Thursday, March 4, 2010

Students at Worst Schools Get Ticket to Elite High Schools

What do you think about this story?
Chicago is adding a total of 100 seats to four coveted high schools: Northside College Prep, Walter Payton, Whitney Young, and Jones College Prep, where competition to get in is fierce.

Schools chief Ron Huberman says it’s not fair that students from the lowest performing elementary schools rarely get into the city’s top high schools. So now CPS will set aside seats for those kids.

Huberman says school officials have combed through the worst elementaries and picked out kids with high test scores. Some never applied for the city’s competitive high schools, and others were rejected in the normal application process.
Here's more from the Sun-Times:
The best-scoring eighth-graders from some of the city's worst-scoring schools are being saved 100 seats at four elite college preps -- including the top-scoring high school in the state -- in the latest twist to this year's controversial admission process.

Some time this week, 336 eighth-graders at 87 of the lowest-scoring public schools will be sent letters inviting them to apply to Whitney Young Magnet and Northside, Payton and Jones College Preps under the "choice'' provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind law, Chicago Public Schools officials said Wednesday.

Previously, CPS has used the federal "choice" provision to offer kids from low-scoring elementary schools seats in better schools, but Wednesday's announcement marks CPS' first venture into high school "choice.''

The new procedure raised immediate questions: Given the chance, will such kids want to attend such rigorous schools? If they go, will they be successful?
Here are some stats starting with the Sun-Times:
All 336 prospective "choice'' students scored at the 77th percentile or above on seventh-grade state reading and math tests, indicating they have potential to be competitive at a college prep, schools CEO Ron Huberman said. However, some may have attended schools that did little or nothing to help their kids apply to college preps, he said.
The new development comes after 3,040 other students were sent letters last week notifying them that their test scores and grades won them a seat at one of the city's nine college preps under a new process tied to socioeconomic factors and census tracts. Some 23 percent of all 13,056 kids who took the admission test were ultimately offered a seat.
Data released Wednesday indicate that Northside, Young and Lindblom College Prep selected far fewer students from the lowest of four economic tiers that were supposed to produce 60 percent of selected kids under this year's new process. Using that method, Northside -- the state's highest-scoring public high school -- picked 55 kids from the richest tier, but only 15 kids from the poorest one.
Then more stats from the Tribune:
But of the 336 students who have high enough standardized test scores to be considered under the new plan, 270 had already applied to selective high schools. And more than a few of the 87 sending schools said that they already encourage their students to apply to the selective schools. At Mollison Elementary, half of the eighth-grade class applied to such schools, though only four students scored high enough to be eligible for the program.
Here's the reasoning:
One reason for starting the program now appears to be the fear that a new admissions system started this year will re-segregate the elite schools. A federal court order that forced racial balancing in the schools was scrapped last year, forcing the district to devise a way to maintain diversity without using race as a primary factor. Under the new admissions criteria, 60 percent of the openings were divided according to four socioeconomic tiers. The rest of the openings were given to the highest-scoring students.

Many suspected that would result in less racial balance. And the district acknowledged that the new students, who will come from poverty-stricken schools that are almost entirely African-American and Latino, will help maintain diversity at the schools.

"The program also will help ensure continued racially diverse student bodies at the district's selective enrollment high schools," according to a Chicago Public Schools press release.

Yet despite promises of transparency, district officials refused to release the racial breakdown of students given offers through the new high school admissions process. Specifically, schools chief Ron Huberman skirted the issue of whether the new policy resulted in fewer offers to African-American and Latino students.

Of the new program, he said: "This is an additional factor that helps ensure the inclusiveness of all of our schools."
Do you think that our elite public schools will remain diverse as a result of these efforts?


  1. This is complete crap! I hate how low achieving kids always get a second chance. Coming from a low performing elementary school should not be a factor. If one wants to succeed and have a chance at being admitted to an elite school, they should work hard and not be commended/given the opportunity to still attend an elite school if they do not meet the standards. For example, at Jones I know for a fact the old admissions director, let in too many under achieving students that are struggling and make the school uncomfortable for everyone else. I preach for diversity, but these kids foster an environment that is displeasing. If they make the decision to attend an elite school, they should be respectful and keep their "hood" attitudes at home.

  2. This is old news from March, 2010. Because CPS fought and won to overturn the desegregation order. Check out the last paragraph, please.

    The application process is less diverse than ever thanks to Mr. Huberman.


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