Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory High School

Contact Information

Acting Principal: Ms. Shannae Jackson
Admissions Director: Erica Bauer,
Phone: 773-535-9930
Web site:
Address: 250 East 111th Street
Chicago, IL 60628
Freshman class size: 335
Total enrollment: 745 (grades 9 – 12)


As shown in Figure 1., average admissions scores at Brooks staged a modest recovery in 2016-2017, increasing 26 points from 722 to 748. This is the second year that CPS used the more rigorous MAP test as the 7th grade standardized test in its admissions formula. In 2015-2016, CPS used the MAP test for the first time in the admissions formula causing a dramatic drop in in average Brooks admissions scores from 779 to 722 (-57 points).

Despite the rebound from this drop, average admissions scores at Brooks have not yet recovered to their “pre-MAP” level of between 764 and 779. Even though average admissions scores have not recovered from their “pre-MAP level”, Brooks is still the most competitive Selective Enrollment High School on the south side.

For the past seven years, CPS has been using a socioeconomic Tier system to select students for all of its selective admissions schools. 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) – in the more competitive schools.

In 2016-2017 (the most recent admissions cycle), there was a 42-point gap between the average score of an admitted Brooks’ Tier 4 and Tier 1 student. This means that students living in a Tier 4 area needed to get on average 42 more points to get into Brooks than did students living in a Tier 1 area. The difference between Tier 4 and Tier 1 cut-off scores was 46-points as shown in Figure 3. The cut-off score for Tier 1 students was only 637, marginally above the minimum threshold of 600 points to be admitted to a Selective Enrollment High School.


In 2016-2017, Brooks added an Academic Center for accelerated 7th and 8th grade students. In addition to being eligible for high school credit for high school level classes, as with every Academic Center, any student wishing to remain at Brooks for high school has a guaranteed spot. Brooks Academic Center will be one of 12 schools in the state to pilot a new College Board capstone research program. This program allows students to participate in a two-year research project on a topic that interests them.

Founded in 1998 as South Side College Prep, Brooks was renamed in 2001 to honor the Chicago Poet Laureate, Gwendolyn Brooks. Brooks offers a wide variety of Honors-level and Advanced Placement (AP) classes. Brooks offers AP classes in Language & Composition, Literature & Composition, Government, Human Geography, Microeconomics, Psychology, US History, Biology, Calculus (AB & BC) Environmental Science, Physics, Statistics, French, and Spanish.

Brooks even offers AP fine arts classes in Music Theory, Digital Photography, Art History, and Studio Drawing & Painting.

Brooks College Prep students participate in a variety of sports, including baseball, basketball, bowling, cross country, football, golf, soccer, softball, tennis, track and field, and volleyball.

Brooks is one of the few Selective Enrollment High Schools willing to consider transfer students.


2014 Reading, Math and Science Proficiency (Prairie State Achievement Test)

The performance of 11th graders on the PSAE (which includes the ACT) is used by the State of Illinois to assess reading, math, and science proficiency. In 2014, 51% of Illinois juniors met or exceeded standards in Reading and Math; while 49% met or exceeded standards in Science.

In 2014, 96% of Brooks’ 11th graders met or exceeded standards in Reading, 81% met or exceeded standards in Math, and 66% met or exceeded standards in Science. Unfortunately there was a noticeable portion of students who were below standards in Math (19%) and Science (33%). More importantly, only a small percent of Brooks’ students exceeded standards in any of these categories – only 12% in Reading and 3% in Math and 5% in Science.

sehs 2015 Brooks fig4

As shown in Figure 5., in 2016 only 46% of Brooks juniors met ACT’s College Readiness Benchmark in Math and only 39% met ACT’s College Readiness Benchmark in Science. Increasing scores in these areas will be important to increasing Brooks’ overall school ratings and also the competitiveness of its students in the college admissions process.

The ACT is the most widely used college admissions test, so its scores provide an important guide for comparing high school academic performance. This test contains four sections: English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science. In addition, students receive a composite score which is the average of these sections. The score of any of these sections and the composite range from 1 to 36.

In 2016, Selective Enrollment High School students on average achieved a composite score of 24.5 (which is approximately the 75th percentile nationally). This compares to Brooks’ 2016 composite of 22.7 (approximately 65th percentile nationally) and Chicago’s 18.2 (approximately 37th percentile nationally). In 2016, Brooks’ composite ACT scores are modestly above the national average, and significantly above the District (City of Chicago) average.

Brooks Performance on ACT College Readiness Benchmarks

The ACT organization has defined “College Readiness Benchmark Scores” — median test scores that are predictive of student “success” in the relevant college courses. ACT defines “success” as a 50% or higher probability of earning a B or better in the corresponding college coursework.

In 2016, Brooks ‘average ACT scores for English (24.1 vs. the ACT Benchmark of 18) and Reading (23.6 vs. the ACT Benchmark of 22) met these goals. However, Brooks’ average ACT scores for Math (20.9 vs. the ACT Benchmark of 22) and Science (21.6 vs. the ACT Benchmark of 23) did not meet ACT’s goals for College Readiness.

Trends in ACT Scores

Brooks’ composite ACT score has risen from 2005’s 20.5 (about 50%) level to 22.7 (about 62%) in 2016. Continued improvement in ACT Math and Science scores would boost Brooks’ overall academic position and the college readiness of its students. 

Brooks’ 2016 State of Illinois Ranking and National Ranking

  • 2016 State of Illinois Rank: 20 (US News & World Reports). In 2016, US News & World Reports ranked Brooks 20th the State of Illinois. US News & World Reports uses an assessment of college readiness including performance on the ACT and AP Exams.
  • 2016 National Rank: 585 (US News & World Reports). In 2016, US News & World Reports ranked Brooks 585th in the nation, based on its assessment of Brooks’ students’ college readiness in comparison to other high schools.

For additional academic information about Brooks, click here for a state report card.