  November 15, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    @480 HSO – yes that was our experience in HS too. The choice was more like “which U of I do you want to go to”. I wish I knew how to explore the options. Colleges do get the names from ACT and from College fairs. ACT has the student answer a survey early on to indicate interests. It’s a problem if, like mine, your kid changes their mind with the wind. Got all kinds of things from art schools. Eager to say “yes” to getting the ACT score out meant email blasts galore. We heard from a very wide range of schools. I’m not sure if some of these colleges that promise a full scholarship – without having talked to you – are good/real. By chance, the colleges we were interested in were not among those and we pursued them. Once we indicated interest, the flood of materials and calls/emails came. Yes, I too wondered about the budget. I would rather have lower tuition than the multiple brochures, backpacks, t-shirts, pens, buttons and even a bullhorn. If we ever go to a U of Iowa game (which will be never) we are well equipped.

    @466 – “Well later I realized that they only accepted me because I was an out of state student applying without financial aid and ready to pay full price. Not cool.”

    Really… they ALL do this….even UIUC who brings in more foreign students at a rate higher than out of state.

    @514 – Thanks for spelling that out for me. Too much skimming I guess.

  • 522. pantherettie  |  November 15, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    Actually a variety of schools summer classes that are not just for those that have failed classes. For example, last summer Lindblom offered pay courses such as Calculus and Art/Sculpture classes that were rigorous and credit earning. The art classes were designed so that kids could have access to small class sizes, extra resources and a chance to earn credits free up a schedule for other classes or early graduation. They are not all day classes and appear to be good enrichment opportunities.

  • 523. Another "selective" high school?  |  November 15, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    #511. But you are making my point for me. I am a firm believer in language study. My own kids study two. My point is that a few very lucky kids are offered free language instruction through having “won” a seat in a lottery (and you know magnet schools do not match the socio-economic levels of CPS as a whole, regardless of their “diversity”). So, we are taking those students who ALREADY have a leg up and giving them “first rights” to a high school based on a factor that other children throughout CPS have no control over? How is that fair?

    Sorry, child in ABC under-funded neighborhood school. I know you wish you could have had Spanish or Italian or French, to experience all the wonderful advantages outlined above. But you didn’t get a single one. And now you have no access to a language high school — and a chance to learn a langage — because too many seats are taken up by kids who had such a privilege … and, oh, you didn’t have free language instruction like they did … despite the fact that you’re a CPS student, too.

    You cannot convince me that this isn’t another ploy by the wealthier parents (and there are MANY at schools like LaSalle) to create their own high school to make a place for their child.

    Do the 40+ language cluster NEIGHBORHOOD school students have guaranteed access into this proposed high school? I’d love to hear that answer. I only see the magnet students mentioned.

    Just a sneaky way of privileged people yet again pulling money away from others to make sure their kids are taken care of.

    Prove it’s not a ploy by making it a truly lottery, in fact pure lottery school. Just like the “language academies” were. ANY child would benefit from a language school and I don’t see why they would have to prove proficiency. Isn’t that what school is for? And I certainly don’t see why the magnet language schools would have precedence over the neighborhood magnet clusters or ANYONE else.

    Of course, that won’t happen.

  • 524. Anxious but hopeful  |  November 15, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    I want to have my daughter take a practice test to get her brain in testing mode before going into the SEHS admissions test next weekend. Does anyone know if it makes sense to give her a practice PSAT? Or is the material just too different?

  • 525. klm  |  November 15, 2014 at 5:18 pm


    I’m guessing that a CPS “Language HS,” like you describe would ultimately be about as popular with wealthier parents as the HS’s connected to Ogden and Alcott, for example. Meaning, not very.

    Sure the idea of an IB curriculum-based HS connected with a good CPS K-8 school SOUNDS like a good thing, until people catch wind of the very low EXPLORE/ACT scores and realize that these schools aren’t doing much better than most CPS neighborhood schools in terms of attracting or producing students that are able to achieve. Accordingly, they don’t have much appeal to the “wealthy” parents that you describe. I’d bet good money that any sort of open-lottery, non-SE “LaSalle Language High School” would be in the same boat, wealthy-parent-opinion-wise.

    I don’t say that happily, it’s just that knowing how things tend to work with CPS, personally knowing CPS parents that are “wealthy” and how they think, etc., they’re not going to get excited about a HS is almost certain to have the low scores that reflect CPS’s overall non-SE-HS achievement lower levels.

    Sad but true.

  • 526. NSCP PARENT  |  November 15, 2014 at 5:40 pm

    523…..Anxious but hopeful please take this advise from a CPS parent……..NOOOOOOOOOO……………………

    I know I will get backlash on this but you are starting way to late for pretesting. It will only make her more nervous if she does not do well on a part. The psat is for 10th graders and has geometry and trig on it. I would review what she is weak on and work on concepts on how to take a standardized test. Tips on how to answer certain types of questions…how to narrow down to two choices. Many people say to read the answer first, then the question. These are all over the web. Her getting enough sleep and eating well the few days prior and of course that morning will help her more. Have her bring snacks if they allow. Get her there early so she has time to relax and no parent/child arguing……this is their day. Have sharp pencils etc. etc.

    Once book that we used for prep was something like The Catholic school entrance test exam. This test book was much harder then SEHS test but a good prep. This was with a test prep course. It was like $5.00 but really thick but again this is to late.

    Good Luck to your daughter and to everyone’s child.

  • 527. Another "selective" high school?  |  November 15, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    klm, I always appreciate your comments on this blog. Thanks for your insights. I don’t disagree. My point is that it’s a waste of valuable resources if it is not truly “open to all.” But I am in the vast minority on this board who does not want to see another high school that is selective in any sense of the word. I haven’t lost hope in neighborhood elementary and high schools. I’ve only lost hope that CPS cares about us at all.

    Of course, this is the wrong blog for people in my position, lol.

  • 528. Anxious but hopeful  |  November 15, 2014 at 6:46 pm

    @525 Thanks very much for your advice. I’m not stressing her out, I just know that she needs practice for getting into the bubble-test mindset because her normal testing environment is NWEA. She’s taken the PSAT through school, so she’s familiar with that one, and it’s easy to find an online sample of PSAT so I thought that might work. But I was concerned that the material wouldn’t match up, so that answers my question. Thank you!

    She did a sample from an ISAT-modeled book last Saturday, and another earlier today. I have an SSAT book and I’ve been looking over one of the samples in the last hour…I think that’s the one I’ll have her try tomorrow.

    But please don’t be concerned, she is feeling more confident as she does the sample tests, not less confident. We decided against the test prep courses because she didn’t need that kind of in-depth test prep, and honestly that would have stressed her out far more than taking a few tests ahead of time. Mostly she just needs practice focusing and working in a timed testing environment.

  • 529. NSCP PARENT  |  November 15, 2014 at 6:54 pm


    Yes, the Isat/ssat books are more inline with the test. My son was straight A and scored very high on ERB tests but still did 5 test prep days. Our school said it was a waste of time for him but he learned a few test taking tricks that seemed to help him. (NWEA?).

    Again, most of the tricks/tips are on the web and if she is the one wanting to do this practice then more power to her. Seems like she will be just fine for the test.

    All the best

  • 530. Anxious but hopeful  |  November 15, 2014 at 7:00 pm

    @528 Thanks! She has been focused like a laserbeam on Northside so she can be a part of the amazing Latin team, and for the block schedule, and now that they have started a Science Olympiad team NSCP has everything she wants in a school. We are looking forward to having this last hurdle done and over with. Hopefully she will be joining your son at NSCP next fall!

  • 531. ELT  |  November 15, 2014 at 9:00 pm

    I was going to post this question to the earlier thread, but since we’re on the subject….

    For those of you whose kids did take some sort of test prep course for SESH exam, how close is the connection between how they scored on those organizations’ “practice tests” and the actual SEHS? Would you say it was an accurate indicator of how they will do on the CPS test?

  • 532. michele  |  November 15, 2014 at 9:47 pm

    @522 Thanks for thinking through your comments. Any kids who are literate in a second language will be able to test into the Language Academy High School – many many of these students come from low income homes. These may be students from CPS Language Academies but the students may also be a student from Pilsen who speaks and writes Spanish well, a kid form Chinatown that’s taken Mandarin at Catholic school, or a student from Rogers Park that speaks Arabic at home. The point being this school embraces all that CPS Selective Enrollment High schools may miss and that is the motivated kids that come from the ethnic neighborhoods that desperately want a chance at a world class education that values their international skills. Like I mentioned I have the charts that illustrate the students at the Language Academies and Language Magnet Clusters and Dual Language schools like Volta and Salazar much more closely represent the demographics of our city than SE High Schools. The Language Academy High School empowers these international studies students to get the IL Seal of Bi-literacy on their diplomas. Right now there is no where our CPS students can do this. This is a huge deal and one that may eventually be extended to neighborhood schools and other Selective Enrollment HSs. Right now the second language curriculum in CPS HSs is not advanced enough to meet the IL Seal of Bi-literacy goals so why not let the students who have this amazing skill set get the credential they deserve. Other cities like Miami, San Francisco, New York, Detroit, Portland, and so many other US and overseas cities already have these language HSs in place. Chicago for all the talk of being an international city is many many years behind in the educational execution.of this international studies goal. From where I sit this is an equalizer – it removes income and speaks to the capacity of students and families across the city to use what they have to advance their education. In 2014 it is hard to believe we’re having a conversation about advanced second language learning in High school- speaks greatly to why the US scores so far behind the rest of the world in education. Research is very clear – extended second language learning improves scores on ACTs, SAT, increases capacity to do program code, increases science scores, increases math scores etc… so why the resistance? Instead advocate for strong second language learning in all our CPS schools. Lets do what China, Russia, France, Germany, Spain, Poland, and so many other countries do – that is have students continually learn and develop skills in a second language. Otherwise all the talk about advancing US education is for naught. The US will be far behind the rest of the world until we do. Thank you for reading.

  • 533. Response to Anxious but Hopeful  |  November 15, 2014 at 10:40 pm

    Anxious but Hopeful:

    This is last minute, but you can probably still sign-up for Sunday, 11/16. My child found this session very useful last year just to have a experience with the timing and pacing of the exam. They gave a few good tips that she found helpful.Offer it on other dates as well – one week before each CPS SEHS exam.

    8th Grade High School Entrance Exam Prep

    All of our group classes for 8th graders are in full swing, but we have one-day workshops coming up.
    Test Prep Palooza (one-day workshops):
    At our Test Prep Palooza workshops, students will take a practice test, have pizza, and learn the strategies, content, and problem-solving skills needed for success on the SEHS, ISEE, and HSPT entrance exams. Each Test Prep Palooza is 4 hours and costs $119 (lunch included).

    The next Test Prep Palooza is this Sunday, November 16 at Hamlin Park (Lakeview) from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. There are still spots available, but they will fill up fast! Sign up today.
    Click HERE for the full schedule of 8th grade workshops. Email charlie@testprepchicago.com to sign up.

  • 534. parent  |  November 15, 2014 at 10:57 pm

    Both my kids took Selective Prep and they both got into their first choice schools. I also signed them up for unlimited Kaplan for college testing. If this is the game, I will play. I would highly recommend whatever prep you can do to get ready. The practice tests are much harder than the actual test.

