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CTA, ACE host Trades Day for CPS Students

CTA, ACE host Trades Day for CPS Students

While COVID has hit the pause button on so many opportunities for our high school students, CTA is helping provide a path for CPS high school students to pursue architecture-, construction- and engineering-related careers through CTA’s historic Red and Purple Modernization (RPM) Phase One Project.

On Wednesday, November 18, CTA, RPM contractor Walsh-Fluor and the ACE Mentor Program hosted ACE Trades Day with CPS, a virtual event that introduced students to the trades and future career opportunities. Over 30 students attended the event in which they got to see testimonials from tradespeople working on the RPM project on what it is like to work in construction and how they got their start in the industry, as well as ask questions in real time. From the beginning of the project, RPM has been about making a better future for all Chicagoans, including Chicago students, and this effort is another way CTA hopes to break down barriers for students to pursue their career dreams. 

CTA, Walsh-Fluor and ACE plan to host another one of these virtual events later in the school year. For more information about ACE and the RPM Phase One Project, please see below.

Space remains for ninth, eleventh and twelfth grade high school students within the Chicago Public School district to claim an open seat at Rowe-Clark Math & Science Academy, one of the Noble Network of Charter Schools’ 17 campuses across Chicago. Noble schools are public schools, open to any student in Chicago, with no testing required for admission, and just like all CPS schools, they charge no tuition.

U.S. News & World Report recently recognized nine Noble high schools in the top 100 of Illinois, plus eight of the top 25 in all of CPS. Chicago Magazine named Noble schools as 13 of the top 40 high schools in the city and the Niche research group named all 17 Noble high schools to their list of the top 30 charter schools in Illinois.

This fall, all Noble students will have access to technology for their homes to be ready for remote learning. To help overcome the digital divide in so many Chicago households throughout CPS, all 12,000 Noble students will have received access to personal technology. All students will have a Chromebook to utilize as their own 1:1 device, and students that have expressed a need for home Wi-Fi will receive a hotspot for educational use.

“We reallocated a sizable portion of our operational budget toward technology purchases for our students to maximize their potential for successful remote learning,” said Mike Madden, Chief Operating Officer for Noble. “Our students’ health and safety comes first, but fostering an environment for academic excellence follows closely behind, so as our network’s theme states this fall, we believe we are indeed ready for remote learning.”

Hundreds of Noble’s parents, students, teachers, and staff shared their ideas and feedback for successful remote learning. A clear and succinct outline of Noble’s #ReadyForRemote plan is available at www.NobleSchools.org.

“This plan will allow us to prioritize a commitment to health and safety for our students, teachers, and staff, while continuing our focus on academic results and social-emotional support,” said Constance Jones, CEO of Noble. “There is no doubt this school year will be a historic one. We prepare for the launch of school while a pandemic has changed every aspect of our lives, while our city grapples with the legacy and reality of systemic racism and while we reaffirm, loudly, Black lives matter. Amidst all of this, I have never been more confident for our community to meet the moment.”

For interested students and their families, please visit www.NobleSchools.org and click on the Enroll tab.

New ‘test-blind’ policy is first of its kind for an Illinois institution

DeKalb, Ill. – Northern Illinois University today announced it will eliminate the use of standardized test scores for general admission and merit scholarship decisions. This new “test-blind” policy will begin for students applying to NIU for the fall of 2021.

Any high school graduate who applies to NIU with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above will be guaranteed admission. All freshman applicants will be automatically considered for NIU Merit Scholarships, based on their GPA. The sweeping change includes the University Honors Program, with students applying to that program for the fall of 2021 no longer required to submit standardized test scores.

National higher education studies and NIU’s own data show a student’s high school GPA is a better indicator of future academic success than performance on a standardized ACT or SAT test.

“This new policy comes from our deep commitment to making a college education both accessible and equitable for a broad and diverse student population,” NIU President Lisa Freeman said. “It reflects our efforts campus-wide to eliminate unnecessary and biased barriers throughout a student’s educational path.”

“Once we know a high school student’s GPA, one standardized test score is irrelevant,” said NIU Executive Vice President and Provost Beth Ingram, Ph.D. “The new policy will allow more students to take advantage of the life-changing educational opportunities we provide. We believe that this will encourage good students to focus on getting the most out of their high school classes.”

Student applicants with a GPA below 3.0 will be considered for admission to NIU based on a holistic review which will consider a broad spectrum of factors, such as academic preparation and performance, motivation, resilience and resourcefulness.

“This now allows us, much earlier in the process, to really get to know students on a more personal level,” said Sol Jensen, vice president for Enrollment Management, Marketing and Communications. “We believe it also will help with retention efforts down the road as we’re able to individualize the resources and services our students need to succeed.”

The new practices aim to empower disadvantaged students without the means or resources to prepare for tests, and they reflect well-documented findings that standardized test scores often are more reflective of a student’s socioeconomic background than their academic abilities, Jensen said

Research shows that the costs and inaccessibility of test preparation resources and courses often inhibit minority and low-income students, as well as students with disabilities.

While a growing number of colleges have announced “test-optional” criteria, NIU is the first public institution in Illinois to adopt an entirely “test-blind” criteria for applicants.

“NIU faculty were instrumental in making this change and recognize that our students are more than a test score,” Provost Ingram said. The policy also has been guided and championed by shared governance including Faculty Senate, Baccalaureate Council and University Council.


Northern Illinois University is a student-centered, nationally recognized public research university, with expertise that benefits its region and spans the globe in a wide variety of fields, including the sciences, humanities, arts, business, engineering, education, health and law. Through its main campus in DeKalb, Illinois, and education centers for students and working professionals in Chicago, Hoffman Estates, Naperville, Oregon and Rockford, NIU offers more than 100 areas of study while serving a diverse and international student body.

This past weekend ComEd hosted fifty Chicagoland freshman students at the Art Institute of Chicago to further develop their STEM skills and enhance their understanding of the fundamentals of energy, smart-city technologies and sustainability. This session is a part of the ComEd HFS Chicago Scholars STEM Program that launched in December, offered exclusively to students in the HFS Scholars program, which helps socioeconomically-disadvantaged, and flourishing students attend top Chicago private high schools.

The STEM program includes five immersive workshops per academic year for four years where students gain project-based experience with the mentoring of professional engineers. The working session held on Saturday, March 2nd, was the third of the five workshops with the creative backdrop of the Art Institute of Chicago. Impressively, the students continue to show a consistent commitment to STEM education as well as a high level of engagement. ComEd mentor and Engineer for ComEd, Oke Chika also added to the students’ enthusiasm by leading interactive discussions regarding their future career opportunities and STEM applications in the real world.