Chicago Public Schools

CPS Accelerated Placement Act Part 3

CPS unveiled their new policy regarding Accelerated Placement yesterday at the first of 2 Parent Forums, followed by a Q and A and feedback/recommendation session from the audience. CPS stressed that they are going slowly to see how things go, before adding more acceleration components. Even though many may wish for more from CPS, this is a monumental change in the right direction and it is in everyone’s best interest to insure that at least this change passes the board this summer. If you have anything to say about this policy, the best time is NOW. Thursday is the second forum, and this may be it before the board meets to vote on the proposed policy in June.  Two events you need to know about:

CPS Parent Forum: 6PM, Thursday 4/25/2019, Lincoln Park High School, 2001 N. Orchard St.

CGCC Parent Discussion following Forum: 8PM,Thursday 4/25/2019, Gemini, 2075 N. Lincoln Ave., 

MAGE Admissions Coffee: 9AM Saturday 4/27/2019 - another chance to discuss impact of policy on public and non-public gifted education in the city.

Our understanding of the policy summary is below and touches 3 areas:

Early K/1 admissions: 

·       New early K admission for qualified children starting this year for children who turn 5 between September 2 and October 31 of the incoming academic year to start K early if the parents want to. Notifications in June to start process.

·       Children must have completed a year of preschool first (public or private)

·       No change to the current 1st grade admission policy.

·       Testing is a 2-system approach: needs to test in the top 2% IQ and 91% Academics to qualify, in addition to other factors. Student therefore has to be gifted + academically performing.

·       Testing administered by CPS psychologists.

·       Parent developmental survey part of assessment.

·       No early entry to Selective Enrollment Elementary Schools (SEES).

·       Testing is $25 or the fee is waived for qualified low-income families.  

Whole Grade Acceleration

  • No acceleration this 2019-2020 school year. Applications for 2020 acceleration open in January 2020.

  • Acceleration limited to a 1-year skip. Applicable to neighborhood and magnet programs.

  • Only available for grades 3-6. No acceleration after 6.

  • No grade acceleration in Selective Enrollment Elementary Schools (SEES)

  • Illinois readiness assessment attainment of “exceeds”, Iowa Acceleration Scale used for determining acceleration, presumably with several components such as an IQ test, in addition to other factors: GPA 4.0 in the 4 core subjects for 2 consecutive years (need clarity around transfers), 3 consecutive NWEA MAP tests of 95% or above. 

  • Have to be at least 2 years ahead on math AND reading in order to qualify for 1-year skip.

  • Can reverse skip at the end of 1 quarter.

  • Out of district/homeschooled students first have to be enrolled for a year at grade level that they are coming from before acceleration can take place. 

  • A vague clause says that if a school already does any sort of acceleration/grouping, they don’t have to also skip students. This needs to be quantified: if a school does a math accelerated grouping once every 2 weeks for 1 hour, does that mean that no student in that school could be grade skipped?

  • $250 fee.

Single Subject Acceleration

·       Acceleration limited to a 1-year skip. Applicable to neighborhood and magnet programs. 

·       Only available for grades 3-7. No single subject acceleration after 7.

·       No grade acceleration in Selective Enrollment Elementary Schools (SEES)

·       Illinois readiness assessment attainment of “exceeds”, Iowa Acceleration Scale used for determining acceleration, presumably with several components such as an IQ test, in addition to other factors: GPA 4.0 in either math or reading for 2 consecutive years (need clarity around transfers), 3 consecutive NWEA MAP tests of 95% or above. 

·       Have to be at least 1 year ahead on math OR reading in order to qualify for a skip in that subject.

·       Not applicable to Social Studies, Science, only math and reading.

·       Can reverse skip at the end of 1 quarter.

·       Out of district/homeschooled students first have to be enrolled for a year at grade level that they are coming from before acceleration can take place. 

·       No acceleration this 2019-2020 school year. Applications for 2020 acceleration open in January 2020.

·       $35 application fee.

The district presented a deck approximately 30 slides long, that explained the law, the current policy and the policy change, the workflow and timeline for the process, and research about some other districts in the state and their practices to meet the act. It is important to keep in mind that gifted ED hasn’t had a facelift in Chicago in ages. While this policy is probably not perfect, it’s still a gain and a win for some of the Chicago’s gifted and talented. It won’t help everyone or impact everyone. Not every gifted child even needs a skip. But it has the potential to help a lot of people and to create a second path to acceleration beyond the SEES program.

For background info about the act and its history with CPS, see our previous news coverage of this - Part 1 - CPS deferral and Part 2 - Forums.  Contact us to be put on our mailing list to not miss our opinions about this policy - Part 4 and other news.

