|Academic Center Director:||Cristen Lain|
|Address:||2501 West Addison Street|
|Freshman class size:||120|
Opening in 2011, Lane Tech Academic Center (LTAC), one of the newest Academic Center, is already the second most competitive one after Whitney Young in terms of admissions scores.
In 2016-2017 (the most recent admissions cycle), the average score for an admitted Lane Tech Academic Center student was 844 on the 900 point admissions scale, the highest it has ever been in the program’s 6-year history. CPS recently changed its admissions criteria to include the tougher NWEA MAP test as its 5th grade standardized test in its admissions formula. Despite the use of this tougher test, the average score of an admitted LTAC student did not measurably fall.
For the past seven years, CPS has been using a socioeconomic Tier system to select students for all of its selective admissions schools, including Academic Centers. Currently, thirty percent of seats are allocated to students with the highest academic performance citywide – regardless of their “socioeconomic status”. The remaining seventy percent are allocated to each of four socioeconomic Tiers, with each Tier receiving 17.5%. Students compete for this portion based their academic performance in comparison with other students in their Tier.
Use of the Tier system has led to significant gaps in the academic achievement required for admissions between students from different parts of the City of Chicago. There is a particularly large gap between admissions scores of Tier 4 (the highest socioeconomic Tier) and Tier 1 (the lowest socioeconomic Tier) students – in the more competitive schools.
In 2016-2017, there was a 96-point gap between the average score of an admitted Lane Tech Academic Center Tier 4 and Tier 1 student. This gap is slightly down from last year’s 114 point gap as average scores for admitted Tier 1 students rose by 23 points. In the most recent round of admissions there was a 124-point gap between the cut-off scores of Tier 4 and Tier 1 students.
The existence of such huge gap in admissions scores means that students from Tier 4 neighborhoods must have significantly better academic credentials than students from Tier 1 neighborhoods to get into LTAC.
In 7th grade, students take an accelerated program that includes Honors Algebra, Honors Biology, Foundations in the Social Sciences, Language Arts, Fine Arts, Computer Technology, and Honors World Language. In 8th grade, students can take an accelerated program that includes Honors Geometry, Honors Chemistry, Honors World Studies, Honors Survey of Literature, and Honors World Language. Students can choose from Electives including Intro to Fine Arts and Music or Intro to Computer Science & Programming in 7th grade and Art Appreciation, Band, Chorus, Orchestra or Computer Science/Programming in 8th grade.
All of the above “Honors” classes enables a student to earn high school credit (up to 7 high school credits in total) – and thereby enroll in a more advanced high school program. Each of the 8th grade Electives also provide students with high school credit.
Standardized tests administered to middle school CPS students are in a state of flux. The ACT organization has phased out the EXPLORE test which had been administered to 8th and 9th graders and is transitioning to the Aspire test. The ISAT was phased out in favor of the Common Core aligned PARCC and MAP tests. As a result, the most up-to-date and well delineated source of school academic performance is the PARCC test. The PARCC test is designed to measure student readiness for the next grade level’s work and subsequent college and career readiness. PARCC is also designed to correlate with subsequent ACT performance.
Students who met or exceeded expectations are likely to be on track for the next grade level and ultimately for college and career readiness. In 2015, 90% of Lane Tech Academic Center 8th graders met or exceeded standards in ELA (English Language Arts) including an impressive 32% who exceeded expectations, and 100% of Lane Tech Academic Center 8th graders met or exceeded expectations in Mathematics included an impressive 22% who exceeded expectations.
For two years, Lane Tech unsuccessfully applied for CPS approval to open an Academic Center on its campus. While the reason for this rejection was never officially acknowledged, opposition from principals of neighboring elementary schools and even Taft Academic Center — who raised concerns about a possible “brain drain” — are said to have put a brake on these plans. The Lane Tech Academic Center project was finally granted approval after a petition was circulated in 2011 that rapidly generated over 1,300 signatures – thus demonstrating massive community support for the endeavor.
In addition to participating in its accelerated Academic Center Program, getting into Lane Tech Academic Center has an added bonus — a guaranteed spot at Lane Tech High School — one of Chicago’s Selective Enrollment High Schools. Furthermore, with LTAC’s collection of Honors classes (that provide high school credit), Lane Tech Academic Center students enter high school better positioned to take an advanced curriculum and more AP classes than students who are accepted to Lane Tech High School as 9th graders (including students from gifted programs).
Lane Tech Academic Center students can participate in various sports including cross country, soccer, volleyball, tennis, flag football, wrestling, basketball, chess, track, golf and softball. Lane Tech Academic Clubs currently include Art Docents, Academic Pentathlon, Drama, Math Team, National Junior Honor Society, Science Olympiad, and Student Council.
While Lane Tech Academic Center students prepare for high school and college – they still participate in “traditional” 8th grade events including an annual trip to Washington, D.C. However, unlike most elementary school students, Lane Tech Academic Center students do not have recess – but they do have a daily physical education class.