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Academic Competitions

Competitive activities in academic subjects inspire and motivate students to master new skills and excel in academic subject areas. These exciting, dynamic programs contribute to improved classroom learning, higher graduation rates, and increased college enrollment and matriculation.

All Academic Competition Programs are offered at no cost to students, and they are inclusive for all academic levels. Depending on the activity, programs can take place at the student's school, during the school day or after school. Tournaments typically take place on weekends at a centralized location, and student transportation is provided for some tournaments.

Academic Competition Programs are offered at schools across the District. Contact your local school to learn more about specific opportunities for your student. 

Students and their families who need information about specific program events can contact Arlecia Taylor, Academic Competitions Manager 

Academic Competitions Program Offerings

The Department of Academic Competitions is pleased to announce its program offerings for SY 2023-2024. We are delighted to afford these dynamic programmatic opportunities to schools and students from across the city. Below you will find the program offerings and their respective links to register and/or express interest in the programs. Please complete the Letter of Interest to be included in our 23-24 program roster.

  • Academic Decathlon (HS)

    Academic Decathlon is a nationwide competition that promotes academic excellence through teamwork by high school students of all achievement levels. The students are tested on various subjects including Art, Economics, Music, Language Arts and Literature, Mathematics, Science, Social Science, as well as proficiency in Speech, Interview, and Essay writing. The content varies from year to year based on the national topic, which is determined by the United States Academic Decathlon (USAD) Board of Directors.

    Note: Both competitions (1st Round and City Championship) and practices will be conducted remotely for this upcoming school year. The Speech, Interview and Essay portion of the competition will be held at Whitney Young Magnet High School on Feb 10, 2024

    2023-2024 Academic Decathlon LOI

  • CPS City-Wide Spelling Bee (ES)

    (Elementary School only 1st - 8th grades)

    The purpose of Spelling Bee is to help improve students’ overall spelling, increase their vocabulary, develop correct English usage and to provide an environment to promote self-esteem, character development, and sportsmanship.

    We are delighted to provide the opportunity for all students grades 1-8 to participate.

    2023-2024 CPS Spelling Bee Interest Form

  • Chicago Junior Math League (CJML)

    The Chicago Junior Math League encourages middle-graders from all over Chicago to challenge themselves mathematically. Each year, over 600 students compete in math contests. The CJML has three goals:

    • To institute a series of contests that complements the content of and improves performances in Math counts and other statewide competitions;
    • To provide the type of preparation and experience that students who are interested in high school math competitions will need to succeed; and
    • To have ALL students interact with each other to hone and develop their mathematical and problem-solving skills.

    Note: Our tournaments and practices will be conducted online due to the District's plan to implement remote learning for the first quarter of the school year.

    2023-2024 City of Chicago Junior Math League LOI

  • City of Chicago Math League (CCML)

    The City of Chicago Math League encourages high school students from all over Chicago to challenge themselves mathematically. Each year, over 500 students compete in five contests to determine the city champion and to prepare for competition at the state level.

    Note: Our tournaments and practices will be conducted online due to the District's plan to implement remote learning for the first quarter of the school year.

    2023-2024 City of Chicago Math League LOI

  • Chicago Debates (CD) & Chicago Middle School Debates (CMSD)

    Chicago Debates is a national research-based extracurricular program that provides students with the necessary tools to excel academically. Chicago Debates is an academic debate program for Chicago’s high school students and the Chicago Middle School Debates program for middle school students. Together, they are the largest urban debate league in the nation.

    Academic debate is a proven strategy to improve GPAs, graduation rates, and college readiness for students across the academic spectrum. The skills students learn in debate are closely aligned to the Common Core State Standards and college readiness standards. Debaters develop these skills through many hours spent in highly rigorous practices and competitions—motivated by an activity that students find uniquely engaging.

    2023-2024 Chicago Debates LOI

    2023-2024 Chicago Debates Middle School LOI

  • CPS Academic Elementary and High School Chess Programs

    Academic Chess provides elementary school and high school students in grades (K-12) from diverse communities across the city with an opportunity to participate in vibrant chess programs. The CPS Academic chess students participate in after school practices as well as in competitions and tournaments throughout the year. Tournaments include the CPS Academic Chess City Play-offs, City Championship, as well as State and National tournaments.

    Note: We will maintain a hybrid (in person and online) tournament schedule for SY 23-24.

    2023-2024 Academic Chess LOI

  • First Move Chess Program (ES)

    First Move is an in-classroom curriculum for second and third graders. The First Move organization and CPS partner to implement this dynamic program. The First Move organization and private donors fund the program, so it is at no cost to CPS schools. In addition, the First Move organization provides materials and lesson plans for classroom instruction and additional materials to study at home. First Move uses chess as a tool for increasing critical thinking skills, strategy, reading aptitude, math, technology, writing as well as social and behavior development. First Move lessons are provided for an hour once a week for 28 weeks during math instruction. This program is easy to implement and doesn’t require prior chess knowledge. Additionally, First Move teachers receive training and on-going support as needed throughout the year. The program incorporates an imaginary character called the “Chess Lady who teaches chess through a weekly video that features games and activities.

    For more information, click the link to the First Move website!

    2023-2024 First Move LOI

  • Cops and Kids Program (5-12)

    In partnership with the Chicago Police Department and the Renaissance Knights Foundation, the Cops and Kids initiative promotes peace in schools and communities by increasing positive relationships between youth and police officers while utilizing the game of chess as the vehicle for engagement. Each week, Chicago Police officers visit school-based clubs to interact and play chess with the students. C&K is a year-round program that features an after-school program, 2 tournaments with students, police officers and other law enforcement professionals and a 3-week Summer Chess Institute.

    The initiative also incorporates Restorative Justice Practices such as Peacemaking circles, community building, and check-in and check-outs. Coaches will be trained by RJ experts to incorporate peace making process and build relationships within the school community

    2023-2024 Cops & Kids LOI

  • CPS Chess Queens (K-5)

    The Chicago Public Schools, Renaissance Knights Chess Foundation, in collaboration with Queens United Chess, developed the CPS Chess Queens Initiative. CPS Chess Queens is a year-round program intended to empower female chess leaders, foster an inclusive and engaging environment for girls, and expand the chess community. We will accomplish this by increasing engagement opportunities to females from diverse communities throughout the city and employing female high school students to serve as mentors and role models through chess centered programs.

    Part of CPS Chess Queens includes free introductory chess lessons which are led by female Queens United Ambassadors. These 1 hour weekly introductory lessons are designed for elementary-aged students, and can be held in-person or virtually for the 2023-2024 school year. Please contact Arlecia Taylor ( for more information.

    CPS Chess Queens Website