Basics of CPS

This is a work-in-progress about the way CPS works that will hopefully be phrased in normal-person. All information is filtered through my slightly cynical point-of-view about giant bureaucratic organizations.

Q: My child isn’t born yet, do I need to start worrying?

A: Yes and no. Ideally you will rent or purchase a home in a part of Chicago that has a good neighborhood school so you don’t have to agonize about where to send your future child. If you know you’re going to have kids, it really makes sense to research this before you buy a home.

Q: If this is all so difficult, shouldn’t I just move to the suburbs?

A: No. It will slowly make your soul wither. And the taxes are often higher.  But your suburban friends likely have a different opinion.

Q: How do I know what school my child can attend?

A: Every home is Chicago has one neighborhood elementary school and high school assigned to it. If you live within that school’s boundaries, your child is guaranteed admission at any time.  Ideally, you will pre-register before the school year starts, but you can actually walk in at any time and they will enroll your child.  That is the only school where your child has guaranteed admission (unless they have a sibling at another school and sometimes that is not even a sure bet.)

To find out your neighborhood school using your address, use this link.  This will also show you which Magnet schools you can apply to for the Proximity lottery.  When you click on the school name, you can see the boundary area.

If you get stuck or find conflicting data, try calling CPS’s demographic department at 773-553-3270.

To view a specific neighborhood school’s boundaries, look here:
When you get to the school’s main page, click on the map at the left.  The colored area around that school is the neighborhood boundary.  Keep in mind that side of the street may vary (one side in one district, the other side in another district.)  The proximity boundary for Magnets is not shown on these maps.  To determine if you’re in the proximity area for a Magnet, use this link and enter your address.

Q: How do I know if my neighborhood school is good?

A: “Good” is a relative assessment. If you like data, test scores can be a decent indicator of academic success. See here:  Keep in mind that test scores only reflect those of kids in grades 3-8. Currently in Chicago, lower-income kids test lower than higher-income kids, so a school with a heavy population of low-income 3-8th graders may look low on test scores, but the younger students in Prek-2nd grade may be a different story.   Other ways to find out about schools are on discussion boards and Take a tour of the school. Hang out at the school playground to talk to people whose kids are enrolled. An active parent or “friends of” group can be a good sign of support and involvement.  There are likely plenty of CPS schools that have a good principal and devoted teachers that just aren’t on people’s radar yet.

Some neighborhood schools have Magnet Cluster status, but that doesn’t mean they are like the other Magnet schools that use a lottery.  Magnet Cluster means the school has a special focus like Fine Arts or Literature.  See below for more info.

Other places to get school data:
If you like Excel sheets you can look up test scores on schools cut many different ways:

And this site shows the results of parent and teacher surveys that tell you a little more about the culture at a school.

Here is information on how to find a school’s Report Card that summarizes many of its measurements.


Q: If my neighborhood school isn’t good (or doesn’t have strong enrollment) can I do anything about that?

A: Yes, if you’re willing to bust your ass.  It’s not as simple as calling CPS and demanding change/resources.  But one of the great changes that has happened in the past few years in CPS is that groups of neighbors have gotten together to help their neighborhood schools flourish.  This includes fundraising, getting on the Local School Council, marketing the school to help attract other families, and working with the school’s principal to offer support and resources and to let them know that a group of local parents will be holding them to high standards.  Getting involved in your neighborhood school can be a great experience – you can really create a sense of community by working together.  And there’s nothing better than having all the kids in the neighborhood go to school together.  It’s worth all the effort but takes a couple high energy yet

Q: I want to buy a house.  What should I keep in mind?

A: Buying a home that has a well-regarded neighborhood elementary school will go a long way in alleviating your anxiety.  Having a local school where all the neighbors send their kids can be an amazing thing in the city, creating a real sense of community.  Walking to school is fun!  You can still apply to gifted/magnets/etc but knowing you’ve got a good fallback is huge.  This web site is helpful at finding real estate listings crossed by school ratings:

Q: What is there beyond the neighborhood school?

A: For elementary, Chicago has Magnet, Charter, Gifted, and Classical programs/schools.  (And something weird called Magnet Clusters but those don’t really count.)  For 6th and 7th grade there are Academic Centers.

Magnet – These schools admit students in part based on a lottery system and in part based on neighorhood proximity (this was new for the 2010/2011 school year.)  Students from anywhere in the city can apply for the lottery spots.   These schools tend to have higher test scores because they attract families who are willing to send their kid out of the neighborhood for more academic rigor.  The Magnet schools get a few extra resources than the neighborhood schools do (such as full day Kindergarten guaranteed.)  Some magnet schools are very difficult (impossible) to get into because so many kids apply each year.  (Note: For the selection process for Magnet schools for school year 2010/2011 CPS tried out a new way to balance students where more spots were given to in-neighborhood kids and siblings.)  See more info here:  As of Sept 2010, we’re waiting to see if the policy will be revised for the 2011/2012 school year.  The applications will be read on 10/1/10 and for the first time, there will be on CENTRAL application that you mail to the Office of Academic Enhancement (OAE.)  You can apply to up to 20 magnet schools on that one form.  You should NOT sent applications directly to the schools any more.  This is a thing of beauty as in the past, school offices were known to be black holes at times and applications disappeared.  has the applications.

Charter – These are schools that are allowed to operate outside the normal CPS rules, even hiring non-union teachers.  I realize I have no idea how one gets their kid into a charter school or how hard it is to get in.  Have to look into that one…..

Gifted – These are schools or programs within schools that kids have to test into based on logic and reasoning abilities.  Most kids enter in Kindergarten or 1st grade and are then guaranteed a spot until 8th grade.  Classes are taught at 1-2 grade levels above the standard CPS curriculum and the kids are *theoretically* given projects and work that is more in-depth.   Testing is done by the GEAP office.

Classical – These schools are geared to kids who excel in reading and math and the classes are taught at 1-2 grade levels above the CPS curriculum.  Kids test into these program (on a GEAP test that is separate from the Gifted test.)  Kids enter in Kindergarten.  The curriculum is more classical/traditional and Latin is taught.  Some of the Classical schools go up to 6th grade only which require you to find a spot for 7th and 8th grade.

Magnet Cluster – These are neighborhood schools that have a specific focus like Art, Writing, or Math.  By having Magnet Cluster status, the school get an extra teaching position in their specialty topic and may even give that topic a bit more focus in the curriculum.  These still enroll as neighborhood schools though.  So you are guaranteed admission if you live in the boundaries and if you don’t, you have to lottery in.  I wish they’d get the word “magnet” out of the name — it’s misleading.

Other Neighborhood Schools – Some neighborhood schools have extra room to accept students.  As a school is “up-and-coming” there is often room to lottery into the school as they need to keep growing.  Typically after a few years when these schools get popular and people seek them out or move into the neighborhood they stop taking out-of-hood kids.  This is what’s happened at North side schools like Nettelhorst, Burley, Blaine, Waters, Coonley, and other.  Getting into a growing school where parents are involved is often a great way to get your foot in the door in a school with like-minded parents who want to help their local school flourish.  These schools often attend the NPN school fair as they’re more actively seeking students.  Some that come to mind on the North side now are Pierce, Jahn, Hamilton, and Prescott.  Let me know if there are others you know of outside my little sphere of knowledge.  In the past, you could butter up a principal to get into neighborhood schools (meaning show you’re really committed to helping the school) but CPS has cracked down on Principal Discretion so that’s a bit more iffy these days.  In the end, if a school has open seats and you want in after school begins, there is usually a way to make that happen.  You apply to other neighborhood schools using the online application for magnet schools.

Applications for magnet/gifted/classical schools are usually ready in October.
The application period ends around mid-December (the last day of school before holiday break)
Applications are here under the Apply tab :

NPN (Neighborhood Parent’s Network) holds a big school fair each year.  You must be an NPN member to attend ($55 annual membership which also give you access to their lively discsussion boards.)  Info at
As a note, there were not that many public schools exhibiting at the fair in recent years.  It appears to be mainly religious/private schools, but there are a few of the “up-and-coming” CPS schools there.  The charter schools have their own fair run by CPS.

Q: How do I know when school are giving tours or having open houses?

A: Here is a calendar that posts open house dates.  I’m assuming that it’s up to the schools to give this information to CPS, so not every school may be on here.  Also, call to double-check beforehand in case of last minute changes.  Other than that, you will need to call the schools one by one.  Some schools have a highly organized web site (usually thank to a motivated parent who is willing to keep it up-to-date.)  Many people take kids or babies on the tours, but some can be long, so be sure to bring snacks, toys, books, etc. (Will be updated in Fall 2014.)

Q: Is there any other way to get my child into a school?

A: Right now, not really.  For elementary schools, there is not currently any principal discretion like there used to be.  In schools that are more “under the radar” and don’t accumulate a long lottery list for their open neighborhood spots, you can sometimes work with a principal to get a seat if spaces are open, more likely in higher grades than K.  But it can never hurt to ask.   Also, if you want a certain school and you know your lottery number makes you a possibility, it can be a good idea to make sure they (the school office) knows who are you and that you REALLY want a space.  As they go down the lottery list, making phones calls, some schools may choose not to leave messages.  You want them to make sure they don’t somehow pass you by as they fill their spots because you were hard to reach.

The Selective Enrollment High Schools DO have a principal discretion process that is now fairly regimented.  After initial offers are made, kids can pick one high school to submit a PD request.  There is no criteria that principals must use to select the PD spots.  They can choose siblings, kids good at a sports, kids who missed the cutoff, kids with extenuating circumstance.  It’s up to them.

Q: When do I apply to the schools?

A: For the Options schools (magnet, gifted, classical, other neighborhood schools) you apply during the Fall of the school year BEFORE your child will attend school.  For many people, this is the year your child is age 4 (their 2nd year of Prek.)  Applications are usually due the 3rd week in December (see the CPS site for the exact date.)  So yes, you are forced to think about what school your current 4-year-old might excel in when they are an 8th grader – a concept that can fry a parent’s mind.

The application process is roughly Oct 1 to mid December.

Q: How many schools can I apply to?

A: The magnet/neighborhood form limits you to 20 schools.  The number of gifted/classical schools to which you could apply has traditionally been 6 total.

Q: What do I need to do to apply?

A: There is an online application for the Magnet/Neighborhoods schools and one for the Gifted/Classical schools.

There are 2 tests your elementary child can take – Gifted and Classical that measure different skills.  When you select your top 6 schools on the form, they determine which test/s your child will take based on which schools you chose.  In theory, it’s worth selecting at least 1 of each type so your child takes both tests before Kindergarten.  Even if you don’t like the current options, who knows what CPS might open at the last minute?

Q: Can I  just apply to all the schools and tour the ones I get into?

A:  Keep in mind that some of the schools offer very limited or even NO tours after the notification dates.  So you might be offered a spot and need to make a decision in 48 hours but you can’t get a tour in that timeframe.   There is a collossal timesuck as parents end up touring tons of schools, only to get a spot in 1 or 2 (or none) of them.  But overall, I am a fan of touring schools if you have time.  It will help you evaluate a school on short notice and also help you assess your neighborhood school in comparison.

Q: What are the odds of my child getting into a magnet school via the lottery?

A: It depends on the school, but overall, getting into one specific school you want is pretty slim.  For instance Hawthorne had over 1000 applications for 2 Kindergarten classes (56 spots.)  Naturally, the more magnet schools you apply to, the better your odds of getting into one.  Living in an area where you are magnet proximity helps your odds.  Not everyone lives in a Magnet proximity.  Some people live in multiple magnet proximity areas.

Q: What are my child’s odds of getting into a Gifted/Classical school?

A: That totally depends on their test scores.  The GEAP offices ranks the kids  by test score and hands out the spots going down the list, based on the preferences you listed.  Kids who score in the 97-99% percentile (meaning they scored better than most of the kids in the country) are typically offered a spot somewhere.  Lower than that, your child may be offered spots as they open up throughout the summer or at the very beginning of the school year.  For each school there are 4 ranked lists, by socio-economic Tier.

Q: Do siblings get priority in the schools?

A: In neighborhood schools, a sibling in the neighborhood gets in automatically of course.  If the older sibling is out-of-hood, the younger will *usually* be given a spot by the principal, but there is not a total guarantee. Always best to keep up with the principal to see how enrollment is looking.  They have to give priority to the neighborhood kids, so any out-of-hood kids get second priority even if they have a sibling in the school.

In magnet schools, as of 2010, younger siblings are guaranteed a spot.  Twins in the same grade automatically get the next lottery spot on the list after their sibling, so will typically get a space.

In gifted/classical/academic center schools, there is NO sibling preference at all.  The younger sibling must test in, just like the older one did.  Which is simultaneously fair and inefficient as families with several smart kids may end up with them at different gifted/classical/neighborhood schools.

Q: Can I sign my child up at 2 CPS schools and decide later which one I will send them to?

A: No, you can only be registered at 1 CPS school at a time.  If Magnet school X calls to offer you a spot and you accept, you will be un-enrolled for next year at your current school.  Make sure you plan it out strategically.

Q: Is the gifted/classical testing accurate?

A: From what I’ve read, testing at the preK level can be a crapshoot, depending on your child’s mood that day.  I’ve heard that if a kid tests well, they probably really ARE very smart, but many smart kids won’t test well for a variety of reasons.  So there are many false negatives, but few false positives.   Testing before 1st grade is probably a bit more reliable since kids are less shy and less apt to be having a random meltdown the day of the test.  Research says that testing in 3rd grade and up tends to be valid.

Q: What is on the Gifted/Classical tests?  How can they test kids so young?

A: That is one of the best-kept secrets in the city.  For some reason the kids don’t talk afterwards and nobody in CPS will divulge any details.  My personal best guess is that the Gifted test is the Sanford-Binet (an IQ test,) but that is just speculation and I can’t find any samples of that test online anywhere.  I imagine that the Classical test is checking pre-reading and math skills since that is the emphasis of the curriculum.
Here is a handy document that show the timing and requirements of application by grade:


435 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Kinder Mom  |  March 31, 2009 at 10:40 am

    My daughter tested into SkinnerNorth for next year – should parents be concerned about the location of the new school? We are not originally from Chicago but I read that the new location will either be at the current OGDEN location or at the old Schiller School location?

  • 2. Mom of 2  |  March 31, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    If it helps, my 4-year-old took the gifted test and told me that it was a lot of pictures and questions like “which one doesn’t belong?”

  • 3. KF  |  April 1, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    My son also tested into Skinner North. I got the call that it will be at the Schiller location. I don’t particulary like the location, as it is right across from the Cabrini-Green projects, but ultimately, it is about what goes on inside the school. The building is nothing to be desired. Kids from the projects went there, so you can imagine aesthically, it isn’t appealing. No upkeep. I hope this changes for the families of Skinner. It is a rapidly changing area, though. The projects are being demolished and townhomes are going up. You should not have anything to worry about. Skinner is a GREAT school . My son won a spot at Hawthorne, which is about 10 minutes from our house. So he will be there. The best of luck to you!

  • 4. Kinder Mom  |  April 3, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    My husband and I attended a Skinner North Open House today – many parents are very concerned about the safety issues of the neighborhood since the location is likely to be Schiller. The principal assured everyone that police presence would be increased! would feel better if police presence wasn’t necessary at all….

  • 5. SS  |  April 16, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    I wouldn’t worry about the Schiller location. I lived in that area from 2000-2005 (when it was REALLY the ‘hood) and it is a great up-and-coming area. Further, I worked as a softball coach in Cabrini…The kids there are wonderful and many of the parents are too. It’s all about your attitude. The people who live there are families with kids and some hard times…There are some rough folks there too but most of that is gone. There is also a police department (Halsted and Division) and fire department right there. All will be fine.

  • 6. andrea  |  September 21, 2009 at 10:18 am

    What would you suggest someone in my situation do?

    My daughter is in first grade in Florida, we’re thinking of moving within the next year to Chicago… would like to live in the city, but would consider the ‘burbs if it didn’t work out.

    Our 6 year old is bright and being tested for the gifted program in our local school, but not until Winter Break.

    Behind her, I have two boys… 3 year old in private pre-school (that’s the only option here) and a baby. I’d like them all in the same school eventually.

    Do we start the whole process NOW just in case? if we don’t move next fall, and she *is* accepted into a school and we say “no”, will that hurt her for the NEXT round of admissions or do we just start all over again. I would also need to prep. my 3 year old for testing as well, right?

    Any neighborhood suggestions for a young family of 5?

  • 7. cpsobsessed  |  September 22, 2009 at 11:15 pm

    Hi Andrea – give me another day or 2 and I’ll respond. I’m in the middle of a remodeling project and need a few more days until sanity returns!

  • 8. andrea  |  September 23, 2009 at 10:06 pm

    Thank you, I completely understand and do appreciate it!

    FWIW, I thought it was a PITA to work through the Florida bureaucracy… this seems like it might become a part-time job for me. Fun! (not at all)

  • 9. cpsobsessed  |  September 28, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    Andrea – I would definitely get in on the testing if you can. Would you come up here for it? Or is there a way to arrange it from a distance? There is no penalty for taking the test and turning down a spot. Tons of people do it every year – mainly because their child gets in a school that isn’t close to their home so they turn it down. Nobody in CPS keeps track.

    There isn’t anything you’d need to do to prep your 3 year old except to make them smart (ha ha.) Kids get test when they’re 4 for entry into the Kindergarten gifted classes. Most people don’t do any prep at that age, but if the child is bright it probably makes sense to push them into reading 2/3 letter words if at all possible (for the classical test.)

    Getting 3 kids into one gifted/classical school is pretty hard since they each need to test in (no sibling pref given.) That’s why it’s nice to go with the schools that have a gifted and a neighborhood program in case one of the kids has an off day when testing.

    As for neighborhoods, I’m mainly familiar with the north side and the good kid places tend to be around the “good” schools. There are now a lot so you need to decide what type of neighborhood you like combined with what conveniences you want, and availability of transportation for your work.

    Schools like Nettelhorst and Blaine (Lakeview) are close to more shops/restaurants whereas Ravenswood Manor and Old Irving park are a little more family-oriented, which is nice but you don’t get as “urban” a feel. Mainly you gotta just check them out and see what seems to fit (along with the local school.) Good luck and let me know if you have any more questions!

  • 10. andrea  |  September 29, 2009 at 8:57 pm

    Okay, make him smart… got it! 😉 I’m taking notes, reading (reading and more reading) and am wittling down the neighborhoods (we’re sticking to the North side, I think…). I am grateful for your blog and opinions. Looooove mom-pinions – they’re very helpful for outsiders like me. Thank you for your help!

  • 11. Dan Z  |  September 30, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    This is incredibly helpful. Would you consider adding some information, if you know it, about how preschool slots are determined?

  • 12. amy  |  November 13, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    does anyone know anything about Audubon’s lottery? if it is difficult to get in?

  • 13. IJB  |  March 22, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    This is a comment on the testing for Kindergarten: After my daugher finished her testing she told me in detail what the testing was like. I asked her several weeks later and she told me basically the same thing. Firstly she noted there were puzzles but not real puzzles. She said there were three workbooks. One had pictures of what didn’t belong. The second book was words without pictures for her to read. The third she said had different numbers in rows. Sounds like the OLSAT to me.

  • 14. Anxious Dad  |  March 26, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    I’m happy to report that my kid got accepted to the South Loop Regional Gifted Center. The sense of relief that has overcome me makes me feel like I’m in a Calgon commercial.

  • 15. Julie  |  April 13, 2010 at 8:31 am

    Does anyone know anything about Budlong? It’s our neighborhood school and I have an almost 4 year old and I’m starting to stress about kindergarten!

  • 16. Edna Navarro-Vidaurre  |  April 28, 2010 at 12:10 am

    You mentioned magnet school principals being able to get siblings in. In the past this was called principal picks. Is this practice still available? The following situation is why I ask:

    My situation is this: my son has gotten into the pk program at a pk-8 school, but I’m not happy about pulling him from his current pk cps program because the program he got into is not the same quality program that he is currently in. The problem is that I’m worried about losing our K spot if I don’t enroll him at the pk level. However he is a sibling and if we chose not to send him to the lower quality pk program, we take a chance of not getting in for K. What’s your advice?

  • 17. howie  |  May 10, 2010 at 11:40 am

    It is indeed somewhat commonly believed that, in fact, it is the CLASSICAL test that is the Stanford Binet. The scores line up perfectly with my son’s independent testing and NU, as well.

    I am not sure why the distinctions are made that the Classical school kids are not ‘truly gifted’. They, in fact, very much are just that. Most, however are so much so that they are opposed to the Linear thinking of the Gifted Test. I know my son was. He is one of the ‘few that spoke’, lol! And speak he did, about how the ‘tester guy’ was a ‘doofus’ because he showed him pictures of cat, dog, bone and asked which two pictures went together. Ds said ‘cat and dog’. The ‘correct’ answer was ‘dog and bone’. My son apparently argued with ‘tester guy’ (lol, HIS words, at age 4!) that dogs like to chase cats, so that he in fact was ALSO correct. Um, that was his ‘last question’ for the Gifted. (ds also pointed out that of course he picked Cat, because CATS are his FAVORITE animal! A common story-thread in Classical students, fyi.) He is currently at Decatur.

    I also strongly believe many test higher on the Classical because that test is admin’d by IIT, rather than CPS. IIT ‘officials’ are far, far more invested than the beaurocracy of CPS employees. As a product of the ‘intital’ GEAP programs at Kellog (1981, grade 4) and Morgan Park High School’s 7th and 8th, and IS for HS (1984-1990) I must say the programs have improved, if the politicism has not. Most children in my son’s testing year had such OBNOXIOUS ranges btwn their Classical and or Gifted scores… almost NONE did well on the Gifted that year. Strange as it was… it was the common denominator. Hence the theory of CPS tester and or testing times being responsible. I know this… don’t give a kid the Classical test at 6pm on a Tues, and have him return the very next morning by 7am for the Gifted. Totally uncouthe when dealing with small children!

    I would not be so sure that GEAP principals get NO say in a ‘few lil PTA picks’ for their schools. I am sorry but at Decatur EVERY LSC and or PTA ‘officer’ get’s ALL their subsequent children in. LITERALLY and statistically impossible. Maybe other schools do not practice this but I would bet Ms. K @ Decatur Classical indeed does!!!

  • 18. Amy  |  June 11, 2010 at 10:26 pm

    @howie I totally agree with you about this decatur thing..I know a number of parents whose all 2- 3 kids are at decatur and they are either on LSC or PTA!!! They will say”we were just lucky” and my second child did not make it even with a high score…as I work full time and i cannot put in any time at school even if I want to.

  • 19. Holly  |  July 12, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    This has been a great resources to me. thanks. after leaving chicago 9 years ago we’re thinking of buying a home back in chicago with the hope of moving “home” at some point with two small children in tow these days we’re trying to iron out the school details in advance of a move back so many thanks for the effort here.

  • 20. Jennifer  |  September 16, 2010 at 11:49 pm

    I also wanted to say thanks, this site has been a great source of info for me. We’re currently weighing up whether our 1st grader would do better in a classical school than her one-size fits all north shore school before taking the plunge on moving back to the city.

