Posts tagged ‘cps principal discretion’

2012 High School Admissions and Principal Discretion Part 3

The PD handbook was supposed to have posted last night on  The application period will run March 9-23.

Continue to post high school admission info and questions here.

Please put any comments about the Tier debate here:

FYI: Lake View High School is still taking applications this week and is having a community info session Weds 3/7 at 6:30.

March 6, 2012 at 5:38 am 202 comments

High School Principal Discretion Period Now Open 2011

CPS has opened the principal discretion process so parents can make one final push to get their child into the school of their choice.
There is an application and even a handbook on how to complete the process:
Applications are due March 18.

The Magnet and Selective Enrollment Schools and Programs Admissions Policy allows principals of Selective Enrollment High Schools to exercise a five percent discretion in the selection of incoming freshmen students through a centralized process. The Principal Discretion process allows principals of Selective Enrollment High Schools to select these students through an application process that takes into consideration such areas as student awards and honors, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement written by the student.

I was surprise this year to see parents discussing making an appeal to their child’s top choice school (over the 2nd or 3rd choice where they gained admission.) I used to assume that the appeal was geared to kids who didn’t get in anywhere, but I suppose it makes sense to vie for the school you really want. I assume there are two types of appeal: A child who is otherwise academically successful but blew one of the tests, and a child who may not be an academic superstar but has shown commitment in some other area (sports, music, etc.)

Feel free to share stories/questions/updates here.

I know this link was included in a comment in another post, but it’s pretty interesting to see that some of the principals are trying to keep the SE high schools more “elite” in terms of admission scores. I have to wonder if they’re concerned about having to teach a broader range of student skill sets and/or if they’re worried about seeing a decline in their test scores (which seems more important now than ever.)

Sun Times story:
The window to apply for “principal picks’’ at the city’s nine elite public high schools opens Friday amid a new agreement that principals weigh in on any overhaul of admissions at their schools.

Whitney Young Principal Joyce Kenner last week led a contingent of principals who convinced Interim Schools CEO Terry Mazany to include them early on in any talk of altering a new selection process tied to census tracts and socio-economic factors, rather than race. As a result, principals have been asked to give Mazany recommendations on better ways to admit kids to the city’s most selective high schools by mid-May.

Under the current system, now in its second year, Kenner said, “Our African-American numbers are way down, but they are way down across all schools. It has drastically affected diversity….

“It’s a flawed system. We have to come up with a different way to do things.’’

So far this season, Kenner also said, Young applicants in the richest census tracts have been “penalized’’ while “students with much lower scores are getting in.’’

All nine elite college preps saw lower first-round test scores accepted from kids in the poorest census tracts this year, with Northside College Prep seeing the biggest drop among that group — from a mimimum 850 test score accepted last year to 792 this year. A perfect score is 900. Meanwhile, overall, the highest first-round scores accepted increased at eight of nine college preps.

That led to huge score variations. Lane, Lindblom and King saw more than 200-point differences among the lowest and highest scores accepted. The spread at Brooks was 350 points.

However, CPS officials cautioned that several tweaks to this year’s processs — including 1,000 more first-round offers — could have produced wider score disparities in the first round. The real test, they said, will be how scores and diversity shake out at the conclusion of all rounds of offers. Some schools had four rounds last year.

Even if more lower-scoring students are admitted, “We have complete confidence in these schools’ ability to help these kids succeed,’’ said Katie Ellis, the system’s elite-admission pointperson.

At King College Prep, fewer African Americans were offered first-round seats this year, but in the 95-percent black school, that means diversity should increase, said Principal Jeff Wright.

However, principals want to see how test scores, race and socio-economic factors shake out at all nine college preps — not just their schools. Said Wright: “Just going ahead with a policy because we have a policy is not something we endorse.”

Friday is the deadline for students to act on first-round offers as well as the first day rejected students can apply to college preps as “principal picks,’’ based on artistic talent, civic work or other factors. “Principal pick” applications are due March 18.

March 5, 2011 at 9:27 am 49 comments

SE High School Principals under fire for discretion choices

Thanks to a couple readers who pointed out this article in the Sun Times. (reprint below.)  Thank god someone reads the news around here!  Anyhow, 2 principals at SE High Schools are being called out for using their discretion “inappropriately.”

One reader has suggested that parents voice their opinion to CPS over the bad-use-of-clout issue.  I’m still forming my thoughts on it.   My initial reaction is that it’s yet another reason Chicago is messed up.  All the political back-scratching and favor-doing.  It’s embarrassing to live here sometimes.  But then, like I think about Blago, I’m sure these principals were doing what many have done before them.  As the W.Young principal points out, she wasn’t hiding anything and nobody stopped her or told her it was wrong, so it must have been OK.  Well, that thinking got us into the financial crisis, lady.  But I get her point.

