CHICAGO (CBS) — You have to test to get into some of Chicago’s public high schools – others you don’t.

So what’s the best in the no-test group?  A new study shows charters are leading the pack.  Kristyn Hartman reports.

Pritzker College Prep is in the Noble Network of Charter Schools.  Student Fabi Gomez chose it for its drive and discipline. 

“From day one, it’s like going to college – not only going to college, but graduating from college,” said Gomez.

What’s different at Pritzker?

Teachers do not belong to a union. They get bonuses for performance.  School days are longer. 

 “I think we have flexibility to do things in different ways,” Principal Pablo Sierra said.

Different,  he says, from neighborhood schools under the same CPS umbrella. Doing things differently seems to be paying off. 

Pritzker students had the second highest average ACT scores of the district’s non-selective schools. 

“Nine of the top 10 are charter schools,” said the Illinois Policy Institute’s Collin Hitt. “It’s a great Chicago story.”

One the institute profiles in this study, with a recommendation that city officials create new charter schools.  The Chicago Teachers Union is skeptical about the study. 

“It’s very flawed,” said CTU Staff Coordinator Jackson Potter. “It doesn’t have all the data that is necessary to make a fair comparison.”

He claims charters don’t have as many non-English speaking students, and charters push out kids who don’t thrive.

“Patently unfair,” Sierra counters. “Our kids are the same kids.”

Sierra believes schools should share best practices for the kids.  So does the district.  There is a waiting list handled by a lottery to get into Pritzker and the other Noble Network schools, seven of which have those top ACT scores. 

Highest average score on the list:  a 21.  That exceeds the CPS average of about 16.

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