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8th-Graders Will Have To Apply To High School Under Proposed Plan

By Heather Cherone | April 25, 2017 1:21pm | Updated on April 25, 2017 3:22pm
 Mayor Rahm Emanuel is unveiling a new policy that requires high school seniors to have a postsecondary plan in order to graduate.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel is unveiling a new policy that requires high school seniors to have a postsecondary plan in order to graduate.
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CHICAGO — Chicago students would have to apply to high school before being allowed to graduate from eighth grade, according to a proposal set to be approved Wednesday by the Chicago Board of Education.

Instead of just enrolling at their neighborhood high schools, students would have to fill out a common high school application that would include some charter schools and military schools as well as career and technical education schools, officials said.

Students hoping to snag a seat at one of the city's 11 selective-enrollment high schools will have to fill out a second application, officials said.

The proposal is designed to make the high school application process more "fair and equitable," CPS Chief Education Officer Janice Jackson said.

"We are trying to give parents more options," Jackson said.

Students will be offered a spot at the highest-ranked school that they are qualified for, officials said.

The application will include some — but not all — of Chicago's charter schools, officials said.

Jackson acknowledged that could mean a student could be placed into a charter high school rather than their neighborhood high school, where funding is determined by how many students enroll.

A student could always choose to go to their neighborhood school, regardless of the outcome of the application process, Jackson said.

"We want parents and students to do more exploration of their options for high school," Jackson said. "We count that as a good thing."

The new application process is designed to streamline a high school application process that a large portion of parents and students say is too difficult, Jackson said.

"Some families can navigate the system and some can't," Jackson said. "This will benefit those students who don't have the support at home or at school to figure out the current system."

The new requirement comes after Mayor Rahm Emanuel introduced a new measure earlier this month that would prevent high school students from graduating unless they can prove they have plan in place for college, a trade school or a job.

Emanuel has said the current kindergarten through 12th grade model for education has not been relevant for nearly 20 years.

"We are moving to a pre-kindergarten through college model," Emanuel said.