And to some extent I support the idea of principal discretion.   Times are tough.  If a family makes it clear they will support a school with money or time or creativity or ideas or something else good, might a principal be crazy to turn that down?  Is it fair to people who have no favors to offer.  Probably.  Maybe.  Perhaps fewer than 5% of the seats might make me feel better about it.  Why not let some rich families buy their way, but funnel the money to a low income school?  Just thinking out of the box here.

I know, I know.  I’m the one who is usually all about fairness.  I just think it helps schools when the principal can get some extra resources that are hard to come by.  Will I be singing a different tune when my son is in 7th grade?  Undoubtedly.

Oh, but I DO like the idea of a school inspector.  Sounds like a reality TV show I’d actually watch!


The Chicago Schools Inspector General has recommended that Principal Joyce Kenner be banned for life from hand-picking kids for admission to Whitney Young Magnet High — a punishment Kenner calls “ridiculous” and one officials have ignored for seven months, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.

At the same time last May, Schools Inspector General James Sullivan also recommended that Lane Tech Principal Antoinette Lobosco be banned for a year from making so-called “principal picks’’ at her school — another suggestion yet to be followed by Chicago Public School officials.

Both recommended punishments are mentioned in the IG’s annual report released Monday that blasts controversial “principal picks’’ at the city’s elite selective-enrollment high schools as being riddled with clout. Young, Lane and their principals are not mentioned by name, but a source identified them to the Sun-Times.

For her part, Kenner said she has used her picks over the last 16 years to build Young into a powerhouse of talented kids and wants to be considered by the next mayor for the top spot of CEO of Chicago Public Schools.

“I want to be the CEO,’’ Kenner told the Sun-Times. “I’m throwing my name out. I have the background and experience to take us to another level.”

As for her recommended punishment? “That’s absolutely unfair and ridiculous,’’ Kenner said. “It is January and I have not heard anything like that. . . . Nobody is going to make me a scapegoat. I did nothing wrong. I followed the procedure for the years it was in place.’’

Both Kenner and Lobosco say CPS officials approved the 5 percent of students they were allowed to pick outside a strict formula based mostly on grades and test scores during the two main years in question — 2008 and 2009 —when new rules were established for such picks. More controls were added in March following an audit.

“We had oversight,’’ Lobosco said. “Why wouldn’t they have rejected my picks if I did something improper?’’

However, Sullivan said, CPS officials did not always know the “underlying facts’’ behind the principal picks they reviewed. And, Sullivan said, “The problem is, when you select somebody based on clout, you’re passing over any number of kids who don’t have clout.’’

The IG investigation questioned several Lane students recommended by Ald. Gene Schulter (47th), who could not be reached for comment. Kenner was criticized for picks backed by current mayoral candidate Carol Moseley Braun, Ald. Anthony Beale (9th), the late Board President Michael Scott, Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd), and other politicians. She also was accused of admitting basketball and soccer players whose academic records were lower than most Young students, a source said.

Kenner said she also took calls from people without clout and spread her picks among her coaches and even the Young violin teacher to build a wide range of talent at Young. Kenner said only one pick in 16 years failed to graduate from Young.

Although the IG recommended principal-pick bans back in May, sources said the possibility was discussed but not acted upon by CPS officials — at least not yet. Although the lifetime ban was recommended for what the IG called “egregious’’ abuse, punishment was problematic, sources said, as certain actions gave the appearance that the very highest levels of CPS condoned such inquiries.

Under then-Schools CEO Arne Duncan, who now serves as U.S. Education Secretary, the CEO’s office kept a clout-heavy log of callers about elite school admissions and a top aide vetted such calls.  According to the IG report, of 69 students who were being tracked by the CEO’s office, 20 were ultimately enrolled, including six the IG “directly attributed to influence exerted by the CEO’s office.’’

The IG also found that politicians, CPS administrators and others contacted elite schools directly, bypassing the CEO’s log. Even the “Office of the Board improperly influenced’’ elite high school admissions and the principal-pick process “to give preferential treatment to politicians, public figure friends and others,’’ the IG found.

Duncan’s successor, Schools CEO Ron Huberman, commissioned an audit after federal officials issued subpoenas about possible clout admissions in July 2009. Afterwards, Huberman cracked down on the process last March but kept principal picks in elite high schools — even though the auditor recommended they be scrapped because they created “the opportunity for fraud or undue influence.’’

January 5, 2011 at 12:47 pm 92 comments




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