Where students go to flee 12 ‘least popular’ high schools

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Chicago’s 12 least popular high schools attract only a small portion of public school students in their attendance areas, a Catalyst analysis indicates. A study of CPS attendance data and high school admissions policies found that on average, only 28 percent of students living in these attendance areas enrolled in their neighborhood schools in 2000-01.

The largest number—40 percent—opted for selective schools or programs. These include vocational schools, which require grade level standardized test scores, and magnet schools that may require above average test scores and a separate admissions test. These also include neighborhood schools that will admit students from outside their attendance areas only if they meet selective criteria for a magnet program, such as International Baccalaureate.

Another 11 percent of students attended high schools that attract a mix of students from outside their attendance areas. These schools offer selective magnet programs but also accept below-level students from other neighborhoods into non-selective programs.

Some students-13 percent-attended high schools with an open admissions policy. These included magnet schools that admit students through an open lottery, charter schools, small schools, and neighborhood high schools with no selective magnet programs.

A smaller number, 6 percent, went a rung below their neighborhood school. These students attended special education schools, alternative schools for dropouts or juvenile delinquents, or Academic Preparatory Centers for overage 8th-graders who have not yet met the entrance requirements for high school.

Income can play a role in the types of schools students select to attend outside of their neighborhoods. For instance, Harlan High School, in the relatively middle-class Roseland area, lost the largest portion (54 percent) of neighborhood students to selective schools or programs. By contrast, only 36 percent of students in the economically depressed attendance areas of Robeson and Englewood High Schools enrolled in selective programs.

In some cases, students appear to select programs because they are nearby. Fenger High School in Roseland lost the largest percentage of students to schools with open admissions. Many students in its attendance area attend nearby Carver Military Academy, a magnet school that selects students through a random lottery.

Here’s the breakdown on where those students went instead for the 2000-01 school year.