Rock the Pizza Play Date!

In December, we hosted a fluorescence and phosphorescence-themed play date following our Admissions Coffee. We had a blast!

Several guests brought a sample from their collection, and everyone enjoyed sharing the stories behind how the piece was acquired from those that received it from a special relative or found it themselves, and what it was. A geologist joined with his own samples, and helped identify and discover the pieces further. The children especially enjoyed learning from him and looking at his super cool samples. They also enjoyed the rock climbing wall and jumping equipment and the opportunity to play and make new friends.

Lot’s of collaboration and discussion.

Lot’s of collaboration and discussion.

One of the children brought a dinosaur tooth to pass around. It didn’t produce any visible fluorescence and phosphorescence but was very much enjoyed anyway.

We looked at a number of local and exotic rocks and fossils. This includes our state rock, and a sample we collected ourselves from a Silurian outcrop just south of Chicago this fall.


We discovered that our classroom floor marble is unintentionally fluorescent.

In an extension of the activity, children enjoyed drawing with light on the floor and on our intentionally fluorescent walls as well as a craft project using photosensitive beads. 

Here’s a sample of various rocks and minerals with regular light.

Here’s a sample of various rocks and minerals with regular light.

And here’s that same collection under a UV light.

And here’s that same collection under a UV light.

If you have a gifted child and would like to be informed of our events, please sign up to be on our distribution list, or follow us on FB, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Admissions Coffee is monthly and is coming up on Sundays, January 20th and February 10th, 10:30 AM. Please drop us an email to RSVP.

Free College tuition in IL for top students

In case you haven't yet seen it, here’s some interesting news about UIC offering free tuition to attract high-achieving Illinois students: This is a very thought-provoking article. If the state is concerned that the brightest students are leaving, they should consider that many leave the state – and especially the City of Chicago – long before college due to a lack of gifted academic options, teacher training, and radical acceleration. It’s equally important to understand that gifted students are not always high achievers. And not all gifted students will be college-bound. Understanding your child's individual profile and strengths is critical to making long term educational plans.

Have you started the long-term conversation about options? What are your thoughts about the “pipeline” and opportunities for top academically talented and/or gifted students. What big picture things should we, as a state, or as a city, be doing, to support our brightest minds?

Does this put additional pressure on our top students? Are they going to be more likely to stay for scholarships? What about on the urgency to get students into selective enrollment public schools? Will some people instead try to stay at a weak school, in order to get a scholarship by having an easy chance at a valedictorian title? Just some thought-provoking questions about what this change means for the gifted/talented population. Drop us a note, we would love to hear your thoughts.

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Accelerated Placement Act and the City of Chicago, part 1

On July 1, 2018, a new law, the Accelerated Placement Act (click here for the complete text of the law) went into effect in Illinois. This law is a huge win for Illinois families. However, what will now be different? We will be exploring this issue and posting updates as they become available. Click here for a great article about the change.

Briefly, the law gives the framework to grade skip into K and 1st grade, for example, and then the ability to receive acceleration. We at MAGE hope these changes become available to all Illinois students. In the meantime, we are here, as we believe that there is a long road ahead. Similar laws already exist in other states, and yet private gifted schools also abound in those states - we do not think that any change in Illinois policy will make us obsolete, though we would love it if they did. 

We will start with sharing some information about how you can be a part of the solution here in Illinois. The amazing organization responsible for making the law happen is IAGC - Illinois Association for Gifted Children. If you have a gifted child and you live in Illinois, we would like to encourage you to join IAGC as a member, so that you can be a part of the solution for Illinois children by supporting the organization and by sharing in the dialogue. Every person that joins helps strengthen our state's commitment to gifted interests.  The next policy committee meeting is August 10@10AM @IMSA. Join the conversation!

In the next few weeks, we will be exploring additional topics:

Chicago Public Schools, CPS. What is the timeline for the policy change? Currently, office of OAE, Office of Access and Enrollment which controls the City's public gifted programming and fields the calls about the act, nebulously says that the policy change will be implemented next year. We are waiting on more details. There will be no changes for this year or in time for fall SEES applications for the next academic year as far as we understand at this time. 

What changes will public/charter, private, and parochial schools in Chicago make to comply with the new law? For example, the Archdiocese of Chicago is one of the largest networks outside of the public network. Would be interesting to understand their planned changes. We will be reaching out to the existing schools to find out their plans. Please share information with us and we will be happy to post it, as it becomes available. 

What are the benefits and consequences for any school to be compliant or not compliant with this new law? Is there a cost to implement the new law? What is the long term economic impact of this law on each school?

What policy changes would be relevant in Illinois? In our opinion, it would be helpful if academic differences were recognized as a special need.

-For example, if a student is more than 1-2 standard deviations off in ability to academic performance, many other states have laws with regard to considering that student as having learning differences. In Illinois, such learning differences are not recognized legally. A student is only recognized with a learning difference if they perform to specific measures below average levels of attainment, not as compared to their own potential.

