Fall 2015: Applying to Kindergarten / Elementary School

September 27, 2015 at 10:06 am 581 comments

School of the future

School of the future

Kindergarten/Elementary application time here!

Welcome! After the long wait from infanthood, it is now time to being charting the waters of CPS elementary school.  

Applying has never been easier, now that it’s all online.

You can apply for a PIN (needed for online enrollment) now.  It will be mailed to your home within a week.

Applications will be accepted starting October 1st.

Details are here and the OAE site now covers almost everything you need to know, very well organized:


When entering Kindergarten (and older grades as well) you have several options:

Neighborhood schools (also includes Magnet Cluster school, which are just neighborhood schools) – these are schools that admit kids from the neighborhood that surrounds a school.  Enrolling for your neighborhood school is easy: simple go to the school during late Spring to fill out the forms.  If you don’t want to attend your own neighborhood school, you can apply to other neighborhood schools that have room to spare.  This can only be done through the online application process.  Not every school has space, so it’s wise to fine some ‘up-and-coming’ schools that are growing and have seats to fill.  Or give your local school another look, with some other parents.   Building up parent interest is often a great way to build community and create/uncover a good local school.

Gifted and Classical schools – these schools require a test for entry.  For Kindergarten, the tests are given at the same time and kids are tested one-on-one.  For older grades, the kids test in a large group and the gifted and classical tests are on different days.   There is often debate about whether to apply early so your child gets and early test date (benefit: avoid blizzards, get it out of the way) or wait until the end of the application period to apply (benefit: kids may hit that magical reading breakthrough you’ve been waiting for.)  The test scores are normed by age, so it shouldn’t really matter when you do the testing.

Magnet schools – these admit kids via a lottery process.  People who live within 1.5 miles of a school get preference in a proximity lottery.  Others are also admitted, based on Socio-Economic Tier.

One factor that can influence your chance of selection at a school is your Socio-Economic Tier.  Your address determines your Tier (Tier 4, highest socio-economic level, Tier 1, lowest.) NOTE: the tiers for the current application process have not been update yet, so current Tier information may be out of date!!

These are explained here, very cleary by OAE:


From the Parent Dashboard after you have entered your PIN:

If you are applying to Selective Enrollment Elementary or High Schools, or any other high schools with admissions screenings, you will use a TWO-STEP process: (1) Schedule, THEN (2) Apply. BOTH of these steps must be completed by the December 11th deadline or your child will not be considered for the Selective Enrollment schools of your choice.

Entry filed under: Applying to schools. Tags: .

Hidden Gems High School Fair Sunday Sept 27 at Lake View High School 1-4pm Fall 2015: Applying to Academic Centers and Intl Gifted Programs

581 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Tier4Mom  |  September 27, 2015 at 10:10 am


  • 2. Chicago School GPS  |  September 27, 2015 at 10:13 am

    We are trying to keep up with open house dates that we find out about. While not comprehensive, you can check out many dates here: http://www.chischoolgps.com/Calendar.php

  • 3. KIndergarten Newbie  |  September 27, 2015 at 10:25 am

    thank you!

  • 4. karet  |  September 27, 2015 at 12:11 pm

    CPSO, It might be a good idea to update your Gifted/Classical school list. Skinner North goes up to 8th grade now, but it’s still listed as K-4.

  • 5. Fam  |  September 27, 2015 at 3:21 pm

    Skinner North is up to 8th grade now. Wow how time flies. I estimated it only went up to 7th grade by now.

  • 6. cpsobsessed  |  September 27, 2015 at 3:52 pm

    Omg, wow, I had the same reaction as Fam. I still think of it (and my son’s program) as “new”. Thanks for the note!

  • 7. ObsessedNewbie  |  September 28, 2015 at 1:04 am

    Can someone tell me where we can request a PIN? Thanks.

  • 8. cpsprisoner  |  September 28, 2015 at 7:14 am


    apply for PIN etc.

    Chicago Public Schools: Office of Access and Enrollment


  • 9. ObsessedNewbie  |  September 28, 2015 at 9:11 am

    thanks. I’ve gone to the site but I don’t see where we can apply for a pin now. I just see where it says beginning October 1.

  • 10. Obsessed 2nd Time Around  |  September 28, 2015 at 10:16 am

    It should be up on Thursday. You can apply for your PIN then.

  • 11. cpsprisoner  |  September 28, 2015 at 10:18 am


    That’s correct – you have to wait until Thursday. That is the site to apply for a pin starting 10/1.

  • 12. ObsessedNewbie  |  September 28, 2015 at 11:05 am

    Thanks @10 & @11. I thought I was losing my mind.

  • 13. IP Mom  |  September 29, 2015 at 9:01 am


  • 14. Big City Mom  |  September 29, 2015 at 10:11 am


  • 15. PREP Chicago  |  September 29, 2015 at 11:58 am

    This year, if you register to take the Selective Enrollment Exam for Kindergarten between November 1st and November 30th, you will receive your test results before the December 11th application deadline.

  • 16. Kenwood Parent  |  September 29, 2015 at 12:25 pm

    I believe it is between Nov. 1st and Nov. 20th. (I just looked it up). Thanks for the heads up!

  • 17. cpsobsessed  |  September 29, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    Interesting about the early testing! I am trying to find the dates, but here is CPS’ rationale for testing early:

    Is your child applying to kindergarten for the 2016-2017 school year? There are numerous advantages to having your child test early, rather than later!

    1. If your child takes his/her Regional Gifted Centers and Classical Schools test in November, you will receive his/her test results BEFORE the application deadline. This will allow you to learn whether your child will be in the Selective Enrollment selection pool for the 2016-2017 school year, as students must earn minimum scores of 115 for the Regional Gifted Centers and the 80th percentile in reading and math for the Classical Schools, in order to be in the selection pool.

    2. Receiving the scores before the deadline provides your the opportunity to research additional magnet options, if you wish, or to modify the choices on the Selective Enrollment Elementary Schools application.

    3. The month of November has a greater propensity for milder weather than the months of December through February, which makes it easier to navigate through the city.

    4. There is no advantage to waiting later in the season to have your child take the admissions exam. The exam is developmentally age appropriate and the results are based on the exact age of your child. Therefore, if your child is four years and three months of age, he/she will be compared to the group of children of the same age. A child who is older by just a few months is developmentally expected to have acquired more knowledge and skills than a younger child.

  • 18. Wow  |  September 29, 2015 at 2:00 pm

    I wish we’d had that option last year. I would have definitely ranked schools differently. Now, if we could only get rid of the Tiers.

  • 19. cpsobsessed  |  September 29, 2015 at 2:02 pm

    does anyone have trepidation about testing a preK kid earlier versus later in the year? I do recall with my son, his reading skills (very early reading) kicked in at some point after January. I know the test takes age into account, but I feel like the whole Piaget development milestones means that kids have some big brain advances that year, at different timelines from each other.

  • 20. cpsobsessed  |  September 29, 2015 at 2:03 pm

    @Wow, how do you think the different ranking would have helped you (if at all?)

  • 21. Wow  |  September 29, 2015 at 3:14 pm

    I would have likely ranked our desired school’s differently. I also would have tested later.

    However, I have a friend who works at SN and there are kids in Kindergarten (and 1st grade) who are non-readers and non-writers.

  • 22. prepchicagoblog  |  September 29, 2015 at 3:43 pm

    @cpsobsessed There are definitely children who test better by waiting until later in January. Particularly with some 4 year old boys who have trouble sitting for long periods of time. Its amazing now 3 months can make a huge difference in their attention spans and ability to focus.

  • 24. New kinder mom  |  September 29, 2015 at 9:20 pm

    Getting test scores earlier would have changed the way I approached the selection of schools. Especially if there was a listing of what score is likely to get a seat at each school. We could have gotten a rgc seat had we chosen the right school. I think it is important info for making an informed decision.

  • 25. KIndergarten Newbie  |  September 29, 2015 at 9:31 pm

    So can you get test scores before applying & ranking the schools?

  • 26. cpsobsessed  |  September 29, 2015 at 10:42 pm

    With the new system you can have score before ranking / applying , yes. I haven’t found the info on cpsmagnet.org yet.

  • 27. Chicago School GPS  |  September 30, 2015 at 6:46 am

    Ahhh, CPSOAE info is crazy hard to find. Here is the link to the early testing and getting results back blurb, which only applies to KINDERGARTEN testing (i.e. the 4 year olds testing into K):


    That is from the “How Do I Apply?” link on their SEES page, item #2 from here:


    CPS, Charter, Contract Students AND Non-CPS Students

    1. Starting October 1st, go to the online portal, apply.cps.edu, and click “Step 1.” This will allow you to open your account, create your password, and request your Personal Identification Number (PIN), which will be mailed to your home.

    2. After you receive your PIN, and access the online portal, click the SCHEDULE button for Selective Enrollment Elementary Schools and schedule the date, time, and location for your child’s exam(s). (If your child is applying to kindergarten, click here for additional information.) If you need to reschedule your child’s test, you can reschedule it using the online portal.

    3. After you schedule the exam(s), click the APPLY button to select the schools to which your child is applying. You will rank the schools in order of your preference. You can apply to up to six Regional Gifted Centers/Classical Schools and up to three Regional Gifted Centers for English Learners.

    4. After you successfully schedule your child’s exam and submit your application, the online portal will show the word “Completed” under the status for both scheduling and applying. You will also receive an email confirmation for both actions. If the online portal shows “Not Completed” for either status, you have not successfully completed the action.

  • 28. @wow  |  September 30, 2015 at 1:14 pm

    Does anyone have know, how a non reader child can be accepted into a classical program, in this case Skinner North? From what I have seen, the reading and math scores have to be almost 99%, in order to get an offer from a classical program. My daughter read at the time of the test and had 95% score. How does a non reader get 99%?

  • 29. Not Again  |  September 30, 2015 at 2:59 pm

    When they say they take account your child’s age, is it by birthday (all March 2011 birthdays ranked together no matter when they test), or age at which they took the test (all kids who took the test at 3 years 6 months ranked together no matter when their birthday is)?
    Sorry for the long question but not sure which way they group them.

  • 30. otdad  |  September 30, 2015 at 3:18 pm

    28. @wow:
    If the child barely knows ABC, then no chance.

    It’s totally feasible that a starting reader gets into classical. A non-reader/starting reader can get as high as 97% 98% if s/he can recognize some simple words (for example, the first 100 sight words). That’s enough to help them to get in
    (1) if s/he lives in low tier neighborhood.
    (2) if s/he gets top score in math, something like 99.9%, even if residing in a Tier 4 neighborhood.

    The total score is most likely the highest among the two scores, instead of adding them together.

    Both my kids are in classical program. At the time of testing, my daughter just started to read. She didn’t get top score in reading, but she got top score in math. My son was already reading chapter books, and he did get top scores in both reading and math.

  • 31. cpsobsessed  |  September 30, 2015 at 4:59 pm

    @28 wow: Tier could possibly factor in? (I’m not sure what score is needed for say Tier 1.) A Tier 1 kid might have 99% math but 96% reading perhaps?

    Also, I don’t know that the test measures reading in the traditional sense as much as reading readiness? (I’m speculating based on stuff I’ve read about these tests.) Maybe a kid knows a lot of the inputs to reading but isn’t an “active reader” yet. A parent’s assessment of what “reading” is might be different than a teacher’s. I’m sure there are kids in that class who are reading real books and other who are still on 3 letter words but not progressing as quickly yet.

    And.. shoot. I had a 3 theory but now it slipped my mind.

  • 32. cpsobsessed  |  September 30, 2015 at 5:01 pm

    Oh, #3. Just because a kid reads doesn’t mean they’ll get a 99% on the test. Kids test differently and as we all know, 4 year olds can have a bad day/hour/minute that can easily impact the test outcome. The CPS test the full blown assessment given the # of kids they have to test. It’s a decent approximation of skill level/readiness.

  • 33. cpsobsessed  |  September 30, 2015 at 5:08 pm

    And…what otdad said!

  • 34. Elizabethsw  |  September 30, 2015 at 6:24 pm

    Last year my child received a 99.9 math and 97 reading and is now attending a classical kindergarten. My child could not read at the time of testing but knew all letters, sounds, could spell basic words, and was very good at figuring out words given the context.

    My child still doesn’t “read” and he is not the only one in his class, there are at least 3 other children. That being said, there are children in his class reading at a 3-4 grade level. Such a mix.

  • 35. Suz  |  September 30, 2015 at 9:24 pm

    New tiers are out for the 2016-2017 school year.


  • 36. LearningCPS  |  September 30, 2015 at 9:39 pm

    My child was an early reader, got a >99.9 in reading and got into a classical K. BUT she told me that they never asked her to actually read a single thing on the test (and another parent I know said her early reading child said the same thing), so I don’t think actual ability to read is what is assessed…more likely reading and pre-reading skills.

  • 37. Chicago School GPS  |  September 30, 2015 at 10:11 pm

    CPSOAE released their 2016-2017 Options for Knowledge Guide for elementary schools. They are not printing copies due to budget cuts:


  • 38. Chicago School GPS  |  October 1, 2015 at 9:07 am

    It’s open! https://apply.cps.edu/ Enjoy it from now until Dec. 11. Good luck to all!

    STEP 1
    Apply Online

    For first-time access to the online application site, you will need a Personal Identification Number (PIN), which is used in place of your signature.

    Non-CPS students applying to grades 5-8, click here for instructions.

    PreK-8th grade applicants:

    If you are applying for a student entering grades PreK through eight in the 2016-2017 school year, your first step is to submit a request for a PIN by clicking “Apply Online” above. (The PIN request deadline is November 30, 2015.) The PIN will be mailed to your home, and you will use it to access the application site and submit your applications. (Non-CPS students applying to Selective Enrollment Elementary Schools for grades 5-8, please click the link for “Non-CPS students” above.)

    9th grade applicants:

    If you are applying for a student entering the 9th grade in the 2016-2017 school year, your child’s PIN is contained in his/her Eligibility/PIN Letter. Eligibility/PIN Letters were distributed to CPS, charter, and contract school students in September; if your child did not receive this letter, contact his/her school. (Non-CPS students applying to Selective Enrollment High Schools for grade 9, please click the link for “Non-CPS students” above.) To enter your PIN, click “Apply Online.”

  • 39. Kenwood Parent  |  October 1, 2015 at 9:13 am


    What do you consider reading and pre-reading skills?

  • 40. Chicago School GPS  |  October 1, 2015 at 9:21 am

    From the Parent Dashboard after you have entered your PIN:

    If you are applying to Selective Enrollment Elementary or High Schools, or any other high schools with admissions screenings, you will use a TWO-STEP process: (1) Schedule, THEN (2) Apply. BOTH of these steps must be completed by the December 11th deadline or your child will not be considered for the Selective Enrollment schools of your choice.

  • 41. LearningCPS  |  October 1, 2015 at 9:30 am

    @39 Letter identification and letter sounds, understanding how words go together to make an idea (one thing my daughter said they did was read her a sentence with a missing word and she had to tell them what word would work in the blank), identifying first or last letters in words that are spoken or shown in pictures (this is a bee, what letter does the word bee start with? Can you think of another word that starts with ‘b’?), identifying rhyming words, some vocabulary assessment (what is a word for a place you live in?)

    If they aren’t having them read, than I would guess they are having them do things along these lines which are all foundational skills that lead to the ability to read down the road. If a kid is already reading, these will be “easier” for them to answer than if a kid isn’t…but a kid doesn’t need to be actually reading yet to have some or all of these skills.

  • 42. FingersCrossed...Again!  |  October 1, 2015 at 9:46 am

    For any of you who are currently applying for a PIN in order to test a child who previously attended a CPS school, please note that the “Did your child attend a CPS school last year?” question isn’t currently working.

    If you select “YES,” it then asks you to add in your child’s CPS ID, but then tells you it is an invalid CPS ID upon submission (even if it is correct).

    I spoke directly with CPSOAE and they stated to select “NO” to “Did student attend CPS last year?” but then “YES” to “Did student ever attend CPS?” – and you will be able to successfully save.

    Also, please note, she said that these fields have no affect in the future stages of this process. The only purpose of this step is to get the PIN #, so you will not be denied getting into a school because you said “NO” to that first question (or, if like me, you accidentally said “NO” to both questions).

    This is the first time I have directly called CPSOAE, and I have to say I was impressed. I didn’t have to wait too long for a very kind and helpful person to assist and reassure me that we would figure this out.

  • 43. Jen  |  October 1, 2015 at 12:24 pm

    It says that for kindergarten they are testing both for RGC and classical at the same time. Does anyone know how that is done? Which is tested first? Can you opt to just do one or the other? I’m thinking that 4 year olds can only tolerate testing for so long. Are they going to fatigue out during the second test?

  • 44. keilyn  |  October 1, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    Question: We were waitlisted for all our schools for kindergarten… does that waitlist expire? that’s what i was told… does that mean i have no chance anymore to be called in the middle of the year to get a spot in one of the schools?

  • 45. FingersCrossed...Again!  |  October 1, 2015 at 3:06 pm

    The kindergarten test is designed to flow seamlessly to the child. They will be in that room anywhere between 10 and 30 min+ depending on how many questions they are able to answer and to what depth. I have to say, the test facilitators do an amazing job with these kids. They introduce themselves as teachers, kindly take them into the testing room, and return them at whatever time makes sense for each child. This is also the only year that it is a completely verbal test. No writing required. If you are ever planning on testing your child, the kindergarten test I believe will seem the most like play to them.

  • 46. Jen K  |  October 1, 2015 at 7:23 pm

    @44 it depends on the school. Some will fill spots halfway through the year; some stop a few weeks into the school year. There isn’t a cps policy on this.

  • 47. Jeandawga  |  October 2, 2015 at 10:21 am

    Wasn’t really sure where to put this as it’s not about SEES, but there’s an article in the Sun Times today about CPS possibly changing boundaries and/or combining schools for next year. Yikes.

  • 48. CLB  |  October 2, 2015 at 9:49 pm

    @47 They have to announce by 1 Dec. if they intend to do anything. They are required to announce what options they are considering by 1 Oct.

    But this is a minor concern. If CPS doesn’t get $480m from the state by Thanksgiving, there’ll be thousands of layoffs anyway. And so far, there’s no hint of a compromise in Springfield; the governor and the General Assembly leaders are barely talking, let alone negotiating.

  • 49. cpsobsessed  |  October 2, 2015 at 10:55 pm

    @44: At this point you need to call the school where you’re on a waitlist. Many schools give up on the list at this point because people have found other options and don’t want to change schools. Most will wait for someone to make themselves known to the school.

    I don’t know at what point it becomes a “transfer” rather than an admission, but I would certainly start calling if there are schools you’re interested in.

  • 50. cpsobsessed  |  October 2, 2015 at 10:57 pm

    @43 Jen, you can choose JUST classical or gifted test by choosing only one type of school when you apply.
    The trouble is it can be difficult to anticipate which test your child will do better on, so most parents figure they improve their chances by opting for both.

  • 51. klm  |  October 3, 2015 at 1:01 pm


    Thanks for the map.

    I do have to say, that the red/Tier 1 area at Lawrence/Kedzie to the river is actually not that “bad,” in terms of overall crime/blight/grime, etc., that one associates with “Tier 1.” Accordingly, if anybody’s moving/renting to game the Tiers they should totally consider this area of Albany Park –there are good restaurants nearby (e.g., Goosefoot, great ethnic places up the ying yang) and decent parks/green space, decent public transportation (bus lines, plus Brown Line). Not to mention that area is actually kinda’ “safe” for anybody not into gangs, from what I understand from a Police officer parent at one of my kid’s schools.

    I’d think about it if it were actually feasible –it would be much easier for my kids to get into Northside than Lane, as of now, considering out current Tier.

  • 52. cpsprisoner  |  October 3, 2015 at 3:12 pm

    @50 cpsobssesed

    I think that is incorrect. As of last year if you only list Classical schools on your application you still have to take Both classical and gifted for K.. Its to keep it a consistent experience for all K testees.

  • 53. cpsprisoner  |  October 3, 2015 at 3:47 pm


    For 1st grade and up+ you can pick just one test. Classical or gifted are given on different days.

  • 54. cpsobsessed  |  October 3, 2015 at 4:19 pm

    Thank you – I will update that !

  • 56. LLJ  |  October 4, 2015 at 8:35 am

    Hi! We are relocating back to the city this summer and our daughter will be entering 1st grade for the Fall ’16. I was hoping to gain some insight on anyone’s knowledge/experience on how the lottery process works for 1st vs K. Specifically- are our odds good, terrible etc ? Certain schools easier to get into others? And any other tidbits are welcome! Thanks!!!

  • 57. HSObsessed  |  October 5, 2015 at 8:51 am

    @56 If you’re not moving until next summer, the best thing to do would be to move into the enrollment district of a good neighborhood school, and then you won’t have to deal with the lottery process at all since your child is guaranteed a spot. Have you already decided on an area of the city or a neighborhood? If so, you can look up the stats on the neighborhood school on the CPS site, or post here with questions about specific schools. I know this isn’t a direct answer to your question, but I think the lottery route for a magnet school is the fall back for people unhappy with their neighborhood school.

  • 58. Headed to Kindergarten  |  October 5, 2015 at 9:19 am

    Can someone explain the tiers to me?

  • 59. Llj  |  October 5, 2015 at 9:27 am

    @57 I agree the neighborhood option is the “easiest” option and we will be looking at that and making it a priority when we start looking at properties. But being that the lottery process has to be turned in well before when we will be looking at properties it just seems like a smart safety net to try our hand at the lottery as well . You never know what the housing market will be, so I want to make sure we have options.
    We are looking on the northside city though fwiw and know we do have some decent neighborhood options. Still curious though about entering the lottery process for first grade to see how that looks/turned out- if anyone knows!

  • 60. FingersCrossed...Again!  |  October 5, 2015 at 9:34 am

    For #58/Headed to Kindergarten:

    Chicago is broken down into boundary “tiers” that are used to assist in placement into selective enrollment and magnet schools.

    Ultimately, I believe the overall goal is to provide children in “lower” tier (lower socio-economic, possibly less opportunity) neighborhoods a higher chance of getting into a more “preferred” school/neighborhood/boundary.

    So, for example, with Selective Enrollment schools, maybe it takes a 147 score as a “Tier 4” (highest tier) student to get placed in Skinner North (completely making this up – not sure what their general cut offs are), but a “Tier 1” (lowest tier) student may only need a 143 to get placed in Skinner North (again – made up numbers).

    Or, with magnets, there is a guarantee that X children from each tier will lottery into the school (so that there is a blend from across the whole city).

    And the wait lists follow those tiers for at least two rounds I believe. If a Tier 2 child turns down a Skinner North placement, it goes to the next Tier 2 child on the list – not to a Tier 1, 3 or 4 child. So there are actually 4 different wait lists going on for the first two rounds (I believe) of placements. There are 4 “#6s” on the wait list, for example.

    It’s not perfect – it’s a big, constantly-evolving city and today’s “Tier 1” is tomorrow’s “Bucktown,” but it’s at least an attempt to provide some extra support to neighborhoods that may not have as many opportunities for their children.

  • 61. cpsobsessed  |  October 5, 2015 at 10:10 am

    @60 – very well put!

    As more background, CPS used to use race as a factor in balancing magnet and selective enrollment programs. Given how racially segregated Chicago is by neighborhood, it was a way to ensure that magnets and SE programs actually had some racial diversity as well.

    A few years ago, the law (or ruling?) changed so that race could no longer be used. CPS uses socio-economics as a proxy, using I think 9 factors including HH income + others.

    While race isn’t used anymore, it still helps to create some balance and diversity by race in the top schools, which is an added benefit IMO.

  • 62. cpsobsessed  |  October 5, 2015 at 10:23 am

    @59: The 1st grade lottery often just depends how many spots the schools you want have spaces open. Each year most schools have a family or 2 leave for various reasons so there are typically a spot or 2 open. But still quite a few applications.

    Anecdotally, if you cast a somewhat wide net, I’ve seen most people get something for 1grade (not nec your top 3 choices, but something that feels like an “improvement” over a school they’re unhappy with.)

    So it’s certainly worth a shot. Few people applying, but few seats available as well.

  • 63. Chicago School GPS  |  October 5, 2015 at 11:39 am

    “What’s on the Test?”
    Understanding CPS Gifted Testing & Admissions
    Special guest speaker: Karen Quinn from TestingMom.com
    and exclusive info from ChicagoGiftedTestPrep!

    Saturday, October 17, 2015
    2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
    Gleacher Center
    Room 621- Dining Room
    450 North Cityfront Plaza Drive
    Chicago 60611

    Here’s what you’ll learn at this event geared for Pre-K through 3rd grade parents:
    Navigating the CPS Elementary School Admissions Process for Regional Gifted Center & Classical Schools – Grace Sawin from ChiSchoolGPS.com
    Testing Secrets and Strategies for Success: Karen Quinn, the Testing Mom and testing authority
    Preparing Your Elementary Child for Testing Without Cramming and Stressing. Test Prep Tips and Tutoring Resources – Gifted Versus Classical – Chicago Gifted Test Prep
    Raffle prizes, discounts and more…
    We love your kids but due to the topic please no children at this event.
    Generously sponsored by TestingMom.com, so register today for only $5.00 per person! Seating is limited

  • 64. HSObsessed  |  October 5, 2015 at 11:59 am

    Whoa, CPS has quietly launched a blog, with option to leave comments by the public! Pretty gutsy.


  • 65. Julia  |  October 5, 2015 at 2:58 pm

    Is it harder to get a spot in RGC for 1st grade? We scored 99.9% in reading and 96% in math last year and didn’t get in anywhere for Kindergarten (very frustrating). Do you think it is worth trying again? I am hoping the fact that 1st graders take an actual test makes it more accurate.

  • 66. Kenwood Parent  |  October 5, 2015 at 5:13 pm


    What is your Tier and what schools did you apply to?

  • 67. 2nd time around  |  October 5, 2015 at 6:55 pm

    @Julia. Those are Classical test type scores, not RGC test scores. A RGC score should be one number, usually a three number score (such as 115). Knowing your tier and schools applied to would help.

  • 68. 2nd time around  |  October 5, 2015 at 6:58 pm

    @Julia. Be sure to apply to some RGC’s that start in 1st grade as they will be filling entire classes (Bell and Beaubien come to mind.). Also, try for Classical again too. Always worth it if you really think an accelerated program is right for your child! You never know, people always leave for one reason or another and spots do open up.

  • 69. Cassie  |  October 5, 2015 at 7:56 pm

    I just want to say thanks to all the Moms on here giving out all this info. My son is entering kindergarten next year and it’s just all overwhelming . Does anyone have information about Ogden and what’s going on there lately. I have friends there saying that they are having major problems with parents using friends/other family members address and the principal threatened to do an audit and so many kids left they had low enrollment and lost their budget.

  • 70. prepchicagoblog  |  October 6, 2015 at 9:40 am

    Looking over the Options for Knowledge guide for this upcoming year, Odgen is not accepting kids from out of the neighborhood this year for K-5. This means that you cannot apply to Ogden for K-5 if you don’t live within their neighborhood boundaries. They are listed in the Options for Knowledge guide for their 6-8 grade IB Middle Years Programme only.

  • 71. SEES_mom  |  October 6, 2015 at 11:32 am

    trying to figure out my kid’s chances for SEES- for KG he got high 90s for reading/math but not as strong 130 for RGC, but tier 1 and got in nowhere. curious what the test is like for 1st graders? do you also get to find out scores first or KG?

  • 72. KCabral  |  October 6, 2015 at 11:39 am

    @LLJ/#56 & 59 —

    It’s definitely worthwhile to try the lottery for 1st grade. My son is in 1st grade now and we tried the lottery for K & 1st. We did get a couple of offers (I think 4 or 5 max) for K but ended up keeping him at his preschool for that year. He had to go to a different school for 1st, so we did the lottery again.

    We applied to the max, 20 schools. By the end of this summer, he ended up having received 10 offers. He got initial offers to 4 schools, then the other 6 trickled through over the next few months. He got more offers for 1st grade than K. We changed our school list slightly but it was almost the same both years.

    He is at Galileo now, an offer we got around August 21st (yikes!), he was #58 on the waitlist. A clerk there pointed out a big plus to the lottery after K — unless you’re trying for a school that begins at 1st grade — is that the tiers do not apply, they’re only used in entry years at magnets & SEES. Therefore, there is only 1 waitlist. You’re not also competing with the Tier 1, Tier 2, proximity, etc., waitlists. I think also fewer people try the lottery after K, thinking there’s no chance.

    Our story might be an exception, but I hope not!! At least it’s one positive story that you’re not completely screwed if your K options don’t work. Good luck to all!!

  • 73. LLJ  |  October 6, 2015 at 12:24 pm

    @KCabral Thanks so much for this info! It is just the info i was looking to hear 🙂

  • 74. LLJ  |  October 6, 2015 at 12:32 pm

    Another question- trying to find any info about Swift or Hayt in edgewater. Does anyone have any feedback on those by chance?

  • 75. LSmom  |  October 6, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    @71, the first grade test is given in groups, a tester reads out questions and kids fill in bubbles. Classical and gifted tests are on separate days, and each one takes about an hour. Scores often dip from K to first, but the cutoffs are usually lower too. I think they’re only offering to give out early scores for the K test.

  • 76. AmandaK  |  October 6, 2015 at 2:07 pm

    #74, LLJ: I’m zoned for Swift and am going to try to take a tour sometime. We are applying for SEES/Magnet also, but thought I would give the neighborhood school at least a look. I know their Great Schools.com rating has improved over the last few years, and their test scores are comparable to Peirce, which is the next neighborhood school over and seems to have a lot of momentum lately. If I manage to get a tour, I’ll post about it. Good luck!

  • 77. Peirce K mom  |  October 6, 2015 at 2:20 pm

    LLJ, I don’t have first hand info on Swift or Hayt, but I will tell you that the feedback I’ve heard hasn’t been overwhelmingly negative, but hasn’t been terribly positive. If you are considering that area, I can tell you that our first month of Kindergarten at Peirce has been a really great experience. So, you might consider adding that neighborhood to your list and keep an eye on it…they’re doing some really great stuff!