  • 21. Adam  |  September 21, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    For someone who has two boys 10 months apart with Aug & Sept birthdays and ideally would like to keep them in separate grades, are there options?

    We’ve been told that CPS’s 9/1 cutoff lacks flexibility, but we are desperate.

    We’ll do anything (write letters, get in front of people, etc, etc, etc.

    We REALLY want to encourage our boys’ sense of identity and we think keeping them in separate grades will help in that.

    Thanks in advance for your help and suggestions.

  • 22. Maureen  |  September 24, 2010 at 1:15 am

    There is no law that you MUST start the child if they are 5 by September 1 — you could keep them both back a year and start them just as they turn 6 (they’d be a year apart but both on the older end of the spectrum for their class/year).

    I think that would likely be better for them both long term…it’s not good to be the youngest in a class and boys tend to mature a little bit slower than girls at that age, so it might be a good solution. Of course, it would require you to pay for an additional year of pre-school/child care, but it’s an option.

    Good luck!

  • 23. Kathy  |  September 28, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    There is no law that a child must be 5 when he/she start school, but I was talking with the clerk at my school who registers kids for school and I asked her if I came to register my six year old for kindergarten would that be okay. She basically told me that CPS wants to keep kids with the appropriate age group so basically my child would be put into first grade even though he did not attend kindergarten (if I helf him back) So basically that changed my mind about holding my child back a year. I didn’t want to take that chance of him missing kindergarten. My son has a end of July birthday and felt he could benefit from starting a year later. Oh well. I am sure there are always ways around it. Good luck!

  • 24. priti  |  October 21, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    i am looking into preschool montesorri program at oscar mayer magnet school for my 3 year old.
    Would love to hear all your reviews about that school.

  • 25. Mary Szyjka  |  November 2, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    *OPEN HOUSE* Peirce School of International Studies will hold its fall Open House on November 9th from 9:15 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. Peirce is a neighborhood CPS school located at 1423 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. This is a great opportunity to meet teachers and parents and learn about Pre-K – 8th grade programs including the IB (International Baccalaureate) and enrichment programs (Art, Music, Language, Sports). Tours of the school will be offered. Please call the office at (773) 534-2440 to let us know you plan to attend.

  • 26. Kim  |  November 4, 2010 at 11:25 am

    I have a question about children advancing (or “skipping”) a grade in CPS. My kindergarten son has undergone assessments in his school which show he is academically at a first grade level for math and second grade level for reading. Based on this, as well as his mid-September birthday and discussions with his teacher and principal, he is moving to the first grade class for instruction. He has been in that class for his reading block since the second week of school, but will now spend all day there. However, we were also told that CPS will still officially consider him to be in Kindergarten.
    I cannot find any regulations on this and wonder what this means in the future. We were told that when applying for GEAP or magnet schools, we would still be required to list him as being in Kindergarten.
    Does anyone have any insight into what this would mean later in his school life if he continues to receive instruction in classes a year ahead of his official grade level, but is not formally moved up? I know that there is a long time between K and 8th grade and things could change, but if they don’t, would he basically repeat 8th grade before moving on to H.S.?

  • 27. cpsobsessed  |  November 4, 2010 at 11:28 am

    @Kim – I have just been reading about some new policies on letting kids start K early. It’s buried in a lot of other CPS info. Let me try to dig it up…

  • 28. Elaine  |  January 24, 2011 at 4:26 am

    Thanks – your website has been a wealth of good information for me as we are planning on moving back to Chicago this coming summer. We are originally from the city but moved overseas 2 years ago. Our 6 year old will be starting 2nd grade in the fall. Do you or any other parents have feedback about comprehensive gifted programs within a neighbourhood school? Do these programs teach the same materials/curriculum as the regional gifted centers? It will be too late for us to have our child tested for the RGC and Classical schools for this fall so our best bet is to go to our neighbourhood school and hope that he will be selected into the comprehensive gifted program.
    Thanks in advance!

  • 29. Lakeview Mom  |  February 17, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    Just stumbled upon your website after reading an issue of “Time Out Kids” that randomly appeared in our mailbox. This is hands down the clearest and most concise information on CPS, and I can’t thank you enough! I have been breaking into a cold sweat with my approaching-4-years-old daughter and knowing I have to figure this out…..soon.

    I heard somewhere that you can make a case for enrolling a child into kindergarten if he/she is just on the wrong side of September 1, IF you can show that the child has been enrolled in a certified preschool program. Is this true, or just a vicious rumor. Our daughter was born in September and a third year of preschool for all of her fifth year, and then enrolling into kindergarten a couple weeks shy of 6 years old seems a little nuts….though I do understand there needs to be a cut-off somewhere.

  • 30. misty625  |  February 28, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    Can I enroll a child in a neighborhood school that is not MY neighborhood school? I live on an attendance-boundary border, and my neighborhood school has atrocious test scores but the other neighborhood school 3 blocks away is great. Not talking about Magnet schools, just neighborhood schools.

  • 31. IB&RGC Mom  |  March 12, 2011 at 12:33 am

    @30 – See if they are in the Options for Knowledge Guide. I believe if they are they may allow applications that they will hold a lottery for if there are any seats open after the rest are filled with the attendance area kids. The best thing to do would be to call them and see what they say. Maybe they can put you on a waiting list now if they don’t hold a lottery.

    My suggestion is to apply to as many schools as you can. Gifted, magnet, classical, etc. You need to select any schools you would even remotely consider. If researching all of the schools is overwhelming don’t worry about doing it until you get the responses. Before my kids were at the schools they are at, I sent in probably 15-25 applications for both of them each year (including some neighborhood schools that were in the book). It was a while ago so maybe it wasn’t that many (but then again maybe it was more before I knew as much as I do about each school) and obviously this was before they consolidated the application, but the number of acceptances is slim if you are lucky to get an acceptance right away so you need to keep an open mind especially if you don’t want them to attend that neighborhood school! Good luck.

  • 32. teachermom  |  March 22, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    I am wondering if anyone has information about waitlists. If a student is #1 on a waitlist how likely is it that she will get into the school? The school is an up and coming school on the North side.

  • 33. Michelle  |  March 22, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    teachermom- I’m wondering the same thing. We are wait listed to every school we applied and our neighborhood school is not an option. However, we are much further down on the waitlist…#28 for our school of choice. This is our first time with the cps experience and we hopefullly don’t have to go through this year after year.

  • 34. JB  |  March 28, 2011 at 11:18 pm

    Great site. Just wanted to clear something up. It says here that once you test in for kindergarten you’re guaranteed a spot through 8th grade. I haven’t been able to confirm that anywhere else. Is this really the case?

    My daughter got into Coonley RGC, (which was our second choice after Edison) but we were unable to attend one of the school tours. Any other Coonley parents out there with any info, comments, opinions, etc. on the school would be very helpful. Thanks.

  • 35. IB&RGC Mom  |  March 29, 2011 at 9:48 am

    Yes. I am not a Coonley parent, but my daughter is in an RGC in 6th grade and has been since 1st grade. The parents that have pulled their kids out over the years have done so by their choice as either their child couldn’t keep up, they didn’t like all the homework that was given, or they found another option that better suited their child.

  • 36. Kim  |  March 31, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    @cpsobsessed … a follow-up to my comment #26 here … my Kindergartner has now been offered a spot at Lenart (we accepted) so that should take care of his need to be taught at a higher level.

    Also, just wondering if you’ve considered adding a section to your blog about afterschool programs or maybe a place where parents can rate/review/recommend programs. I will have my older son at Lenart and my younger son at Poe this fall and now I need to figure out what to do about afterschool.

    Thank you for this blog!!

  • 37. DIH  |  April 7, 2011 at 10:27 pm

    @teachermom – I’ve heard that if you are 15 or lower on a waitlist, it is likely you will get a call before the school year starts. The principal at our school gave this same advice. We were 5 on a waitlist and have already been called for a spot.

  • 38. Kerry  |  April 25, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    Thought this might be helpful for @Kim. The laws regarding the age for kindergarten didn’t change for CPS, however, the law did change this past year if you believe your child is ready for kindergarten and can find a private school that will accept your child into Kindergarten prior to the september 1st cut off. Private schools can legally accept your child based on a review of your child’s readiness for school for kindergarten. CPS wouldn’t budge on it. The law for 1st grade school entry was changed to reflect this: children who have attended a non-public preschool and continued their education at that school through kindergarten, were taught in kindergarten by an appropriately certified teacher, and will attain the age of 6 years on or before December 31 of the year of the 2009-2010 school term and each school term thereafter may attend first grade upon commencement of such term, and in grade schools shall not be under 6 years. It was a fight for us, but we were able to make it happen for our son. Here is the link.

  • 39. Denise  |  May 16, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    I have a question that I hope you can help me with. I plan to move to Chicago summer of 2012. Looking at the Roscoe Village area, anyways how early do you have to register for a neigborhood school in order to guarantee a spot. I mean since im moving in the summer will i have enough time to have my son enrolled for the Fall. Also can testing be done for some of the other schools if I live in the suburbs currently…

  • 40. cpsobsessed  |  May 17, 2011 at 12:37 am

    @39 Denise: You can register at any point if you are in the neighborhood boundaries, even the first day of school or any point in the school year. Obviously, it’s better to register sooner than later so the school can plan for the appropriate number of students. Teachers are allocated based on the number of students so it helps the school to plan ahead and get positions.

    You CAN test for schools while in the suburbs, but the testing process for the Fall 2012 school year is already over. Testing takes place during the previous school year and you have to sign up by around mid December then test in the Fall/Winter.

    Good luck!

  • 41. Bev  |  May 19, 2011 at 11:40 am

    What is the likelihood that a student who is #1 on the waitlist at Audubon actually gets a call?

  • 42. cpsobsessed  |  May 19, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    @Bev – typically a kid in the #1 spot has a good chance at a school, but at Audobon which has become very popular with the neighborhood, they probably won’t know how many kids have actually enrolled from the neighborhood until close to when school starts. I think it could truly go either way. They are probably aiming for a nice mix of 2 classes, each with about 28 kids and it just can vary year by year. My son’s school that is also very popular in the neighborhood ended up giving out a couple spots this year and had room for siblings at the last minute — but they just can’t give them out until they’re sure all the neighbors have spots and the classes aren’t overcrowded. I’d try to keep up with the school over the summer to see if you can find out how things are progressing and also to stay top of mind to them. Good luck!

  • 43. Jennifer  |  May 24, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    My daughter is in 1st grade at Dore Elementary School. Dore is a magnet cluster school focused on math and science. It is small and their test scores are amazing. My daughter loves it there! The teachers care and the parental support is awesome. My daughter is learning about the history of Chicago, how to read an email, and other things.

    Here is the website:

    We applied to Andrew Jackson (rejected), Sheridan (rejected), Gunsaulus (accepted) and Dore

    I picked Dore over Gunsualus because of the test scores.

    I am glad I picked Dore. The majority of parents in the neighborhood send their kids to Catholic Schools, but I don’t care Dore is excellent and I recommend anyone to take a look.

  • 44. Jeanne  |  August 1, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    I’m confused re:#29 and #30. I thought testing for the 2011/2012 school year is completed, but the testing for 2012/2013 school year (“fall 2012”) won’t happen until this fall/winter. Right?

  • 45. Ma  |  August 1, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    Jeanne – you are correct, testing took place Fall/Winter 2010-2011 for the 2011-2012 school year.

  • 46. Jill  |  August 13, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    I am so frustrated with how cps is operated and organized and I find it ridiculous that I have a child who tested mid nineties percentile can’t get in to a decent school!

    frustrated mom of 3 girls the oldest starting kindergarten this year and is not in ANYWHERE!

  • 47. Mom  |  August 13, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    #46 – don’t give up. We also had pretty good scores, but didn’t get in anywhere. We did get a magnet school call in mid-august. This is a good time to call your top magnet/neighborhood schools and express your continued interest. Get something in place for K and then you can test again for 1st. Good luck!

  • 48. Lindsay  |  September 6, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    Forgive me if this issue has already been addressed. I am really struggling with what to look for in a school–that is, how to determine if it’s a “good” match for my son (who will be starting K in 2012). What sorts of questions should I be asking at open houses? What should I be looking for in the schools? I just don’t feel like I have a good point of comparison (aside from test scores, which are not all that informative). Any guidance you can provide would be extremely helpful!

  • 49. MJ's Mom  |  October 17, 2011 at 1:39 am

    I am currently looking at the different RGC & Classical options. We are in the Ogden school district. How do the RGC’s and Classical schools compare? I keep hearing that Ogden is a good school, but would I be better served to try to get into an RGC or Classical school?

  • 50. CPSDepressed  |  October 17, 2011 at 8:30 am

    Here’s what I’d tell you, MJ’s Mom: is your kid gifted? I know, that’s a loaded word. Having a few years of experience with kids and school, I believe that very few children are truly gifted and that it is a learning disability of sorts. That’s why they have special programs for them.

    In a lot of school systems and social circles, “gifted” gets thrown around to mean “above average”. My kid is in his school’s comprehensive gifted program, but so are half the kids in his grade. Big whoop. He likes to say he’s “gifted”, because it’s a status thing at his school (which is not good, and I blame the administration for fostering those divisions, but that is another story for another day.) I know better. He’s no slouch, but he’s not some freaky off-the-charts Junior Doctor House.

    If your kid is really and truly gifted, he or she should be in an RGC or classical school. So take the test and see what happens. If your kid is a little smarter than the average bear, and the school has good teachers who will stay on top of the situation, and you are willing to supplement as necessary, any of the better CPS schools – like Ogden – should work.

  • 51. cpsobsessed  |  October 17, 2011 at 8:54 am

    CPSDepressed said exactly what I was going to say. My son (not truly gifted but bright enough) got into a RGC that’s about a mile from our house so it worked out. Would I send him on a 40 min busride there? Nah. If he had been reading chapter books at age 3 or showed some other traits of thinking way beyond his age or showed the “rage to master” which is a trait some kids possess as a sign of giftedness it would be a different story.

    Also, if your neighborhood school isn’t acceptable and a gifted or classical ends up as your best choice, I’d take it. But there a lot of smart and even gifted kids in all CPS schools. Sometimes parents just need to push the teachers a bit.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 52. Gifted kids and CPS  |  October 17, 2011 at 9:37 am

    If your child is truly gifted, a CPS gifted program won’t at all be sufficient. Believe this from someone who has been there. A gifted child (I’m not referring to a child who scores a 145 on the CPS test, I’m talking about one that goes in the testing room and basically tests the tester) requires a different type of teaching. Much different/sophisticated than the CPS method of simply teaching one grade level above.

    When I went through this I was astonished to learn the CPS gifted teachers usually have no special training in teaching gifted kids. Many of the gifted kids I now know where bored to death and actually depressed in CPS gifted programs. They are usually considered “odd” as it is, and being in an inappropriate learning environment can make things socially worse.

    Science and Arts Academy is a great option. Also contact Northwestern’s Centre For Talent Development and participate in their offerings if you can. It isn’t easy raising a child who needs to be challenged in a different way than most, but meeting other parents at NW helps you through it.

  • 53. MJ's Mom  |  October 18, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    My child is not a savant by any means if that is what you are referring to CPSdepressed, and of course, don’t we all think our kids are special? 🙂 I believe she is of the testing the tester variety of student. She grasps things very quickly and has an ability to make connections that I wouldn’t necessarily think are so obvious. So do the RGC’s really challenge the kids to strive for more? Maybe that is more of a rhetorical question. I am just finding it difficult to find an enviornment that will truly be a challenge and not just simply – get x score on a test to succeed. I don’t really think that is the definition of success.

  • 54. IB&RGC Mom  |  October 18, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    I think most CPS schools are largely about the numbers, and some of the other CPS schools may not be challenging enough so if you are looking for the most challenging option WITHIN CPS I think RGC or Classical is the way to go. I know some of the teachers my daughter had were trained specifically in gifted education and understand the special needs of these kids, but I don’t know if the all were or if that is even true of most. You will have good teachers and bad teachers along the way no matter what school or program you choose. One thing to note is that often there is only one gifted class per grade so if there is a teacher that you don’t want or doesn’t mesh well with your child, you are stuck.

    If your child is entering K or 1st and gets accepted into one the RGC’s I would give it a chance because you can always leave and go private, but the same is not true of the reverse. Once kids get in they often don’t leave so seats in these programs opening in a grade other then the entering grade is not very likely. I do appreciate the education my daughter has received in the RGC. I don’t know how much of it was teaching to the test, and there was a lot of work and effort involved on her part (she is advanced, but I wouldn’t say truly “gifted”), but I still value that she was able to go to a very good public school.

  • 55. Trying to figure this out  |  October 25, 2011 at 8:06 pm

    This blog is full of amazing information. Thank you so much for taking the time to create this! I have a question regarding statistics: is there anything on the CPS website (or elsewhere) that shows the number of students who apply to specific magnet schools and the number or percentage of students that are actually admitted (from those that apply)? I have seen the number of overall applicants from last year and the number of seats available for the entire CPS district but would like to see a breakdown of these numbers for specific magnet schools. If this isn’t available anywhere would the schools we are interested in freely give out this information?Thanks!

  • 56. cpsobsessed  |  October 25, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    @55 – I’ve never seen those number published, unfortunately. I have a document that has them but it is probably close to 7-8 years old now (it was part of a report that I purchased online.) I think a lot has changed since then.

    I’d be curious to know if the school even knows that information, as it is now housed centrally at CPS. We have tried to piece it together by seeing what numbers people have for waiting lists for the magnets, but we can’t tell if there are multiple lists by Tier or neighborhood etc. I believe the top magnet elementary schools get up to 1000 applications for kindergarten, but that could have changed with the central application process. I might be even easier for someone to check off 20 magnet schools, whereas in the past you had to apply school by school.

    Also, the number is not fully meaningful because with the central app process many people opt into lotteries for schools and they don’t even know where they are – only to discover once they get in that it’s way too far to travel to.

    I’ll see if I can find out though….

  • 57. B. Lou  |  December 3, 2011 at 6:43 am

    I do not think there are two lotteries, one for whites, and another one for minorities, as mentioned above. This might be outdated information, although, they do still ask for ethnic information for their demographic data. Does anyone know?

  • 58. CPS uses tiers not race I think  |  December 3, 2011 at 10:03 am

    CPS asks for race but DOES NOT use it to place students in schools. They use the tier system now which is supposed to be based on other factors.

  • 59. Kristi  |  December 12, 2011 at 11:09 pm

    My family is now looking for a home in the northwest area of city. Portage Park, Irving Park. Maybe Galewood or Belmont Craigin. I am at my wits end with trying to figure out how to know where to move if we can’t find a decent school. Most of the homes we like have neighborhood schools that rate (on as 3 or 4.
    Has anyone had success with getting into another neighborhood school if you are not in the boundaries?

    Does anyone have experience/knowledge on any of these schools: DisneyII, Thorp, Chicago Academy, Sayre, Prussing, Smyser, Beaubien, Bell, Coonley, Murphy, Reinberg, Gray, CICS -Irving Park. Are there any I should steer clear of?

    Oh, any word on 90 minute extension for next year? Is it solid? I cannot believe how short the school day is. Not enough time for learning! I am a teacher, therefore I cannot leave my job to pick my children up in the middle of the day. It seems many schools do not have after school programs. At least it is very hard to find them. Any advice on that? Do most moms stay home? or have an after school nanny?!
    I can’t wait to hear back… I am submitting my online application by Friday.

  • 60. cpsobsessed  |  December 12, 2011 at 11:11 pm

    What grade are you applying for? Kindergarten?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 61. Mom  |  December 13, 2011 at 10:14 am


    In the northwest I would check out Edgebrook, Sauganash, Solomon & Wildwood schools.

    You might want to join for input on neighborhoods and schools. A really good resource.

  • 62. cpsobsessed  |  December 13, 2011 at 10:46 am

    @59: DisneyII gets great reviews but is magnet, so odds are slim. Bell and Coonley don’t take out of neighborhood except perhaps in the higher grades (4+.)
    I would check about entry out of neighborhood into Edgebrook and Saganash (I am unfamilair with Solomon and Wildwood) as they have been highly in-demand neighborhood schools that I believe are quite full.

    There tend to be “up and coming” neighborhood schools that are easier to get into (Pierce for a few years, perhaps Prescott now, but typically they get full within a few years as parents flock there.

    CICS-Irv Park sounds fabulous but is also getting harder to get into as word gets out.

    For Kindergarten and even 1st grade most neighborhood schools (even those that are not gentrified-parent-approved are probably fine if you make sure your child is learning the basics. then you can keep applying to other schools/magnets/gifted if you want. Most people land somewhere within a year or 2 of applying. A friend of mine has turned down about 4 “good” schools at this point over 3 years.

    As for the longer day, Brizard himself says “it will happen.” Plenty of people in the city, organized by the Raise Your Hand group are pushing for a longer day, but not the super-long day that CPS wants.

    Aftercare, total drag. My neighborhood school worked out a deal with the YMCA to run a program at the school and they only required 12 kids to start. You could see about that. The school has a new provider now and I can get you the name if you want. Always worth suggesting to a school – if you want care, chances are other people do too! Otherwise, I think people just hire a sitter to pick up the kids and take them home. Very expensive though….

    Good luck!

  • 63. Mom  |  December 13, 2011 at 10:58 am

    @59, I recommended those schools (Edgebrook, Sauganash, Solomon & Wildwood) as areas to move into an attend as a in-neighborhood option since you seem to be in the midst of selecting a place to live. Your child most likely will not get into them if you live out-of-neighborhood.

  • 64. cpsobsessed  |  December 13, 2011 at 11:12 am

    Ah yes, moving into a neighborhood is DEFINITELY the way to go and certainly reduces one’s stress level.

    And uh… I have a house for sale in Ravenswood Manor in the Waters district. Or you can buy Blago’s house if you have $1 million. 🙂

  • 65. Kristi  |  December 13, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    Thanks everyone for the comments!
    I am applying Kindergarten.
    I have heard of the far north schools as being great and nice neighborhoods. The problem is the commute. I work in Oak Park and husband will be at 63rd/Halstead. We cannot find anywhere in the middle or south that is decent or affordable. I honestly don’t like the Urban feel… I’d prefer as far as possible. (Oh, we are required to move to Chicago because of his new job).

    With all that said, do any of you bus? It kinda freaks me out to send my 5 yr old on a bus half way across Chicago everyday. No idea how long the ride would be. Is it worth it to do it or just make it work in the less-than-par neighborhood school? hmm… That is the question!
    So, the areas I mentioned… does anyone think they are bad or what? What about as a “nice place to raise a family”? (Portage Park/Irving Park)
    As for after school. I am hoping to be an involved parent and possibly start a group(ymca)… but since I work much longer than the school day, I find it hard to be involved.

    Thanks! I truly appreciate your opinions and I will also look into the NPN link.

