Posts filed under ‘Regional Gifted Program’

Answers to some comments/questions

Thanks for all the comments.  It is great to find some fellow-obsessers out there.  See, you’re not alone!

In response to some of the questions posed:

Q: What score do I need to get into a gifted program?

A: Well, based on group consensus, it looks like a score on the gifted portion of 130+ is the 98th percentile.  Those of you with a high 130’s+ are probably in the 99th+ percentile.  In the past, that would have gotten you a spot somewhere.  This year it doesn’t seem as certain.  My son got into one with a 127 last year so you can see the difference between last year and this year.  (And yes, am I glad I gave birth in 2003 and not 2004.)  I have to think that if you have a score in the 140’s that something will come your way.  But I could be wrong.

Q: Why is CPS screwing our kids over with these big class sizes?

A: There isn’t enough money to hire more teachers.  Illinois has a pathetic record for education funding.  I really would like to know why some classes go up to 30+ while others max out at 28.  I get the sense it is a school by school decision but I need to investigate that more.  I do know that my son’s school has offered 28 spots for Kindergarten next year.

Q: My son scored a 144 on the ‘gifted’ portion and a 99.8 percentile ranking for the ‘classical’. He was accepted to a classical school but it’s somewhat far and was our lowest rated choice (out of 5). Do we accept by the 4/17 deadline or wait for something better?

A: That depends how badly you want him in a classical/gifted class and what your backup choices are.  Only you can decide how far is too far.  As I said above, with a score of 144 I’d have to think something will come your way if not this year then next year (Bell? Beaubien?)  I *think* it is worth the risk of turning down the classical and waiting it out.  Oh, and can you please sign a waiver saying you won’t sue me if it doesn’t work out?

Q: I was wondering if anyone has experience with siblings getting into a RGC? My son got into Edison this year and we really want our daughter to be in the same school when she is of age. If she were to get a good enough score to qualify, is there any preference for siblings?

A: The straight answer is “no.”  Siblings get no preference at all.  It is just straight test scores.  However rumor has it that if you work the GEAP office and the principal, some of them might be willing to help work it out.  Edison has always been the hardest to get into and therefore I suspect the least willing to negotiate.


Who has the authority to jack the gifted class sizes up? Is it the principal? GEAP? Or are they offering slots according to an internal rubric? With the 8000 number you are quoting, that would come out to about 160 kids testing in the top 2 percent. Divided by the available class spots, that leaves room for either smaller classes or a lower cutoff, even with the larger number of applicants…

But at what point do they say this child did not test high enough for us to increase the class size beyond our (completely ignored) limit of 28.

A: Again, no idea who decides the class size.  Very good question indeed.  In regards to the 2%, I know 2 things (or I suspect 2 things.)  More than 2% of the kids will test as Top 2 %.  I assume people who bring their kids in for the test figure they have a decent shot, so you are probably testing 8000 fairly smart kids.  I bet at least 4% or more test as “Top 2%.”  It is a national norm, not a Chicago CPS norm.  I do know for a fact that kids get into gifted programs with lower than 98th percentile.  Mine was 96th and I’m sure kids got in around town with lower than that last year.  I have heard they don’t offer spots if the child is below 90th percentile.

So overall, my questions remains – what is up with the super high scores this year?  More kids? Smarter kids? Different test?

March 25, 2009 at 10:20 am 18 comments

Info from GEAP

Just to summarize some info I learned yesterday from a variety of sources:

GEAP reports that there were WAY more kids who took the gifted/classical tests this year than last year.  Approximately 8,000 were tested this year compared to under 6,000 last year.  That is a HUGE increase.  I would attribute it to the economy – perhaps parents of private school kids who want a CPS back-up?  GEAP also attributes it to the gifted/classical school fair they held this year.  I didn’t attend it, but they feel that it helped increase awareness of the whole process.

GEAP claims they change the test each year.  Not sure if I buy that or not.  It would be inefficient for the test-givers to administer a totally different test each year, right?  I think they just want to prevent parents from trying to prep their kids.  In any case, IF that were true, perhaps that helps explain the abundance of high scores this year?  OR, maybe just the sheer number of kids has raised the bar in terms of the scores needed to get first round acceptance.  But still… why was there no percentile this year?  I need to get an answer to that one.  If anyone calls GEAP, see if they’ll give a reason.