  • 535. Way Outta There  |  November 15, 2014 at 11:15 pm

    I think some of us may have missed the point of 489’s remarks about ETHS. The point with suburban high schools is (1) that they spend a ton of money on what Karen Lewis (and others) call “wraparound services.” Everything from sports to mental health services to nurses to special education to speech to state of the art science labs to do I need to go on? AND (2) everyone goes to the same school. The jocks, the brainaics, the drama geeks, the debaters, etc. etc. all go to the same school. It’s a totally different model than the “cast a wide net and cross your fingers” CPS model and, as someone who’s been in both systems, works much better for high school. HS is so difficult, to create a caste system like CPS has done is just too hard for the 90-whatever percent that don’t get accepted into SEHS and aren’t particularly interested in an IB curriculum. Move to the ‘burbs for 4 years. My student greatly prefers living in the city but knows that the education (including wraparound services) in Suburban High School aren’t available anywhere in CPS. That’s just a fact.

  • 536. Anxious but hopeful  |  November 15, 2014 at 11:27 pm

    @532 Thanks very much! I’ll look into it. Who knows, maybe we can get over there.

    @533 I’m not saying I have an issue with doing Selective Prep. I just felt that an extended prep course wasn’t the right way to go for our daughter’s particular personality/situation. And maybe I’ll regret the decision, but hopefully not.

  • 537. Another "selective" high school?  |  November 15, 2014 at 11:27 pm

    Michele —

    You say, “Instead advocate for strong second language learning in all our CPS schools.”

    That is what I am doing. You are the ones advocating for it to belong to a small subset of CPS students by diverting dollars and allowing automatic entry only to students of four language academies (turning your backs on the neighborhood world language magnet cluster schools for one).

    If you can answer these questions for me, I might feel differently about your proposal:

    Why would the magnet language academies’ students have automatic entry? Will the language academy students even have to test in? Would it be built without the push of those parents? Could the money be better used to bring free second language education to ALL neighborhood elementary schools to actually be the great equalizer?

    You also say, “Research is very clear – extended second language learning improves scores on ACTs, SAT, increases capacity to do program code, increases science scores, increases math scores etc… so why the resistance? ”

    I ask you. Why the resistance to extending second language instruction to all schools as the great equalizer, rather than building a high school for the few already lucky kids who benefitted from a language academy magnet, well-funded education? Why the resistance to opening it up to any child?

    When a child enters a magnet academy like Andrew Jackson, they don’t have a language requirement, yet the students reap the benefits of language instruction. Why make that a prerequisite at the high school level?

    It’s like saying you’re opening up a popsicle stick crafting high school and lo and behold, the four CHicago popsicle stick crafting magnet schools have automatic entry. But, don’t worry! If you can build a to-scale replica of Lincoln’s log cabin out of popsicle sticks in 30 seconds, you, too, have a chance at entry. What? Your elementary school didn’t offer popsicle stick crafting?? Bummer.

    You cite second languages spoken by a diverse city. Even Lincoln in Lincoln Park (my friend is a “language liaison” there) has students who speak 19 languages! Of course, this city is diverse when it comes to language! But that begs the question, “Why should a student from Andrew Jackson have automatic entry over an Arabic-speaking student from a Rogers Park neighborhood school?”

    I don’t understand. Can you answer that single question, perhaps?

    I am against yet another SEHS being created. But if it is to be built, then access should be equal — especially in a city as language-diverse as Chicago. That is my argument.

    Why the resistance?

  • 538. NSCP Parent  |  November 16, 2014 at 12:25 am

    529….Funny what you learn on these forums. I asked my son about the Science Olympiad….since I didn’t know about it and he said at NS they have everything…..One of the nice things about the school and it is not geeky to be on the Math, Chess or Latin team. With your daughter’s drive, she will do well there. One quote I found online which pretty much sums up NS was something like” yes, we have cheerleaders here and they are even pretty……they just might be in your advanced calculus class”.

    My son and friends there wanted to start a card club. Within a week they have like 15 kids that meet every Wed. playing card games after school. If you want to do it, it will be supported there.

    Good Luck to your daughter.

  • 539. lkosovaNSCP parent  |  November 16, 2014 at 8:58 am

    ETS-Our school told us not to do test prep since my son scores in school and other standardized test were very high but what they didn’t know is that he was with a tutor for reading comprehension and the like. He also takes a long time to process information but extremely bright. So we did test prep to really work on his weakness and to learn tips/tricks to taking any test. He never did math in his test prep since when he did the evaluation he scored well into high school level math as an example but concentrated on vocabulary and English rules….this was very helpful. He didn’t do any studying at home with this either. They gave him like a few pages to do, that was it.

    The main reason we did it was a friend of our that had been through the process said to me…..”you could pay $250 now for test prep or $25,000 later for private school” and that kinda made a lot of sense to me.

    At the start of the year in 8th grade we meet with the counselors and they already had Northside pegged as the best school for my son. He was the only one from his school and a lot of them went to Payton or the other SEHS or private schools.

    So did the testing help? I think that depends on your child. I really think it is important if they have a deficiency and you are most likely getting them help now. If they have an IEP/504, I would work on the issues that need help. In my son’s case he is very strong in math and not in English so reviewing some sentence and English rules was a confidence builder for him. My son scores on ERB test like in the high 98% or higher and had all “A”. He is the type that wanted to do his best. So did it really help him, well maybe on reducing the anxiety type of thing. They used the Catholic high school entrance exam guide book or something like that which is much harder then the SE test. Anyone can get this book and just have their kids review the sections they need help in but it was nice my kid hearing from the test person not to worry about the test, that he had this down. That most likely helped more then anything.

  • 540. klm  |  November 16, 2014 at 9:17 am


    For all its spending, ETHS sure seems to be producing some pretty lousy results from its black students. Same for a school like OPRF (another high-spending schools with lots of services and extras). This is especially true when we look at the achievement of white and black students at these same schools.

    For example, when we compare the results of black students at OPRF, ETHS and black students in CPS on the 11th grade PSAE, there’s not a whole lot of difference.

    For example, 68% of black kids at OPRF are below grade standards in math, as opposed to 63% in CPS. 62% of black kids at ETHS are below standards at ETHS. (6% of white kids at ETHS are below, as are 12% of whire kids at OPRF and 7% of white kids at New Trier, for comparison).

    Results for reading and science are equally disparate between black and whtre kids at these schools and don’t show much differenece between black kids in CPS and black kids at higher-spending- more-services-provided schools like ETHS and OPRF.

    When we look at kids that are really excelling, (“exceeds” standards), only 1% of black kids at OPRF (same as CPS) and 3% of black kdis at ETHS are doing that, as opposed to 44% of white kids at ETHS (this is higher than even for white kids at New Trier which is 38%) and 34% of white kids at OPRF.

    Sure, spending lots of money and more “wrap around” services may seem like a good thing, but it apparently won’t do a whole lot to improve the perfermance of minority kids academically, at least compared to their white peers. The achievement gap at ETHS is, if anything, higher than in CPS.

    I’m in a bi-racial marriage with black kids. At one point, we were looking into moving to either Evanston or the Oak Park/River Forest areas, since they are “integrated” communities with “good” public schools. Then, my spouse and I looked at test scores and that idea went out the window. We didn’t want out kids to go to a HS where the white kids were apparently getting a New Trier-level education, but the black students were performing no better than their peer in supposedly “troubled,” under-performing, under-spending, open-enrollment urban public schools.

    It seems like (at least in tems of acacemic achievement –isn’t that the most importsnt thing we want from a school?) ETHS provides white kids with a New Trier-like education, but for black kids, it’s almost just another “ghetto high school.”

    I know that’s a harsh assessment and unfair on many level, but it is what it is, at least for my family’s perspective.

    So, even if CPS spent as much per student as OPRF and ETHS (note that CPS does spend more than the state average and significantly more than schools in some places with really good HSs, like Naperville), gave the same “wrap around” services as ETHS, etc., would there necessarily be a sunsequent big difference in student outcome? I’m not so sure.

  • 541. michele  |  November 16, 2014 at 9:52 am

    @536 Perhaps you’ve misunderstood, Language Academy students do not receive automatic admissions – the language proficiency testing that occurs for entrance to the Language Academy High School- happens for ALL students that wish to attend – how else would you know if a student is proficient enough in a language to take advanced classes? CPS already does this for HS language AP classes. The High School only is extending the model of the Language Academy into High School The point the Magnet High School can draw from citywide students (CPS or Non CPS) at every economic level. That’s the kids at Murray in Hyde Park who’ve taken Japanese or the kids who didn’t go to a CPS school but may live in Chinatown and who have studied Mandarin to supplement their Cantonese skills, or the students who went to Talcott, Volta, or Salazar who studied Spanish, and yes even the students at Lincoln that studied French. Everyone with second language skills can apply to test. This school is a replicate of very successful models in CPS – that is the models of the Language Academy, World Language Magnet clusters, Dual Language schools, and all other schools where second language is rigorously taught. The IL Seal of Bi-literacy is something we need to embrace for our students. The High School can issue this important credential that these students deserve. The Seal can open doors into International Studies Programs and increase employment opportunities upon graduation. Please let our students have the opportunities the rest of the industrialized world shares. The opportunity to be truly multilingual.

  • 542. pantherettie  |  November 16, 2014 at 10:21 am

    @539 – KLM – When you write about African American students and the achievement gaps, why don’t you include information about SES and parental academic achievement level? Are the AA kids at ETHS and OPRF of similar demographic background(e.g. SES, parental academic achievement level, ect) as their white counterparts? Or did you forget that – just as it is in Chicago and the rest of the country – there is there a significant income and education gap between white and blacks? Why aren’t AA kids scoring as well as their white counterparts at these schools? Are they coming into high school with lower tests scores? Are they being ‘funneled’ into lower level classes? Do they take fewer and score lower on AP tests? Is there college acceptance and graduation rate lower than their peers of similar *demographic* background? If you really want to ‘control for race’ (I’m a professional researcher so I’m going there) and look at a group of kids who are ‘most likely’ very similar demographically look at a place like Barrington or Highland Park – there is a spread of wealth in these communities, but all will be upper middle class or above. They will also have kids who will have most likely attended the school system since elementary at one or two locations – so you could control for differences in feeder school qualities. I challenge you to find the stats and demographic descriptions of AA kids in these communities. Is there an achievement gap? If so, by how much? What does that say about your hypothesis about AA kids at ETHS or OPRH? I’m challenging you because The fact that you describe ETHS or OPRH as basically another “ghetto” high school for AA kids is something that really bothers me because you once again connect race(in this case AA) with achievement without any consideration of the other demographics that influence school achievement. Why do you have such an axe to grind that you continue to paint AA kids with such a wide brush?

  • 543. klm  |  November 16, 2014 at 11:34 am


    I get all that about parent income, single-parent households, parental educational attainment, etc. Of course all of that matters. However, even when those things are taken into account, there’s still a huge achievement gap. That’s not my opinion, it’s what education professors and experts who have studied the achievement gap say/have found. When I look at stats, I sadly see the same thing.

    I mean, go to ISBE, IIRC, etc., and look at the stats for yourself. I mean, there aren’t any non-low-income-from-single-parent black kids at ETHS or OPRFHS? Personally, I know of a few black college-educated, married-with-kids black-professionals-as-parents families (one’s a physician, one graduated from Yale [really]) that moved to Oak Park, since it’s one of the “go to” places/suburbs for lots of black professionals and middle-class black parents that want to move for safer neighborhoods, good schools, etc. (just like with everybody else moves to certain suburbs: public safety, schools, quality of services, etc. are things people care about, no matter their race or income). Not all black kids in Oak Park come from “at risk” backgrounds. Just walk around Oak Park and you’ll see black families living in big, expensive homes just like everybody else, many headed up by high-paid professionals with graduate degrees. I’ve been to parties and social gatherings at such homes.