  • 66. IB&RGC Mom  |  December 13, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    I live in the Portage Park area and it is a great area for affordable homes to raise a family in. At least as far as the city goes. As does any neighborhood it does vary from block to block at times, and there are complaints about it “changing” whatever that means, but overall there are plenty of tree lined streets with single family homes where people have kids or have lived there for many years.

    My kids do not attend our neighborhood school so I can’t say anything about them. I am much closer to Thorp than my neighborhood school, but because it is magnet they would have had to get in via lottery which they did not. Thorp from everything I have heard is a good school. We know a lot of kids that go there.

    My kids get bussed to their schools. It honestly depends on the school and how many kids are on the bus. I have had them at schools where the buses were packed and the kids were unruly and they were very young at the time. Now one of my daughters goes to Wildwood which is a wonderful school and she takes the bus and there are only a few kids on it. She was lucky enough to get in via lottery. I would love to live in the neighborhood, but it is more expensive then Portage Park.

  • 67. IB&RGC Mom  |  December 13, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    Also for after school options, Portage Park has a Park Kids program which is a very affordable after school option, but the kids either get bused there from there magnet or selective enrollment schools which provide busing or picked up from Portage Park school since it is across the street. The Irving Park Y also has an after school program and I believe a bus of there own.

    Some of the CPS schools offer their own after school options which often times is different activities or sports through out the week. Some are free or relatively inexpensive and others are fee based programs. Wildwood has some great ones, but often that only keep the kids there till about 4pm.

  • 68. local  |  December 13, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    Kristie – Consider Beverly.

  • 69. Mom2S  |  December 13, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    I live near Old Irving Park (in between Irving Park and Portage Park) and our neighborhood school is Belding. My children are too young for school just yet but I know a few families who send their children to Belding and are happy with the school. My husband and I toured and learned that there is an active parents group and met the principal, who seems really great. Belding seems to be getting a lot of “buzz” as an up and coming school so definitely something to look into. Tour and see what you think. OIP is great for families and is close to the expressway, the blue line and Metra.

  • 70. Portage mama  |  December 13, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    Born and raised in Chicago, have a good feel for neighborhoods growing up in Lakeview, now living in Portage Park. We commute to Lakeview for magnet school.

    You have obviously done your homework. Kuddos to you!

    Portage Park – lots of great bungalows, brand new playground. Recommend homes north of Irving. If you stay east of Central you get into Portage Park School. Do recommend Park Kids program and students are transported there. Call the park to find out exactly 773-685-7235. If you move west of Central and north of Irving, I believe it is Smyser. My neighborhood school, but my kids don’t go there because of half-day kindergarten. No outside after school program. Chicago Academy – good school. Must live within 1.5 radius to get in. The closer to the school the better chance to attend. They do fill spots for 3 & 4 yr old pk – so spots are limited for K. Reinberg – nope, Gray – nope,

    Belmont-Cragin have some ify areas, but they opened a new school Camras in a old high school bldg. Do recommend Belmont between Diversey and Central and Austin area.

    Irving Park – east of pulaski pricy, but east of Elston more affordable. Murphy good option and there is the YMCA and KidWatch for after school options. CICS -Irving Park good option, separate application (charter, not cps magnet). Disney II, but it is magnet, still have proximity lottery as a plus recommend Addison & Pulaski area.

    Galewood very similar to Portage Park, great and affordable bungalows, close to Oak Park. Sayre is a neighborhood school and heard it is good.

    North Center – Bell and Coonley great if you can afford to live in the area. Not sure about after school.

    Jefferson Park – nice area, great for commuters w/ Jeff Park train station, Beaubien good school. Prussing – not sure.

    A lot of the schools on the NWside do not offer full day kindergarten, so make sure you double check that. Our family thought that was important so we looked outside our neighborhood. Another option on the NWside are private, Catholic schools. There are many in the area and they do try to do a good job of offering after-school options. Sometimes public schools get money for after-school but it is not offered throughout the entire year, so check it out.

    A great place that offers after school is JCYS (Jewish Council for Youth Services). They are connected to several magnet schools and care for children until 6pm.

    Good luck and sorry for the long post!

  • 71. anonymous  |  December 13, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    I would double check on which schools offer full day kindergarten these days. Many previously half day programs changed over to full day programs about a month into this school year. (at least a dozen schools) There was little to no advertisement about this and the current info in the options for knowledge book is incorrect for many schools. In fact, you may have to call each school directly for the info because I am not sure if the people downtown all have the correct info.

  • 72. different perspective  |  December 13, 2011 at 9:27 pm

    If your husband will be working on the South Side, then I agree with the poster who suggested Beverly. It’s an extremely nice area–looks more like the suburbs than any other part of Chicago. Sutherland is a good neighborhood school–Kellogg is a real good school but may be magnet.

  • 73. Kristi  |  December 13, 2011 at 11:20 pm

    Beverly does sound great! I suspect it would take me 45-min to an hour to get to Oak park (at school driving hours-rush hour). Anyone ever make the drive?

    Thanks to Portage Mama & IB/RGC for taking the time to break down info on each neighborhood! Super helpful.

  • 74. local  |  December 14, 2011 at 11:32 am

    @ 73 – Depends on where you are in Beverly and need to be in Oak Park, and at what time you travel. One way is out 95th, then up Harlem. Another is up the Dan Ryan, then out the Eisenhower. Not sure if the Tri-State is an option. At 8:30 a.m., it takes me about 30 minutes max from door to door Beverly to Chinatown. Less if starting out at 8:45 a.m. Do deep research on Beverly, especially high school options, before settling down.

  • 75. RL Julia  |  December 14, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    Lindsey – this is all I know about the school’s you listed:

    DisneyII – Magnet. Rolling up so if you have kids in higher grades, it won’t work.
    Thorpe – very strict which is harder for younger kids -esp. boys sometimes.
    Beaubien – mixed neighborhood and test in program. Have only heard great things.
    Bell – ditto Beaubienb -although maybe with a little more pressure/expectation. Was the hot school a few years ago.
    Coonley – as cpsobsessed mom. Have heard mixed (but unverifiable) things about the neighborhood program and/or the integration of the gifted program in the school – but really have idea.
    Murphy -You probably won’t get into Murphy unless you live in the district or make an effort. Its a neighborhood school first and foremost. Nice school. Some arts programming. Starting a gifted program but only in the upper grades (6,7,8).
    CICS -Irving Park – Charter – good hours for working parents.

    Hope this helps.

  • 76. CPS Teacher  |  December 14, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    As a resident of the Beverly area, and a CPS teacher , I can tell you that Kellogg is not a magnet school, but is a great little gem. All of our area schools, Sutherland, Clissold, Kellogg ,Mt. Greenwood and Cassell (the latter 2 located in Mt. Greenwood due West of Beverly) have very good scores and caring and supportive teachers and administration. There are many local students who attend Lenart or Annie Keller gifted schools.
    Options are limited for high school. Morgan Park is our local high school, and as a parent, I chose not to send my children there, and opted for the rather expensive local Catholic Schools. The Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences (Mt. Greenwood) will be changing their open enrollment from 40% neighborhood students to 50% in the 2012-2013 school year.
    The Beverly neighborhood is a very close knit community with a small town feel. It is my biased opinion that our community is worth looking into.

  • 77. SusanU  |  December 20, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    Kristi –

    My family has lived in the north end of the Hermosa neighborhood for about 10 years. We like the quiet neighborhood, bungalows and the neighbors a lot – but our kids don’t attend our neighborhood school (Barry).

    My son attended preschool at Reinberg some years ago. I found their teachers caring but the school is overcrowded. I don’t know their current test scores.

    Disney II is good if you can get in. Llorca is a brand new school – maybe worth a look? CICS also gets good reviews from people I know. But many people in my neighborhood that have the opportunity send their kids outside the neighborhood to school, as do we.

    BTW – my husband grew up in Portage Park. It is a good neighborhood for families too.

    There are some great housing bargains around us now though. It is worth checking out the area between Diversey and Belmont, 4200-4500 West. But schools are a concern.

  • 78. dave4118  |  December 22, 2011 at 7:32 am

    Hi all,
    I didn’t know where to put this, but I feel the information is important and is a change(large? small?) worth noting. Fellow parents at our duaghters school are both CPS employees and they mentioned to us a few weeks ago that CPS will start to implement a different standardized testing system, which replaces the ISAT. This new system is being referred to as COMMON CORE. We subsequently spoke with a family member that is a former CPS principal, she now works for a consulting agency that tutors CPS administrators/teachers; she confirmed that Common Core is a reallity and will soon be rolled out(next academic year maybe). It seems that this has been planned for several years nationwide, with every state gearing up to participate, except for Alaska and Texas-two obstinate hold-outs.

    Common Core is supposed to be a bit more rigorous, and a bit more uniform, for standardized testing purposes. here is the link to the website……it is a bit frustrating that not one peep had been mentioned about this new program being considered. I’m told that programs like the U.of C.’s “everyday math” will seemingly be tossed, for a more standardized teaching system. Has anyone heard about this before?

  • 79. RL Julia  |  December 22, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    Hi dave,
    I don’t know much about the Common Core but my LSC started hearing about it and CPS’s adoption of it either this fall or over the summer. I personally like the idea of a national test as opposed to every state having its own criteria. Who knows how Chicago will fare but I don’t think there will be any surprises – if every kid is taking this test v. the ISAT, systemic adjustments will be made across the board. As it is NCLB standards are more than challenging and the state/CPS are already making adjustments on who is failing since by the current percentages pretty much everyone is. Hope this helps.

  • 80. karen  |  January 12, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    I would like to to pull my child out from kindergarten to homeschool him 2 days each week. He comes home almost every day complaining he’s not learning anything new. We’ve applied for gifted programs and magnet schools with gifted programs for next year, but I don’t want him to be academically bored for the rest of the year. His teacher agrees that this would be greatly beneficial for him. The school principal is not supportive, however, and said she will be marking his absences as unexcused. I understand she can’t make exceptions for every child, so my question is, since compulsory attendance does not occur until age 7/1st grade, will unexcused absences affect his chances of getting into high school later? I would prefer not to pull him completely because he’s made a lot of friends this year! Thank you in advance for any information you can provide!

  • 81. RL Julia  |  January 20, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    Karen – It might effect his being promoted to 1st grade but since Kindergarten is not mandatory, I don’t think that this will stick (especially if he switches schools). It certainly won’t be held against him for high school. Before you start homeschooling twice a week, I guess I’d ask about what sort of in-school accomodations could be made to keep him engaged at school – and if the teacher thinks that socially and emotionally if your son is age appropriate or mature for his age. If he is mature enough, why not have him go to first grade for some subjects or think about skipping him. If he is not particularly mature maybe the “boredom” he is experiencing is also a little bit of social anxiety. I know that’s how it played out with my son in Kindergaren at least. Good Luck!

  • 82. karen  |  January 20, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    Thank you! I have spoken with the principal, but she feels it is up to my son’s teacher to give him one-on-one instructional time which I think is absurd considering there are 30 kids in his class and no assistant. My husband and I discussed having him tested to skip a grade as you mentioned, but he is on the shy side and although he’s made friends this year, the process was slow. It would be something to consider again for next year though. We’re just crossing our fingers that he gets into a different school. Even though it sounds like all schools have their issues, we’re hoping to find a better match for our family. Thank you again for all your information. This site has been an amazing help!

  • 83. Victor A.  |  January 23, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    I recently found the blog and I must say there is a lot of good information. Great job to all! So, I have a question: Is anyone aware or has challenge CPS school boundaries? How was the process and was it worth your time and effort?

  • 84. let's go charter  |  January 25, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    That one was LAST year’s. This is for 2012:

  • 85. jen  |  February 3, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    Hi – relocating to Chicago this summer. If I move to a rental in Burley or Bell or Audubon or Blaine for a couple years (son will be in 1st grade next year) and move out before my daughter starts (K in fall 2014) will she def get in due to sibling preference?

  • 86. Chris  |  February 3, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    “Hi – relocating to Chicago this summer. If I move to a rental in Burley or Bell or Audubon or Blaine for a couple years (son will be in 1st grade next year) and move out before my daughter starts (K in fall 2014) will she def get in due to sibling preference?”

    No. No official “sibling preference” for out of neighborhood kids. Indeed, your son wouldn’t be *guaranteed* to be able to remain (assuming neighborhood division), if the school is over capacity.

  • 87. mil mom  |  February 3, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    85-in any of these schools it is likely you would have to move your kids out if you move out of that district as they are all near or at capacity. If you get into a neighborhood school from outside of the neighborhood through the options lottery you can stay til the kid graduates but if you live in the neighborhood to begin with and then leave the neighborhood you could not continue going there after the current school year unless there was space at the school.

  • 88. jen  |  February 4, 2012 at 11:03 am

    ‘relocating to chicago’ again. Geesh. Bad news for me – I guess I was used to NYC. I emailed CPS and haven’t heard, but does anyone know how I’d apply from out of town (we’re staying here til they finish school, then moving in the summer) to that ‘options lottery’ you refer to for fall 2012? Seems like everyone already has their applications in. Thank you all in advance you are an extremely great help.

  • 89. CPSDepressed  |  February 4, 2012 at 11:13 am

    For your neighborhood school, you simply have to show up with proof of address. The schools very much prefer that you do this long before the first day of school (and it would be less chaos for your kids, IMHO), but legally, you can show up that very first day.

    What you want to make sure, then, is that your apartment is in the attendance area of the school you want to attend. Check the address on the CPS site:, as real estate agents have been known to exaggerate.

    I think the lotteries are now over, yes? So you may be too late for that.

  • 90. cpsobsessed  |  February 4, 2012 at 11:17 am

    Some of the charter schools may still be taking applications, but as stated above, choosing a neighborhood with a good school is your best bet.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 91. Soontobemom  |  February 7, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    We are thinking of moving and our new neighborhood school would be Prescott. Does anyone know about this school? What are the chances of getting into Burley if we are on the border?(one block out of attendance area for burley) thanks for your help! We are very stressed about this.

  • 92. j  |  February 14, 2012 at 9:45 am

    Do you have to reprove residency every year for neighborhood schools? How do they know people stay in the neighborhood after the entry point years?

  • 93. Chris  |  February 14, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    “Do you have to reprove residency every year for neighborhood schools? How do they know people stay in the neighborhood after the entry point years?”

    Depends. Would you trust *all* the other parents to not rat you out? Would you list your former address in the school directory? No land line?

    You could do it, but you could end up with your kid(s) needing to change schools mid-year, too.

  • 94. cpsobsessed  |  February 14, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    Schools do not ask everyone to prove residency every year. And it depends a lot on the school. Most CPS schools tend to slowly lose students over time as families move to the suburbs etc (at least that is the way it used to be.) So they tend to become more lax about caring about residency over time. Most have a “once you’re in, you’re in” policy.
    Even Bell, which is bursting at the seams, I’ve heard parents grumble about wanting to remove out-of-district kids but it takes a certain tough principal to crack down on this, which I believe Bell has never resorted to.
    So for the most part, you are probably safe after year one. School offices are WAY too busy to check every address and to recognize one that is out of the zone.

    I imagine a school *could* enforce this if they felt it was necessary. My son’s school has become very full in the course of 3 years and they sent a note saying that all students outside the options programs must be in the neighborhood. but they did nothing to enforce this that I can tell (other than for entering Kindergarte/PK kids and possibly other crowded grades.) Many kids in the older grades are out-of-zone but those grades are very very sparsely populated so I’m sure they aren’t checking anything.

  • 95. RL Julia  |  February 14, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    At my neighborhood school they actually are aware of who is out the boundary etc… but families can move around a lot and most people want to keep their kids at the school they are used to and/or where the other kids in their family are going. The trick then is for the oldest kid in an out of boundary family. If you are entering in Kindergarten or 1st grade (which are the fullest) the answer is probably not as likely to be yes as it would be if your child is looking to enter later and/or in a smaller class. Given that you are talking about Burley and it is my understanding that Burley is a desirable school to go to, I would think that in this case you should assume that being one block outside of the catchement area is not any better than being six blocks from the catchement area. A brief google search of Prescott would indicate that it is also a lovely school to go to. Perhaps a visit would allay your fears.

  • 96. Tamara  |  February 29, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    Anyone have any info on before/after school care in the Beverly area? My daughter will be attending Sutherland in the fall for kindergarten but her spot in the full-day program is not guaranteed. Both me and my husband work full time and need before and after school care for her. Unfortunately her pre-school doesn’t offer it. Any suggestions would be much appreciated!

  • 97. Liz  |  March 17, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    Has anyone heard any news lately about Jahn? They were at the NPN school fair this year, and very impressive to talk with live. The school seems to be inputting many great new programs and partnerships with museums in the city. However, the test scores are not great. And the attendance as well is lower – meaning – you can definitely get in, without even worrying about the lottery. People are not banging the doors down to try to get in through the lottery. What I do like, there are many spanish speaking kids there, so while not immersion, there is great access to spanish language. And I believe they offer spanish classes as well. It was referenced above in the Q & A about other neighborhood schools, saying:

    “As a school is “up-and-coming” there is often room to lottery into the school as they need to keep growing. Typically after a few years when these schools get popular and people seek them out or move into the neighborhood they stop taking out-of-hood kids. This is what’s happened at North side schools like Nettelhorst, Burley, Blaine, Waters, Coonley, and other. Getting into a growing school where parents are involved is often a great way to get your foot in the door in a school with like-minded parents who want to help their local school flourish. These schools often attend the NPN school fair as they’re more actively seeking students. Some that come to mind on the North side now are Pierce, Jahn, Hamilton, and Prescott. Let me know if there are others you know of outside my little sphere of knowledge.”

    However – not sure if that means it is up and coming or simply that they attended the NPN school fair, which Jahn did, but may or may not be actually on an upswing. Thoughts? Any good word out there about Jahn? I am rooting for it.

  • 98. Emily  |  March 25, 2012 at 9:03 pm

    Is there any data available on tracking students who attend Blaine or Burley to see where they apply & attend high school? Are they going to Walter Payton? Whitney Young? etc…what percentage? I am not curious about the “neighborhood” high school, but instead the statistics on what high schools students test into after attending these elementary schools.

  • 99. not an expert  |  March 27, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    I just spoke with someone from OAE (Zack Phillips – so nice) and from what I understood, they don’t really use the classical percentile scores to determine the rank. They use the raw score. The percentiles are quite indicative but, for example – if you’re in the same tier as someone else and get the same percentile marks, it doesn’t necessarily mean you got the same exact score. There could still be as much as a ten point difference in the raw score.

    He also confirmed that in the event of a tie, the math score is used to break the tie.

  • 100. Tier4Worrier  |  April 8, 2012 at 6:08 am

    I hope I’m posting to the right area. My 6th grade, private school daughter was not accepted to any Academic Center, tier 4, score 817. We are thinking of transferring her to our local public school which is Ebinger. (We know the private schools aren’t geared for success on ISAT, which actually is why we chose a private school; to avoid the huge pressure of performing on a test.). We are second guessing ourselves as high school looms ever closer. Ebinger has solid scores for a neighborhood school, but I was hoping someone may have insight to the new principal, academic rigor, bullying, student and parent community within the school. Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

  • 101. RL Julia  |  April 8, 2012 at 7:17 am

    @100 – what did you think when you visited Ebinger? Probably the best way to get answers to some of your questions is to schedule a meeting with the principal and/or assistant principal and then talk to someone on the PTA or LSC. Ask if the school uses any sort of “social curriculum” ( I like Responsive Classroom but there are lots out there). Ask how bullying is handled. You should be able to get an idea if the school would work for your daughter with their answers. Good luck and be sure to post your findings/results!

  • 102. WRP Mom  |  April 8, 2012 at 7:57 am

    100 Tier4Worrier-A score of 817 is above the tier 4 cutoff for Lane and also would have given her a rank spot at Taft. Not a bad score at all. I’m thinking you didn’t put down either of these schools on your application or your daughter would have received a 1st round offer. Whether you have her stay at her present school or not, I strongly suggest that when you apply for high schools, you “cast a wide net”. The top tier SEHS’s like Northside are not the only acceptable choices out there, as has been discussed on other threads. Don’t rule out the various IB programs, Von Steuben, CICS Northtown etc. Many families go to open houses during the fall of 7th grade.

  • 103. HS Mom  |  April 8, 2012 at 9:14 am

    Ebinger looks like a very good school. I’m not sure what your current situation is and why you are looking to make a move. Just as a warning, there is a real danger transferring schools at 7th grade. I’m not saying that this is your case but I have seen kids transfer from private to public assuming that they will get straight A’s and don’t for various reasons. As far as schools teaching to the test, I guess it depends on the school, but for the most part, any good school has some test prep but the program is not exactly “geared toward success on ISAT”. The majority of time is spent on academics – essays and writing projects, labs and science fair, constitution exam and history fair, accelerated reader, sometimes language. These would all be good inquiries to make at your school. If test prep is what you’re looking for, best to take a class outside of school. Keeping up with the academic projects and assignments and prepping for tests are extremely consuming, no cake walk at the better CPS schools. Best of luck to you and others with 7th graders. Now – back to the threads about adding more SE and IB programs so that families don’t have to feel pressured to groom their kids with test prep and selecting schools based upon the perceived HS chances.

  • 104. cpsobsessed  |  April 8, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    @frawgs: the private school have a good rate of placing kids in the SE high schools. If you like the current school, I agree with the previous poster who suggested supplementing with test prep materials and/or classes.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 105. cpsobsessed  |  April 8, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    @WRPmom: great to re-iterate the “cast a wide net”. That should be this blog’s motto!

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 106. Tier4Worrier  |  April 8, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    Thank you all very much. I will make the contacts at Ebinger that were suggested; parents, LSC, (some of which I’ve already started) etc. I’ve seen “Buckle Down” ISAT practice books, and know some schools use those. I’ll also look into classes.

    We are rethinking CPS because we’d like our daughter to go to a SEHS (it’s that or move- our local HS is Taft), and who better to prepare her than a Chicago elementary school or academic center. (Right?) We are hoping that Ebinger may be a good fit.

    We did apply to the academic centers at Taft and Lane (and Whitney Young). No offers but a letter saying first responses are due back by April 13 and that a second round will be sent out afterwards. The letter also stated it was best to make alternate plans. So, definitely not holding my breath for any late offers. Thank you again. CPSO has been a life line!

  • 107. WRP Mom  |  April 8, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    Something doesn’t sound right. If your daughter’s score was 817, you should have received an offer from Lane. The cutoff for tier 4 is 814.4. Maybe you should call OAE for clarification.

  • 108. Kat P.  |  April 11, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    Hi, does someone know if I can get my sonin the neighborhood school where I work?

  • 109. BurleyBound???  |  April 12, 2012 at 9:28 am

    Prescott School….any thoughts or comments?

  • 110. RL Julia  |  April 12, 2012 at 10:36 am

    I would give Taft a second look – especially at the IB program before completely discounting it. It has a lot to offer. With an 817 – your daughter should have also been offered a spot at Taft AC. Might be worth a call to the central office -or at least to the Taft counselor (Ms. Eischen) /AC program director (Ms. Asvos) to see what’s up.

