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 10, 2017, and ends December 22, 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.
- Notifications will be released in April 2018. If you apply online, your child’s notifications will be posted on your online account. If you apply via paper application, your child’s notification letter will be mailed to your home
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 10th, go to GoCPS, and click “Apply” at the top of the home page. This will allow you to open an account, with an email address or telephone number as your user name, and create your password. You don’t need a PIN or Activation Code to open an account.
Step 2: Follow the instructions to enter your information and add your child(ren) to your account. Note that you can enter more than one parent/guardian to the account. However – and this is very important – the account must be opened with the name and address of the parent/guardian with whom the student resides. The address for this parent/guardian will be the address that is used for determining proximity boundaries and attendance boundaries. If you would like for another parent/guardian to receive communications regarding the account, you can add their contact information later in the account creation process.
Step 3: After you successfully open your account, you will see the list of the magnet preschools to which you can apply. Note that there are only four magnet preschools: Drummond, Mayer, and Suder, which serve ages 3-4, and Inter-American, which serves age 4 only. You can list the schools in any order; you’re not ranking them in order of any preference. (See below for information about applying to the preschool programs at all other schools.)
Step 4: After you submit your application, you will receive an email confirmation.
Step 1: Starting October 10th, go to GoCPS, and click ‘How to Apply’ and ‘Elementary Schools.’ Scroll down to download and print the Standard Elementary Schools application. If you do not have printer access, contact the Office of Access and Enrollment at 773-553-2060.
Step 2: Use the School Codes accompanying the application in order to indicate the schools of your choice. Note that there are only four magnet preschools: Drummond, Mayer, and Suder, which serve ages 3-4, and Inter-American, which serves age 4 only. You can list the schools in any order; you’re not ranking them in order of any preference. (See below for information about applying to the preschool programs at all other schools.) Be sure to sign the application.
Step 3: Submit your completed application to the Office of Access and Enrollment. Paper applications can be mailed or hand-delivered only. Paper applications must be received by the Office of Access and Enrollment no later than 5 p.m. on Friday, December 22, 2017. (Note that this is a RECEIVED BY date, not a postmarked date.) If you mail your application, we strongly recommend that you (1) send your application via registered mail so that you will have a receipt, (2) enclose a self-addressed, stamped postcard or envelope, which will be mailed back to you as proof of receipt, and (3) mail your application in plenty of time to ensure that it is received by the Office of Access and Enrollment on or before the application deadline. If you do not have a receipt and your applications do not reach our office, your child will not be considered for any of the schools to which you applied. Applications received after the deadline date cannot be processed.
PRESCHOOL PROGRAMS AT ALL OTHER SCHOOLS
To apply to the preschool program at any other Chicago public school, you will apply through the Chicago Early Learning application process, which is managed by the city of Chicago and takes place in the spring. For more information, visit the Chicago Early Learning website 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.
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 four types of schools/programs: Academic Centers, Classical Schools, Regional Gifted Centers, the International Gifted Program, and Regional Gifted Centers for English Learners. These schools are designed for academically advanced students and testing is required.
Applying to high schools is easy! Just follow the directions below, and contact the Office of Access and Enrollment at 773-553-2060 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
But first, please note the following:
- The application period begins October 10, 2017, and ends December 22, 2017.
- You have a choice of applying through the online application site, or by using a paper application. (We highly recommend the online application process – you will be able to submit your application, receive notifications and updates via email or text, and receive and accept your child’s offer(s) – all online!
- Students will apply to ninth grade using one application. Students can apply to both Selective Enrollment programs and Non-Selective Enrollment programs on the single application. (Selective Enrollment programs are the 11 Selective Enrollment High Schools: Brooks, Hancock, Jones, King, Lane, Lindblom, Northside, Payton, South Shore, Westinghouse, and Whitney Young. All other programs are in the Non-Selective Enrollment category.)