  • 78. Llj  |  October 6, 2015 at 2:44 pm

    @piercek& @amandak thanks for info! Sound like I Need to squeeze in some more tours. If you do go do share 🙂 as for pierce, it was in my list and then I read some negative things and knew there was turmoil with the principal recently . Do you feel that issue has resolved itself and things are on the up and up there ? I’m just looking to apply to variety of good schools on the northside and may take a chance at testing as well. So grateful for all of this helpful feedback on this site! My head is spinning less and less with each response 🙂 thanks!

  • 79. AmandaK  |  October 6, 2015 at 3:13 pm

    @LLJ: I’ve also heard good things about Peirce. I know three families who are sending their kids there and seem happy with it so far. Swift is my zoned, neighborhood school, so I feel I ought to at least give it a shot. But if you are moving to the area, I would say Peirce is the most popular school among the bunch (Swift, Hayt, Goudy, Peirce). It will definitely be on my list of schools to check out.

  • 80. KDS  |  October 6, 2015 at 3:22 pm

    Maybe this has already been asked but I am at work and didn’t have time to read through everything…Just starting this process for the first time and would like to get my 4-yr-old daughter tested. Planning to try and schedule her before Nov. 20th so I can get results sooner but as far as the application process goes, do I have to only apply to gifted/selected enrollment schools or can I apply to any and all schools even while having her tested? Thanks!

  • 81. AmandaK  |  October 6, 2015 at 3:34 pm

    @KDS, you can do both. The SEES/RGS is a separate thing from the Magnets/Open Enrollment schools. So you can pick your lottery schools, schedule your test, then after you get the results (if you test early), pick your Classical/RGCs. Or, if you already know how you want to rank your Classical and RGCs, you can schedule and apply at the same time. You’ll just know sooner whether or not she has a realistic chance at getting a spot.

  • 82. Peirce K mom  |  October 6, 2015 at 4:24 pm

    @Llj, the new Peirce principal has, in just a few months, taken more action on matters that affect students than my other daughter’s principal has done in the 3+ years she’s been there…and the other school is arguably one of the top 5 schools on the north side. I’m still a newbie, but what I have seen (and the super, super welcoming and engaged parent community) has been very, very impressive. Good luck, and let me know if you have specific questions. A tour would be great, too.

  • 83. LearningCPS  |  October 6, 2015 at 4:58 pm

    @Llj – Swift was our neighborhood school until we moved this summer. We didn’t attend (got into SEES) but I did a lot of research on it the year we were applying for K. The principal is newer, has great energy and has done a lot to improve the school. They are an arts cluster magnet so they do get extra arts funds and have a great music teacher. I’ve been told the K teachers are very good by someone who was a former teacher there. The school is incredibly diverse with many ESL kids and they supposedly do a really good job with them. They have a pool and include swimming starting at 3rd grade. There is a Friends of Swift group that formed a few years ago, so they are improving in terms of parent driven support.

    One negative for us was the lack of gifted or accelerated programs; for our child we were pretty concerned that she would not be challenged enough (super early reader before K). Another concern for us was safety. We lived one block from the school during the 8 years we were in Edgewater and there were many shootings on our block and the block of the school or near the train stop on Thorndale at different times of day…even during school hours on weekdays. There is a regular police presence by the school playground corner because that has traditionally been a hot spot. I was told by a parent that the school works closely with the Alderman (who is very hands on in the neighborhood) and the police and has gone on lock down a few times or cancelled outdoor recess when things are a little dicey outside so I know they work hard to not let that have any negative impact on the students. It certainly isn’t every day and clearly it is still far safer there than many schools in other areas of Chicago, but was part of our decision making process to look at other schools. It doesn’t have anything to do with how well the school is doing, or the improvements they have made…really just about our peace of mind for our child’s safety during the school day while out of our care.

    Hope this gives you a little more insight than you had before! If you live near or in Edgewater, get on the Ruth’s List Yahoo group….there are Swift parents there that you might be able to connect with for more details.

  • 84. Llj  |  October 6, 2015 at 7:33 pm

    Wow! I’m so appreciative of these responses!! Very helpful to hear neighborhood perspectives. Seems like pierce is making a great turn, so that’s good. Safety is a big concern obviously on that’s great candid info. Nit sure if we’ll tour (likely trying ton move closer to budlong woods/north park area) but if we do decide it’s worth touring certainly post my perspective from that. Seriously so thankful!

  • 85. kdjnewb  |  October 6, 2015 at 8:19 pm

    Do you rank all gifted and classical schools together in one list and you are offered (if test well) by order? Anyone have a link to this process? Magnet is individual lotteries- correct? So no specific order. We signed up to test early…

  • 86. FingersCrossed...Again!  |  October 6, 2015 at 9:11 pm

    @85/kdjnewb – You are correct! Gifted/Classical are ranked together in that list of 6 – and order matters. Magnet/Neighborhood schools are in a separate list of up to 20 and order doesn’t matter.

    Based on how many people apply to each school and what their scores were and how many seats they have available and what % of those spots they need to provide to each tier (and I’m sure a bunch of other data), they calculate the list of who makes the cut for each school – and this data differs for each and every school each and every year.

    The benefit of receiving scores early is that you will have some insight before finalizing your RGC/Classical list if it looks like your child scored fairly well in one test or the other (or both…or neither!).

    That alone might guide you to only focus on applying to RGC *or* Classical schools (as it is not uncommon for a child to excel in one test over another)…or even to help set your own expectations that it’s likely a long shot for placement based on your scores (which then gives you additional time to consider other alternatives depending on your own unique situation).

    To know where your child’s scores rank with possible acceptance cut-offs for individual schools, look no further than this fantastic site and its bevy of archived information!

    Parents have tried over the years to include as much information as possible about their various placements – such as their child’s tier, test score, and which schools they were or were not accepted into.

    So not only will you have a rough idea of whether or not you have a pretty good shot of some sort of placement with your child’s RGC score or Classical score, you may also be able to make more granular decisions about which schools to apply to within each area.

    In your research, you may find that – over the past couple of years – nobody seems to have been accepted into, say, Edison RGC, with a score less than XYZ for Tier 4.

    So – even though Edison would have been #1 on your list, it might make sense to leave it off your list completely and instead save room for another RGC school that has traditionally accepted kids with scores closer to your own child’s scores.

    I’m actually quite interested in seeing how all this plays out – if/how it affects parents overall experiences with the process, and if/how it affects the range of acceptance scores for various schools. Interesting stuff!

    Any which way, having a physical piece of paper in your hand with some amount of information before the end of the year is a pretty exciting prospect for those of us used to waiting another 3 (to 9!) months before knowing if you’ve received a placement anywhere.

  • 87. Julia  |  October 6, 2015 at 9:19 pm

    How can you get your scores early? I thought we all got them at the same time after you had submitted your list for schools. Am I wrong?

  • 88. FingersCrossed...Again!  |  October 6, 2015 at 9:27 pm

    @87/Julia: It’s a two-step process – signing up for testing, and selecting the list of schools you wish to apply to.

    Starting this year, for those testing into Kindergarten (and maybe 1st grade), if you select one of the available testing spots between November 1st and November 20th, CPS has committed to mailing out your child’s test scores *before* the December 11th cut off for submitting your list of schools.

    This allows you one final chance to make educated tweaks to your ranked list of RGC/Classical schools before hitting submit.

    In the past, the next time you receive any information from CPS is when you get the letters with placements in March/April of next year.

  • 89. Julia  |  October 6, 2015 at 10:11 pm

    Does anyone know how many spots typically are left for 1st graders to test into Skinner North/Skinner West and Decatur? It seems like a more impossible process than testing for Kindergarten at this point.

  • 90. Amanda  |  October 6, 2015 at 11:55 pm

    Anyone know any open enrollment or magnet schools on the west side (Harlem/North and north to Harlem/Lawrence and east to Central Ave) that have kindergarten class sizes with 25 or less? Is that only in suburban utopia or private schools that we can expect a traditional class size for kindergarten students?

  • 91. WRP Mom  |  October 7, 2015 at 6:14 am

    Julia, for 1st grade spots at SW/SN, it all depends on if anyone leaves and the number varies from year to year. I wouldn’t expect more than 2 or 3, but you never know.

    Decatur is a different story since every few years, they add an entire classroom for 1st grade (28 spots). It depends on how many are graduating the previous spring. I’m pretty sure this year’s 6th grade is a double classroom grade, so they will be adding 28 spots for 1st grade next fall.

  • 92. Headed to Kindergarten  |  October 7, 2015 at 9:40 am

    So I’ve been on the site looking at schiols, trying to make sense of the reports. My neighborhood school is a 1+ but read8ng their survey results really have me ahaking my head not only no but hell no!

    Any moms that are south that have insight into schools? Ive compiled a list of rgc/classical as well as magnet.

    So rgc/classical you dont have to rank but the rest you do? Am i correct? I received my pin ao i will be scheduling my son when i get home this evening.

    Where can i find the score ranges (I’ve already determined my tier) for the schools?

  • 93. FingersCrossed...Again!  |  October 7, 2015 at 10:17 am

    @92/Headed to Kindergarten:

    You are correct that a “1+” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a school that is going to work for your family. There are many other factors that play into whether or not that school is a good fit for you.

    In terms of rankings, yes, you rank RGC/Classical schools. No, you do not rank Magnet/Neighborhood.

    In terms of score ranges, you’ll need to do the research yourself – there’s no organized sheet – but if you search the previous year’s threads for the schools you are interested in, you will hopefully start to see people who have listed it as one of the schools they applied to, what their child’s score was, what their tier was, and if their child got accepted.

    You can start to get a feel for what types of score ranges are needed for different schools/tiers.

    2015 thread: https://cpsobsessed.com/2015/03/19/2015-sees-gifted-and-classical-elem-thread/

    2014 thread: https://cpsobsessed.com/2014/03/21/2014-sees-gifted-and-classical-letter-thread/

    2013 thread: https://cpsobsessed.com/2013/03/22/2013-sees-gifted-and-classical-letter-thread/

    Good luck!

  • 94. cpsprisoner  |  October 7, 2015 at 10:38 am

    The CPS Options Bible
    (info for testing into Classical/Gifted, and magnet/lottery)
    is available online:


  • 95. AmandaK  |  October 7, 2015 at 11:37 am

    @92/Headed to K — Classical/RGC you *do* have to rank. Magnets/Open Enrollments you *do not* have to rank.

  • 96. 2nd time around  |  October 7, 2015 at 11:38 am

    For Headed to Kindergarten:

    I am sure you are already doing this, but just in case not, when looking at survey results it can be very helpful to note whether you are looking at answers given by the teachers, parents or students. That has always helped me gain perspective in those surveys.

  • 97. cpsobsessed  |  October 7, 2015 at 12:04 pm

    @headed to kindergarten : can you give an example of one of the schools with a good rating but poor survey results? Maybe we can group-interpret them.

  • 98. Headed to Kindergarten  |  October 7, 2015 at 12:22 pm

    Madison. A 1+ school but survey results are weak.

  • 99. Diane Chabes  |  October 7, 2015 at 12:48 pm

    God help me, this is the year we have to apply, I got my PIN and also I believe our Tier when from 1 to 2!!! So exciting! My questions are-Where can I find a calendar of CPS tours? I saw the calendar mentioned above but I don’t see a lot of public elementary schools on there (I’m specifically looking for Thorp OA, Farnsworth, Goethe, Sauganash, other on the NW side)?
    Also, does anyone know when the 2015 test scores will be released? Thank you in advance!

  • 100. southside mom  |  October 7, 2015 at 1:34 pm

    @ 92 Can you be more specific on south?

  • 101. Headed to Kindergarten  |  October 7, 2015 at 2:24 pm

    22nd to 115th. As far east as the lake as far west as halsted.

  • 102. cpsobsessed  |  October 7, 2015 at 2:26 pm

    @97: Regarding Madison (and I know nothing about the school personally) it looks like their test scores are okay, but the school is making very good growth. So “something” is happening there. They get strong marks for “Does leadership focus on results and school improvement?” but weak marks for the school partnering with parents, parents feeling welcome, and collaborative teachers. Perhaps the school is very test-focused right now which is resulting in good growth in test scores? The survey response rate was high, so we can’t discount the findings.

    Overall, I’d say the school is making positive progress on an important area (test scores) but perhaps at the expense of other factors that might be important to a parent. But this is all from the data, so potentially worth a look in person.

  • 103. cpsobsessed  |  October 7, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    When you look at the score info, look at the current score % vs the “growth”. Growth is good, but a school that is currently in the 20th percentile for test scores may have good growth (but you might not want your kid in the school right now.)

    On the other hand, this is my yearly reminder that schools that are in transition usually start out with scary-looking test scores which can turn around fairly in a matter of a few years. This happened at Nettelhorst, Waters, Pierce, to name a few. If you get the sense that “good things are happening” at school and the principal is strong, it can be worth taking a chance on lower test scores if your gut tells you otherwise.

  • 104. CPSMon  |  October 7, 2015 at 5:03 pm

    I received the pin number, however when I go to to setup the selective enrollment test (7th grade/Whitney Young) I get no “program choice” or “register for”. I’ve called CPS and they tell me it’s my browser settings possibly. I have tried all three browsers to no avail. Any suggestions?

  • 105. cpsobsessed  |  October 7, 2015 at 5:23 pm

    BTW, this shows the school survey in more detail. I’m a data person and it’s more than I even want. But it does show trending. And Madison is trending upward. If it’s a nearby school it’s worth a look, as something’s going on there.

  • 106. SouthSider  |  October 7, 2015 at 6:58 pm

    @Headed to Kindergarten:

    That’s a huge area. You should probably start by narrowing down your radius. How far are you willing to travel every day? When I was searching, I narrowed down schools based on my usual route to and from work. That helped narrow the field for me.

    That said, I’m from the far south side and now live near south, so I’ve got a pretty good sense of what schools are being talked about across the south side. (And I visited quite a few when looking for a school for my family.) Right now, you’re talking about all the schools from approximately Poe to NTA–and that’s a lot!

    I’m happy to help answer any questions you may have.

  • 107. SouthSider  |  October 7, 2015 at 7:29 pm

    Also, here’s a link to the south side discussion:


    You can find a lot of information there.

  • 108. southsidemom  |  October 8, 2015 at 11:14 am

    Wait how do you find out your tier? I’m scheduled to take the test on 11/6. I’m super nervous!

  • 109. Diane Chabes  |  October 8, 2015 at 11:20 am

    There is a link on the cps website. It has been changed for the 2016-2017 school year. And I actually went from a tier 4 to a tier 3 which I think, the way it was explained to me, gives me a slightly better chance at some schools…http://cpsmagnet.org/Tier%20Map%20FY13%20for%20FY15%20Enrollment.pdf

  • 110. wsm  |  October 8, 2015 at 11:31 am

    @103, we ran into that problem last year, and it was due to my daughter’s 504 plan. The people I initially talked to didn’t know that. They said it was my browser too. I would keep calling until you get a real answer and a test date. (That is, if you’ve tried a different browser already.)

  • 111. Southsidemom  |  October 8, 2015 at 11:56 am

    Ok I’m in tier 3. Is this good? Does it also effect my magnet school choices?

  • 112. AmandaK  |  October 8, 2015 at 12:37 pm

    @110/Southside Mom — I think each magnet does a proximity lottery (within 1.5 miles of school), a sibling lottery, and then a lottery for each tier. And then there are waitlists for each tier after the initial offers go out….at least I *think* that is how it works….

  • 113. southsidemom  |  October 8, 2015 at 1:03 pm

    @111-Thanks! This is like a whole second job!

  • 114. Headed to Kindergarten  |  October 8, 2015 at 3:34 pm

    Afternoon family

    My range for aouth side is so wide because I work in the field. Im some place different everyday so from 22nd to 115th works for me especially near the expressway.

    Ive gotten the sc hools narrowed down and we all scheduled!

    Im going to a few open houses (the ones I can) and I am going to pray for the best.

    I cant remember who helped me decipher the report regarding my neighborhood wchool, Madison, but let me say thank you!!!!!

  • 115. jen  |  October 8, 2015 at 8:42 pm

    Please remember with the 5 essential surveys, when looking at staff responses, often most of the staff doesn’t even bother to fill those things out. So, it can say 65% of the staff feels the school culture is not supportive, but that can be 65% of a dozen or so staff members, when the school has 80+ staff. I used to teach for CPS and we were told in no uncertain terms that we better fill that survey out to make the school look good or that central office might shut us down. I doubt that was true, but it was what we were told, and since none of us felt the survey had any impact on real operations at the school, we complied even though our answers were sometimes false. I know several other teachers at other CPS schools who were told and did the same thing.

  • 116. jen  |  October 8, 2015 at 8:43 pm

    As well most teachers worry a lot about their answers being confidential, so there is a question about whether anything is being answered honestly on the survey.

  • 117. Big City Mom  |  October 9, 2015 at 9:11 am

    Technical question: Anyone know why I’m unable to subscribe to the comments for this post? When I click on “subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed” I just get gibberish. And my previous post wherein I clicked on “notify me of new comments via email” doesn’t seem to work either.

  • 118. EdgewaterMom  |  October 9, 2015 at 12:27 pm

    Hi all, I am also from Edgewater area and looking for other area schools. I was born and brought up in a different country, so cps education system is totally new to me. Would like to know more about these schools – coonley neighbourhood, blaine, lasalle magnet, read somewhere that coonley neighbourhood school is not given much importance when compared to gifted program. would appreciate any info. Thanks!
    Also heard from another parent that ogden school is going to merge with Jenner.

  • 119. LearningCPS  |  October 9, 2015 at 1:32 pm

    @117 – All the schools you mentioned considered to be good schools, but unless you are planning on moving out of Edgewater into the attendance area for one of them, the only one you could try to get into is LaSalle by lottery. The others typically don’t take many or any out-of-neighborhood kids because they are full up with their own.

  • 120. prepchicagoblog  |  October 9, 2015 at 2:14 pm

    @EdgewaterMom. You should download the Options for Knowledge guide on the CPS website.

    Here is link: http://www.cpsoae.org/2016-2017%20Options%20for%20Knowledge%20Guide_English.pdf

    When you look through the guide, the schools that are only accepting a few applicants outside of their attendance boundary have a bolded note next to them. As @Learning CPS mentioned the schools you listed has historically not taken students from outside its boundaries for the past few years.

    Also those school who are not accepting any outside applicants have an asterisks by them in the back section.

  • 121. cpsobsessed  |  October 11, 2015 at 9:28 am

    FYI – Testing Mom has a few spots open for an info session next week: (I find her test prep info handy, but be ready for a glut of emails if you sign up for anything.)

    I am pleased to announce that I’ll be making a special trip to the Windy City THIS COMING SATURDAY, and if you’re a Chicago parent (or know a Chicago parent) who has a child in CPS (or know one who needs guidance), you won’t want to miss the workshop that I’ll be hosting where I’ll provide a two-hour forum jam-packed with invaluable information for you and your child’s educational future.

    If you are a preschool or early elementary parent who is confused about the Chicago Public School gifted testing & admissions process please join our live workshops with our team of CPS experts on Saturday, October 17, 2015 to discover resources that can help you!
    •Register now for this workshop. (only a few seats left so sign-up today)

    When: Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015 from 2pm to 4pm

    NEW Location in downtown Chicago:

    Gleacher Center
    Room 621 – Dining Room
    450 North Cityfront Plaza Drive
    Chicago, Illinois 60611

    We love your kids but due to the topic please no children at this event.
    •Here’s what you’ll learn at this event geared for Pre-K through 3rd grade parents:
    •Navigating the CPS Elementary School Admissions Process for Regional Gifted Center & Classical Schools – Grace Sawin from ChiSchoolGPS.com
    •Testing Secrets and Strategies for Success: Karen Quinn, the Testing Mom and testing authority
    •Preparing Your Elementary Child for Testing Without Cramming and Stressing. Test Prep Tips and Tutoring Resources – Gifted Versus Classical – Chicago Gifted Test Prep
    •Raffle prizes, discounts and more…
    •We love your kids but due to the topic please no children at this event.

    Register today for only $5.00 per person! Seating is limited

  • 122. Headed to Kindergarten  |  October 13, 2015 at 1:56 pm

    Ok parents got a question: when you go to the open houses what do you look for, rather what should you look for? Any particular questions to ask? I’m new to this and though I can think of things to ask, I don’t want to miss something and thing read about it later.

  • 123. AmandaK  |  October 13, 2015 at 2:03 pm

    @121/Headed to K — I think it depends on what your needs/hopes are for your child. For example, if you have two working parents, a solid after-school program would be something to ask about. My son is very active, and I would like for him to have P.E. or recess every day if possible. Other questions might be, how do they handle discipline, is there a dress code or a uniform, what kind of homework can you expect, will they have access to sports, music, etc. Maybe transportation if you think your child will need to take a school bus…This is just off the top of my head, but I’m trying to come up with questions too now that the school tours are coming up.

    In other news, has anyone, or is anyone going to tour Swift? I haven’t been able to get in touch with anyone there.

  • 124. neighborhood parent  |  October 14, 2015 at 11:17 am

    122/ Amanda – if you haven’t been able to reach anyone at Swift… consider calling the Alderman’s office (Harry Osterman) and speak with the Education Liaison, Karen Dreyfuss, she might have direct contact info of the right folks/parents/admin to assist.

    PS – this is advice for any neighborhood…. many of the (northside) aldermanic offices have staff that keep contact with the schools (some more than others, for certain)….. this is a good last effort avenue.

  • 125. Headed to Kindergarten  |  October 14, 2015 at 12:30 pm

    Another question, has the southside forum ended? I noticed you can’t post any comments and I got questions LOL.

  • 126. Headed to Kindergarten  |  October 14, 2015 at 12:55 pm

    Last question. When is NTA open house? I had the schedule but my computer and I are having relationship problems and now I can’t find it.

  • 127. kdjnewb  |  October 14, 2015 at 9:19 pm

    There are schools that are listed in the PDF options manual as “open enrollment” that are not an option in the online system. Any insight as to why? Thanks!

  • 128. cpswonderland  |  October 14, 2015 at 11:26 pm

    @125 NTA open house is on November 3rd and December 9th at 9a.m., 10a.m. and 11a.m.

  • 129. AmandaK  |  October 15, 2015 at 8:45 am

    @123 — Thanks! I actually got in touch with the principal at Swift and he was very helpful. I’m going to tour next month. =)

    @126 — The open enrollment schools may not be listed online because they are at max capacity and will not be take out-of-boundary students this year.

  • 130. Headed to Kindergarten  |  October 15, 2015 at 11:59 am

    @cpswonderland. Thank you!!!!

  • 131. Cliff  |  October 16, 2015 at 10:20 am

    @AmandaK 123

    For what it’s worth, since 2012 every CPS elementary school has daily recess (though it is generally less than a half hour). Every CPS elem school is required by policy to have 120 minutes of P.E. per week, and 150 per week next year, although some schools have not yet met this requirement.

    re: the 5 Essentials Survey, you can see the response rate for both students and teachers on the CPS Progress Report (on cps.edu) for each school. For example for NTA (the last school discussed above), the response rate for teachers was 91% for teachers and 97% for students, according to their report


  • 132. cpsobsessed  |  October 16, 2015 at 4:32 pm


    Well here is the South Side school thread, but I cannot figure out why it won’t take comments anymore. I’ll see what I can do about it this weekend, but it may have some helpful info for those on the South Side of the city.

  • 133. EdgewaterMom  |  October 20, 2015 at 11:08 am

    Thank you so much @learningcps and @prepchicagoblog.

    My son has mild articulation disorder with speech sound errors and is undergoing speech therapy.
    Should I mention it anywhere in the application process for the exam? Thank you so much!!

  • 134. KCabral  |  October 22, 2015 at 1:19 pm

    If anybody is interested in Galileo, I saw on their calendar they are having an Incoming Kindergarden Open house on Thursday, Nov. 5th from 9-10am.


  • 135. PREP Chicago  |  October 22, 2015 at 2:40 pm

    @133 Does he have an IEP? There is a place to indicate that your child has an IEP on the application. If he doesn’t, then you need to get him signed up for an evaluation ASAP.

  • 136. 2nd time around  |  October 24, 2015 at 10:23 am

    Schools just received their new CPS level ratings. I have been trying to find a complete list that’ve had no luck. Does anyone know if a full list has been released?

  • 137. jen  |  October 24, 2015 at 5:54 pm

    I am wondering why the state has not released all the PARCC scores out to every district in a form that can then be released to the public. Part of the argument for using PARCC was that scores would come out so much faster. Its now 6 months later and crickets.

  • 138. jksaf  |  October 24, 2015 at 9:13 pm

    @137 even if the scores come out before you decide at this point i wouldn’t put that much stock in them. being the first year, lots of glitches with administering them (computer-based) and kids not being familiar with the procedures. i work at a high-achieving district and they were ill-prepared on every level.

  • 139. Going thru this again  |  October 25, 2015 at 12:25 am

    FYI…I am trying again this year for first grade.
    But…last year we were waitlisted at all the schools we chose. There is actually an end-of-the-year lottery that we entered and were waitlisted for those also. Enrolled him in our neighborhood school. The first day of school I recieved 2 offers from schools that had waitlisted us and I literally called in June and was told there was really no hope since we were so far down their waitlists. Good luck everyone!

  • 140. Test  |  October 29, 2015 at 12:55 pm

    Does anyone know of triplets getting into a Magnet school? Is that possible?

  • 141. cpsobsessed  |  October 29, 2015 at 1:19 pm

    here is a map that shows how the Tiers changes this year (from the guys who build this app)


  • 142. CPS early dismissal policy  |  October 29, 2015 at 2:07 pm

    Does anyone know, how early an early dismissal has to be, in order for the child to be marked half a day absence? My older child’s school never marked him absent, if we had a doctor appointment etc. Even if I picked him up say two hours early. My younger son’s school is saying anything more then 45 minutes is considered half a day absent. The school’s parent student handbook does not mention early dismissal policy. I did not find any pertinent info on the central office website and I could not get hold of anyone in person today. Thank you!

  • 143. Fingers crossed… again!  |  October 29, 2015 at 2:19 pm

    The half-day policy is pretty crazy. I definitely know it changed about two years ago. I can’t remember the exact amount of minutes they need to be in school for it to be considered a half or whole day, but our school lets out at 2:30, and I believe if they are picked up any earlier than 1:30 or 2 PM, it is considered a half-day. Our school basically encourages us to get all doctors visits scheduled for outside of school hours.

  • 144. cpsobsessed  |  October 29, 2015 at 2:24 pm

    Ha, are they aware how few doctor appts are available outside of school hours (especially with the long school day + travel time?) I was just looking in Orthodotists and they have like 1 day a week with a couple hours after school. I suppose one could go in at like 8am and then scoot to school. But I am amazed how kid-oriented docs do not keep school-friendly hours.

    @142 – are you concerned about absences for a particular reason? CPS has a fairly high threshold before anything happens.

  • 145. PREP Chicago  |  October 29, 2015 at 2:33 pm

    @140 If you link your triplets applications together, they will be waitlisted in order next to each other (ie. 12, 13, 14). I believe that Murray Language Academy had a set of triplets 2 years ago.

  • 146. 1st grade  |  October 30, 2015 at 11:12 am

    If you are looking for a spot at Decatur, they will be adding approx 30 new seats for 1st grade in 2016. Apply now to test in!

  • 147. Decatur, grade 1  |  October 30, 2015 at 11:24 am

    If you are looking for a spot at Decatur, they will be adding approx 30 new seats for 1st grade in 2016. Apply now to test in!

  • 148. Newcomer  |  October 30, 2015 at 1:15 pm

    Can anyone comment on Bell vs Decatur? I know it’s “RGC”
    vs “Classical” but what type of child would benefit from which program? Firsthand testimonials welcome! Thanks and have a great weekend.

  • 149. Fingers crossed...again!  |  October 30, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    I will let someone else respond for Claasical, however in CPS, all Gifted/RGC really means is that your child will work one year (or, in later grades, sometimes two years) ahead. They will skip the Kindergarten curriculum and will start (and be graded against) the 1st grade curriculum and rubrics.

  • 150. cpsprisoner  |  October 30, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    @ 148 Newcomer

    Let the test tell you which (rgc or classical) is best for your child. I believe (and its been said by many) the different tests are able to glean what type of skill/level/ability your child is best at. Put both on your application, and I would go with better/closer location as your major deciding factor which school gets the #1 rank on application) and see what, if any thing, the score gives you.

  • 152. IL School report cards  |  October 31, 2015 at 1:00 pm

    Each year, the Illinois State Board of Education releases “report cards,” detailed analyses of the performance of public schools and school districts in Illinois, in accordance with state and federal law.

    Good way to research schools.


  • 153. MamaBlue  |  October 31, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    We are going through testing for a second time this year. Our son is now a 1st grader at Skinner North, and has been there since K. It’s a great school and we feel very fortunate that he got in. We are hoping that our daughter does well on the SEES test this year as well. She tests on 11/20 for kindergarten. Having been through this all before, I feel much more relaxed about the whole process. I love that they are allowing the kids to test early and get results early this year. A huge benefit is that most private/catholic schools require a deposit to reserve a spot by January. Not knowing the test results with my son until March made us lose a (quite expensive) deposit to a Catholic school, which was our second choice if the SEES thing didn’t work out. We had to pay it to keep the spot because we didn’t know until March that he got in to SN,

    For those of you worried about how your child will do, I recommend testing through the Northwestern Center for Talent Development. It’s a fun program where if the child scores above the 90th percentile in reading and math, he or she can sign up for their Saturday Enrichment classes. My son did them for two years and loved them. The classes are fun (pricey), but don’t feel like school work for the kids. Plus, we found that his test scores for that program were identical to his scores on the CPS test.

    Also, I recommend taking tours of the SEES schools you are interested in. For us, it was sort of like buying a house. You know which one feels right. After all, you know your child better than anyone. The tours give you a real sense of the attitudes and goals of the staff, the type of material that is taught, and the environment that your child will be in everyday. We felt like SN was a good fit for our son so we ranked it as our first choice. Thankfully it worked out and it really seems to be a good fit so far.

