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CPS high school offers will arrive by email for eighth-graders on Friday

CPS CEO Janice Jackson. | Sun-Times files

As spring break wraps up for Chicago Public Schools on Friday, its eighth-graders will learn for better or for worse where they might go to high school.

Gone is the ritual of waiting by the mailbox after district officials mailed out paper acceptances. Students who participated in CPS’ new online GoCPS application should get an email Friday with the news if they’ve made it into an elite selective enrollment high school or another high school.

More than 93 percent of the district’s eighth-graders used the website that “brings about more equity, and empowers more families at CPS to make the best choice for their children,” said CPS CEO Janice Jackson, who has implemented the long-sought common application.

GoCPS was designed to streamline the highly complex process of choosing and applying to high schools, in which families who could work the system gained an inherent advantage to get into the highest-performing schools. Charter schools — which used to have separate applications and deadlines than district-run schools — also agreed to be part of GoCPS, which lets students make up to 20 choices.

“We know that many families are eager to receive their offers,” Jackson recently told the school board. “I am confident that this new system will make the school application process more equitable and I look forward to continued feedback from our families as this process moves forward.”

CPS won’t yet say when elementary school students and their parents will receive their matches for lower grades.

Officials say they used an algorithm — not unlike the one used to assign medical residents to hospitals — to match high schools and students based on qualifications, number of available seats and the children’s preferences.

Eighth-graders had to rank their preferences of test-in schools and other schools that don’t have any specific academic requirements, and can expect to receive one name for each category. They’ll have until April 13 to decide where to go — or join a waitlist. A second round of applications begins April 30; those offers will post June 1.

Students who didn’t apply anywhere or who reject both rounds of offers will be assigned to their neighborhood school. It’s also possible that students who put in applications will receive no offers other than their neighborhood school.

It’s not yet clear what will happen to the schools that no one chooses, where enrollments continue to plummet as school options continue to expand. All four high schools in Englewood were approved for closure this year for low enrollment.