How did we become number three?


Julia Schuurman

Lane imporved by two spots in rank from 2017 to 2018, according to US News.

By Julia Schuurman, Features Editor

From the freshmen barrelling through the halls in a rush to get to their next class to the upperclassmen strolling into first period 15 minutes late with Dunkin Donuts coffee in hand, every student within the walls of Lane has one guaranteed thing in common: they were part of the Selective Enrollment process.

According to SelectivePrep, Selective Enrollment schools “offer an accelerated program to meet the needs of Chicago’s most academically advanced students.” As of 2018, four out of the five top high schools in Illinois remain selective enrollment high schools.

In 2018, US News ranked Lane Tech as the #3 best high school in Illinois following Northside Prep and Walter Payton, also selective enrollment schools. Lane’s rank jumped two spots from #5 best Illinois high school in 2017, according to US News.

According to the article, school rankings are “based on their performance on state-required tests and how well they prepare students for college.” US News teamed up with RTI International, a North Carolina based global nonprofit science research firm, to produce the list using a four step process.

The first three steps “ensured that the schools serve all of their students well” by using performance on state reading and math proficiency tests as well as graduation rates as benchmarks.

The fourth step accessed how well the school prepared its students for college level work. The percentage of economically disadvantaged students, who tend to score lower, was factored into the calculation to identify schools performing better than statistical expectations.

However, some unseen forces are also at play in maintaining Lane’s proficiency.

Lane’s Academic Center also enrolls students through the selective enrollment process. Academic Center students often continue to be high achievers throughout high school, Assistant Principal Mr. Ara said.

“A lot of students that are in those programs are really great test takers and academically driven, so what school wouldn’t want to have those kids?” Ara said.

Every student has the common pride that they have worked hard to be accepted into Lane. This can often be forgotten in everyday student life where students attend classes that are sometimes only available at Lane.

Many classes offered at Lane, such as Robotics, Aquaponics, Philosophy, Women in Lit and more are typically not taught at other high schools, Ara said. There are enough classes per subject to ensure that LTAC students have advanced courses to take after completing their credits.

“You don’t run out of math classes here,” Principal Mr. Tennison said. “You don’t run out of science, art, or computer science classes here. There are other schools that can meet that in maybe one or two subjects areas, but not all of them.”

According to the Lane Tech alumni website, “More PhDs have graduated from Lane than any other high school in the nation.”

This did not surprise Mr. Ara, who has worked at Lane for 17 years.

Lane’s sense of spirit is something that distinguishes it greatly from other high schools, Ara said.  

“Lane is the only high school that I know and heard of that has this sense of college pride in high school,” Ara said. “You could be across the world and if you’re wearing a Lane Tech T-shirt, somebody can recognize it and say, ‘Hey, I know someone that went there!’”

Tennison said he was glad to hear of the jump in rank, but has other priorities at hand.

“I think it’s awesome that the school’s ranking went up higher, but that’s not what I’m really focused on,” Tennison said. “It’s a testament to the students, their accomplishments and the work that the adults are doing in the building. But what I’m actually interested in is: is this the best we can do?”

Lane has also made headlines in 2018 in other respects. In March 2018, Apple showcased its product launch event at Lane, which drew national attention. Mr. Ara explained that conversations facilitated from this event resulted in upgrades in technology used in classrooms.

            Along with an increase in rank, Lane also increased in total enrollment. According to CPS, the total enrollment of students at Lane in 2018 is 4,518, compared to about 4,200 in the 2016-2017 school year.

Lane is the largest school in CPS as well as the largest AP school in the country, meaning there are more AP tests administered at Lane than any other high school, according to Tennison. Lane’s consistent and above average student success in AP exams is another factor in improving rank, Ara said.

In the future, Lane will be implementing increased social emotional work throughout the school, according to Mr. Ara. He explained that as times change, and with an increased use of social media and technology, education will have to adjust as well.

Currently, Mr. Tennison’s priorities remain ensuring that resources are available to students and making opportunities equal in a large and growing school.

“We can’t control what happens in the world. We can’t even control what happens in our country. But we are large enough to influence it,” Tennison said. “I want our school and our graduates to be influencers. Nothing short.”