- The application process for high schools is a single-offer model. Students will receive an offer from the highest-ranked school/program on their application for which they qualify and for which there are available seats. Selective Enrollment and Non-Selective Enrollment schools are considered in separate selection process. Accordingly, a student can, at most, receive one Selective Enrollment offer (as in previous years) and one Non-Selective Enrollment offer.
- Your child’s application results will be released in April 2018. This will notify you whether or not your child received an offer or a waitlist number from any of the schools to which you applied. If you apply ONLINE, your results will be posted to your online account. If you apply via PAPER application, your notification letter will be mailed to your home address.
How to Apply to 9th Grade
Step 1: Go to GoCPS. If you visit before October 10th, click ‘Activate’ at the top of the home page. If you visit on or after October 10th, and click “Apply” at the top of the home page. This will allow you to open an account, with an email address or telephone number as your user name, and create your password.
CPS students applying to ninth grade will need an Activation Code to open an online account. (If you have misplaced your code, call the Office of Access and Enrollment at 773-553-2060 from a telephone number on your child’s CPS Student Information file.)
Non-CPS students and CPS students applying to PreK through eighth grade do not need an Activation Code to open an online account.
Step 2: Follow the instructions to enter your information and add your child(ren) to your account. Note that you can enter more than one parent/guardian to the account. However – and this is very important – the account must be opened with the name and address of the parent/guardian with whom the student resides. The address for this parent/guardian will be the address that is used for determining tiers, proximity boundaries, and attendance boundaries. If you would like for other parents/guardians to receive communications regarding the account, you can add their contact information later in the account creation process.
Step 3: If your child attends a non-CPS school, and attended a non-CPS school in the 2016-2017 school year, and your child plans to apply to schools/programs with academic criteria, your child will need to take the NWEA MAP that is administered by the Chicago Public Schools. The NWEA MAP is the standardized exam that is used by the Chicago Public Schools to determine eligibility for students to apply to schools with academic criteria. If you have not already done so, please register your child to take the NWEA MAP before the December 22nd deadline. (NOTE: If you register for the January 2018 NWEA MAP test date, you will not be able to use on the online application site to apply. Please go to GoCPS, click ‘How to Apply’ and ‘High Schools,’ and print a copy of the high school paper application. You will have to submit this application by the December 22nd deadline. Your child’s eligibility to be considered for the programs with eligibility requirements to which you apply will be determined approximately three weeks after he/she takes the NWEA MAP in January. You will be given next steps at that time.)
Step 4: Once a CPS family creates the online account, they will see a list of all the high school programs to which the student is eligible to apply. Non-CPS families will see this information after their student’s NWEA MAP scores have been uploaded to the online application site, which will occur approximately three weeks after the student takes the NWEA MAP.
Programs are displayed by eligibility, in alphabetical order, grouped according to the school name. The programs to which the student is eligible to apply will have a white background and those to which they are not eligible to apply will have a gray background. Families will also see a column labeled “Eligible to Apply,” with programs identified with “Yes” or “No.” In the application, students will select the individual programs to which they are applying, rather than applying to the school in general, in most cases.
Step 5: You can apply to up to 20 Non-Selective Enrollment programs and, if eligible, up to six Selective Enrollment programs. (Please note that all Selective Enrollment programs have minimum eligibility requirements and some Non-Selective Enrollment programs have minimum eligibility requirements as well.) A counter will keep track of how many programs from each category have been selected.
Step 6: You will then rank the schools/programs selected in order of your preference, provide any supplemental information requested (e.g., essays or letters of recommendation), and schedule and participate in any required admissions screenings (e.g., testing, information sessions, auditions, etc.).
Step 7: After you have submitted your application, you will receive an email confirmation.
Some high school programs have minimum eligibility requirements in order for students to apply. Eligibility can be based on one or more factors, including NWEA MAP scores, final grade point average (GPA) from seventh grade, and attendance percentage from seventh grade. In addition, some programs may have different requirements based on whether students reside inside the attendance boundary for the school, or whether the student has an IEP or receives bilingual services. A complete list of the Eligibility Requirements for all high school programs, along with each program’s selection process, can be accessed below.
