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New Web App Makes It Easier For CPS Students To Get Into The Schools They Want

By Chuck Sudo in News on Mar 8, 2012 11:20PM

Lane Tech High School (Photo Credit: Ellen Jo Roberts

I can remember the stress of trying to get into Lane Tech High School like it happened yesterday. I assumed, like a lot of students, that my grades would be enough to gain entry into those hallowed halls. And I sure as hell didn't have a backup plan: it was Lane or bust.

Damn, was I stupid.

For students looking to get into Lane, Whitney Young, Payton or any of the other selective enrollment high schools across Chicago, it's even harder today. Chicago Public Schools places every part of the city into four socio-economic "tiers," and requires selective enrollment schools to establish equal quotas for students from each tier. The top 30 percent of enrollments are already reserved for the highest performing applicants; the rest come from the tier system.

The open government advocates at Open City have created a new app, Chicago Public School Tiers. Using this information and new tract boundaries from the 2010 census, Open City hopes to make it easier for students looking to be admitted in a selective enrollment school, and their parents, to understand how the process works, and hopefully make it easier to get into the school of his or her choice if they aren't in the top 30 percent.

Take Lane Tech. This year there are 1,000 seats to fill in the upcoming school year. Since 300 of those are already reserved for the best performing applicants, that leaves thousands of applicants angling for the remaining 700 seats. But a Tier 1 student tends to come from an economically disadvantaged home with less education than a Tier 4 household, which trends to the better educated and economically independent. Tier 4 students have test scores between 839 and 861, while the top 175 students from poorer Tier 1 areas have scores between 737 and 856.

The ultimate objective of the tier system is to ensure gifted students from disadvantaged backgrounds have a fair shot at being accepted into the school of their choice, and to ensure a diverse student body. CPS recently released a document tying the census tract boundaries to their respective tiers for the 2012-13 school year.

Open City's Derek Eder said it's the collective's wish to make the the enrollment process for the City's top public schools a little bit easier to navigate. Still, if you have a child who wishes to be fearless and bold for the Myrtle and Gold, he should still hit the books, all the same.