    As far as “what’s on the test?” goes, I have no idea! We asked my son a bunch of times when he finished it, and he couldn’t remember. As any parent who has a child that has tested will tell you, it’s like they erase their memory before they leave the room!

    When it comes to test prep, we didn’t take any formal classes or go to any testing seminars. We had been teaching our son things from the time he was a baby, as all parents do. I will say that he was reading chapter books and doing some pretty advanced math (double digit addition, subtraction, negative #s) before he tested. We never pushed him to do anything. He used to ask us to do math for fun! We still don’t know where he got that from! Our daughter is the same way. We are keeping our fingers crossed that she doesn’t throw a temper tantrum on the day of the test!!

    I know this is a SUPER stressful time for all parents. But try to stay relaxed about it in front of the kids as much as possible. We never told our son he was taking a “test”. We called it school games. Plus, kids love to tell adults what they know. We told our son,” this nice man wants to hear about the types of things you know.” It seemed to keep him relaxed about everything. He had no idea we were sitting there sweating with butterflies in our stomachs!

    Good luck to all!

  • 154. MamaBlue  |  October 31, 2015 at 5:04 pm

    One more thing…the kids that get in to the selective enrollment schools really do have a very wide range of abilities. Some kids are advanced readers, some are just learning the basics. The tests are not only designed to see what the kids already know, but also to assess their ability to learn in the selective enrollment environment. It basically looks at ability AND potential. So don’t be discouraged if your child isn’t doing quantum physics and reading Shakespeare. Some kids are in the testing room for 15 minutes, some for 45. It seems to have no bearing on how well they score. 🙂

  • 155. Camille  |  November 1, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    Dear Parents-that-have-been-there,

    How is the 1st grade test administered? I understand the Kindergarten test is one-on-one verbal/pointing, no writing.
    What happens at the 1st grade and up+ level?
    Group testing? Written? Fill in bubbles? Do they bring a pencil?
    Are they read the questions, or do they read on their own? Test duration?
    Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

  • 156. FingersCrossed...Again!  |  November 1, 2015 at 5:00 pm

    I wanted to share that we made it through Kindergarten SEES testing this morning – whew!

    CPSOAE did a great job of robo calling in the days prior to confirm our testing time *as well as* reminding us that this weekend was Daylight Savings Time.

    The testing building at IIT was well marked, parking was easy (they send a map in an email a day or two before testing), and the staff was very upbeat and friendly.

    Shortly after you check in, a test proctor comes into the waiting room and introduces themselves to your child, telling them they are a teacher and that they are going to go ask them a few questions…and that the child would get a sticker when they are done.

    I saw a few children hesitate slightly and ask for their parents to come with them, but the proctors did a good job of remaining upbeat and getting the children to go without a fuss. And all the children I saw come back from testing did so with a smile…proudly showing off their sticker.

    And – as is consistent with everyone I’ve known who has ever had a child go through Kindergarten testing – I got NO SCOOP from my child after the test. I swear they sprinkle “forgetting powder” on the kids as they leave, as I’ve never known anyone to get a clear understanding of what was asked in that room.

    The mystery continues…

  • 157. Maria  |  November 1, 2015 at 7:58 pm

    Lol…that’s what happened to me last year when my son went in and tested for kindergarten. Absolutely nothing from him when we got out. All I remember him mention was that he had to point to something red in the room.
    Registered him for the 1st grade both classical and gifted. I’m okay with the school he is at now, especially since his class size is only 26. Things get hectic around our house during the holidays so I registered for the test dates for January so he can go back to focusing on school a little more. Does anybody have info on how high he would have to test for Skinner West?

  • 158. Camille  |  November 1, 2015 at 9:20 pm

    @157 Maria

    For 1st grade at Skinner West (and Decatur) there are no tiers for non-entry year, so only the highest scorers get selected.
    I don’t know the optimal score range at this level…

    Do you know the room setting for 1st grade classical test?
    Is it 10, 20, 30 kids in a room?
    Do they get their own desks? or in an Auditorium?
    Any one know the setting? Do they fill in a bubble or circle the correct answer in multiple choice?
    I’ve scoured the FAQ’s and can not find any info…

    One test item from last years kindergarten thread is that some parents (that went past 25 minutes) mentioned that coins were on the K classical test. Can’t hurt to brush up on coin identification!

  • 159. Maria  |  November 1, 2015 at 9:27 pm

    @Camille, all I hear is that there grouped, but no one says knows how many in a group. Thanx for the heads up about coins. Good luck! My son is at Chappell this year, we were waitlisted for it on the second list and got a call on the firstcday of school. Now going thru this all again

  • 160. 2nd time around  |  November 2, 2015 at 12:16 am

    Three years ago my child took the RGC test for 1st grade, but not the Classical. At that time, the group of kids that tested together was around 20-30 in size. My understanding was that they went into a classroom and that the questions were read to them. My child mentioned that they learned how to fill in a bubble. Of course, this was a while ago now so things may have changed a bit.

  • 161. Camille  |  November 2, 2015 at 9:26 am

    @159 Maria

    I did a search through last years thread, and it appears that a 99.+ in both reading and math is likely needed for the Skinners or Decatur in 1st grade.
    Many parents posted scores like 99/98, and received “no offered” for 1st. So it seems like its just as high as Kindergarten scores.

  • 162. cpsobsessed  |  November 2, 2015 at 10:14 am

    My understanding for 1st grade testing is that bubble skills aren’t needed – that it is more about circling the right answers. (Again,, this can always change. It possibly cannot hurt to have a kid practice filling in some bubbles, but that’s a pretty fine motor skill for a little kid so seems unlikely a score would depend on that.)

  • 163. cpsobsessed  |  November 2, 2015 at 10:27 am

    The last time I was there for testing when they did it as a group I’d say it was around 20 kids per group.

  • 164. LearningCPS  |  November 2, 2015 at 11:40 am

    @ Camille – I thought that when Decatur opens up a full additional 1st grade room (as they will be this time around), there are tiers involved as it is considered an entry point at that time since they are adding 28/29 kids who weren’t there before. Years where they are only filling a few vacated spots (like this past year) in a single 1st grade room are not tiered.

  • 165. Maria  |  November 2, 2015 at 12:37 pm

    Thank you, I appreciate it!

  • 166. SWparent  |  November 2, 2015 at 12:44 pm

    For what it is worth, there will be at least two open spots in the first grade class at Skinner West next year. For a variety of reasons, the current kindergarten class only has 28 students when it should have 30; this will open up a least two new spots and does not include any other spots that may open up due to moving/job relocation, etc. Good luck!

  • 167. Camille  |  November 2, 2015 at 2:59 pm

    @164 LearningCPS

    My understanding is that “entry grade” at Decatur (and the Skinners) is only Kindergarten, and at Beaubien & Bell Gifted it is 1st grade (since neither have a kindergarten gifted). Depends on the school.
    When entering 1st grade at Decatur it is never considered an entry grade year whether it is when adding a whole new class or filling vacated spots from Kindergarten.
    That’s how it was explained to me. If that has since changed…please let me know.

  • 168. LearningCPS  |  November 2, 2015 at 4:48 pm

    @167 I just thought I’d remembered reading somewhere in my own research that because Decatur doesn’t always add a full extra 1st grade that in the years they do it they have 2 entry levels, K and 1.

    I could be completely wrong, though it seems that when bringing in a whole full class to not use tiers seems a bit counter to the whole tier system…

  • 169. Julia  |  November 3, 2015 at 10:25 pm

    Question regarding the tests. My daughter is entering first grade and I want to test her for both RGC schools and Classical schools. When I view my scheduled tests on the apply.cps.edu site, it shows this:

    Selective Enrollment Elementary School Programs
    Regional, International, Academic Center

    Can someone confirm that this means she’ll be taking both tests? Thanks!

  • 170. parent  |  November 3, 2015 at 11:18 pm

    @Julia, You’ve only signed up for the RGC test. You should have two test dates. The one for classical schools will be labeled, under “type of test”, Classical School. The RGC test will be labeled “Regional, International, Academic Center”. Once you schedule both tests, on the dashboard it will read “Completed” under “scheduling status.” (It will only allow you to schedule the classical test if you’ve applied to classical schools).

  • 171. cpsobsessed  |  November 4, 2015 at 12:09 am

    I confirmed via OAE that the tier system is NOT used for entry into Decatur in 1st grade, only in K, the entry year.

  • 172. Camille  |  November 4, 2015 at 7:42 am

    @171 cpsobsessed

    Thank You!

  • 173. DadofThree  |  November 9, 2015 at 12:59 pm

    Is the Sun-Times no longer publishing a list of CPS rankings each year? Is there a similar ranking available? I feel like it used to be published every October/November…Thanks for any comments!

  • 174. Test Scores  |  November 9, 2015 at 1:35 pm

    Annual Update: Elementary School Test Scores – NWEA MAP

    I track Attainment. Some prefer Growth (primarily because Attainment is highly correlated with parental income). I acknowledge that Growth is a more important concept for Teacher evaluations, but its not my personal preference. I came to that conclusion because comparing different schools based on Growth is very messy when they all start in different places.

    These are sorted by highest score, but please no hurt feelings, I will be the first to admit that test scores are NOT a sufficient way to summarize a school. But in my opinion they are ONE of SEVERAL important criteria. I highly recommend touring all options on your personal short list.

    Also as has been discussed on this site, if you are considering trekking your child 10-20 miles across Chicago twice a day in rush hour traffic in order to attend a school with slightly higher test scores, you may want to take a long hard look at your priorities and how that will impact your quality of life for you, your spouse, and your child(ren).

    These are the 2015 NWEA MAP results, available online at cps.edu. This is the third year adminstering the NWEA MAP in CPS. The CPS Board of Education uses NWEA MAP scores (Attainment and Growth) as the primary foundation of its School Quality Rating Policy (Level 3, 2, 2+, 1, 1+). So teachers and principals are motivated to improve performance. Not to be confused with other standardized testing in CPS, namely the recently replaced ISAT & the controversial PARCC (many choosing to opt-out).

    I use the full 2nd thru 8th Grade Attainment results. I take the % of Students At/Above the National Average for Math and for Reading and then average those two numbers. If this list shows your school as 80%, then 80% of the students scored At/Above Standards on average. That puts your school in the top 1% of schools nationally (out of schools that took the NWEA MAP). A 70% corresponds to approximately the top 10% of schools (again nationally).

    Without Further Ado…The 2015 Results

    Selective Enrollment Schools

    Skinner North: 99.7(% of Students At/Above National Average)
    Edison: 99
    Decatur: 99
    Keller: 98
    McDade: 96
    Lenart: 96
    Poe: 95
    Skinner West*: 90
    Bell*: 86
    Coonley*: 85
    Beaubien*: 78
    South Loop*: 77
    Pritzker*: 68

    *Denotes a school that includes both Selective Enrollment and Neighborhood students (scores not reported separately)

    Top Magnet Schools

    Hawthorne: 89
    Andrew Jackson: 84
    STEM: 84
    Sheridan: 83
    LaSalle: 80
    Stone: 79
    Galileo: 78
    LaSalle II: 77
    Kershaw: 77
    Disney II: 75
    Thorp, O: 75
    Drummond: 75
    Franklin: 75
    Disney: 74
    Turner-Drew: 72
    Newberry: 69

    Neighborhood Schools – Near North

    Lincoln: 90
    Skinner West*: 90
    Blaine: 88
    Alcott: 88
    Bell*: 86
    Coonley*: 85
    Burley: 79
    Hamilton: 78
    South Loop*: 77
    Ogden: 77
    Audubon: 76
    Mayer: 73
    Nettelhorst: 70
    Waters: 70
    Prescott: 70
    Pulaski: 69
    Pritzker*: 68
    Ravenswood: 68
    Greeley*: 67

    *Denotes a school that includes both Selective Enrollment and Neighborhood students (scores not reported separately, Greeley Gifted program is for Bilingual students)

    Neighborhood Schools – Northwest

    Edgebrook: 87
    Wildwood: 86
    Sauganash: 84
    Oriole Park: 84
    Edison Park: 81
    Norwood Park: 81
    Ebinger: 80
    Solomon: 80
    Beaubien*: 78
    Onahan: 77
    Garvy: 72
    Smyser: 72
    Hitch: 70

    Neighborhood Schools – Rest of the City

    Mount Greenwood: 84
    Healy: 84
    Hefferan: 81
    Whistler: 81
    Canty: 80
    Haines: 79
    Mitchell: 74
    Earhart: 74
    Dore: 73
    Sutherland: 72
    Sherwood: 72
    CICS – Avalon/South Shore: 72
    Burroughs: 72
    West Ridge: 72
    Washington, G: 71
    Ward, J: 71
    Jamieson: 71
    Cassell: 71
    Chavez: 70

  • 175. Camille  |  November 9, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    @ 173 DadofThree

    the tribune did:


  • 176. Test Scores  |  November 9, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    As a quick follow up, I’m often asked about those schools with both Selective Enrollment & Neighborhood options.

    It’s safe to assume 95-100% of the Selective Enrollment students tested at/above national standards. So if you can estimate the number of Selective Enrollment students, then you can back into the Neighborhood score.

    For example, I believe at Bell & Coonley there is only one classroom per grade level for the Selective Enrollment Gifted program. I estimate this corresponds to ~20% and ~25% of all test takers respectively (based on total school enrollment). That would imply Bell’s neighborhood program had 83% of students at/above standards, and Coonley’s had 80%. Bumping them down slightly, but not significantly.

    Now at the other schools (such as Skinner West and South Loop), I don’t know the Selective Enrollment vs Neighborhood mix, so someone with that info would have to fill us in.

  • 177. Test Scores  |  November 9, 2015 at 2:00 pm

    @ 173/175: Those tribune scores are based on Spring 2014 ISAT scores. The Illinois State Board of Education converted from the ISAT to the PARCC for Spring 2015. Those scores are not yet fully available (will ultimately be posted to the ISBE website) but some preliminary results have been reported in the press if you want to google it. The conversion has been controversial with significant discussion around opting out of testing.

    The press used to like the ISAT because it was readily available to compare the city to the suburbs. While you don’t get that with the NWEA MAP (what I posted above), the intra-city results do just fine, given we can compare them to national averages.

  • 178. cpsobsessed  |  November 9, 2015 at 2:55 pm

    @ Test scores – awesome, thank you for posting! I love the data and all your caveats to go with it.

    Prescott has really advanced from where it was several years ago.
    Hamilton also is in a good spot. And as usual, test scores generally follow demographics.

    Many of the top schools continue to be at the top (Hawthorne, Edgebrook.)

    Nice analysis of the combined options/neighborhood schools as well.

  • 179. test score question  |  November 9, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    @ Test Scores – That’s some work putting those lists together, appreciate you sharing.

    I am a little confused about where you are getting the 100% for SN and Edison? When I look at the CPS site, the reports don’t show either school listed at 100%. When I run a quick comparison on the site between your top 4 for “meets/exceeds” it shows D=98.9,
    Ed = 98.8 SN= 99.3 Keller = 99. Even if you round that puts them all at 99%, none at 100%. When I look at each individually they all have straight 99% attainment across the board for all grades; variances are in growth but that isn’t what you said you use. I’m just confused how that correlates with the data you posted…am I missing something?

    100% seems almost impossible to attain, even for SE schools, so that’s why it caught my eye.

  • 180. Test Scores  |  November 9, 2015 at 3:13 pm

    @179 Sorry, Skinner North should be 99.7 and Edison Should be 98.9.

    Skinner North had 99.3% of students at or above national standards in Reading and 100% in math.

    Relative to the classical exam, “at” national standards is a very low bar.

    Data is here:


  • 181. DadofThree  |  November 9, 2015 at 3:32 pm

    @ Test Scores – Thanks so much for sharing this information and the link to where the data is found. I really appreciate it. Good work!

  • 182. feeder schools  |  November 9, 2015 at 3:37 pm

    Lincoln and Ogden have selective IG programs if you include grades 6-8. If you focus on the lower grades – more relevant to new applicants – there seems to be a dampening effect on Bell and Hawthorne from the emergence of Coonley’s RGC.

  • 183. Test Scores  |  November 9, 2015 at 3:38 pm

    @ 178 / cpsobsessed Thank you!

    Yes, Hamilton & Prescott tested far better than their reputation in 2015, and have been trending up. My favorite stat about Prescott is actually the enrollment: students in grades 6-8: 46, students in k-2: 174!

    That’s another reason using only this data is limited. I’m sure those parents would have told you two or three years ago that things were improving, but if you didn’t go tour & do your homework all you saw was a low test score number.

  • 184. cpsobsessed  |  November 9, 2015 at 4:35 pm

    @Test Scores – yes, that is exactly right. For a school “in transition” as Prescott was, parents often have to take the admin on faith while the test scores still look fairly crummy, only to see a huge jump a few years down the road. (Again, test scores follow demos so once the kids of higher tier, college educated parents start testing, scores jump. This happened at Nettlehorst, Waters, etc quite abruptly back when those schools were going through demographic changes.)

    That is pretty amazing about the # enrolled at Prescott. Coonley too, has 3 8th grade classes and 5 (maybe 6) Kindergarten classes. I can’t even fathom how one little neighborhood can have that many 5 year olds!

  • 185. Meghan  |  November 10, 2015 at 1:59 pm

    I have a question regarding the Tiers. We are moving to Chicago later this year and do not have a current Chicago address. I was told when I called the OAE that this is not a problem so long as we have a Chicago address prior to the first day of school. Will the fact that we don’t have the address yet impact my son’s chances of acceptance due to the Tier system? We are new to this whole process so I appreciate this page very much!

  • 186. Chicago School GPS  |  November 10, 2015 at 3:12 pm

    From CPSOAE:
    Students do not have to live in the city of Chicago in order to apply and participate in the selection process for the Selective Enrollment schools and programs, magnet schools and programs, and open enrollment schools.

    However, students DO have to live in the city of Chicago in order to enroll in and attend these schools, as well as any other Chicago public school. Proof of residency is required by July 1, 2015, for enrollment in the 2015-2016 school year.

    For the entry years, CPSOAE finds the Tier equivalent that your out of town address is and uses that as your application Tier. Again, this is only done if you are applying for an entry year (K for most programs).

  • 187. worried about kinder  |  November 11, 2015 at 2:01 pm

    It seems like so many schools that used to be true neighborhood magnet schools are saying that they are no longer accepting outside of the neighborhood or siblings only – and CPS budget cuts are always looming. It seems from my perspective that the chances of getting into a decent neighborhood magnet cluster school are slowly disappearing. But I’m new to this – any thoughts from vetrans?

  • 188. cps veteran  |  November 11, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    dear worried about kinder,
    pls throw out some examples of the schools you are worried about or the neighborhoods you are focused on….. some of your worries have been realized many years ago (ie. specific northside schools are not ‘open’ outside their boundaries)…. but the list of schools that are experiencing demographic shifts/funding increases/enrollment changes never ceases to amaze me…. the power of the parent community is never to be ignored… just ask Prescott, Hamilton, Agassiz, Amundsen (i kno HS), Senn, Ravenswood, Peirce, Swift…. and I’m sure the list continues in other parts of the city.
    GL! Vet Parent

  • 189. 2nd Time  |  November 11, 2015 at 2:20 pm

    @Meghan. I applied from out of state and flew in to take the test for my daughter for KG. Our out of state address was a Tier 4 according the the U.S. Census. She scored 98 in Reading and 58 in math. I forgot what her gifted score was. Her scores didn’t qualify her for a SEES spot and we were not planning to move to Chicago until 2016, but I wanted to see where we needed to supplement. I know I’m crazy like that. I am applying again from out of state for both my son (KG) and daughter (1st grade) this time. I got my son an early test date, so I’ll rank his SEES schools according to his test results OR withdraw all together depending on his scores. I think it’s a long shot that my kids will get a SEES spot as Tier 4, but it’s still worth a try. I ranked my daughters schools according to schools that have 1st grade as entry years (decatur, bell, keller, etc) since there are more spots available. Her best hope is RGC since it seems like you need 99.9 in reading and math to get a 1st grade classical spot. I’ll cross my fingers for magnet bc I’d like to keep my kids together and I’m still unsure if I want to put them through the rigor of a SEES school and/or two different drop offs.

  • 190. FingersCrossed...Again!  |  November 11, 2015 at 2:26 pm

    So…I am learning that one non-benefit of being told we will receive test results early (if you are testing your child between Nov 1 and Nov 20) – is that I am now obsessing over when *that* letter will come in.

    Has anyone else taken their obsession further and possibly called CPOAE to inquire?

    Like will it be a rolling delivery (since they are just sending scores – nothing is weighted against actual schools yet – couldn’t they just send them as soon as they are processed)?

    Will they all be sent after the 20th? How long after the 20th? Will they come when we’re gone for Thanksgiving?

    Will they be coming in on December 10th and we will have to scramble to submit our schools on December 11th?

    Watching the Mailbox – Part I (of III)


  • 191. 2nd Time  |  November 11, 2015 at 2:28 pm

    btw, any early KG testers willing to share scores once they receive them? my son has a mid-july bday. He just started reading BOB books and working hard on his own to read, but it seems like kids are reading chapter books by their KG test date! I suppose I could’ve waited until Jan/Feb for him to improve, but I’m not taking SEES that seriously the 2nd time around. I’ll gladly keep him in Montessori for his KG year.

  • 192. worried about kinder  |  November 11, 2015 at 2:57 pm

    @ cps vet
    Thanks for the reply – I actually don’t have a list right now because every school I look at is already past the up and coming stage – can anyone point us to a good one or two of those. I’m willing to what I can to pull a school up.

  • 193. cps parent  |  November 11, 2015 at 3:32 pm

    @worried about kinder
    You may want to look into Jahn. It just went from a 2+ to a 1. It seems to be trending up. Has anyone toured this school? I am curious about it as well.

  • 194. Headed to Kindergarten  |  November 11, 2015 at 3:35 pm

    Is it possible to get a tour of neighborhood/magnet schools?

  • 195. worried about kinder  |  November 11, 2015 at 3:59 pm

    Yes, I have toured many. Most have standing tour days each month that show up on the school calendar – otherwise call and ask. I have not found a school that doesn’t have tours yet.

  • 196. Chicago School GPS  |  November 11, 2015 at 9:01 pm

    We try to put tour dates on our CSG Calendar: http://www.chischoolgps.com/Calendar.php

    The list is not exhaustive, so if we missed any, let us know and we will add it.

  • 197. Test Scores  |  November 12, 2015 at 2:03 am

    @192/193 Have not toured Jahn, but lived nearby recently. Very many “We believe in Jahn Elementary” yard signs around Hamlin Park. The optimistic view would be that it is like Prescott three or four years ago, but I’m not an insider.

    As for others, Prescott took a good number off of their waitlist to add a second kindergarten this year (for budget), so they could have room again.

    If you’re looking for a school that follows the traditional model of getting whiter and richer with test scores improving down the road… its probably exactly what you would expect. Bucktown (Pulaski, Goethe, Burr… Columbus or Mitchell as well), Lincoln Square (Waters, McPherson, perhaps Ravenswood), Greeley in Buena Park put up a good score, recently added a Gifted program for bilingual students.

    Certainly put Disney magnet on your list just because of sheer size.

    One last one I’ll add: Does anyone know anything about McClellan in Bridgeport? Scores are better, school has gone from 14% to 19% white, and there has been a lot of newbuild home development in the area at the ~$500k price point:


  • 198. @test score  |  November 12, 2015 at 10:56 am

    Huh?!? Really?!? “Whiter & richer”??? 😖That’s a new low for this thread. I would hope others who read your comment ignore that comment. Some people like diversity whether it’s because of race or SES.

  • 199. Test Scores  |  November 12, 2015 at 12:00 pm

    @198: It’s a well documented fact that gentrification is highly correlated with test scores in CPS neighborhood schools; one that’s frequently noted by the founder of this blog (see 178/184). I apologize if I offended you with my phrasing, that was not my intent.

    I hypothesize that if we had data for “children of parents with bachelors’ degrees or more”, then that would erase the vast majority of the apparent race & income correlation, but alas we do not have that data, so I use what is available as a crude proxy.

  • 200. Kenwood Parent  |  November 12, 2015 at 1:01 pm

    @198 Unfortunately, this seems to be the case. Not quite sure in what spirit “Test Scores” said the above, but we all know that whiter and more wealthy schools (in Chicago at least) have higher test scores. We can chalk this up to the history of America. This is an unfortunate truth that CPS is attempting to chisel away at with the tier system (well at least, for selective enrollment and magnet school spots).

  • 201. luveurope  |  November 12, 2015 at 2:43 pm

    200 The tier systems supports the whole city not just “Whiter & richer”. If tiers were abolished 99% of SEHS spots would be “Whiter & richer” based on true merit. just sayin…

  • 202. Momto3  |  November 12, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    What came first? The chicken or the egg?

    Goethe and Pulaski are 85% non-white. 41% of students at Goethe are low income while 73% of Pulaski are low income.

    Brentano, also in Logan Square and predominantly Latino, completely flipped their school from being on the closing list to a well performing school. This was the hard work of the teachers and the student body.

    I would argue that parents are attracted to a school because of the rising test scores and strong community – but I wouldn’t be so quick to assume that this is *always* the result of gentrification.

  • 203. Seth Lavin  |  November 12, 2015 at 5:12 pm

    Hello– I am the principal of Brentano school in Logan Square. I also live in the neighborhood and am myself a Brentano parent. Thank you @momto3 for your kind words– we are very proud of our school and all it has accomplished. We’re growing quickly (up 40 kids over last year) and we plan to add a new Kindergarten class next fall. I’m hopeful this will allow us to offer a Kindergarten spot this spring to everyone who wants one. Please visit our website for more information or email me at SLavin@CPS.edu for a tour. Thank you. http://brentanomathandscienceacademy.org/

  • 204. Kenwood Parent  |  November 12, 2015 at 7:42 pm

    @ 201 I think you misunderstood my post, as it is obvious that the tier system is attempting “spread the wealth” so to speak (maybe the next generation will have more even wealth distribution?). Also, your definition of “merit” is debatable.

  • 205. SN Parent  |  November 12, 2015 at 9:01 pm

    For those inquiring, my child got into skinner north for 1st grade with 99% math and 98% reading. Tier is irrelevant since non-entry year, but we are tier 4. She was accepted in early June. Be patient as non-returning families often do not let schools know until the very last minute. We couldn’t be happier at Skinner – it’s a perfect fit for our child and I am so glad that we made the choice to try again for her. Follow your gut. Good luck everyone! I am so happy to be sitting this year out, but will be back in for kindergarten for my son next year (and praying for a SN acceptance in order to have both kids in same school). Wish me luck!

  • 206. @201  |  November 12, 2015 at 10:32 pm

    That’s baloney! If tiers were abolished 99% of the SE HSs would not be “whiter & richer!!!” Brooks, Lindblom & King have very few “whiter and richer” kids now because no one is trying to integrate the schools. So that’s not really the truth is it?

  • 207. Test Scores  |  November 13, 2015 at 11:39 am

    I generally try to steer clear of thinking in racial terms, again since I believe test scores have “causation” driven by wealth & parental education as opposed to racial “correlation”… but since I may have put my foot in my mouth above, maybe this can rectify that damage.

    This blog, it seems, serves many audiences, and sometimes Near North parents comparing those options to the burbs (whether its New Trier, Deerfield, Hindale, Naperville, etc) can drown out the others.

    Every school on these lists has >55% of its students at or above national averages, and is considered above average (top 40% of schools, many of them top 25%) nationally. For the majority of these, that’s an extraordinary achievement when you consider the number of low income students. (Same NWEA MAP attainment scores I posted above).

    Sorted by CPS Network (for rough location proxy), generally the lower the number the farther north – map is here:

    (Click Magnifying Glass w/ Plus sign, select overlays, select CPS Networks)

    Presented in the format:
    School / % of Students Testing At or Above Standards / School Rank (Percentile compared to other schools)

    Majority African American student population CPS schools (K-8):
    34 Schools serving ~15,000 students

    West Side:
    Network 3:
    Clark, G – 62 % of students / 75 th Percentile for the school

    Network 5:
    Hefferan – 81 / 99

    South Side:
    Network 9:
    Murray – 63 / 83
    Ariel – 61 / 78
    Shoesmith – 61 / 78

    Network 10:
    Sutherland – 72 / 92
    Kellogg – 63 / 78
    Clissold – 60 / 72

    Network 11:
    Sherwood – 72 / 95
    Wacker – 65 / 84
    Foster Park – 59 / 70
    Green – 57 / 71
    Kipling – 56 / 61

    Network 12:
    Earhart – 74 / 91
    Dixon – 67 / 87
    Caldwell – 66 / 85
    Coles – 65 / 80
    McDowell – 61 / 70
    Gillespie – 58 / 81
    Hoyne – 58 / 65

    Network 13:
    Whistler – 81 / 99
    Fernwood – 66 / 91
    Cullen – 66 / 86
    Brown, R – 58 / 65

    Charter (Some of these may only be middle schools not K-8):
    CICS – Avalon/South Shore – 72 / 92
    Noble – Comer HS – 65 / 79
    CICS – Wrightwood – 61 / 75
    U of C – NKO – 61 / 73
    CICS – Basil – 60 / 74
    LEARN – Butler – 60 / 78
    LEARN – South Chicago – 60 / 78
    Chicago Collegiate – 55 / 67

    Majority Hispanic student population CPS schools (K-8):
    *Note some of these are even higher for math, lower for reading due to a high percentage of bilingual students*

    56 Schools serving ~40,000 Students

    Network 1:
    Smyser – 72 / 94
    Gray, W – 61 / 76
    Reinberg – 60 / 74
    North River – 59 / 74
    Murphy – 58 / 73
    Cleveland – 58 / 68
    Albany Park – 58 / 75
    Scammon – 56 / 66
    Marshall, T – 55 / 61

    Network 2:
    Chappell – 65 / 83
    Peirce – 59 / 76

    Network 3:
    Lyon – 69/91

    Network 4:
    Greeley – 67 / 85
    Von Linne – 65 / 83
    Goethe – 63 / 85

    Network 5:
    Mitchell – 74 / 95
    Plamondon – 57 / 73

    Network 6:
    Pulaski – 69 / 90
    Talcott – 56 / 68

    Network 7:
    Perez – 65 / 79
    Orozco – 62 / 78
    Cardenas – 60 / 67
    Pickard – 56 / 61

    Network 8:
    Burroughs – 72 / 89
    Chavez – 70 / 86
    Columbia Explorers – 61 / 76
    Peck – 57 / 68
    Talman – 57 / 72
    Carson – 57 / 62

    Network 10:
    Dore – 73 / 93
    Twain – 69 / 89
    Grimes – 68 / 87
    Kinzie – 67 / 81
    Stevenson – 64 / 80
    Byrne – 61 / 76
    Hale – 61 / 76
    Durkin Park – 60 / 73
    Azuela – 56 / 63
    Dawes – 56 / 70

    Network 13:
    Washington, G – 71 / 90
    Grissom – 67 / 85
    Addams – 60 / 73
    Clay – 56 / 65

    CICS- Irving Park – 68 / 91
    UNO – Zizumbo – 68 / 88
    CICS – West Belden – 68 / 86
    Rowe – 65 / 82
    UNO – De Las Casas – 65 / 80
    UNO – Fuentes – 65 / 84
    Intrinsic HS – 64 / 75
    UNO – Torres – 63 / 82
    UNO – CHTR-51st-Homan – 61 / 76
    UNO – Santiago – 58 / 69
    CMSA HS – 58 / 68
    UNO – CISNEROS – 58 / 69
    UNO – PAZ – 56 / 67

    Majority Asian student population CPS schools (K-8):
    3 Schools serving ~2,600 students

    All in Chinatown, all showed up on my original list (>70%)
    Healy – 84 / 99
    Haines – 79 / 97
    Ward, J – 71 / 93

    And so I don’t leave anyone out, Mixed Schools, defined as <25% White, but no single race majority (mix of African American, Hispanic, Asian, Multi-Racial, Other)

    10 Schools serving ~8,000 students

    Network 2 (Rogers Park to Uptown):

    Rogers – 68 / 90
    Hayt – 63 / 81
    Clinton – 63 / 86
    Boone – 62 / 80
    Goudy – 61 / 76
    Swift – 60 / 73
    Armstrong, G – 59 / 72
    McCutcheon – 58 / 72

    Network 3:
    Sayre – 59 / 74

    Network 6:
    McClellan – 61 / 78

    This list is so long, you may ask if I've lowered standards too much and included everyone, or if the NWEA MAP national percentiles are too easy. However, all told these schools (plus the well performing majority white schools not listed) make up only one third of the ~500 K-8 Schools serving ~285,000 students in CPS.

