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Found 28 results

  1. “When is the best time to begin my school search?” is a question often posed by families looking to start the always dreaded but ultimately necessary rite of passage known as the “Chicago School Search.” Sometimes the question is followed up by a plaintive, “Oh my goodness! Am I too late?!” Rest easy, Chicago families. The answer is not as cut-and-dried as one would think — and ultimately, you are never “too late.” [Related: Getting into Harvard doesn't need to start in preschool] As the third largest city in the U.S., Chicago is home to a vast range of school types, sizes, options, and admissions processes. Even within Chicago Public Schools (CPS), there are various pathways for entry from preschool to high school. Overlaid with the multitude of private and parochial schools, there are always choices for parents whenever they embark on their school search. That being said, one of the keys to increasing your odds in any endeavor is to know when those odds are at their best. “Entry Year” odds For school admissions, when a program begins is known as the “entry year” of a school (e.g., a K-8 school’s entry year is kindergarten). This is typically the time when the school has the most spots available. But it can have the most applicants, as well. For example, a school with two kindergarten classrooms of 25 students each will have 50 spots to fill, and perhaps 500 applicants (a 10% admit rate). Conversely, that same school’s first-grade class may have just one spot open, but only five students applying — so it could have a 20% admit rate in a non-entry year. Considering how difficult it is to predict if any upper-year spots may be available, a good strategy is to be in the applicant pool of the entry year for your desired school. Some common or little-known entry points are: Infants (6 weeks: Montessori Academy of Chicago) 3-year-olds (University of Chicago Lab School, Frances Xavier Warde, many Montessori schools) 4-year-olds (Chicago City Day School, Inter-American Magnet) 5-year-olds (most CPS schools) 5th grade (additional spots at Latin School) 6th grade (additional spots at Francis Parker) 7th grade (CPS Academic Centers) 9th grade (high schools) [Related: Want to make your community better? Consider your neighborhood school] September 1 cut-off Most preschool and early elementary programs have a strict age cutoff date of September 1, so keep that in mind when determining your child’s entry year. Once a school’s entry point is confirmed, be sure to apply one year before the program starts to be in the running for available seats. In other words, if you are interested in a school that begins at 3 years old, then plan to apply that fall when your child is 2 years old. Whatever year you enter a school, you are allowed to stay until the school ends, which is typically 8th or 12th grade. Targeting the entry year can increase your odds of acceptance at a school of your choice. Good luck with your school search journey, and may the odds be with you! Updated Spring 2021
  2. A week ago, the Chicago Tribune broke a story about the lack of response, action and follow-through regarding sexual abuse at Chicago Public Schools. Since this report broke, CPS has taken steps to address the issue, including sending this plan of action to community-based organizations like NPN. We're sharing this here with you so you can be aware of CPS's plan, and to facilitate a discussion about protecting children from abuse. What do you think about this plan of action? Do you think CPS should be doing more? Doing things differently? Or does this seems like an appropriate plan? NPN members can go to this thread on the main discussion forum to discuss the many facets of this issue.
  3. Article
    What's the state of education in Chicago, and what can be done to make sure every child gets access to the same opportunities? Those were the questions guiding Tuesday evening's panel discussion, Letters to the Editor Live: Chicago Education in Crisis, presented by the Chicago Sun-Times and Neighborhood Parents Network. The panel—comprised of Sun-Times reporters and columnists Lauren FitzPatrick, Dan Mihalopoulos, Mark Brown and Mary Mitchell, as well as NPN's Amy Johnson and Tiffany Norwood, both CPS moms—fielded tough questions from moderator Jim Kirk, editor/publisher of the Sun-Times, and the audience of parents and community members. The result? Some salient points and overarching themes are outlined below, but one thing that can't be emphasized enough is that reporters like those on last night's panel want to hear about what's important to you and what you think readers should know about. So if there's something about Chicago education that you think is underreported, don't shout into a vacuum: Contact these reporters! Okay, off the journalism soapbox (John Oliver does a much better job anyway) and onto some of the issues covered during the panel discussion: Parents and community members are frustrated with CPS and Chicago Board of Education. No surprises there. People are upset about the lack of transparency when it comes to Board of Education decisions and CPS's apparent lack of a strategic plan to improve education in Chicago. An elected school board may not be a horrible idea. Reporter Lauren FitzPatrick cited her investigation of Board of Education votes over the years and few, if any, cast dissenting votes on any proposal. And while an elected school board would likely invite patronage, steep campaign spending and every other issue that can come with running for elected office in Chicago, coud it really be worse than what we have now? "It's worth a try," columnist Mark Brown says. Impoverished and minority students need more CPS support. Columnist Mary Mitchell said 82% of CPS students live in poverty, and CPS has failed at finding a way to create environments that are nurturing to poor kids. But there is good CPS news. One audience member, a CPS mom, noted that CPS 4th graders lead the nation in growth in math scores (8th graders also have shown nation-leading growth in math scores). The graduation rate is growing (though not as quickly as CPS originally stated). And there are some parents doing great work to make CPS schools better. FitzPatrick mentioned the Logan Square Neighborhood Association's Parent Mentor Program, which recruits parent volunteers to assist teachers and work one-on-one with students—after 100 volunteer hours, they get a stipend. Stay tuned for more NPN education programming and discussions. In the meantime, if you're searching for the right school—public or private—for your child, don't miss our upcoming school fairs.

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