Posts tagged ‘CPS gifted testing’

2013: Annual Elementary MAGNET Mailbox Watch

Waiting patiently for my letter.

Waiting patiently for my letter.

It’s that time of year when parents around the city are on mailbox watch.  Thanks to all of us and for CPS for helping keep the USPS afloat!

With luck, letters about Elementary Gifted and Classical schools, Academic Centers, and Magnet schools will be mailed this week of March 18th.

As we discussed in a post this week, you wait and wait for this day to arrive thinking “it’ll all be clear” once you find out what school/s your child did or didn’t get into it.

One of the frustrations can end up being that you still find yourself in limbo, waiting.   Your child may have gotten into your 4th choice for a Regional Gifted Center, or in one far from your home.  So you might re-enter the pool, hoping for a school closer to home.

You may have what seems like all horrible wait-list numbers at magnet schools, only to discover that over the next 2 months (even through the summer) many schools work their way pretty far down those lists and you may get an offer.)

You may have had your eye on a certain neighborhood school with open enrollment – and those offers won’t be coming until MAY.


If your child gets into a gifted or classical program that isn’t your top choice, you can decline it and wait to see if you get a spot at the one your want.  This involves some risk as you lose what you’ve got in hopes of getting another.  The higher your child’s score, the better the odds of this working out.

If your child doesn’t get a gifted or classical spot, you aren’t out of the running just yet.  Kids with high scores (usually in the 95% an up range) might be offered something as spots open up.

If you don’t get any magnet school offers, those can certainly come later.  Your odds depend on the schools.  Schools like Hawthorne rarely move down the list past 1-2 kids (but it HAS happened!) while some of the neighborhood schools that are “up and coming” can really go down the list.  If you’re waiting, make sure you are available at whatever number you gave CPS.  Answer your phone if you don’t recognize a number and it’s 312/773.  The schools are *supposed* to give you a day to respond but I have certainly heard stories of schools moving quickly down that list without giving people adequate time to respond or people missing a message on an answering machine.

If you’re at the point of despair, calm down.  We can all discuss it and I bet most people will get something satisfactory figured out.  Maybe not right away.  Maybe not even this year.  But by first grade nearly everyone I’ve met in person or on this blog got something figured out in CPS.  Kindergarten is hard to mess up.  Kids are eager to learn, more Kindergarten teachers are lovely people, and you have the knowledge to teacher your kids at home to supplement, if needed.   So don’t panic.

Finally, Chicago school GPS is holding a session on Thursday 3/22 called “What’s Next? Decisions After Notification”.  Info here:

Photo credit:

March 16, 2013 at 9:03 am 1,748 comments

The testing gods have spoken…

Well, it appears that the GEAP office either lost a bag of mail or it is hidden away at the central post office somewhere.  My son’s GEAP results letter has not arrived, nor have those of several friends.

Today I sent his father to the CPS office to retrieve it.  I have to admit, I was a bit apprehensive.  I’ve heard of a few kids who’s scores dropped from last year.  And while I know logically that it doesn’t mean anything, I just really didn’t want to see it.  I know so much of that score depends on the kids’ mood, etc.  I have repeated this mantra to others until I am blue in the face and I firmly believe it.  Yet of course when it comes to my own child I fear it means that he’s leveling off to the norm.

So, he did indeed drop a few points on his gifted test score.  Didn’t get into any 1st grade programs as he’s now sitting at what is probably right below the minimum needed to get in anywhere.

So it’s all a crapshoot with a few questions here or there making or breaking your entry into a program.  He’s a bright kid who squeaked his way into a gifted program last year because he had a good test day.  If he were testing for Kindergarten this year it would be whole different ballgame, what with all these smarties testing so well.

Of course I worry a little that in a few years he won’t be able to keep up with the accelerated curriculum unless I browbeat him constantly.  But in the end, who cares?  As long as he enjoys learning, that’s all that matters.  And of course getting into a selective enrollment high school.  (ha ha.)

Speaking of browbeating, for those who wonder what Kindergarten homework is like, the work is easy, it’s the mental engagement that seem difficult, at least in this household.  Homework last night consisted of writing 5 words.  This took a good twenty minutes as I dealt with the following behavior:

-Writing the word “poop” where a word should go

-Drawing a poop and writing “poo” where a word should go

-Acting like a robot, making robot noises

-Tipping chair so it toppled over then denying he caused it

-Poking his armpit repeatedly with pencil

-Claiming that he “cannot control himself” when I question his behavior

And THAT is why I don’t like homework.

March 27, 2009 at 1:44 pm 16 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

Last day for Options for Knowledge. Will I or Won’t I?

Well, today is the last day to submit an application to a school for their lottery or to submit a request for testing for Gifted/Classical Schools.

About a month ago, when I was working at the NPN fair and some parents innocently asked “when do we have to apply for the gifted test? In the Spring?” and I went all bug-eyed… “uh, like NOW people, NOW!  Soon!”  That night it occured to me that I hadn’t given any thought at all to submitting an application anywhere or having my son tested again.  That was a good sign, I thought.  Real confidence in our current school and lack of interest in going elsewhere.  I always assumed that I’d just keep getting him tested for a few years for the gifted programs, just to keep options open and of course see if his “giftedness” was slipping.  But when it came down to it, I couldn’t really think of another school I’d be that keen on moving to if he did test in somewhere.  I love the neighborhood people at our school and the gifted program seems to be off to a good start.  Can’t beat that for free, eh?