Given the huge number of kids tested, there is no way they can give a test that really truly measures a child’s intelligence.  These tests are hopefully a decent indicator and for now, that’s the best we’ve got.  If CPS wanted to use a better test method, we’d probably have to switch to a system like I’ve heard of in suburbs where a child needs teacher recommendations to take the test (or maybe other outside confirmation.)  CPS doesn’t care about stuff right now, leaving it a big of a crapshoot, much like the lotteries.

Just as a reminder, there are SO few spots out there for Kindergarten.  If you live on the north side and don’t want your child to travel too far there are 3 K programs: Edison, Decatur, Coonley.  If you break it out by white/non-white (35%/65%) that is roughly 10 spots per school for white kids, maybe 20 spots per school for minority kids.  They don’t balance on gender, but if it falls out 50/50, that means there are 10 gifted spots for a white boy up north and 5 classical spots.  Hey, quit your complaining!  Before Coonley came along there were only 5 boy spots!  Again, it isn’t gender balanced, but that was how I was pondering my chances last year.

So the spots are few, the number of kids is massive.  And people I’ve talked to who have gotten spots offered are not totally set on whether they’ll take them.  People like their neighborhood schools, they don’t like the idea of big class size, they don’t want to travel too far, they don’t like the idea of the “gifted” label, etc.  Spots will open up in April and beyond.

And where is MY stinkin’ letter by the way?!

March 24, 2009 at 1:57 pm 45 comments

Be patient, this is just the begining

OK, so despite what I had hoped would be my reassurance, it’s hard not to go into a panic when you get the letter saying your child didn’t get in anywhere or didn’t get in your top choice.  This is just the very very first set of letters to go out and there will be a ton of re-shuffling over the next 2 months (and even at the begining of the school year.)

To recap, there are some weird things going on this year.  The gifted scores which used to send out a score and percentile have inexplicably switched to just the score this year.  To date, my best guess of the type of test given for the gifted program is the Stanford Binet test which is basically and IQ test (and thus that score you’re given may be an IQ score.) Check out this post (scroll down) to see how they break out kids by IQ.  It matches up with the CPS claim that scores of 130+ are “good.”

So the weird thing this year is that kid who scored in the high 130’s don’t seem to be getting into the programs they necessarily wanted.   I know that there are kids at Edison (the north side school that has traditionally take the uber-smarties) with scores in the lower-mid 130’s and kids at Coonley in the mid-upper 120’s.  I believe I’ve heard of kids with 97% getting into Decatur.

But there are a couple things that may have ruffled things up this year:

1. Could they have changed the test or scoring?  Seems odd about them removing the percentile and at the same time the high-scoring kids are getting spots.

2. More private school kids were tested this year in case their parents want to save money on tuition or lose their jobs.

3. Throwing Coonley into the mix with Edison has sort of shaken things up a bit. 

A friend of mine who is good with getting info out of CPS is going to call the GEAP office tomorrow to see if she can find out anything.

But in the meantime, sit tight.  There are many spots that’ll open up next month and again after that.  Many parents apply to gifted/classical programs without even realizing where they’re located.  Once they figure it out or find out there isn’t bussing availabile, they’ll bail.  Others will get spots in private schools or magnet programs.  Others will move to the suburbs.  Some will pick different schools to keep their kids together or because the schedules don’t work.  Spots will open for sure.  The hard part is waiting, especially if you fall on the cusp – I’d say for Classical in the 97%+ or for Gifted in the 130+ (or maybe even lower based on last year.)

I’ll report any news from GEAP when I hear it.  In the meantime, keep sharing the information… it’s so helpful to everyone to know what’s going on.

UPDATE: Not a lot to report from GEAP, but they do say that there were many more kids who tested this year (probably due to the economy is my guess) and that they *may* be seeing higher scores this year (no logical explanation other than some years kids score higher, others lower.) For whatever reason, the kids born in 2004 were smarties.

I’ve also heard the number of kids testing for Kindergarten was around 2000, which is double what I’d been told by GEAP.  Gotta love the CPS system… it’s nearly impossible to get an answer about anything.  Could they please hire me as their director of communication?!