  • 111. Albany Park Mom  |  April 19, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    Does anyone have any info on two new elementary schools on the NW side: Lorca & Camras? I believe that they both opened last year. Thanks!

  • 112. KS  |  April 25, 2012 at 10:25 am

    Hi guys. My daughter is 3 yr. old and we live in the Nettelhorst neighborhood. I started looking more into it and I am not quite comfortable with the academic performance/scores at Nettelhorst. In addition, I have serious issues with them using Math Trailblazers. I have a graduate degree in mathematics and this seems like “math for kids who will never do anything serious with math.” How many other CPS schools are using this approach to teaching math? Do they use Trailblazers at Blaine, Bell, Lincoln Park?

    Anyway, I know there has been a lot of good publicity about Nettelhorst, and I love the idea of supporting the neighborhood school , but wanted to see what parents have to say about it. Also, do we know where kids end up after 8 years at Nettelhorst? What high schools do they get into?

    Thank you!

  • 113. RL Julia  |  May 3, 2012 at 9:43 am

    For a neighborhood CPS school (and several non-neighborhood schools) Nettelhorst actually has good test scores.

    Every math curriculum has it good and bad points, it supporters and those who can’t stand it. Lots of CPS schools use Everyday Math.

    Since I believe a group of parents from Nettelhorst wrote a book about revitalizing the school and “taking back” the neighborhood etc… I’d imagine that it might be hard to find an unenthusiastic parent easily. I’d say you are pretty lucky.

    Remember a school might have an awesome early education component but not such a strong middle years component

    Its hard to predict what the high school enviroment will be in eight years. Honestly, what is going on there now might not even be relevant in eight years. Eight years ago Northside College Prep and Payton hadn’t even graduated their first class of students.

  • 114. Albany Park Mom  |  May 3, 2012 at 10:50 am

    Hi all,
    Thinking about moving to the Dunning neighborhood on the far NW side. Any feedback on the elementary schools there? Locke? Bridge? Canty? Dever?

    Thank you!

  • 115. RL Julia  |  May 3, 2012 at 11:09 am

    Have a co-worker with two kids at Bridge -she likes it.
    Locke has a Middle Years IB program.

  • 116. jrwillliams  |  May 19, 2012 at 10:43 pm

    Let me start by saying kudos on your site. It’s great.

    My husband and I started researching preschools for our son in April. It seems like everything had to be in for CPS last October. We went to our neighborhood school and they said they had a 200 person waiting list! Are our only other options an expensive private school or waiting until 2013 to get him into kindergarten? What other suggestions, if any, would you have?


  • 117. cpsobsessed  |  May 19, 2012 at 10:46 pm

    I am somewhat out of the preK loop now, but the park district used to be the go-to option before Blago gave us free preK. Yes, 5 years ago, everyone paid for preschool!
    There is at least one co-op program called Families Together. Perhaps others?
    Also, some preKs may offer 3 day options that are less pricey than every day options.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 118. Working mommy of 2  |  May 20, 2012 at 1:27 am

    We sent our 3-year-old to a park district Pre-K program this year and have been mostly happy with it. We had applied to our local CPS school but there wasn’t space for him. I wasn’t sure I wanted him to go to school five days a week at age 3 anyway, so I wasn’t too disappointed about getting shut out of CPS.

    Some pros about park district: 1) Variety of times/days to choose from. The schedule comes out at the end of July. Some programs allow you to register for the entire year, others for just one session (fall) and then you have to keep re-registering. 2) Cost. It is definitely the cheapest option of the pay options.

    Some cons about the park district: 1) I don’t think the “teachers” are actually certified teachers. They will do ABCs and numbers and shapes but they lack the depth that some of the better CPS schools offer. That said, it can vary from park district to park district. For our son’s first year, I really just wanted him to get used to separating from me (it wasn’t fun at the beginning) and it definitely allowed us to do that. He is a different kid for sure than he was in the fall. 2) It’s just as competitive to get into as CPS. Better be ready to hit the button at 9 a.m. sharp on registration day.

    I also have friends who were happy with the YMCA program. It’s more $$$ than park district but less than the private schools.

  • 119. jrwillliams  |  May 20, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    Thanks for your help cpsobsessed and Working mommy of 2! I’ll look into those programs.

  • 120. Albany park mom  |  May 20, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    Co-ops are a good option. Our child goes to North Park Covenant Church co-op. While it is in a church, the school is secular. We love it there! Depending on your child’s age, there may or may not be a wait list. It certainly isn’t 200!

  • 121. cpsobsessed  |  May 20, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    Joining NPN (neighborhood parents network) costs about $40 but can be a good investment when searching for pre-k. They maintain a list, plus the message board is great for info.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 122. Future CPS Kinder Mom  |  June 6, 2012 at 10:15 pm

    Wondering if anyone can point me in the right direction. My sister in law is currently a science teacher in a suburban high school. She is also certified to teach ELL. She is considering leaving her suburban school to teach in CPS, if she can find the right position. She is looking for a position on the south side or in the downtown area. Possibly near west side as well, although I am not entirely sure. Can anyone tell me where she can find out about open high school science or ELL teaching positions for this coming fall? Also, if you know of a position in a specific high school I know she would love to hear about it. Thank you!

  • 123. Eric  |  June 18, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    The principal at my sons school is transferring him to another school because we moved a block out of the district. I wanna keep him in that school and happy where we now live. Is there anything that can be done before I move?

  • 124. Danielle Brink  |  June 25, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    My daughter is accepted by AC of Taft and La Salle Language Academy. She is a honor roll student graduated from one of the best gifted elementary school. We like the location of La Salle over Taft to our house, but if we know which one is stronger in academy , Ac vs. Magnet, then we will stay with it.

  • 125. RL Julia  |  June 26, 2012 at 10:19 am

    Don’t think you can go wrong with either way. One nice thing about Taft is that your child will have a strong possibility of going to the Taft IB program. I also like Taft’s schedule – all kids take Math, Science, English and History but also PE, Art, a language and computers both years. My son just graduated out of 8th grade and was able to place into Geometry and Spanish 2 (with his 8th grade classes giving him high school credit). It remains to be seen if he will get high school credit for the computer class (two year program = one HS credit) and Biology which he took this year. Additionally, if your daughter is already doing Algebra, Taft can accommodate her and place her into whatever the next class is.
    I don’t know much about LaSalle so I can’t really compare. All I can say is that so far, I have been impressed at Taft’s ability to have accelerated my son in two years and allowed him to enter high school a little ahead of the game. Its nice since there are plenty of other kids coming in where he is and it will give him some flexibility later in high school to do more of whatever he is interested in. Additionally, while he didn’t really want to stay at Taft for high school, I think the idea that he had a fall back that was pretty certain was comforting to him.

  • 126. anonymous  |  July 5, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    Has anyone else’s school started using “Right at School” to manage their afterschool classes? Last year great classes were offered at our school by 21st century kids that were only $69 for a ten week session, and often had promo codes to make it even less expensive. Now those same classes must be registered through Right at School and are $100 each for 9 weeks, plus a $60 reg fee. Plus, I have to register right now to avoid getting shut out, and will pay 3% additional finance fee if I want to pay in two installments! I know this might not seem like a lot to some but it is a big deal to our family.

  • 127. RL Julia  |  July 6, 2012 at 11:30 am

    Our neighborhood school used Right at School last year. I have no idea what they are doing this year – but last year’s model and the pricing seemed a little too good to be true – however the pricing model you are describing sounds really different. I’d call the company directly and let them know how they are shutting you/your family out with and see if you can’t at least negotiatie the 3% finance fee away.

    Good Luck!

  • 128. sirrahh  |  July 7, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    @124 – I want to echo everything RLJulia said about Taft and add that I think it would be hard to be an incoming 7th grader in a program with a language emphasis. I also think it would be hard socially to be the new kid in a program with the same core group for 8 years. And you don’t want social issues to interfere with grades in the oh so important 7th grade.

  • 129. anonymouse teacher  |  July 7, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    @126, I’d check out the chicago park district. They have the some of the least expensive after care in the city. The quality can really be questionable in some places though. My school is using RAS this fall to replace the free after school sports and programming teachers used to do since we can’t offer it anymore. Their childcare costs are reasonable at $5 an hour, but I haven’t seen what they are charging for specialty classes like martial arts or soccer or dance.

  • 130. CPSMom  |  July 7, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    @ 124, 128. Conversely, getting mostly A’s in 7th (what selective enrollment schools look for) may be easier to achieve in an at level neighborhood school, than an Academic Center that has advanced curriculum. Transcripts do not differentiate what level a class was, only if it was reading or math (etc.) and whether or not they had an A. So, an A in math from a neighborhood school would outrank a B from an advanced math class at an Academic Center. The best bet in determining the best fit is to know your child not just academically, but also socially. These are tough decisions.

  • 131. After school program  |  July 7, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    Anonymous teacher, teachers certainly CAN still do the same after school classes they did in past years. They just don’t want to now because they don’t want to get home later like the rest of us working stiffs.This information came to me straight from a card carrying ctu member at my neighborhood school.

  • 132. anonymouse teacher  |  July 7, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    131, actually, I was referring to the fact that my principal was told our school shouldn’t bother applying for the grant money that supplies the after school program because our low income numbers aren’t high enough that we aren’t likely to qualify this fall and grant money is being reduced each year. So, because she didn’t want to leave families without any options (even though it isn’t the school’s job to take care of kids outside of school hours) she brought in this program to ensure families had coverage.
    But, I do believe some schools will cancel the voluntarily staffed program that CPS has historically offered simply because teachers who used to work that program will now be using that time to staff the longer day and to spend large amounts of time reworking or rewriting curriculum to align with Common Core standards. I can’t blame them and remember a heated discussion about it at my school last spring before we truly understood the massive changes that are happening. I think families will be glad that teachers are spending that time creating quality curriculum instead of running a volleyball club. With all the extra homework and requirements that are coming down the pipes, kids and teachers aren’t going to have time for many extra curricular activities anyway. We are going to need every single minute just to keep our heads above all the hours of work that is headed our way. CPS is adjusting the recommended homework minutes as we speak, but I am pretty sure they won’t come close to what is actually going to be required.

  • 133. CPSMom&Teacher  |  July 8, 2012 at 7:52 am

    @ 131. “They [teachers] just don’t want to now because they don’t want to get home later like the rest of us working stiffs.” Remember, most teachers have an additional two hours of work (grading papers, organizing materials etc) once they get home each night. Teaching is a profession that requires a good deal of dedicated time outside of the classroom.

  • 134. CPSMom&Teacher  |  July 8, 2012 at 9:13 am

    I hope parents/teachers approach the longer school day with an open mind. A small private school (230 students total) near my home has always had a school day of 8:40am – 3:20pm. These kids do well academically. There is recess connected to lunch, and there is a wide variety of after school programs including travel basketball, volleyball, track, cross country teams, and many academic clubs starting in 4th grade. I do believe with the CPS extended day (mostly due to adding recess to put us on par with the national average), our students can still participate in after school programs. Each school will need to consider their end of day time and how that affects local park district offerings. (I’m glad to hear CPS is reworking the recommended homework time.)

    Thoughtful planning and open communication with each school’s community is needed. All the kinks will not be worked out in the first year. However, as a CPS teacher of 16 years, I truly believe these changes will be good for our students and our city.

  • 135. RL Julia  |  July 9, 2012 at 10:03 am

    @130 – my son did not find the work at Taft for 7th grade to be overwhelmingly difficult or a huge adjustment – if you want that, go to Whitney. Like many (all?) schools, I think there is a huge accomodation/grade inflation/forgiveness policy for 7th grade grades. However, the rubber really hit the road academically in 8th grade -no slacking allowed then.

  • 136. Rebekah Ray Nguyen  |  July 17, 2012 at 4:27 am

    Thanks for all the information and responses here. What do you know about navigating CPS with an IEP? My oldest is 4 and was in a blended classroom at Rogers this past year. There doesn’t seem to be any mechanism to make a choice for an IEP–you just go where they place you and they tell you about it when they’re good and ready. Are there any ways to make any choices about where she goes, or to even figure out if it would be better somewhere else?

  • 137. RL Julia  |  July 18, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    Depending on what your child’s IEP concerns, there may or may not be a school with a special program for her – you also need to consider if her IEP is more permanent in nature or not. It is my understanding you should be able to apply to any school you’d like but it really depends on the nature of her IEP as to whether or not she’d be considered a strong candidate. I also think that because of her IEP, she might be considered in a separate category -i.e. compete against other kids with IEPs rather than in the general pool.

    That being said, you will probably have more luck getting her into a test-in school rather than a different neighborhood school.

  • 138. Logan Square Mom  |  August 7, 2012 at 8:46 am

    We’ve lived in Logan Square for 7 years and absolutely love the neighborhood. Now that our daughter is 2 we have become more aware of the whole school topic. This site is an incredible resource! As a result, the thought of moving to an area of Chicago with better schools has become a tough realization. Our neighborhood school (Darwin) does not seem like a good option. Are there any up and coming CPS schools in Logan Square/Bucktown? The test scores at Goethe seem like they have improved somewhat but we still have uncertainty.

  • 139. LSMom  |  August 7, 2012 at 9:00 am

    Hi fellow Logan Square mom — Goethe is up and coming, and has a really active parents group (there’s a FOGS Yahoo discussion forum). I know several families who send their kids there and love it. When I visited to drop off our preschool application I got a great impression (unfortunately, we didn’t get in).

    Darwin has a brand new parents group, but it is just getting off the ground, and I am not ready to take a chance with it (it’s our neighborhood school as well). In Bucktown there’s Pulaski and Burr, and it can’t hurt to take a shot at Drummond (age 3 entry year and long odds). We’re going to cross our fingers and see what happens in the lottery/gifted& classical process, we’re hoping to make it work.

  • 140. cpsobsessed  |  August 7, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    So are Pulaski and Burr considered “acceptable” options for elem? (Acceptable being a relative term, of course.)

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 141. LSMom  |  August 7, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    It’s hard to say, I haven’t taken tours but they both have some buzz, and I know that some posters here have accepted offers to Burr. The scores are pretty bad for both, but I would say that they are worth at least investigating. That said, if we don’t hit the lottery/testing jackpot I’m not entirely sure what we’ll do.

  • 142. Sped Mom  |  August 7, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    @ 136. Rebekah Ray Nguyen

    Go visit the Family Resource Center on Disabilities now. You need to learn exactly what your child needs to enable her to learn (socially, emotionally and academically) and find the schools where you think she might thrive. Start with her current school. What’s her current level of performance and what would be measurable goals for her to enable her to meet state ed standards next year? Can the school deliver? If not, where in CPS could her needs be met. That would be discussed in an IEP meeting. See too.

  • 143. Teacher4321  |  August 7, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    If your child has a an IEP and his/her needs can be met in a regular classroom you are free to apply to all schools. Actually you are free to apply to all schools regardless. However, a mainstream classroom may or may not be the least restrictive environment for your child, this needs to be discussed by the entire team at your child’s IEP team. The options application to my knowledge doesn’t have a place where you need to check that your child has an IEP because, there is no need for them to know if your child does. It is marked on the SE application in case your child needs testing accommodations. If your child is 4, will it be their second year in a blended program? If so, schedule a meeting with your child’s teachers after the first month of school to talk about your child’s progress over the last and talk to the IEP team about your concerns about Kindergarten.

  • 144. Logan Square Mom  |  August 8, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    139. and 141. Thanks LS Mom! We are keeping Goethe in mind and watching progress. I’ve actually had a Bucktown Mom mention that Pulaski may be the back up school for her kids so your thoughts were good to hear. We will have to investigate Burr – thank you so much for your insight. Drummond is definitely on our list. It is worth a shot!

    Has anyone heard anything about Chopin? During a recent search, I discovered this school was rated well for ISAT scores and against other CPS performance. It is definitely close to Logan Square but I have not heard anything about Chopin.

    Thanks again LS Mom!

  • 145. LSMom  |  August 8, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    Chopin is interesting, the scores are great and they made Chicago Magazine’s list of schools to watch. I think a parent on NPN or here mentioned trying to take a tour and that the administration wasn’t very receptive. There’s an interesting article on the school here, sounds a little heavy on the test prep though:

  • 146. Uniforms? Yay or Nay?  |  August 9, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    Can we talk about the pros and cons of uniforms for public elementary schools? Some vocal parents at my neighborhood school are trying to get rid of our uniform policy. They state things like “those of us who are interested in fashion” think uniforms are not appropriate. And “students need to learn to dress appropriately for working in the real world”.

    What do others think?

  • 147. cpsobsessed  |  August 9, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    Fun question that we haven’t discussed! I’ll post it as a main entry…

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 148. db  |  August 9, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    @146 – I think uniforms are completely unnecessary. In fact, I’m so dead set against them that I didn’t consider any acceptances from schools that have them. I think public elementary schools have no reason to have them unless there is a gang problem. Children should be able to dress themselves and have fun with their clothes. They get so few choices and have so little control at this age, it’s important for them to develop the skills to make good choices.

  • 149. my 2 cents on uniform  |  August 9, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    I understand the schools reasoning for having uniforms. It helps the children not feel so bad if they can not afford the lastest and most expensive cloths, but I do think that schools that do uniforms should have more of a choice. Do you know how hard it is to keep a kindergarteners white shirt clean…. How about blue, red, green or yellow shirt with blue, tan or black pants….. What about they way Namaste does it, white or grey shirt with ANY pants, skirt or shorts they want. Could be pink, could be red. Just my 2 cents on uniforms.

  • 150. Logan Square Dad Going to Burr  |  August 9, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    Our local school is Chase, not an option, and we were accepted to Burr through the lottery. The test scores are getting better every year, we like the principal, and it is a relatively small school. I believe the test scores will be equal to the Lakeview / North Center / Lincoln Park schools in a few years. Burr has a uniform and I couldn’t be happier.

  • 151. kate  |  August 9, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    Does “uniform” and “dress code” mean the same thing? Many schools have a “dress code” but no specific “uniform”.

  • 152. beenThere  |  August 9, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    151 – no — uniform is just that. The school states exactly what to wear and where to purchase it. Dress Code states what is acceptable. You would be surprised what kids wear around 6th grade. Lots of skin, underwear showing and inappropriate message tshirts.

  • 153. kate  |  August 9, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    gotcha. was under the assumption that parents often refer to a “uniform” when the school really only has rules concerning color, exclusions on “decals/decorations”, etc. thanks.

  • 154. CPSMom&Teacher  |  August 10, 2012 at 7:29 am

    I am for uniforms. As a teacher, I see far fewer fights between girls that are often clothing based. “Who does she think she is?”, “Her clothes don’t fit.” Uniforms certainly remove an x factor of angst and source of teasing. (Not to mention $$$ for parents.) I do teach middle school, so I see far more taunting/fighting than a primary school teacher would. Bullying among girls is more difficult to spot than with boys. Uniforms help avoid a classic bullying opportunity. My school does have spirit days that allow the students to express themselves via their clothing. The uniform is blue pants (jeans are allowed) and a white or blue shirt.

    My daughter’s school has a uniform. As a parent, I am happy to go along with the school’s policy.

  • 155. Idea88  |  August 10, 2012 at 7:56 am

    154 – Yes, i totally agree. The uniform takes opportunity for problems. As for expressing yourself….do it on the weekends.

  • 156. RL Julia  |  August 10, 2012 at 10:42 am

    I am all for an enforced dress code or uniform – especially for middle schoolers (5,6,7,8). Having two such aged children I, I found their having a uniform to be very helpful. They hated it – so it gave them something concrete to hate (besides everything else), it helped keep down clothing costs during years where they were growing A LOT (as in out their shoes and pants every four to six months). Also – their taste in clothing (and to be fair, their friends) definitely could use some fine tuning and I am a parent who would prefer not to start every day as the clothing police.
    Could the dress codes been a little more varied? Yes. I am totally in agreement about the white shirts – and sweaters – c’mon where can one find a pure white boy’s sweatshirt and a boy willing to wear it? Never mind how to keep it clean. One can only bleach a thing so much. What’s the matter with navy??

  • 157. Alcott parent  |  August 12, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    Alcott in Lincoln Park also has a loud group working toward the demise of our uniform policy – a policy we struggled to get into place and which works well. (we actually do have a true uniform policy not a dress code)

    LSC says they control this policy. It’s disturbing because the LSC seems to represent Lincoln Park wealth, not the 75% who come from outside Lincoln Park and have no money to compete with Lincoln Park fashionistas.

    Important issues have languished and never been added to an LSC agenda. Yes this issue was mentioned on the parental yahoo group one week and was on LSC’s agenda the next.

    Leaves me sad and heavy heartedly wondering if the values of Alcott are ones that I want my kids to have.

  • 158. CPSMom&Teacher  |  August 12, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    @157 So clothing is distracting the LSC from true academic progress? Sounds like what would happen in the classroom, too!

    When I have parents question the school’s uniform policy it’s usually moms who want their daughters to stand out via their clothing. (Not mothers of sons, or fathers of daughters.) Fortunately, administration is sticking to the belief of academics first: Stand out as an academic, athlete, good citizen. Being fashionistas…as Idea88 said, save it for the weekends.

    Hope your administration stands firm. Best of Luck!

  • 159. Wendy  |  August 14, 2012 at 8:20 am

    Are there any Courtenay families out there? We were offered a spot for K. I like the smaller class sizes, small school and it looks good on paper but would love to hear some feedback from current parents.

  • 160. Uniforms  |  August 14, 2012 at 11:47 am

    Would a school really change the uniform or dresscode right in the middle of the year? Seems like that would be a slap in the face for parents who bought clothing withing the current guidelines.

    Why wouldn’t a school want a uniform? I don’t get it.

  • 161. LSMom  |  August 14, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    I’d strongly prefer to send my kids to schools without a uniform. Many of the schools require unattractive color combinations that I would rather not buy. It would be expensive to buy two sets of clothing, unless i want them to wear drab clothing on the weekends too. I can see that they are useful in places where gangs are an issue, but I’d rather not send them to a school with a gang problem.

    It seems like many of the most desirable schools in the CPS system do not have uniforms, although they do tend to be the schools that are in affluent areas or magnets.

    I buy inexpensive clothes from Target, resale shops, and ebay, and I’m definitely not a Lincoln Park fashionista. Ultimately, we may not have a choice, but I am hoping to avoid uniforms.

  • 162. Uniforms  |  August 14, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    LSMom – what would you consider unattractive color combinations? Would an attractive combination be more palatable to you?

    I don’t get the mind of a non-uniform person and would like to understand.

  • 163. Idea99  |  August 14, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    162 — I was thinking the same thing. Unattractive color combinations?

  • 164. mom2  |  August 14, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    I have to comment here. Growing up in the suburbs, none of the schools had uniforms. The only exception were some catholic schools. When I encountered public schools in the city with uniforms, they were always the schools in the poor neighborhoods, schools with lower test scores, buildings that appeared to be falling apart, etc. When asked about why the schools had uniforms, the usual answer was that it helped with gang issues and that way everyone was “the same.”