    So hopefully this (1) helps people find some "off the beaten path" good performers and (2) helps fight the perception that the only "good" schools are the whiter / richer ones.

  • 208. Test Scores  |  November 13, 2015 at 11:46 am

    Also “richer” is my shorthand for a relatively low number based on what CPS reports: the percentage of students identified as low income (defined as at or below 185% of the federal poverty line, equivalent to ~$45k gross annual income for a family of four). Apologies if anyone finds that crude.

    I don’t know how they get these numbers now that the free lunch program was extended to all, it may be an estimate of all households within the neighborhood boundaries, rather than an actual measurement of those enrolled at the school. Anyone know?

  • 209. @test scores  |  November 13, 2015 at 5:21 pm

    Parents still have to complete a form that looks like the lunch application only my son’s school calls it a family income verification form.

  • 210. 2nd Time  |  November 14, 2015 at 4:10 pm

    For those that tested early for KG, looks like scores will be mailed out by 12/5.

  • 211. South Loop Mom  |  November 14, 2015 at 11:19 pm

    For those who tested early for KG, if the scores are not good enough, can they retake the test?

  • 212. WRP Mom  |  November 15, 2015 at 6:44 am

    210, Sorry, no retakes allowed.

    Here’s what is in cpsoae.org FAQ’s: “Can my child take the admissions exams more than once?
    No. Once your child has been exposed to the admissions exam, he/she cannot take the exam again for the coming school year.”

  • 213. Ebru  |  November 15, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    Next year (for 2016-2017 academic year) I will be studying in Northwestern University as a visiting scholar. I have two kids age 11 and 7. Can someone inform me about how to send my children to elementary school in Chicago? Is there a special process for foreign students coming from abroad?

  • 214. Not Again  |  November 15, 2015 at 2:45 pm

    Ebru, your children will go to the local school unless you participate in the application process. I don’t know if they handle international transfers the same, but even when coming from out of state the students need to take the test for selective enrollment. The last testing dates are usually in February and the application is due next month (can’t remember the exact date but I believe it is December 4th)

  • 215. IP Momma  |  November 15, 2015 at 3:29 pm

    My daughter just took the testing for SE Kindergarten today. I asked her what they talked about and she said, “I don’t know, the letter A, a dog and what’s different and what’s the same? And they asked about shapes.” I asked if they did any numbers and she said, “no, no numbers.” Then I asked if it was easy or hard and she said “easy”. She was in there for 45 mins, but the proctor told me that the average is 20 mins. We did absolutely nothing to prepare, except spend the last year and a half in preschool.

  • 216. Maria  |  November 15, 2015 at 3:42 pm

    Hust curious if anyone knows a round about figure of how many spots woyld b open for 1st grade at Newberry, Lasalle, Andrew Jackson, and Galileo?

  • 217. Maria  |  November 15, 2015 at 3:43 pm

    Just curious if anyone knows a round about figure of how many spots woyld b open for 1st grade at Newberry, Lasalle, Andrew Jackson, and Galileo?

  • 218. ObsessedNewbie  |  November 15, 2015 at 8:46 pm

    My daughter also took the SEES test for kindergarten today. She was only in there for 15 minutes. I am worried especially since she is a bit of a chatterbox. She mentioned recognizing words, and which item doesn’t belong. She says there was no math. I know I shouldn’t worry about the time but I can’t help it. Does any know based on past years scores has anyone gotten a really good score in 20 min or less?

  • 219. Maria  |  November 15, 2015 at 8:54 pm

    @Obsessednewbie, I am going thru this again this year. When I took my son for tge kindergarten test last year he was in there about 10-15 minutes and he scored high on the tests for both classical and gifted, so I wouldn’t worry

  • 220. Kdjnewb  |  November 15, 2015 at 8:57 pm

    We also tested today. 24 minutes. He said he had to read a lot of words and they were hard. No math, no coins (he did describe comparisons of how many in each picture- having to tell if it was more or less). He scored 99% in the KBITT at NU. Anyone know if this might predict a good outcome? They were really backed up when we were there and it seemed like all the kids were coming back in 15 mins or so.

  • 221. Headed to Kindergarten  |  November 15, 2015 at 9:05 pm

    My son took his tezt today as well. Anyone there around 1? He jst said he pointed at pictures, i couldnt get anything else out of him. He took about 25 – 30 minutes.

  • 222. ObsessedNewbie  |  November 15, 2015 at 9:23 pm

    Thanks @Maria. I really needed that.

    They were pretty backed up today @220. Our appt was at 10:45 and she didn’t get called until 11:23. She kept asking what’s taking so long.

  • 223. ObsessedNewbie  |  November 15, 2015 at 9:24 pm

    Sorry. I meant @219.

  • 224. jen  |  November 15, 2015 at 9:37 pm

    @212, Will you be living in the international student housing for families at NU? Or in Evanston? If so, you don’t have to worry about the Chicago school process and your kids would go to district 65. I don’t know if your kids are bilingual, but there is a very strong ESL program for kids in district 65 as well as an overall excellent education there. Teaching staff is beyond good, class sizes are small, and the district is extremely well funded, well run. I would recommend Evanston schools highly. If you are in the international housing area, your kids would likely attend Orrington or Willard, depending on what program your kids qualify for. Those are awesome schools.

  • 225. kdjnewb  |  November 15, 2015 at 9:37 pm

    ack @221… now I’m stressing we didn’t get a fair test due to the back up! talk me down… eek.

  • 226. jen  |  November 15, 2015 at 9:38 pm

    @212, one more thing. If you live in Evanston, no need to test in to a good school. Its a guarantee if you live there.

  • 227. ObsessedNewbie  |  November 15, 2015 at 9:50 pm

    @224 how long did it take for your son to get called?

  • 228. K10  |  November 15, 2015 at 9:56 pm

    Our time was at 11:15am and she wasn’t called until 12:05pm, right at lunch/nap time, so that was frustrating… She was in there for 20 minutes, hopefully not napping.

  • 229. kdjnewb  |  November 15, 2015 at 10:01 pm

    35 minutes after our scheduled appointment. We arrived 20 minutes early… so a lot of time waiting…

  • 230. Ranknfile  |  November 15, 2015 at 10:11 pm

    Please help me understand the power of ranking school preferences! Decatur is our 1st choice – family lives close and I know how great the school is. We visited Edison and LOVED it – 2nd choice. Is it worth rearranging the order of preference if our daughter’s RGC scores look more promising than classical? Or will a higher score get attention regardless of the order?

    Tier 4, kindergarten

  • 231. ObsessedNewbie  |  November 15, 2015 at 10:44 pm

    @kdjnewb I was frustrated too. We got there 25 minutes early plus we had to wait 38 minutes before being called. But my daughter did have a pleasant disposition going in and she was smiling when she came back to me. She was so happy to get a sticker. So hopefully we are more frustrated and anxious than our children were.

  • 232. LSmom  |  November 16, 2015 at 6:39 am

    @229, there’s no power in ranking, it’s all done by computer — if you have Edison ranked second and your daughter’s RGC scores are high enough for an offer, she’ll get a spot, even if you have Decatur ranked first and her classical scores don’t qualify her for a spot there.

  • 233. kdjnewb  |  November 16, 2015 at 12:14 pm

    I don’t think that’s true @231. I thought the whole reason to test early and to receive scores before the deadline was to rank the schools. This is my first year- so I could be wrong…

  • 234. LSmom  |  November 16, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    @232, you can definitely use the scores to decide what and how to rank, I was just explaining that even if your RGC scores seem better than your classical scores, there’s no harm in ranking Decatur first if it’s your first choice. You’d still get a spot at Edison if your classical scores are too low for Decatur and your RCG score is high enough for Edison.

  • 235. Headed to Kindergarten  |  November 16, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    When do you or how do you find out what the scores are for your chosen schools

  • 236. gamutgal68  |  November 16, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    hi all-
    any advice on how many “safety net” schools should be included on the list when applying? i have a few, but would like to have a few more… i’m basically focusing on neighborhood schools in and around logan square, where we live. anyone have any info on murphy, brentano, linne, jahn or talcott? thanks!!

  • 237. 1stgrademom  |  November 16, 2015 at 1:55 pm

    Does anyone have any feedback on any real differences between the gifted programs at Bell, Coonley and Edison? I know homework is optional through 3rd grade at Coonley, but any other differences?

    All are obviously great schools and programs, but I was wondering what, if anything, makes them unique from each other, thanks.

  • 238. Newcomer  |  November 16, 2015 at 3:24 pm

    Ooh, is homework optional at Bell? That would put it first on our list! (testing for 1st grade)

  • 239. South Loop Mom  |  November 16, 2015 at 3:49 pm

    @214 IP Mama: Your daughter did a very good job then. The average time that the accepting K-kids for gifted or classical is about 40+ minutes based on my observation in the past years. That’s because the kid was keep answering the question correctly. The average kid should take about 20 minutes. so…

  • 240. SWparent  |  November 16, 2015 at 3:59 pm

    Last year, my son was in the room for just over an hour. Simultaneously, my colleagues’ child was tested and he stayed in the room for only 10 minutes. Both kids got the EXACT same score and ended up at the same school; my son is shy and takes a long time to warm up to new people, my colleagues’ son is an extrovert who moves and talks quickly. I don’t think amount of time is at all representative of the final score.

  • 241. IP Mama  |  November 16, 2015 at 4:49 pm

    @ 217. ObsessedNewbie
    My friend’s son was only in the room for 10 minutes and scored really well. He was offered a spot at their top choice RGC.

  • 242. llmm  |  November 16, 2015 at 5:01 pm

    @237 Bell homework is not optional at Bell–I am officially completely jealous that it is a Coonley 😉 I had not heard that before.

  • 243. kdjnewb  |  November 16, 2015 at 9:36 pm

    @239 Did your son say it was hard? My son said it was hard and he got a lot wrong- I wonder if this was because he was asked to read and he does not yet read. He said all the ones where he had to point to pictures were easy. We were more interested in the RGC scores… but now I wonder. He was with the tester about a little over 20 minutes. Likely an average score? agh! Only a few more weeks to find out 🙂

  • 244. cpswonderland  |  November 16, 2015 at 9:56 pm

    Hi, just curious, how old are your kids, that tested into the kindergarten? Thanks.

  • 245. Chitownmom  |  November 17, 2015 at 12:27 am

    My son is taking his test this weekend. He turned 4 in July and I did not prep him at all. He just started reading and the only math he’s been exposed to is from Montessori preschool. I suppose I could’ve waited for him to improve his reading/math skills, but I’m taking the gamble. His summer birthday may work for him or against him. We shall see…

  • 246. SWparent  |  November 17, 2015 at 2:33 pm

    @242 – my son said it was “easy peasy.” Although my son (who was 5 years 3 months on the test date) knew all his letters and sounds he was definitely NOT reading at the time of the test; he scored 97% on reading. He said he did add and subtract coins and had to figure out patterns with numbers (e.g. 2, 4, 6, ___ and 1, 1, 2, 2, 1, ___), otherwise he did not have any other questions about numbers (he scored 99.9% on math). He also had to order events and match pairs of animals (baby animals to their adult counterpart). I have no idea if the test changes year to year; also I don’t remember his RGC score since I only applied to Classical programs.

  • 247. JanetT  |  November 17, 2015 at 5:55 pm


  • 248. Washington Heights Mom  |  November 17, 2015 at 11:00 pm

    I am new to the blog and have enjoyed reading it. It was shared with me by a friend whom is in the same process as I. I am not sure how the Tiers correlate with success and how this is taken into account with offers. Can someone give it a try to offer some information?

  • 249. ObsessedNewbie  |  November 18, 2015 at 8:27 am

    Does anyone know if children of different ages get different test? Meaning do you know if older children get more advanced questions? At the time of the test my daughter was 4 yrs and 5 mos. The reason why I ask this is because on the CPS OAE site it states “The exam is developmentally age appropriate and the results are based on the exact age of your child.”. Any ideas?

  • 250. SAK  |  November 18, 2015 at 9:14 am

    @248 — the test is supposed to be to the child’s exact age, down to the month. My son has a late summer birthday, so was 4 years and 3 months at the time of the test (2 weeks ago). The test is supposed to be calibrated down to the month, so younger children should not be expected to have the same skills as older children.

  • 251. Sunnyside  |  November 18, 2015 at 10:29 am

    I took my son for K testing last Saturday and we had a great experience. They were running about 30 minutes behind, but I feel like that’s a better sign that all kids are getting a fair test and getting exactly the time they need for the tester to properly assess them. For those testing later, bring a snack and an activity in case you have to wait. My son is also slow to warm up so I think the waiting time actually helped him settle in and be ready when they came to get him.
    He was in for a half hour and came skipping back happily announcing he got ALL the answers right–so of course I was thrilled (and a little embarrassed he announced this to the whole room) until he told me “I got all the ones right that I didn’t ask her to skip.” Haha! Who knows how many he skipped! The only question he told me about is that he was asked what is smaller than a house. No matter what his score is, he had a good time and I’m really pleased that they DON’T appear to pressure the child into answering questions that might be beyond them.

  • 252. cpsobsessed  |  November 18, 2015 at 1:03 pm

    @247 – Regarding Tiers.
    Tiers are assigned based on a range of 9 (or so) socio economic factors for your census area. Household income is just one of several. So typically the highest Tier (Tier 4) kids have better best scores than lower Tier (Tier 1) kids given the range of advantages they’ve had as children.

    Without using a Tier system, many of the selective seats would go to upper Tier kids, so CPS works to allocate seats to ensure kids in lower tiers get a fair shake in the process. So this applies to Selective High schools and to Selective Elementary schools in their entry year (either K or 1st.)

  • 253. westrogersparkmom  |  November 18, 2015 at 2:56 pm

    @250 (Sunnyside)- Such a funny report from your son. You have a wonderful attitudue through all of this craziness. 🙂

  • 254. Maria  |  November 18, 2015 at 8:02 pm

    Went to pick up my kindergartener’s report card today and among other forms the results for DIBELS. He tested very high on it, my question is…does anyone know what this would indicate if anything for the RGC and classical tests he will take for 1st grade?

  • 255. cps parent  |  November 20, 2015 at 11:59 am

    I may have missed it in the past comments, but does anyone know when the results will be mailed if you took the test early?

  • 256. SAK  |  November 20, 2015 at 12:24 pm

    I don’t know when mailed, but we are supposed to have them before the deadline (12-11), so hopefully at least the week before?

  • 257. Chicago School GPS  |  November 20, 2015 at 12:27 pm

    CPSOAE has said early test results will be mailed by 12/7/15. Doesn’t give a lot of time for submitting your application so hopefully families have their list pretty set by then and they just have to go in to submit their choices.

  • 258. newtocps  |  November 22, 2015 at 12:06 am

    Had my son tested this morning. Tester arrived to pick him up two minutes after the appointment. He was away from us for 57 minutes. The tester told us after escorting him back: “He worked very hard.” Does anybody have an idea how to interpret this comment? Like many others, my son hasn’t said much about what happened during the test, but he surely was tired in the next two hours.

  • 259. cpsobsessed  |  November 22, 2015 at 2:39 pm

    @258: based on the posts I’ve read, it’s impossible to predict how your child did based on time or comments. I would suspect the tester was letting you know that your child is likely to do well in school due to their ability to focus and their determination to keep working for an hour straight. That is quite an accomplishment!

    This *may* translate into a high test score or not. Unfortunately ya gotta wait and see. I would expect a kid who can last that long is likely to fall in the upper percentiles, but with CPS options, you never know if that % is high enough for the school you want until the letter come out. Good luck and let us know what happens…

  • 260. cipelino  |  December 1, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    I understand that CPS takes in account the age of the child for Kindergarten admission, however I am wondering if the age of the child is already taken in the account when the test scores are generated or is it used later to rank the kids for selective enrollment schools?

  • 261. cipelino  |  December 1, 2015 at 1:47 pm

    @258 I would not read to much into meaning of “he worked very hard”.. I heard the testers say this to at least 2 kids that finished the testing while I waited for my son. I guess they have to say something without hinting to how child did the test so it is just a phase that praises their efforts. Also I do not think that time spent with the tester matters. My son spent good 45 minutes in the room so I was thinking wow he must be doing good however he told me that he spent lot of time crying in there (because the boy in the picture lost all of the balloons) and the tester had him play with play dough to come down. Good luck to everyone. Excited to get test scores prior to Dec 11 deadline.

  • 262. Should Be Used To This  |  December 2, 2015 at 4:21 pm

    Anyone willing to describe the format (not the content) of the test given to kids testing for 1st grade? I called CPS OAE and asked, and while they were very friendly and kind on the phone, the information given was sparse.

    I want to give my child as much information as possible about format, since he’s never taken a test before, aside from the CTD assessment (which was one-on-one, and I think, unlikely to be anything like the CPS testing for 1st grade).

    Questions I have include:

    1) Does the proctor read all the questions? If so, how does that work? Does s/he wait until every kid has marked some answer? Or can a kid fall behind?

    2) Are the questions also available for the kid to read themselves?

    3) Do they fill out scantrons or mark answer booklets? Or….something else?

    4) Is the test multiple choice, or are there fill in the blanks/math answers to give?

    Gah. I thought I would be less nervous with my second kid, but I was completely wrong. All information welcome!

  • 263. SouthSider  |  December 2, 2015 at 4:44 pm

    Have the scores been mailed yet?

  • 264. schooled  |  December 2, 2015 at 5:17 pm

    I called CPS the other day and they said early testers should get results by Monday the 7th

  • 265. FingersCrossed...Again!  |  December 2, 2015 at 6:32 pm

    @Should Be Used to This/262: I just asked my rising 3rd grader who responded that the proctor read the instructions, and that the text on their papers were more focused on the information needed to answer the question (versus a bunch of instruction). The proctor left some time for the kids to answer, but then moved on (so there’s a chance some kids had to guess or maybe didn’t respond). All questions were in a booklet and you filled in a multiple choice bubble under the correct picture/answer (with no fill-in-the blanks anywhere). And this was the same for both Gifted and Classical testing. So while not the 1st Grade test specifically, I think the general setup of the tests/administration is the same for Grade 1 and on.

  • 266. Should Be Used To This  |  December 3, 2015 at 12:33 am

    @FingersCrossed…Again!/265: Thanks so much for the information! That’s exceedingly helpful, especially the bit about the possibility of falling behind.

    My kid’s at a Montessori school for Kindergarten, where testing is literally non-existent, so we’ve done a couple mock tests at home, just to give him some idea of what it will be like. Now I can tailor them a bit better, as the thought of him failing the format itself has me in cold sweats.

    As a side note, I am curious why they use a system (the proctor reading the questions) that leaves so much room for variability (what if you get a particularly soft-spoken proctor? what if your proctor goes way slower or faster than others?) when they could just have the kids read the questions on their own….but then, much of CPS is mystifying to me. =)

  • 267. Elmer  |  December 3, 2015 at 10:43 am

    mamablue, how did it go the second time around? We are in it the second time as well, but its been 5 years. We test this weekend. Feeling nervous now. Good luck all.

  • 268. chitownmom  |  December 3, 2015 at 11:36 am

    @266. My daughter is in KG at a Montessori school as well. She took the Gifted test for 1st grade on 11/22. I didn’t prepare her at all! She’s has done worksheets, but this was her first test. She said it was verbal and looking at pictures and they fill out the answer on a bubble sheet. She also said they explained how to fill out the bubble neatly. I saw a dad drilling a kid on Gifted questions on his phone while I was waiting for her group to be called. I definitely didn’t prepare my kid. She takes her classical test in a few weeks. So not sure about what that format is like. I’m assuming it’ll be the same, but more based on reading and math.

  • 269. F. Chao  |  December 4, 2015 at 3:07 pm

    Has anybody got the test results yet?

  • 270. schooled  |  December 4, 2015 at 4:02 pm

    just called, results were mailed today according the person I spoke to.

  • 271. F. Chao  |  December 5, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    Thanks “schooled” @270. Cant wait for this to be over. Too much waiting.
    On another note… Anybody knows if it is worth including “open enrollment” schools in your lottery list? I would imagine the chances of getting in a slimmer than a magnet. Anybody who can speak to that?

  • 272. LSmom  |  December 5, 2015 at 2:02 pm

    @271, it depends on the school. There are some open enrollment schools that have typically had room for students outside the neighborhood. It’s much easier to get a spot at one of these schools than most magnets. You can look through threads from the previous year, but some of the schools that usually make many offers are Agassiz, Prescott, Burr, and Pierce (there are others, those are just the ones that come to mind).

    On the other hand, you’re unlikely to get a spot at the most popular open enrollment schools (Coonley, Burley, Blaine, etc.).

  • 273. FingersCrossed...Again!  |  December 5, 2015 at 2:17 pm

    @271 F. Chao – I agree with LSMom. In our first go around with this a few years ago, of the 20 schools we applied to, we only lotteried into 1 Magnet, but eventually received later-round offers to 2 or 3 other open enrollment schools that we had included in our list. The only negative of open enrollment vs. magnet is that you won’t receive bussing or sibling preference like you would with a magnet.

  • 274. Montessori Dad  |  December 5, 2015 at 3:42 pm

    What do people think of Mayer and Drummond Montessories? I am concerned that CPS funding might not be enuf to support a Montessori based curriculum but I dont know.

  • 275. KinderDad  |  December 5, 2015 at 4:00 pm

    Does anybody know how to get a list of Magnet Cluster schools?

  • 276. Edgewater Mom  |  December 5, 2015 at 4:30 pm

    I toured Peirce on Friday, and they said they did have sibling preference once the neighborhood kids were all in. After siblings get in, then the rest of the seats go to out-of-district students.

  • 277. llmm  |  December 5, 2015 at 6:11 pm

    Has anyone received their early test scores? Thanks in advance!

  • 278. Bell versus Beaubien  |  December 5, 2015 at 11:55 pm

    Can anyone please compare Beaubien versus Bell options program? Does anyone here have kids in both? Quality of instruction, responsive administration, parental involvement (fundraising), after school options, possible frictions between the options and neighborhood part of the school.
    I’m having hard time ranking those two schools. Distance is not an issue. Applying for 1st grade. Thank you very much.

  • 279. KinderDad  |  December 6, 2015 at 7:30 pm

    @277.. Nothing yet!

  • 280. ObsessedNewbie  |  December 7, 2015 at 9:15 am

    Good luck today for those that tested early.

  • 281. South Loop Mom  |  December 7, 2015 at 12:48 pm

    Did anybody get the letter yet? I’ll be staring at my mailbox all day today. My wish list is 99.9 Reading 99.9 Math on classical and 160 on RGC test. LOL.. Good luck everyone!!

  • 282. ObsessedNewbie  |  December 7, 2015 at 12:54 pm

    @South loop mom. That’s my wish too. This day is dragging.

  • 283. Headed to Kindergarten  |  December 7, 2015 at 12:59 pm

    Does anyone know what the cutoff scores or scte ranges needed for the schools?

  • 284. JT  |  December 7, 2015 at 1:55 pm

    Impatiently waiting!

  • 285. cpsobsessed  |  December 7, 2015 at 1:59 pm

    @283 Headed to Kindergarten: The cutoff scores for elementary schools are not published by CPS (except for Academic centers.) You can get a sense of them by reading last year’s posts. Or let us know what schools you are looking at and what tier you are and we may be able to make an educated guess for you.

  • 286. cpsobsessed  |  December 7, 2015 at 2:01 pm

    Good luck to the early testers. And remember… testing 4 year olds is an iffy proposition. Your child’s score is so very loosely based on their true skill. Granted, a kid who gets 99/99% is likely to be very intelligent, but some of the smartest kids I know have not tested well on the CPS gifted/classical tests.

  • 287. cipelino  |  December 7, 2015 at 2:05 pm

    Results are here! 60611

  • 288. cpsobsessed  |  December 7, 2015 at 2:14 pm


    here is last year’s Elem thread.

  • 289. Chitownmom  |  December 7, 2015 at 2:26 pm

    Got my mail, but no scores! Guess I’ll have to wait till tomorrow.

  • 290. JT  |  December 7, 2015 at 2:35 pm

    I got the scores! My daughter got a 140 in the RGC. I applied to Lenart RGC, any idea if she has a chance?

  • 291. Kdjnewb  |  December 7, 2015 at 2:42 pm

    Scores are here!
    144 gifted
    94 reading/ 88 math
    Tier 4
    Hope for second round coonley or Edison???

  • 292. GGM  |  December 7, 2015 at 2:43 pm

    Results came in this AM (60629). Letter says you need at least a 115 for RGC and 80th percentile or above in both math and reading to be considered for Classical schools.

  • 293. Big City Mom  |  December 7, 2015 at 2:52 pm

    @292: I always feel like those minimums they give are misleading. I don’t think anyone gets in from any tier with an RGC score much below the 140s (and definitely not below the 130s) and I think for most of the schools (maybe not all), mid-140s would probably be the cut-off. Likewise, I think the classical scores really need to be in the very high 90s (like 98/99 and most likely 99).

  • 294. Skinner North Parent  |  December 7, 2015 at 2:55 pm

    My daughter got a 142 going into Kindergarten in Tier 4 and did not get into Coonley (which was our first choice). I think a 144 was the lowest I saw for Coonley for Tier 4. I did not apply to Lenart, but I believe the cut off scores have traditionally been lower for acceptance there so you probably have a good chance (especially if you’re in a lower tier).

  • 295. youaewe  |  December 7, 2015 at 3:00 pm

    If anyone wants to check what scores were accepted at what schools last year (on this blog) you can check here: https://cpsobsessed.com/2015/03/19/2015-sees-gifted-and-classical-elem-thread/

    You will have to scroll or search, but people listed scores, tiers, and offers received.

  • 296. Big City Mom  |  December 7, 2015 at 3:01 pm

    Oops — I meant @293

  • 297. Big City Mom  |  December 7, 2015 at 3:10 pm

    Ok I swear the comment # keeps changing. I was responding to GGM regarding the minimum scores posted on the letter.

  • 298. KIndergarten Newbie  |  December 7, 2015 at 3:51 pm

    Received the letter today. Classical scores aren’t high enough, but my son scored 144 on the RGC. We’re Tier 2. Trying to figure out whether to rank Edison or Coonley higher. I’ve toured both and I’m still confused. They’re both equally far from home/work. This is for K. Any thoughts? I did read in last year’s thread that Edison’s arts are “a joke.” Any input is welcome.

  • 299. TLTO  |  December 7, 2015 at 4:05 pm

    I can only speak for Coonley, but homework is optional to third grade. K gets 3 recesses a day. 2 days of PE, 1 days of Art, 2 days of Spanish. The after school specials at Coonley are so great. Arts, sports, dance, robotics, music. They have had Old Town School classes, Lill Street Art, Mad Science, etc. all at the school.

  • 300. cpsobsessed  |  December 7, 2015 at 4:09 pm

    @298: How about after school programs? ARe those needed? Does Edison have care and/or activities? Coonley has a very well priced after school program and lots of (paid) activities.
    I think much of art is a “joke” in CPS these days, unfortunately due to budgets. Except for fine arts magnet clusters like Waters, you’re hard pressed to find stellar art programs.
    A benefit to Coonley is more kids per grade (across all the classes.) That just provides a bit more social interaction over the years. Coonley also benefits from the strong immediate neighborhood participation. People hang around the school for hours after school on nice days – its’ a very nice vibe with lots of kids and parents around playing in the field. I think at Edison most kids probably jump on a bus (which is generally true of Coonley options kids too, so that might not matter for your family.)
    Either way, ya can’t go wrong.

  • 301. KinderDad  |  December 7, 2015 at 4:37 pm

    I think my daughter got a score that is good but NOT good enough. I don’t think she will get into any RGC or Classical Program.

    What are other people’s thoughts?

    M: 99%
    R: 99%
    RGC: 147
    Tier 4.

