Ravenswood Elementary is a public neighborhood elementary school in Chicago, Illinois. Families that live in the attendance boundaries of Ravenswood Elementary can send their children to Ravenwood Elementary for free. However, this school flies under the radar of parents who are exploring CPS public schools for their children. I know because of I run a website where parents can search for properties by school district, and Ravenswood Elementary is not often selected in the search criteria. Here are the top 5 reasons why Ravenswood Elementary is a hidden gem:
5. The MLS (the multiple listing service where real estate brokers list property for sale) identifies the neighborhood surrounding Ravenswood Elementary incorrectly. Raveswood Elementary is in…..you guessed it…..Ravenswood! Ravenswood is one of the most family friendly neighborhoods in Chicago with excellent access to public transportation. It is only 20-25 minutes to downtown on the Brown Line and, get this, 12 minutes to downtown on the Metra. Some of the best restaurants in the city are right here, and the shopping and nightlife are great as well. Real Estate in this area is harder to sell because the MLS will not or can not update their neighborhood boundaries, and as a result, Ravenswood Elementary sometimes gets overlooked as a viable option for parents moving to the City. If you are moving to the City and you are looking in Ravenswood/Lincoln Square, make sure your realtor is showing you all options in Ravenswood/Lincoln Square, which extends to Clark Avenue to the east.
4. Ravenswood Elementary test scores are better than they appear at first glance. Ravenswood has approximately 18% special needs students, which is nearly double the average percentage of special needs students in CPS schools. At Ravenswood Elementary the special needs student’s test scores are included in the ISAT composite score. Some schools in Chicago do not have special needs student take the ISAT at all, opting instead for a test called the IAA. So, not only does Ravenswood support a higher percentage of special needs students, but also some other schools are not including special needs students in their ISAT composite scores. Finally, Ravenswood elementary is not a gifted magnet school or selective enrollment school, so they do not benefit from the high test scores among gifted children, which are again included in the ISAT composite scores. The end result is that, on the surface, Ravenswood test scores do not compare favorably with other elite schools within CPS, but if you dig below the surface, you will see that Ravenswood Elementary test scores are right up there with the best.
3. Ravenswood has one of the smallest average class sizes among CPS public schools. The average class size at Ravenswood Elementary is 25 students. This is no accident. It is a specific goal of the school to keep class sizes down, and much of the discretionary budget at Ravenswood Elementary goes towards additional teachers salaries. Despite a deteriorating budget, the school has managed to keep class sizes low through the fund raising efforts of organizations like the Friends of Ravenswood.
2. Ravenswood is a Fine and Performing Arts Magnet Cluster School, and the program permeates through every classroom in the school.
Not only are we a Fine and Performing Arts Magnet Cluster school, where our students receive art, drama, music and gym at least once each week, our arts teachers also work with our classroom teachers to develop additional arts integration units where the arts are integrated into core subjects such as math and science to allow students to develop a deeper understanding of the material. -From the Ravenswood website
Ms. Heather Connolly is the principal at Ravenswood, and she provides an example of a geometry class where the students were testing low in one small section of geometry. The arts teacher collaborated with the geometry teacher and developed a project that incorporated the missing concepts, which involved picking a Chicago skyscraper and building a scale model. On the next round of testing, the student scores on this section of geometry were the highest scores on the test. Ravenswood students don’t just get an arts teacher, they get an entire curriculum that utilizes art, performing arts, and music.
And the number one reason why Ravenswood Elementary is a diamond among Chicago Public Schools:
1. Heather Connolly and the Friends of Ravenswood School organization. Ms. Connolly has been the school principal for 5 years, and in that time she has hired 75% of the current staff at the school, increased average ISAT composite scores by 11%, all while experiencing a budget decrease of 40% in discretionary spending. She is a strong, energetic principal who was selected by the LSC, with input from the Friends of Ravenswood parents/community group, and she has had a wonderful influence on the school. The Friends of Ravenswood School is a non-profit started by Wendy Vasquez and several moms from the school over 7 years ago, and the program focuses on community-building and fundraising for Ravenswood Elementary.
The community is rallying behind Ravenswood Elementary, and the school is not just beginning a turnaround, the school has passed the tipping point and it IS a great option for neighborhood families. Wendy Vasquez has two children at the school:
I no longer have anxiety about which teachers my children will be assigned at the beginning of the school year because they are all good. -Wendy Vasquez
Parents moving to Chicago should take a look at Ravenswood Elementary, because not only is it a fine institution, the neighborhood is awesome as well. The recipe has been in place for 5 years: a strong principal who is forward thinking, and a parent organization that is active and doing things to support the school.