    I know that isn’t the only benefit to uniforms, but I can tell you that most people I know now emotionally associate uniforms with very negative school situations (or parochial). The “better” schools did not (do not) have uniforms. The thinking is…Look at any great public school in the suburb. Do they have uniforms? If not, why would we want to imitate the schools that aren’t as good?

    I buy clothes for my kids at Walmart, Target, Kohls and get quite a few hand-me-downs. I am not interested in showing off with clothing and it might be less expensive to have uniforms (maybe although you still have to buy the uniforms and keep them clean or buy more, etc.)

    I guess I get the negative vibe with uniforms and understand why some parents are against them. I’m certain that this feeling is driving some of the now better schools into wanting to do away with their uniforms.

  • 165. LSMom  |  August 14, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    As far as drab, take Nettlehorst. They ask for white, light blue, or navy blue tops with blue or black pants. That is not an especially attractive color palate. Navy top and black pants? I also agree with @mom2, and would guess that is part of the Alcott effort to abandon uniforms — it is not something I associate with the most appealing schools. Of course, there are some uniform schools I’d be lucky to get into, and I’d just suck it up.

  • 166. Tues87day  |  August 14, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    164. Fine, do away with uniforms….but enforce a dress code. It’s hard to teach a class with lots of skin and WTF tshirts.

  • 167. noBrainEr  |  August 14, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    dress code = black, navy or khaki pants (or shorts in those colors in the hot weather). Polo shirts = solid navy, red or white. How hard is that?

  • 168. okEEdoEE4  |  August 14, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    my child went to a CPS grammar school where just about anything was ok. There was a dress code — rarely enforced. Now in private hs – polo shirt (stipe or solid, no logos of other schools or sports teams) and khaki pants (any color) with belt loops and a belt and dress shoes. This makes for a effortless morning.

  • 169. Uniforms  |  August 14, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    Okay, I just don’t get you LSMom.

    No one says you have to wear navy and black together. You are imputing that. Yours is “it’s icky don’t like that color mommy” kind of reaction rather than a reasoned opinion on what is best for kids and teachers. Now I get it. Thank you.

  • 170. LSMom  |  August 14, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    I think dress codes are a fine idea. Most schools don’t seem to allow red shirts or khaki pants, and I don’t think anyone is arguing that uniforms are hard, just not what I would chose to buy/put on my kids.

    But if I were to win the lottery big time and get into Drummond I will happily dress my child in a white top and navy pants!

  • 171. LSMom  |  August 14, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    @ uniforms, no, that’s your reading, which is not an especially reasoned one. Most CPS school uniforms consist of a limited, drab palate. If it were truly best for teachers and students, that would be different, but again, most of the top CPS schools do not have uniforms. The good suburban schools do not have uniforms. You have no evidence for your belief that school uniforms are best for students.

  • 172. OhYeah  |  August 14, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    170. red shirt + khaki pants = Target employee

  • 173. Wendy5  |  August 14, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    171 LSMom – most suburban schools don’t have gangbangers on the playground either.

  • 174. mom2  |  August 14, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    My kids attend CPS schools. Neither of my kids attend a school with uniforms. They all have dress codes. Dress codes are much different than uniforms. Dress codes are things like “skirts and shorts must be knee length or below”, “no hats in school”, “no shirts with swear words”, etc. Just like in an office setting, I am pretty sure all schools have that, don’t they?

  • 175. LSMom  |  August 14, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    I do think they can make sense for some schools, if there’s a gang issue.

    I was curious about the research on uniforms and found this —

    It does sound like there’s some positive impact on attendance and teacher retention but no impact on performance or behavior.

    All I’m saying is, my preference is to not have uniforms (and to not send my kids to a school where uniforms are necessary to prevent gang fights). I just wanted to provide the relatively anti-uniform perspective, overall there’s many more important issues to deal with in CPS.

  • 176. Uniforms  |  August 14, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    The anti-uniform stance is pretty much based upon what I thought. Thanks for confirming.

  • 177. LSMom  |  August 14, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    Glad I was able to clarify for you that uniforms do not change student behavior or academic performance.

  • 178. Gunnery Sgt Hartman  |  August 14, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    Red shirts and khakis would make your kids look like Target employees.

  • 179. Uniforms  |  August 14, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    Red and khaki are drab and do not constitute an attractive color palate. I am against it. I will find a school with an acceptable color palate.

  • 180. ?What?  |  August 14, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    179 i hope u r kidding

  • 181. OutsideLookingIn  |  August 14, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    Dear Parents: in a show of solidarity, please wear white shirts and blue pants every day of the school year for 8+ years. If you don’t, you will be known to all as a superficial, pampered, elitist, fashionista.

    Exceptions: Target employees

  • 182. SpellingB  |  August 14, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    179 — palette?

  • 183. Uniforms  |  August 14, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    Great idea, 181. We’d all save so much money and free ourselves from fashion distractions that we could afford to send our kids to private schools.

  • 184. Uniforms  |  August 14, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    183 – yep, that’s what LSmom calls that missing “it” factor CPS uniforms just don’t have.

    “most CPS school uniforms consist of a limited, drab palate.”

    “They ask for white, light blue, or navy blue tops with blue or black pants. That is not an especially attractive color palate.”

  • 185. LSMom  |  August 14, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    Sorry, I mistyped. Bet it wouldn’t have happened if I was wearing a white polo and blue polyester pants.

  • 186. You don't know what you're missing  |  August 14, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    LOVE uniforms, don’t care about drab, lack of individual expression bla bla. Let ’em be creative with their hair/nails. No fights with middle schooler over appropriate length, modesty, no morning decisions. No beggin for the latest ‘it’ clothes to be seen in at school-This is limited only to coat, lunch box and backpack.Buy in bulk in August and DONE. Uniforms say, “You are here to work” “Weekend’s over”

  • 187. Uniforms  |  August 14, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    Was trying to just collect information. Got sidetracked by LSmom’s reasons. Her reasons bother me because they don’t seem to take underprivileged kids into account, but rather focus on style.

    Do others agree with this point that she makes – that schools like Lincoln Park’s Alcott want to rid the school of uniforms in order for the school to look “appealing”?

  • 188. cpsICK  |  August 14, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    186 amen to that! Focus on school.

  • 189. Been there done that  |  August 14, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    All the “poor” kids in my neighborhood look like crap in their uniforms. The uniforms look are pilled and 100% polyester. The are hot and uncomfortable! French toast makes super crappy uniforms! These uniforms are not cheap either. These “poor” people do not go to the Gap or Childrens place or lands End to buy thier 100% cotton uniforms. They go to Rainbow or some other ghetto type store, where they get ripped off.
    These same “poor” kids have colorful jeans and t-shirts and hoodies and colorful gym shoes all summer and on weekends. They shop at Walmart and other places. Please dont pigeon hole “poor” kids. Did you know that “poor” kids like to get their shoes at Foot Locker, yes I cant afford foot locker! They know style and can buy it probabably cheaper Underprilvelged kids would love to burn there uniforms!!!!! Dont get me started on the uniform shoes ,,, It is racket ,cps probably made a secret contract with French Toast! LOL! just like “breakfast in the classroom” for the “poor” kids while Chartwells is making millions off of the federal $$$ they collect for this program.

  • 190. Been there done that  |  August 14, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    Sorry for all the grammar errors. I thinking faster then I could type! LOL!!!

  • 191. SUE  |  August 14, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    We have a uniform but no one enforces it. In the words of my principal, “I am here to be an instructional leader, not the uniform cop”

  • 192. SUE  |  August 14, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    The LSC voted on uniforms but then not many parents really follow it except in primary. There are no real consequences either, except nagging teachers.

  • 193. NBCT Vet  |  August 14, 2012 at 11:49 pm

    My school is considering uniforms for very different reasons. Marketing will be the largest determining factor if we adopt uniforms.

    The Catholic schools and the charter schools in the neighborhood require uniforms. Right or wrong parents typically associate those uniforms with discipline, good behavior, and a business like attitude. For us, from a pure PR perspective, the uniforms disassociate or set apart our school (very good) from the neighborhood (pretty bad). Uniforms help change how the community conceives of our building and our students and keep us from being closed as the district divests from our building and our neighborhood school.

    Since we now have to sell families on our school because we are in competition for the best students and the most education-supportive families in the community, we really have little choice. So, uniforms it will likely be, despite the fact that our school is much better in student achievement, academic offerings, extracurriculars, test scores, etc. than any of the neighborhood’s private schools or charters.

    But that doesn’t matter. In the world of marketing and sales perception matters far more than reality.

  • 194. CPSMom&Teacher  |  August 15, 2012 at 7:06 am

    Historically, better academic schools (prep schools on the east coast and throughout England) have had school uniforms. I do agree that uniforms are a point of distinction. Uniforms also show unity.

    BTW If anyone is still in need, Old Navy has very decent polo shirts (various colors) for $5. You can even order on-line if your nearby store is out of the size you need.

  • 195. anonymouse teacher  |  August 15, 2012 at 7:16 am

    NBCT Vet, that’s an interesting perspective. I think for me, I’ve always associated uniforms in CPS and charters as something for schools struggling with major gang issues in or around the school. While the uniforms themselves (having them or not having them) is a non-issue for me, what they represent to me does. And to me, they represent some flimsy attempt at protecting kids from being shot walking to and from school. But, I can see where some parents would have a different association like you mentioned.
    For me personally, uniforms are so far down on the list of importance in choosing a school that it wouldn’t even make the list. It is surprising to me that parents really care about this.

  • 196. Also mom  |  August 15, 2012 at 7:53 am

    Yeah I don’t get why schools with a uniform policy want to expend the energy to get rid of it. So many other things on which to work.

  • 197. cpsobsessed  |  August 15, 2012 at 8:12 am


  • 198. Michigan State Alums Adopt Ravenswood Elementary  |  August 16, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    How does my school sign up to get adopted by a group like this? What do ravenswooder’s think about this?

  • 199. Dee  |  August 20, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    My son has attended Dore Elementary, a magnet school since second grade and now he’s going into his last year (8th). We have recently moved from the neighborhood and he wants to graduate with all his friends. Do I have to transfer him? Will they let him stay and finish? If so, can the school bus pick him up? I checked the CPS website and according to them he can stay and be bussed as long as its under 6 miles but I dont want the school to give me a hard time and kick him out. Insight please.

  • 200. Christine Whitley  |  August 20, 2012 at 8:39 pm

    Dee — Dore is actually a neighborhood school, not a magnet. It is a Math & Science Magnet Cluster (maybe why you’re confused).

    A magnet cluster (like Dore) is a type of neighborhood school and does have attendance boundaries.

    The way I understand the rules are this: whether or not he can stay is up to the Principal’s discretion. If Dore isn’t totally over-crowded, the Principal will probably let him stay, but that’s up to her.

    Busing is not available for neighborhood schools. So he wouldn’t be able to take the bus.

    However, inconsistency is the name of the game in CPS! Can’t hurt to call the Principal and ask her about both of these matters.

  • 201. local  |  September 3, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    Question: Where in Chicago can my high school student obtain free ACT/SAT test-prep (it’s not offered in the high school at all)? Any suggestions? DIY?

  • 202. NewCPSer  |  September 4, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    CPSOBSESSED, would it be possible to have people talk about first day experiences? Class size, positive and negative surprises?

  • 203. cpsobsessed  |  September 4, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    Yes! I’ll post it now!

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 204. Another Edgewater parent  |  September 18, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    Another topic idea:
    Can we explore the different “testing” options that CPS employs?
    Since parents are now capable of educating themselves on types of school offerings, we should move onto learning the “ins and outs” of standardized testing.

    ISAT, NWEA, mClass, DIBELS, scantron, Common Core, etc.
    What the test tests?
    Who takes it?
    When is it given?
    Benefit to CPS / students/ teachers?
    Maybe folks can research their own schools approach and report back.
    What is CPS doing with all this test result data? How much does this data cost the district?

  • 205. Jian Tao  |  September 27, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    Does anyone know what will be tested in skinner and Whtiney entrance test? I have daughters to take 5th and 7th grade tests. How hard are they comparing to ISAT , Cogat, ITBS or others?

  • 206. RL Julia  |  September 27, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    The AC test is more of an IQ type of test. It isn’t like the ISAT at all. Couldn’t tell you about the Skinner test.

  • 207. albany park mama  |  September 28, 2012 at 9:31 am

    Hi Everyone, We are planning to rent a home on the northwest side in the next few months. I would love to hear what you know about Gray Elementary School and Portage Park Elementary. Thanks!

  • 208. alcott mom again  |  October 5, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    Would any one have time to give me an opinion on Alcott high school? Thank you. There is nothing I can find about this school and I don’t know why tests scores so low.

  • 209. Christine Whitley  |  October 5, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    @208 you can’t find anything on Alcott High School because it is so new. If I remember correctly, this school year 2012-2013 is the first year they’ve had a senior class. The school currently takes everyone who graduates from Alcott automatically and then anyone else via lottery.

    Not sure why the scores are so low.

  • 210. alcott mom again  |  October 6, 2012 at 8:46 am

    Thank you Christine that must explains it!

  • 211. alcott mom again  |  October 6, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    Do people in this area think that the scores of the high school will get improved? Oh I am talking about Alcott High School in Licoln Park area.

  • 212. KMW  |  October 7, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    Just a reminder to parents who move near overcrowded neighborhood schools, I believe they only have to take neighborhood children who are in kindergarten. If your older child is trying to enroll in an overcrowded neighborhood school, they may be busses out to an underutilized school and put on a waiting list for your neighborhood school. I’m not sure how many schools currently have this type of controlled enrollment, but it’s probably a good idea to check before moving into a neighborhood if you are hoping to send your child to that neighborhood’s school.

  • 213. Angie  |  October 7, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    @212. KMW: Is there a list of schools that don’t accept older kids?

  • 214. HS Parent  |  October 7, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    Good question! Does anybody know which selective enrollment high schools accept transfer students who qualify (like in 10th grade, or after)?

  • 215. momof3boys  |  October 8, 2012 at 8:24 am

    lane tech does. the app is online after the 2rounds, like end of april

  • 216. HS Mom  |  October 8, 2012 at 8:42 am

    @214 – they all accept transfers if they have openings. Even the top schools will experience kids leaving for various reasons. I would contact the schools to find out the process.

  • 217. RL Julia  |  October 12, 2012 at 11:28 am

    I have heard that Lane Tech does. I sort of doubt if Northside, Jones or Payton do – if only because they are pretty small schools to begin with. Don’t know about Whitney either. I wouldn’t count on it as a viable back door way to getting into these schools though. I suspect it is probably one of those things at the discretion of the principal/school’s admin.

  • 218. sara  |  October 14, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    How do i go about getting my child (he will be in Pre K next fall) tested for the gifted SEES schools? thank you!

  • 219. anonymous  |  October 15, 2012 at 6:36 am

    You are invited today to hear Diane Ravitch,
    noted public education advocate and author of

    The Death and Life
    of the Great American School System:

    How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education

    Monday, October 15
    4:00 pm
    Lane Technical High School
    2501 W. Addison Ave., Chicago, IL
    You may purchase a ticket on the CTU website or at the door.

    Why should you go?

    To hear more about the over-testing of student going on in CPS and elsewhere in the country.

  • 220. Christine Whitley  |  October 15, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    @sara #218 send me an email and I will explain the SEES process for you.

  • 221. john  |  October 16, 2012 at 11:09 am

    Hello- what is the process for testing? Do we pick a school first, or test, then pick schools? How do we apply to test? Thank you.

  • 222. albany park mama  |  October 16, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    @John #221 – There is a separate CPS application for classical and gifted programs. You rank them on the application. Then CPS will send you a testing date and you take your child to be tested. If your child scores high enough, CPS will then match your child to one of the programs on your list.

    Some of the programs are having open houses so you can check them out:

  • 223. cpsobsessed  |  October 17, 2012 at 8:51 am

    Thanks everyone for helping to answer questions. I am swamped at work, yet again…

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 224. Christine Whitley  |  October 17, 2012 at 9:47 am

    FYI did post a response about selective enrollment but maybe it got lost? Oh — it’s probably in moderation because I included a web link.

  • 225. cpsobsessed  |  October 17, 2012 at 10:46 am

    Christine, I don’t see it in the moderation or spam folder…

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 226. anotherchicagoparent  |  October 17, 2012 at 11:16 am

    @214 Lane Tech, Whitney Young, and Jones Prep all have had a transfer period for students going into 10th,11th and 12th grade.The application and each process is placed on their websites in March. SE high schools do not allow mid year transfers.
    Students must have excellent attendance, show they have performed well with a rigorous curriculum, and submit an essay.Seats are very limited though and sometimes may NOT be available.

  • 227. alcott mom again  |  October 23, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    This is a first world problem. Alcott group should work on making the high school good instead.

    There will be a 1-hour kickoff Alcott School Dress Code Committee meeting on Thursday October 25th @ 6pm at the East Campus cafeteria. All are welcome to attend. As indicated in the attached agenda, this is intended to be an organizational meeting, NOT a meeting to debate and solicit specific input from parents, teachers, students and administration. A handful of parents have already volunteered to participate in this LSC-appointed committee and more are encouraged to join, particularly those representing the West Campus.

  • 228. Upset about Stone  |  December 3, 2012 at 10:44 am

    What is going on with Stone? I like so so many things about it. Yet all I hear is that people (people without kids in the school) hating on the principal Mrs. O. Tell me what I don’t know, please! I am not being sarcastic. I feel I may be missing something huge here.

  • 229. Cindy  |  December 16, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    We’re moving to the Lincoln school neighborhood boundaries in February. DH’s colleagues told him the privates are our best choice. But the scores look okay to me and with two children privates will cost quite a bit. What is the opinion of Lincoln in Lincoln Park?

  • 230. cpsobsessed  |  December 16, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    @Cindy, Lincoln is one of the best-regarded elementary schools in the city due to good school + upscale community who are involved and fundraise for the school. I think any Chicago parent would feel good about the school based on its reputation and test scores.

    As a result the school is fairly crowded and the neighborhood is getting more construction which could exacerbate the crowding problem. A solution to split the area into 2 schools was proposed by CPS last year but was met with strong objections by the community. The community is still working with CPS to come up with a solution. You can follow some of it here.
    One possibility is to get CPS/the developers to build a new or expanded building to meet the need of all the students. Another is to somehow use existing, nearby CPS schools or buildings to make it work.

    But just be forewarned that if you live very close to the school building there is some possibility of potential changes in the near future. Just something to be aware of. The north end of the Lincoln zone is (I think) near Alcott which is also a good option. I don’t know where it currently stands now. But there are plenty of good public options other than Lincoln. Privates are certainly good too if you have the $ and you can find one to accommodate both your kids.

  • 231. local  |  January 3, 2013 at 11:29 am

    “There’s a new blog in town, CPS Chatter, all about Chicago Public Schools. One of its first observations: ‘CPS continues to have a problem giving the appearance of community engagement.'”
    – from Catalyst

  • 232. Pomegranate  |  January 11, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    This is such a great thread. I’ve been looking for information like this.

    I’m hoping someone here might be able to offer me some advice.

    My son (only child so far) won’t be three until 2014, but he has a speech/language delay and is receiving EI services. I don’t know if he will have outgrown the delay by the time he’s three, or if he will qualify for preschool-for-all. I hope he will be on track by the time we’re applying for kindergarten.

    We are currently looking into purchasing a short sale property because that’s all that we can afford. I’m seriously conflicted about whether we should be looking in Chicago where he would have access to great schools but might not get in, or if we should look in Brookfield which is affordable (albeit with higher taxes) and where pretty much all the schools are solid. Because of our financial limitations, we can’t really be picky about our Chicago neighborhoods. (Although I do know and admire a teacher at Camras and there’s a lot available within our budget in that neighborhood.)

    To top it off, I’m a CPS teacher. We own a condo in Chicago, so I’m not concerned about my employment. I am, however, severely disheartened by the ever-increasing emphasis on standardized testing in CPS. It is is seriously soul-killing. I don’t know if I want to put my child into this system, even if we do get into a good school. I’m just not so sure it’s all that different anywhere else.

    For various reasons, renting is not an option. I don’t know if it’s realistic to buy a property in Chicago now and think about picking up and leaving for Brookfield in a few years if we don’t get into a good school here, but that’s what my heart is telling me.

    Any thoughts? Advice?

  • 233. local  |  January 11, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    @ 232: Carefully research all the Brookfield area grade & middle schools that feed into Lyons Township HS. Some of the schools are better and some are worse, based on reports from a school speech therapist I know in those parts.

  • 234. local  |  January 11, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    Check Brookfield AND surrounding towns, that is.

  • 235. Pomegranate  |  January 11, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    I’ve been checking out the school sparrow site linked above. Another great resource! Maybe we can stay in Chicago after all. That should make my partner very happy.

  • 236. AE  |  January 11, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    @ Pomegranate. You’d probably need a crystal ball to know for sure what the right decision is…. But I can share my two cents. I’ve been a CPS parent for almost 6 years. During most of that time, I’ve also truly believed that proactive parents can make CPS work for them. We specifically purchased our home in an area with a great neighborhood school, and my oldest child is thriving in a RGC. Recently, however, I’ve become less idealistic about CPS (in large part because, as you mentioned, standardized tests often determine your fate in the system). One of my younger children — who is just as bright as the older (based on IQ) — struggles with reading. Yet I’ve been unable to get services/accommodations from CPS because the child’s grades are good and standardized test scores in reading (although MUCH lower than the child’s 97th percentile IQ) fall around the 50-60th percentile (average). Admittedly, gifted LD kids fall through the cracks everywhere — even the suburbs. However, in a good suburban school system, I wouldn’t have to worry about my children “testing in” to a good high school. Without support and accommodations (and frankly, even if we were to get such services), I’m fairly certain that my very bright child will not have many high school options. Even private schools require admissions testing. In addition to the obvious educational concerns, I am also worried that this test-heavy system will damage his self-esteem. So while I still believe CPS works for some (many?) students and I’m not ready to give up yet, I am starting to wonder if there are some children who will simply never thrive here.

    Good luck with your decision.

  • 237. 37WTF99  |  January 11, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    232 “To top it off, I’m a CPS teacher. We own a condo in Chicago, so I’m not concerned about my employment” If you move to Brookfield you won’t meet the residency requirement for CPS employment.

  • 238. RL Julia  |  January 11, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    Depends on when she started her employment with CPS – right?
    I am with AE – there are some kids who are just not going to work with the CPS system – which is only getting rigider by the minute. I am not sure if there is a school system out there that won’t crush these kids a little but I gotta believe that other school systems will crush them a little less….

  • 239. anonymouse teacher  |  January 11, 2013 at 5:48 pm

    @237, it also depends what specialty she is in. If she meets the requirements for a waiver, she can live wherever she wants.