March 22, 2009 at 5:02 pm 33 comments

Waiting for the test scores

As I sit here today waiting for the gifted test scores to arrive, I’m reminded what a weird time it was last year when my son was tested before Kindergarten. For most of us, getting those test scores is the first external validation we have of our child’s intelliegence, which is such a surreal piece of information to be given.

In some ways, there is so much more wrapped up in that score than just whether a kid gets into a certain school or not.  It’s a validation of our own (or our spouse’s) intelligence, confirmation of our parenting skills, a glimpes at the opportunities thay may or may not open up for our child down the road, and their general proclivity for success in the crazy CPS system.

We somehow imagine that seeing a high score on the test means our child will be graduating from Harvard some day, forgetting about other factors like level of slacker-ness (the likely problem with my son,) the child’s personal interests (maybe they’d rather be a starving artist or give acting a try or open a plumbing business,) and of course the insane COST of Harvard.

Seeing a high score feels like it will validate all those classes we took at the Old Town School, the foreign language DVDs we ordered, and all the times we adeptly made teachable moments out of playtime.

I’m sure every person who takes the time to test their child thinks their kid is smart.  How can we not?  For crying out loud, they’ve learned to walk, talk, count, and more in just 5 short years.  That takes some brains, right?!

But that test.  That damnated test seems so random in who it decides is “gifted.”  Of all the kids I’ve known my sons age, I’d say nearly all of them have seemed to be of comparable intelligence.  And one kid stood out as uber-smart.  Yet the test scores were doled out – some high enough to get into a gifted/classical program, some not.  Frankly, I’m sure they could all do the work in those accelerated programs.  It’s just a matter of a few questions right or wrong on that test.  Of a few minutes staring off into the corner.  And the uber-smart kid?  Didn’t get high scores, which shows that the test isn’t the be-all-end-all.

So I guess what I’m saying is, when you rip open that envelope, try (if you can) not to let it mean more than it is – one little test on one type of measure.

UPDATE: Ergh.  Mine didn’t arrive today.

UPDATE 2: If I recall correctly, my son got a score of 127 on the gifted test last year and got into a program.  There WILL be more spots open after the first round of acceptances are taken/rejected.  Don’t give up yet….

March 21, 2009 at 9:33 am 16 comments

Some updates from GEAP

I called the GEAP office this week to confirm that the letters will mail out this Friday, March 20th.  They will.  She said they take them right to the post office.

I also asked how many kids took the Gifted test for entry into Kindergarten this year.  1023 kids.  Wow, that is a lot of testing manpower required.

There are 7 regional gifted centers that start at the Kindergarten level, so there are 196 Kindergarten spots to fill.  Now, according to this interesting page I found on the CPS site, there are 28,975(!) Kindergarteners in the city.  In theory, about the top 2% of kids are truly gifted.  Based on that, CPS *should* have 580 gifted Kindergarten spots.  So by my calculation, they owe us 384 spots.  I also know that kids get into the programs who test below the 98th percentile.  So I think that means that there are some super smart kids out there who probably never take the test because their parents don’t know about all that testing crap and nobody takes the time to walk them through the process.  Hopefully CPS is serving those kids well.

Some other interesting facts I found:

-There are 666 schools in CPS (gotta love that)

-CPS is 9% White

-CPS is 84% Low Income

-CPS spends $11K per kid on education (sometimes I wonder if they’d do better just sending the whole city to private school)

Check it out for more facts:

Edited to add: I had to come back later to double check that 28,975 Kindergarten number.  Seriously, I can’t believe there are that many Kindergarten kids in this city.  It boggles my mind.  If only we could harness their energy somehow it could power the whole city of Chicago.

March 18, 2009 at 4:53 pm 6 comments

Gifted/Classical Notifications – Coming Soon to a Mailbox Near You

The Gifted/Classical testing period has ended and a few days ago I noticed a big spike in hits here… I can only guess that people are now trying to find out WHEN they’ll find out the news – How did my child do?  Did they get a spot anywhere?

According to the CPS GEAP site, letters notifying parents of admission for the first round will be mailed March 20th.  If my memory serves me correctly (which it often does not) the letters with the test score should  arrive about a week before that.