  • 302. Wow  |  December 7, 2015 at 4:47 pm

    @301, are you kidding? You should definitely get a seat at one of the Classicals.

  • 303. SNparent  |  December 7, 2015 at 5:00 pm

    KinderDad, You should be in good shape. For tier 4, in past years you’ve needed 146 or 147 to get in to Edison or Coonley (144 or 145 for Prtizker). For classical, the 99 percentiles are usually 99 point something – 99.3 or whatever. Was it just 99? (I remember my kid got 99.7 in reading) Either way you should get an offer from Decatur or SN.

  • 304. KinderDad  |  December 7, 2015 at 5:04 pm

    @302 and @303. From what little I could glean from the 2015 thread cutoffs for Tier 4 went as follows:

    Edison: 149
    Coonley: 148
    SN: M – 99.7; R – 99.8
    Pritzker: 147
    NTA: 143.

    Dont know the rest. So a 99 R and M does not get you into either Skinner.

  • 305. KinderDad  |  December 7, 2015 at 5:06 pm

    To add to @304 for Tier 4

    Skinner W: M – 99, R – 99.6

  • 306. lnclnsqrmom  |  December 7, 2015 at 5:13 pm

    Kindergarten Newbie: For what its worth, I know families at both Edison and Coonley. Coonley families seem happier for a variety of reasons and have fewer complaints. My summary: Better administration, atmosphere, differentiation, extra curricular activities, neighborhood, and a more positive school experience for the Coonley families. If travel is not a factor, I would list Coonley first. Past cut off scores seem similar at both schools. Good luck!

  • 307. southsider  |  December 7, 2015 at 5:19 pm

    @kinderdad, how long did your child test?

  • 308. KinderDad  |  December 7, 2015 at 5:25 pm

    @307: 40 mins

  • 309. Offtokinder  |  December 7, 2015 at 6:06 pm

    Hello all! Grateful for this website/forum.

    Tier 3. Rgc: 138. Reading: 90 math: 99.5

    Thoughts? Any chance?

    Entering kinder

  • 310. SNparent  |  December 7, 2015 at 6:11 pm

    On last year’s thread, I see two people who got into Pritzker with 144 (#1030, #1074). One that got into SN with M98 R99.5 (#1037). One accepted at SW at 98M/99R (#1123). (As you can see, these are not 1st round offers) I see 148 for both Coonley and Edison. I don’t see anyone from tier 4 with a 147 who *didn’t* get into Coonley and/ or Edison, so I’m not sure we know the exact cutoff.

  • 311. sparklesvira  |  December 7, 2015 at 6:24 pm

    @Kinderdad – I agree with @SNParent. My son got a 98 in Math and 99.5 in Reading (I was sure I was #1037, but seems not :-)) Anyways it was a second round offer about one month (April/May) after the first round offers went out. Unfortunately for me (and I was really upset I can tell you) we had to refuse the offer to SN because we were moving to California and were in fact in SFO when we got the call. Subsequently we got calls from both Decatur and Skinner West consistently I should add. Unfortunately my darling boy bombed the RG test completely so that was not even a consideration!!! And yes we are Tier 4 too.

  • 312. sparklesvira  |  December 7, 2015 at 6:26 pm

    when I said I agree with @SNParent I mean you have a very good shot! so dont lost hope….. I did go ahead and start accepting open enrollment schools (He got into Preston I think), but later cancelled. And then maybe one other school that was ranked lower than Preston.

  • 313. BuenaDad  |  December 7, 2015 at 7:04 pm

    Tier 3

    RGC: 153
    Reading: 99
    Math 99.8

    My child tested for about 45 minutes.

    Hoping for Coonley.

  • 314. KIndergarten Newbie  |  December 7, 2015 at 10:12 pm

    Thanks so much for the feedback on Edison vs. Coonley. Here’s another one for those of you who have kids who’ve attended RGC schools. Do you feel like they missed out on Kindergarten by being on the RGC track?

  • 315. KinderDad  |  December 7, 2015 at 11:02 pm

    @314 BuenaDad: you get to pick your school. Congrats on those stellar scores.

    @311 SNparent you are awesome! Thanks for compiling the scores from last year. Very helpful!

    So what I am hearing is we might get Skinner North even in the second round? But then the ? is should we not put or accept Pritzer or NTA in round #1?

  • 316. twintalk  |  December 7, 2015 at 11:17 pm

    Love the comments … feel more educated and less like I am losing my mind. We just got our scores and am bit bummed my kids (twins) scored differently and therefore will likely get into different schools – I guess it is the beginning of the rest of their lives. Now I am not sure how I should rank RGC vs Classicals – rank for each individually or to try to keep them together. Really wanted either Coonley or Edison.

    #1 –
    RGC – 138
    Classical Read – 99.9
    Classical Math – 99

    #2 –
    RGC – 146
    Classical Read – 99.6
    Classical Math – 99

    **Tier 4

  • 317. roja  |  December 7, 2015 at 11:23 pm

    I am totally new to CPS, I can not find some schools to add to my application. such as Haily and skinner.

  • 318. roja  |  December 7, 2015 at 11:24 pm

    I also need to know how to choose a good school for my son.

  • 319. kdjnewb  |  December 8, 2015 at 9:21 am

    Any feedback on tier 4 144 RGC? Think we have a chance for coonley later rounds?

  • 320. LSmom  |  December 8, 2015 at 9:56 am

    @319, there’s a chance — I think that in past years, some 144s (but not all) have gotten late August offers at Coonley.

  • 321. SNparent  |  December 8, 2015 at 9:59 am

    Kinderdad, There are a lot of factors that would go into that decision (is location of the schools a factor? do you have a good K backup plan?). I would probably rank Skinner North and West 1 and 2, then Pritzker and NTA. It is possible you’ll get a first round offer from one of the Skinners, you never know. See what your first offer is and then decide. SN is an exceptional school (my kid is in 4th) … it might be worth it to roll the dice, turn down Prtizker or NTA and hope for an offer in later rounds if you don’t get one immediately. You can figure it out in the spring (offers are mailed at the end of March)… in the meantime, visit the schools and see what feels like a good fit to you.

    @319, In the past few years 144 has not been high enough to get into Coonley or Edison, even in later rounds.

    @twintalk, Both of your kids scored high enough in Classical that they should get first round offers — Why do you think they won’t get into the same school? Rank the classical schools in the same order and it’s likely they will both get in to your first choice. Neither score is probably high enough for Coonley or Edison.

  • 322. KCabral  |  December 8, 2015 at 10:12 am

    @ Roja/317& 318 —

    I would start looking with where you’re located. There are a lot of good schools all over and it can be overwhelming as it is. I suggest narrowing down schools by where your home and/or work is, it’s an easy place to start.

    Then, what are you interested in for your son? A foreign language? Science? Do you need after school care?

    You can use CPS’ website to do some searches by location and other factors. Then look at the schools’ websites. Also come back here for more info 🙂 Good luck!

  • 323. BWE  |  December 8, 2015 at 10:21 am

    RGC score: 156
    Classical: 87/R 94/M
    Tier 4 entering K

    I think we have a shot at Coonley which is my first choice. Now we have to wait til March!

  • 324. SNparent  |  December 8, 2015 at 10:24 am

    A bit more data:
    The lowest score for Coonley reported in 2015 was 148.
    The lowest score for Coonley reported in 2014 was 146 (and that offer was given in September, the first week of school).

  • 325. kdjnewb  |  December 8, 2015 at 10:33 am

    so bummed. he was so close!
    we are still going to apply and see what happens knowing chances are slim. What about pritzker. They accept lower scores, right?

  • 326. kdjnewb  |  December 8, 2015 at 10:34 am

    congrats @323 awesome scores!

  • 327. westrogersparkmom  |  December 8, 2015 at 10:40 am

    Congratulations everyone for such great scores. For everyone reading this thread whose child did not get in the 140’s and 150’s don’t despair. I remember in years past feeling like my kid wasn’t ‘good enough’ because she only scored in the xx%. Remember that the high scores are more likely to self report. And keep in mind that its a whole new ball game in later grades. (for example in the past scores in the 120’s have received first round offers at Bell in the past).

    Also, especially with diminishing bussing I would recommend seriously taking location and logistics into account. My kid was at a great RGC that was relatively convenient. Yet none of her friends were in our immediate neighborhood so there were never spontaneous playdates.

  • 328. kdjnewb  |  December 8, 2015 at 10:42 am

    Good points WestRogersParkMom!

  • 329. LSmom  |  December 8, 2015 at 10:46 am

    @SNparent, you’re right, I was thinking of fall 2013 when late round offers were 144, but I don’t think that was the case in 2014 or 2015.

  • 330. IP Mama  |  December 8, 2015 at 12:40 pm

    My daughter scored 119 on the RCG and did average on the classical. She tested without any prep whatsoever and I’m not all that surprised. But I’m really hoping for a magnet or high quality neighborhood since we have two younger siblings to accommodate next year. I was just hoping to expand our options. Good luck everyone!

  • 331. southloopkiddo  |  December 8, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    thoughts on coonley v. nta everyone? kiddo got a 160 on rgc (but did less well on classical, so we are scrapping that plan). we live in the south loop, and i wont be able to visit coonley before the dec. 11 deadline. anyone think coonley is so much better than nta to make the transportation nightmare worth it?

  • 332. Sunnyside  |  December 8, 2015 at 1:21 pm

    @330 IP Mama, we’re in a similar boat. Classical scores ended up being nonqualifiers (we did no prep either, but at least I know exactly where he is on his own), and 130 on RGC, which I realize qualifies him by definition only. I put in an application for a couple of RGCs just because why the heck not, but am focusing on magnets and neighborhoods with comprehensive gifted and after-school options now–we have some good options and I have a younger son, so with sibling preference at magnets that may be a better fit for our family in the long run. Good luck to all!

  • 333. pritzkermom  |  December 8, 2015 at 1:27 pm

    @southloopkiddo If you are coming from South Loop, have you considered Pritzker? It is much closer to you than Coonley and has a fabulous and well supported arts program. My daughter is in the 5th grade there now.

  • 334. F. Chao  |  December 8, 2015 at 1:40 pm

    @333 Pritzkermom: How do you compare your options program with Coonley or NTA? Is it truly a gifted program or another accelerated program like SN or SW?

  • 335. southloopkiddo  |  December 8, 2015 at 1:43 pm

    @pritzkermom, no, i’d love to hear more! or, if you’ve posted previously, can you direct me to those comments?

    we’re touring NTA tomorrow, and just left edison, which is so, so far away, and feels really disjointed from the attached neighborhood schoool

  • 336. F. Chao  |  December 8, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    @331 Southloopkiddo: You kiddo is gifted!! Please get him / her to the best program.

    I am concerned about the neighborhood component of NTA. I dont know what the playground, school event, cafeteria, PTA, LSC dynamics are given the socioeconomic and demographic spread of the school. Any NTA Gifted Parent here to shed light on that?

    Coonley is a nightmare to get to. I went for the open house from the westloop and it took me 40 mins each way. Cant do that everyday during rush hour. BUT the people there are wonderful. Loved the principal and the teachers and the kiddos there.

  • 337. pritzkermom  |  December 8, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    I don’t know enough about the other options but from conversations with other parents, most options programs are primarily accelerated programs despite all the cps talk of “gifted.” In our experience it depends entirely on the teacher. She has consistently used the text books from the grade above for math. They have done a lot of science exploration. They do a lot of creative writing, both fiction and non-fiction. There have been a lot of independent and group projects on topics of interest. For example last year they did a unit on native american tribes and each group had to create a diorama and a report as well as a tangible item from that tribe’s culture. They then put on a demonstration for parents. They did an in-depth study of the phantom tollbooth, with a play they created collaboratively. This was part of a school-wide Festival of the Arts. The theme was Metropolis and each classroom chose a real or fictional city to explore. Currently, in her social studies class (they switch classes starting in 5th grade) they are creating powerpoint presentations on Greek gods and godesses. In Reading/LA, she is writing a non-fiction book on Ancient Egypt (all the students were allowed to choose any topic and then complete the research). That being said, for our own sanity, because we are about 5 miles away, we are considering Coonley for our younger daughter which pains me because we so love Pritzker and its integration of Arts into the gifted curriculum. I would check with each school to see whether they actually have teachers certified in gifted ED. It is supposed to be the case but with cuts to funding, this is not always the case.
    I’m not sure if that answers your questions. Good luck. Honestly, I do not think so many choices is a good thing. 🙂

  • 338. pritzkermom  |  December 8, 2015 at 1:56 pm

    For what it’s worth, there is a neighborhood component at Pritzker, too and there are many families with kids in both programs. Our reasons for contemplating a different school are purely transportation/location based.

  • 339. southloopkiddo  |  December 8, 2015 at 2:06 pm

    @pritzkermom, ha. i hear that. i feel like a jerk for feeling this way, but the whole process is crushing.

  • 340. F. Chao  |  December 8, 2015 at 2:41 pm

    @pritzkermom: I cannot put the Prtizker building to the side and think about the teachers and the program. As you can tell I am not fan of the building, the light (lack of), the concrete playground. Should I figure out a way to put that to the side because the Gifted Program and the teachers in that Program are so worth it?

  • 341. F. Chao  |  December 8, 2015 at 2:55 pm

    @337: pritzkermom. Thanks for providing that detailed and honest opinion of Pritzker and the Gifted v/s Classical program.

    The process SUCKS!!

  • 342. newtocps  |  December 8, 2015 at 4:32 pm

    The 57 minutes boy’s scores are in: 137 for rgc, 99.6 for both reading and math. We are now mainly looking at the two Skinners. What’s his prospect look like? For tiers 4 and 3 as we may be moving.

  • 343. Near South Sider  |  December 8, 2015 at 4:35 pm

    @Southloopkiddo and @F. Chao

    NTA parent here with a child in the *gasp* neighborhood program at NTA. NTA is not our neighborhood school, but after visiting the school, we were so impressed with what we saw that we put the school on our Options lottery and got a slot.

    I really hate code words, so let me try to restate @F. Chao’s post.

    “According to the CPS website, the school is 85% black and 82% low income. Will these kids be fighting and causing a ruckus on the playground or in the cafeteria? Is the school dangerous and ghetto?”

    Sorry to be so blunt, but I wanted to make sure that I understand what you are asking.

    I actually laughed as I retyped your question because the school is incredibly well run with a great principal and administrative staff, and the kids are about the nicest, most polite bunch of students I have ever interacted with. I love volunteering in my child’s classroom because the kids are so great. There is a strong core of parent volunteers who do amazing things, like running the book fair and planting a garden. Yes, there is a particular “socioeconomic and demographic spread of the school.” And yes, the school is amazing.

    The school facilities rival any private school. There are six specials–technology, Spanish, art, music, gym, and swimming (yes, swimming!) My kid has 1-to-1 Ipad use in her classroom. My child also receives individualized, differentiated instruction. The afterschool options are great, including piano lessons, chess, legos, martial arts, cooking, and pom poms. If your child has any athletic ability, the school has a strong sports program including football, volleyball, track, and baseball. I really could go on and on, but you just need to go visit and decide for yourself.

    Those of us who have children at the school really consider it to be one of the best kept secrets in CPS.

    I’m happy to answer any questions (probably, bluntly). I just ask that we keep the conversation real and stop using coded language. I know I won’t!

    Oh, I will say (and I do mean this genuinely) that if your child gets into the gifted program, and you feel uncomfortable enrolling your child in a school that is predominately low-income and African American, then NTA is *not* the school for you. The administration is adamantly against the idea of a “school within a school,” so all the kids are mixed up at lunch and recess. My child has friends from all classrooms and interacts with them throughout the school day.

  • 344. F. Chao  |  December 8, 2015 at 5:10 pm

    @NearSouthSider..Thank you very much for taking the time to write all the information and letting out your little secret.

    Seems like a wonderful wonderful environment for kids for prosper.
    I like that the administration does NOT want to have a school within a school.

    How do you see all the great teachers, principal, facilities reflect in the NWEA Progress and Attainment scores for the past 3 years?

  • 345. southloopkiddo  |  December 8, 2015 at 5:40 pm

    @near south sider, thanks for your insight. any chance you (or other happy) parents be at the open house tomorrow night?

  • 346. Near South Sider  |  December 8, 2015 at 6:00 pm

    Happy to answer your questions. I’m commuting right now, so I’ll post later tonight.

  • 347. NewtoSees  |  December 8, 2015 at 6:03 pm

    Rgc scores were too low to qualify. M 98 R 92. Scores are prob too low for any SEES but proud of my kiddo 🙂

  • 348. Kdjnewb  |  December 8, 2015 at 7:09 pm

    What would tier 2 need for rgc coonley or edison?

  • 349. Near South Sider  |  December 8, 2015 at 8:45 pm


    I won’t be at the open house, but I know other parents will. When I visited last year, they held a panel with several teachers and parents who had kids of various ages both in the gifted and the achievers (their name for the neighborhood) programs. It was an open format, so feel free to bring all your questions.

    @F. Chao

    NTA has a very data driven approach to how they handle instruction. I don’t know if you are aware, but they moved from a level 2+ last year to a level 1 this year, and a lot of this was built on the administration analyzing their scores and report cards and working to make positive changes.The principal is fairly new (perhaps in his 4th year or so), and he freely admits that things were bumpy at first, but it is clear that now he’s really hitting his stride. Admin now has their sights set on achieving the 1+ rating, and I’m confident they’ll attain it.

    The administration is very transparent about what is happening at the school. At one of the Parent Advisory Council meetings in September, the principal went over in detail their 5 Essentials Report and showed the growth and change they made in one year’s time. He also discussed the changes the teachers have made to instruction based on the new Common Core Standards. The school is taking a pro-active and innovative approach to instruction as they work to help students with both growth and attainment.

    I think it’s important to note that the scores and the rating of the school increased *without* the test scores of the RGC program. The first RGC class has just now begun the 3rd grade, so their scores will be factored in the next time around.

    At the ALSC (their local school council is appointed) meetings, the principal went over the budget with everyone. We all got copies of the budget so that we could see where all the money was allocated. Due to the administration being conservative in anticipating CPS’s budget problems, nothing at NTA had to be cut. All the diverse learners positions and specials will remain in tact. Again, I really appreciated the transparency.

    Here are some links you might find helpful:

    Their scorecard page on the CPS website:

    An interesting article on how the principal used the data from the 5Essentials report to improve the next year:


    The Illinois Report Card Page:

    Here is NTA’s Facebook page:


    And the NTA Families Facebook page:

    I strongly encourage you to go to the open house tomorrow. You can even schedule a visit during the school day to see how well run the school is.

    I hope this helps!

  • 350. luthiersworkshop  |  December 8, 2015 at 9:17 pm

    Maybe it’s too early for me to be asking this, but our 2 year old will be entering CPS and I was looking for insight on activities you found most helpful preparing your youngsters for the Selective Enrollment Tests.

  • 351. Near South Sider  |  December 8, 2015 at 10:14 pm

    I posted a lengthy response, but I think it’s still in moderation because I included a lot of links to more info about NTA. I hope it posts soon!

  • 352. pritzkermom  |  December 8, 2015 at 10:57 pm

    @F.Chao I think ultimately you do have to put the building aside. It’s ugly architecture. But all the classrooms have tons of windows and lots of natural light as does the breezeway on the first floor. The hallways have no natural light because they are interior halls. There is a committee working on a new playground but it’s very very expensive and a lot of the grants that other schools used in recent years are no longer available. Still, my 10 year old loves playing on the playground and there is a garden area as well. Plus in front of the school are to grassy areas that are often utilized by classroom teachers and the upper grades have their field day at Wicker Park. I don’t know about the physical space at the other schools so can’t comment or compare. There is a library that was recently redone, the art room has been renovated, there is a science lab renovated about 4 years ago and this year’s fundraising campaign is to renovate the auditorium. While physical plant is important, what is most important is what happens in the classroom. So, if you like the program, don’t let your dislike of the building dissuade you.

  • 353. F. Chao  |  December 8, 2015 at 11:07 pm


    Thank you for setting me straight.

    Your child is in the Options program at Pritzker in 5th grade and now you are moving away because of the commute. Did I get that right?

  • 354. Near South Sider  |  December 8, 2015 at 11:10 pm

    Since my original response didn’t post, I’m reposting it without the links.


    I won’t be at the open house, but I know other parents will. When I visited last year, they held a panel with several teachers and parents who had kids of various ages both in the gifted and the achievers (their name for the neighborhood) programs. It was an open format, so feel free to bring all your questions.

    @F. Chao

    NTA has a very data driven approach to how they handle instruction. I don’t know if you are aware, but they moved from a level 2+ last year to a level 1 this year, and a lot of this was built on the administration analyzing their scores and report cards and working to make positive changes.The principal is fairly new (perhaps in his 4th year or so), and he freely admits that things were bumpy at first, but it is clear that now he’s really hitting his stride. Admin now has their sights set on achieving the 1+ rating, and I’m confident they’ll attain it.

    The administration is very transparent about what is happening at the school. At one of the Parent Advisory Council meetings in September, the principal went over in detail their 5 Essentials Report and showed the growth and change they made in one year’s time. He also discussed the changes the teachers have made to instruction based on the new Common Core Standards. The school is taking a pro-active and innovative approach to instruction as they work to help students with both growth and attainment.

    I think it’s important to note that the scores and the rating of the school increased *without* the test scores of the RGC program. The first RGC class has just now begun the 3rd grade, so their scores will be factored in the next time around.

    At the ALSC (their local school council is appointed) meetings, the principal went over the budget with everyone. We all got copies of the budget so that we could see where all the money was allocated. Due to the administration being conservative in anticipating CPS’s budget problems, nothing at NTA had to be cut. All the diverse learners positions and specials will remain in tact. Again, I really appreciated the transparency.

    I strongly encourage you to go to the open house tomorrow. You can even schedule a visit during the school day to see how well run the school is.

    I hope this helps

  • 355. SNmama  |  December 8, 2015 at 11:20 pm

    For all of those asking about Skinner North cut off scores, both my kids got offered a seat in Kinder with scores of R99 M98, and both were in May/June timeframe. You can absolutely get a seat below 99.9. Good luck everyone

  • 356. KinderDad  |  December 8, 2015 at 11:39 pm

    @355 SNmama. So how many rounds was that by the time it was May? Did you decline other RGC or Classical offers along the way? Not sure if you know but our kiddo has a 99% in M and R and we are pretty sure she wont get an offer from SN in round #1

  • 357. lookingforward2findingaschool  |  December 9, 2015 at 12:58 am

    Thank you so much to all of you for your posts and comments. It is making the entire process much easier. We are looking into Skinner North and Skinner West. How would you rank them in terms of day to day environment, teachers, staff, homework load, and parental involment? We visited both and we were very pleased with either.

  • 358. Coonley144  |  December 9, 2015 at 1:37 am

    What thread were you all searching above for Coonley cutoff? There was a reported 144 Tier 4 Coonley offer right before school started. That seems like the cutoff.

    1277. Ivy | September 4, 2015 at 6:56 pm

    Just received a call from CPS late afternoon today, offer for Coonley gifted Kindergarten.

    Seems very lucky to get accepted just before the first school day.

    RGC score: 144, tier 4.

  • 359. KinderDad  |  December 9, 2015 at 9:06 am

    @358 Coonley144: It might work out but its NOT something one could possibly count on AND to get that call one has to decline all other possible SEES offers. Now a 144 could get your child into NTA in an earlier round. Would you pass that up?

  • 360. F. Chao  |  December 9, 2015 at 9:32 am

    @354: Near South Sider:

    Thanks a bunch for taking the time to explain the NTA situation in great detail. You are most helpful.

    I plan on attending the Open House this evening. I wish it was during the day to see the kids and teachers and staff in action.

    BTW: What is AUSL? From what I understand they are a turnaround firm. The principal is hired and paid by the AUSL and NOT CPS. How does that work for rules and mandates that NTA has to follow? Do you happen to know?

  • 361. overcrowded  |  December 9, 2015 at 9:56 am

    decatur an overcrowded pressure cooker


  • 362. Hope  |  December 9, 2015 at 10:18 am

    Given the overcrowding at Decatur, why are they adding a second 1st grade class?

  • 363. southloopkiddo  |  December 9, 2015 at 10:31 am

    @near south sider, nta’s isat scores seemed to have to dropped from 2013 to 2014. i’m not sure what weight (if any) to give to these scores, but do you know what’s happening there? clearly their cps ranking moved in a great direction, so maybe i’m misunderstanding the import of the isat, or the years to which they correlate, or something.

    and thanks so much for all of your input. i’m beginning to wonder if coonley and edison are prized over nta/pritzker/etc mostly out of north-side bias, as opposed to these being objectively better schools.

  • 364. Dee  |  December 9, 2015 at 10:56 am

    My apologies if this isn’t the right place to post this question…Our scores weren’t good enough for the gifted program (although my munchkin got a 99.9% on reading! so proud) and our neighborhood school isn’t an option. I have applied to the magnet schools and other neighborhood schools. I was just wondering if Kindergarten is mandatory in Illinois? If I chose to keep my son at his childcare center until he was 6, would he then be able to go to 1st grade or would they make him start in Kindergarten? My back up plan was to just wait it out…hope for a call by mid September and if there isn’t one stay at his childcare center for another year while we try to sell our house and move to the burbs.

  • 365. cpsobsessed  |  December 9, 2015 at 12:44 pm

    @Dee, My understanding is that K isn’t mandatory (although I cannot find that stated on CPS.edu.) Your child would then be placed into 1st grade when they started school at age 6.

  • 366. cpsobsessed  |  December 9, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    Never actually says here if K is required or not:

  • 367. Near South Sider  |  December 9, 2015 at 12:58 pm

    @F. Chao

    AUSL is a non-profit organization who is contracted by CPS to go in and turn around failing/underperforming schools. NTA is *not* a turnaround school. NTA is the school where the teachers in training do their residency.

    If a person is a career changer who is interested in becoming a CPS teacher, they enter into a program where they take their required coursework at UIC and do their residency with NTA mentor teachers. There are about 7 mentor teachers throughout the school. Those mentor teachers get a mentee (or two) in their classroom for the year who assists the teacher and learns from him/her. What this means for your child is that if his/her teacher is a mentor, there is an additional teacher in the classroom, which, of course, is awesome for the instructional experience.

    All AUSL teachers are CPS teachers, and all AUSL schools, including NTA, are bound by all CPS rules and contracts. The only difference, as you mention, is that the principal (and maybe the assistant principal) is hired by AUSL, and the local school council is appointed instead of elected. You can ask Mr. C, the principal, tonight for any other finer distinctions.


    I’m not sure why the scores dipped in those years, but ask Mr. C when you see him tonight, and I’m sure he’ll tell you. Actually, now that I’m thinking about it, I believe it has something to do with the shift over to the new Common Core Standards and the bumps that occur when curriculum changes. I do know that at one of the meetings he mentioned that with the shift to the new standards, the school decided to realign instruction across the grades so that the 8th grade teachers know what their colleagues have been teaching in the lower grades, and the K teachers know what their students will be expected to know in the upper grades. This scaffolding is best practice in education, and over time, this approach will be reflected in the scores.

    As to why the north side schools are so prized, I believe that is due to two things–the fact that cpsobsessed has a larger (or more vocal) contingent of north side parents, and the fact that on paper, NTA might look “less desirable.” We only need to point to how this discussion began as confirmation of the latter.

    When I was investigating the school two years ago, it was a 2+ with lower scores than it has now and a 90+% of low income and African American students. None of those things were a concern for me once I visited the school, actually saw what was going on, and spoke to administration, teachers, and students. Even just within two years, the school has changed on paper, and a broader audience is becoming interested in what NTA has to offer. As further evidence, if you take a look at the cut off scores for the RGC program from two years ago to last year, they have risen. I believe that two years ago, a score in the 130s was enough to qualify a student. Last year, I don’t think that was the case.

    Part of me doesn’t want the school to get too popular–either on the RGC side or the neighborhood side–because I have another child who needs to get in a few years from now! But I am glad that people are beginning to take notice of what a great school NTA is.

    Good luck at the open house tonight. I hope you get all your questions answered!

  • 368. cpsobsessed  |  December 9, 2015 at 1:09 pm

    As here we go. According to this, K is not required in IL.
    Chicago is more strict than other districts in terms of grade assigned for K and 1st grade in that kids cannot start early or skip a grade. I believe kids who turn 6 by Dec 1 can start 1st grade early if they meet certain criteria (see web site below and confirm with CPS before proceeding!)


  • 369. cpsobsessed  |  December 9, 2015 at 1:16 pm

    “As to why the north side schools are so prized, I believe that is due to two things–the fact that cpsobsessed has a larger (or more vocal) contingent of north side parents, and the fact that on paper, NTA might look “less desirable.” We only need to point to how this discussion began as confirmation of the latter.”

    This is definitely true about the readership, for whatever reason. The south side thread helped to rally comments about a broader range of schools although I would certainly love to have more of the city represented in the comments section.

    That said, I have heard only very positive feedback about NTA on this blog.

    The opportunity to get into a program “on the ground floor” is a great opportunity, as I did with my child 8 years ago with Coonley when that options program was starting and we took a risk on this unknown school that was on the verge of closing due to low enrollment. Test scores at the time were “eh” but the principal inspired me so we took the risk (unlike several of my friends who turned it down.) There is no way I’d be getting a kid into the school these days, based on the scores posted to get in!

  • 370. Near South Sider  |  December 9, 2015 at 1:24 pm


    It’s so funny how parents are skeptical about the new programs and then suddenly, BAM! They’re the hot new thing! I predict that NTA will quickly become the new South Loop once more parents interested in living in the south loop visit the school and realize what a gem it is, and they only have to move south of 18th for it to be their neighborhood school. Also, for those of us with more than one child, the RGC/neighborhood school combo is ideal.

  • 371. Chris  |  December 9, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    “As to why the north side schools are so prized, I believe that is due to two things–the fact that cpsobsessed has a larger (or more vocal) contingent of north side parents”

    Yeah, on here at least, there is a lot more chatter on the northside schools bc the majority of the chatterers are on the northside, and strongly disinclined to put 6 year olds on a bus for 2 hours a day.

    A school would have to be light years better than closer options to get serious consideration from us, at least, and even if that much better, would be unlikely to win the day.

