Chicago Public Schools (CPS) SEES and SEEHS - Selective Enrollment vs. Gifted - Wave 1 edition

To all the families anxiously expecting their SEES offers today, good luck in “wave 1.”

But what exactly is SEES and what exactly will it do for my child, you might ask? Why do so many people try to get into SEES? How are SEES different from the other schools? Are SEES a gifted education? Does every gifted child even need a selective enrollment program? We will focus on the basics in this entry and we will add more info in future entries, because much is possibly about to change. Please see our previous news entry about important news and key dates this week for CPS gifted families.

First, the basics:

Chicago Public Schools SEES (selective enrollment elementary and middle school programs, grades K-8, including classical: teaches 1 year ahead, RGC - regional gifted center: teaches 1-2 years ahead, and AC - academic center high-school environment starting earlier with grades 7-8 schools) and SEHS (selective enrollment high schools) Selective Enrollment programming is designed to instruct at levels 1-2 years ahead of the rest of CPS as measured by the outcome of city- and state-level testing. To achieve those number outcomes, many SEES (and frankly, non SEES) schools will stop regular instruction to teach and practice to the test.

Next, how does the process work?

The selective enrollment process starts with the application. Parents need to apply for SEES and SEHS by the fall deadline. Parents of children not meeting age criteria need to either fill a form for early entry if they are within a date cut off, or are disqualified if not and are not allowed to test. Parents select target schools in order of priority, receive a test date, take their child to the test, and then wait for offers. Wave 1 offers for the 2019 Academic School Year come out today, April 22, by midnight! If a family didn’t get an offer, but a child did receive a high score, traditionally top 2% for classical programs, over 130 for the RGC, they have a good shot at getting some offer at some SEES school eventually, sometimes by October of the academic school year. This gets a lot more complicated for the academic centers and high schools. Where you live counts - there is a tier system that some love, some hate, and some try to game - to try to make the system more fair. Usually, wave 2 happens about 2 weeks after wave 1.

Each wave comes with a deadline by which to accept or reject an offer, and clear instructions of what to do. After an offer is given, there are about 2 weeks to tour the school and fill out acceptance paperwork. You should get an email from the offered school with tour dates soon after your offer. We will be posting soon about what to look for on a tour). If you reject an offer, you may get a different offer in wave 2. The tricky bit is, you might not get another, or a better one.

What do you mean, wave 2? Let’s say there are only 2 schools A and B, each with 1 seat, and only 2 students, A and B interested in the seats. Let’s say, parent B wants A but received B, parent A vise versa. If both reject their first offer and are the only applicants in the pool, then they are to receive the opposite offer next if there is a seat in both/only available schools. If you include the multitude of variables in the number of students, their scores and preferences, the picture is infinitely more complex. But, you stand a shot to receive an offer all the way through early fall. Some families test only to see if their children would get in, and have no plans to take an offer. They are just trying to get an idea of where their child falls as compared to others. There will be offers rejected at every school. Even if no school that a parent wanted gives them an offer, at the end, CPS may give some families of high scoring students a chance to enroll at some other random gifted program that’s under-enrolled, usually in a newer SEES or in an area that is not geographically convenient for as many.

Can a school principal help you get your child into their SEES school? Absolutely not. There are laws and regulations against that and the test results are on central control. Another basic fact is that there is no sibling preference in SEES programs, like there is in Options.

This week will seal the fate of many of the 8,000 of the City’s gifted children. Check our our previous entry for information and for what to do to be a part of what’s happening.