Does anyone have a good intro into the “system”?

Home Forums Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CPS Elementary Schools Selective Enrollment Elementary Schools (SEES) Does anyone have a good intro into the “system”?

  • This topic has 8 replies, 1 voice, and was last updated 6 months ago by CPSmomof1.
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    • #13105 Reply
      thekiyote
      Participant

      Okay, I won’t lie.  I’m REALLY confused by all of this.

      While both of us grew up in the suburbs, my wife and I are planning on raising our daughter in the city.  At a year, she’s still really young, but after some talk of squirreling money away for a private school (if needed), I started googling how CPS selective enrollment schools work and I realized I had no clue what was going on.

      I get that there are selective enrollment schools and to get into them, in a few years, my daughter is going to need to take a test for them.  I am not sure what the differences between classical and regional gifted schools are.

      Also, is it like college, where you apply to individual schools and get an acceptance/rejection letter?  Are there rankings for all of these schools?

      On top of that, how do you guys study for this test?  I doubt that people are just leaving it up to chance.  I know I have time, but I would like to know how it works ahead of time.

      Thanks in advance!

    • #13106 Reply
      jazzman

      Congrats for wanting to stay in the city and raise your child great educational opportunities. Now how much alcohol or mind altering meds are you willing to consume?? The process in damn near an additional job to get your child into the classical or gifted schools.  The classical schools are usually 1-1.5 yrs above the  grade. The gifted is usually 2 grades above the grade level. Classical you can test prep easier its more so about more concrete thinking reading and math. The gifted test is more so about how you think patterns, logic, and making inferences. The classical and gifted programs are very good programs. I like them over the private because whatever you are lacking in the gifted or classical schools you can pay a tutor or enrichment classes on the weekends or after school. The classical and gifted are what I call public private programs ( alot of parent involvement strong PTA or Friends of X ). Start by doing visits or call the principle of the school you really desire and get a tour and/or go to PTA meeting or parent groups.

    • #13107 Reply
      thekiyote
      Participant

      @jazzman

      Now how much alcohol or mind altering meds are you willing to consume??

      All of them xD

      But seriously, I’ve heard that there are different curriculum for classical and regional gifted centers.  Is this just centered around the grade level that they’re teaching at, or are there different focus points between the two?

      I like them over the private because whatever you are lacking in the gifted or classical schools you can pay a tutor or enrichment classes on the weekends or after school.

      That’s kind of our thought on it.  When my wife and I talked about it, we were playing with the idea of sending our kids to the Lab School in Hyde Park.  We qualify for some tuition discounts, but the Bronzeville Classical school is literally down the street and the National Teacher Academy or even, really, the South Loop, aren’t that far away either.

      We figure we can start with public and then, if it seems like it isn’t a good fit, go from there.

      Classical you can test prep easier its more so about more concrete thinking reading and math. The gifted test is more so about how you think patterns, logic, and making inferences.

      What sort of prep did you do?  Generally, I’m seeing the OLSAT for the Regional Gifted Centers and CogAT for the Classical schools.

      Another question I have is about the Regional Gifted Centers for English Learners.  Is this program aimed at ESL students or for bilingual families? Because my daughter is being raised speaking Russian in addition to English.  We are planning on sending her to Russian language school as she gets older, but if that can be streamlined, that is something to consider as well.

    • #13108 Reply
      Petra

      Also, is it like college, where you apply to individual schools and get an acceptance/rejection letter?  Are there rankings for all of these schools?

      You can apply for up to six Selective Enrollment Elementary Schools (SEES). For most, K is the entry year, but there are a couple (Keller, Beaubien) where it’s 1st grade. You rank the schools you apply to in order of preference. Your child will take the SEES exam sometime in the fall or winter. If you’ve got a rising Kindergartener, they’ll take a test 1:1 with an educational psychologist (or someone in a similar field) at IIT, and they’ll take the Classical and gifted tests at the same time. The Classical test will be focused on academic skills/achievement/readiness, and gifted will be more abstract/critical thinking-oriented (more like an IQ test). You’ll receive your child’s scores (and potentially an offer) in the spring. In K, you’ll get percentile scores in reading and math for the Classical test, and a score out of 160 for gifted. As far as offers go, there are about 28-30 seats per class (Skinner North has 2 Kindergarten classes per year, but I think they might be the only ones). There’s a tier process involved, but if you get an offer, it will be for the highest-ranked school (on your application) that your child got a high enough score for. If your child didn’t get a qualifying test score for any of your preferred schools, you can wait for later rounds to see if a spot will open up for you (i.e. if earlier offers are declined).