  • 372. AK  |  December 9, 2015 at 2:25 pm

    Question: does anyone know if the sibling lottery is limited to a certain percentage of the available spots? Or, if there were 60 spots and happened to be 60 sibs, would there be no prox and gen lotteries that year?

  • 373. Cassie  |  December 9, 2015 at 2:32 pm

    Sorry if this is not in the right section of this site
    but I was wondering if anyone could give me some
    feedback about Odgen or Blaine? We live in Odgen
    but might make the move up to Blaine. My sons score were not high enough for SN. He did do well
    on the gifted part but we aren’t looking at those.

  • 374. Cassie  |  December 9, 2015 at 2:39 pm

    Sorry to bother.

  • 375. Skinner North Parent  |  December 9, 2015 at 2:46 pm

    @372 Siblings get all spots that are open first, so yes, if there are 60 sibs and 60 spots then there would not be a lottery beyond that. The year my daughter got into Hawthorne there were about 26 siblings out of 64 kindergarten spots, so only around 38 remaining spots for the proximity lottery and then finally the general lottery – and I think over 3,000 applicants. It’s like winning the lottery.

  • 376. SNparent  |  December 9, 2015 at 2:55 pm

    @Kinderdad, I agree with you … it’s a dilemma! Honestly, I don’t know if it is helpful to know your scores in advance! (I guess for the people who are out of the running, it’s nice that you can just stop worrying about it and focus on another plan). It is true that you *might* get an offer from Coonley or Edison in the summer. I didn’t see that September offer — but that sounds like a bit of a fluke (someone turned down a spot at the last minute for some reason, and they had to go further down on the list than usual since most people were unwilling to change plans the first week of school). Why knows? People do make all kinds of decisions — some families get an offer for a great magnet at the last minute and go that route, because there are younger siblings to consider, for example.

    As you’ve figured out already, if you rank: Skinner North, Skinner West, Edison, Coonley, Priztker, NTA — what will likely happen is that you’ll get a first round offer from NTA or Priztker and then have to decide what to do. It’s a toughie!

    Another consideration is busing. SN, for example, buses students who live between Foster to Cermak (to the e and w edge of the city). I believe Decatur buses anyone who lives north of Fullerton. I’m not sure about the other schools, but that can be a factor.

  • 377. AK  |  December 9, 2015 at 2:58 pm

    Thanks @375.

    Cassie 373/374 — I’ve heard good things about Blaine and the test scores are very high. Ogden is supposed to be trying to merge with Jenner (a predominantly AA/low-income school), and I think it might be a wonderful opportunity for both schools. Ogden is way over-crowded, and this would be a way to ease the crowding, increase diversity, while maintaining Odgen’s high achievement.

    If your choice boils down to Blaine or Ogden, I would go with whichever one makes more sense for where you live and if you are commuting to work. They both seem like really good schools — it’s a good problem to have, getting to choose between those two schools!

  • 378. Decatur parent  |  December 9, 2015 at 4:37 pm

    @ Hope – Decatur has traditionally added a second 1st grade class when they graduate two 6th grade classes, as they will do this year. It is actually one of the ways they have both managed space and tried to provide more slots. About every other year or so has only one class per grade, and then the others have two.

    Not adding the additional first grade wouldn’t do anything to help the lack of gym, cafeteria, auditorium or assembly space, dedicated room for music/latin/art, space for private student/teacher meetings or 7th and 8th grade since they could only add one classroom of 7th grade and that wouldn’t even be enough to take the current two 6th grade classes.

    For those of you considering Decatur, the school building is small and we need more space and a 7th/8th grade, but we are doing a lot with a little. Hopefully this DNA article will continue to help get some attention from the right people (so many parents and teachers have tried to get us expansion for years). The frustrating issues are real, but so is the great experience my child and other Decatur kids are getting even with these constraints.

  • 379. F. Chao  |  December 10, 2015 at 1:05 am

    @southloopkiddo: Whats the scoop from the NTA open house? I could not make it.

  • 380. KinderDad  |  December 10, 2015 at 8:56 am

    @SNparent: Thank you for echoing my dilemma.

    Here is another dilemma…I attended the LSC meeting at Pritzker last night. I got a good sense of the issues that the school is dealing with and their priorities. I must say they are focused on the right things at Pritzker. However from the perspective of a Option Program parent I realised
    a. The neighborhood or magnet component of the school takes up 95% of the principals and LSCs mind space. They don’t discuss anything related to the Options Program. I understand that it is partially because its a smaller part of the school, supposed to be self organizing etc.
    b. Options Program at the senior leadership level is a way to get more $$s from CPS and its a way to showcase a better school without having to make the efforts that ONLY Classical or ONLY RGC school make in terms of curriculum, teachers, facilities etc. partly because the voice of the Options Parents are going to be drowned by the realities of the neighborhood program like Diverse Leaners, NOT enough Special Ed teachers, NOT enough Case Manager and Counselors.

    So my question: How good is a Options Program in a neighborhood school or is it better to be a Classical ONLY or a RGC ONLY center like Skinner North, Edison, Lenart?

  • 381. SN parent  |  December 10, 2015 at 9:22 am

    I think you need to be careful with your assumptions here. My daughter is at SN and there are plenty of kids who are diverse learners (a fair amount on the autism spectrum) and who require case managers/learning specialists. Often times kids are “twice exceptional.” Just because kids tested in does not mean that these schools don’t face the same issues/concerns. Honestly a SEES isn’t some magical place that is exempt from all of the issues that CPS schools face – there are still large class sizes, constant budget cuts, and a struggle to keep programs like the arts. We love SN but it is still part of the CPS system.

  • 382. Firstgrademom  |  December 10, 2015 at 9:43 am

    We chose an RGC in a neighborhood school because we felt that a neighborhood school can offer more resources. Coonley has Music and Drama twice a week in dedicated music and drama rooms. RGC kids will mix with kids in the neighborhood and Regional Special Ed center for specials and lunch and after school extras. The after school offerings are so great too, in part because they have the population to support it. They have school plays, a school band, lots of sports teams. There is also a great community around the school with a neighborhood school. Those were all major positives for us. I am sure there are positives for the RGC only or Classical only schools too.

  • 383. southloopkiddo  |  December 10, 2015 at 9:55 am

    @fchao, the school is unquestionably beautiful, the programming is amazing, the aftercare programs are really, really amazing (piano? chess club?). the second grade rgc teacher is taking me around tomorrow during her free period so that i can see the school in action (which shows a pretty amazing dedication to transparency and communication with parents). they haven’t had to cut teachers or anything of substance because of good fiscal management. i was definitely impressed.

    my remaining concerns are twofold: 1) i have no sense of what the school day actually looks like, but that will change on friday, and 2) i worry about the newness of the program, because the later grades are unknown. i was blown away by the history teacher and science/math programs for the upper grades at edison. nta’s rgc program is growing by a year each year, and at this point they are only up to 3rd grade, so there is just no way to know what the middle years program looks like. i’m not sure what to do about that latter concern.

    anyone have thoughts on that? at this point, we are still very much torn between coonley and nta (because if we are going to schlep him to pritzker, we might as well schlep him to coonley). anyone in a position to weigh in?

  • 384. southloopkiddo  |  December 10, 2015 at 9:56 am

    coonley parents, thoughts about the rgc teachers? anyone really special?

  • 385. Diverse Learners and RGC  |  December 10, 2015 at 10:14 am

    Just echoing 381. I have a “Diverse Learner/Twice Exceptional” kid at an RGC. And we are not the only one in the classroom.

  • 386. F. Chao  |  December 10, 2015 at 10:28 am

    @southloopkiddo: Thank you for that perspective.

    Very good idea to tour the school during the day time w/ an RGC teacher. That should give you a better sense for #1. As far as #2 goes the only thing we can hope on is the Principal can do what SN principal did.

    Also, why are you NOT considering Edison? Your kiddo as a perfect score and hence will your first choice RGC.

  • 387. F. Chao  |  December 10, 2015 at 10:29 am

    @southloopkiddo: Did you give Lenart a consideration at all?

  • 388. KinderDad  |  December 10, 2015 at 10:35 am

    @SN parent, @FirstGradeMom @Diverse Learners and RGC:

    Wonderful points about the neighborhood programs especially after school and the arts track. I was making some false assumptions there. Thank for helping me see it the right way.

    Also, you guys are awesome to respond to questions and comments on this thread even though you are not in this mad race this year. Your insight is the most helpful to us newbies

  • 389. southloopkiddo  |  December 10, 2015 at 10:38 am

    edison was extraordinarily impressive. i was blown away by the students, the programming, and especially the teachers. but the program is completely cut off from the the neighborhood school. to be perfectly honest, it was a little creepy. the exclusionary attitude just isn’t in keeping with what we want for our kid, or the values that are important to me. they are also likely cutting 2-3 teachers (from a teaching staff of 16), which doesn’t speak that well to fiscal management.

  • 390. southloopkiddo  |  December 10, 2015 at 10:41 am

    @fchao, no to lenart. it makes even less sense geographically than coonley.

  • 391. 2nd time around  |  December 10, 2015 at 10:49 am


    We are not at Edison but…..,,when they mentioned cutting teachers do you think it was possible that they were referring to the expected coming cuts that ALL CPS schools will experience? All schools will lose teachers if the city and state can’t pull their acts together. Our magnet is projected to lose at least 3 teachers if CPS doesn’t get the money they need. This will go into effect for 2nd semester of this year……right before a likely teacher strike is to occur.

  • 392. southloopkiddo  |  December 10, 2015 at 10:52 am

    yes, they definitely were. but nta is and has faced the same cuts, but didn’t have to lose a single teacher, nor does it seem likely that they will have to let go of anyone if those upcoming cuts go into effect. nta’s responsible fiscal management was extremely impressive. that said, nta is a much larger facility and thus likely has a larger pool of resources from which to pull. this is (in my opinion) another downside to edison’s separate-from-the-neighborhood-school approach.

  • 393. Albany Parker  |  December 10, 2015 at 11:18 am

    380 KinderDad – Regarding RGCs within a neighborhood school: The school often goes to great lengths to not favor the Options program over the rest of the school, and there may or may not be an Options parent or Options teacher on the LSC. At Bell years ago Options lost our French teacher due to budget cuts and we were a) not informed until after the teacher was let go and also b) not allowed to fundraise specifically for Options to keep the French program. Something to keep in mind, I guess – bigger neighborhood schools may have more resources but it’s harder for Options parents to organize to obtain or preserve resources for their own program-within-a-school. Not necessarily a bad or wrong approach for a school to take, just something to consider.

  • 394. 2nd time around  |  December 10, 2015 at 11:32 am


    I see what you are saying. However, if the projected cuts do go into effect I would be shocked if there is ANY school that does not lose staff. The projected cuts, on top of cuts that have already been made, are very substantial, no? This is one of the reasons that I support a teacher strike, even though it is hugely inconvenient for my family as we already have one child in the CPS system.

    That being said, personally I also prefer larger over smaller schools. I never understand the appeal that small schools seem to have to some parents, at least within CPS. Larger schools mean more funding and more parents to fundraise for the school, which then seems to equate more offerings and support staff. At least this is true within the CPS system.

    Personally, at this point I have decided for this coming fall we will send our younger child to the same school as their older sibling (magnet we have been happy with has sibling preference.) We are even going to forgo SEES testing altogether as the benefits of having the two children together are great for our entire family. But, I know how stressful this process can be with eldest children and when older siblings are not at a school with sibling preference or at a school that the family is not happy with. I wish all of you in that boat the best with this process! Good luck to everyone!

  • 395. Kindergarten newbie  |  December 10, 2015 at 2:05 pm

    From what I noticed on my tour through Edison, the kids were exposed to a lot of great technology and teaching. There was a 3-D printer that seemed like the kids got to use all the time, the early grades teachers and the fourth-grade teacher especially seemed phenomenal. The tour was led by a group of boys who were seventh or eighth graders. They spoke quite a bit about their relationship with the neighborhood school kids. They said that they are involved with them for afterschool activities and clubs and that they all get along really well. I was very impressed by the students. Also the library was enormous. Another thing I really liked is th buddy system they have where the young students are paired up with an older student to be their own buddy. Very sweet.
    On my tour through Coonley, I didn’t feel like I got as good of a sense of what classes are like. It was a very crowded tour. Also, from a friend whose child is in the neighborhood program and from what the vice principal told us during the tour, the RGC program families are really their own community. With the exception of music and art and after school clubs, the RGC kids are like a little world of their own within the school.

  • 396. cipelino  |  December 10, 2015 at 2:15 pm

    Can someone comment on what classical or gifted school is best at dealing with twice exceptional children? Thank you

  • 397. Firstgrademom  |  December 10, 2015 at 2:24 pm

    I also toured Edison and loved that the 8th graders gave the tour. Those kids were awesome. The smaller groups for the tour were better than a large group tour.

    I think the issue of the separate school thing is that Albany Park is a separate school from Edison, just sharing physical space, where as, at Coonley it really is the same school. There is a Regional Special Ed center, a Regional Gifted Center and a neighborhood program, all part of Coonley. Our kid plays with neighborhood kids after school on the playground every day and has friends in the neighborhood class. I also know other moms from school wide volunteer opportunities and school events, etc. there really is a nice community at Coonley. Many families have one kid in gifted and one in the neighborhood, etc.

    The library at Edison is great but they don’t have a full time librarian and the Library is only open one day a week (correct me if I have that wrong from the tour).

    I also don’t see the need for a 1-1 iPad/student ratio in the lower grades. I think funds could be better spent IMO.

    I also heard the principal at Edison say parents aren’t allowed to volunteer in the classrooms. At Coonley there are parent volunteers in the classroom every day (lower grades). There is a very open door policy for parents as a whole.
    I also didn’t like the metal detector and bag scanner at Edison.

    Both schools are outstanding, have so much to offer any child lucky enough to get in and the kids at both are so great!

  • 398. southside mom  |  December 10, 2015 at 2:27 pm

    @ Near South Sider: Thank you for your thoughtful and honest responses on NTA. I second everything that you wrote and could not agree more. Your responses reflect the fact that parents are proud of the school and its students and teachers. I volunteered at the school often last year and had the opportunity to meet many parents, kids and teachers. It is a wonderful school. That said, I would also like to keep it a bit of a secret, I have two more kids to get in!

  • 399. Near South Sider  |  December 10, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    @southside mom

    I know, right? Actually, everyone, forget what I said about NTA. It’s a terrible, horrible school. Don’t send your kids there–at least not until after my little one gets in. 😉


    I’d love to hear about your experience on your daytime tour. My kid’s day is structured with all kinds of activities. They move throughout various stations in the classroom, use the Promethian board, go to lunch, have recess, go to their special–the day really has a nice variety and rhythm to it.

    As for the future of the RCG program, I just trust that Mr. C and his team will hire great RGC teachers. The upper level teachers they have now are great. Several have won awards for their innovative teaching strategies. NTA has a good, strong staff, and I have faith that the administration will simply build on that.

  • 400. Diverse Learners and RGC  |  December 10, 2015 at 2:39 pm

    @397 I think this is one of those questions that is hard to answer because it is probably rare that a parent would have experience at more than one school. I can say that I have had a very good experience at Bell with the administration, learning specialists and speech providers. The actual classroom teachers have been a bit of a mixed bag. 1st grade was fantastic, 3rd grade was horrible (but she is retiring after next year). With IEP’s I think the most important thing is excellent support and understanding at the administrative level because they are doing the hiring and they are who you will be calling if there is a real problem.

  • 401. southloopkiddo  |  December 10, 2015 at 2:41 pm

    @near south sider, thank you so much for all the input. it’s really helpful to have this kind of insider-insight, and your enthusiasm (on an obsessive message board of all places) says great things about the school.

    i’ll post tomorrow after the tour. i think (hope?) that it will fill in some of the gaps for me. i’m really interested in seeing the teachers in action (even for just a few minutes), it’s the one addressable piece for me that’s missing now.

  • 402. feeder schools  |  December 10, 2015 at 10:21 pm

    PARCC scores are now available and I just gathered numbers for the usual suspects where 10% or more of test-takers exceeded expectations in the composite score. There may or may not be schools left out below, and I suppose you all know the controversies and drama surrounding the test. Nonetheless, here are the schools ranked by an alternative composite percentage of expectation-exceeders (with math given 60% weight), hopefully error-free. Again, there is no way to break down by programs for those schools with multiple tracks.

    49.4 EDISON, T
    41.8 DECATUR
    36.6 SKINNER
    33.2 KELLER
    33 MCDADE
    26 LENART
    22.8 LINCOLN
    22.2 BLAINE
    20.4 HAWTHORNE
    18.8 STEM ES
    17.2 POE
    16.8 BEAUBIEN
    15.2 DISNEY II
    14.4 HAINES
    14.2 EDGEBROOK
    14.2 SOLOMON
    13.8 ALCOTT ES
    13.4 HEALY
    13.4 COONLEY
    13.2 BURLEY
    12.4 LASALLE
    10.8 BELL
    10.6 JACKSON, A
    10.4 ORIOLE PARK
    10 OGDEN
    9.8 SHERIDAN
    9.6 EBINGER
    9.4 WILDWOOD

  • 403. feeder schools  |  December 10, 2015 at 10:56 pm

    Two more: Mayer 13.6, Pritzker 10.4

  • 404. Firstgrademom  |  December 10, 2015 at 11:01 pm

    Wow over 80% opted out of Parcc at Blaine and over 30% opted out at Coonley and less than 3% opted out at Skinner.

  • 405. jen  |  December 10, 2015 at 11:20 pm

    The entire city had only 3% of its population exceeding standards on the PARCC if you look at the overall data. I am guessing its about 3-5% statewide too. Not that “exceeds” on PARCC is comparable to the ISATS at all.
    The overall scores are pretty much in line with what educators have been expecting. No surprises other than it took way too long for the scores to come out.

  • 406. Edison Mom  |  December 11, 2015 at 9:40 am

    My son attends Edison and has done so since K. He is now in an upper grade.

    I was hoping to answer a few of your questions.

    As far as being “isolated/cut off from the neighborhood school”, Edison does not have a neighborhood component (they have always been their own school). Albany Park middle school is a completely separate school. They share the space as neither school can fully use the building alone. They have completely different administrations, lsc, ptos etc…unlike a gifted program within a neighborhood school. Also Albany Park only has 7th and 8th grade, so the upper grades do interact, especially with sports. The teachers and administration and LSC and PTO treat both schools as a community and do think about what would benefit both schools (i.e. there was a ton of talk about green space grants this past year which would benefit Edison and the entire community). The 3rd grade teacher does journals where an Edison child is paired with an APMA student and they write journal entries to each other back and forth to get to know each other and practice writing etc. So, my point is, they are two different schools, but do interact and especially more in the later grades.

    Yes, we do not have full time librarian, but the one we had last year was honestly not great. They are working on a solution.

    As far as cuts, I believe all schools will be facing these cuts if budgets are not approved. The principal is very transparent about these cuts. This is not fiscal mis management by the school, but rather a statewide problem we all will see. Edison has faced this in the past and parent community (PTO, fundraisers, parent donations) has funded teaching positions. Although, 2-3 positions will be extremely difficult…but this is not isolated to Edison.

    Honestly, I was also put off my the metal detectors when my son was in K…but with all that is happening in the world, I am happy to have them. An extra measure of safety is fine with me. And keep in mind, there is a middle school in the school. I am sure many high schools also have security measures in place as well. The kids know what to do and don’t think twice about it.

    There is ALSO a TON of opportunity to volunteer. I think classroom volunteering is based on the teacher and their needs. But I have volunteered for various events in my child’s classroom every single year. You can volunteer to monitor lunch recess, help the littles during passing time to other classrooms. We have a very involved parent community and many different events that you can devote your time to.

    And yes, the science, social studies/history, technology programs are amazing. I also am very happy with the art program. The kids LOVE the art teacher and she always incorporates her summer travels and explorations into the themes. Such as African Art when she went to volunteer over the summer in Africa. She is amazing and I don’t agree with it being a “joke”.

    Sorry, this got long, but I wanted to address some of these questions from a parent point of view.

    Do we have some things we don’t like, sure…but keep in mind no school will be perfect. And depending on the child and the parent there will be different opinions. But we have been thrilled with the education and community at Edison.

  • 407. @397 cipolino  |  December 11, 2015 at 10:18 am

    Definitely ask the schools you are applying for, about number of learning specialist/ teachers aides available.
    I took a tour of Beaubien this week, and was told, that there are no learning specialists/aides available to students in their Options program. When I asked about a support for a sensory challenged students, the coordinator gave me a very vague answer.
    Also, vast majority of their Options teachers do not seem to have any kind of certification/education for working with gifted/accelerated students.

  • 408. SNparent  |  December 11, 2015 at 10:20 am

    Another factor, which may or not be important to your family, has to do with student fees every year. Edison Mom, I believe annual fees at Edison are about $400? (this is what I’ve heard from friends who go there — it’s supposed to support all that technology, ipads, etc, I believe). This is MUCH higher than other schools (Skinner North is $100, +50 for field trips if you want to pay up front — other schools are more in that range. Some magnets are only $50). Anyway, it’s another thing to ask about when you are touring the different schools or going to open houses.

  • 409. KinderDad  |  December 11, 2015 at 10:32 am

    Edison Momm SNParent:

    I have heard that both schools are “commuter schools” meaning kids coming from various and far away parts of the city hence a sense of community, hanging out after school, doing dads moms nights out, kids doing things after school together does not happen much. How do you react to that?

  • 410. KinderDad  |  December 11, 2015 at 10:36 am

    Edison Mom:

    I think the comment about losing 3 teachers by the principal was NOT followed by any sort of an answer on how to fix it. So a problem was presented (a grave one.. losing 3 out of 16 teachers is no joke) and she just moved on as if it was nothing. Not something that sits well with a prospective parent. And it so sad to see that wonderful library closed for 4 of the 5 days.

  • 411. Skinner North Parent  |  December 11, 2015 at 10:43 am

    @409 We are at Skinner North and while it can be trickier to connect than at a neighborhood or magnet school with a proximity lottery, I feel that SN does a nice job of bringing the community together around various events. It is our first year at the school and so far we have attended a parent night out event on the north side (that was for all SN families), been invited to a grade specific parent night out event (which we were unable to attend), attended a “co-curriculars” celebration night, attended an absolutely amazing International Festival, and have the Art show and winter music festival for K-2 coming up next week. There are lots of opportunities to meet other parents at school-wide events and we have also found surprisingly that many people live relatively close to us (we’re in Roscoe Village). My daughter has had playdates and attended birthday parties as well. One thing to take into account that might outweigh the greater amount of effort needed to put in at a “commuter” type school is that the diversity that comes with a school like SN is unsurpassed. Audubon is our neighborhood school and we spend a lot of time hanging out at the playground there and it is much more homogenous than SN due to the make up of the neighborhood. My daughter’s class at SN is literally like the United Nations racially, socio-economically, and geographically. To me, this is a huge bonus and really makes SN a unique place that truly represents the diversity of Chicago – in a city that can be very segregated, I find this to be an invaluable experience for my child.

  • 412. Edison Mom  |  December 11, 2015 at 11:12 am

    Kinder Dad:
    Yes, I agree that the library being closed is awfull! But I was told they were working on a solution. Agree with you completely that losing 3 out of 6 is not joke and Mrs. O should not have just moved on as if it was nothing. I am not sure why she would have made it seem trivial. But, again, I highly doubt Edison will be the only school that will have this issue, if the budget cuts happen. It will be a travesty for ALL schools!

    And as far as commuter schools, yes kids come from all over the city, but I honestly think the community makes more of an effort to overcome that. We have frequent parent outings (admittedly these have lessened a bit as the kids get older, but they still happen) at restaurants, bars and people’s homes that host. My son has frequent play dates and sleep overs. Yes, it requires more effort on our part, but totally worth it. My son also is friends with and plays with kids in our neighborhood, so I still feel we get a neighborhood “feel” for him. And incidentally on my block the kids all go to different school, some private, some magnet, a few neighborhood, and some SEES. But I understand that some people don’t want this “commuter” type thing, and perhaps your neighborhood school is a better fit. But, do know that you can still form great relationships, just takes more effort! 🙂 And I agree with SN parent as this affords great diversity which I also think is a bonus! And Edison also does a great job of having events for the entire school community, we just had an awesome book fair at Barnes and Noble last Friday night, where a percent of purchases goes to the school and there were book readings from the teaches, choir performances and the drumming group performance to name a few!

    School fees, yes (uggh) Edison I think is one of the highest in the city. But this is due to the technology plan that was implemented a few years ago to have every student have one to one devices. The K fee I believe is $400. But the fee goes down the year after (sorry if this is not exactly correct, my memory fails me…but I think it is $275??). The one to one tech, everyone has different opinions, I personally love it, but like anything the teacher drives the process with how much they use the devices. When my son entered K the fee was not this high at all, but that year there was budget cuts as well and every parent was asked to donate $150 (or something like that) in addition to the school fee to fund a teacher position, which of course we did. So, yes school fees are something to consider in your choice, but I honestly feel it is a bargain for the education he is getting! And yes other schools can be cheaper, but I don’t know of many with 1:1 devices (but could be mistaken) It is pretty great when your child has the access they need to complete their book report that they are doing as an movie or a presentation (instead of your standard pen and paper) and they can complete it without having to wait their turn or wait for the “cart” in their classroom.

    Hope that helps! It is a daunting task, and that is why I felt it necessary to put some first hand experience out there to help.

    And incidentally, I have two children and my other child is at a Magnet, and I find the sense of community, parental involvement, outside get togethers, much much less than what we have experienced at Edison. But we are still overall happy with the school.

    Good luck to everyone!

  • 413. SNparent  |  December 11, 2015 at 11:26 am

    KinderDad, I have only positive things to say about the community at SN. My kid has made a number of friends on the bus (who live close by), and it’s not that hard to make an effort to arrange to see friends who aren’t so close. There is a FB page for our class, so people will post “going to X beach Sunday” or whatever, and people will meet up. Lots of after school events, moms nights — so many things going on that you can’t do it all, honestly.
    One benefit of SN is that there are 2 classes per grade. There is a nice mix-up of the kids each year, and you meet new people. I think it helps the social dynamic. (No kid is stuck in a class with a bully year after year, as can happen when there is only one class – I know people who have left both Decatur and Edison for this reason.)

  • 414. KinderDad  |  December 11, 2015 at 11:26 am

    Are we talking about $100 v/s $400 per year? We are all Kinder parents and most are paying lot for care / Pre-K, private schools. etc.

  • 415. Edison Mom  |  December 11, 2015 at 11:32 am

    Kinder Dad

    Someone above mentioned school fees as a concern above, I was just addressing that comment (408). I personally, as I stated feel it is a bargain, as pre k was way more expensive as are private schools!

    However, do keep in mind there are many families in many of the SEES schools, that due to income, have the fees waived. So, this differential is a concern for some people.

    And even some people that can afford it at Edison, feel the difference in fees compared to other schools is an issue.

  • 416. cpsobsessed  |  December 11, 2015 at 2:02 pm

    I’m going to make a post later about PARCC as it’s fascinating on multiple levels. Regarding Blaine, the principal there is a big advocate against over-testing and likely urged the community to opt out (or rather made it very easy to do so.) More later…

  • 417. cpsobsessed  |  December 11, 2015 at 2:03 pm

    One difference in Coonley vs Edison I noted is start time.

    Edison 7:45
    Coonley 8:30

    If your child/family are not morning people, that might matter especially if bussing is involved. I imagine some Edison kids are getting on a bus at 7am.

  • 418. westrogersparkmom  |  December 11, 2015 at 2:44 pm

    I would think well before 7:00 am for a 7:45 start time. Last year the bus pick up time was before 7:00 (we gave up on it so I don’t remember the exact time) for Coonley’s 8:30 start and we are 3.5 miles from the school.

    I do think that the amount of time on the bus has decreased with the eliminated stops but if you are not close to a CPS approved stop it could take longer to get to your stop. Remember CPS made the bussing changes this summer after families had chosen schools. I would not accept any school relying on bussing as a transportation option at this point.

  • 419. westrogersparkmom  |  December 11, 2015 at 2:49 pm


    Here is an article about life after bus cuts.

  • 420. Karen Devrent  |  December 11, 2015 at 3:01 pm

    #407 I too was at the same tour and came away with a different understanding. ALL of the Options staff except the latest hire have taken additional coursework, many have the Gifted Endorsement from ISBE and some also have a Master’s Degree.

  • 421. F. Chao  |  December 11, 2015 at 3:07 pm

    Where is @southloopkiddo with her / his NTA low down report? Did @NearSouthSide convince her/ him to keep it a secret until his / her second kiddo makes it?

    Happy deadline day peeps!

  • 422. southloopkiddo  |  December 11, 2015 at 3:45 pm

    hi all, sorry to be delayed. the second-grade rgc teacher was waiting for us when we arrived, with the principal, who was lovely and answered all of my questions. we toured the school, which was just as gorgeous and orderly and calm as during the evening child-free tour. we peaked into the 3rd grad rgc classroom during reading time. the kids were each reading their own book. when we walked in, one of the little boys came up to us and told us about his school. he was very sweet and thoughtful and friendly. i thought he was just immensely extroverted, but the teacher told us that they are taught to greet visitors (it was impressive). we walked past the kindergarten rgc, who were lining up for recess and lunch, and the teacher leading us told one of the students that she would “pull him later.” it turns out that he his so far ahead of his rgc peers that he does reading with her class. really impressive dedication to differentiation, and done subtly.

    the rgc classrooms are extremely diverse, and although the achiever classrooms aren’t to the same degree, they are much more diverse than i thought. the teacher told they have students from all over the city, including as far north as the edge of evanston and as far south as the southern suburbs.

    we watched some of the achiever classes in the specials — swimming and art specifically. everyone seemed happy and calm and really interested in what they were doing. the swimming class was especially sweet; one little first grader was struggling to reach the side of the pool on the kickboard, and the rest of her classmates could be heard cheering her on.

    the teacher leading us confirmed that most (all?) of the rgc teachers are gifted certified. i wondered about programs like history fair and the makers event that are central to edison; the principal told me that the achievers classrooms already participate in history fair, stem events, and larger scale music events. the school is already offering algebra, and anticipates adding geometry as the rgc program expands to the upper grades.

    i will say, when i called coonley to see if i could stop by at an off-time to peak around, it took two days and a bunch of emails to get a response (which was no). the pritzker rgc coordinator never even bothered to respond. certainly, everyone is busy and they should appropriately be focused on their current students more than incoming students, but nta’s flexibility and responsiveness is remarkable.

