About Our School
Ole A. Thorp Scholastic Academy, located on Chicago’s northwest side, is a Chicago Public School that serves over 840 students from kindergarten through eighth grade. Students come from all over the city including the south, west, and northwest sides of Chicago. We have over 25 language groups represented as well a strong diversity of students from many different cultural backgrounds. Thorp Academy is just one of a students from the north half of the city. However, O. A. Thorp is a Scholastic Academy, offering an outstanding educational program that encourages the active involvement of parents, teachers, and students. Thorp has consistently been ranked as one of the top performing schools in the state of Illinois and we are proud of the hard work and achievements of our students and staff.
As a Scholastic Academy, Thorp has been organized around the belief that proficiency in Math and Science are essential in preparing students for success in high school and beyond. O.A. Thorp Scholastic Academy is committed to providing an excellent education for the whole child. Thorp offers an environment that is both emotionally nurturing while also academically challenging. There are three classrooms at each grade level from kindergarten to eighth grade. Our classrooms are limited to 29 students in primary (K-2) and 32 students for grades 4 to 8. Grades K-1 are self-contained with one teacher teaching all subjects. In grades two through eight there are various levels of departmentalization. In second grade the homeroom teacher teaches Math and Reading; students switch classes for Writing, Humanities and Science. In grades 3-5, students have Language Arts with their homeroom teacher and switch for Humanities, Math and Science. In middle school (grades 6-8), students switch classes for all subjects just as they would in high school. All students attend weekly Art, Health, Computer Education, Library,Physical Education, and Music classes. All students in middle school take Spanish as a foreign language.
From the Magnet Schools of America website: “Magnet schools are based on the premise that all students do not learn in the same ways, that if we find a unifying theme or a different organizational structure for students of similar interest, those students will learn more in all areas. In other words, if a magnet school voluntarily attracts students and teachers, it will succeed because, more than for any other reason, those in attendance want to be there. They will have chosen that school. When a parent chooses a school for his or her young child, that school is more likely to succeed for that child than would one to which that child was assigned. Originally, parents with the financial means could send their children to parochial (church) schools, to private tutors, or to private schools. If wealthy enough, they could send their children away to dormitory schools – then called private academies – from age eight to eighteen. We still have those options for wealthy Americans, and many still choose these options, but some who can afford to send their children to any school instead choose magnet schools, which are public schools and cost nothing to attend. ” We believe that high-quality instruction is the right of all students regardless of ethnic or socio-economic background. The excellence demonstrated by the students and faculty of Thorp Scholastic Academy attracts families from some of the most affluent as well as some of the most economically-challenged areas of the city. Because of our racial and economic diversity we have also attracted the attention of some of the most prestigious institutions of higher learning throughout the Midwest. We have extensive partnerships with the University of Chicago, DePaul University, Wheaton College and Purdue University. Our commitment to excellence has been recognized in: Chicago Magazine, WBEZ, and the Chicago Tribune. Admission to Thorp is completely voluntary and is based on the random lottery performed by the Office of Access and Enrollment. For more information on how to apply to Thorp please visit: http://www.cpsoae.org. Kindergartners applying to Thorp have a roughly 1 in 15 chance of being accepted, siblings of students already at Thorp have a significantly better chance of acceptance.
Thorp is the only magnet school of six Scholastic Academies throughout the city with a Comprehensive Gifted Program. Unlike schools such as Decatur Classical, Edison Regional Gifted Center, or the Academic Centers at Taft, Whitney and Lane; Thorp students are selected solely through a random lottery. Students in our Gifted Comprehensive Program are initially selected based on their performance at the end of Kindergarten on the Chicago Achievement Test; standardized tests such as TRC and NWEA; as well as teacher recommendations based on their ranking on our Comprehensive Gifted Checklist. Roughly one-third of our students are in the Comprehensive Gifted Program. Placement in the Comprehensive Gifted Program is not static and students and parents should expect movement in and out of the program based on student performance each year. CGP students and their parents should be aware that instruction in the gifted program will be extremely challenging and is at least one-and-a-half to two years beyond grade level as compared to neighborhood CPS schools. As a general rule of thumb, CGP students score about 90% or higher on standardized tests such as NWEA, but grades, conduct and student performance are also considerations for placement.
When your child enters the classrooms at Thorp they will receive an educational experience that we characterize as “Thorp Active Learning”. Active Learning at Thorp is distinguished by a number of different facets:
1. Students are actively engaged in differentiated small group instructional centers. These centers allow us to maximize instructional time, while also ensuring that students are being taught at their instructional level. Our instructional centers will also require students to move during instruction; most centers have rotation times between 20 – 40 minutes. This requires clear and explicit classroom procedures and routines. Our first month of instruction will often focus on establishing these routines in the classroom as well as school-wide.
