FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Tuesday, September 29, 2015
For more information, contact:
CPS Office of Communications
The Chicago Board of Education approved a proposal today to expand Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory High School to serve 7th and 8th grade students in an accelerated program beginning in School Year 2016-2017 (SY 16-17). The Academic Center at Brooks will provide students from across the city with access to rigorous high school preparatory programming, while guaranteeing them a spot in one of the city’s top high schools.
“Brooks College Prep is one of several CPS schools that rank among the state’s best, and by expanding access to one of our top schools, we are increasing opportunities for our students to attain a world class education,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “This expansion will provide families on the far south side of the city increased options for their children and delivers on our promise of providing access to high-quality education options for students and families in every area of the city.”
The program will phase in grade levels at the academic center over a two-year period. Preliminary plans include adding 7th grade programming for approximately 50 students in the fall of 2016 and adding 8th grade students the following year, with an expectation of serving at least 100 total students a year beginning in SY 17-18. CPS has identified $1 million in classroom investments need to be made, including capital and staffing costs, before the academic center would open next fall.
“The expansion at Brooks will create a new high-quality option on the far south side while establishing a continuum for accelerated academic programs at the school” said CPS CEO Forrest Claypool. “The expansion of academic centers to Brooks will provide elementary students with another high quality option that will prepare them for success in college, career and life."
The District’s academic centers provide accelerated programming and curriculum, which is designed to allow highly-motivated students an opportunity to complete the elementary curriculum early, taking high school courses while still in the 7th and 8th grades.
“Over the past few years, our work to strengthen the Pullman-Roseland communities has paid off, with new residents, home, jobs, parks and amenities achieving the renewal we have sought,” said 9th Ward Alderman Anthony Beale. “The expansion of Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory High School adds to wealth of resources that are rendering our communities once again, neighborhoods of choice.”
Brooks is one of eleven selective enrollment high schools in the District. In 2015, U.S. News and World Report ranked Brooks as the 16th best high school in the state.
“This expansion will allow Brooks to grow to its full potential,” said Brooks principal D’Andre Weaver. “Our students are already graduating and going on to pursue bright futures, which is why we are grateful for this investment that will now prepare 7th and 8th graders for the rigors of a college preparatory high school environment so that they, too, can graduate college ready and college bound.”
The application process for the Academic Center at Brooks will begin in fall 2016 and will follow the same eligibility criteria as all other academic centers in the District, with enrollment open to students across the city. Upon admission to an academic center, students are accepted at the school until they graduate and do not need to reapply to the same school for a 9th grade seat.
The Board also approved the closure of the Academic Center at Harlan High School—the city’s lowest performing academic center with the lowest number of annual applicants. In SY 15-16, only one 7th grade student enrolled in the Academic Center at Harlan, and only 17 students total are enrolled in the program this year. Despite recruitment efforts by CPS, including door-to-door outreach and engagement with elementary school counselors, interest in the program is very low and represents a clear outlier among the city’s academic centers. By establishing an academic center at Brooks, which is one of the city’s most desirable high schools, and closing the Academic Center at Harlan, the District intends to create more highly sought-after academic center seats in the District.
Overall, there is still strong interest by families across the city in Academic Centers, as these programs grant qualifying students a guaranteed slot in a selective enrollment high school. Last year, 2,145 students applied for only 800 seats available in academic center programs at the 7th grade level. However, due to low interest in the program at Harlan, the District only enrolled approximately 750 7th graders this year. By transitioning to a new program at Brooks, the District expects to better meet the needs of the community by filling a larger number of its available seats.
In SY 16-17, Academic Centers will be housed in seven of the city’s high schools: Kenwood Academy, Lane Tech High School, Lindblom Math and Science Academy, Morgan Park High School, Taft High School, Whitney Young Magnet High School and Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory High School.
Chicago Public Schools serves 396,000 students in 660 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.