  • 423. southloopkiddo  |  December 11, 2015 at 3:52 pm

    p.s. the teacher who led us did not think nta would lose teachers even if the threatened cuts go into effect, although i forgot to ask the principal that question (and he would likely have a better sense of the answer).

  • 424. southloopkiddo  |  December 11, 2015 at 3:57 pm

    (pardon the many typos)

  • 425. HS_newbie  |  December 11, 2015 at 4:02 pm

    A friend asked a question and I have no idea how to answer it, since my kids are much older and we at the point of figuring out what to do with HS, not elementary school.

    The child in question is in second grade now, applying for 3rd grade and is about to take her test. What kind of test is it? Is it OLSAT? Or CogAT (which they use for AC entrance)? Or something else? Can somebody share what types of questions are included? Namely, is paper folding tested? Verbal logic? What else?

    Thank you! I will forward all the answers to the mother.

  • 426. ObsessedNewbie  |  December 12, 2015 at 2:38 pm

    @Near South Sider May I ask you a couple of questions about NTA? Do they provide busing for the achievers and do they have a before care option? Thanks in advance.

  • 427. Near South Sider  |  December 12, 2015 at 3:06 pm


    NTA does have bussing, but the boundaries are limited (I’m not sure what they are exactly). Before care is also offered through JCC. The school day starts at 8:30, but if you pay for before care, you can drop off as early at 7:00. If you don’t have before care, you can drop off starting at 8:00. And I also have to say that drop off and pick up are so civilized and not crazy at all. There’s plenty of room for all the cars/parents, and everything is very well organized.

  • 428. Newtothis  |  December 12, 2015 at 3:49 pm

    I see a lot of scores for tier 4 posted. Safe to assume tier 2 might accept lower or is that untrue? Tier 2, RGC=144 (classical was 95 R 91 M). Interested in opinions on our chance at Edison or coonley. Thank you.

  • 429. ObsessedNewbie  |  December 12, 2015 at 4:26 pm

    Thank you @Near South Sider. You’ve been such a big help to this board.

  • 430. jen  |  December 12, 2015 at 8:06 pm

    @426, No one should be even considering bus service in their school plans with all the cuts that have already happened and the ones likely to happen down the road.

  • 431. cpsobsessed  |  December 12, 2015 at 9:43 pm

    @NewtoThis, yes, I would definitely assume lower entry scores for Tier 2. Unfortunately not much data, but I suspect you would have a good shot at Edison or Coonley. Part of the reason is location so the far north side schools get fewer Tier 2 students who want to travel that far.

  • 432. cpsobsessed  |  December 12, 2015 at 9:45 pm

    I personally think that bussing will remain as it allows for racial diversity in the selective elementaries. Further cuts perhaps but I don’t see it going away. Just my opinion.

  • 433. pritzkermom  |  December 12, 2015 at 10:25 pm

    @F.Chao. We are not leaving pritzker because of the commute. My 5th grader will remain there. We are considering whether other schools might make more sense for our younger daughter. If she does not get in to the Options program, then she will not have busing after her sister graduates and it will not be feasible for us.

  • 434. pritzkermom  |  December 12, 2015 at 10:47 pm

    @kinderdad I was also at the LSC meeting at Pritzker. Half of the parents on the LSC (or more?) have children in the options program and one of the parents who spoke during open forum is also an options parent. Having an RGC in a school that also has a neighborhood and magnet component is both a challenge and a strength. It is important to remember that many of the children who are in the neighborhood program may be just as “gifted” but simply were not able to get into the program based on the CPS selection tool. In fact, many children “walk over” to the gifted classroom when they need to for more challenging opportunities than in their own classroom. And, these children may later test in without having to change schools. There is a greater range of diversity in the school because it is not simply options. The improvements that the school has achieved are to benefit the entire school: library, computer lab, science lab, auditorium, and art room. From one LSC meeting I would not say that the neighborhood program occupies 95% of our mind space. That was the agenda for the current meeting. And much of it was about the school as a whole because as a school it is important to operate as one community. What issues regarding options would you like to know more about?

  • 435. Newtothis  |  December 13, 2015 at 11:43 am

    Thank you CPSobsessed. We are in Rogers Park, tier 2- so far north. I think we are among some of the only tier 2s on yhe north side aside from a slice of uptown. I saw that for 2015 entry tier 4 is generally minimum 147-149 for Edison or Coonley. Hoping 144 has a shot if not first round in later rounds. Will update for sure to add to the data on Tier 2.

  • 436. Patricia  |  December 13, 2015 at 1:07 pm

    @432 CPSO, I agree that busing will remain in some form. CPS consolidated stops this year, so hopefully that truly did translate into cost savings. Thanks to the tier system, the SEES and the SEHS are essentially the only schools in CPS and Chicago that have true ethnic, religious, racial and socio-economic diversity. Busing is what makes this diversity possible.

  • 437. pritzkermom  |  December 13, 2015 at 4:20 pm

    @ Patricia… the wording in the application form did worry me though. It essentially said, don’t count on the busing that is currently in place because it’s not guaranteed. But to eliminate busing would make attending these programs untenable for many many families. So, I’ll just keep my fingers crossed.

  • 438. jen  |  December 13, 2015 at 5:12 pm

    I agree that bus service keep some diversity in a very small number of schools. I still wouldn’t make plans depending on it though. Its hard to imagine that CPS would cut 20% of its teaching force yet maintain bus service. But, we’ll know next month. And who knows, this is Chicago and Chicago has an uncanny ability to avoid disaster.

  • 439. Chris  |  December 14, 2015 at 5:05 pm

    “Thanks to the tier system, the SEES and the SEHS are essentially the only schools in CPS and Chicago that have true ethnic, religious, racial and socio-economic diversity. Busing is what makes this diversity possible.”

    Never has been any busing (aside from “CTA Bus”) for the SEHS tho, right?

  • 440. cpsobsessed  |  December 14, 2015 at 5:09 pm

    @Chris, I don’t know about “never” but not in the recent past. With budget issues I guess they assume that high schoolers can take public transport. There *might* be vouchers available, but I’m not sure.

    I foresee bussing routes not being eliminated but being cut and cut to the point that nobody wants to put their kid on a bus for the required time any more.

  • 441. Patricia  |  December 14, 2015 at 6:26 pm

    @Chris & CPSO
    Busing is in SEHS and most all CPS schools to a certain extent. The SEHS with AC programs offer busing for 7th and 8th with limited stops compared to the SEES busing. (CPS has now moved SEES busing to mirror the fewer fixed stop model.) Once kids reach HS level, they generally use public transportation and CTA offers a student rate and I believe some families qualify for vouchers—which is applicable to all HS.

    The other busing that happens in SEHS and most other schools in CPS is for the students with special needs. My kids have almost always had kids on their bus that are special needs with at home pick up/drop off and many times an individual monitor dedicated to the student.

    So I am not sure exactly how much really would be saved with busing because I would assume (and hope) that CPS would continue to bus special needs students. They may be legally required to do so. Not sure how much more the other students in SEES and some SEHS add to the dollar amount, but I am sure there is a cost.

    CPSO I agree that busing may become more limiting. I also think CPS may institute a fee for families that do not qualify for free and reduced lunch. Just a guess.

  • 442. Patricia  |  December 14, 2015 at 6:46 pm

    @ Chris
    Also, to your point, the busing does facilitate diversity. However, the Tier system is what really allows for true diversity in CPS. Chicago is a very segregated city. Eliminating the SE and magnets and the busing really dooms or benefits a kid based on their zip code,

    That said, of course I support neighborhood schools and want them all to be fantastic. I think it is great how many more neighborhood HS are improving and with student based budgeting, all are on an equal funding footing now—meaning we are all equally screwed with the budget crisis—LOL and CryOutLoud. Until this unicorn of every school being well resourced and meeting all students needs arrives and is done well at CPS, the magnet and selective programs are needed.

  • 443. Been there  |  December 14, 2015 at 10:47 pm

    @ 442 Not sure it’s true that all schools are on equal footing now due to student based budgeting. Magnets still get extra funds, I believe. And schools with more affluent students have ‘Friends of ‘ and parent groups that can raise funds for art, music and other enrichment that alot of neighborhood schools cannot. Even school fees to finance extra are higher and more likely to be received at affluent neighborhood schools, magnets,and SEs.

  • 444. otdad  |  December 15, 2015 at 1:24 am

    @443. Been there: “Not sure it’s true that all schools are on equal footing now due to student based budgeting…..”
    Do you think art, music, and other enrichments have a lot to do with the core math/reading scores? The biggest difference is parental involvement in children’s education. No amount of school funding can compensate that.

  • 445. HSObsessed  |  December 15, 2015 at 10:38 am

    It’s been a while since I raised this point, but it bears repeating: Affluent schools with “friends of” parent groups do raise money, but even those that are quite successful raise “only” maybe $150K per year. In the bigger picture of a school’s multi-million dollar annual budget, those additional funds are a drop in the bucket. It is much more “profitable” for a school to have a huge percentage of kids who report that the qualify for free lunches based on their household income, because then the school gets extra funding for every single child. For an average sized K-8 school, this easily adds several hundred thousand dollars in funds. Therefore, the average amount of money a school with high-poverty has to work with per child is usually higher, not lower, than at a school with an affluent base.

  • 446. Chris  |  December 15, 2015 at 11:54 am

    “even those that are quite successful raise “only” maybe $150K per year”

    No, the “quite successful” ones raise a multiple of that amount. Certainly if you include school fees.

    “the average amount of money a school with high-poverty has to work with per child is usually higher, not lower, than at a school with an affluent base”

    It’s not “usually”, it is *absolutely* higher. For this year, the following additional amounts were given:

    SGSA Rate: $797.76 per low-income pupil
    Title I Rates: $579 per qualifying pupil for schools with poverty index of 40%

    So, for a “average”** school with 80% qualifying pupils, that would be just over $1,100 extra *for 100% of the kids*. So, for Lincoln ES to match that, they’d have to have $1,000,000 (838 kids) in fundraising and school fees, which I am nearly certain they don’t get close to–tho if guessing, I’d put it north of $500k. And Lincoln should get about $100k in SGSA money, for the 15% low income students.

    **There are very very few of these ‘average’ schools. They are mostly 85%+ — out of 679 schools (incl charters), 444 are 85%+. There are 37 under 40%, and so ineligible for the Title I funds, but still getting the SGSA money.

  • 447. Chris  |  December 15, 2015 at 12:05 pm


    “The SEHS with AC programs offer busing for 7th and 8th”

    Not to be overly picky, but AC Program /= SEHS. And student-fare CTA passes are not ‘busing’.

    For HS’s the diversity is all about the Tiers, and downtown-ish locations–Northside and Brooks, for example, would not gain substantial added diversity *even if* CPS busing were available for them. They are simply too far for most of the kids who would increase the diversity from current levels. Hence the push for another central-ish located SEHS. The Hilliard Apartments would be a *fantastic* location for one.

  • 448. cpsobsessed  |  December 15, 2015 at 12:17 pm

    My son’s school is likely one of the top fundraisers and there’s no way they get “multiple of $150k.” If you include fees and auction I’d say maybe…$250K at the most. Nothing to scoff at but I’d be shocked if any school beyond Lincoln (if even) get to this level or remotely close to $500k. I think these schools are outlyers. My son’s school (and I suspect Lincoln) are among the highest income housing value neighborhoods in the city. (We don’t live there, fwiw.) But I don’t see how more than say 5 other neighborhoods could match that level of dedicated, organized, and generous fundraising.

  • 449. HSObsessed  |  December 15, 2015 at 12:32 pm

    You can look up the annual revenue for Friends Of organizations on Guidestar. There seem to me to be one or two that raise $300K (like Lincoln), but most of the north side schools that have very active parent groups seem to fall in the $100K to $150K range. And I agree with CPSO that that’s the case only at a tiny percentage of schools in a system of hundreds of K-8 schools.

  • 450. Firstgrademom  |  December 15, 2015 at 12:53 pm

    I recently read this. It seems there are many schools raising much more than $150,000.00

    Alcott, Bell, Lincoln, Audobon, Oscar Mayer, Northside, Coonley, Hawthorne, Burley etc. some over $400,000.


  • 451. Chris  |  December 15, 2015 at 1:05 pm

    “You can look up the annual revenue for Friends Of organizations on Guidestar. There seem to me to be one or two that raise $300K (like Lincoln), but most of the north side schools that have very active parent groups seem to fall in the $100K to $150K range.”

    From Guidestar, 13-14 FY (and these do not generally include school fees, which typically go straight to the school):

    Bell: $468,026
    Lincoln: $348,861
    Coonley: $190,813 (but 2015 spring fling reported as “Auction was very successful – raised $205K.”)
    Burley: $274,790
    Audubon: $312,045
    Alcott: $626,547 (2013 Calendar year)
    Blaine: $123,594 (seems weird–Blaine does get about $150k from the parking lot, summer camp, etc, that doesn’t go thru ‘Friends’, and seem to have a separate kindergarten fund ($100k this year!) for K aides.)
    Oscar Mayer: $440,361
    Hawthorne: $303,420

    So, that’s at least 7, ranging from about 2x to 4x the $150k “quite successful” amount.

  • 452. cpsobsessed  |  December 15, 2015 at 4:00 pm

    Dang! That is impressive. I guess when you add in book fairs, fees, etc it adds up. How does that web site know what each school raised? Is it self-reported?

  • 453. Cliff  |  December 15, 2015 at 4:11 pm

    The Friends Of org’s are set up as 501c3’s with tax-exempt status and thus must report their revenue to the IRS on form 990

  • 454. Chris  |  December 15, 2015 at 4:14 pm

    “How does that web site know what each school raised? Is it self-reported?”

    Yep. From filings of Federal Tax info. Can also find info (also on all IL NFPs) here:


    And, as noted, not all of the $$ raised flow thru the “Friends of” organization. I’m not aware of anywhere that the ‘school fee’ doesn’t go directly to the school, and is thus ‘unreported’ by the Friends of. Think that the book fair (which is, I think, a book credit not $$) and other things like that also go straight to the school.

    Could probably root up more info looking at LSC minutes (which is where the Coonley and Blaine info I added came from).

  • 455. cpsobsessed  |  December 15, 2015 at 4:31 pm

    I know Alcott used to successfully solicit parents for one big donation a year rather than doing a lot of little fundraisers and would aim to get $1000 or more per family. They clearly still excelled at that in 2013. I wonder if they have kept that going.

  • 456. Albany Parker  |  December 15, 2015 at 7:37 pm

    Several schools with Friends Of organizations also have separate PTAs that raise money, though usually smaller fundraisers, like the book fairs that Chris mentioned; at my oldest kid’s elementary the PTA was more of a pass-through for school-related sales, collecting money from book fairs, school dances, etc and writing a check to the school after.

    Checking out the IL Attorney General’s charity site (thanks Chris!), did anyone else notice that some of those Friends Of groups have some amazing amounts sitting in the bank? Friends of Bell as of mid-2014 had nearly $1M, and Friends of Lincoln and Alcott each had nearly $500K. I understand the concept of the rainy day fund but holding onto that much money seems pretty outrageous to me.

  • 457. Been there  |  December 16, 2015 at 12:51 am

    Anyone understand why many schools that get extra money for % of poverty don’t have libraries? Where does the extra money go? I don’t get it.

  • 458. GraceStreet  |  December 16, 2015 at 8:30 am

    @456 those bank account statements may reflect fundraising through part of the year. Our fund raising group writes a check to the school one time at the end of the school year. I can’t speak for those groups you mentioned but it’s possible it was prior to distributing the money to the school.

    @457 There are a million and one places to spend money in schools. Classroom libraries are sufficient for many schools when there are more urgent needs.

  • 459. HSObsessed  |  December 16, 2015 at 10:00 am

    Re: Alcott — They were given some insanely high amount like $300K from the alderman’s menu money one year to go toward refurbishing their athletic field, so maybe it was put into their Friends Of account, and that’s why the number is so high. Just guessing.

  • 460. Chris  |  December 16, 2015 at 11:19 am

    “Alcott — They were given some insanely high amount like $300K from the alderman’s menu money…put into their Friends Of account”

    Nah (bc the Alderman would no longer control it, as he would if it were ‘given’ to the school itself)–BUT, there was some sort of matching requirement, no? So they would have had a big push for that funding, which would account for an outsized year.

  • 461. cpsobsessed  |  December 16, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    @457: The extra money schools get for lower income students has to also cover things like working for smaller class size, social workers, security, some basic tech that kids may not have at home, some funding for after school activities. There’s a lot to make up for that the small amount per kid probably doesn’t come close to. Hopefully there is a local library nearby and/or some classrooms maintain class libraries (but I know at our school these are largely funded by the parents/teachers… so not sure how that works if you have to fund it at the school level.)

  • 462. jen  |  December 16, 2015 at 8:37 pm


    Schools which have a certified librarian (and library) in them consistently have greater test scores than those that don’t. The impact is seen most dramatically among students of color and students living in poverty, the very same groups which the achievement gap is seen the most. The choice cannot be either/or between school libraries and classroom libraries. Its both/and. At the same time, any district that is in such a horrific financial situation as CPS really has to focus on mere survival. Educational quality isn’t really something it has the luxury of thinking about anymore.

  • 463. Chris  |  December 17, 2015 at 10:39 am

    “Schools which have a certified librarian (and library) in them consistently have greater test scores than those that don’t.”

    I don’t see that conclusion in the study.

    It’s a datapoint in favor of full time librarians, but I don’t see that there was a control for the amount of overall funding, class sizes, etc, all of which we can agree also affect performance and educational results. Seems to me that they demonstrated correlation, but did not prove (any!) causation.

  • 464. Chris  |  December 17, 2015 at 10:54 am


    OF COURSE having a full time librarian is better than not having one. But it’s a question of allocation of limited resources. There are 80 schools (some may be co-located) with under 300 kids–so SBB supports a total staff of about 16 or fewer–with 9 classroom teachers and a principal in an ES, that leaves 6 total spots, and something has to go. And that’s before even approaching the physical plant limitations.

  • 465. cpsobsessed  |  December 17, 2015 at 1:22 pm

    I wish CPS could find a way for schools to share resources. As Chris points out, there is a lot of inefficiency if small schools all have the same resources. I was helping a drama teacher once who said “I wish I had… xyz” (can’t even remember what it was) but I thought if there was a central supply place and schools could borrow what they needed a couple times a year, it would be more efficient. My son’s school bought nice microphone headsets for the plays. Those only happen 2x a year. Another school could potentially borrow them.

    How about a library on wheels? Rotating tech or 3D printers, etc. Seems crazy for every school to purchase one of everything.

  • 466. Chris  |  December 17, 2015 at 2:53 pm

    “How about a library on wheels?”

    A bookmobile.

    But the study Jen cited noted the benefit of a *full time* librarian, as opposed to a (say) once a week librarian. Certainly, the bookmobile is better than nothing, but how much better?

    Don’t some schools “share” nurses and other non-classroom staff?

  • 467. michele  |  December 17, 2015 at 4:30 pm

    #466 the librarian also can be the only person at the school teaching critical research skills to students. The librarian shows children the most needed skills today of how to find information to support their academic work – in books and on-line. I can see how schools that have Librarians on staff do better than those who do not – understanding how research works, and how to collect and present data are the basis for all future work students do. Librarians have evolved very far from the days of telling students just how to use the Dewey decimal system – Librarians can be essential in closing skills gaps and moving kids to a higher academic level more quickly. They work in tandem with Teachers to support developing student’s critical thinking skills.

  • 468. jen  |  December 17, 2015 at 5:23 pm

    Don’t get me started at the uselessness of having nurses at schools 1-2 days a week. Paperwork requirements can be met without meeting the needs of the actual human children involved.

  • 469. cps veteran  |  December 18, 2015 at 11:12 am

    i think the education-industry needs to retool to provide librarians with technology skills….. a media center specialist if you will…. that’s where parents could grant-fundraise better the intersection of research/library skills/online resources… just saying that our schools can better financially/space-wise afford a librarian with a tech skill set. otherwise it’s a tough choice….buying tech , buying books, buying the human resource(s)……

  • 470. jen  |  December 28, 2015 at 11:53 am

    Really? Blindsided? Yes CPS did their typical last minute throw shit together planning, as usual, but blindsided? Anyone paying a little bit of attention could see this coming. Claypool even recently stated that transportation is going to be cut again come second semester. It was in the Trib not all that long ago. Doesn’t take a genius to see that more cuts are coming, to bus service and otherwise.

  • 471. Chicago School GPS  |  December 30, 2015 at 11:49 am

    Happy New Year to everyone! CPS released their 2016-2017 calendar, although I won’t be surprised if it changes at some point. So far school will start on 9/6/16 and end on 6/20/17.


  • 472. Danijela  |  January 4, 2016 at 4:13 pm

    Current SN parents please help based on your experience.
    Any chance for Skinner North in later rounds?
    English 99.9
    Math 94
    Tier 4

  • 473. cpsobsessed  |  January 4, 2016 at 5:04 pm

    Here is last year’s Elem Options thread with scores posted FYI:


  • 474. cpsobsessed  |  January 4, 2016 at 5:12 pm

    the initial Skinner North offers for Tier 4 were all 99/99.
    I saw this post from May, so that was a full 2 months after the first round. So even at that point the scores were still very high.
    If you continue to read to the end of last year’s thread (search for North or SN) you may be able to find scores that came closer to the start of the school year.

    May 2015: “Got a phone call and an email from OAE that my son has been accepted into Skinner North for KG. We are Tier 4. He got Reading 99.5 and Math 98. We will be accepting!”

  • 475. Danijela  |  January 4, 2016 at 5:21 pm

    Thanks! I found a note from late August saying that child got 99/95 so there is slight hope for us especially since it is our only choice so we will be rejecting all other offers. Wondering how many more kids with score similar to this were offered spot late in the game.. Thanks for a great website!

  • 476. cpsobsessed  |  January 4, 2016 at 8:24 pm

    Hey, that’s awesome! Ya never know how it’ll all shake out, especially if you’re willing to make a switch up to the first week of school (or even beyond.)

  • 477. otdad  |  January 4, 2016 at 11:42 pm

    With reading @99.9%, the chance seems good in the first round. Unless too many kids got 99.9%/99.9%, one 99.9% should be enough to get in. The “.9” matters a lot.

  • 478. Danijela  |  January 5, 2016 at 12:22 am

    @otdad: thank you so much for the feedback, could you elaborate on this? Do you know specific examples of cases such as this?
    Math is actually my boy’s bigger strength; at age 4 he is already doing equations and factorials and is obsessed with very lare and unimaginable numbers. However he got upset at the exam because the person testing him did not want to tell him “who is the author of the book” 🙂 so they stopped the test 😦 I really hope something works out with SN since we live close to it and I really like how they care about socioemotional development of the child which is just what we need. Thanks again!

  • 479. otdad  |  January 5, 2016 at 1:41 am

    I know kids that got 99/99, 99/98 (tier 4) didn’t get a seat in the first round, while kids who got 97/99.9, 99.9/95 did get in. It seems that the highest score among the 2 were used in the admission, not 2 scores adding up.

  • 480. BigCityMom  |  January 7, 2016 at 2:55 pm

    I’m coming in late in the conversation, but just wanted to weigh in on busing (from early December comments): I have a child at Coonley RGC who takes the bus. His bus stop is now just over half a mile from our house (it used to be across the street before the cuts). Coonley starts at 8:30 a.m. His bus comes at about 6:50 a.m. The route is shared with Bell so they drop off at Bell first (Bell has an earlier start time) and then go to Coonley. He gets up at 6 a.m. to leave the house by 6:30 a.m. so we can drive him to the bus stop. Some days we’re able to drive him all the way to school, but not always. We are 2 miles from the school so we’re nearly going half-way there just to get to the bus stop. With traffic, it can take about 30 minutes to drive by car though, and the timing of it all doesn’t always work with our work schedules (plus we have a younger sibling to get to a different school too). But when we drive him to school, we can all sleep in an extra hour, which is significant.

    So, my point in sharing is to say to really give the bus situation some thought when making your decision. I don’t regret our decision to send him to Coonley at all, but the transportation side of it is a burden and I anticipate the busing to only get worse as time goes on. It’s a source of stress for sure. And I worry about whether he’s getting adequate sleep sometimes.

    In the end, it’s worth it for us because we LOVE Coonley and adore the teachers he has had. I wouldn’t have it any other way. But my advice is don’t gloss over the transportation side of things, particularly if you have more than one child. Even busing is not always ideal.

  • 481. Kenwood Parent  |  January 8, 2016 at 2:11 pm

    After years of stalking (and occasionally commenting on) this board, my son was finally tested this morning. I was surprised at the number of testers there this morning. I saw about 10-15 parents entering and leaving my waiting room while I was there. I thought we would be one of few there since it is a workday and near the end of the testing calendar.

    I haven’t been this nervous since taking my GRE! This process is brutal and I’m glad it is over (for now). I was a nervous wreck, texting my husband every few minutes to give him an “update” and constantly checking the time to calculate how long my son was in there. My son was with the tester for 42 minutes. I’m unsure whether my son’s “advanced” age (he’s 5) means that 42 minutes is not that long. I do not believe that they tailor the questions to the child’s age, i.e., start with more difficult questions.

    I asked him what was on the exam. He told me that there was a question on coins (yay!), but there were 2 quarters and 3 three pennies and that equaled 50 cents (Oh, no..). I guess we’ll see what happened in March.

  • 482. Maria  |  January 8, 2016 at 6:07 pm

    @Kenwood parent, I have a 5 yr who will b testing this weekend for RGC and next weekend for classical. Which one had the coins?

  • 483. cpswonderland  |  January 8, 2016 at 7:36 pm

    @Maria, will your child be tested for kindergarten or 1st grade? Coins would be part of classical test.

  • 484. Kenwood Parent  |  January 8, 2016 at 8:34 pm

    @Maria – My son took the kindergarten test, which is a single oral exam (RGC and Classical conducted concurrently). As cpswonderland stated, it was almost certainly a classical test question. I assume your son is testing for 1st grade, which I believe is a “fill in the bubble” test. It would definitely behoove you to review coins, because there is a good chance he will have such a question since. From what I’ve heard on this board, the coin questions are only given to students who make it far in the kindergarten exam (?). However, it is my understanding that all of the prospective 1st graders will be asked the same questions (which, one would think would include a coin question).

  • 485. Maria  |  January 8, 2016 at 9:02 pm

    My son will be testing for 1st grade this Sunday RGC and next Sunday for Classical
    Crossing my fingers for everyone

  • 486. cpswonderland  |  January 8, 2016 at 9:26 pm

    @Kenwood Parent – My daughter also took test this morning. She is 5 and she was tested for 40 – 45 minutes. Did your son mention any clock related questions?

  • 487. Kenwood Parent  |  January 9, 2016 at 7:26 am

    @cpswonderland – My son said that he was asked a few “o’clock” questions – 4 o’clock, 5 o’clock…..There were no x:30, x:45, or x:15 questions. They were pretty simple. What questions did they ask your daughter?

  • 488. Maria  |  January 9, 2016 at 9:01 am

    I thank u guys for the info on the test. I am printing out some worksheets for coin addition and he knows the time in hours and half hours. I also want to print out some bubble sheets so it won’t be foreign to him when he sees it. Thanx again!

  • 489. cpswonderland  |  January 9, 2016 at 10:48 am

    @ Kenwood Parent – I assume my daughter and your son were asked same type of questions, they are same age (5) and both were inside little bit over 40 minutes. Maybe we should discuss questions after the testing period is over?
    @Maria – keep in mind that testing for classical schools will start with the academic level your kindergartener is now and continue until he reaches his plafond (as I understand it, to be admitted into top classical schools child should be 1-2 years in advance than his peers).

  • 490. rankings  |  January 9, 2016 at 4:35 pm

    Someone just shared this on my FB feed and I was surprised to see Blaine at #1. Not because they aren’t a great school, but they just aren’t usually ranked that high. Then I remembered that Blaine pushed for 100% opt out on the PARCC, which is the only thing this seems to be ranking on and they had just under half of their students skip it according to the articles. Just makes me wonder how useful any rankings based only on last years PARCC scores actually are with the varying degrees of participation schools had due to opt-outs?

    Case in point, Northside isn’t even in this HS list this year because they didn’t meet the minimum number of test scores to be ranked by SchoolDigger b/c they had 80-90% skip the test.

    Not that rankings ever tell the whole story, but perhaps this year they don’t tell enough of the story either…


  • 491. otdad  |  January 10, 2016 at 2:18 am


    That must an error of some sort.

    The newest PARCC test results can be found at http://www.illinoisreportcard.com

    Blaine 81% meet standards/ 24% exceed
    Skinner North 94% meet standards/ 53% exceed
    Edison 94%meet/ 50% exceed
    McDade 90%/36%
    Decatur 91%/43%

    Based on the scores, there is no way Blaine can rank that high.

    Just take a look at Skinner North’s newer crop 3rd grade:
    100% meet standards, math 79% exceed, reading 74% exceed.
    It’s virtually impossible in a neighborhood school.

  • 492. SN Parent  |  January 10, 2016 at 8:37 am

    The Tribune also has a ranking that seems more accurate – Blaine is not listed at all as it only includes schools with 85% participation. Agreed that a neighborhood school would not be in the top most likely as it is a more heterogenous group of students with regard to academic ability. Note the top performers are all SEES.


  • 493. Jen K  |  January 10, 2016 at 3:09 pm

    This Trib article from last month indicates 370 Blaine students opted out of parcc.

  • 494. cpsobsessed  |  January 10, 2016 at 4:56 pm

    I saw that data on Blaine too when I glanced at the PARCC results a couple weeks ago, noticing it was at the top. I too was surprised, then I saw the 82% opt-out rate.