2. Students are given consistent feedback and guidance through targeted questioning. Our teachers focus on Socratic Instructional Practices concentrating on asking relevant questions to help students arrive at the answers.
3. Teacher Unit Plans are aligned to Standards (i.e. Common Core, NGSS, ISBE) and have been selected to address skills and core competencies students will need once they enter the workforce.
4. At Thorp, students demonstrate their knowledge through the 4C’s (Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking and Creativity). Students are expected to provide ample evidence of understanding both in oral and written communication. Students at Thorp are also expected to engage in productive conversations, both to arrive at collaborative answers, or well-thought out differences of opinion. Thorp students need to demonstrate ownership and pride in their work, with the expectation that their work will be shared with a wider audience. This provides true value and authenticity to student assessments. Proficiency on standardized tests is just a starting point for our students.
5. The social-emotional growth of your child is just as important as their academic growth. At Thorp we believe in developing and teaching happy students who are ready to meet the challenges of tomorrow.
The strong integrated curriculum at Thorp is enriched by programs that serve the learning needs of all students. Reading and Math instruction is differentiated according to student ability level. Due to space limitations we cannot have every student who is testing above grade level in our Comprehensive Gifted Program so Thorp Academy also has an accelerated learning program that is one-half to a full year above grade level. Students selected for the Accelerated Instructional Program (AIP) are selected by their teacher according to ability and performance. Students are normally selected based on their performance on NWEA, ISAT and other standardized tests. Teachers may also select students based on their observation of student ability and/or potential. AIP students typically score above the 75% on standardized tests. Students and parents in the AIP program may not be aware of their selection.
The standard instructional program at Thorp is typically more rigorous than the typical CPS elementary school. Many students transferring into Thorp from other elementary schools will often have difficulty adjusting to their work load. The standard program at Thorp is supported by cutting edge instructional practices that emphasize small group instruction, student collaboration, effective student communication, creativity and critical thinking. Thorp students integrate technology into their traditional learning and all students at Thorp are expected to be familiar with technological tools that will enhance their learning.
Identified students in grades K-8 who are in need of additional reinforcement in reading and are served in our Response to Intervention (RTI) Tutoring Groups. Children with identified learning disabilities, emotional/behavioral disorder disabilities, speech, and/or visual or hearing deficiencies are served by special education teachers in accordance with each student’s Individual Education Plan. Thorp also has a dedicated Autism program.
Thorp Scholastic Academy incorporates technology at all levels of instruction. In some schools having a computer in a classroom amounts to integrating technology – at Thorp we know that hardware is only one small part of the equation. We believe that the teacher needs to model and lead by integrating technology in their instructional practices. Every teacher at Thorp must be familiar using the internet to augment and supplement instruction. Additionally, Thorp teachers are expected to regularly update their website and incorporate web-postings by their students as evidence of authentic communication. Each classroom at Thorp has presentation equipment, laptops, Chromebooks, Ipads, Apple TV’s and more, but we recognize that the most important part of technology is not what you have, but rather how it is used in the classroom. At Thorp we teach students to think critically both in the consumption and production of digital information. We approach blended learning by incorporating programs and sites such as Compass Learning, Khan Academy, Achieve 3000, Gobstopper, ThinkCerca, etc. with the expertise of the teachers as instructional guides.
Other school activities include athletic teams, a strong fine arts programs, monthly assemblies, Student Council, O. A. Thorp Service Opportunities, Color Guard, field trips, contests in the areas of writing, spelling, mathematics, oratory, science, art and music, and several different reading motivational programs. From January through May students may participate in academic after school programs.
Thorp’s parents are a vital component of our school’s success. In addition to volunteer opportunities throughout the school year, parents may also wish to participate in the activities sponsored by our Thorp PTA as well as with Friends of Thorp.
Through the leadership of the Local School Council (LSC) a close working relationship exists between home and school. The Thorp LSC is made up of six parents, two community members, two teachers, one non-teacher staff member and the school’s principal. Parents and the general public are invited to attend monthly meetings that are announced on the Thorp website as well as posted on the bulletin board outside the school office.
We appreciate your visit to our site and encourage you to contact us if you have any questions. If you’d like to schedule a tour of our school please call the main office at 773.534-3640 or you can email our Assistant Principals, Dr. George Chipain or Madonna Arredondo. We thank you for visiting our site and learning a little bit more about the difference at O.A. Thorp Scholastic Academy. Please email our Principal, Efren D. Toledo if you have any further questions or suggestions.