Office of Access and Enrollment

If you are still seeking a school for fall 2017, see Options for 2017 - 2018

News and Announcements

Announcing GoCPS: a new online platform that will streamline the high school application process for Chicago Public Schools and make it more simple, transparent and equitable for students to apply. Visit to learn more and subscribe to get the latest updates about the common high school application process for the 2018-19 school year.

Schools and Programs

Preschool programs for three- and four-year-olds are available at many Chicago public schools.

There are four magnet preschool programs, at the following schools:

  • Drummond Montessori Magnet School (three- and four-year-old program)
  • Inter-American Magnet School (four-year-old program only)
  • Mayer Magnet School (three- and four-year-old program)
  • Suder Magnet School (three- and four-year-old program)

At these four schools ONLY, the preschool program feeds directly into kindergarten. (This means that preschool students enrolled in these schools do not have to submit an application in order to attend kindergarten at the school where they are enrolled.) For instructions on how to apply to the preschool programs at these four schools, see the information below:

  • The application period begins October 2, 2017, and ends December 15, 2017.
  • You have a choice of applying through the online application portal, or by using a paper application. (We recommend the online portal – it’s easier, faster, reduces chances for error, and provides email confirmation and online notification.)
  • There is no testing required for magnet schools ‐ students are selected via computerized lottery, in accordance with the tier system of the Chicago Public Schools.
  • Your child’s application notification letter will be released on April 6, 2018, to notify you whether or not your child received an offer from any of the schools to which you applied. If you apply ONLINE, your child’s letter will be accessible via the online portal. If you apply via PAPER application, your child’s letter will be mailed to your home on April 6, 2018 (note this is the date that the letter will be MAILED, not received.)

Next, see the step-by-step instructions below, for both the online process and the paper process, to apply to the four magnet preschool programs.


Step 1:Starting October 2nd, go to the online application site and click “Sign Up” to open your account.

Step 2:After you receive your PIN, and access the online portal, click the APPLY button for the Magnet, Magnet Cluster and Open Enrollment Schools to select the schools to which your child is applying. You can apply to up to three schools for three-year-olds and up to four schools for four-year-olds. (To apply to any other preschools, see the bottom of this page for more information.)

Step 3:After you successfully submit your application, the online portal will show the word “Completed” under the status for applying. You will also receive an email confirmation. If the online portal shows “Not Completed,” you have not successfully submitted your application.


Step 1:Go to the home page for the Office of Access and Enrollment and click "Paper Applications" to download and print the Standard Elementary Schools application.

Step 2:Complete the application and rank the schools in order of your preference. You can apply to up to three schools for three-year-olds and up to four schools for four-year-olds. (To apply to any other preschools, see the bottom of this page for more information.) Be sure to sign the application.

Step 3 :Submit the application to the Office of Access and Enrollment. Paper applications can be mailed or hand-delivered only.


To apply to the preschool program at any other Chicago public school, you will apply through the Chicago Early Learning application process, which takes place in the spring. For more information, visit or call 312-229-1690. For information on schools that offer tuition-based preschool programs, contact the Office of Early Childhood Education at 773-553-2010. Note that if your child is enrolled in a preschool program through the Chicago Early Learning process or the tuition-based preschool program, and you want him/her to remain in that school for kindergarten, you will need to submit an application for kindergarten the year before your child will start kindergarten. Students in these preschool programs DO NOT automatically continue into kindergarten.

Magnet Schools
Specialize in one particular area, such as math/science, Montessori, or Humanities. In most cases, magnet schools do not have neighborhood attendance boundaries. Seats are filled through the application and computerized lottery selection process.

Magnet Cluster Schools
A neighborhood school that specializes in one particular area of the curriculum, such as technology, world language, or fine and performing arts. Magnet cluster schools accept students who live within their neighborhood attendance boundary. Available seats for students who live outside of the boundary are filled through the application and computerized lottery selection process.