      Beyond that, to learn about this process, what I’ve done is basically just scour the internet for all the information that I could find. I still feel like I knew more than I do about certain things (i.e. the real, measurable differences between Classical and gifted programs and what kind of questions are on the SEES exam), but if you spend enough time exploring the information that’s out there, you’ll pick up on a lot. Here are some of the sources I’ve used:

      • This message board (not only current threads, but also a lot of past ones)
      • NPN’s forum
      • CPS school profiles (gives a good overview, and under the “Downloads” tab, I find the CIWP pretty interesting, and the “My School, My Voice” survey and School Quality Rating Report are also good)
      • 5 Essentials Survey data (the most recent publicly available data seems to be from the 2019 survey)
      • School websites
      • School social media pages
      • School PTO websites (you can sometimes find minutes posted online)
      • School LSC websites (you can find minutes for these sometimes, too)
      • Open Houses (I’ve included notes from a few of them in this spreadsheet)
      • CPS Obsessed (via archive.org)

      As far as test prep — idk, there are a lot of different routes you can go with that. CPS discourages it, but there are definitely some prep companies (i.e. Testing Mom) that will tell you it’s worth it. I started doing some prep with my daughter over the summer — we basically just got her a bunch of workbooks/activity books. She’s got workbooks on everything from critical thinking to patterns to word problems to mazes. We also got a family IXL subscription.

    • #13109 Reply
      Petra

      Also, to answer some of your additional questions:

      • The ELL RGC programs are only for students whose primary language is Spanish or Polish. I think Greeley’s program also used to include students whose primary language was Russian, but it no longer does.
      • As far as I can tell, curriculum differences between gifted and Classical programs depend more on the individual schools than on the RGC vs. Classical designation itself. Based on CPS’s descriptions, RGC programs are, I think, in theory supposed to be more project-based than Classical programs, which are more “traditional” academic programs. YMMV. I’ve seen some information that suggests that curriculum may be accelerated to a greater degree in RGC programs, but again, I think it varies depending on the school (and within schools, too, since they’ll differentiate content depending on individual students’ abilities).
    • #13110 Reply
      thekiyote
      Participant

      @Petra Thanks for the insight!  When looking at ELL RGC programs, Russian was thrown around with Spanish and Polish.  It seemed like the odd language out, population-wise, but I figured I’d ask and I’m not all that surprised to hear it isn’t a thing anymore.

      Also, what I’m taking away is that it changes from school to school, but, on average, I can expect RGC programs to be a bit more accelerated than Classical programs, but it’s mostly school specific, right?

      • #13111 Reply
        Petra

        Also, what I’m taking away is that it changes from school to school, but, on average, I can expect RGC programs to be a bit more accelerated than Classical programs, but it’s mostly school specific, right?

        To be honest, I don’t feel like I know enough to give a certain answer on that one! If I’m remembering correctly, NPN and Chicago School GPS did a mentioned in a webinar a few months back that RGC programs generally start at grade level in the entry year but work up to up to 2 years above by the end of the year, while Classical programs start 1 year above at the beginning of the year (and that’s where they stay). I feel like the most concrete information I have about how accelerated curriculum is relates to upper-grades math: I know that Edison will allow students who are ready for it take geometry (and even beyond) in middle school, Keller may also offer geometry (not 100% sure), and pretty much every other school’s math offerings max out at Algebra I in 8th grade. Generally speaking, though, every school I’ve looked at seems to do a lot of differentiated, small-group instruction, and if a kid is say, reading at a 6th grade level in 3rd grade, they’ll be offered material at their own level regardless of whether they’re in a Classical school or RGC.

    • #13112 Reply
      jazzman

      Bronzeville Classical is a fantastic school great principle and heavily involved and invested parents very much a public private school. We used Critical Thinking Child program and our son attended Taylored Beginings private early childhood program 3-6 yr olds. The OLSAT and CogAT are very useful as well. We also talked a lot to him using enriched vocabulary , doing puzzles,  pattern programs going for walks and just striking up a conversation about random things, leaf, worm, bees, spider webs and etc.

      Oh one import thing as well have your child talk to the baker, butcher, fireman, and etc., that way they get use to talking to different people because when they go for the test they are asked questions by testers and you want them to feel comfortable talking and answering questions.

    • #13115 Reply
      CPSmomof1

      I am not a believer in test prep. You either know it or you don’t. That is the reasoning behind CPS not wanting students to be prepped. Since classical schools teach at a grade level ahead, a child who gets into a classical school by just prepping for the test without truly being a grade level ahead of their peers would not necessarily be successful at said school. We didn’t do any prepping for the test. In fact, we did not even decide to apply to classical schools until we were encouraged by others while the application cycle was open. Our kid did very well and got into our number 1 choice. That being said, we always tried to give our kid the best educational experiences starting at an early age: early daycare/preschool starting at age 2, lots of reading, puzzles, learning about science, learning basic phonics and arithmetic at age 3, etc. It sounds like you have a lot of time to enrich your daughter’s life with great educational experiences. So, in a way you would be prepping your daughter for years for the test by just doing what you would probably have been doing anyway in order to prepare her to be successful in school.

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