What can you figure out from the test scores?  Well, for Classical, if your child scores in the 97th percentile or lower, chances are slim that you’ll get in anywhere since there are so few slots.

For the Gifted Test for Kindergarten, it seems that down to 95th% could get you in… but you never really know.  And may not even know until September as people start shuffling around.

So if you think you will have all the answers when you get your test scores – far from it!  You may end up getting an offer for a spot a month later and have just days to decide if you’ll take it.   Hard time for neurotic parents.  Have plenty of wine on hand.

NOTE: 2 comments posted that are worth reading:

I called the Office of Academic Enhancement the other day to check on this, and they told me that they changed the policy this year.  There is no separate mailing prior to the school decision letters that details test results.  She said this year they are combining those two mailings, so you’ll find out the test results at the same time as you get acceptance letters, which mail on the 20th.  Good luck everyone!

I’ll add another anecdote: I know personally of 3 kids accepted to Classical and Gifted programs who scored below 90.  Friend who is a SW at CPS says the schools have to fill those classroom spots. So they go down the list until they’re filled.

March 4, 2009 at 10:57 am 2 comments

Our Gifted Testing Experience – Part 2 (for 1st grade)

On a friend’s advice I called to see if I could reschedule my son’s 8am test time for the Gifted Test.  I decided to cancel the Classical test since I didn’t want to go down for the test 2 days in a row.  On they phone, they offered me a test time for the next day – slightly freaky, but why not?  I wasn’t planning to prepare my son in any way, so I just took the next-day option.  If I haven’t said it before, I wish the people who run the testing and the GEAP office people were running CPS.  In my experiences, they’ve all been incredibly nice, fairly accomadating, intelligent, and professional.  When you get into that time period where they’re doling out the gifted spots they are super-efficient (a word that rarely comes to mind when I think of CPS.)

So, test day — another snowy snowy day in our fine city.  I leave the house (in my usual late fashion) with the following:

  Comic books

  Book (Stink and the Super Stinky Sneakers)

  Nintendo DS (in case we wait a long time – don’t know why I thought that since I was running late)

  Headphones for Nintendo DS

  Bottle of water

  Tic Tacs


  Reading material for me

  Extra pants and shirt in case the ones he’s wearing get wet in snow

  Dollar bills for the parking lot, as instructed

What I leave the house without:

  Our admissions notification with the testing ID# and exact address.

  Exciting snack I promised my son in the car on the way to the test

I return home to get important document but am still lacking the snack.

Pick him up, usual dawdlings, starting to panic that we’ll be late, 4 blocks later he has to pee, pull into Lane Tech parking lot so he can pee in plastic bottle (thankful now that I don’t have a girl,) go to Wendy’s drive-thru adrenaline building so I miss highway exit, turn around, get on highway, freak out about traffic, continuously suck on Frosty straw getting continuously more angry that it is too thick to drink with straw, panic more.  Then something re-aligns in the universe, traffic opens up, Frosty comes up the straw, we hit 31st St. and breeze into test site early.  Whew.

This testing experience was different from that for Kindergarten placement in that a group of kids are all tested together.  We started in big lecture hall and the nice testing people explained what would happen, then 2 groups of 15 kids each were taken out.  The whole thing is easier because 5-year-olds are generally more sane than 4-year-olds.  I don’t think any child was having a major problem.   Off they marched, unaware of how their fate depended on this next hour.  

The test guy said the test would involve no reading, but each question would have pictures and the child would be asked to choose the picture that was the right answer.  Of course once again, the kids were all brainwashed and my son couldn’t seem to recall ANYTHING that was on the test a mere 10 minutes prior.  And he said it was fun and “awesome!”

The kids were in there for exactly an hour, then all marched out, seemingly a bit weary.  All in all, fairly painless.

UPDATE: Through conversational trickery, we got him to divulge a couple things about the test (pre 1st grade gifted test:)  The picture answers were all in black and white.  They had to fill in a circle below the correct answer.  One question was to choose the piece the completed a puzzle above.  The other was to choose which shape matched the 3 others above it.  He says there were no letter/numbers.  So take that for what it’s worth.

January 10, 2009 at 5:12 pm 7 comments

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