Chicago Magazine’s Top Schools 2016

Chicago Mag

Wanted to share the lists from a new Chicago magazine piece that ranks CPS elem and high schools (also suburban rankings for those interested.)

The rankings take into account a mix of test scores, attendance, and 5-Essentials ratings (a very helpful resource to understand how parnets and teachers rate their school.)

As we know, CPS’s selective schools typically top “ranking” lists due to taking the top-scoring students in the city.  This elementary list is a bit different because it uses MAP test growth rather than attainment.  This explains why some non-selective schools popped up on this list while Decatur and Edison are not on the list.  These schools may have also lost some points on the 5 Essentials rating (I cannot fully tell how Chicago Mag pulls the 5 Essentials number for its rating.)

In any case, as with any ranking list, it’s not about the fine details of who is better than who, but rather to help parents look at options they many not have considered.  The lists may shine light on some schools that are doing good things but aren’t necessarily “on the radar” for everyone.

Here’s the link with full info:

ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS (does not include charters)

  1. Skinner West (S) – Near West Side
  2. Wildwood IB World Magnet School – Forest Glen
  3. Blaine – Lake View
  4. Dixon – Chatham
  5. Hawthorne – Lake View
  6. Skinner North (S) – Near North Side
  7. McDade Classical (S) – Chatham
  8. Healy – Bridgeport
  9. Powell Jr. Paideia Com Acad – South Shore
  10. Whistler – West Pullman
  11. Edgebrook – Forest Glen
  12. Sherwood – Englewood
  13. Mitchell – West Town
  14. Prescott – Lincoln Park
  15. Coonley – North Center

HIGH SCHOOLS (non charter)  S=Selective (I’ve added the CPS rating after each school)

  1. Payton (S) – Near North (1+)
  2. North Side College Prep (S) -North Park (1+)
  3. Whitney Young (S) – Near West Side (1+)
  4. Jones (S) -Loop (1+)
  5. Lane Tech (S) – North Center (1+)
  6. Brooks (S) -Roseland (1+)
  7. Von Steuben (S) – North Park (1+)
  8. Lindblom (S) – West Englewood
  9. Phoenix Military Acad (S) – Near West Side (1+)
  10. Kenwood – Kenwood (1+)
  11. Lincoln Park – Lincoln Park (not noted as selective in Chgo Mag, but probably has selective programs) (1+)
  12. Senn – Edgewater (1)
  13. Chicago High School For Agricultural Sciences (S) – Mr. Greenwood (1+)
  14. World Language HS – West Lawndale (1)
  15. Westinghouse (S) – East Garfield Park (1+)
  16. Amundsen – Lincoln Square (1)
  17. Alcott – Lake View (1+)
  18. Prosser Career Acad (S) – Belmont Cragin (1)
  19. Rickover Naval Acad (S) – Edgewater (1+)
  20. Solorio – Gage Park (2+)
  21. Mather – West Ridge (2+)


  1. Noble Butler – Pullman (2+)
  2. Chicago Math and Science Acad – Rogers Park (1+)
  3. Noble UIC – West Side (1+)
  4. CICS Northtown – North Park (1+)
  5. Noble Baker – South Chicago (2+)

August 28, 2016 at 11:02 am 73 comments

Academic Center Admission by Tier

AC Admission 2016

I was able to get this info on Tier Admission for the ACs.

Interestingly, unlike the SE High Schools, Tier4 kids have a lower chance of admission than a Tier 1 kid, because SO MANY Tier 4 kids apply.  Over 3x as many Tier 4 kids apply as Tier 1 kids (2931 vs 853.)  Not sure why that is, although location may influence this.

Lane and Young are the most selective for all tiers.

So not like this is any surprise, but getting in an AC is much more difficult than getting in an SEHS.


July 3, 2016 at 9:22 pm 73 comments

Wahoo! 7th grade is over!


Just a brief moment of celebration that the long-awaited, stressful, angsty year of seventh grade is over for us.   Gaaaaahhhhhh it feels gooooood!

No more parent portal!  No more bugging about homework!  Time to cancel the subscription!

My kid learned the art of getting done what he needed to jussst keep the 90% for grade.  I suppose that is a valuable life skill.

