The academic programs have ceilings and the curriculum does not have the breadth or depth to meet the needs of all students. There are behavior problems in many of the classrooms.
We are moving both of children out of South Loop because classroom teachers seem to have problems managing behavior in the classroom. While the school has a lot of activities and partnerships, the programs themselves are not quality programs. The feedback I hear from my children is that they are not learning anything!
South Loop has been a school in transition for the last several years. Unfortunately, most of the school's successes have been 'for show' with a principal who was more concerned with test scores and community partnerships than with supporting the teachers in their work. Classroom discipline can be a problem and administration does not crack down enough on those students. Many parents are cliquey and combative with teachers, instead of working collaboratively. There also needs to be a higher standard for what qualifies as 'gifted.' The school atmosphere can be bleak at times and needs to be more friendly, genuine, and student-centered. Hopefully the new principal will bring about positive changes to turn the school around.
I have two children attending this school, one in each program. Both the gifted and neighborhood fine arts magnet programs are tremendous considering this is a public school. Criticisms of the gifted program not really being gifted may have been true at start up due to lower relative applications. It is no longer the case as application rates have risen to levels comparable to Skinner and other gifted elementary schools. From the beginning the school has required teachers of every class to adhere to the curriculum demands equally. Each class goes through an intensive data assessment phase that is used for curriculum design. Resources are directed equally among the programs. The best part of this school is dedicated parents. This school ranks in the top 5% of CPS schools for money raised. Events are well attended. Parents here value education.
We've seen continuous change in 4 years. Not only academically for all students, but also in terms of the Fine Arts program and extra-curricular choices. Thanks to the principal, the school has received numerous grants and is in many partnerships. A literacy grant provide all resources, training and individual assessment tools. The Music program, with 2 full-time teachers, offers all band or choir from 4th grade, Recorder in 3rd and learn music theory earlier. 2nd and 3rd graders can choose String lessons for free after school and anyone can pay for piano lessons. Anyone can participate in before and after-school activities beyond Academics and Sports (Theater & Dance, Lill Street Art, chess, book club) with hot breakfast and hot dinner. Fundraising added another teacher to the largest classroom, a technologist and more computers. The parent-run safety patrol helps congestion & safety. Monthly Family nites are fun. Sensitivity and openminded-ness spells
Get the definition of what 'gifted' means before you apply to this school. The majority of the children in the gifted program are not in the uppper 95% of the bell curve when tested. As a result this school is not prepared to meet the needs of children who test in the 98 and 99%. There are ceilings in the gifted classrooms. Behavior problems are present in some of the classrooms and the afterschool program. It seems that all children are punished for the bad deeds of a few. The parent 'culture' might put you off - quite cliquey, territorial, and many overly involved parents (yes there is a such a thing at SLES), have some type of unknown agenda. This school will definitely meet the needs of the general population but if you are looking for gifted program make sure you ask a lot of questions before making a decision.
My child has attended South Loop since Kindergarten and is currently in the 2nd grade gifted class. I think South Loop is a wonderful school. Test scores rose from 51% to 81% in 2006; note that the gifted class only represented 1/7 of the classes tested. I think the dedicated parent participation and their initiatives to help raise funds, benefit all three curriculums (pre-K, gifted & magnet) and have made a huge impact on the quality of education provided at South Loop. The teachers are qualified and seem enthusiastic. No situation is ever perfect, so issues do arise, but there seems to be a strong partnership between the administration, teachers and parent groups to work together to continually improve the school.
I would not recommend this school to anyone in search of quality education and safe environment for their children. My son was in the 6th grade and was constantly harassed by other students. The teacher didn't seem to care one way or another. A seemingly lack of control by the staff is apparent. Also, the gifted program is only a few years old, still full of kinks, and only for primary students. The children in the upper grades seem to have be left in the cold; hence, the low test scores.
My son has been attending South Loop School since kindergarten. He is currently in 2nd grade. We are very pleased with South Loop School. We have had wonderful teachers, and the new principal has done a tremendous job of turning the school around and initiating all kinds of new programs. They have music, art, sports in the regular school day, and through a partnership with a 3rd party, offer a tuition based on-site after-school program where the kids can participate in additional activities such as dance and drama. All students have an opportunity to participate in clubs such as chess club and book club. There is a great Family Involvement group that has Friday night activites once a month. They also have a wonderful positive behavior initiative program which rewards children for positive behavior and focuses on how to teach behavior. It has been a great experience.
My son has been attending the Pre-K program for the last two years. They moved into a dedicated building just north of Chinatown called the Early Childhood Center. Overall, we are pleased with the experience. Although the school generally lacks efficient organizational skills (as the new center was opening, workers were still working on the school and the opening itself was chaotic), I believe the longer they are in operation, the better it will become esp. since it is a tuition based program and primarily attracts the local residents.
As a gifted student myself, and the parent of a gifted child, I find this school to be excellent. Sadly the school currently only offers its Regional Gifted Center for grades: K, 1, 2 & 3. Fortunately, one gifted grade will be added annually. Surely, once the school becomes 100% gifted, any 'ignorance and unorganization' mentioned in another parent review will be eliminated along with the under achieving students that cause this school's state test scores to be below average. Judging by the same parent's mis-spelling of the word 'tolerance' more than likely her child will be one removed to make more room for the gifted children like mine.
This institution is trying to head in a direction that is exclusive.Exclusively for Gifted and to the area children only.
This school is quickly on its way to becoming one of the top elementary schools in the Chicago Public School System. In the classrooms where the Principal's directives have been carried out by the teachers the test scores and student achievement have risen to levels never before approached at this school. There is still work to be done and a small segment of teachers who are resisting the reforms, but tremendous strides have been made in two years and as the school continues to add a gifted/neighborhood class year each year, things will only continue to improve. The school has a very dedictaed, active and cohesive local school council that is solidly behind the Principal and an active parent group, especially in the lower grades that is developing strong financial and volunteer support for this school.
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