    So, even with all that, given these facts, etc., we can just easily explain-away the huge disparities I mentioned above and which is born out by statistics by just noting differences in income, family structure, academic status of feeder schools, etc? Yes, all those variables matter, of course, but they can’t possibly explain away everything.

    My point about ETHS and OPRF is that even schools that spend more and provide more services, extracurriculars, etc., don’t seem to make much difference in academic outcome for all students, especially non-Asian minority ones.

    Also, I think you’re missing my point. I have an axe to grind because I’m pi**ed-off that so many black kids are failing and unerachieving. I’m not blaming black kids, i’m blaming a society and an education system that has allowed things to get this bad. I mean, how can anybody that cares about black kids in this country, inequality, disparities in emplyment/income between the races, etc., look at the kinds of stats I discussed and not be upset? Yes, I’m hyped-up and upset, but with NOT with black kids, but at a system that brought us to this point, where too many black kids are graduating from high school without the skills to be successful (even when they want to be) in a post-industrial economy where education and academic achievment and success is by definition key to being able to have a decent life, not just a fabulous one with a big, expensive house and Volvo XC90 with a third row for driving around the kids to tennis lessons and shopping at Whole Foods.

    If I point things out, it’s not to pick on black kids, it’s to raise alarm to the fact that we have to do something, not just easily and simply explain-away statistics that we don’t like.

    I’m not interested in picking on black kids –I want to help them. That’s my point when i bring up distubing(to me, anyway) facts about disparites, huge gaps in achievement, etc.

    If I had a dollar for every time, when during discussions of the achievement gap, people automatically go into a Johnathon Kozal-esque mantra, (amost parrotted) diatribe about how disaprites and inequalities in spending between suburban schools and inner-city ones are pretty much entirely to explain for why so many minority kids are behind their white peers. Well, here we have 2 examples of high-spending, lots-of-services suburban HSs and even then we still see a shocking disparity in achievement, almost certainly even when taking into account family income, parent education, etc.

  • 544. Pantherettie  |  November 16, 2014 at 12:28 pm


    “I get all that about parent income, single-parent households, parental educational attainment, etc. Of course all of that matters. However, even when those things are taken into account, there’s still a huge achievement gap. ”

    So you’re saying that the average middle class AA kid, with two college educated parents, who attended a strong elementary school and access to the same (or very similar) extra curricular resources as his/her white peer is doing “much worse” academically? You’re aware of research that points to a “huge achievement gap” between these groups? I would be really interested in reading that.

    When I took your advice and looked at the ISBE report card for ETHS, I saw that 40.9% of the kids were low income. The report card indicates that there is a 37 point achievement gap difference between low income and non-low income 11th grade kids on the reading portion of the PSAE. The same report indicates that there is a 53 point achievement gap difference between AA kids and white kids for the same test. The same report indicates that there is a 48 point achievement gap between Hispanic kids and white kids on this same test. The achievement gap between AA and Hispanic kids on this same test is *5* points. My hypothesis is that AA and Hispanic kids at this school have more similar demographic profiles with each other than they do with their white counterparts. There is no information about achievement differences within race groups. (controlled for demographics) If ISBE provided the demographic/SES of the school and found that most of the low income kids were of color, that – rather than race alone – would be one of the main reasons for the achievement gap.

    I’m just saying that you’re making a leap that the stats – at least those that you mention – don’t. Specifically, regardless of other demographics – race is the contributor to achievement differences between students. As a person who is most interested in speaking honestly about how *income* and *access to resources* impact *all* kids, your conclusions bother me. By saying that AA kids – just by being AA – experience an achievement gap, the focus shifts from the fact that *poor*, *lower middle class*, *immigrant*, *rural*, ect. kids don’t have access to well funded and well resourced educational systems. There is significant income disparity between blacks and whites, but honestly, there many, many more poor white kids in this country than there are black ones. The focus needs to be on decreasing the achievement gap between low income and non-low income kids so that we all see less long-term income disparity. Your point about ETHS and the “wraparound” services is taken, but in my opinion, it shouldn’t be about about why do AA kids have lower test scores, it should be why do lower income kids have lower test scores.

  • 545. An Observer  |  November 16, 2014 at 5:21 pm

    @pantherettie: Interesting article supports your analysis: Growing income achievement gap overshadows race — http://hechingerreport.org/content/growing-income-achievement-gap-overshadows-race_13004/

  • 546. IBobsessed  |  November 16, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    “By saying that AA kids – just by being AA – experience an achievement gap, the focus shifts from the fact that *poor*, *lower middle class*, *immigrant*, *rural*, ect. kids don’t have access to well funded and well resourced educational systems. There is significant income disparity between blacks and whites, but honestly, there many, many more poor white kids in this country than there are black ones. The focus needs to be on decreasing the achievement gap between low income and non-low income kids so that we all see less long-term income disparity.”.

    Well put. I cannot believe that klm thinks there is something intrinsic to AAs that makes them achieve lower, even if you filter out other factors such as family income. I’m not sure what her point is, but I’m almost certain that is not it.

    And before anyone rants that it’s obvious that just $/lack of cannot, in itself, make academic success, that seems true, in a sense. It’s the constellation of deprivations that commonly go with intergenerational poverty;the parental mental and physical health problems, low educational level, family instability, lack of modeling, (AAs experienced the grinding impact of this in the US for centuries, not just a few generations back)etc, that causes stress impacting the brain, low self esteem, emotional deprivation, low self expectation, lack of optimism, lack of self regulation and a whole culture of being a drop out is ‘just what we do’.

    klm and pantherettie You might both appreciate.


  • 547. cpsobsessed  |  November 16, 2014 at 7:51 pm

    I do find the race breakout for ETHS to be very interesting when comparing it to CPS.

    White students there are probably in something like a TIer 6 (vs chicago’s Tier 1-4.) You have wealthy families many with parents who work for one of the most prestigious univs in the country (so I would bet IQ might actually skew higher.) (this is a broad generalization, as of course some minority families fall in this cohort and vice versa.)

    So they are probably widening the achievement gap by looking even stronger than most kids in the state.

    However it’s surprising that AfAm kids in evanston wouldn’t be scoring higher than CPS kids do (if I read that correctly.) I feel like the community, safety, etc if generally better in evanston than in much of the city – combined with the greater school district offerings. Does that not have ANY impact??

    I imagine KLM’s kids would likely do well at ETHS, but I too share some annoyance that Evanston gets applauded all the time for their excellent school system, when they don’t seem to be finding a way to conquer the achievement gap. Granted, based on everything I/we’ve read about education is much easier said than done.

  • 548. parent  |  November 16, 2014 at 11:13 pm

    I wrote a comment and for some reason it did not post. In an nutshell, I have been following Evanston schools for years because it is a community that has resources and the will to attempt to close the achievement gap. It has caused a LOT of controversy. Here is a snapshot if you are interested:





  • 549. cpsobsessed  |  November 16, 2014 at 11:16 pm

    Thanks for posting those, @Parent. Posts with 2+ links go into moderation an need to be approved, so sometimes there will be a delay on those. If you don’t see something show up, feel free to email me at cpsobsessed@gmail.com so I can look for it in the “pending” section.

  • 550. parent  |  November 16, 2014 at 11:17 pm

    Here is some more information about the africentric program at Oakton in Evanston I have periodically looked for longitudinal studies about the program throughout the years, but could find nothing:



  • 551. parent  |  November 17, 2014 at 12:56 am

    and here’s one on the TWI program:


  • 552. pantherettie  |  November 17, 2014 at 7:06 am

    @An Observer – thanks for the link – the article about access to opportunity as experienced by two “middle class” families in New York really did highlight what I was trying to suggest might be one of the reasons for the achievements gaps in a community like Evanston. I think this should be required reading for lots of policy makers as decisions are made about SEHS expansions and locations.

  • 553. to pantherettie on south side high schools  |  November 17, 2014 at 11:32 am

    The points I glean form the Hechinger Report article are these:

    Parental education is still the most important factor influencing children’s academic success.

    While race remains a factor–independent from income–income is an increasingly strong factor influencing children’s academic success. And while historically the income gap fell between kids in poverty and the middle-upper classes, now the divide is shifting to between the wealthy (top 10 percent of income) and all the rest of us.

    My takeaway is if we don’t figure out how to do a better job with public early childhood and K-12 education, all but the most wealthy of us are going to see our children suffer educationally.

    Also, my own insight as a parent is–if you are unhappy with your child’s school there is only so much you can do to offset that outside of school hours. Especially when they are little (K-2).

  • 554. Another "selective" high school?  |  November 17, 2014 at 11:34 am

    #540. I’m not trying to beat a dead horse, but LaSalle II’s own vision statement for the high school says, “Committee Objective: To develop a World Language, Culture and Business High School for the students of LaSalle II and other CPS Language Academies”

    That seems to strongly suggest (as does the article quoted above) that the high school would be first and foremost for the benefit of the language academy students. So, which is it? Do kids from these academies have automatic entry, as long as they pass the test? Or do they take the test with every other child who may want “in” and then get a seat through a lottery?

    Lawndale also has a World Language sub-school high school. From their website:


    World Language High School is committed to the development of young men and women who value cultural experiences, ethnic diversity, and life-long learning.


    … We recognize the interdependency of the modern world and education. Therefore, we strive to develop students who are literate in two of the world’s dominant languages and challenge students to excel in the languages of mathematics, science, history, and the arts. Upon graduation, World Language students are prepared with the skills needed for their post-secondary success.

    So, again, I’m not sure why the need for a new one. Or, why can’t this component (which I don’t disagree is valuable) be added to neighborhood high schools as was done in Lawndale?

    You say, “Please let our students have the opportunities the rest of the industrialized world shares. The opportunity to be truly multilingual.”

    Again, my kids study TWO languages in addition to English. (Although they’re not likely to be bilingual in either, lol) Some CPS neighborhood schools are more than 60% bilingual! Compare that to language academies. You can’t.

    That’s why I’d simply like to be confident that entry into the high school (should it be built) is equal for all and not automatic for magnet language academy kids. I want your words of “our students” to mean all CPS students. I am still not convinced me of this if the language persists as was in the DNA info article and on LaSalle II’s website.

    I won’t comment on this anymore as I’m sure it’s been beaten to death.

  • 555. CPS graduate  |  November 17, 2014 at 9:11 pm

    I recently took “Beyond Diversity” training at where I teach and ther was much talk about the achievement gap. While Sat/Act scores rise as income level rises, acheivement gap persists at all income levels. Poor White kids have higher Sat/act scores than poor Black/Hispanic/Asian/NatAmer. kids; and rich White kids have better sat/act scores than Black/Hispanic/NatAmer. kids. Only Asians surpassed white students after the first income bracket. The data we looked at went up to incomes of >200,000.

    Shocking data. The point of the confernece was that all the talk about socioeconomics takes away from other culprit–institutionalized racism.

    We looked at data from 2012, I count find that online bit I did find a source from 2008.


  • 556. CPS graduate  |  November 17, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    The beyond diversity website.

    This training was one of the best.

  • 557. SEHS ranking  |  November 18, 2014 at 11:46 am

    Help with SEHS rankings!