MAP testing was literally within the final few days of school, interspersed with a Springfield field trip, class parties, and slumber party.  We survived.  Time to relax.

It was an interesting year, walking a balance of hovering over the grades and test scores and letting him navigate it himself.  We found a balance with me given “gentle reminders” and pointing out the current progress of grades.

Test prep was the 1 day TestaPalooza class, as I couldn’t rally commitment for a weekly class.

Ultimately the goal was to give him options.  We have Amundsen as our neighborhood school, a 2 minute walk away.  So that’s an option.  Exploring performing arts programs.  Lots of kids talk about Lane.  It’s hard to override the middle school talk about certain schools.  I feel there’s still a tipping point that is waiting to happen to get the kids on board for the neighborhood high schools.  I hope that point is very near.

OK, time for more wine.  It’s been a long journey.  Thanks to those of you who’ve been on it with me.  We’ll see what happens next year…


June 21, 2016 at 11:17 pm 34 comments

SEHS Principal Discretion 2016

Breakfast Club

PD letters are due to be mailed this Friday, May 13.

As a reminder, each SEHS principal can allocate 5% of their seat based on their discretion, using whatever criteria they like.

A student can apply to only one school for PD.  These supporting documents are not required, but recommended as part of the application:

  • A personal statement, written by the applicant, no more than 1,000 words
  • Up to three letters of recommendation
  • Copies of recent awards, achievements and honors

Below is the number of Principal Discretion seats at each Selective Enrollment school:

Lane: 58
Young: 22
Jones: 18
Lindblom: 16
Northside: 14
Brooks: 12
Payton: 12
Westinghouse: 10
King: 9
Hancock: 5
South Shore: 3

We’ve had very few readers report that their child got in via PD. One who did said that she allowed the child to write the essay themselves.  Anecdotally, I believe some of the school seem to give priority to siblings.  WY is always rumored to prioritize kids good at sports.  Rumor also has it that it helps to have listed the school first on your list.  I don’t know if principals actually have access to this information (I doubt it) but it probably sounds good in an essay.

Please share any information you have about students who gotten a spot via PD.  Thanks and good luck!

May 9, 2016 at 7:21 pm 70 comments

SEHS Admission by Tier 2016

SEHS Acceptance Rates 2016I

I got this information a few years ago, but figured it was e for an update.  This shows the # of applications and acceptances to each school by Tier.   I still need to get the # of applicants by tier, so I estimated that for now using the # of applications and the average # of applications by tier from 2013.  (Tier 4 kids apply to fewer schools than other tiers do.)

This shows that overall, Tier 4 kids are more likely to get an SEHS spot than the other tiers are.

You can also see the acceptance rate by Tier for each school (although this is distorted since students can apply for up to 6 schools.)  So while the Tier 4 acceptance rate looks like 17%, some of the applications were likely only putting Lane as a 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 5th choice.

Overall, ~ 1/3 of the kids who apply are offered a spot at one of their choices.



April 26, 2016 at 8:49 pm 202 comments


Academic Center 3_26_2016.png

Post news about entry into AC and International Gifted Program here.

Please include:




For those who aren’t familiar with the Intl gifted programs, some info from CPS:

International Gifted Program
International Gifted Programs are offered at the following schools:
615 W. Kemper Pl.
24 W. Walton St.

The International Gifted Program is designed for students in grades 6-8. The program includes intensive study of English, French, social studies, laboratory science, mathematics, technology, arts, physical education, library science, and advanced research. The International Gifted Program is designed to allow intellectually able students to be schooled in their least restrictive environment and to mature at an accelerated pace.

The International Gifted Program is committed to cultivating independent and competent students who are well prepared for the most intensive high schools and IB Diploma Programs.

March 26, 2016 at 11:01 pm 457 comments

2016 NEIGHBORHOOD and MAGNET Elementary School Thread


Post your news, questions, opinions here about Neighborhood and Magnet elementary schools.

If you post about your letter/status, please include:


Waiting list #

Tier (if applicable)

And remember, this process goes on for a lonnnng time as schools move down the wait list.  Patience is a virtue, as hard as it may be.

March 26, 2016 at 9:55 pm 1,786 comments

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  • No early SEHS test dates this year. Test dates are: December 17, January 21, January 28, February 4 (all after application period ends) 5 months ago

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