Disclaimer: The above are all an opinion based on individual understanding of the information presented at a public forum from notes taken during the forum. Please contact us if you find any error so that we can make a correction.

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.

CPS, Accelerated Placement Act, and a call to action - Part 2

This article is brought to you by MAGE - non-profit, private gifted option in City of Chicago.

Families of gifted students in the Chicago Public School District, and those in nearby areas should be aware of the just announced CPS-run Engagement Forum regarding the Accelerated Placement Act in less than 2 weeks time. Here are some key events around that time:

  • CPS sends out their first round of offer letters for the 2019-20 year for selective enrollment and options programs electronically to the CPS application portal on Monday, April 22, 2019.

  • CPS Forum Tuesday, April 23, 2019 6:00PM - 7:30PM Colman Office, 4655 S. Dearborn Street.

  • CGCC Post-Forum Gifted Parent Meet-up 8:00PM - 9:00PM 2206 S Indiana Ave.

  • CPS Forum Thursday, April 25, 2019 6:00PM - 7:30 PM Lincoln Park High School, 2001 North Orchard Street.

  • IAGC Policy Meeting, Saturday, May 4, 2019, 10:00AM-12:00PM IMSA

The only information about these forums publicly available currently is here. In 2017, a new law was passed in the State of Illinois that set the framework for the support needed for some gifted students. The law is called the Accelerated Placement Act and you can view the actual full text of the law here. The law was passed with a 1 year grace period, to go into effect on July 1, 2018. The state issued a guidance - a reminder - to districts to remind them of this new law, albeit, an unfunded mandate. Many districts jumped into action, creating policy to comply with the new law. CPS is the largest district in IL and the 3rd largest in the country. Their reaction to the law is a big deal. What did they do?

For context, some key bits of the law from the above link:

“For purposes of this Article, "accelerated placement" means the placement of a child in an educational setting with curriculum that is usually reserved for children who are older or in higher grades than the child. "Accelerated placement" under this Article or other school district-adopted policies shall include, but need not be limited to, the following types of acceleration: early entrance to kindergarten or first grade, accelerating a child in a single subject, and grade acceleration.” (Illinois General Assembly Public Act 100-0421)

The rest of the act goes through important detail around notification of program availability, identification, and wording that could potentially be interpreted as the foundation for a Gifted IEP in the state.

Chicago Public Schools, CPS, in a meeting on August 22, 2018, chose to defer the adoption of this act, and the deferral decision can be read here. Only 3 people came to speak for the immediate adoption of the Accelerated Placement Act in CPS in that August 22nd meeting, which was well covered by Chalkbeat, and you can read about it here. After 3/4 of a year with news from CPS, these new forums are finally scheduled. They come at an auspicious time - CPS Selective Enrollment School results come out for Kindergarten through eighth grade on the 22nd of April, the day before the meeting. Therefore, it is unclear if there will be change, what year the change will take effect, and how it will impact the decisions made for the coming year. It is important to show CPS that you care about gifted education in the city, and that you show up. Unless people step up and show up, CPS might not think this is an important policy to create, continue to defer the adoption of this act. You can read our coverage of the Accelerated Placement Act Part 1 here.

What can you do beyond just these forums? You can go to learn more at CGCC and IAGC, our two local gifted organizations, that periodically have policy-related events. You can even join the IAGC Policy Committee that works with Illinois Board of Education to create new policy for the gifted. That committee’s next quarterly meeting is Saturday, May 4th at IMSA, at 10AM, so mark your calendar.

Not in Chicago? Your district is watching the largest district in the state and the 3rd largest in the country to see what they will do. If you care about gifted education, you should come and participate in those forums because your voice has power to improve gifted education in Chicago and everywhere that will use it as a case example.

Stay tuned for part 3 in a few weeks. We hope that update brings good news for the city’s gifted.

About Midwest Academy for Gifted Education (MAGE): We are a not for profit, private gifted school focused on building community for gifted families in Chicago. If we don’t speak up for the City’s gifted, who will? Our next Admissions Coffee is on April 27th at 9AM and is a chance to connect to other gifted families in the city.

Read Part 1 of our coverage - CPS deferral of meeting the Act.

Read Part 3 of our coverage — CPS unveils new policy supporting the ACT.

Check back for Part 4 - analysis of the policy, coming soon. Contact us to be on our news distribution list. Disclaimer: the above is opinion. Please contact us if you find any errors.

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.

For for updated information about CPS and Accelerated Placement act, please read Part 2 - Forums, and Part 3, New Policy Draft. Part 4, policy update and analysis, is coming soon.  Contact us to be put on our mailing list to not miss our analysis of this policy - Part 4 and other news.

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.