    I thought I had a good understanding of how the ranking works but after a talk with a school counselor, I am totally confused.
    I thought that no matter how you ranked a school if you have enough points but not enough points for schools that you rank higher, that you can still get into your lower ranked schools (#4, #5, or #6).

    But according to the counselor, she indicates that schools still look at that ranking and it does matter.

    That a student in the same tier with lower points who ranks that school at #1, will get in over another student with higher points but who ranked the school much lower (#4, #5, or #6) though the higher points student didn’t get into school #1, #2, or #3.

    The counselor indicated that CPS might say ranking doesn’t matter, that you will get into the first school in your own rankings that you have enough points for. But in reality it is not true. That again who you rank #1, and #2 is extremely critical.

    That dilemma is that my student has a long shot at PJNY, results depend on SEHS exam and how things fall out for the rest of the population. More realistically they can get into Lane.

    We want to give our student a shot at their longshot and rank Payton #1, Northside #2, and Young #3, and then put Lane #4. Counselor indicates that we are shooting ourselves in the foot ranking it that way. Though they have enough points for Lane, they will not be selected because they ranked it so low, even if they ended up with not enough points for PNY.

    Help. Anyone have insight into this?

  • 558. ELT  |  November 18, 2014 at 11:58 am

    Was this your child’s middle school counselor who told you this or a counselor from one of the SEHS?

  • 559. parent  |  November 18, 2014 at 11:59 am

    I think your counselor is wrong and s/he is still operating under the regime when principals could be punitive if you didn’t rank their schools high enough. unless it has changed in the past two years, you get your highest ranking school that you qualify for.

  • 560. Chicago School GPS  |  November 18, 2014 at 12:07 pm

    It is not uncommon, but counselors miraculously do have outdated info. From CPSOAE:
    “Note: The selection process is always conducted in order of the list of students, which is ranked according to the students’ final point scores. Therefore, for example, ranking a school first would not give a student preference over another student, in the same tier, who ranked a school third, had a higher point score, and did not get an offer from their first or second choice schools. In this scenario, the student with the higher point score, who ranked the school third, would receive an offer to that school before a student with a lower score who ranked the school as her first choice.”


  • 561. SEHS ranking  |  November 18, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    @557 child’s middle school counselor

    @558 That is what I thought as well. I told her politely that she was wrong. But she countered and said (1) she saw an example just last year, where a student who had lower points/same tier, got in over a student with higher points that ranked it lower
    and (2) she indicated that just last week at a counselor’s workshop meeting, that this was reiterated to them and (3) the point that no matter what CPS says that those rankings still matter, and that CPS says one thing but is doing another.

  • 562. Chicago School GPS  |  November 18, 2014 at 12:17 pm

    For that very reason, we have a CPS Admissions Primer seminar on Dec. 2 at Alcott College Prep at 6:30-8:30PM. We know folks are confused about the processes, confused about applying (TWO steps in most cases) and confused about selections and notifications. We can help folks make sense of their applications at that time and let them know about which ones allow changes, etc.


    Last Minute Primer:
    CPS Applications Demystified
    Chicago’s Public Elementary & High School Edition

    Tuesday, Dec. 2 from 6:30-8:30PM
    Alcott College Prep, 2957 N. Hoyne, Chicago

    Register NOW!
    $20/family via pre-registration ($10/more at door)

    It’s not too late! CPS Elementary & High School Application Primer!
    Let’s face it- applying to CPS can be nerve-wrecking! Whether you have already applied and are questioning your decisions or you have been procrastinating and need to get it done, don’t miss this last chance to ensure you have maximized your application choices. You can apply for CPS Magnet, Selective, IB, Open Enrollment & other application based programs until December 12, 2014, and can modify your Selective enrollment applications into Jan/Feb 2015. We can help you make the most of your CPS applications and help you cast a wide net!

    PreK, Elementary, and Middle School Parents (and anyone interested) can learn:
    How to successfully navigate CPS Admissions
    How to maximize your school choices among Magnet, Selective and Open Enrollment
    How to rank your selective enrollment selections
    Learn about the selection criteria for each type of school
    When and how will notifications be sent?
    What to do if you don’t get any of your choices?
    Q&A session
    Let Chicago School GPS help you maximize success on your Chicago school journey.

    All attendees will receive a hard copy of either the
    2015-2016 CPS Options for Knowledge Elementary or High School guides.

  • 563. 3rd grade parent - neighborhood school parent  |  November 18, 2014 at 12:19 pm

    re: ranking – then the public release of the cut-off scores would be very confusing. I think you are right and counselor is mistaken.

  • 564. SEHS ranking  |  November 18, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    This has been expressed to others as well this year (good friends of mine that are going thru this process for the 1st time year). Having done this before, I assumed they had misunderstood the counselor & an employee at CPS OAE. However, hearing this again makes me wonder if something has changed in the past year.

    Regarding ranking: Was the order Payton, NS, Whitney, Lane the preference of where child prefers to attend? I found that interesting as locations so varied; block schedules v. traditional schedules; large art dept v. limited art; etc…

  • 565. Chicago School GPS  |  November 18, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    I will say that regarding Principal’s Discretion, it can (not definitively) help that one’s #1 ranked school is the one you are applying to for Principal’s Discretion. It shows that you wanted them from day 1, hence, applying for PD. BUT, the other caveat is that there are so few spots for PD that really, most kids will be turned down a second time and whether or not they were passed over by someone with a hardship or a strong talent who didn’t rank it as #1 all along may happen.

    There is also a CPS Webinar hosted by Sherrie Green, from CPSOAE on Nov 24 from 5:30-6:30PM regarding HS Admissions. RSVP by emailing your full name and email address to sagreen3@cps.edu by Nov. 20 at noon. Use “CPS HS Webinar” in the subject line.

  • 566. SEHS ranking  |  November 18, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    @562 Yep, I pointed to that as well. She countered and said it was just an estimate of scores (even for the one that is released in Feb.). That it is still possible for my student to have a score higher than the cut-off for the released scores come this February and for them not to be selected if the ranking is not right.

    I thought that cut-off score was a hard and fast score (except for tie-breakers). That come February once the list is released, if you scored higher then you were in. Below you were not.

    I think CPS is conspiring to send me into an early death. This whole process has been soo crazy and stress filled.

  • 567. michele  |  November 18, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    @ 553 Thanks again for your thoughtful post. Input noted about the Press Release – none of us are PR professionals so we’ll have to work on that. I can appreciate the confusion that comes when finding High Schools that fit specific student needs in CPS. Our Committee did aggressively research all language High Schools and IB programs in the City and with the direction of CPS and several local University Language Professors it was concluded even though many High Schools claim International programs there currently are no CPS High Schools that have advanced second language studies as they would be envisioned at the Chicago Language Academy High School. And as I mentioned this is why language proficiency placement is needed for entrance into the High School.

    The Language Academy model would create a single place that offers advanced language curriculum for multiple foreign languages (French, Mandarin, Spanish, Arabic, Italian, German, and Japanese). The Curriculum is beyond current AP and/or heritage language that is offered across CPS High Schools. Many people may not know that the 2000 US census identified about 1 in 5 children over the age of 5 speak another language at home. It’s probably even more in our city. These heritage speakers and many students who have taken 5-9 years of second language (3+/wk) in Grade School enter CPS High Schools with the ability to take classes that are more challenging than the 3 yr AP classes or Heritage language that is available. And worse yet many times the CPS High School a student may get into doesn’t even have the language they took in Grade School.

    Through interviews we have heard stories of former Language Academy students in 3rd year AP High School second language classes that are bored, helping the teachers teach the class, and in many cases wondering why they would have to repeat the learning they already did in Grade School? These students ability to reach a higher literacy potential in another language is squandered.

    The Language Academy High School model is different in another important way, students at the Language Academy High School would be required to do their Service Learning Project in an immersive language environment. That is an Arabic language students would work on Service learning projects on-site in Arabic, Spanish language students would be required to work in only Spanish when they were at their service learning assignments, and so on for each language. These students would have an ability to use and practice their second language in real time.

    The Language Academy model in High School is very replicable and our hope is many of these types of High Schools could exist in the city. Our Committee’s goal is to be as inclusive as possible and we are working to help CPS and the city recognize that advanced second language learning is a way to unify students across the city, increase academic achievement, and increase High School student employability. We sincerely hope a High School like this one would benefit students just like your kids if they wish to continue their second language learning.

  • 568. Chicago School GPS  |  November 18, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    The counselor is wrong, unfortunately, which makes the process that much more confusing for parents trying their darnedest to do the right thing!

    The cut off scores are hotly anticipated each February, about a day to a week after the first round letters are mailed. The cannot release cutoff scores until that point because they are not ESTIMATES, they are true cutoff scores and they also include how many students were admitted according to rank and tiers.

    The thing they released early this fall was an estimate based on NWEA scores of the CPS students who were admitted via their ISATS but who had NWEA scores simply as a comparison, but is NOT what one expects to be cutoffs for this coming cohort.

  • 569. Chris  |  November 18, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    “(1) she saw an example just last year, where a student who had lower points/same tier, got in over a student with higher points that ranked it lower”

    and she knows the point totals and tiers because the actual letters were shred with her by parent/student?

    The sorting is done basically as follows (presuming that CPS does what they say they do–nothing public to verify, but I’m not into conspiracy theories, so I don’t doubt it, even tho it is probable that there has been an error sometime(s)):

    1. All students sorted highest “points” to lowest; overall, and by Tier.

    2. Student #1 gets into first ranked choice, etc, etc, until student #X has (say) Payton #1, but rank spots at Payton are full.

    3. Student #X gets a Tier spot at Payton; continue down list(s), by overall and Tier (with Student #(X+1) also getting into #1 choice), until Student #Y has (say) Payton ranked #1, but rank spots and tier spots for Student #Y’s tier are all full.

    4. Student #Y gets into her #2 choice, unless all rank and tier spots for her tier are taken. Then look to #3, etc., on her list until an open spot is available. If no spots available by rank or tier for a school on Student #Y’s list, then no offer.

    5. Repeat, until every spot, by rank and tier, is filled.

    If (using prior year cut scores) Student X ranks: Lane, Payton, Young, he will *not* get a Payton offer with a 900.

    If Student X+1 ranks: Young, Payton, Lane, she will always get Young, with a 899.

    Student X+15 ranks: Payton, Lane, Young, and has a 898, will get Payton, even with lower score/same tier as X and X+1.

    So, *YES* the ranking order matters. If one’s preference is solely “best possible school”, one should rank them in the precise order of “best” to “least best”–ie, (if “best” equals “SunTimes ranking”): NSCP, Young, Payton, Jones, Lane, Lindblom.

    If, instead, one wants Jones above all others, then you put Jones #1, because you might get Payton instead if you list it first (ah, to have such problems…).

    Again: If you are inclined to believe that CPS is manipulating the process, there’s nothing publicly available to prove you wrong. I, however, will believe that you are trafficking in conspiracy theories, as there is no actual evidence that CPS *is* manipulating the whole ranking/slotting system (as opposed to *maybe* making occasional errors, *especially* in data entry and test scoring), and it is difficult to make a comprehensive, consistent, scenario that makes systematic manipulation make sense.

  • 570. ELT  |  November 18, 2014 at 3:35 pm

    I think that’s right. If it’s really is as automated as CPS says it is how would SEHS counselors even play a role in the rank/tier selection process?