Open Enrollment Schools
A neighborhood school that does not specialize in a particular area of the curriculum. Open enrollment schools accept students who live within their neighborhood attendance boundary. Available seats for students who live outside of the boundary are filled through the application and computerized lottery selection process.

Selective Enrollment Elementary Schools
Consists of five types of schools/programs: Regional Gifted Centers, Regional Gifted Centers for English Learners, Classical Schools, the International Gifted Program, and Academic Centers. These schools are designed for academically advanced students and testing is required.

College and Career Academies
Students receive a college-preparatory curriculum and a career-focused education in different fields.

International Baccalaureate Schools
IB programs encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate, and lifelong learners.

Magnet High Schools and Programs
Magnet High Schools offer one or more specialty programs. They do not have neighborhood attendance boundaries (with the exception of Curie Metropolitan High School), and they accept students from throughout the city.

Military Academies
Military Academies prepare students for college and subsequent careers in a structured environment.

Selective Enrollment High Schools
Selective Enrollment High Schools provide academically advanced students with a challenging college preparatory experience. Each of the Selective Enrollment High Schools offers a rigorous curriculum with mainly honors and Advanced Placement (AP) courses.

A student entering a Chicago public school at the 10th, 11th, or 12th grade is considered to be a transfer student.

Each high school establishes its own guidelines and requirements for transfer students.

You will need to directly contact the school(s) in which you are interested for information on transfer opportunities.

Useful Tools and Information

Click the links below to access cutoff scores for the 2017-2018 school year.

Click the links below to access scoring rubrics for the Academic Centers/International Gifted Program, International Baccalaureate High Schools, and Selective Enrollment High Schools.

Students do not have to live in the city of Chicago in order to apply and participate in the selection process for the Selective Enrollment schools and programs, magnet schools and programs, and open enrollment schools.

However, students DO have to live in the city of Chicago in order to enroll in and attend these schools, as well as any other Chicago public school. Proof of residency is required by July 1st of the year that the student will enroll.

NOTE: The tiers for the 2018-2019 school year will be updated by October 2, 2017.

Selection Process for Magnet and Selective Enrollment Schools: An Overview

On August 24, 2011, the Chicago Board of Education approved the Admissions Policy for Magnet, Selective Enrollment and Other Options for Knowledge Schools and Programs. This policy is designed to ensure equal access and equity in the provision of magnet and selective enrollment schools and programs offered by the District. The following provides information regarding the impact of the policy on the selection process.

How Tiers are Created

Every Chicago address falls within a specific census tract. We look at five socio-economic characteristics for each census tract: (1) median family income, (2) percentage of single-parent households, (3) percentage of households where English is not the first language, (4) percentage of homes occupied by the homeowner, and (5) level of adult education attainment. We also look at a sixth characteristic, the achievement scores from attendance area schools for the students who live in each census tract.

Based on the results of each of these six areas, each census tract is given a specific score; these scores are ranked and divided into four groups – or 'tiers' – each consisting of approximately the same number of school-age children. This is how we establish the four tiers. Consequently, every Chicago address falls into one of the four tiers, based on the characteristics mentioned above.

How Tiers are Used for Selections

Siblings and Proximity
For magnet schools, magnet cluster schools, and open enrollment schools, the first seats are offered to applicants who are siblings of students who are currently enrolled, and who will be still enrolled, in the school in the 2018-2019 school year. (If more siblings apply than there are seats available, a computerized sibling lottery will be conducted to fill the available spaces.) Sibling preference will only be given if the application indicates that the student is applying as a sibling, and this information has been verified.

After the siblings are accommodated, the next 40% of the available seats in magnet schools are designated for students who live within the school's proximity (a 1.5 mile radius of the elementary magnet school).

After the proximity students are accommodated, the remaining seats are distributed evenly among the four tiers, and the seats are filled by computerized lottery. (Note that the distribution of seats among the four tiers applies to the entry-grade level only – for most elementary schools, the entry-grade level is kindergarten. In the three Montessori magnet schools, the entry-grade level is the PreK-3 level, and in Inter-American Magnet School, the entry-grade level is the PreK-4 level. For high schools, the entry-grade level is ninth grade.)

