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Elementary Explore

Starting elementary school is an exciting time for children. It is a time when students begin to nurture their independence and discover the academic subjects they enjoy the most. Choosing the right elementary school will help ensure that your child is building a strong foundation for success in the future. Here’s information on how to begin the elementary school application process.

Neighborhood Schools

Every street address in the city of Chicago is assigned one attendance area/neighborhood elementary school. Students can attend their designated neighborhood school without having to submit an application as long as they provide proof of residency.

Find Your Neighborhood School

To enroll in a neighborhood school, please contact the school directly.

Find your neighborhood school by entering your address in the GoCPS Search.



Have Questions on Your New Neighborhood School?


Elementary School Types

Families are not restricted to schools that are close to their home and CPS offers a wide variety of elementary school program options outside of their neighborhood school that they can apply to attend.

These applications become available in the fall of the school year immediately preceding the school year the student will enroll.


Choice Schools

Magnet Schools
Magnet Cluster Schools
Open Enrollment Schools
Dual Language Schools

Students can apply to up to 20 Choice Schools. Seats are filled by computerized lottery.


Selective Enrollment Schools

Academic Centers
Classical Schools
Regional Gifted Centers
Regional Gifted Centers for ELs

Students can apply to up to six Academic Centers, up to six Classical Schools/Regional Gifted Centers, and up to three Regional Gifted Centers for English Learners. Seats are filled based on a testing process.


Charter Schools

Charter schools are CPS elementary schools that are approved by the Chicago Board of Education and operated independently by Charter School organizations.

Students are selected via lottery and applications are managed directly by each charter school.

Students can apply to up to 20 Choice Schools.
Seats are filled by computerized lottery.

Magnet Schools

  • Specialize in one subject area, such as fine arts, world language, or technology
  • Do not have a neighborhood attendance boundary, in most cases

Magnet Cluster Schools

  • Specialize in one subject area, such as fine arts, world language, or technology
  • Have a neighborhood attendance boundary and accommodate neighborhood students first. Out-of-attendance area students must apply

Open Enrollment Schools

  • Do not specialize in one subject area
  • Have a neighborhood attendance boundary and accommodate neighborhood students first. Out-of-attendance area students must apply

Dual Language Schools

  • General education program taught in multiple languages
  • One-way programs (only English Learner or EL students) and two way-programs (both EL and non-EL students) are available
  • Have a neighborhood attendance boundary and accommodate neighborhood students first. Out-of-attendance area students must apply


Have Questions on Elementary School Types?



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Use the search function to find the right CPS school for you!


Applying to Kindergarten?

If your child is attending a pk4 program that is your neighborhood school- you do not need to apply through GoCPS in order to continue at that school for kindergarten.

If your child is attending a pk4 program that is NOT your neighborhood school, you MUST submit an application if you want to continue at that school for Kindergarten. There is no preference for students attending the Pre-K program at a school for which they are applying.

Exceptions: Drummond ES or Suder ES or Inter-American ES
If you are currently in the Pre-K programs at any of these schools, you may continue at these schools for kindergarten without submitting a GoCPS application.

Admissions Test

The admissions exams used for the Selective Enrollment Elementary Schools are designed to assess your child’s academic capabilities or reasoning and thinking skills.

There are 3 different exams that students can take depending on the type of school they are applying to. You will be prompted to schedule the exam that is required for the programs that are selected in the application

  • Regional Gifted Exams
    • The gifted exam taps into the child's ability to form abstract concepts and solve problems using novel information.
    • This exam also serves as the admissions test for students applying to Academic Centers.
  • Classical Exams
    • The classical exam is an achievement-based examination and taps into a child's reading and mathematics abilities.
  • Regional Gifted Exams for English Learners
    • The EL-Gifted exam is a reasoning skills test that is administered in the student’s native language (Spanish or Polish).

All testing for Selective Enrollment Elementary Schools is scheduled directly in the GoCPS application. Families who select any Selective Enrollment programs in the program selection step will be automatically prompted to rank their program selections in order of preference and register for testing. If families apply to multiple categories of Selective Enrollment programs, they will be prompted to book multiple testing sessions. (Exception: Applicants to kindergarten who apply to Classical and/or Regional Gifted programs will be administered both the Classical and Regional Gifted exams in a single test session.)

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Have Questions on Admissions Test?


Accelerated Placement & Testing

The Accelerated Placement Act includes four programs: Early Entrance to Kindergarten, Early Entrance to First Grade, Whole-Grade Acceleration, and Single-Subject Acceleration.


Have Questions on Accelerated Placement & Testing?