-If a student needs acceleration and the school is not providing it, it would be interesting if they had the ability to transfer to a school that would provide the academic services needed, much in the same way that a student with behavioral issues can tuition out into a specialized program designed to meet their needs. Since giftedness is not recognized as a special need in Illinois, and since academic accommodation is not a part of our IEP in our state, legislative changes to support these sorts of processes might be helpful. Funding around supporting programs and endeavors would also be interesting. 

This article is an opinion article, and has not been peer reviewed or thoroughly researched beyond included links. 

CPS accidentally leaks massive gifted student personal data

If your child has applied to a CPS selective enrollment school, you should be aware that there was a large data breach on June 15th, 2018. A simple mistake by an employee resulted in a mass email of a database file containing student names, application numbers, and contact info to over 3700 families. This is a violation of the trust parents put in CPS, as well as a security liability for those families. If you've sought enrollment in a CPS SEES school, you should double check their announcement to see if your data was compromised. You can check your inbox for an email sent on June 15, 2018, titled "CPS - OAE - Supplemental Application Opportunity". If you received this email, chances are, your child's data was in it. We believe the families who were impacted by this breach were those whose child had high enough scores for a SEES (Regional gifted or classical selective enrollment) seat but did not yet select one.

This is not a first time that sensitive student data was leaked by CPS.  Since this affects the Chicago gifted population specifically, we thought it would be newsworthy for us to share with our audience in case they are impacted. CPS promised to punish the employee accidentally causing the leak, and they said they will investigate. We hope that this new leak finally results in changes to the storage and sharing protocols of student data in CPS, not just an elimination of one employee.

At MAGE, we take privacy and data security very seriously and have policy in place to prevent a similar event from occurring. We are also still accepting fall applications.

Here is the CPS email following the leak:

Good evening,

Earlier today, in an unacceptable breach of both student information and your trust, we mistakenly included your private student and family information in an email to you and more than 3700 other families who were invited to submit supplemental applications to selective enrollment schools.

We sincerely apologize for this unintended disclosure and ask that you please delete the information in question.

We are taking this matter very seriously, and a review of this incident is underway to determine how this breach occurred and ensure a similar matter does not occur again. Additionally, we will be removing the responsible employee from their position because violating your privacy is unacceptable to the district.

If you would like to speak with someone regarding this matter, please contact (773) 553-2060.


Tony Howard

Executive Director

CPS Office of Access and Enrollment




Four Year Old Program

We have received a lot of interest in a four-year-olds program from the gifted community. While we always planned on adding this age group next year, we are now considering adding this option for the Fall of 2018. The Executive Board has formed a committee to make this determination in the next few weeks. Please drop us a note or stay tuned to this space if interested in this age group. 

Midwest Academy for Gifted Education issues first Press Release, 4.10.18

Chicago is missing something. Of the top five cities in the U.S., Chicago is the only one without a private school option for gifted students. Several exist in the suburbs, but there is no option for families who want to stay in the city. 

That changes this fall with MAGE, the Midwest Academy for Gifted Education. Parents and educators are launching the not-for-profit for elementary through high school. It meets a need for greater flexibility and individuality than Chicago Public Schools currently offer with their gifted programs. And parents whose children have already tested into those CPS programs can easily apply to MAGE.

How is MAGE different? Because we are new and independent, we can apply the best advances in teaching gifted learners.

·     Students are grouped by ability, not age, but still with plenty of age-appropriate social peer interaction.

·     There are no grades received for classes, and homework is rare. 

·     Teaching is centered around student inquiries, heavy on project work, collaboration, and real life experience instead of worksheets.

·     At every grade level, this includes immersive studies in STEAM (adding Arts to the now-standard blend of Science, Technology and Math) as well as civics, global citizenship, design, and exposure to trades and handcrafts

·     Social and emotional education is built into the school day.

·     And of course, low teacher - student ratios of 1:8 or 2:20.


The Chicago Public Schools gifted and classical program students usually find themselves in classes at least 28 to one teacher, from kindergarten on. CPS aims to accommodate children who are 1-1.5 years ahead of grade level. But there is little support for those who are farther ahead, or not uniformly at this level. MAGE is designed to be a more flexible alternative for the highly gifted and the asynchronous learner. 

Here’s an important addition: MAGE also accepts siblings of gifted students even if they do not meet the same criteria, in order to help families with quality of life. Right now, many parents spend hours driving to multiple schools, or have to move across town, if one child is accepted to a CPS gifted school and others are not. With MAGE, parents can focus on education rather than transportation.

MAGE has worked hard to make admissions easy for many Chicago families. If their children have taken an NWEA (MAP) or CPS selective enrollment test in the last 3 years and scored in the top 2%, they may already have the documentation required in order to submit an application for consideration. MAGE has a part time program at every grade level, supporting young children that need to go home and nap, homeschoolers, and many other diverse needs. Chicago is full of wonderful schools, accommodating diverse needs - and now, even more so, because of MAGE.

For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact Irene Gottlieb at or (312) 600-5571. Additional information about MAGE can also be found on the web at