. Download the Eligibility Requirements and Selection Processes
Admissions screenings are events required by some schools/programs in order for students to be considered in the selection process. These consist of admissions exams, auditions, information sessions, and interviews. A complete list of the programs that require admissions screenings can be accessed below. Also below is the list of International Baccalaureate Information Sessions and Military Academy Information Sessions.
- Download the Admissions Screenings
- Download the IB Information Sessions
- Download the Military Academy Sessions
Matching / Second Round / Transfer
Students will be considered for Selective Enrollment schools and Non-Selective Enrollment programs separately. If the student applies to both Selective Enrollment schools and Non-Selective Enrollment programs, he/she will be included in two separate selection processes.
The selection process takes into consideration the specific selection procedures for the programs (such as a lottery or a point system); the student’s performance on any required tests, auditions, or interviews; points given to essays or teacher recommendations; and any other information that the school/program may consider, such as how close the student lives to the school, whether the student has a sibling currently enrolled in the school, or whether the student’s parent is a staff member at the school.
Each student is considered for the schools/programs on his/her application, in the order of their preference. The student is given an offer from the highest-ranked school/program on his/her application for which he/she qualifies, based on seat availability, his/her status for the specific program’s selection process (e.g., lottery number, final points), and the status of other applicants to those schools/programs.
If the student applies to both Selective Enrollment AND Non-Selective Enrollment programs, at most, he/she can receive two offers: one Selective Enrollment offer and one Non-Selective Enrollment offer.
If the student applies to programs in both categories and he/she does not qualify for a Selective Enrollment offer, or if the student only applies to Non-Selective Enrollment programs, the student may only receive a Non-Selective Enrollment offer.
If the student doesn’t qualify for either a Selective OR a Non-Selective Enrollment offer, the student is guaranteed a seat in the general education program at his/her neighborhood Chicago public high school.
For Non-Selective programs, students can be waitlisted for any program that is ranked higher than the program from which they received an offer, and for which they are eligible. (Selective Enrollment programs do not have waitlists.) Students will remain on waitlists whether or not they accept a first round offer.
At the end of the first and second rounds, principals will contact students on their waitlists to fill any remaining available seats, starting with the first student on the list and working in numerical order. Available seats will be offered to waitlisted students beginning with the first student on the waitlist.
If the student is not satisfied with his/her first round offer, or if the student did not receive a first round offer, the student can submit an application for the second round. The second round only consists of programs that still have seats available.
The student does NOT have to decline a first round offer in order to apply in the second round. However, if he/she submits a second-round application and receives a second-round offer, the student’s first-round offer will automatically be forfeited. Because of this, families are advised to apply in the second round only if the student would like to attend a potential second round school/program more than the first-round offer he/she received.
Second-round offers will be released in May 2018.
Students can transfer high schools between July 1 and the 20th day of each school year, or during fixed transfer windows at the end of each quarter.
A list of schools with available seats will be accessible on GoCPS. In order to be considered for a transfer, students will need to contact the school(s) in which they are interested, and follow the admissions requirements for those schools.
Frequently Asked Questions
. Download the high schools frequently asked questions
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.
Note that these are the cutoff scores from last year’s selection process. Cutoff scores for the 2018-2019 selection process will be posted in March 2018 for high school programs and April 2018 for elementary school programs.
Cutoff scores are not provided for Classical Schools or Regional Gifted Centers. Posting these scores could potentially result in breach of privacy of the selected students, given the relatively low number of seats available. In addition, because these schools typically have multiple selection rounds, the cutoff scores fluctuate through the selection process.
Click the links below to access scoring rubrics for the Academic Centers, 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 have been updated.
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 Find Your Tier
- Go to cps.edu/map.
- Type in your address in the box at the top left of the page.
- A box will appear on the left side of the page that identifies your neighborhood schools. The box also shows the tier in which you live.
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.
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.