    What I have a hard time getting my arms around is the fact that (at least historically with the ISAT based scoring) the range of scores accepted at rank or any given tier was so small there must be a ton of overlap. For example, last year NS admitted 84 students at rank with scores between 900 and 897. Eighty-four students all scoring within 3 points of each other! I’ve seen CPS’s explanation for tie-breakers, but geez, how do they really distinguish student # 45 from student # 49, etc.?

  • 571. mom2  |  November 18, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    If they make a special high school for the various magnet language schools, then I guess they should make a special high school for Hawthorne and other high performing scholastic magnet schools. After all, they must be doing something right to be able to have such great test scores without the selective element of other schools ranking at the top in Illinois. How are they able to do that when they pull from all areas of the city? Why not imitate the best but at the high school level. It would make yet another amazing high school in the city.

    Of course, then they should make a special high school for all the magnet cluster type schools with a specific focus. Then a special high school for all the neighborhood middle schools that are high performing…Oh, wait. That would be your neighborhood high school. But it isn’t because they let other not high performing people in there so the original people no longer want to attend. Isn’t this getting a bit ridiculous?

  • 572. SEHS ranking  |  November 18, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    Thanks everyone for the input. I will go with what is reported here which is what I thought was true in the first place.

    @568 There is no “conspiracy theories” being pushed here. Just reporting what was told to me by a CPS counselor that has been with the system 10+ years, and whose opinion we value highly. It is just a complete head scratcher that she has it wrong. She very much believed she was absolutely correct and felt prior experience with other 8th grade classes showed that she was right.

    And no, I didn’t ask how she knew the scores, I am assuming the students reported it back. It is not out the realm of possibility that someone fibbed. But I am also wondering if the difference in scores that she saw, lower scoring person getting in over a higher scoring person is attributed to the secret NCLB admits. Those NCLB admits could be pulled based on how they ranked their choices. Not sure, and just throwing out guesses on this.

  • 573. pantherparent  |  November 18, 2014 at 5:08 pm

    @571 Unless you actually see the score, take any self-reporting with a large grain of salt. Kids have been known to embellish their scores when talking with others. Rather than say, “I got 875 and since I didn’t get into Northside, I’m going to Notre Dame,” they say “I got 895 and could have gone to Northside, but chose Notre Dame instead.”

    If a student had a score that qualified for a certain school based on the published numbers, don’t you think it would have come up here or in the paper or somewhere?

    Rank your schools in order of preference.

  • 574. Ranking System  |  November 18, 2014 at 5:23 pm

    @ 572: That’s a good point. There’s a lot of transparency around the SEHS cutoff scores. If students with scores that would have qualified given the publicly reported cutoffs, I’d expect we’d hear about it here. Only way, I think, for the scenario claimed by the guidance counselor to be true and not detectable from the public data is if CPS reported a falsely higher cutoff score.

  • 575. Chris  |  November 18, 2014 at 5:47 pm

    ELT: ” how do they really distinguish student # 45 from student # 49, etc.?”

    That’s a very fair question–I know that there is a like 5 step tie-breaker (been posted here in the past) for *elementary* but dunno about HS.

    @570: “There is no “conspiracy theories” being pushed here.”

    *by you* certainly not. There have been folks who speculate about CPS ‘juking the stats’ and I was just trying to avoid going down that hole–if someone’s going to believe that, whatever, but I will deem them kookoo.

  • 576. Chris  |  November 18, 2014 at 5:52 pm


    ” the secret NCLB admits”

    The NCLB admits aren’t really secret, but the method of selection at least sort of is.

    If there have been 2 T1 kids at the same Elem, and the lower scoring one ends up at Payton/NSCP thru NCLB, I have to imagine the higher scoring one is at Young or Jones, and the Payton/NSCP offer came late enough that “they” offered it to the kid who was headed for the ‘non-big-4’ school otherwise–more total T1 kids in Big 4.

  • 577. @575. Chris  |  November 18, 2014 at 6:22 pm


  • 578. Chicago School GPS  |  November 18, 2014 at 6:26 pm

    The SEHS tie breaker is outlined by CPSOAE:

    “As one might imagine, when testing so many students, numerous applicants achieve the same number of total points. To differentiate between these students, tiebreakers are used that include the core percentile on the admissions exam, and the individual sections of the entrance exam (e.g., reading comprehension, vocabulary, etc.). This allows us to rank the students with identical total points from top to bottom.

    The order of the tiebreaker is the following:

    Core total
    Reading comprehension
    Language arts”

  • 579. Chris  |  November 18, 2014 at 6:33 pm

    576: “DCS?”

    I do not understand.

    577: Thanks!

    That said, when you have (say) 100 kids with (say) 895, isn’t there a reasonable likelihood that there is at east one pair with identical raw scores (and thus, presumably, %iles) on each segment of the entrance exam, and a possibility that the difference matters–if 895 is the cutline, and the line falls on the truly identical pair, what do they do? Alphabetical? Younger? Coin flip?

  • 580. ELT  |  November 18, 2014 at 6:39 pm

    @578 That’s my point as well. Those 5 criteria still results in a ton of overlap when you’re talking about that number of students with scores in such a tight range.

    If the “hypothetical” cut off rubric using NWEA scores is accurate, one positive outcome of using the MAP test as part of the 900 point total is that creates a much broader range of scores. Maybe this will reduce the piling up that requires the tie breaking process.

  • 581. Chris  |  November 18, 2014 at 7:06 pm

    ELT: “If the “hypothetical” cut off rubric using NWEA scores is accurate, one positive outcome of using the MAP test as part of the 900 point total is that creates a much broader range of scores”

    Yep, if the estimates are at all accurate, that seems somewhat likely, as you’d have kids getting Payton ‘rank’ offers with 88x scores, which admits kids with less than 99s on one or more of the component tests–while still advantage those with a 99 on the SE test.

  • 582. pantherparent  |  November 18, 2014 at 7:07 pm

    @578, 579 No, it’s highly unlikely that ties occur all the way down. They used to use date of birth after the 5 tiebreakers but from an email I kept from Karen Hansberry at CPS.

    “Regarding the date of birth, an older student would be ranked above a younger student. Please note, however, that the tiebreaking procedures related to subject areas are sufficient to create a ranked list of students that have the same score; the date of birth tiebreaker has not yet been needed.”

  • 583. parent  |  November 18, 2014 at 7:23 pm

    It truly is better now than before, Some students would get multiple offers and other students with equal credentials would get none. If you did not put WYHS first, you had no chance of getting in there because Joyce Kenner held it against you. I remember my son really loved Lane, liked NSCP, wasn’t thrilled with WYHS and hated Jones. I knew that he would get into Lane but thought he might change his mind about WYHS. As I recall, we put WYHS first and then Ron Huberman announced that you would get ONE offer. My son was frantic and I had to go to central office and change his ranking and put Lane first. As it turned out, that year he would have gotten into Payton based on the numbers but we never even considered it because we thought he would not have a chance and it would not be a good fit. That was the year they also abolished the penalty for sick days since kids were going to school sick. . . That was also the year that Kenner got a grand jury subpoena to testify about her selection process . . .

  • 584. Anxious but hopeful  |  November 18, 2014 at 7:51 pm

    @582 And did the story have a happy ending? Did your son love Lane? I hope so! Lane has so much to offer.

  • 585. michele  |  November 18, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    @570 Interestingly CPS does have many High Schools set up for advanced studies of magnet Grade School content. There are early Science and Mathematics schools, like Michele Clark, Corliss, Goode Stem, and Lakeview – they are focused on Stem studies. Then there’s Von Stuben a Math and Science Academy. There’s also CHI Arts as an audition in school for performing arts. Of course Lane Tech was the original CPS selective High School that was set up decades ago with a specialty for students to develop trade skills. My point CPS recognizes the need to extend specialized learning from Grade School into High School. The proposed Language Academy High School builds on this tradition. As noted there are 4 main Language Academies, 40+ World Language Magnet Clusters, and many more Dual Language schools and ESL learners in CPS. I would guess there are more students who are learning or speaking a second language in CPS than all the combined STEM and Performing Arts students – so a High School that offers advanced second language makes sense.. Hawthorne is a great school and I assume students there and other Scholastic Magnets will generally be preparing for Selective Enrollment High Schools and getting in.

  • 586. parent  |  November 18, 2014 at 7:56 pm

    @583 Yes–it was good fit. I agree with the posters of a few weeks ago–I preferred the Lane under the former administration but it is a great school with tons of extracurriculars and wonderful teachers and an amazing array of course selections. Actually, both my kids really wanted to go to Loyola Academy but they went to CPS.

  • 587. Chris  |  November 18, 2014 at 8:18 pm


    I don’t disbelieve you at all, but this:

    “Regarding the date of birth, an older student would be ranked above a younger student.”

    seems counter-intuitive.

  • 588. SoxSideIrish4  |  November 19, 2014 at 3:37 am

    568. Chris | November 18, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    Thanks for taking the time to write that out. I wish everyone would read it to understand the selection process.

    586. Chris | November 18, 2014 at 8:18 pm

    Panterhparent is correct~in case of a tie, an older student would be ranked above a younger one (by birthdate, even by one day).

  • 589. HS Mom  |  November 19, 2014 at 8:14 am

    At one point (and I don’t know if this is still true) CPS said that the numbers of students with the same cut off score was not as large as you think. Depending on the size of that group and their policy of “overbooking” they would likely take the whole group in or leave the whole group out. I know people have posted that they did not get in due to tiebreakers. This may be more of an issue at a school like Northside that has tight enrollment. If they have say a 95% (made up number) rate of acceptance/enrollment they would be inclined to have fewer “extra” offers. The tiebreaker may not be something to obsess over.

    Now counselors giving 8th graders misinformation is another story. @SEHS ranking – it’s a pure point system…..that has not changed.

  • 590. cpsobsessed  |  November 19, 2014 at 9:43 am

    @michele, re the Language high school:
    So for the many chicago kids who are bilingual, would they be likely to get entry into the school? Say a child speaks english and spanish, parents speak spanish at home.
    Does that qualify? (I’m assuming the child would test well on spanish proficiency.)

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 591. cpsobsessed  |  November 19, 2014 at 9:47 am

    @sehs ranking: jumping in late here as I read backwards:

    There always seems to be some people who remain convinced that the way you rank schools matters. I blv that USED to matter in cps and some people still think it’s like sorority rush where you can get “cross cut” or something. (You rank sorority A #1 and sorority B #2 and they pick you vice versa so you get in nowhere.). Which also didn’t actually work that way.
    It’s like a decades old urban myth that perpertuates.

    The ranking system now works very efficiently and fairly (IMO).

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 592. cpsobsessed  |  November 19, 2014 at 9:54 am

    Just another conspiracy buster:
    If cps is somehow letting kids into a school with a lower score as a kid rejected with the same score/tier — how would they be deciding which lower-scoring student gets the spot? I’d like to know more details about this supposed issue.
    Why did THAT lower scoring student get in and not 100 others?