Selective Enrollment Eligibility

Grades K - 4

Children applying to grades K-4 at any of the Selective Enrollment Schools will be tested for admission without having to pre-qualify, as long as the child is age-appropriate.

Grades 5-8

Children applying to grades 5-8 for any of the Selective Enrollment Schools must meet minimum eligibility requirements based on their GPA in order to be tested for admission.

  • Academic Centers - Minimum GPA of 2.5
  • Classical Schools - Minimum GPA of 3.0
  • Regional Gifted Centers- Minimum GPA of 3.0
  • Regional Gifted Centers for ELs- No lower than a B on their final grades in Reading and Math from their previous schools

Grades / GPA

Grades from the previous school year are used as part of the eligibility and/or selection process for Selective Enrollment Elementary Schools (grades 5-8).

The grades used for this process are the grades that are identified on the student’s official transcript. In order to maintain accuracy and integrity, letter grades cannot be weighted or analyzed outside of the information that is listed on that official transcript.

  • Current CPS Students- Final grades from your previous year will be used. If grades are missing, please submit official transcripts to your current school to input into ASPEN. All grades for current CPS students are pulled from ASPEN.
  • Non-CPS Students- For most schools within the city, grades will be submitted by your current school. If you do not currently attend a school that works directly with our office, please submit official transcripts from the applicant’s previously completed year to

Grade Change Request

If there is an error in your child’s grades or test scores, contact your child’s counselor or school official, and submit official changes to the Office of Access and Enrollment.

Any official changes to scores or grades must be received by the Office of Access and Enrollment no later than the application deadline. Changes received after this date will not be considered in the selection process.


Have Questions on Selective Enrollment Eligibility?


Diverse Learners & Cluster Programs

Once a child qualifies for an IEP, the school works together with the child’s guardian to develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP). The child’s IEP guides the type, scope and assignment of services and supports the child receives from Chicago Public Schools in the Least Restrictive Environment.

Cluster Programs

Cluster programs are designed for students requiring a significantly modified curriculum with moderate to intensive supports in a separate classroom from general education peers for the majority of the day (over 61% of the day). Individuals may also need assistance with adaptive skills. For more information email

If your child is in need of any of these services, please contact the Office of Diverse Learners Supports and Services at 773-553-1800 or via email at


Have Questions on Diverse Learners & Cluster Programs?


Priority Preferences

Priority Preferences

Sibling Priority

Some programs may give a priority or preference to students who have a sibling that already attends the school to which the student is applying, and who will still be enrolled in that school in the 2024-2025 school year. See the school-specific profile pages to see if the program you are interested in offers a sibling preference.

In order for applicants to qualify for the sibling preference, they must meet ALL of the following requirements:

  • The applicant must have a sibling who is currently enrolled and will remain enrolled for the 2024-2025 school year, in the school to which the applicant is applying.
  • The currently enrolled sibling and the sibling applicant must live in the same household.
  • The term “sibling” applies only to natural siblings, step-siblings, foster siblings, and adopted siblings.


Have Questions on Staff & Sibling Preferences?



Some schools/programs select students based on their tier. Every address in the city of Chicago is assigned a tier. Tiers are based on Census data. Here is a breakdown of the categories that determine tiers.

  • Income Icon

    1. Median family income

  • Single Parent Icon

    2. Percentage of single-parent households

  • Second Language Icon

    3. Percentage of households where English is not the first language

  • House Icon

    4. Percentage of homes occupied by the homeowner

  • Education Icon

    5. The level of educational attainment

  • Achievement Icon

    6. Achievement scores from nearby elementary schools for the students who live in each census tract


Application Fraud

  • All families submitting applications should be aware that fraud will not be tolerated within the Chicago Public Schools system.
  • If you are found to have engaged in fraud in order for your child to gain entrance to a Selective Enrollment or Choice High School, your child will be subject to removal from the school.
  • Any student found to have engaged in fraud based on a falsified Selective Enrollment application will be permanently banned from attending any Selective Enrollment School or program for the life of the student’s enrollment in the Chicago Public Schools.
  • Employees of the Chicago Public Schools who commit such violations will be subjected to severe penalties, up to and including termination.


  • For families where the custody of a child is joint, apply with the address where the student spends a majority of their time.
  • Both parents have the ability to create GoCPS accounts and link the same student profile onto both accounts.


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Next Phase

Applications for all District-managed elementary schools are available on GoCPS.



Connect With Us

Contact Info Office of Access & Enrollment


Chicago Public Schools
42 W. Madison St, 3rd Floor
Chicago, IL 60602

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