Frequently Asked Questions SY 2022-2023
Best Elementary Schools in Chicago Public Schools District
Q: What are your hours?
A: Decatur’s school day is from 7:45a.m. - 2:45p.m. Earliest drop off for students is 7:30 a.m. Typically there is tuition based after school care on-site. This programming and its hours will be subject to Covid restrictions.
Q: What is a classical school?
A: Decatur is one of five classical schools in CPS. Classical Schools provide a challenging liberal arts centered program. Our teachers provide accelerated instruction in science, mathematics, language arts, Latin, and the humanities. On average, students are working one grade level above their current grade.
Q: What is the enrollment process?
A: All enrollment and testing is conducted by the Office of Access & Enrollment. Families can apply for Decatur and other schools by following the steps outlined on the OAE website and utilizing the new online application system GoCPS.
Admissions testing is required for the Selective Enrollment Elementary Schools (Regional Gifted Centers, Classical Schools, and Academic Centers). Families will be notified by CPS in the Spring of any offered seats at select schools. Applicants for the Regional Gifted Centers and Classical Schools are selected based on their admissions exam score.
Q: What is the difference between the regional gifted centers vs classical school exams?
A: The classical school exam assesses a child’s current abilities in reading and math. The exam evaluates reading comprehension, fluency, problem solving, reasoning, and understanding of mathematical patterns. The gifted exam focuses on spatial, logic, and reasoning. The exam resembles that of an I.Q. test. All testing is typically completed before March.
Q: What is your school profile?
A: Decatur is a Kindergarten through 8th grade building with 325 students enrolled. Our first 8th grade class graduated in June of 2022! We are a level 1+ school and our student attainment is in the 99th percentile for both reading and math. Our demographics are: Asian: 28.9%, Black: 5.2%, Hispanic: 12.5%, White: 44.3%, Other: 9.1% , Low Income: 13.2%, Diverse Learners: 6%
Q: Who qualifies for busing services?
A: Students who live between 1.5 and 6 miles away from school and north of Fullerton Avenue qualify for bus service. Students are picked up and dropped off at designated locations throughout the city based on address. Busing policies and procedures can change from year to year and are determined by the CPS Department of Transportation. For more information on transportation you can visit http://cps.edu/Programs/Pages/Transportation.aspx
Q: What other programming is offered to Decatur students?
A: We believe in giving our students many platforms to grow and succeed outside the traditional classroom setting. In addition to the core subjects, our students have physical education every day. We offer Latin to all students as part of our classical model. Students take classes in art, music, dance, and makerspace as part of their weekly programming.
Q: What standardized testing takes place at Decatur?
A: 3rd-8th students will take the newly adopted DIstrict Renaissance Star Assessment in Reading and Math (online). Students in grades 3-8th also take IAR (420 – 630 minutes) in the spring. Primary grades (K-3rd) take leveled reading tests each quarter to assess their current reading levels (10-30 minutes).
Q: What curriculum do you use?
A: We have adopted a new SEL Curriculum, Caring School Community. This is a comprehensive, research-based social and emotional learning (SEL) program that builds school-wide community, develops students’ social skills and SEL competencies, and supports our Restorative Practices.
In reading, teachers use the Common Core Standards to engage students in high quality accelerated instruction that enriches and supports the comprehensive development of all students. Students read a variety of quality literary and informational text for both understanding and enjoyment. Our teachers in 4th-6th grade implement a novel based curriculum that encourages analysis, critical thinking, and application of literary tools.
Decatur Classical’s mathematics program provides many different tools and strategies for developing students into confident mathematicians. We Currently use Dimensions Math, a Singapore Mathematics curriculum, in grades K-4 and use Illustrative Mathematics through the Desmos platform in grades 5-8. Students in 8th grade take 1 full year of Algebra 1. We use a problem- based learning model to foster a deep understanding of the relationships between mathematical concepts and real world situations. Teachers use data to give students meaningful feedback with a focus on strategies and justification for math rather than explicit procedures.
Teachers use the CPS Science Instructional Framework, which includes Amplify Science. Amplify Science is a robust, multimodal, hands-on program made to fulfill 100 percent of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). It emphasizes students exploring phenomena in order to answer authentic questions while using evidence to support their thinking and encourages students to read, write and argue like scientists. Teachers strive to engage students in exciting, investigation-based learning where students learn and explore through hands-on learning. These skills are further enhanced by attending Makerspace weekly, where they engage in the design process and project based learning using Project Lead the Way. Students learn how to solve problems, think critically and creatively, communicate, and collaborate; ultimately strengthening and supporting skills developed in their core classes.
Q: What is Decatur’s homework policy?
A: At Decatur we do not have homework in grades K-3rd. 4th-8th graders use a portfolio based assessment plan. This affirms one of our core values of providing our students a balanced academic experience with a child centered approach.
Q: What after school options do you offer families?
A: We have many after school options at Decatur Classical School. In addition to after school care through Right at School, we have fee-based classes offered throughout the week such as Chess, CirEsteem, Piano, Young Rembrandts and Musical Theater, ICook, ISteam, etc. Students can also sign up for teacher created clubs. We also offer after school sports for grades 5-8.
Q: Do you have recess?
A: Yes! All students have 60 minutes total for lunch and recess each day.
Q: Can I volunteer at Decatur?
A: Yes! There are many opportunities to get involved. All volunteers must apply for volunteer clearance, and have a background check completed before volunteering by applying on the CPS website. Please request Level I status if you intend to volunteer to chaperone on school field trips in the future.
Q: What are your class sizes?
A: It varies by grade level, but next year we anticipate a full Kindergarten class of 28-29 students.
Please contact Ms. Negron [email protected] or Ms. Martino [email protected] with additional questions.