Eighth Grade Selective Enrollment Admissions Process

MAP Testing for Private School Students

CPS has been requiring that every student — public or private — desiring to apply to a Selective Enrollment High School submit scores from the Measures of Academic Progress (NWEA/MAP) test as their 7th grade standardized test score.

Most private schools do not administer the MAP test. Even if a private school does administer the MAP test, CPS has been requiring that private school students re-take the test through them. In 2015 and 2016, this has led to the MAP test being administered to thousands of private school students in the early fall of their 8th grade year. CPS has not announced its testing policy for current private school 7th graders. These students may again have to take the MAP test in the fall of their 8th grade year or in the late spring of their 7th grade year.

Regardless, we recommend that private school students take our spring program so they will be prepared for any eventuality. We do not want private school students to be caught short in case CPS decides to test them in the late spring. At the same time, given the breadth and depth of material that needs to be mastered to get a top score, we do not feel a summer program or a early fall crash course is a good solution. We do not feel cramming is a good way to properly prepare for any test.

Click pdfhere17.95 KB to read more about the MAP test.

Beware of Early Selective Enrollment Exam Testing

In recent years, CPS has starting high school testing earlier in the fall than in the past — still continuing testing into December and January. CPS has announced that for the earlier test dates, students will be able to get back the results before they fill out their applications. According to some, this will benefit students by giving them the opportunity to rank their Selective Enrollment High School choices more accurately. However, it’s not clear that this is true or that there are any real benefits to students of earlier testing. In fact, there are are certainly costs to doing so.

Some colleges have something called “rolling admissions”, where a student who applies early can secure a spot before the rest of the applicant pool does. This is not the case with Selective Enrollment High Schools. Even if a student takes the test earlier, he or she must wait until the last student takes the test for any admissions decision to be made.

It’s not true that students who test early will take an easier test than others — or will be “graded on a curve”. While it is true that early testers will be normed differently than the later testers, such norming does not convey any advantages. Moreover, CPS has been using these norming techniques on the Selective Enrollment Exam for years. Click pdfhere20.67 KB to read more about norming.

Some insist that the real benefit of early testing is that having the score allows students to rank their schools more intelligently on the application. However, this is also untrue, provided students list their desired schools from most to least competitive on their applications.

According to the Office of Access and Enrollment, if a student gets the same point total, then they will look at the scores on the components of the Selective Enrollment Exam, starting with the math section. In other words, it’s all about performance on the Exam.

It’s possible that earlier testing may make test scheduling logistics much easier for CPS since it may reduce the number of students who send in their application just before the deadline. However, we don’t see any clear benefits to applicants.

Finish Your Research

Finalize your selections. Continue your research and consider re-visiting schools that most interested your child last year. School performance changes over time, so you want to be current based on reality, not just reputation. Typically, Selective Enrollment High Schools have Open Houses in October or November. Take the time to attend, even if you have visited in the past. Hopefully, by the start of the 8th grade you have a good idea of which schools you want to target.

Prepare the Selective Enrollment Application Form

Calculate your score. Click here to calculate your child’s admissions score.

Rank your schools. On the application form you will be asked to select and rank which schools you wish to apply to. You are allowed to apply to six Selective Enrollment High Schools. With CPS’ admissions policy you will receive only one Selective Enrollment High School acceptance. It is still important to rank your preferred school as your first choice. If you do not have a high enough point total to get accepted to your first pick, the computer will give you your 2nd choice, if you do not have enough points for your 2nd choice, you will get your 3rd choice and so on.

If you have a very high point total (e.g., close to the mean of an accepted student) but for some reason were rejected from your most preferred school, it may be possible for you to get in during a 2nd round of decisions (e.g., principal discretion).

Fill in your application form. You need to fill out only one application form to apply to any Selective Enrollment High School. Your school will fill in information on your child’s 7th grade performance. Applications can be obtained at any public elementary school.

The Selective Enrollment High School Application Form can be submitted beginning in early October with a final deadline in mid December. Do NOT miss the deadline.

Submit additional high school applications. Since the Selective Enrollment High School admissions process is intensely competitive, apply to all of your child’s identified high school options. Each “family” of schools has its own application form and process. Note: It is very difficult to be admitted after decisions are made in February/March if an initial application is not submitted in a timely fashion.

Prepare for the Selective Enrollment Entrance Exam. The Selective Enrollment High School Entrance Exam is 300 points or one third of the score. The Exam emphasizes reading, math, language, and vocabulary. SelectivePrep will help prepare your child for this crucial exam.

Since there is a certain amount of overlap in test content, the SelectivePrep program can increase your child’s success in other competitive admissions tests (e.g., Catholic, Independent, etc.)

Principal discretion process. Up to 5% of a school’s applicants can be admitted under the principal discretion process. After the test scores and selections are released to parents, students who were not selected can submit an appeal based on extracurricular activities, leadership skills, and extenuating circumstances/hardships. The deadline for filing an appeal is short. If you are thinking about trying the appeals process, line up documentation in advance.