  • 240. misseditughhh  |  January 19, 2013 at 10:54 pm

    Thanks for this lifesaving blog! I have to move to Chicago mid 2013 with my 5 yr old. I am ruing I missed the deadline for applying to all the magnet schools, RGC’s etc. Plus I read in the Options for Knowledge that kids born between September and December 30 could apply for 1st Grade which would help my Nov born son. My question is if I move to a good school neighborhood would I be still able to enroll him in 1st grade or perhaps apply for 2nd grade for 2014 magnet/RGC application process next year? Please let me know your thoughts and ideas…

  • 241. Christine Whitley  |  January 20, 2013 at 12:07 am

    @240 If your son is five now (having just turned five in November) then, by CPS rules he would be eligible to go to Kindergarten in the 2013-2014 school year. So yes, you missed the deadline for applications to magnet, SEES, and other Options for Knowledge programs for Kindergarten.

    You could still apply to Charter Schools, depending on the school.

    You could also just move into the attendance boundary of a good school and send him to Kindergarten in the fall of 2013. No application necessary. He would be one of the older kids in the class.

    He could start 1st grade in the fall if he’s in an accredited Kindergarten right now, this year. But then he would be one of the youngest in the class. Not a bad thing, depends on the kid of course!

  • 242. Teacher4321  |  January 20, 2013 at 12:45 pm


    Currently “speech only” students do not have a priority for CPS PFA, you can still get that service as a “walk in” child. If your child has other needs besides speech than he will get placed into a program by OSES.

    The entire PreK process is changing for next year and even early childhood teachers are unsure of what is happening (CPS is probably unsure of what is happening).

    Having an IEP is not supposed to impact a child in the selection process.

    At AE- have you requested an evaluation for your child? You have that right despite the “good grades.” Clearly you have reports that show you that there is an LD issue ?

  • 243. Gobemouche  |  January 21, 2013 at 11:26 pm

    Basic high school question — Does anybody know which SEHSs do NOT use IMP Math? I’m pretty sure that NSCP and Jones do use it, but I can’t tell from the other schools’ websites.

  • 244. anonymouse teacher  |  January 22, 2013 at 8:58 pm

    Just wanted people to know—here is part of the instructions from the quarter 2 REACH benchmark assessment for KINDERGARTEN. It is an optional test, and I refuse to give it. I go back and forth between wanting to laugh, cry or pour myself a hard drink. I think the part about go back and check for spelling and punctuation errors and the part about sitting quietly while the others work on finishing the task (of writing a paragraph) are the most shocking. Here it is people, word for word:

    Task 1: “Now you are going to complete two tasks which will show me how much you have learned about reading non- fiction over the last few weeks. I have handed out the directions for the assessment you will be working on. Please take a few minutes and read the directions to yourself.
    “Now let’s read the directions together. If you have any questions, please let me know once we have finished reading the directions together.” Teacher reads directions aloud and answers any pertinent questions.
    “Now I am going to read, “My Five Senses” out loud. As I read, you are going to be listening for the main ideas and supporting details which will help you to answer the question.
    Now that you know what you are going to write about, I am going to read the book a second time. As I read, you are going to use your graphic organizer to help you record the main topic and key details.
    You will have 40 minutes to complete reading and note-taking. If you finish early, you should go back and reread to make sure that you have identified the main idea and key details that will help you answer the question once you begin writing.”
    Task 2: “Now that you have read “My Five Senses” you are going to write the answer to the question on the lined paper provided for you.
    Use information from the text to explain the main ideas of “My Five Senses.”
    As you write you should also use those ideas you recorded in your graphic organizer.
    You should support your explanation of the main ideas with evidence from the text. Your writing should include an introduction, discussion of the main idea and supporting details, and a conclusion.
    Jan 2013 • Page 4 Chicago Public Schools
    Kindergarten Quarterly Assessment
    Quarter Two
    “You will have 40 minutes to write. Make sure that after you have finished, you go back and check for accurate spelling and punctuation. Once you have completed your writing and I have collected it, you may read silently at your desk until everyone is finished. Do you have any questions?”
    Teacher will answer any more questions and then students may begin to write.

    -taken directly from a PDF we received a few weeks ago from central office

  • 245. local  |  January 22, 2013 at 9:05 pm

    OMG. Just O.M.G.

  • 246. IB obsessed  |  January 22, 2013 at 9:25 pm

    OMG ditto. Did a robot write that? Why did no human being in CPS central office who took at least one child development course not intervene and stop this insanity???

  • 247. local  |  January 22, 2013 at 9:56 pm

    “If all goes according to plan, public school testing will drum out any vestiges of creativity by the start of first grade.” by Erin Althea

  • 248. local  |  January 22, 2013 at 9:58 pm

    Ooops. Make that “Chicago kindergarteners could spend a third of their school year taking standardized tests” By Ben Joravsky

  • 249. HSObsessed  |  January 22, 2013 at 9:59 pm

    OMG tritto. You know how those kindergarteners are really big on note taking in their graphic organizers by this time of the school year!

  • 250. cps alum  |  January 22, 2013 at 10:44 pm

    OMG!!!!!!!! I want to scream………..

  • 251. Gobemouche  |  January 23, 2013 at 12:03 am

    Wow. Just wow. Thank you, anonymouseteacher, for sharing that with us. I’d like to see the entire script (although I’m sort of afraid to see more). Is it accessible online somewhere?

    This is beyond unacceptable. Where do we go from here? What can parents do? Can we refuse to allow our children to be tested in this manner without inadvertently getting the teachers into hot water?

  • 252. anonymouse teacher  |  January 23, 2013 at 7:13 am

    I can and will post the entire script later tonight if you’d like. The beginning is not so bad, which is kept me reading until the last third. This is part of my objection to non-developmentally appropriate testing for such little ones. I am all for appropriate testing, but this is an entirely different world.

  • 253. AP Mama  |  January 23, 2013 at 10:16 am

    Does anyone know how much testing the suburban schools do by comparison?

  • 254. anonymouse teacher  |  January 23, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    Regarding the quarterly REACH benchmark, my husband made a point I can’t ignore. Releasing the entire text could be a copyright violation (which I don’t necessarily care about, given the test is crap) but the other issue is I could be violating test protocol by giving out testing info that parents could use to prep their kids with. Not that I think anyone would do that, especially with something that so blatantly flies in the face of every single possible ounce of info we know to be true about young learners, but, don’t want CPSO to end up in the middle of a court case. I’ve talked to other K teachers in the district, and some have never seen this document, so some networks and principals either did not get it or are not distributing it. However, if you come to my classroom door and ask about the 2nd quarter reach assessment, I’ll be happy to sit down with you and show you the copy and help you draft a letter opting out of the craziness.

  • 255. hpkcommish  |  January 29, 2013 at 2:06 am

    anonymouse teacher
    CPS kindergarten teachers developed the REACH “task” based assessments – not Central Office. This is ridiculous – if the majority of kindergartners are supposed to be able to complete these tasks – reading, note taking, and answering the questions on “lined paper” – why are the third grade scores so low? Do all of the children “forget” how to read by the time the enter 3rd grade?????

  • 256. anonymouse teacher  |  January 29, 2013 at 7:13 am

    I am going to check into that because my principal told me this particular task was developed by some educational big shot. I don’t care who developed it. (and if a CPS teacher did, shoot me now) The BOE has the final say on everything. Everything. In any case, it is a horrible assessment.

  • 257. anonymouse teacher  |  January 29, 2013 at 7:29 am

    ah, commish, I see your point about central office. I did not intend to imply CO wrote the test. What I meant was that they distributed it, meaning, they sent it out via email. And I also meant to relay that they approved it. Seriously, if a CPS teacher wrote this, and I know teachers are involved with creating tasks, I am going to have to go on and wonder if they were doing so under duress. Or insane. Or, like all of CPS leadership, incredibly stupid. I turned a job last year outside the district because it meant a 20K pay cut. Given that offer again, I’d take it in a second. What we are being asked to do is bad for children. It is my opinion that CPS itself is bad for children. I hate being complicit in this. The teacher who got up at the board meeting, the Drummond teacher, who said the overtesting was child abuse and she was a mandated reporter was right on.

  • 258. Rebecca  |  February 9, 2013 at 11:28 pm

    Question…moving from Florida to Chi with kids currently in private school in Fl. Will be entering K and 2nd grade fall 2013. We are zoned for Ogden Elem. The website looks good and I like that it is an IB school. Am I missing something? I looked over parents comments re: various CPS and haven’t read anything about Ogden Elem in particular.

  • 259. Even One More CPS Mom  |  February 10, 2013 at 10:03 am

    Ogden has a reputation of being one of the better CPS schools. Most people would consider Ogden a very acceptable public school option. They are in a nice brand new building as well, which is a bonus. We have friends with a child there for kindergarten and they are very pleased so far even though they were originally looking at private and parochial schools.

  • 260. Even One More CPS Mom  |  February 10, 2013 at 10:08 am

    Rebecca – If you have not already, you may want to consider joining the Neighborhood Parents Network. They have message boards where you can get good feedback on elementary schools and lots of great feedback in general on living in the city, classes and opportunities for kids etc… You can plug “Ogden” into the message boards search bar and see what you find. You can also put up a specific post asking for feedback. They also have free playgroups, parent educational events, fun events for kids and all kinds of great offerings. It is pretty cheap too at about $40-$50 per year for membership. Also, have you looked for feedback on Greatschools? I tend to take those reviews with somewhat of a grain of salt but might be worth a look to see if you get an overall sense of what people are saying there about Ogden.

  • 261. Rebecca  |  February 10, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    Thanks. So far my main concern is the student to teacher ratio. In the private school they go to now it is smaller. I will go ahead and join the Neighborhood Parents Network. Thanks for the info.

  • 262. Even One More CPS Mom  |  February 10, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    While I did not look that seriously at private schools myself, I am told that the main reason to pick a private or parochial school over a good CPS school is for smaller class sizes, if that is of serious concern to you. You are not going to find small class sizes at any of the top CPS schools. For many this works out fine any way as the teachers have ways of managing it. Some parents have an issue with it. Good luck to you and your family. I hope your move goes smoothly. Perhaps you can find some current Ogden parents to speak with.

  • 263. Christine Whitley  |  February 10, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    Rebecca, I’m an education consultant specializing in helping parents navigate the public schools here in Chicago. Let me know if I can help. I am happy to answer questions (no charge!) Welcome to Chicago.

  • 264. Rebecca  |  February 10, 2013 at 2:20 pm

    Thanks. What are your thoughts on Ogden?

  • 265. HSObsessed  |  February 10, 2013 at 9:19 pm

    I’d agree with what others say that if small class size is important, then you’re not going to find that in CPS. Otherwise, Ogden is a solid school with a diverse population and active parent organizations. I don’t know anyone there currently but have known two in the recent past (one moved and one’s children both graduated) and they both were happy overall.

  • 266. cpsobsessed  |  February 10, 2013 at 9:23 pm

    That’s definitely the trade-off in moving into the boundaries of one the “best” neighborhood schools – they all tend to have big classes since people seek them out.
    Over the years people always say “a good teacher can teach a big class just as well.” I personally disagree. There’s only a fixed amount of time in a class session to pay attention to what all the kids are doing.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 267. SoxSideIrish4  |  February 11, 2013 at 10:02 am

    #266~CPSO~ITA w/you. We moved into our area for the neighborhood schools. I will say that I was pleased my sons had veteran teachers who had been there for years and knew how to teach larger classes in the younger grades~they both benefited from them.

  • 268. SEES Curriculm Question  |  February 11, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    I’m not sure where to post this question.
    My daughter is currently in a SEES school and while I have been pleased with her education thus far (she is only in kindergarten), I feel like she is missing out a little bit on the “neighborhood school” experience. I have been considering a move to either the burbs or a good neighborhood CPS school. OK, so my question is, has anyone ever compared the SEES curriculum to that of other highly sought after neighborhood schools or suburbs to the SEES schools? Are the SEES kids really learning a year or two ahead of other kids their ages that attend the highly sought after neighborhood schools and highly ranked suburban school? I don’t have any friends with kids in kindergarten at these schools so I cannot compare the two, so I was hoping maybe someone here as done a similiar comparison.

  • 269. Nervous Nellie  |  February 11, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    Christine (263) and others – we moved into the Solomon school area for our soon-to-be-in-kindergarten son. The principal had been new and the information was that she was making strides modernizing the culture. She left after just one semester and now the previous principal is back. Do you have information on this school and the changes?

  • 270. RL Julia  |  February 11, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    SEES- in a neighborhood school the acceleration will be more hit or miss depending on your daughter and the teacher – and you will probably have to advocate more for her to be given harder or deeper work. If she doesn’t ask her teachers for harder work herself, it might be tough going. There is a social component in that your daughter might not want to stick out by doing more than everyone else either.

  • 271. Jill  |  February 11, 2013 at 3:52 pm

    @268 SEES. I have a friend who moved to the suburbs for the experience of the neighborhood schools as she says there is nothing better then having friends live close by, and not all across the city. The class sizes are MUCH smaller, by about 10 kids. There may be a lot of say 9 classes of kindergartners, but they are smaller and the students work in groups from other classes that are the same level as they are.. It is really making me consider moving to the burbs… Yeah, taxes may be higher, but my child’s education is pretty important to me

  • 272. Question67&68  |  February 11, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    266 if you can move to the suburbs, GO!

  • 273. SEES Curriculum Question  |  February 11, 2013 at 7:04 pm

    @270 & @271 thanks for your replies. My daughter is very “go with the flow” so I’m not certain she would speak up about needing extra work in a regular classroom setting. She has been doing well in her current school and I would hate to move her and she not get the same level of education that her SEES school is offering her. *sigh* Does anyone have a crystal ball that I could borrow? 😉

  • 274. anonymouse teacher  |  February 11, 2013 at 7:09 pm

    @273, Some suburban schools have accelerated or enrichment/gifted programs that start at 3rd grade (as research indicates they should). It would be worth looking into. Whatever she’d be missing in terms of advanced learning, she might very well gain in terms of extra specials (art, music, gym, etc.), smaller class sizes so teachers can more easily differentiate for her, the neighborhood experience, etc. I agree with 272, if you can move and to a suburb with a strong school, do it. Nothing will ever be perfect, but I’d recommend it.

  • 275. anonymouse teacher  |  February 11, 2013 at 7:11 pm

    @269,I know about the old principal at Solomon and she has a terrific rep system wide. I talked to a teacher who works there at a conference and she said that old principal used to sit down and talk to each teacher and wanted to know how each and every kid was doing, by name.
    That said, Solomon has huge class sizes. Last I knew, there were upwards of 35 in the Kindergarten rooms. Everyone has to make their own choices, but for me, 35 kids and no aide (I am assuming no aide, correct me if I am wrong) would kill it for me. Great principal and great teachers aside, that’s too many. I wouldn’t allow it for my own children.

  • 276. cpsobsessed  |  February 11, 2013 at 8:31 pm

    I guess to clarify on the big class thing, I think there are some kids who can learn perfectly fine in a big class. They are the ones who pay attention to the teacher well, can tune out distractions, are motivated to do well in school, are organized, and somewhat self-motivated. Probably the ones who end up at the SEHS. 🙂
    The trouble is knowing whether your child will be that kid at age 4. I’m guessing maybe 1/3 of my son’s class is like that, 1/3 totally not, and 1/3 somewhere in the middle.

  • 277. cpsobsessed  |  February 11, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    @268 – that is an interesting question about the accelerated curriculum. I don’t really know that answer. I guess I assumed that the CPS curriculum is fairly standard and that kids in 4th grade gifted are doing the regular 6th grade curriculum. Or maybe toned down a little bit? Not sure. As other mentioned, the neighborhood schools still have to do the CPS curriculum for the grade as far as I know. One would hope the schools are pushing things a big in terms of using inspiring projects to make it more interesting when they can.
    I’ve never been able to compare to the suburb schools. I know from my SIL who is a Naperville teacher that the teachers there developed their own math curriculum.

    I feel like my son’s school does some cool/fun/interesting projects and he seems to enjoy school (in spite of the homework.) But I honestly don’t know if this is due to the admin, the teachers, or if these projects are part of the CPS curriculum.

  • 278. SoxSideIrish4  |  February 11, 2013 at 9:12 pm

    #268~SEES Curriculum Question~Although CPS is one district, all the neighborhood schools are very different~some have very advanced curricula. I would tour/look at the books/talk to teachers/parents of the neighborhood schools you are interested in and compare them to the one your daughter attends now. Only then will you get a fair comparison. Many kids in our area graduate neighborhood schools, go to SEHS and start Honors Geometry as freshman~the same as the SEES kids. Each community is unique.

  • 279. Tchr  |  February 12, 2013 at 8:28 am

    Curriculum is definitely up to the school / admin. I have worked in 3 schools in CPS and have never been told what to use. It really made my first year difficult because my colleague and I had NO guidance. Much to ny surprise and dismay, at the time, there was no huge binder of what to teach, when to teach, and how to teach.

    We ended up photocopying things from a teacher at another school because we had nothing. Now a few years in I make decisions based on my students’ needs and supplement with things I find or create.

    I know at other schools, principals require teachers to use The Reading Street curriculum. I have bits and pieces of it left in my room, lost after years of other teachers using it – or not using it.

    If you visit the school, meet the teachers of that grade level, ask about what they teach, how they differentiate, motivate, and challenge, you can get a good idea if it is a good fit. Take a look the class’s schedule. If science is the last 20 mins of the day, reason that science probably gets cut because if a lack of time. Ask about differentiated groups and how the teacher uses them.

    I might be a newer teacher and I might teach at a crummy neighborhood school, but I still see the importance of meeting kids where they are and working on their needs. I think many teachers do, even in neighborhood schools.

  • 280. cpsobsessed  |  February 12, 2013 at 8:32 am

    So what about previous teachers on here who said they basically have a script that they have to teach from? Was that a specific school mandate?
    Also, I thought CPS has only a few math curriculums that schools could choose from. Can a school really just opt for say Singapore Math if that’s what they want?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 281. Tchr  |  February 12, 2013 at 9:13 am

    I would love a new math curriculum. I would illegally photocopy it if I could.

    The way we use Everyday Math is so not the intentions of the writers. ” Get the scores up!” is what our admin says. If that means we use less EM and more teacher created material, do it.

    We also have pacing guides to follow, but they aren’t producing the scores CPS wants. I don’t know which schools require teachers to use scripts. I guess then there is one good thing about my school – freedom to teach what and how I think best- as long as our NWEA and ISAT scores go up.

    When reviewing math data and looking at corresponding math lessons in EM and seeing how they don’t match up, I asked when we would be getting a new math curriculum and I was told CPS is locked into a several year contract with EM. ( Don’t know if that is true.) And I shouldn’t expect any changes anytime soon.

    So… I get to / have to create and supplement because there is no way my students are going to achieve high scores in math with the games. Again, I teach at a very data oriented, extreme test prep school for fear of being closed- different than schools people on here would choose to send their children to.

    I think it is very different at each school according to principals. And also how fearful you are of being closed. We forget good teaching when we fear our test scores.

  • 282. Peter  |  February 12, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    272. Question67&68 | February 11, 2013 at 4:00 pm
    266 if you can move to the suburbs, GO!


  • 283. CarolA  |  February 12, 2013 at 5:07 pm

    My school uses SRA Imagine It for reading for grades K-5. It is very scripted, but we do have the freedom to take out/put in as needed to address our student’s needs. I actually like it because it gives a nice framework from which to start. Our math program is also decided by the principal. However, we have used it a long time and it is outdated. On a recent memo from our principal, we received notice that they have been told (from BBB) not to purchase any more core curriculum items unless needed to fulfill/replenish for this school year. It seems they are working on some kind of rotating materials between schools????? Not sure. I think there will be BIG changes in curriculum on the horizon based on this memo.

  • 284. SE Teacher  |  February 12, 2013 at 9:16 pm

    I think CPS is running in circles right now with Common Core on their heels. The rhetoric coming out of the professional development is crazy. I don’t think anyone knows what’s going and and thus, have no idea how to plan curricula. For what it’s worth, I was at an ACT conference that said “ACT is going nowhere. ” I went to a Chicago PD a week later that told me that ACT is being phased out. When I mentioned what I had heard at ACT, I was told they would get back to me. I for one use the College Readiness Standards as a curriculum guide, bringing in as much AP style questioning and critical thinking as I can.

    The central office is telling teachers to upload their lesson plans to sharing sites and using those lessons as professional development. Just nuts. : (

  • 285. tonya  |  February 12, 2013 at 10:22 pm

    @282 Peter

    I think 283 & 284 just answered the question of why…

  • 286. cpsemployee  |  February 13, 2013 at 7:03 am

    @283 The memo we got laid out the timeline for all schools moving to the same textbooks for the core subjects. Well, not exactly the same materials as individual schools will be able to choose which of the 4 options they want to use but close enough… They tried this before; let’s see if it really happens this time. I don’t agree with the idea but I do feel every school should have the materials they NEED which isn’t the current case…

  • 287. Jen  |  February 13, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    This post talks a little about siblings getting priority in magnet schools. However, from what I’ve read, it only applies to biological twins/multiples in the same grade or to older/younger siblings already enrolled.

    The policy currently in place definitely helps most familes, but for families with siblings who are in the same grade (in our case, it is due to adoption) who are not biological twins, the policy still leaves us in a big lurch! Unless I want to haul my kids to different schools next year, we are most likely stuck with our neighborhood school. I find that the current sibling policies in place for lottery schools leaves out a subset of families who have same-grade children through adoption, marriage or simply through births that were very close together. I have inquired with CPS about this, but they indicated it would be difficult to track such families with same-grade siblings for the lottery. I can’t imagine it would be any different from tracking families with biological multiples…right? So, what’s the big deal?

    Basiclaly, if I want to get my kids into a better magnet program, My same-grade kids will need to apply for schools separately, and if one happens to get a spot, I will need to send my kids to different school for Kindergarten, so that I can rely on the sibliny policy to get the other “same-grade” sibling into the better magnet program for 1st grade, since one of my kids will already be enrolled…this makes no sense at all to me!!!

    Is there anything I can do/say to help get this policy adjusted to include famlies like mine???

  • 288. RL Julia  |  February 13, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    @387 – Jen – While I am sure you are not the only one in this situation, it is more unique than not. I would call OAE directly and talk to them about this.

  • 289. HSObsessed  |  February 13, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    @287, I would think the solution would be that in cases like yours, that they should be placed in lotteries just like any non-attached kids, but then if one is offered a spot at a school, that the adopted sibling/step-sibling/Irish twin should then be given the very first spot on that school’s wait list. I’m sure this is not that an unusual situation, what with all the blended families we have nowadays, so CPS should be ready to deal with it. Good luck.

  • 290. Jen  |  February 13, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    I will def be giving them a call…my email inquiry got the following reply…

    “The admissions policy for Selective Enrollment, Magnet, and other Options for Knowledge Schools defines twins as those born in the same pregnancy, and specifically addresses multiple births, rather than same-age siblings. Siblings have the benefit of the sibling policy, which gives you selection preference when applying to a school where you already have a child enrolled.

    As you may be aware, there are several circumstances in which two students of the same basic age may wish to attend the same school; unfortunately, we can neither define nor accommodate all of these instances.

