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Every child in Chicago has a traditional neighborhood elementary school and high school. Each of these schools has an attendance boundary and students who live within the boundary are eligible to attend that school’s general education program.
Note: If you are unsure of which school your child is zoned to, check here by inputting your address.
Charter schools are public schools open to all Chicago children. Each charter school has its own curriculum, schedule, calendar, and admissions process that may be different from other public schools. There are no attendance boundaries, so students from all around the city can apply and students are selected by random lottery.
Magnet schools have a curriculum that focuses on a particular subject area, like math and science, fine and performing arts, or world language. At the high school level, magnet schools are selective or partially selective. At the elementary level, students are admitted through a lottery.
Note: A magnet cluster school also has a specialized, non-accelerated curriculum. However, a magnet cluster works more like a traditional neighborhood school when it comes to enrollment. Students are zoned to the school, just like a traditional neighborhood school, and any student not zoned to the magnet cluster school may apply.
Selective enrollment high schools offer a rigorous curriculum with primarily honors and Advanced Placement (AP) courses. Selective enrollment schools and programs have minimum academic achievement requirements and students are required to take an admission test. More information about the enrollment process for these schools can be found here.
There are three different programs: IB Primary Years, IB Middle Years, and IB Diploma.
The rigorous curriculum focuses on world language, English, mathematics, humanities, sciences, arts, physical education, and technology. The Diploma program is designed for students in the 11th and 12th grades. Students who complete this program receive a diploma and transcript recognized by universities around the world. IB programs have minimum academic achievement requirements and applicants must attend an info session.
Military Academies, also called Service Leadership Academies, prepare students for college and subsequent careers in a structured environment. These schools are not intended to prepare students for the armed forces. Rather the “Military Model” creates a school culture that is more cohesive, challenging, and safe through a structured and positive learning environment. Military academies have minimum academic achievement requirements and applicants must attend an info session.
Students are prepared for careers in fields such as business, communications, construction, health, hospitality/food service, manufacturing, performing arts, and transportation, among others. Students have the opportunity to shadow business professionals in various career areas and there are resources for them to gain hands-on experience. Most CTE programs do not have admissions criteria, but CTE programs at selective enrollment schools use test scores in their admissions criteria.
Options Schools are designed for students who have been out of school for a while and may need additional supports to re-enter the school environment and obtain a high school diploma. To enroll in an options school CPS will help you navigate to a choice that meets your needs and support you through the application process. For more information on Options Schools, click here.