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Advanced Learning and Specialty Programs (ALSP)

The Department of Advanced Learning and Specialty Programs (ALSP) oversees the implementation of Advanced Placement, Gifted, International Baccalaureate, Magnet, and Personalized Learning programs across CPS.

The department aims to serve as a catalyst to empower learners to be successful and positive contributors in their school community, post-secondary pathways, and life. Through programmatic support and collaborative partnerships, ALSP provides equitable access to high-quality, student-centered programs that develop the interests, strengths, and talents of our learners.

Advanced Learning and Specialty Programs

42 W. Madison St.
Chicago, IL 60602

Maram Sweis
Manager of Advanced Learning (for Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate support)

Brittany Guy
Senior Manager of Specialty Programs (for Personalized Learning, Magnet, or Gifted support)

Preston Lewis
Manager of MSAP Programs (for Magnet Schools Assistance Program support)

Laura Massier
Manager of Incubation & Certification (for support with implementing new programming and program certification)

Errika Baker
Executive Director of Advanced Learning & Specialty Programs (for escalations)


Magnet and Magnet Cluster Schools

Magnet schools specialize in one particular area such as World Language, Fine and Performing Arts, Montessori, STEM, Dual Language, IB, Scholastic Academies, and Math and Science. There is no testing required for Magnet schools, and most elementary Magnet schools do not have attendance boundaries so students from across the city can apply. In some cases, Magnet elementary schools provide bus transportation to students who live between 1.5 and 6 miles from the school.

The Office of Access and Enrollment (OAE) manages the lottery for student selection via GoCPS.

Magnet Cluster schools are specialized neighborhood schools that focus their curriculum on areas such as: Fine and Performing Arts, World Language, and Technology. A Magnet Cluster school has a neighborhood attendance boundary and accepts students who live within that boundary. Students who live outside of the neighborhood attendance boundary must participate in the GoCPS application and selection process in order to be considered for acceptance.

Gifted Schools and Programs

ALSP challenges gifted and talented students through either whole school models or programs and services within existing schools. Students may apply and test into selective enrollment elementary schools such as Regional Gifted Centers, Regional Gifted Centers for English Learners, Classical Schools and Academic Centers or attend and be identified for services in neighborhood gifted programs, including Comprehensive Gifted Programs and the Specific Aptitude Program.

The Office of Access and Enrollment manages the application and testing process for selective enrollment schools via GoCPS.

International Baccalaureate (IB) Programs

The International Baccalaureate is an inquiry-based, concept-driven framework that aims to develop self-directed thinkers and reflective problem solvers. The IB aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. The IB offers four, high-quality educational programs: the Primary Years Programme (PYP), the Middle Years Programme (MYP), the Diploma Programme (DP) and the Career-related Programme (CP).

Advanced Placement Programs

College Board’s Advanced Placement Program® (AP) is a rigorous college-level program available to all willing and academically prepared students on all Chicago Public Schools district, charter and contract high school campuses wishing to pursue college-level credit, advanced placement or both while still in high school. Currently, the AP Program is offered to students on more than 110 CPS district, charter and contract high school campuses.

CPS AP provides equitable access to 38 different college freshman level courses in six different subject areas including English, History and Social Sciences, Math and Computer Science, Sciences, World Languages and Cultures and Arts in addition to an interdisciplinary area called the AP Capstone Diploma Program and its two courses. The Pre-Advanced Placement program is currently offered by choice at high schools.

Personalized Learning Programs

Personalized Learning (PL) supports teachers and schools to implement a personalized approach to education. Through PL, each student is provided with a tailored experience that changes the path, place, and pace of learning to meet their needs, interests, and strengths.

ALSP provides schools and educators with the resources, support, and professional development opportunities needed to adopt personalized learning—a learner-driven instructional model that fosters 21st century skills by empowering every student to actively co-design their learning path, pace, and environment according to their individual strengths, needs, and interests.

Students that attend a PL school or whose teacher is implementing PL practices will be asked about who they are, what they enjoy, what they struggle with, how they like to learn, where they like to learn, and what their learning goals are. Each student will be provided with the opportunity to set goals, work towards achieving those goals, and reflect on their learning experience for the future. Most educators implementing PL also rely heavily on social-emotional practices to get to know their students while building their capacity to learn.

If you have questions about personalized learning or want to find out if your student's school is participating, please contact us.

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