I also was hesitant to test again based on a conversation with one of the dads from our class who speculated that the gifted/classical testing can probably vary by a good 10% for any kid from day to day, based on things like mood, hunger, or some random interesting object in the testing room.  I agree with that.  And I figured I would just rather stay in ignorant bliss, knowing my son did a decent job that one year.  Mama doesn’t want to see a 10% drop this year.  Then I’d just start to worry that he was going to start lagging behind, etc etc.    

I will admit to having had a few lingering doubts.  There was a recent article about the top Elementary schools in the state and Hawthorne was the only CPS school in the top 50 that doesn’t require testing in.  Something impressive goes on there, and I briefly wondered about just applying every year, hoping to hit the jackpot.

I also figured it might make sense to apply/test just in case some thing unexpectedly annoying or weird happens at our school by the end of the year and I want to get out.  Hard to see that happening, but with CPS you never know.

Plus, hey, I have this blog.  What am I going to write about if I’m not immersed in the application process?

But I came to peace.  I would stay at our school with our nice neighborhood school as our backup.  Peace, indeed.

Until today.  Now I can drive an application to a school (nah) or get to the post office to get my testing application postmarked by today.  I’m having second thoughts.  I’ve realized today that I am a testing junkie.  I took the SATs 3 times.  I enjoy doing GMAT practice questions for fun.  Something is wrong with me, I swear it.  I just may try to make it to the post office today….

December 19, 2008 at 12:26 pm 1 comment

So should you try to prep a kid for the gifted test?

OK, so even if you can prep a kid for the gifted test, the next question is whether you should or not?

Question #1: Does prepping help?  Just in my own opinion, I think that any type of test prep can help you (or your child) feel more comfortable on the test day and give you the best advantage possible.  I definitely benefitted from test prep for the SATs and GMATs back in the day when I could actually concentrate on stuff like that.  However since the version of the CPS test is still unknown, you may throw your kid off by having them practice on stuff that won’t actually be on the test.   However practing doing little test-type exercises will probably help them feel more comfortable.  Which brings up another question — what do you tell your kid about the test?  Or do you even say that its a test?  A friend of mine told her child it was an “interview” where they would help decide which school was best for her.  I told my son that it was a test to see what he’d been learning in school.

Question #2: Can you actually improve the score by prepping your child?  From what I’ve seen in my own kid, there are points at which knowledge “gels” in their brains.  And before that happens, you just ain’t gonna force it in.  When he took the test he could (with coaxing) read some 3 letter words.  I am pretty sure that no level of practice could have gotten him beyond that point.  I recently was reading some of the basic points of Piaget, who did some of the most famous research on child development.  He had a couple tests that can be done to see if kids have reached certain mental milestones.  One of them is to show 2 sets of objects with the same number of items, but one is spead out wider than the other.  The child is asked which set has more items.  Kids about 6 and under will say that the wider set has more items since the group appears visually bigger.   I conducted this test on my son with 2 pack of Smarties.  I counted out 15 in each pack, right before his eyes.  Yet when I asked him which has more he would insist the wide-spread group had more.  Honestly it was shocking to see.  Like HOW could he not be getting it?!?  Finally I counted out the Smarties again for him in both groups.  His comment, “WHOAAA!  Weird!”  Like it was even freaking him out!  Ah, the young mind.  I guess that’s why they believe that Santa can deliver all the presents on Xmas eve using flying reindeer.   So, case in point… I just don’t know if you can teach them more than the are developmentally ready to handle.  And if there are certain types of logic questions on the test, ideally they could become more familiar with the questions, but I doubt that they can learn a level of logic that they don’t already possess.

Question #3: Is it good to “prep” your kid into gifted placement?  Well, the biggest fear is that if prepping actually helps a kid beyond that their real abilities are, they could end up being in a class where they can’t keep up, which could just make things difficult in the end.   I suspect that in the K and 1st grade level classes most kids are given leeway enough that just about any child can learn at their own level.  But in the older elementary grades, I think things are really bumped up a notch.  Some of that higher-level math could even put an adult to shame.  On my tour of Bell, the principal mentioned a girl who moved into the regular 7th grade class so as not to be penalized grade-wise during that year (when grades help determine which high school you get into.)  He said it turned out for the best because she got the grades needed for one of the top selective high schools and was now doing very well there.  So…. one point in favor of attending a school with both gifted and neighborhood classes.

In the end, I think a lot of parents joke around about prepping for the gifted and classical testing, but I haven’t met any that have truly pursued any type of real prepping.  I think most pre-school programs do a decent job of teaching kids the basics (some probably better than others.)  If you have had faith in your preschool or what you’ve been teaching at home, you should be feeling like your child is as well prepared as they can be.  And finally – not all types of intelligence are tested on these things.  Some kids are smart in other ways… in fact one my son’s friends who really stood out to me as being a real smarty did not score high on the CPS gifted test for reasons I cannot fathom, while my son who thinks the word “buttocks” is the funniest thing on the planet did.  Maybe “buttocks” was somehow incorporated into the test?

UPDATED: Here is an interesting post on another blog with input from a person who does gifted testing in NYC:

November 10, 2008 at 12:07 pm 2 comments




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