Sunday, March 09, 2008

The Letter Please? CPS Releases Academic Center Results

Well, the writing was on the wall, but the CPS Academic Center acceptance remains bittersweet. Perhaps, our child should be grateful for this lesson at a young age. Our sixth grader will make the transition from Decatur Classical to an Academic Center. The results arrived today. Last year 29 children from the entire Northside were selected for Young Academic Center. Our child ships out to Taft Academic Center [“TAC”] this fall. I am looking forward to it.

We learned, too late, that fifth grade Chicago Public School [“CPS”] transcripts count. However, we certainly encouraged and worked with our child. What the CPS ignores is our gain. Decatur Classical School teaches one or two grade levels above the overall CPS System. This means that Decatur grades seem not as watered down as the other schools. The ISAT scores at TAC are 100% above in both Math and Reading, which is as good as Young Academic Center.

Some may question the above mentioned assumption of the Decatur grading system. Our other child, who is in a near gifted program at another renowned CPS institution received straight As. Perhaps, our younger child’s grades, not the test scores will catapult into a Young Academic admission in spite of lower test scores.

Some parents presume that Young Academic Center is the best option, but I am not necessarily convinced. Taft also provides AP College credit to Academic Center Students. The kids probably prefer Young AC, because it is newer and has better facilities. However, I favor the idea of a child rising up like a Phoenix from this slight setback. It may be worth its weight in gold. Perhaps, another selective enrollment high school becomes our child’s target, not just ours. This is real life. Kids just cannot get this in the suburbs!

We unconsciously preferred a few of the other selective enrollment high schools, so Taft Academic may be the better option. Nevertheless, this can also serve as a wake up call. There was some resistance with the temptation to runescape, among other diversions. This challenge always pits one parent against another for our child’s affection. Now, our kid may actually listen to me, among others.

I felt like our tween may have acted like an academic prima donna, when potential study time may have been used more wisely. We can be more encouraging and set limits, but we do well in spite of the situation. Now, I hope that this letter proves to be an inspirational moment. There will be a separation from more successful classmates and friends. Some seem to have studied harder or expressed more interest. The test scores were not an issue, here; just a draconian grade scale.

The gifted academic center programs at all Chicago Public Schools contain children and parents who remain fiercely dedicated to those schools. This leaves few, if any, spaces for transfers. We never wanted our child to attend Lincoln Park High School for personal and practical reasons, so we ‘flinched’ at the Ogden interview. Consequently, if your child can attend a Classical School, or is an overachiever at a local school, then consider applying and testing for the CPS Academic Centers.

Now, our goal will be to work to improve an already exceptional program at Taft Academic Center. We will also hope that our child appreciates that hard work can eventually pay off.

If you reasonably consider the CPS System and learn how to navigate, then the Academic Centers and Gifted Programs are more than worthy of consideration. Both populations usually eclipse the suburbs on test ISAT test scores, because all students are dedicated and so are their parents. However, you have to live in Chicago to attend and some are 'big hat, no cattle' types.

I guess some just don’t appreciate the advantages of living in Rogers Park. Perhaps, a few would rather pay excessive real estate taxes or pay High School tuition. A few of us will put ourselves into mega-debt to show off to a few neighbors or refinance for University tuition only to have an academically ungrateful child who drops out.

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