    I suspect a counselor could be unclear about a kid’s actual tier (making assumptions, parents lied and didn’t tell kid, family moved.). I don’t know that anyone in an admin/counselor spot has access to tier info by kid.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 593. michele  |  November 19, 2014 at 9:56 am

    @589 At this HS there would have to be by design a placement test done – and yes every child who is eligible to attend High School in Chicago that speaks/writes a second language that’s offered can take the placement test. CPS already does has tests that High school students can take to show their second language proficiency. The difference is there would be more advanced language choices at this High School so students once they graduate could receive the new IL Seal of Bi-literacy. What happens now a student who speaks say advanced French takes a placement test and if the school they attend happens to have AP French she/he’ll place in. But a lot of times the AP choice is not there, even when AP class selection is there we have heard from students taking the French AP classes that these classes are not very challenging because the student may already have had 8 years already of French in grade school so the AP class just wasn’t developed with advanced second language speakers in mind. Same goes for Spanish speakers, Mandarin speakers etc… Hope this answered your question. Happy to respond to any others,. Thanks,

  • 594. cps mommy  |  November 19, 2014 at 10:11 am

    @michelle—too bad for my kid who reads/speaks a heritage language that is not offered. 😦

  • 595. mom2  |  November 19, 2014 at 10:11 am

    @michele – not everyone that attends scholastic magnets gets into selective enrollment high schools. Not even at Hawthorne.

    So, with this language high school, is the only criteria for admission passing a foreign language test? In other words, could someone that has C’s and D’s in math and science and social studies be admitted just because they are fluent in two languages?

  • 596. North Side Parent  |  November 19, 2014 at 11:39 am

    2 quick things:

    1. Do not use the CPS reported “Bilingual” data relative to language fluency, it is a euphemism for students that do not pass the “English Language Learner” screen. The # of “Bilingual” students declines dramatically as they get older. (~30% in 1st grade, ~10% in 5th grade, ~5% in 12th grade.

    2. I believe that at least some magnets (like Hawthorne) have neighborhood preference (40% of seats within 1.5 miles of school). Given that it’s located in the heart of Lincoln Park, that explains some of its out performance since those children necessarily have relatively wealthy parents.

  • 597. michele  |  November 20, 2014 at 10:08 am

    @594 RE:Language Academy High School – Yes C students who pass the required proficiency test in another language certainly could be selected to attend the Language Academy High School. The proficiency exam that CPS gives currently measures not only second language vocabulary skills but also second language literacy skills (sentence syntax, verb tense etc..) so if a student who passes an exam that says they are highly skilled in vocabulary and literacy in another language would be a fair indicator that they could successfully complete the required 4 years of advanced language learning in their chosen language.

    To answer about the D student question, it’s my understanding as of today, CPS magnet High Schools have a minimum stanine score for entry. I really can not speak fully to how that stanine score is applied for entry but what I do understand the way it is set up – a magnet High School would exclude the lowest performing students – I assume this to mean F students and probably most D students (though not sure about all Ds). Anyone who knows more about this requirement can comment.

    I do think it would be fair to say that more motivated students may apply because of the additional language requirements and immersive second language service learning requirement for graduation. @595 and I absolutely agree you can’t use the CPS funding term “bi-lingual” as a synonym for advanced Language learners – this is why there needs to be some sort of test to demonstrate advanced second language literacy skills.

    Admissions to the Language Academy High School I assume will be somewhat competitive because it will be more inclusive than a standard Selective Enrollment High School – as there are a lot of students who may demonstrate advanced literacy skills in their heritage language and there are a fair amount of students in CPS’s second language classes (Language Academies, Magnet Language Clusters, Dual Language schools) in CPS as well as all the private schools that may offer rigorous second language.

    Right now though all of the students who demonstrate these advanced second language skills will have a hard time in CPS’s HIgh Schools finding a place where they can academically demonstrate and expand their advanced second language skills enough to obtain early college credit and special consideration for admissions to University International Studies Programs.

    Below is a link to research from the American Council of Teaching Foreign Languages – towards the end of the article you’ll see references to increases in ACT/SAT scores for students who have studied second language. This Language Academy High School mission is to allow students, even C students, who demonstrate a strong desire to advance their second language skills to have a chance at a great global education in CPS. There’s a lot of research to support that these kids will do well in High School and beyond. Thanks!


  • 598. Another "selective" high school?  |  November 20, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    Darn. I promised I wouldn’t engage again. But I do want the question answered. Will all Language Academy (LaSalle I & II, Andrew Jackson, and Murray) students have automatic entry as long as they pass the proficiency exam? It may be a moot point as they are the lucky few who have had 9 years of language instruction on things like sentence syntax, verb tense etc. But I DO want the question answered directly.

    Second, I feel like you’re really insulting the AP programs of neighborhood high schools to suggest they cannot deliver on foreign language like this “new” school can. And as far as the “submersion,” does that mean all these fortunate kids get to go away to foreign countries at the taxpayers’ expense? What does the submersion mean? I know many language academy kids go to foreign countries in 8th grade. Most kids are lucky (VERY LUCKY as most kids don’t go anywhere at CPS) to go to Washington D.C. Very lucky.

    I am really done with the whole idea that the neighborhood programs aren’t good enough for everyone. I really challenge you to give me proof that the foreign language AP-level instruction isn’t good enough to merit your comment:

    “Right now though all of the students who demonstrate these advanced second language skills will have a hard time in CPS’s HIgh Schools finding a place where they can academically demonstrate and expand their advanced second language skills enough to obtain early college credit and special consideration for admissions to University International Studies Programs.”

    I took AP classes in high school and received college credit. That is what AP is for. I had the opportunity to study in a foreign country in college based simply on my AP language learning at a non-selective high school.I challenge you to find a decent (mid-level to Harvard) college or university that does NOT offer that. I don’t believe your assertion.

    For the last time (I promise), you let a very limited number of CPS students study a foreign language (via a lottery) for 9 years then tell other CPS students you aren’t good enough in a foreign language (even if you’re bilingual, you may not have studies syntax, sentence structure, etc.) to gain admittance to this school. How in the GLOBAL existence is this fair?

    You begged me. I’ll beg you. PLEASE stop trying to form new high schools and concentrate great programs (like language) at EVERY neighborhood ELEMENTARY and high school. Language shouldn’t be a right for the very few. This effort is simply an effort on the part of the Language Academy parents to build their own high school. Heck, you’re even calling it the “Language Academy High School.”

    I promise not to engage again. But I’m happy to see I”m not the only one to question this effort. I am sorry that I got sucked back in.

  • 599. mom2  |  November 20, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    Maybe CPS should just make all schools k-12. Then, once you find the school you like for elementary, you are set until college. I’m tired of all this.

  • 600. HS Mom  |  November 20, 2014 at 8:35 pm

    @597 – “I know many language academy kids go to foreign countries in 8th grade. Most kids are lucky (VERY LUCKY as most kids don’t go anywhere at CPS) to go to Washington D.C. Very lucky.”

    Do you actually believe that CPS pays money to send kids to foreign countries…..8th grade, HS or otherwise?? Hah

    Believe me, if you want to send your kids on these trips, you pay. Our lang. Acd. wouldn’t even let us fund raise on school grounds. At best, maybe some of these schools, like LaSalle, that provides 7th grade European trips for all would have their own fundraising for this.

    Who goes to Washington?

  • 601. Language  |  November 20, 2014 at 8:42 pm

    HS mom – I’m curious about your fundraising comment. Sorry to sidetrack. But are you saying that your cps school doesn’t allow fundraising on school grounds at all? Or are you saying no fundraising for special trips – like an 8th grade only trip? Just curious.

    I agree with you – I’ve never seen a trip paid for by CPS. The parents pay/fundraise.

  • 602. HS Mom  |  November 20, 2014 at 9:04 pm

    They would not allow (talking 4 years ago, not sure the same) fundraising for foreign language trips. At the time, out of 5 languages, only one was taking a trip because it required a lot of work on the part of the teacher – planning/organizing and preparing students. They felt it was unfair to the kids who did not have the option for a trip.

  • 603. HSObsessed  |  November 21, 2014 at 9:31 am

    Here’s a DNA Info article on the proposed new language high school. I didn’t know LaSalle is now offering Arabic and Urdu?


  • 604. LaSalle mom  |  November 21, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    I think the story is wrong. LaSalle offers Spanish, Mandarin, Italian and French. LaSalle II offers Arabic. If any CPS elementary school offers formal instruction in Urdu I want to know about it! 🙂

    And to the parent who keeps asking about admissions to the proposed world language high school–look, I actually agree with you that every neighborhood elementary and high school should have strong language programs. If our Level I elementary school actually had formal instruction in Spanish we would be there in a New York minute.

    And it seems pointless at this stage to harp on admissions policy for a school that isn’t even real yet. If the high school had 1200 kids that would be 300 entering freshmen a year.

    LaSalle graduates about 60 8th-graders a year and from school enrollment sizes that seems to be the same for Jackson, Murray and LaSalle II. So that is 240 potential applicants–but likely not all of them would apply. I assume it would be a specialty high school like ChiArts, which has a minimum 5th stanine requirement plus an audition. Maybe the language academy would have the test baseline requirement plus the language exam?

    So would the top 50 scorers on six different language exams get in? If it’s selective they would use the tier system as well, right? It could get pretty complicated.

    A lot about who goes there would depend on the school’s location. Perhaps my fellow language academy parents would disagree, but I would hope such a high school would be located somewhere south of Roosevelt Road to give South Siders a fairer shot at getting there.

  • 605. 7thGradeParent  |  November 21, 2014 at 5:27 pm

    I am curious for some feedback on programs at some of the SE schools. My daughter is in 7th grade, with grades/scores good enough to take a shot at WY/NS/P/J. My daughters’ interests are orchestra and drama. Anyone have any insight on how the schools compare on the music/drama/theater front?

  • 606. fine arts  |  November 21, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    Lane has a wonderful music program. There is orchestra and band, beginning, intermediate, advanced and symphonic. There is also a guitar program I hear that WY has a very strong music program but it is extremely competitive. Jones has excellent drama and choral programs but the instrumental program is weak.Lincoln Park has an excellent music program.

  • 607. Touring  |  November 21, 2014 at 8:28 pm

    Back to applying…

    Anyone else surprised by your kid’s rank choices? Do you feel that school reputation sways their opinions (too much)?

  • 608. ELT  |  November 22, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    If your student is taking an afternoon SEHS exam at Lane give yourself A LOT of extra time to get there. We live a little over 2 miles away and it took almost an hour to get there today. Part of the problem is that there is some work being done on Western. The bigger problem is that there are as many cars trying to get out of the parking lot as there are trying to get. Car’s were pulling in front of each other, doing U turns in the middle of traffic, and cutting each other off. It was truly embarrassing. Just one person directing traffic (a la the Open House a few weeks ago) would have made a huge difference. Come on CPS.

  • 609. ELT  |  November 22, 2014 at 9:51 pm

    Also I’m told the rooms were really hot and the proctors would not let the kids eat a snack at break. Not biggies but dress in layers and don’t count on that mid-test Hersey bar.

  • 610. far northsider  |  November 23, 2014 at 10:33 am

    @607 – For anyone headed to Lane for exams or future open houses – if you want to avoid the parking lot there’s usually a decent amount of parking spaces available on the streets just east of Westerm (Claremont, Oakley, Bell). Short walk, less stress.

  • 611. HS HS  |  November 27, 2014 at 11:28 am

    Has anyone received sehs test scores? Was it worth it to take it early?

  • 612. MLD  |  November 28, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    @610 several of my child’s classmates took the SEHS test on 10/25 or 11/22. Those that took it on 10/25 have received their results. One of the primary benefits of taking treys early is having it OVER. Also it could be helpful in deciding how big of net needs to be cast.

    IMP math…my older child has IMP math & based on his improvement over 1 year on the ACT math section I tend to believe it has been helpful for my non-mathy child. Last year as freshman he scored 22 on ACT math section; this year same child scored 30 after year of HS IMP math. Perhaps child would have achieved same improvement with a traditional math program but IMP program is certainly not hurting. Just thought I would share for those curious/worried about IMP math program.