There is no proximity or tier consideration for non-entry grades in magnet schools, elementary magnet cluster schools, open enrollment schools, or high school magnet programs. In addition, proximity lotteries are not conducted at magnet schools that have an attendance boundary.

Selective Enrollment Schools
For the entry grade level for Selective Enrollment Elementary and High Schools and programs, the first 30% of available seats are filled strictly according to the student scores – also referred to as the "rank" score – the seats are filled by the top-scoring students. The remaining seats are equally distributed among the four tiers and are filled by the highest-scoring students in each tier. There is no sibling or proximity consideration for these schools.

How to Determine Your Tier
Several options are provided to provide your tier:

  • Census Tract Map
    You can find your tier by clicking here to access the census tract map. The tiers are color coded. Use the legend on the lower right corner of the map to see which color corresponds to the tier.
  • U.S. Census Website
    You can also calculate your tier by following the steps below:
    1. Click here to go to the U.S. census website.
    2. Enter your address and click 'go.'
    3. Scroll down to the table entitled "Geography Results." Under the column "Geography Name," look in the sixth row for your census tract number, followed by the county and state.
    4. Click here to access the “Census Tract to Tier for Chicago” document. The census tracts are sorted in numeric order; the number in the “short tract” column corresponds to the census tract number you obtained on the U.S. census website. Click “Control F” and type in your census tract number. The number in the third column is your tier.
  • CPS School Locator
    To find out the tier for your home address, follow the steps below:
    1. Go to
    2. Type in your address in the box at the top left of the page.
    3. Click the magnifying glass icon at the right of your address
    4. At the top right of the page, click the third icon from the left (it looks like four lines stacked atop each other). This is the 'Overlays' icon.
    5. On the 'Overlays' menu, click 'CPS Tiers.'
    6. The map will display a yellow pushpin graphic. (If you cannot clearly see the pushpin, use the device on the left side of the map to zoom in by clicking the plus sign.)
    7. Put your cursor over the pushpin. Your address and your tier will be displayed.
  • Summary of Census Tract Data
    Click here for a summary of the census tract data for the city of Chicago. You can use this document to view the socio-economic data for your census tract and tier.

Applicants to the CPS Selective Enrollment schools participate in a highly competitive admissions process. In recent years, the Office of the Inspector General has investigated two types of fraud by families attempting to secure a Selective Enrollment seat: tier fraud and residency fraud.

All families submitting applications for Selective Enrollment schools or programs should be aware that these actions will not be tolerated within the Chicago Public Schools system. Students found to have engaged in fraud in order to gain entrance to a Selective Enrollment school or program will be subject to removal from the school. In addition, any students found to have engaged in tier or residency fraud will be permanently banned from attending any Selective Enrollment school or program for the life of their enrollment in the Chicago Public Schools.
The Selective Enrollment Point Calculation Tool is designed to support decision-making in the Selective Enrollment High Schools application process, and aid parents and students in identifying schools that match well with students' achievement.

Click here to access the top ten myth busters about the application and selection process.

The Chicago Public Schools does NOT recommend, endorse or sponsor ANY test preparation courses, study guides, or sample questions for the Selective Enrollment Schools testing process.

The admissions exams used for the Selective Enrollment Schools are designed to assess your child's academic capabilities or reasoning and thinking skills. The Office of Access and Enrollment has not seen any direct correlation between student acceptance rates in Selective Enrollment Schools and their participation in courses offered by test preparation companies.

Please note that our department receives feedback each year from parents whose children participated in a test preparation course and were not selected for any of their school choices.

Let the buyer beware.

For information regarding the admission process for the 2017-2018 school year, see the list of Frequently Asked Questions.

Page Last Modified on Wednesday, July 05, 2017