Barton Dassinger at Chavez Elementary

Hey 7th-Graders, Here’s the App to Help You Find a High School

By launching GoCPS this school year, Chicago Public Schools took a huge step toward making applying to both elementary and high schools easier and more fair. But the process isn’t perfect and many families are still struggling to learn how it works.

During Tuesday’s Town Hall meeting at Back of the Yards College Prep, CEO Janice Jackson fielded questions from families of 8th-graders who are still struggling to understand why they weren’t accepted to the high school of their choice. But none of those parents were from nearby Chavez Elementary, where Principal Barton Dassinger has worked hard to make sure his 8th-graders move on to the best high school options for which they qualify.

In April 2017, more than one-quarter of Chavez 8th-graders were accepted to selective enrollment high schools. Chavez is a national leader in personalized learning and developed a partnership with Walter Payton College Prep to give its most accelerated math students access to high school geometry. In 2017, all nine students who took honors geometry at Payton were accepted there as freshmen.

When it comes to data, Principal Dassigner is known among his colleagues as a mad genius. After years of tracking student data on spreadsheets from scratch, Dassinger hired a developer to create an app that makes it easy for families to figure out the schools where their children have the best chances of getting in, based on their grades, attendance and test scores.

You can check out the app here. If you’re a current 7th-grader (or the parent of one), you’ll have to guess their likely percentile on the selective enrollment admissions test in order to fill in all the required fields. I actually took a few guesses and got an idea of high schools that might be right for my 3rd-grader someday.

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Maureen Kelleher

Chicago Unheard blog manager Maureen Kelleher also serves as a senior writer and editor at brightbeam, a nonprofit network of education activists demanding a better education and brighter future for every child. Before joining the brightbeam team, she spent a decade as a reporter, blogger and policy analyst. Her work has been published across the education world, from Education Week to the Center for American Progress. A former high school English teacher, she is also the proud mom of a middle-schooler. Find her on Twitter at @KelleherMaureen.

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