  • 613. vb  |  December 1, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    @608 “proctors would not let the kids eat a snack at break.”

    I predicted that. I sent my child with granola bars in his pants pockets. He went to the bathroom and ate them in the bathroom after washing his hands.

  • 614. Alcott information please  |  December 1, 2014 at 4:02 pm

    Why the extreme difference in racial make-up at Alcott grade school and Alcott high school?

  • 615. 7thGradeParent  |  December 1, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    How many hours long is the SE test?

  • 616. ELT  |  December 1, 2014 at 8:52 pm

    @613 There are a number of factors but it basically comes down to the fact that Alcott College Prep East (the primary/middle school) is a neighborhood school which in recent years has increasingly drawn the majority of its population from the Lincoln Park neighborhood in which it resides. ACP West, the High School is a city wide lottery.

    Alcott East students are granted automatic admission to West.However, the graduating classes from East are much smaller than the freshman classes at West. So even if every Alcott 8th grader went to West it wouldn’t fill the school.

    In the past couple of years about 30% of East eight graders become West Freshman. The remainder go to SEHS, LPHS (which is the “neighborhood” HS for those residing in East’s boundaries) other CPS schools or leave CPS altogether.

  • 617. Alcott information please  |  December 2, 2014 at 10:14 am

    Thank you. Any insights on why only 30% select Alcott High when they could automatically get in?

  • 618. SoLoMo  |  December 5, 2014 at 11:13 am

    Nov. 22nd SEHS exam test-takers: Check your mailboxes today and tomorrow. CPS OAE mailed result letters yesterday!

  • 619. vb  |  December 5, 2014 at 5:30 pm

    @614 – The SE test is 3 and one half hours long.

  • 620. Anxious but hopeful  |  December 5, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    We did indeed receive our letter for the November 22 test today–thank you SoLoMo for letting us know to watch the mailbox. I definitely recommend the early testing dates. It is such a relief to have this over with and know the results!

  • 621. Final HS point totals  |  December 6, 2014 at 5:05 pm

    @619 agree

    Now that scores from SEHS test (Oct. & Nov. test dates) have arrived does anyone have any reason to believe final point totals will *actually* be any lower this year after change to MAP test? Chatter in my child’s class has shown many 890s up…including perfect 900s.

  • 622. Anxious but hopeful  |  December 6, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    I think it’s really hard to tell. There haven’t been a lot of people posting on this thread with their child’s MAP scores, which were the real wild card, so there isn’t much anecdotal data here (not that anecdotal data is reliable). My daughter pulled a 900 (we are so very relieved–I need to change my cpsobsessed handle!) and I know of another student from a different school who did as well. They both worked hard for those results, but at the same time it wasn’t really out of character for either of them, so I don’t think there’s score inflation present there. I don’t know about any other students’ scores at this point.

  • 623. Final HS point totals  |  December 6, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    @621 congrats! Has your daughter decided where she would like to attend? My child is leaning towards Jones but has not finalized.

  • 624. I think I'm relieved  |  December 6, 2014 at 5:48 pm

    @621 I think you’re right, the NWEA is the unknown. My daughter scored 300 on the SEHS and is 886 total (tier 4). She’s focused on NSCP (as I think I recall your daughter is) so we’re really hoping that the CPS “revised” cutoff prove to me (more) accurate than last years scores using ISAT.

  • 625. Anxious but hopeful  |  December 6, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    @622 Thank you! Yes, she has been excited about NSCP for a long time, so she is thrilled that it’s really going to happen. We submitted the application last night. 🙂

    @623 I think 886 is definitely still right in the thick of it this year. I do think the numbers will drop–it’s just really hard to know by how much. There’s no way the ISATs were asking 7th graders trigonometry questions, but those were the first questions that came up for my daughter on the CPS-administered math MAP. It’s a really different test.

  • 626. NSCP PARENT  |  December 6, 2014 at 6:12 pm

    Congrats to all and to 621/623. My son is a sophomore at NSCP and it is really a great school. Kids can just be themselves. Also the one thing that has impressed me is just how nice all the kids and their families are. Forget about all stats/rankings of the school…..just such a great/positive place to learn. Teachers are really exceptional…..at least so far….):.

  • 627. Final HS point totals  |  December 6, 2014 at 8:03 pm

    @625 NSCP parent

    Thanks for sharing! It sounds like your child is very happy. Has your child always had a positive attitude towards school & academic pursuits?

  • 628. vb  |  December 6, 2014 at 8:31 pm

    ATTENTION: If you had your child retake the MAP test in order to replace the spring MAP score with the fall MAP score – check to ensure that CPS is actually using the fall MAP score. I checked… CPS is NOT using the fall MAP score for my child.

    CPS does not print the MAP test score, or the score from 7th grade, on the SEHS scoring letter so you have to do the calculations yourself in order to check the numbers.

  • 629. SoLoMo  |  December 7, 2014 at 12:12 am

    I am also very skeptical about the NWEA scores lowering the cutoffs for this year. Both my kids got higher 7th grade NWEA percentiles than prior ISATs. Daughter got letter today with 900 total, son got his yesterday with 897 (due to 97% Reading NWEA). They are both selecting Jones #1. Lane Tech might have otherwise been #1, but is just too far. NSCP even further, so didn’t even attend open house.

    Culturally, felt rest of “big 4” were bad fit. I’m sure we are in the minority, since I’ve never heard the following concerns, but here goes. For Payton, the main presentation felt like a east coast prep school–of four major student speaking/soloist roles, three were white males and only one a female and person of color. School chose to highlight the all male a capella for a performance, which was also predominantly white. Kinda unthinking to distribute the key leadership roles so unevenly if you want to convey that you’re a diverse school, esp. since their demographics are better than what they chose to highlight in the plenary (but worst of the big 4, at least from my perspective). Rigor also was an issue for my son and daughter, who were less impressed with the English Language Arts and Social Studies which are their interests. Finally, language department head blew off our question about possibilities for Arabic by responding, “call me if your kids get in.” So, open house really did not show Payton very well to my kids.

    Whitney Young felt too rah-rah (School of Champions to be sure!), like a pep rally and all that goes along with that, including a performances by the Pom Pon? squad attired in form-fitting one-shoulder crop tops & yoga pants writhing to, of all selections, “Anaconda”! (“My Anaconda don’t want none unless you got buns hun”). My budding feminist daughter would not be caught dead at any school that thought it was appropriate to recruit students with such a traditionally gendered and truly cringeworthy display. Judging from adult responses around me, I don’t think we were alone in this reaction. Competitive hard-sell by principal minimizing metrics that lowered WY’s relative ranking with Big 4 was a bit of a turn-off, while lobbying hard for #1 ranking from propsective applicants.

    We are intrigued by LPHS IB whose presentation exceed our expectations, but no one in the administration ever responded to my e-mail to inquire about demographic breakdown within the IB diploma program itself, since only aggregate LPHS was accessible, and we fear segregation within the school. I guess I can still try to get answers at the IB Info Session, but doesn’t speak well in terms of responsiveness. In contrast, when I called Friday to set up an appointment to talk with Principal Powers at Jones, he took the call on the spot and answered all my questions. I’m delighted to hear that JCP has recently been approved for AP Capstone (akin to IB Diploma).

    Good luck to all. I won’t be surprised if the cutoffs are significantly higher this year than those suggested by CPS OAE. But given the wealth of great options throughout CPS, there should be a viable option for anyone who has done their due diligence.

  • 630. Anxious but hopeful  |  December 7, 2014 at 12:46 am

    Congratulations, @628! I agree that you definitely have to go with your kid’s gut on the fit question. My daughter ranked Northside first because of her interests, but Lane was her solid second choice. We didn’t even tour at Whitney or Payton. The sports culture at Whitney wasn’t a good fit for her and Payton doesn’t give off the quirky vibe that Northside does. Jones sounds great, but it was out because they don’t offer Latin–that was a deal breaker for her. Lane is a convenient location for us and it offers so many electives, plus it has Science Olympiad. The only real downside was the scale of Lane was a little intimidating for a kid with some executive functioning challenges. I was concerned about that.

    In any event, she wasn’t particularly motivated by the school rankings–she was more interested in being in the place that felt like she would fit in. Observing and participating in Certamen competitions at Northside gave her the confidence that it was the best fit, but Lane was a great option if Northside didn’t work out.

    I guess the thing is that every student is different, and the best fit for one won’t be the best fit for another. And I’m guessing most kids’ instincts are pretty good.

  • 631. NSCP Parent  |  December 7, 2014 at 8:13 am

    626. Yes. My son has always had an interest in learning. He had a good foundation at his elementary and middle school but the kids there were just ok. He is the only kid from his school to go to NS and he is finding making friends easy. Everyday his confidence grows and just talking to him and his friends you can tell they “think” on a different level. They all seem to have some sort of interest either collecting coins or music etc etc.

  • 632. lkosova  |  December 7, 2014 at 8:31 am

    628. You nailed it with your assessment’s! We have been through this twice now. Dr. Powers is a wonderful person. My daughter was accepted there 4 years ago and met with him. He knew all the kids names and you just see there is a natural feeling of caring. Know many kids there and they all love the school. Go with your kids and your gut feelings. Our school told us to “trust” our kids opinions also. She ended up going to Chicago Academy of the arts high school due to her interests but Jones would of been a great school for her also.

    I will say though my son had been going to WY since he was in 5th grade to play after school with their chess team (he is at NS and they finally just beat WY in chess). The kids there are really nice, I would get lost there and they would take me by the hand and walk me right to the room I need to go to……..):

    We live Addison and Ashland area and getting to NS or Payton would of only been 30 minutes with son taking “el” to bus. NS was just a natural fit. We all felt right at home compared to Payton. Open houses are very hard. Some schools you really don’t get a sense of who they really are. NS open house to us a few years back was just crazy in the halls but once we got into the rooms we could see the intelligence of the teachers and the organization of the school. The only other school that came close to us in terms of academics was Lincoln IB. We know many families that went there. Just compared to NS the rooms were really hot, mostly smaller rooms and talking to people that went there seemed that they just got homework for the sake of home work, a lot of it.

  • 633. NSCP parent  |  December 7, 2014 at 9:28 am

    629. Quirky vibe….ha….

    One parent told me that at NS the kids are just wired differently….

    If your daughter has Exec. Func issues (heh, they called that just a messy room when I was a kid….lol) I think you will find the teachers at NS amazing resources for help. If your kid has an iep/504 or not, they are there to help. As a Freshman, the teachers sent out a survey of sorts to my son and us asking us what type of learner he was. He is the type of kid that if you ask a question he needs some time to answer it so don’t ask him for an answer right after asking a question. The teachers told us that “a lot” of the kids are like that so they propose a question or idea and let it sink in then go for answers. I was told this is what they do in college also.

    My point is if you let the teachers know early, they will do whatever to help her keep on track if needed. Plus on Wed with Colloquim the students in the afternoon can get help with any subjects etc needed. This is really a great thing they do. It is not looked down upon to go for extra help. I think at NS it is just expected and why the kids do so well there.

    Also don’t have her or you freak out if she does not get all “A’s” and if that is what she is used to. My son was used to all “A’s ” in Middle school. His counselor told me there is an adjustment period at NS and usually in the first year. Plus the classes are suppose to be challenging not easy. Getting a 89 is a B and 90 an A. My son got a B in Java and when I asked him about that he looked at me and said” Dad, it was really hard for me”…..man made me look stupid!! But when he did some engineering programs at universities last summer he said the Java he did learn really help set him apart in what they were learning.