    In my impression, using 12% of the student body can skew the results, especially if there is a bias towards who decides NOT to opt out. I would imagine that parents who are concerned about test scores (SE-oriented,) those who were worried the score might be needed for SE application and chose to cover their butts, etc. Which I’d imagine would be a population with high scoring kids.

    On top of it, Blaine is a high income neighborhood school, which gives it an edge as well. I only took a glance at the scores, but it appeared to have the usual income skews the ISAT results did.

    Not to discount Blaine at all – I would expect them to be near the top of neighborhood schools based on demographics and reputation for the school.

    I still need to look at the results in more detail but didn’t have a chance. The opt-out rate does make it difficult to assess some of the schools (as does the fact that the test was still in guniea-pig/crappy interface stage.)

  • 495. Should Be Used To This  |  January 11, 2016 at 10:52 am

    @cpswonderland: CPS OAE told me that the testing period runs at least through the end of February (including kids who have to make up tests due to illness), FYI.

    Also, the classical schools purport to teach at least 1-2 grade levels ahead (I know a child who is working 4+ years ahead), but many kids who are accepted are working far beyond that at the time they are tested. With Skinner North ranked near or at number one out of all elementary schools in the state (depending on whose poll you are reading), I expect the necessary scores for acceptance will continue rise due to self-selection.

  • 496. TPick  |  January 12, 2016 at 4:04 pm

    We decided to choose NTA and we love it !. The teachers work HARD ! I can honestly say that they are truly concerned about the well being of the students. The school is calm, the students are happy and they are REALLY LEARNING. The class is super diverse (about 5 Black Kids, 4 Asian, 6 white…. The RGC classes are more diverse than the neighborhood classes but the neighborhood students are just as friendly, smart and come from like -minded families(children of educators). My daughters teacher is in her first year and she is doing a great job. She studied under Ms. B who most of you know as the former RGC district or area coordinator. Ms. B looped with her kids and I believe my daughters teacher will too.

    The skinny,,,
    My daughters class Tweets every Tuesday discussing socio-emotional issues such as responsibility, dreams, etc…, she loves swim class and Stem class as well. They also have an appropriate amount of homework. They are required to read and log their books daily and they have about 3-4 pages of homework (depends on the level of your child)in addition to their reading. They take a very individualized approach to learning. The students were invited in prior to the beginning of the school year to be assessed. They are currently using the Eureka Math program which surely focuses on the ability to reason, think flexibly, and understand the relationships between numbers. Their JCC program is awesome. I am not too familiar with the Park District which is connected to the school however, the cost is significantly less expensive than JCC(Chess, Yoga, Science Club). They also offer a variety of after -school programs like Piano (Band for Today) or programs through after-school all-stars such as Pom Pon, etc…so many to name. I could add a little more but I don’t want you guys to think I work for NTA.

    These were her scores (my post from last year). Hopefully this will put you guys at ease.

    Tier 3- but one block away was tier 1 SMH
    RGC Score 144
    Classical Math 91 Reading 99


    Wait List

    Sheridan 3(they called)
    Lasalle 6 (they called)
    Murray 9
    Newberrry 37 (they called)

    Skinner 225 Ha ha
    Tested for 25 minutes
    NTA it is !

  • 497. walker  |  January 13, 2016 at 2:27 am

    My 4yo son took the test a week ago. We haven’t prepared him for classical but we hope for gifted. I’m more on a “playful” side of early development approach, so he is now a “professional” Minecraft builder who’s last creation was a Mars base with airlocks, rovers, red stone circuits and a potato farm (from the Martian) 🙂 The test took ~25 min and when I asked him what kind of questions he saw, he said “Show me a dog” and that’s all we could possibly get from him. I hope they norm the results by birthday as being a summer boy doesn’t sound encouraging without the age normalization. Tier 4 non-sense doesn’t help either. Anyway, I’m going to take it more seriously next year. Good luck everyone!

  • 498. Kenwood Parent  |  January 16, 2016 at 9:20 pm

    @cpsobsessed – Is your contact info still cpsobsessed@gmail.com?

  • 499. cpsobsessed  |  January 18, 2016 at 1:22 am

    Yep, that is the email address. Alerting get me here helps.

  • 500. Maria  |  January 18, 2016 at 8:00 am

    My son took the classical exam for first grade yesterday afternoon. If it helps any, he mentioned that coins where mentioned, the city, state and country he lived in. And it is “filling in the bubbles/circles”. They have you register and sit in an auditorium until they call the group with a color and the kids (with the color called, about 20) are lined up and taking to the testing room by the proctors. Lasted about an hour. All of them come back to the auditorium and are released to their parent(s). Last year when he went for his kindergarten test it was one on one

  • 501. rewing123  |  January 19, 2016 at 1:18 pm

    my 4 year old tested a couple weeks ago. i didnt get much out of him except that there was reading (starting easy and getting harder), time telling, and word problems involving subtracting money. i know it is so hard to say but i’m new here and i’m wondering if anyone can give me some input- do those types of questions mean he did well? i feel like i read here somewhere you can tell how they did by the questions asked. he was in for around 45 minutes. thanks!

  • 502. Hotdogs!  |  January 20, 2016 at 2:22 pm

    Did your child mention a hotdog question for the K test? I have two kids who have taken the K test (a few years ago and this year), and both kids mentioned the question.

  • 503. rewing123  |  January 20, 2016 at 6:35 pm

    ha! i just asked him and he gave me the most long-winded answer about what type of a food a hot dog is… ok, but did they ask you about hot dogs? answer: oh… umm… i’m not sure, i’ll have to think about it.

  • 504. Random Mom  |  January 23, 2016 at 12:02 am

    Good luck to all the testers tomorrow.

  • 505. cps veteran  |  January 26, 2016 at 4:15 pm

    Just heard that Edison’s LSC voted against renewal of Principal O’s contract.
    And was there a non-renewal vote at Franklin too?
    (both of these leaders were AP’s at their respective schools (I believe) – what gives? – anti-establishment sentiment? *clearly following too much election coverage* )

    Can anyone confirm? weigh in.

  • 506. hateedison  |  January 26, 2016 at 7:27 pm

    Yes, Edison principal was ousted. I will keep this short, but my son hopefully will be leaving at end of yr.Its not all its cracked up to be and test scores are not indicative of the quality of teaching.My child has been there since k and now in upper grade and received a/b in math.We were just told this past fall that he is behind one year in math and is finally getting some extra help.What took so long I ask.And I believe teachers inflate grades, based on my experience. There are a few good teachers but many that are overpaid and ineffective.The principal was nice but did not really add much to the school, just kept the same old same old

  • 507. CPSFirstTimer  |  January 29, 2016 at 5:51 pm

    I understand we’ll see a waitlist number for Magnet schools come late March when we receive the letter, but will it tell if our child has been placed on a waitlist (and also what number they are on the list) for RGCs?

  • 508. LSmom  |  January 29, 2016 at 6:43 pm

    @507, the RGC letters and magnet letters arrive separately but around the same time. In the RGC letter you’ll find out your child’s scores and whether or not they got an offer. You won’t get a wait list number for gifted/classical schools, although you can get a sense of how close you might be to an offer by looking at posts here.

  • 509. Random Mom  |  January 31, 2016 at 10:05 pm

    Did anything happen to Franklin’s principal?

  • 510. Julia  |  January 31, 2016 at 10:12 pm

    When are the test scores sent out in March?

  • 511. Edison Principal article  |  January 31, 2016 at 10:42 pm

    Edison School Community Reeling After LSC Fires Principal

    January 26, 2016 9:16am

    ALBANY PARK — For nearly two hours Monday night, staff and parents at Edison Regional Gifted Center stood before the Local School Council and voiced their support for Principal Donna Oberhardt. But in a vote that took less than a minute, the LSC, by a seven to three margin, opted not to renew Oberhardt’s contract.

    “It’s devastating. To do this is unconscionable,” said Edison teacher Deni Drinkwater, expressing the dismay of the majority of the nearly 200 people in attendance at Monday’s LSC meeting.

    Speakers had lauded Oberhardt’s track record at the top-rated school, and pointed to chaos within CPS and the need for an experienced hand at the helm as cause for retention.

    Oberhardt and members of the LSC declined to comment.

    Oberhardt has been principal at Edison, 4929 N. Sawyer Ave., since 2012, having previously served as the school’s assistant principal.

    “She was the reason we chose Edison,” said Jesse Milton, who has two children enrolled at the school.

    “This was completely unexpected,” he said. “I didn’t know there was an issue. It shocks me. That this was even remotely a possibility … I had no idea.”

    The absence of a publicly revealed reason for Oberhardt’s firing is what parents and staff found most frustrating.

    Was there “some secret out there so heinous” Oberhardt couldn’t keep her job? one mother asked.

    The hiring of a school’s principal is one of the primary responsibilities of an LSC. Principals are awarded four-year contracts, at the end of which period the LSC conducts an evaluation — the process for which is clearly spelled out in LSC guidelines — and determines whether or not to renew a principal’s contract.

    According to a timeline handed out by the LSC at Monday’s meeting, initial planning for Oberhardt’s review began in October. A survey was launched in November to obtain staff and parent feedback, and in-person feedback sessions were held in December and January.

    Oberhardt requested a “preliminary indication of the intention of the LSC,” which was provided late last week, according to the document.

    It was at this point that most members of the Edison community became aware that Oberhardt’s job was in jeopardy, sparking a 72-hour flurry of activity, including an online petition, to sway the LSC in advance of Monday’s vote.

    “We’re all late to the game,” said Jill Martensen, echoing the comments of many parents who admitted they hadn’t paid attention to the evaluation because they didn’t think nonrenewal was being considered.

    It’s “easy to be apathetic” at a high-performing school, one mom said.

    “I keep hearing about the ‘process.’ What the past 72 hours has shown me is it’s a flawed process,” said Patricia O’Keefe.

    “The list of stuff you did … I get it … it’s frustrating when people don’t engage,” she told the LSC. “But when people understand the true implication…. You can defend all your steps … but if you make a decision tonight and don’t take into account 100 percent faculty support and parent support … nothing, nothing, nothing justifies the nuclear option.”

    In the end, the LSC stood by its decision to not renew Oberhardt’s contract.

    Because the hiring and firing of a principal is a human resources issue, LSCs are prohibited from discussing the particulars of the evaluation. Members sign a confidentiality agreement at the beginning of the process, both for the principal’s protection and for those providing feedback.

    “That’s the whole thing of this, it’s cloaked in confidentiality,” said parent Trudy Milton.

    The embattled LSC will now undertake the search for a new principal.

    Lesson learned, said one mom, who vowed, “I’m going to be coming back to LSC meetings.”


  • 512. southloopkiddo  |  February 1, 2016 at 11:24 am

    this is, perhaps, the wrong place to ask this question, but I’m thinking ahead and assume someone here will know the answer. what’s the lunch situation at nta? terrible? do most kids bring their lunch? what about the other sees programs?

  • 513. Wow  |  February 1, 2016 at 8:07 pm

    All CPS school serve the same lunch.

  • 514. like Trump  |  February 2, 2016 at 9:48 am

    512 – double wow…. a tiered lunch program…. SEES students get 2 proteins…. n’hoods only 1 protein. magnets get 2 proteins on alternating days…. and no soup for anyone.
    no disrespect to the minority (handful) of schools who have worked & improved their local lunch offerings due to parent and community involvement…. but 512 you must have an agenda here, please explain.

  • 515. TPick  |  February 2, 2016 at 12:29 pm

    @512 lots of students bring their lunch and some don’t. I don’t stress about it. I just make sure my daughter has a homemade lunch at least 3 days out of the week. The KG also have a school provided snack or you can bring one from home. Nothing sugary is allowed and no PEANUT based items either., i.e., doughnuts, etc…

  • 516. Concern  |  February 2, 2016 at 9:20 pm

    @506 – agree. Edison’s math program from grade 1-5 is terrible. The teachers hardly teach anything substantive to the students, but mainly rely on online sources like Pearson. Another year I will have my child test for AC.

  • 517. F. Chao  |  February 3, 2016 at 4:48 pm

    @516: How are you supplementing what Edison teaches? Getting into an AC is NOT easy from what I understand. Also, how does Edison have such high NWEA scores in Math and Reading consistently for the past 3 years? Whats the secret there?

  • 518. BigCityMom  |  February 4, 2016 at 12:21 pm

    I’ve been hearing that lottery results will be delayed due to the layoffs. Anyone else hearing this?

  • 519. AK  |  February 4, 2016 at 1:20 pm

    CPS OAE website still stays letters going out March 25 for PreK-8.

  • 520. BigCityMom  |  February 4, 2016 at 3:58 pm

    Yes, they’ve said all along the letters would go out at the end of March. But I’ve been hearing that the letters may be delayed because of layoffs, fewer people to do the processing, etc. I wouldn’t expect it to be posted on the OAE website at this point.

  • 521. southloopkiddo  |  February 5, 2016 at 4:28 pm

    @512/513. whoa. didn’t mean to offend. i assumed that all the kids at each school eat the same thing, but didn’t know if each school had its own vendor, or cluster of vendors, and (no matter what the answer) how the food is. really, just an idle thought, that i would have no matter where the kiddo lands.

  • 522. southloopkiddo  |  February 5, 2016 at 5:09 pm

    meant @513/514. and i specified sees schools (where again, i assume the neighbhorhood and gifted kids eat the same thing and hopefully eat at the same time, one of the reasons i like nta) because that’s where our focus i, so although i’m happy as a general matter to know about the great lunch programs at various neighborhood schools, that information doesn’t really fill in gaps that are relevant for me.

  • 523. KCabral  |  February 5, 2016 at 5:23 pm

    @522/southloopkiddo —

    Aramark is the food vendor for, I believe, all CPS schools. If not all, the large majority of them. If you Google Aramark + CPS you will find a lot of info. Including complaints, I’m sure.

    Also look through CPS’ own website for a lot of info. I think they have a section about food & nutrition and breakfast and lunch menus are posted there, too.

  • 524. Jen  |  February 5, 2016 at 7:16 pm

    @522 there aren’t any great lunch programs in CPS. There’s only “better than starvation” options. Best thing is to pack your kid’s lunch each day. Every day.

  • 525. CPS mom too  |  February 5, 2016 at 8:35 pm

    NTA has Aramark, too. The food is crappy. My kids won’t eat it. My second grader says some kids bring school lunch every day, others switch off between home lunch and school lunch. She’s in the home lunch every day camp. My kindergartner will sometimes eat school lunch on pizza days.

  • 526. cpsobsessed  |  February 6, 2016 at 1:16 pm

    Regarding letters, CPS has, for the past year years been “generally” accurate about the posted mailing date. It has traditionally been a late Friday when the letters “mail” which means they don’t get processed at the PO until Saturday, arriving Monday at the soonest.

    They do this with minimal staff. I foresee Good Friday (3/25, day of elem mailing) being a possible hurdle more so than the layoffs. I believe central office layoffs have mostly occurred so far, no?

  • 527. Jaguar Bronco Mom  |  February 6, 2016 at 2:22 pm

    Yes & they lost 4 staff.

    Here is stress at CPS. If you have a HS child or a child in the AC have you been able to view the final semester grades on parent portal? You can log in and everything is blank. I believe Lindblom & WY students use some alternate system so parents of students in those schools aren’t affected by this. I have always been able to view final grades through parent portal and I’m not sure what is going on! It’s been like this since yesterday. Does anyone know what’s going on???

  • 528. Jaguar Bronco Mom  |  February 6, 2016 at 2:49 pm

    sorry for posting twice! Meant to post it here.
    Here is stress at CPS. If you have a HS child or a child in the AC have you been able to view the final semester grades on parent portal? You can log in and everything is blank. I believe Lindblom & WY students use some alternate system so parents of students in those schools aren’t affected by this. I have always been able to view final grades through parent portal and I’m not sure what is going on! It’s been like this since yesterday. Does anyone know what’s going on???

  • 529. cpsobsessed  |  February 6, 2016 at 3:07 pm

    I looked at grades yesterday afternoon and they appeared to be updated (we had a nail biter with some missing homework so I was checking a lot.) I assume that what they show for the letter grade for session 2 is the “final” grade? I was able to see that and can see them now as well.

  • 530. Jaguar Bronco mom  |  February 6, 2016 at 3:14 pm

    This is only affecting students on semesters not quarters. Elementary school parents will be able to see their child’s grade. This is only affecting HS & AC students.

  • 531. Westrogersparkmom  |  February 6, 2016 at 3:18 pm

    They mentioned parent portal going down at the Lane AC parents meeting earlier this week and I didn’t pay attention to it — wishing I had because we have a nail biter as well due to missed assignments. It never happened in elem school or the CPS high schools my other child attended. Maybe it’s just a Lane Tech anomaly.

  • 532. Jaguar Bronco Mom  |  February 6, 2016 at 3:24 pm

    It’s not just Lane tech it’s all ACs & Highschools. I just don’t understand. This did not happen last year. I could see my kids final grades the whole time. My son was a 7th grader in an AC & the other a sophmore in an SEHS & this didn’t happen last year. I don’t understand what changed for this year??

  • 533. cpsobsessed  |  February 6, 2016 at 6:42 pm

    So do high schools have 2 semesters?

  • 534. Jaguar Bronci Mom  |  February 6, 2016 at 6:49 pm

    Yup! ACs & high schools are on semesters. After the first quarter grades keep going & become final at the end of two quarters—a semester. That’s where you get your weighted & unweighted GPA plus your rank for High schools that still report rank.

  • 535. Near South Sider  |  February 8, 2016 at 9:02 pm

    I just wanted to add that there is a small difference with the food and CPS schools–some schools have an actual, working kitchen where they make the food, and others only have a warming kitchen, so the food gets delivered, and they warm up what is necessary.

    I would think that warming up a gross lunch would only make it grosser. *yuck*

    I will say that my kid is a picky eater, and she’s rarely complained about the food at NTA. They have an actual, working kitchen, so I don’t know if that’s what makes the food palatable to her.

  • 536. southloopkiddo  |  February 18, 2016 at 6:55 pm

    nta parents, would any of you be willing to talk to me for five minutes or so in the next 24 hours? i know, this is a little crazy, but my school panic has re-emerged as we’ve come up against the modification deadline….

  • 537. Near South Sider  |  February 18, 2016 at 7:47 pm

    Sure. What’s your email address? I’ll email you my number.

    Don’t panic!

  • 538. southloopkiddo  |  February 18, 2016 at 7:51 pm

    thank you thank you thank you. created especially for this: southloopkiddo@gmail.com

  • 539. Near South Sider  |  February 18, 2016 at 9:46 pm

    Email sent!

  • 540. Maria  |  February 18, 2016 at 10:24 pm

    Would appreciate any opinions…I have no car so I am limiting my options to only schools I can access by public transportation. The neighborhood school has declined in their scores, so that is not an option. I have Disney 2 a little west of me and Coonley a little more east. Then there is Newberry, Franklin and Lasalle which are easily accessible for me. The question I have is….should I transfer him if he gets accepted into any of these? All have higher scores but I haven’t been impressed with any of the open houses.

  • 541. cpsobsessed  |  February 18, 2016 at 11:24 pm

    @Maria, is your child currently at the neighborhood school?

    I’d see what your options are and let that drive your decision. And perhaps another visit might help you feel more excited about one of the options for your child. I think it helps to be at a school you feel happy about. However from what I’ve learned, most parents/students would likely have a good experience at any of those schools. Perhaps taking a leap of faith given limited options will work out in the long run.

  • 542. Rudey's Room  |  February 27, 2016 at 7:45 am

    CPS Obsessed is such a perfect moniker. It’s such a stressful process. I was on pins and needles, then, but I can say that life has a funny way of working out. I wrote about my story with the system on my blog at http://rudeysroom.com/2013/04/24/make-the-pain-go-away/ … Check it out and I hope it provides some comfort. Good luck all!

  • 543. Jen K  |  February 27, 2016 at 9:03 am

    @540 Do any of those schools offer busing? I know Disney II does not but if your child gets into the other schools, ask that question.

  • 544. cpsobsessed  |  February 27, 2016 at 9:27 am

    Aw, RudeysRoom, what a great (and riveting) write up that only a Chicago parent would understand! Thanks for posting. 🙂

  • 545. Rudey's Room  |  February 27, 2016 at 5:06 pm

    Thanks for your response. It’s a wild system we live in and can make for a lot of stress. It’s my hope in telling my story, another family can feel hope and have faith.

  • 546. Curious  |  March 3, 2016 at 8:38 pm

    I am curious if letters will be mailed out on 3/25 with the new furlough days.

  • 547. SoxSideIrish4  |  March 3, 2016 at 8:48 pm

    Curious~no there will not be anyone working on the 25th.

  • 548. LSmom  |  March 4, 2016 at 11:28 am

    The OAE site now says pre-K through 8th letters will be mailed on the 28th.

  • 549. Seeking More Math Info  |  March 4, 2016 at 4:53 pm

    @548 LSmom:

    It makes sense to me that they would not be mailed on the 25th, but I’m just curious – where on the OAE site did you find that they were going to be mailed on the 28th? Everything I can find still refers to the March 25 date, e.g.:


  • 550. LSmom  |  March 4, 2016 at 8:12 pm

    There’s a scrolling bar across the top here (after the high school info): http://www.cpsoae.org/

  • 551. Another CPS Mom  |  March 4, 2016 at 8:30 pm

    LSmom is correct. Just make sure you are viewing the “full” site and not the mobile version. Then you will see it.

  • 552. Should Be Used To This  |  March 4, 2016 at 11:44 pm

    @550 LSmom:

    Thanks! I was not staying on the home page long enough.

  • 553. Norwood  |  March 7, 2016 at 9:10 am

    @Ruby’s Room. Great article. I was so stressed out by the process with the first kid that I started a blog to figure out the system and how to beat it. Here I am 394 posts and 2 math workbooks later (yes – I ended up publishing 2 math workbooks), and I can’t wait to relive the pain with cpsobssed.com’s post on the letters. I’m starting to turn my attention toward the 7th grade nightmare.

  • 554. Square Pegs  |  March 7, 2016 at 10:39 am

    I also had it confirmed this morning from a staff person at OAS. Because of the furlough day 3/25, the letters will be sent no earlier than 3/27.

  • 555. llmm  |  March 7, 2016 at 10:43 am

    Is testing still going on for K and Elementary?

  • 556. carson  |  March 7, 2016 at 9:49 pm

    Just curious what the difference is between a Regional Gifted Center and a gifted program/track at a neighborhood school. Does anyone have info on how to compare?

  • 557. Chris  |  March 8, 2016 at 12:58 pm

    “a gifted program/track at a neighborhood school”

    Do you have an example of one?

  • 558. karet  |  March 8, 2016 at 1:23 pm

    @ 556, 557. Prussing has a “gifted” class, as do several of the magnets (Disney, Thorp) — I’m sure there are others. You should ask at the specific school you are interested in, but those I’m familiar with work about a grade level ahead, and the program starts in 1st grade (students are evaluated at the end of K). The Classical and RGC programs usually work more like 1.5 -2 years ahead, but each program is different.

  • 559. Galileo gifted program  |  March 8, 2016 at 2:15 pm

    Galileo has a Comprehensive Gifted Program. Here’s some info on their program from the school’s site, which seems like it was taken from CPS’ site:
    The Comprehensive Gifted Program is only offered in selected magnet, magnet cluster, and open enrollment schools in the Chicago Public Schools system. It is designed to provide a challenging, accelerated program of study for the top 10% of students in grades K-8 in each participating school. The Comprehensive Gifted Program promotes curriculum acceleration and differentiation for its targeted students.

    Program Activities

    • Students in the Comprehensive Gifted Program program receive accelerated instruction that is a half-year to one year above grade level.
    • Students in the program are challenged to reach their full optional and because any students is an individual the program is highly differentiated
    • Comprehensive Gifted Program leaders establish community partnerships at the local level to maximize resources beneficial for students’ learning.
    • The program is aligned with the Illinois State Code for establishing and maintaining gifted and talented programs.

    My son is in 1st grade at Galileo (and started in 1st grade, he did K at his preschool). We’re hoping to have him moved into the program for 2d grade. The pluses are that he can be in an accelerated program and when it’s time for our daughter to start K (in Fall 2017), they will be able to be at the same school.

    For regional gifted centers and classical schools, she would have to test in AND go through the lottery process for them to be at the same school. A lot of “ifs” to deal with and having at them at the same school is important to us.

  • 560. feeder schools  |  March 8, 2016 at 2:22 pm

    They are called “comprehensive gifted” programs. Each class is assembled via intra-school selections based more on academics than on IQ or thinking skills. The most notable such program is probably Healy’s, which regularly sends two-thirds of its 30 or so graduates to top SEHSs, e.g., 12 to Payton last year.

  • 561. carson  |  March 10, 2016 at 3:45 pm

    Thanks, I didn’t know the verbage to search for. The details on the comprehensive gifted program is helpful.

    And yes, Karet, NW side, thinking Prussing vs. Beaubien.

  • 562. PreK 3 mom  |  March 15, 2016 at 8:36 am


  • 563. karet  |  March 15, 2016 at 10:22 am

    @561, Prussing is our neighborhood school. My kids don’t go there, but I do hear a lot from friends/ neighbors. I am also there every day to wait for my kids’ bus. There is a lot of buzz about the new principal (former AP at Thorp) who has made a lot of welcome changes. The overcrowding issue has been solved with the mobile units, and there are now after school programs that are new. The test scores at Prussing have always been high, but when we first looked at it for my kids, there were 38 kids in each kindergarten. That is not the case any more. I’ve been hearing good things.

    When the new principal started, he came outside after school and talked to all of the parents who were waiting for the buses (delivering kids from SEES and magnets). He asked us all why we’d made the school choices we’d made, and asked us what would make Prussing more attractive for neighborhood kids. I thought that was impressive.

  • 564. LVMOM  |  March 23, 2016 at 10:33 am


  • 565. Shoesmith Community Rep  |  March 24, 2016 at 7:21 am

    Are you going to post a new thread for decision letters to RGCs and Magnets like you did in previous years?

  • 566. AK  |  March 24, 2016 at 10:11 am

    I wonder….if the letters were originally supposed to go out Friday, *maybe* they are still prepping them today, so they can go out first thing Monday morning (as opposing to prepping Monday and sending out Monday afternoon/evening)? Really hoping for a letter on Tuesday as the Catholic school we applied to wants their deposit on Wednesday…. =/

  • 567. cpsobsessed  |  March 24, 2016 at 11:14 am

    Hi, yes I will start Elem and AC threads tonight. !

  • 568. Maria  |  March 24, 2016 at 4:46 pm

    Good luck to everyone!!!

  • 569. Jen K  |  March 24, 2016 at 5:17 pm

    @566 oh I love your optimism! And I hope you are right 🙂

  • 570. Rebecca Krautner  |  March 25, 2016 at 12:02 pm

    wait, are they no longer going out today?

  • 571. KCabral  |  March 25, 2016 at 12:25 pm

    I can’t remember where I saw it, but think I read that letters will now be mailed on March 28th. With the furlough day, I wouldn’t expect to receive the letters until 3/29 at the earliest.

  • 572. Maria  |  March 25, 2016 at 12:32 pm

    There’s no school today. They decided this only about a month ago. So the letters will b going out Monday.

  • 573. rewing123  |  March 25, 2016 at 12:41 pm

    ah, i see it now. from their website:

    When will I find out if my child has been accepted?
    Notification letters will be mailed to parents’ homes by March 28, 2016. (NOTE: this is the date that the notification letters will be MAILED, not RECEIVED.)

  • 574. Non Entry Level  |  March 25, 2016 at 2:38 pm

    Anyone want to tell heartwarming stories about days past when their child got accepted in the first round for a non-Kindergarten grade level?

    (Does that even happen in the first round, ever?)

  • 575. Julia  |  March 25, 2016 at 2:40 pm

    @573 does that mean they are all mailed that day or some could be mailed earlier? Nervous over here.

  • 576. KCabral  |  March 25, 2016 at 2:59 pm

    @574/Non Entry Level–

    My son entered CPS in 1st grade this school year. We had also applied to several CPS schools for him for K & got a couple of offers, but decided to have him do his K year at his Montessori preschool. I was very worried that we’d have a hard time getting any 1st grade offers. However, by the end of the summer, we had received a total of 10 CPS offers; more than we got for K. This includes 4 in the initial round/letter and 2 shortly thereafter.

    When I expressed my surprise at our luck, one school clerk told me that it’s likely because there are no tiers at this point. After a school’s entry year, there is only one list & waitlist, which makes things a lot easier. Not 5 simultaneous lists like for K. I also suspect fewer people may try for any year after K, so there are fewer applicants to compete with.

    It can be done, good luck!

  • 577. CPSparent  |  March 25, 2016 at 3:12 pm

    My daughter was offered a gifted school for first grade in the initial letter and we declined. She then received a classical offer in April which we accepted. Good luck!!

  • 578. Maria  |  March 25, 2016 at 3:25 pm

    I know how nervous everyone must be, that is how I was last year, this being my second year trying. He is currently in Chappell and he loves it, they have good scores and only 15 minutes from my home. We were waitlisted for all our schools we applied to and then the first day of school, I received 2 phone calls.

  • 579. Non Entry Level  |  March 25, 2016 at 6:42 pm

    @576 KCabral & @577 CPSparent:

    Thanks for the reassuring news! We have an older child at a SEES (that has K as the entry level), and (for boring reasons), our younger child did not test for Kindergarten, but instead tested this year for 1st.

    My concern was that, even though the school has at least a couple known 1st grade spots (due to kids leaving K late in the fall, I guess), OAE wouldn’t be aware of those spots yet. But it sounds like my worries may be unfounded.

    Now I can just go back to worrying about test scores/performance…. =)

  • 580. KM  |  March 29, 2016 at 9:23 am

    A CPS teacher told me that the notification letters will be mailed out today. Good luck to everyone!

  • 581. Rachael  |  April 1, 2016 at 5:29 pm

    So we got accepted to LaSalle II, but I am wondering about the other schools we applied for. Do the gifted/classical test results get sent to us along with acceptance letters or if we haven’t heard anything from a particulate school by now is that just a no?
    Sorry if this has been asked before I can’t really find a good answer.
    Thank you for your help!

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