    While we are trying to offer a service to parents, without definition, it would be easy for this issue to be extended beyond our ability to monitor or verify. As a result, in order to offer this service at all, it was necessary for it to be narrow in scope.”

    I love how they point out that there are several circumstances in which two studes may wish to attend the same school…but we’re not talking about besties who want to attend school together, we’re talking about siblings in the same grade! This response from them was like a slap in the face.

  • 291. cpsobsessed  |  February 13, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    The twin policy is actually new. I think even that has only been in place for 2 years. Before that it was a crapshoot for twins as well. Not that it makes it any more comforting.

    I think the most effective means of getting change is getting support from a group of parents and having someone continue to attend board meetings to voice the opinion.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 292. SoxSideIrish4  |  February 13, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    #290~Jen~ I think CPSO in #291 has given great advice of getting w/a Parent group that advocates for siblings in SEES. I know several set of twins who went to different schools bc one got into a SEES and one did not.

  • 293. Jen  |  February 13, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    I am most interested in the policy for magnet and other lottery-based schools.

    I think that SEES (selective enrollment?) admissions are based on test scores, correct? I think it would be pretty difficult for one of my kids to be challenged in a gifted program if they weren’t truly “gifted”, so I understand why linking them would not be optimal for those types of schools.

    By the way, I’m new to all this CPS research, as my kids will be entering K in 2013/2014 school year…I’m just starting to learn the in’s/out’s of the entire system…crazy. Please don’t mind my ignorance to lingo and policy…I’m slowly learning it all.

    Thanks for the helpful advice though, I will def be trying to find other families like mine who don’t have “bio multiples” but rather same-grade siblings…may be like finding that proverbial needle in the haystack, but we’ll see.

  • 294. Lakeshore East Dad  |  February 13, 2013 at 6:40 pm

    @258 – I have 2 in Ogden Elementary and we have been very happy with the school. This is our 4th year in the school, and we have had really good teachers each year. As far as class size, my kids usually have around 25 to 28 kids. I felt they got the attention they needed. It is a safe environment and I always felt that the teachers cared about my kids. Not just grades, but about emotional or social bumps in the road. It is hard for me to label it, but they have had my kids best interest at heart. I can say both my kids like going to school there, although both would say recess is a bit lame since there is no real playground on the roof.

    My daughter attended a private K before going to Ogden for 1st. We liked it enough that when my son was ready for K, we put him in Ogden.

  • 295. Rebecca  |  February 13, 2013 at 8:10 pm

    Thanks so much. That is great to hear. My kids would be entering K and 2nd grade this fall. I appreciate the feedback.

  • 296. Nervous Nellie  |  February 18, 2013 at 9:29 am

    Thanks for the Solomon info. I spoke to several neighbors and parents and I think my family will be okay with Solomon. No one can tell me why the new principal left with such speed though.

  • 297. Gigi  |  February 26, 2013 at 9:48 pm

    Can anyone tell me about Hawthorne Scholastic Academy?

  • 298. cpsobsessed  |  February 27, 2013 at 9:58 am

    @Gigi: hawthorne is generally regarded as one of the top northside schools. Involved parents, good fundraising, great test scores.
    Haven’t heard any complaints about the place (other than it’s impossible to get into.)
    Will probabably become less diverse over time as the proximity part of the lottery becomes a bigger share of students.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 299. Edgewater parent  |  February 28, 2013 at 10:58 am

    Dear CPSO, Have you heard any banter/concern about whether or not the School Closing List will impact (delay) the sending of elementary/SES/Options lottery letters?

  • 300. Maria  |  February 28, 2013 at 11:55 pm

    Here is some advice – those of you who have not moved into Chicago – don’t. CPS is a mess. If I had to do it all over it again I would have moved to the suburbs so my kids don’t have close to 40 kids in a class. Property taxes are comparable to the suburbs.

  • 301. Anon  |  March 2, 2013 at 10:43 am

    Do any kids get sex Ed now? Thoughts on its implementation? An important topic but seems like it would take away learning time from CPS’s test prep agenda. I have not heard of any schools that actually teach at 5th grade or above. Well at least in the hood they dont.

  • 302. Mike  |  March 3, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    Does anyone know how often (if ever) the neighborhood schools are redistricted? Some of the maps are a bit wacky (obviously some patronage going on there) so I was was wondering how often these maps get redrawn and how transparent the process is. I would hate to move somewhere only to find out a couple years later that the map was changed and my child now has to switch schools

  • 303. local  |  March 3, 2013 at 10:16 pm

    It seems every year some school or another has boundary changes.

  • 304. Edgewater parent  |  March 4, 2013 at 9:56 am

    Mike, yes, on occasion boundary’s are re-drawn. I have lived in the Edgewater neighborhood for 8 years and have seen one re-drawing and one proposed boundary amendment. The place I would start my inquiry would be with the aldermans office. Also review the LSC minutes for any mention. Of course, local knowledge is good too…. strike up a conversation with a neighborhood source. In my experience the boundary changes occur because of school closings, addressing overcrowding, & “constituent lobbying” of the alderman. GL!

  • 305. MayfairMama  |  March 7, 2013 at 9:33 am

    Does anyone know approximately how many children test for non entry level spots in Selective Enrollment? We’re trying to get into 2nd grade SEES and as far as I can tell there are only maybe 2 spots available in each of the 4 schools we applied to. Pretty lame odds, I’d say.

  • 306. cpsobsessed  |  March 8, 2013 at 10:32 am

    @305 MayfairMama: I don’t know if I’ve ever heard the number who apply. What really matters is how many apply for a certain grade at a certain school. I think once parents realize the reality of the morning school process they’re less likely to apply to schools all over the city and may just target one or 2.

    As you suggest, most gifted/classical classes add about 0-1 to maybe 5 max per year depending on attrition and the point where the school decides to expand the class size as the kids get older. This year my son’s 4th grade class added 4-5 kids which is the biggest yet.

    I think fewer people apply each year, but it still depends on how your child scores. Since there are so few spots, they still need a very high school to get in. Tiers don’t apply btw (which can hurt or help, depending where you live.) If you aim for on of the top schools (say, Edison) your child would need a very very high score. If you cast a wide net and they score well you may have a shot. If you know how they did the past 2 years of testing you can probably make an educated guess.

    I know a family who has tested every year and finally got a spot in 4th grade. Kids scores can go up, the size of the pool goes down…. it probably gets a little easier every year.

  • 307. MayfairMama  |  March 8, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    @cpsobsessed: Thanks for the info. My daughter got a 141 on the K test and a 117 on the 1st grade. I’m hoping for something in the middle this year. She did receive an offer from Pritzker for K, but I turned it down. I’ve been regretting that ever since!
    BTW: Good job on Windy City Live yesterday!

  • 308. cpsobsessed  |  March 8, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    Thank you!!
    Yeah, sounds like she has a good shot at it if you keep testing. Just randomness if people end up leaving each year….
    Good luck!

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 309. Blake  |  March 8, 2013 at 4:31 pm

    Ditto about the great job on Windy City. You’re sort of my hero so it was nice to put a face (and a voice) to all of the information!

  • 310. Nj  |  March 17, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    Hi we are moving to Chicago in August my daughter will be 2 years and 10 months on august. I am looking for good schools for her I don’t mind paying for it. Any advise?

  • 311. Christine  |  March 17, 2013 at 4:09 pm

    Hi NJ — if you’re interested in hiring a school consultant to help you with your move to Chicago, take a look at these resources:

    Chicago School GPS

    and PREP Chicago

  • 312. Erwin  |  March 20, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    we received our CPS memo today, only had relevant info for the magnet schools. nothing from the selective enrollment

  • 313. ky gro  |  March 21, 2013 at 4:34 pm

    I have twins (linked applications). One was admitted to Lasalle, but the other wait-listed. Policy says the are either admitted OR wait listed together. A bit confused I called OEA & they wondered where I got that idea (their policy pdf.) Any body have a clue about this?
    Also, what are the odds of getting in off the waitlist for this (or other) magnet schools?

  • 314. Madison  |  April 24, 2013 at 9:14 pm

    I didn’t expect that my kid would get into Decatur and haven’t done any research. Will someone tell me if there is an art class, is uniform required, how does the after school work if you don’t qualify for bussing, how much homework do you get in first grade, and is there any neighborhood after school program/child care that you’d recommend? Help….

  • 315. Neighborhood parent  |  April 30, 2013 at 10:42 am

    Madison – consider posting your question under the “SEES letter thread” (if you haven’t already) and I think you’ll get your answers.

  • 316. Kindergarten mommy  |  May 1, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    Hello, thank you so much for the website it is so helpful! My son will be attending Kindergarten in the fall and this whole process of picking/applying/getting accepted into schools has been so stressful! My neighborhood schools are not the greatest. I applied for alot of the different magnet schools and thank God I got a call today saying he was accepted for Thorp! Don’t know much about that school,and just wondering if you or anyone else knows anything about Thorp?

    Thank you!!

  • 317. Vanessa  |  May 6, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    Does anybody know anything or have any opinions on CICS-Irving Park? My daughter has been offered a seat but is now currently in a CPS Magnet school. I have done some research but still don’t know if I should accept it or not.

  • 318. EdParent  |  May 7, 2013 at 8:41 am

    @317 – Vanessa. Our son was offered a seat as well. I spoke to someone in the office yesterday and was told that they were having a short tour this Thursday from 9-9:30 for parents of accepted students. I’m going to check it out. If you search on this forum, you will find some good feedback on the school.

  • 319. Vanessa  |  May 7, 2013 at 10:01 am

    @318- Thanks EdParent!

  • 320. AP Mama  |  May 10, 2013 at 7:23 pm

    So I attended the CICS Irving Park tour yesterday. Can someone please help me understand what is so great about this school? Everyone that I know seems to know someone who’s kids go there and they LOVE it. I really want to love it. It is close and my kid is in. It performs well, but I don’t really understand how or why and I don’t see much beyond the test scores. The teachers looked YOUNG. I mean first year out of teaching young. I don’t have a problem with that, but I think it is beneficial to have a balance of fresh and experienced teachers at a school. The director admitted that teacher turnover is high and said something like the the average teacher has only been there for 18 months. She attributed this to disproportionate CPS funding for charter schools. One of the K classrooms had a HUGE chunk of bulletin board space with the classroom’s apparent NWEA test score goals. Really? Why do 5 year olds need that kind of pressure in K? The playground was depressing to me: tiny and inside a locked and fenced area. The other recess option? A parking lot. They do have art, music and Spanish – BUT no classrooms for these. The teachers come into the classroom to teach these because they are so overcrowded. There is no library. I saw a photo on their website depicting a computer lab, but I did not see one on the tour. I did like the green efforts: interactive composting program, solar panels, (empty) chicken coop, and a green committee is forming (so cool). They seem to have a tight knit feel and the director seemed to know the children by name. I like that it feeds into Northtown Academy and that my child will have a guaranteed spot there, but I really don’t know much about that high school (except that it is even closer to us).

    EdParent – I think you mentioned that you were going to attend? What did you think? Anyone a current parent there that can tell me what I’m missing?

  • 321.  |  May 11, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    I always spent my half an hour to read this website’s articles or reviews everyday along with a mug of coffee.

  • 322. Siblingworry  |  May 21, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    Does anybody have an insight about PTA’s and LSC’s influence on getting a sibling admitted to a gifted school?

    I do know that technically the sibling has to test and get in but how is it that every PTA and LSC member’s child gets in. Also, I get the feeling that if you have to be in the good books of PTA. Do the principal call the shot? There has to something otherwise it is impossible to have ALL the kids in the same gifted school.

    Any thoughts?

  • 323. cpsobsessed  |  May 21, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    @322: if you know of a school where literally every LSC and PTA member (the whole PTA?) gets siblings in to the RGC program, I’d contact OAE. It sounds fishy. Or are you saying they’re admitted to the neighborhood program?

  • 324. WorkingMommyof2  |  May 21, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    I know a lot of very active PTA members at our neighborhood/RGC school whose kids aren’t in the RGC. I also know one very active PTA member who has one kid in the RGC but couldn’t get the siblings in from out of boundary.

    With OAE handling all the admissions now, I’d be surprised if that’s really a rampant problem.

  • 325. Siblingworry  |  May 21, 2013 at 10:42 pm


    I have not collected data diligently but it appears so. I would like to know how I can bring CPS’s attention to this. I guess I will have to ask around and gather data and I know that it won’t be welcomed by PTA members.

    It is not only PTA members but those handful of parents who are trying to be in the good books of PTA by actively participating in fundraising, not stirring up any controversies etc. It appears to me that there is some connection between work/contribute for PTA/fundraising and sibling selection.

  • 326. Siblingworry  |  May 23, 2013 at 9:32 am

    I did more digging in. PTA past chair, LSC Chair, Co-chair, Spring Fundraising Chair and co-chair, Secretary – looks like all these people got the siblings in.

    I observe a very interesting pattern here. These positions are rolling so people who have gotten in the siblings pass on the responsibilities to people who are eager to have the siblings in!!!!

    Who should I report this to? I would like somebody to open an investigation going back at least 5-8 years to reveal everything.

  • 327. cpsobsessed  |  May 23, 2013 at 9:37 am

    Going back more than a couple years it was actually ok for a principal to do this. There was principal discretion and they could choose who got the seats. Many gave them to siblings. I think it’s only been the past 2 years that there has been an official sibling lottery.
    Is the sibling lottery offical through CPS central now? If so, you can inquire there to ensure the school is going off the lottery list. Not sure if you can unseat anyone but you can put pressure on the school to make sure they follow the official list going forward.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 328. Siblingworry  |  May 23, 2013 at 10:00 am

    This is not magnet school, this is gifted/classical school where testing is required to get in. No lottery whatsoever.

    Does principal discretion work where testing in involved? Also, would anybody know when did this testing to get into gifted/classical start? Does it go back 7-8 years?

  • 329. local  |  May 23, 2013 at 10:02 am

    @ 326. Siblingworry | May 23, 2013 at 9:32 am

    Doesn’t CPS have an Inspector General?

  • 330. local  |  May 23, 2013 at 10:04 am

    Catalyst has an online employee phone/contact directory for CPS (CPS doesn’t seem to have one on its site):

  • 331. Chgojen  |  May 23, 2013 at 10:06 am

    Inspector General (773) 534-9400

  • 332. Siblingworry  |  May 23, 2013 at 10:30 am

    Thank you for the contact information.

    What amazes me that these parents who serve on LSC/PTA has such an attitude towards other parents who have different opinion that theirs. They feel they are entitled to do certain things just because they care enough about the school than the parents who don’t have time to join PTA/LSC. The hostility that I have received if I question their purpose. All this charade and now I know that they want that position not because they want good for the school or the kids in general, but to lobby their own personal gains. They almost form a group and god forbid if you stand against that group. They will bully you down.

  • 333. cpsobsessed  |  May 23, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    Ah got it. Sorry, didn’t realize it was a test-in school. I believe that process has been in place for a long time. The info regarding the inspector general is that they can’t investigate everything (understaffed, of course) but it certainly seems worth bringing to their attention and I guessing the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Again, doubtful you can get kids kicked out, but you could potentially get CPS to pay attention going forward. I can’t see how a gifted school can skirt admission like that, but it’s Chicago so you never really know, right?

  • 334. JLM  |  May 24, 2013 at 6:37 pm

    What school are you talking about, Siblingworry?

  • 335. spam  |  May 25, 2013 at 4:40 pm


  • 336. WRP Mom  |  May 26, 2013 at 8:46 am

    Sibling Worry, testing has been going on more than 7-8 years. My child tested for K in early 2005. Back then, testing was not done at IIT. Instead, it was done at the schools. The classical and gifted tests were done on different days at different locations. My kid took the gifted test at Disney and the classical test at Decatur (administered by Decatur teachers).

    I got the impression that by having one central testing location and tests given by a separate group, it would remove the appearance of impropriety that had been rumored with regard to siblings. What you have described is very concerning and should definitely be looked into.

  • 337. GailW  |  May 26, 2013 at 10:00 am

    My guess is she’s talking about Beaubien?

  • 338. MayfairMama  |  May 26, 2013 at 10:13 am

    @GailW – Why would you say Beaubien? I know someone with a daughter in the Beaubien Options program who is a very active member of the PTA, and even though her son tested high enough, he did not get offered a spot.

  • 339. Siblingworry  |  May 26, 2013 at 10:26 am

    I am taking the guess work out, am talking about Decatur. Somebody already observed this back in 2010. I have 15 names where the siblings have gotten in. Many more must be there because some of the siblings are already out of the school.

    I am just not convinced that statistically it can happen. I have few more in the pipeline meaning I see that the parents are trying hard to be active in PTA and then I observed they all have a second kid waiting to enter. In a year or two it will be more clear.

  • 340. WRP Mom  |  May 26, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    I suspected you might be talking about Decatur because I’d heard similar rumors when my child went there (graduated class of 2012). Although there are a lot of siblings there, I have also known of plenty of families (with active PTA or LSC members) where the younger sibling didn’t get in and went to a different school. I also have known some families where the parents were NOT super involved but the sibling got in.

    My observation was a lot of families try to be active when they are new (k,1st) whether they have other children or not. Later, if a younger sib doesn’t get in, the parents become less active because their time, energy and money is divided between 2 schools. And those whose younger kids do get in, become even more active because they can concentrate on the one school and everyone remembers THOSE parents.

    It would be really hard to prove something fishy is going on and I’m not even sure how it could be done these days the way admissions are handled now. Everything is handled by OAE and the school seems to have no control over admissions. It’s all a numbers game now.

  • 341. Beth T.  |  May 27, 2013 at 8:59 pm

    Before the rumors go flying, I am the current PTA President at Decatur, and my younger son tested for gifted/classical Kindergarten this year. And he did NOT get in. To Decatur, or anywhere else. So no special strings to pull for us.

    I think that statistically siblings can get selected for Decatur. One mom who is around the playground a lot told me she had compiled a list of more than 30 siblings testing for Decatur K 2013 (I guess a lot of us had babies back in ’07/08). And 3 siblings were accepted. That doesn’t seem totally crazy, especially when you factor in the tier system obscuring what is required for admission. Of those families, one had a current child in K, two families in 1st grade. None of them on PTA or LSC.

    Kind of stands to reason (to me) that some families are doing the magic ‘right things’ to get multiple kids into a selective school. Whether that is reading to the child, or test prep, or extra vitamins in their cereal, some families are going to get lucky twice. I don’t see it as something tied to involvement around school.

    Also, if you dig a bit deeper, a number of these sibling families at Decatur did not get the 2nd child in on the first round, or even in the first year that the child tested. I think families with an older child at Decatur are probably more likely to keep testing for 1st grade, and 2nd grade, etc. and see if they can get the 2nd child in at some point. Or these Decatur families are more likely, when they get the OAE phone call 6 days before school starts to say their child has finally come up on the waitlist, they say “Yes! We will take that last minute seat” If you are a non-Decatur family , and your child has been planning to go to a different school for 4 months, it seems harder to accept that seat in August. I think with an older sib already at the school it is easier to make a last minute switch. But I’m only hypothesizing.

    @SiblingWorry – I’m sorry to hear you think the PTA leadership has an attitude or that you might feel bullied. I hope you are referring to some past experience and not this 2012-2013 school year. We have worked so hard this year to be inclusive and communicative and welcoming. If you want to discuss any specific issues please feel free to contact me – my info is all there on the Decatur website.

  • 342. Siblingworry  |  May 29, 2013 at 7:51 am

    @ 341

    Thanks a lot for the explanation. This clarifies a lot of concerns. I truly appreciate the information presented. Yes, past experience has left me bitter and once that happens you feel ostracized and things go out of control. Thank you again for taking the time out.

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  • 344. Sara  |  June 5, 2013 at 4:55 pm

    If your child does not make it into Decatur or any of the other gifted schools, I can highly recommend Science Academy of Chicago that is in Mount Prospect. It is a private school but the curriculum is Advanced and a challenging curriculum for the students. Many of the Chicago area families whose children did not make it due to no spots available, have children at this school.

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    Are the reasonable private transportation options? Any other recommendations would be appreciated. Thanks

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  • 352. AC IB mom  |  August 16, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    Ike, I am in the same area and have always gone with the park district (can’t beat the price for sure), but I have always had busing available due to them attending magnet schools. I would first check with the school to make sure they didn’t have any type of busing for something like this, and if that doesn’t work I would check with the Irving Park Y. I think they have their own bus that picks up from several schools and I have heard they have a good after school program. Good Luck!

  • 353. Anonymous Mom  |  September 30, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    Do magnet elementary schools use proximity and tiers for selection? This is what I had heard, but do not see anything to confirm.

  • 354. Christine Whitley  |  September 30, 2013 at 3:08 pm

    Elementary Schools do use proximity and tiers for entry-year selection. The Options for Knowledge guide is out so you can check there for more information.

  • 355. LJK  |  October 8, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    Do you know if there is a guideline or rule as to what time a principal must be at their school on a day of attendance?

  • 356. maumau36  |  October 23, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    My son is 4, born Sept 28 and in pre-k at Lenart. He also attends Northwestern’s Center for Talent Development on Saturdays. On his KTEA II assessment, he is reading at the 3.2 grade level and 1,5 grade level for math. I’d hoped to have him take the selective enrollment test but was told that his birth date is 4 weeks late and there is nothing I can do? Please advise.

  • 357. WorkingMommyof2  |  October 23, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    maumau36, under CPS rules your son isn’t only 4 weeks too young for the SEES test, he is also 4 weeks too young for kindergarten next year.

    Unfortunately, CPS doesn’t allow for wiggle room. I have multiple friends with bright 4-year-olds with September birthdays who are stuck waiting another year.

  • 358. cpsobsessed  |  October 23, 2013 at 2:34 pm

    There is some wiggle room for first grade entry, but that’s it. You child can be admitted to a private kindergarten early that meets these requirements. But then I suppose you’d have to do testing for a gifted program for entry into 1st grade (and your child would be competing with older kids for those spots.) Also, I’d check with OAE about how this affects entry to gifted/classical programs. (And get it in writing.)

    Students must be six years old by September 1, 2014, in order to apply for first grade enrollment for the 2014-2015 school year. However, if your child will become six years old between September 2, 2014 – December 31, 2014, he/she may qualify for an exception to the age requirement for first grade enrollment.

    To qualify for this exception, your child:
    (1) must become six years old between September 2, 2014 – December 31, 2014;
    (2) must have attended preschool and kindergarten at the same non-public school, or the same public school outside Illinois;
    (3) must have been taught in kindergarten by an appropriately certified teacher; and
    (4) must be deemed ready by the non-public school (or the public school outside Illinois) to work at the first grade level.

    If you are applying for first grade enrollment for your child under this age exception, you must: (a) submit a First Grade Age Exception Form to the Office of Access and Enrollment by December 13, 2013, and (b) provide by July 1, 2014, documentation from the non-public school (or public school outside Illinois) that the child satisfies items 1-4 above. If documentation is not provided by this deadline, any seat awarded through the Options for Knowledge application process will be forfeited.