  • 634. Anxious but hopeful  |  December 7, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    @632 That’s fantastic to hear. My daughter has ADHD and she’s on the slower processing side for some things, but since we’re not in CPS right now we haven’t gotten the 504 in place.

    Fortunately, she’s used to being pushed pretty hard at her current school so I don’t think it will be too shocking for her. She’s doing physics right now and it’s kicking her behind, but that’s OK. 🙂

  • 635. Pat  |  December 7, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    I’m relieved to see I’m not the only one who just does not like the vibe of Payton. I took my nieces to their open house last year and we left completely turned off. Some of their administrators also seemed very snarky.

  • 636. Stuck  |  December 7, 2014 at 10:34 pm

    We have the good kind of problem. Score should be good enough to get in anywhere but child in a quandary about what to rank first. Have gone through transportation issues, extracurricular options, etc. trying to decide between northside, Payton and jones. Child didn’t get a strong feeling for anyone over the other. So hard to do at those open houses. Probably would be happy at any but want child to feel confident about first choice. Kind of a nerdy, geeky kid.

  • 637. parent  |  December 7, 2014 at 10:41 pm

    @628 if Tookey is still at LPIB, I would follow up–you sound like a good fit there

    @635 shortest and easiest commute

  • 638. NSCP Parent  |  December 7, 2014 at 10:58 pm

    Nerdy, geeky kid….well welcome to Northside…..LOL):

    We live exactly between NS and Payton but son gave up playing football at Payton for better academics and chess team at NS. Also look at the block scheduling vs not. My son loves that he can get some of his homework done at school due to this. Trust me, playing a lot of PS4 at home since most of his homework is done.

    Jones is great and copying a lot of the NS curriculum but just not the same. Overall academic culture Is different. I know families at all the schools,, so just speaking from experience.

  • 639. SoLoMo  |  December 8, 2014 at 1:56 am

    On making hard choices between two seemingly even “on a par” options, I find philosopher Ruth Chang’s viral TED talk helpful. She encourages us to look inside ourselves to find the answer to hard choices, since the dilemma posed by “on a par” hard decisions cannot be solved by external metrics (otherwise they would not be “on a par”). Thus, one should feel empowered to support a hard decision with self-created reasons (who do I want to become through this decision), thereby enhancing the likelihood of self-actualization.

    Transcript here:

    Video here:

    On the specific “hard choice” of NSCP v. Payton v. Jones, I will say this about NSCP. It seems from “anecdata” on this board that parents and students love it, and the teachers and resources sound ideal. But I cannot get past this key aspect–the single digit percentage for African American students (same problem at Lane Tech) in a city like Chicago. Since my kids are currently at a CPS school that is predominantly Latino and African American, this would be a sad loss of “critical mass” diversity. And I suggest this is not merely a political or cultural concern, but one of sound educational process if we take economist Scott Page’s work on complexity and diversity seriously–i.e., diversity enhances complex decision-making and productivity.

    See: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/08/science/08conv.html

    Thanks, @636 for the suggestion to contact Ms. Tookey at LP IB, but she was one of the administrators I e-mail over a month ago with no reply. I did hear wonderful things about her!

  • 640. pantherettie  |  December 8, 2014 at 7:01 am

    @SoLoMa – Thanks for the interesting links on decision making and diversity. I read the interview with Scott Page and found his data backed theories about the utility and purpose of diversity compelling. I definately plan to share it IRL. I also found your statement about the lack of racial diversity at NSCP to be refreshing on this board. I’ve heard many parents on this board point to the lack of diversity at schools like Brooks as Lindblom as reasons why their kid ‘wouldn’t fit’ into the school culture – and I understand and respect this perspective. It’s just nice to hear another perspective which points to the fact that a public school in Chicago, with a CPS population that is overwhelmingly AA and Latino, that has such a small percentage of AA/Latino kids students lacks diversity and this lack of diversity plays a role in decision making for parents. Thank you!

  • 641. Patricia  |  December 8, 2014 at 3:29 pm

    @638 According to the CPS website, Lane is 8.9% AA as you point out. I would also point out that it is 44.4% Hispanic. My son attends the AC at Lane and it certainly looks like and feels like a truly diverse school IMO. Besides the sea of wonderful young faces of different races, religions, styles, etc. It is very socioeconomically diverse. It is a wonderful environment where it seems every kid can find their “niche” and be comfortable pursuing their own interests. So far, it seems that sport and club interests segment the kids more than race. Kind of how I remember HS…………….back in the day.

  • 642. Finally done  |  December 9, 2014 at 11:26 am

    @ SoLoMo

    After much hand wringing…my son decided on Jones. Not sure what the cut off for Jones will be this year but I think a 897 tier 4 should do the trick? In the end, the opportunity the to attend school with a diverse group of kids whom he perceived to be very open & friendly made the difference.

    Good luck to everyone…this is a stressful process & it felt really good to finally hit the ‘submit’ button!

  • 643. Newcomer  |  December 9, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    Am curious to hear the followup of kids who did a lot of test prep and got in the 890’s, and the kids who did NO test prep at all and got similar scores. Is there any difference in their success, well-being, comfort, enjoyment, etc at the top schools?

  • 644. SoLoMo  |  December 20, 2014 at 12:00 am

    Wow, this section’s been dead since I’ve been away. Guess everyone is just breathing a sigh of relief that the application period is finally ovah. Congrats all around and good luck. Hope everyone gets to replenish and reward these hard-working kids. Some belated replies:

    @629: Congrats to your daughter. Sounds like NSCP is a great fit for her. Keep us posted next year on how it goes.

    @634: Yes, I was quite startled by the language administrator’s response as well.

    @639: pantherettie, love the passion and persuasion of your posts. One of my cpso fave posters! Thank YOU, for representing.

    @640: Lane is so marvelous. The distance and low African American numbers were the only (but determinative) issues for us.

    @641: Hope to see you at the school next year! Cannot imagine how 897 would not be enough, so breathe easy.

    @642: Did not do test prep course, which we felt would be over- and under-inclusive. Some ethical issues for me also, like reverse-engineering the test. Educated myself first on the plethora of test prep options. Had three-pronged approach:

    1) Subject tutoring (Math & Grammar): Chose to use tutor for math and Becerra Educational Consulting (BEC) for grammar tutoring. Although we started math tutoring for the test, we scrapped that in favor of an advanced curriculum above what kids were getting in school once the shift from ISAT to NWEA was announced last January. This approach worked so much better, as both kids found it so much more educational and interesting, vs. taking endless practice tests and it aligned with the focus on depth vs. accuracy.

    2) Test Prep Books (for SEHS exam): Bought Barron’s COOP/HSPT/TACHS, SSAT & ISEE for Dummies, and 10 ACT Prep tests to administer various Reading Comp/English Language Arts sample tests. In smaller and targeted doses, this achieves what the pricey courses seek to achieve with familiarization of content/format and confidence-building.

    3) Reading; Kept kids in books that interested them as much as I could. And we try to talk to them as much as possible as young adults if that makes sense.

    Here’s to a great 2014, and even better 2015!

  • 645. Testing over for now!  |  December 21, 2014 at 10:09 am

    @642 – no test prep – 898. Good test taker during these CPS elementary years, but if there had been difficulties I would have considered practice tests from a website or workbook to be sure the test style was familiar. Also has a 504 that gives extra time if needed, but I was told it wasn’t needed.

    Overall most of the comments (which I hear 3rd hand) from classmates & friends were that the SEHS test went well and scores are high . . . maybe that’s just the cohort who are talking/sharing, but I think the kids who are going to take the test in January should be encouraged by the sense of confidence their fellow 8th graders had coming out of the test.

  • 646. Newcomer  |  December 22, 2014 at 12:30 pm

    Thank you, my question was not “has your child prepared for the test” but more “does anyone see a difference with how students cope at the top schools, between high-scoring students who prepared and studied and took test prep for the tests, and the students who walked in cold and got the same high scores?’ For instance, maybe the students who have prepped have better study skills and discipline and therefore fare better. Or maybe the kids who didn’t “need” the prep are more suited academically to these rigorous programs. I do not have a hypothesis, I am just curious (and trying to find the best fit for my current 8th grader). I guess what i am wondering is, are these schools better for kids who work hard or kids who are intrinsically advanced, or do they cater well to both types?

  • 647. best restaurant New York City  |  December 27, 2014 at 3:57 am

    Great post.

  • 648. vb  |  December 29, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    @645 – that is a very good question. That’s been the “fit” debate between me and my son. My son is the “work hard” kind that prepped and scored well. But he did not choose Northside or Payton because, to him, those schools are for kids who are intrinsically advanced.

    From the open houses and friends, he got the vibe that Jones is a better place for kids who work hard. I tried to talk him into applying to Payton, but those kids at Payton intimidate him. The question of “fit” makes the selection process hard. No kid wants to land at a school where they feel like they don’t belong.

  • 649. Marsha T  |  December 29, 2014 at 7:49 pm

    Daughter received 900 per letter from few weeks ago. She took a few test prep classes for NWEA, but none for SEHS. She will probably pick private over SEHS, but want to keep SEHS for back up. Daughter said both SSAT & ISEE tests were more difficult than MAP and that SEHS was the easiest. Still waiting on one test score. At least for her. She had significant prep for ISEE & SSAT.

    I will be glad when a final decision is made. This has been very stressful. Then we get to rest a couple of years before starting all over for college. I have a feeling that will be less stressful. We hope she goes to somewhere warm for college, we are looking to move out of Illinois and that will give us an excuse (not to move near her, but to move away to a nicer environment). Good luck!

  • 650. las  |  December 29, 2014 at 8:07 pm

    @647 I know plenty of “intrinsically smart” students at Jones. Perhaps they are just more humble about it.

  • 651. Newcomer  |  December 30, 2014 at 11:30 pm

    I’m learning that many people feel that there are few “good enough” to “excellent” options for CPS HS, and that private school is unaffordable for many. My question is, does anyone apply for scholarships to private high schools? There’s got to be a few people on this forum who would qualify for aid, no? It seems to my naive eyes that nobody considers that as an option. I know that this is a CPS blog, but is private HS an option for someone who can prove that they can’t pay full freight?

  • 652. Cpsparent14  |  March 28, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    Not sure if I’m posting my question on the right forum but would appreciate any advice and suggestions.
    Isn’t it unfair that a kid from an academic center with a single B (tier 4) will not be able to make it to SEHS s like Northside, Payton while one from a regular school with all As can? Considering the level of classes, amount of homework and the fact that they are already an AC student, shouldn’t their grades be weighted for admission purpose?
    My child who got into an AC with a perfect score, has a couple Bs mostly because he couldn’t cope with the amount of homework he gets. He does really well on tests and quizzes but turns in incomplete assignments. It’s really disheartening to think that he will not be getting into a SEHS, where his sibling is, only because of a few missed assignments. Sometimes I regret our decision of moving him to an AC.

  • 653. Helen  |  February 3, 2017 at 7:36 pm

    How many students are applying to 9th grade for the Selective Enrollment High Schools ?

  • 654. cpsobsessed  |  February 4, 2017 at 9:08 pm

    @Helen – based on past numbers, there are probably around 13,000 kid applying for roughly 5000 spots.

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