    If your child does not satisfy the four requirements, or if the qualifying documentation is not provided by the deadline, any seat awarded through the Options for Knowledge application process will be forfeited. Once forfeited, your child will not be entitled to move to a kindergarten seat at that school.

  • 359. cpsobsessed  |  October 23, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    Actually, I see this DOES apply to SEES programs ^

  • 360. hjmox  |  November 3, 2013 at 4:23 pm

    cpsobsessed hello! I have 2 children. My son 4 and my daughter just turned 3. My son has a summer birthday (born in 2009) and by CPS rules should be starting Kindergarten this coming Fall of 2014. My husband and I DO NOT want to start him in kindergarten until he’s 6 years old, which is why he’s currently in a private school for pre-school. Can you tell me if there’s any way around the mandatory starting age of 5 if before Sept.1st? When I called CPS they said if I didn’t start him at age 5 then they’d automatically put him in the first grade (which means he’d be skipping Kindergarten) which we don’t want to happen! My husband and I planned on keeping him in private for another year if we need to just to keep him starting kindergarten at age 6. He’s currently in PreK-4, and we plan on putting him in the schools Jr.Kindergarten next year, and then he’ll start regular Kindergarten right after turning 6 in 2015. Do you know if there’s a certain grade level he could transfer over to CPS at which would put him in the grade level we think appropriate? I thought I read somewhere that if you come in to CPS after the 2nd grade that the “Sept 1st” deadline wont apply? But we’re unable to get a concrete answer what’s true/not true.

    So frustrating the Kindergarten starting age can’t be the parents decision instead of Cook Counties 😦

    Thank you so much for your time and help!
    Hjmox (mother of 2)

  • 361. Ryan  |  November 12, 2013 at 9:44 am

    I’m in the Lincoln Park area. Mayer is our area school. I’m looking to apply to more than one school to increase our changes of getting our son in next fall for pre-K. Is there any program other than Mayer that is full day and free for 3 year olds in the area?

  • 362. WLMom  |  November 12, 2013 at 11:28 am

    @Hjmox: Is there any reason why you want your son starts K after he turns 6?

  • 363. LSmom  |  November 12, 2013 at 11:33 am

    hjmox, CPS is rigid on this one. I’m pretty sure you can transfer them over at grade 2 if you do private for K and 1. As a late summer birthday mom of a boy, I was initially frustrated but it’s worked out just fine. CPS classrooms are so big, I think it would be even tougher if there were more than a 1 year span in there. It’s just the city, not all of cook county, in the suburbs people red shirt like crazy.

  • 364. cpsobsessed  |  November 12, 2013 at 11:34 am

    That was my understand too — 2nd grade is when they stop tracking the birthdate.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 365. Christine Whitley  |  November 12, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    @Ryan 361: there are only 3 Montessori Magnet Schools (like Oscar Mayer)

    1. Oscar Mayer
    2. Suder
    3. Drummond

  • 366. ***  |  November 19, 2013 at 11:06 pm


  • 367. Elliott Mason  |  November 20, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    Pretty sure the immediately previous post is spam, given the site linked to in the poster’s ‘name’ …

  • 368. cpsobsessed  |  November 20, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    @thanks, EM.

  • 369. Kari  |  November 22, 2013 at 10:34 pm

    Would love to hear your thoughts on the best magnet schools. We’re in Ogden and hope to get into the JK program there but if that doesn’t work out we figured might as well play the lottery game. We live downtown so wouldnt want to drive too far but have no idea what the stronger magnet schools are … thoughts?

  • 370. OTdad  |  November 22, 2013 at 10:46 pm

    What is JK program?

  • 371.  |  December 12, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    We missed last year’s gifted & classical test for my daughter to enter kindergarten so she is testing for 1st grade this year. I’d love to hear your thoughts:
    1) Is it that the chance of getting into a 1st grade gifted or classical program is much lower than that into a kindergarden class, given that most spots are already taken from kindergarten students already in the same school?
    2) What really are the difference between gifted and classical classes? Do gifted classes have more resources than classical? What strategy should I take choosing between gifted and classical schools?
    Thanks for any input you may have!

  • 372. Elliott Mason  |  December 12, 2013 at 8:54 pm

    Classical schools aim for kids who are academically gifted; they focus on providing work at an appropriate (usually ahead of their grade level) amount of challenge. Gifted kids brain differently than others; gifted education is kind of a subset of special-ed, and involves different teaching methods and styles.

    They’re tested into with two different tests.

  • 373. WRP Mom  |  December 12, 2013 at 11:54 pm

    If the school you are looking at has its entry year at kindergarten, it’s usually difficult to get in at 1st grade unless someone leaves. There are a couple schools, though, in which their options programs begin with 1st grade (Bell and Beaubien) and Decatur will be adding an entire 1st grade class next year so those may be your best chances.

    As for classical vs. gifted, both are accelerated. I think the teaching styles are different. There is a lot about this topic on old threads if you want more details. As for strategies, that’s difficult to say since you don’t know how well your child will score on each test. Besides the schools I mentioned above, I’d go with schools which will be a doable commute, whether you are in the bus boundaries, etc.

  • 374.  |  December 13, 2013 at 4:12 am

    @WRP Mom, thanks for the info about Decatur’s 1st grade class expansion. That’s good news for us. As a mom new to Chicago that neglected about the SEES kindergarten exam last year, I feel guilty for not doing my best for my daughter’s education and want to make up for it this year. We live in the south side (hyde park) now but don’t mind moving north and closer to the RGC/classicals up there if my daughter can get into any of those great schools since my work place is near O’hare anyway.

    I am struggling about the rank order of the gifted/classical schools in the application.
    1) I have RGC: Edison, Bell, Coonley, (maybe beaubien too) and classicals: Decatur, Skinner North, Skinner, on my list. Strategically, should I put all RGCs before the classicals or put them in an order reflecting preference for individual schools? If my child will score well only on one test, I guess that would be the RGC, as she is not so advanced in reading for the classical test.

    2) I will be glad if my child can get into any of those schools. But for the sake of ranking, are the RGC programs (Edison, Bell, Coonley, Beaubien) all (almost) equally good and more advanced than the non-gifted classes? I know Edison and Coonley are ranked high in their testing scores, but Bell and Beaubien are not high in their scores ranks. I know Bell and Beaubien have both RGC and large neighborhood classes so their score reflect performance of both classes but based on their schools’ score ranks it’s hard to assess whether the RGC classes really perform well. In this case, can I say that Edison and Coonley’s RGC programs are better than those of Bell and Beaubien’s? I’d appreciate any input about these schools.

    3) Besides the RGC/classicals, are there other good private or regional schools in the O’hare region that require admission tests that I shouldn’t miss this time of the year?


  • 375. Mama  |  December 13, 2013 at 8:17 am

    @371 If you don’t mind moving, I highly recomend to Oriole Park School boundries – close to Ohare, amazing school with no entry exam.

  • 376. TimeForADoOver  |  December 13, 2013 at 9:49 am

    @repeats: If you’re willing to relocate closer to your child’s potential gifted/classical program, then I agree with #375 that you should probably consider moving within the boundaries of a good neighborhood school. There are so many throughout Chicagoland. As you already know, the chances of securing a gifted/classical spot are slim… even at the kindergarten level. Don’t beat yourself up about the past. I did everything “right” and my bright child still didn’t get into gifted/classical for kindergarten (I would’ve been thrilled with either). He’s thriving, however, at our neighborhood school, which has other merits as well. IMO, you’re better off focusing on the safer bet. Good luck!

  • 377.  |  December 13, 2013 at 11:51 am

    TimeForADoOver, your suggestion makes sense. Thanks for recommending the Oriole Park, Mama. I am trying to figure out which neighborhood to move to surrounding the Ohare / Park Ridge region.
    Among Decatur, Bell, and Beaubien, can anybody offer any comparison/opinions? I am trying to rank order these three.

  • 378. lpmom  |  December 15, 2013 at 9:14 pm – after visiting all of the schools you are considering (except Beaubien) we chose Bell over all of them – even Edison and Coonley. And we love it. You need to find what atmosphere would be good for your child, not necessarily what the school’s scores are. Just sayin. 🙂

  • 379.  |  December 17, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    lpmom, thanks for sharing. We missed the school tours. How unprepared I am! I hope to tour those schools in the Spring if possible. But I am glad that I did put Bell on top of my RGC list, because it has more spots for 1st graders!

  • 380. s....  |  December 18, 2013 at 12:53 am

    Does anyone know if the lottery gives you a much better chance for K entry than 1st grade entry? We are considering applying for the age exception [both kids born between Sept and Dec and are attending private school for PreK/K]. But we don’t want to mess up their chances of getting into CPS magnet schools by applying only for Grade 1 and skipping K. I would just as soon have them repeat K, if they can have a better chance to get into a good school.

  • 381. TimeForADoOver  |  December 18, 2013 at 9:40 am

    @380: I honestly don’t think that CPS allows for age exceptions at the kindergarten and 1st grade levels, so this is probably a moot point. Have you been told differently? Hypothetically, though, I personally wouldn’t mess around with my children’s education based on the uncertainty of a lottery. While your chances are technically better when applying for kindergarten, the desired outcome isn’t a sure thing and luck has more to do with it than anything else. I know several kids who secured great magnet spots during non-entry years. If I were you, I’d take advantage of the fact that your kids will apply a year apart (at least from the sound of it). If one of them gets a spot at a “good” school, then the other can enter into the sibling lottery which offers the best odds.

  • 382. s....  |  December 19, 2013 at 11:01 pm

    According to CPS website there is a ‘1st Grade only’ age exception for kids born between Sept and Dec. who have attended Pre-K and K somewhere else. We would really like to ‘not rely on the lottery’ but unfortunately, although we live in a nice, diverse, middle class neighborhood which we love, our local school is declining. Its population currently consists of 90% low income kids, over half of them from outside the neighborhood radius and most not reading at grade level – the school is pretty much controlled by those who do not live here. Good idea about the siblings…

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    CPS is an interesting (!) system. I wrote an article about my experience navigating the elementary application process. And I’m a CPS teacher. Here’s my link – Check it out and I hope it offers some insight.

  • 408. Cara  |  March 11, 2015 at 11:06 am

    We are moving to Chicago this summer. My husband works for ISU as an el ed professor, and all of his research is urban ed. So, we are somewhat familiar with CPS, but are a bit anxious about this process. We have 3 kids that will be in 5th, 3rd and 1st. We have been told that our middle child is gifted,but our district in Normal has no services for that. Our youngest shows signs of being gifted in math. We will live in the NW part of the city,and are fine with a neighborhood school for a year. But, we will start looking at the gifted/magnet schools for the next year. Any advice would be much appreciated.

  • 409. Jamie Tapia  |  March 18, 2015 at 11:10 am

    New mom here – we recently purchased a home in Buena Park – how do I get my son into a Pre-K program outside the boundary – is there a lottery for Pre-K for Blaine or Disney? I am only finding the lottery application starting grade 1 and I am not sending my son to Brennenmann, the guaranteed school in our district…he’d start Pre-K in 2017

  • 410. Brad  |  March 25, 2015 at 12:27 pm

    I have 2 sons who don’t attend CPS schools this year but were waitlisted at handful of CPS schools for next year. If my oldest (going into 2nd grade) gets off the waitlist and accepts, does the younger one (going into 1st grade) automatically get in or does he have to wait until the next school year?

  • 411. Samara  |  April 9, 2015 at 8:28 am

    We are number 42 on the waitlist for Waters and 29 at Hamilton. Do you know if we have a shot at either? We are in Coonley, which is great, but we can’t afford to buy here. I’m thinking of overall quality of life and sending my daughter to Coonley would mean lee would not be able to get a bigger place with more space.

  • 412. paulina  |  May 31, 2015 at 6:01 pm

    trying to move from the north shore burbs back into the city with two girls. One is currently a first grader and one is a third grader. Can we still test into gifted programs or are we “too old” to be considered? Both kids are in 97-99% in Highland Park elementary school and the younger one in particular, is unnervingly smart but needs to be stimulated more.

  • 413. katherin  |  September 2, 2015 at 8:10 pm

    I have a question. I am currently staying with my parents and my two kids but I am wanting to move back to Texas. I will be staying with my mother in law in a one bedroom parents have already said they will call cps and try and get my kids if I leave. They have told me they can be taken since its a one bedroom apartment and in total there will be two adults a two year old and a six month old living there, can you tell me if this is true? What are cps rules on living conditions?

  • 414. Carmen  |  September 5, 2015 at 5:35 pm

    How does cps schools determine the schools your school should play against? Is it by the school sport rank? Or depending where you live? Ex : south side only plays in the south

  • 415. Ayah  |  October 10, 2015 at 5:06 pm

    I am in 8th grade and I want to apply to a neighborhood school. Does that mean that you have to live in the neighborhood to go to that school? I live 20 mins away from that school but I really want to go because my friends go there.

  • 416. cpsobsessed  |  October 10, 2015 at 5:20 pm

    @Ayah, you would need to apply to the school via what’s called “Open Enrollment.”
    You need to request a PIN and then fill out an application.
    Not all neighborhood schools have space, so it really depends on the school.
    On the other hand, some schools have MORE spaces for 8th grade because families move away etc, so it could be worth a shot. Also, if you do not get in initially, it could be worth contacting the principal about transferring into the school after the school year starts. You could even look into that now, I believe. It just depends whether the school has space or not.
    Start here to apply online:

    If you can tell us what school it is, I can help you check if that school has open enrollment.

  • 417. Bryan  |  February 28, 2016 at 7:25 pm

    Hello I was wondering if this rumor I heard was true . We currently live in the South Loop and the high school and grammar school are very bad (test scores ) . What options do we have in choosing another school.

  • 418. BLou  |  February 28, 2016 at 8:16 pm

    There is some truth to those rumors. The grammar school is just OK. It is a turnaround school, mostly thanks to heavy parental involvement and changes in demographics over the last decade. But it still faces serious administrative/management challenges, and a lack of resources and space.
    The “neighborhood” high school serving the area, Wendell Phillips, is actually in Bronzeville, not in the South Loop. It is an AUSL managed school that was under-performing in the recent past, and they have been trying to turn it around, from what I understand. You can look up school scorecards in the CPS website.
    Selective enrollment Jones College Prep is likely the best public school in the South Loop vicinity. Because their admissions policy favors students from outside the area, students who reside in the South Loop (classified as Tier 4) have to score VERY high in order to get into their college prep program, because of their tier. But they can also apply to Jones’ vocational program (pre-law and pre-engineering), which is also selective in their admissions.

  • 419. Nicole  |  June 28, 2016 at 3:40 am

    My son just finished up his last class at Shoesmith Elementary School. Many of his classmates are moving on to Ray Elementar.. My son didn’t get picked to go to Ray Elementary but he’s on their waiting list at number 35. His home school is Reavis Elementary but I don’t feel comfortable sending him there because they have shooting to close by the school for me. Everyday my son ask me is there anything I can do to get him into Ray. I’m Desperate and need some advice and guidance on this matter. Signed a concerned mothe..

  • 420. Jennifer R  |  July 2, 2016 at 2:01 pm

    Can someone tell me what happens if your child is enrolled in a neighborhood school and then you move out of the attendance zone? Does your child get to stay enrolled in the school for their remainder of their elementary days? Same question about magnet schools. I would think that this would have no bearing on a magnet since they don’t have attendance boundaries. But just want to make sure that the original offer is for the duration of elementary school regardless of address! Thanks!

  • 421. Ahkea Smith  |  November 15, 2016 at 8:33 pm

    My boys attend a decent neighborhood school and are scoring in the 90% percentile on the NWEA test. Recently attended parent/teachers conference and was told that I should consider moving them to one of the classical schools. So any advice on what to expect on the test is it extremely different from the NWEA need help Thanks,

  • 422. CPSMom  |  November 15, 2016 at 9:50 pm

    I am curious as to how common it is for a teacher to suggest a parent move their child out of their school to a more rigorous academic program, as the parent @421 tells. I, as the parent of 2 over-achieving students attending magnet and gifted schools, and who consistently scored above 90% NWEA and the previously offered ISAT, it was never suggested to me by their teachers that I should consider moving them out to a more challenging program, and I always assumed it was in the school’s best interest to keep those students in. Can anyone comment on a similar experience? Is it common practice?

  • 423. Jim  |  February 4, 2017 at 3:58 am

    Thank you for creating this blog! It is very informative. I recently got married and my wife and I are looking to purchase a home in a good school district. It seems as though this would be an important factor for a young couple intending to have children in the near future, but my real estate agent seems totally clueless and I have had to search for answers on my own.

    There are some nice new upscale condos being built in Noble Square. Kids in that area are assigned to the James Otis Elementary School. The school is only 2% white, which seemed very strange, so I did some further research and discovered that the school teach every class only in Spanish, not in English! So what would happen if a child who only speaks English is assigned to that school? Is it easier for a kid in that area to get into a magnet school via the lottery, or would the child have to score well enough to get into a Gifted school?

  • 424. cpsobsessed  |  February 4, 2017 at 9:03 pm

    Hi @Jim – thanks for posting. Did you confirm with the school that the classes are taught only in Spanish? Truthfully, some parents might see this as a benefit, as getting language immersion in CPS is rare.
    If that is the neighborhood school, then that’s where your child would attend, and they wouldn’t have any advantage getting into other schools. The exception would be anyone in your neighborhood getting in the proximity lottery for a Magnet school (such as LaSalle II) but still not a guarantee by any means.
    For a Gifted/Classical program, a child would need to test in.
    If you confirm the classes are all in Spanish (the CPS site says that 25% of kids are African American) then you may need to get with some other English-speaking parents to inquire about getting English instruction. The school is currently a Level 1 rated school (Level 1+ is the highest.) so it may be worth learning more.

  • 425. Jim  |  February 5, 2017 at 3:43 am

    Thank you for the information, @cpsobsessed. I think I must have misread the information I found about Otis – it is supposed to be a language-focused school, but the only language is Spanish. So they may simply offer a bunch of Spanish classes.

    What do you know about Jahn Elementary School? It is only ranked 3/10 on Redfin and “Level 2” on the CPS official website, However, the demographics have changed a lot since 2012 and there seems to be a lot of wealthier people moving into the area, which seems like a good sign for an improving school district. According to and the CPS offical page, the primary change in demographics has been an increase of % White from 7 to 21.5% and a decrease in Hispanic from 76% to 59.9%, with the % of other races remaining relatively steady. I cannot say whether this demographic change means anything at all, but it could mean that more new homeowners in the area are willing to send their children to Jahn.

    I also noticed that the total enrollment in Jahn is 344 students, which seems quite low. Would that school be at risk of being closed for low enrollment?

  • 426. cpsobsessed  |  February 8, 2017 at 8:59 pm

    @Jim – a brief history of elementary school gentrification in Chicago:
    Test scores (and thus school ratings) tend to be linked very closely to socio-economics. As a school gentrifies, test scores tend to rise correspondingly.

    The school and teachers may be the same, but with a different student body (parents English-speaking, affluent, college educated) and with more resources (parents with more free time and means to start a Friends Of fundraising group, PTO, volunteer program, etc) the school starts to have better scores and more to offer. So once gentrified parents “rally” around a school, it starts to look better on paper and suddenly becomes in-demand (among the gentrifiers.) Nettelhorst was one of the first north side schools to do this and it’s written about in the book Walking to School if you’re curious.

    Of note, the test scores tend to lag the gentrification, as schools don’t report scores until 3rd grade. So it can take 4 years for scores to start to look good and the school to move to Level 1.

    In the meantime, you really need to visit the school and talk to local parents. Jahn may be in that transition now. Or maybe not and parents are working on a plan. This often starts with preK parents who want a local K option. It takes a principal who is willing to embrace the efforts of “highly involved parents” to help organize the school community. OR.. you might visit the school and determine that it’s just fine for your child as it is. Or not. It can vary school to school.

    This is low attendance for a K-8 school. I don’t think it’ll close anytime soon, but the ideal situation would be for the neighborhood to attend to get it to capacity, as I’m sure there are a lot of school age kids over there.

    So I’d start talking to other local parents at classes, playgrounds, etc. That’s how most of the “good” school came to be in demand.

  • 427. Lost Mom  |  February 21, 2017 at 1:03 pm

    We applied to an academic center that is far from our home if we want to move closer to that school will our younger will lose admission to our good neighborhood school or will they understand and let them stay. Younger is in 4th grade but wants to stay till 8th and will not be testing for any SE schools (test scores only in the 70’s)

  • 428. A Chavez  |  May 12, 2017 at 6:54 pm

    My daughter got accepted to Disney II Magnet HS which is 7th-12th grade. Can anyone tell me anything about this school? Academically, I’m not sure if it’s a good school even though it’s a magnet school.

  • 429. Andriy  |  May 28, 2017 at 3:33 pm

    My son attends Lincoln elementary in Lincoln Park. He just got tested into Skinner West Classical program (99th percentile on both). Does it make sense for us to switch from Lincoln to Skinner West? I understand that Skinner West is considered to be good, but is it any better from a good neighborhood school like Lincoln. We are desperate for any information and would appreciate a speedy response as we need to decide within 3 days.

  • 430. harry potter  |  June 1, 2017 at 8:12 am

    This isn’t CPS specific and affects all Illinois schools. The general assembly did not do their job, again, and again, we are all left wondering if schools will open this fall again. How the hell do our lawmakers get paid when they don’t complete their most basic job requirement? I personally will be voting for ANYONE new because these idiots don’t seem to know how to agree on a budget.

  • 431. Confused mom  |  September 14, 2017 at 8:26 pm

    Did CPS change the way you apply for selective enrollment for starting K in 2018? I applied a few years ago and had to get a PIN, then pick a date for testing. Can someone explain the process now, and the timeline? Is October when you “apply?” thanks!

  • 432. Sandra  |  October 24, 2017 at 12:20 pm

    Hi, I am not sure you can assist – but I am hopeful you can point me in the right direction. My son turns 5 years old August 10 next year. That means he will be 5 by September 1st and therefore should start Kindergarten in 2018. I want to know if there is any flexibility on starting him on Kindergarten only in 2019 — he is just 20 days away from that Sep 1 cut-off date, and I feel like he is not ready. Any guidance on how to go about it?

  • 433. cpsobsessed  |  October 24, 2017 at 5:55 pm

    @sandra. Cps doesn’t allow kids to be held back. If you waited til next year I believe they would put him in first grade then. They are strict about it

  • 434. cpsobsessed  |  October 24, 2017 at 6:00 pm

    I think the only option would be putting him in private k in 2019 and then you could transfer to cps in either 1st or 2nd without them “recalibrating” his grade. I can recall which grade they allow it.

  • 435. Heidi  |  October 24, 2017 at 6:38 pm

    My son has a summer birthday and ran into the same issue so we decided to put him in private school starting him at “Junior kindergarten” at 5 years old and then started him in Kindergarten right after he turned 6! He’s now 8 years old and starting him one year later was the best decision we could have made! Absolutely no regrets!

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