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Key terms around school type and enrollment.


Accelerated Curriculum

Students in accelerated programs are generally working 1-2 grade levels above age level peers. 


Attainment measures how well students perform on a standardized test (the SAT for 11th grade high school students, and the yearly NWEA MAP test for elementary school students) during a single point in time. The school’s scores are compared to national average scores and placed on a scale. A 50th percentile score means that the school is performing at the same level as the national average school. It is important to note that high attainment schools may not have high growth rates. For example, if a school is already performing well, there may not be as much room to improve.       

CAREER & Technical Education / Career Community Academy (CTE/CCA)

There are 11 schools in Chicago that prepare for college and careers in a variety of fields such as business/finance, communications, construction, health, and performing arts. CTE students have the opportunity to participate in hands-on training in your chosen program and gain real world experience through job shadows and internships.

Dual Language Education (DLE) Programs also called Dual Immersion Programs

The programs often begin in preschool or kindergarten and currently accept native-English-speaking and native-Spanish-speaking students into their classes. Students receive all core instruction (language arts, math, science, social science) in both English and Spanish, with the goal of all students becoming bilingual and bi-literate in both English and Spanish. DLE programs are currently offered in 15 CPS schools, including 9 neighborhood schools, 3 charter schools, and 3 magnet schools.

Early College STEM Schools (ECSS)

These schools use technology training and college degree credit to prepare students for tech jobs.   


Growth measures the change in test scores between two points in time, usually over the period of a year. This growth is then compared to the average national growth for school with similar scores at the beginning of the measuring period and placed on a scale. A 50th percentile score means that the school grew at the same rate as the national average for similar schools. High growth schools may not have equally high attainment scores. If a school is improving by leaps and bounds, but not outperforming peers then growth will look high compared to attainment.        

International Baccalaureate (IB)

These programs are recognized worldwide and offered under the International Baccalaureate Organization. There are three different programs: IB Primary years, IB Middle Years, and IB Diploma. The Primary Years Program is targeted toward children aged 5-12. The Middle Years program is targeted to students in grades 6-8 and prepares students in grades 9-10 at partner schools. Curriculum focuses on world language, English, mathematics, humanities, sciences, arts, physical education and technology. The Diploma program is designed for students in 11th and 12th grade. Students who complete this program receive a diploma and transcript recognized by universities around the world.                

Individualized Education Program (IEP)

A written plan outlining a child's special education learning needs. An IEP outlines services that the school will provide to your child, as well as goals for your child. Additionally, and IEP describes how progress will be measured. 


If there are more spaces (seats) available than students who have applied, a traditional neighborhood school may accept students from anywhere in Chicago via a random lottery. Other schools that do not have a neighborhood boundary (like most charter schools), use a random lottery to accept students. Random lotteries are utilized to accept students to schools that don't have an academic achievement pre-requisite, like a test score, or GPA, to attend. 


A type of magnet school.          

Neighborhood Preference

Some schools accept students from anywhere within the Chicago city limits, but may give special preference to students who live within a certain distance of the school. 

Open Enrollment

Open enrollment schools do not require students to take an entrance exam or exhibit a pre-requisite of academic achievement in order to attend. While some open enrollment options require an application those schools admit students based on a random lottery rather than on academic achievement. Many types of schools can be open enrollment. For example traditional neighborhood, charter, contract, and elementary magnet schools are all open enrollment.          

Regional Gifted Center (RGC)

These programs and schools provide an accelerated instructional program that places an emphasis on thinking, reasoning, problem solving and creativity. In addition to rigor in the core content areas, instruction includes a world language or Latin, laboratory science, computer science and fine arts. Regional gifted centers can be standalone schools or can be a subset program housed within a traditional neighborhood or magnet school. 

Scholastic Academy

A type of magnet school.            

School Quality Rating Policy (SQRP)

In Chicago, each school, regardless of school type, receives a School Quality Rating Policy (SQRP) score which, among other things, measures a school’s performance and is primarily driven by their student's achievement and growth.  

  • Level 1+ is the highest performance – this is a nationally competitive school with the opportunity to share best practices with others.
  • Level 1 is high performance – this is a good school choice with many positive qualities. Minimal support is needed.
  • Level 2+ is average performance – Additional support from the district, charter management, or contract management organization is needed to boost school performance. 
  • Level 2 is below average performance. This “provisional support” status requires increased support from the district, charter management, or contract management organization. 
  • Level 3 is the lowest performance; school is in need of “intensive intervention” directed by the district. Possible actions that could be taken for a school with this performance level might include replacing the principal or other school leadership, school turnaround actions, and closure for traditional neighborhood schools and other CPS governed schools. For charter school placement on an Academic Warning List, revocation or non-renewal of charter, or school closure are options.
  • Inability to Rate means that the school has not been open for long enough to have 2 years of performance data, or is a primary school serving students in grades K-2.


Selective Enrollment

Selective Enrollment Schools admit students based on test scores along with past academic performance. The curriculum is advanced or accelerated. At the high school level they provide academically advanced high school students with a challenging and enriched college-preparatory experience. Each of the Selective Enrollment High Schools offers a rigorous curriculum with primarily honors and Advanced Placement (AP) courses. In order to attend a selective enrollment school or program, your student will have to take an admission test and submit an application.     


Selective-IG, International Gifted Specific Aptitude and Comprehensive Gifted (SELECTIVE-RGC)

These are within-school programs designed for academically advanced students. Students are identified by standardized criteria and then placed in the program. SA programs are pullout programs in specific subject areas for specific grade levels. CG programs serve students in grades 1-8 in all subjects.    

Sibling Preference

For schools that conduct lotteries to fill available seats, many offer preference to siblings of current students. This system was devised to support families by allowing brothers and sisters to attend the same school. When a sibling lottery occurs, those students who have siblings that already attend a school are placed in a randomized lottery first, and are offered seats prior to applicants who do not have siblings in the school. If, after a sibling lottery occurs, there are still available seats in a school another lottery will take place that includes all other applicants.           



Stands for Science Technology Engineering and Math. Can refer to a focus or track within a school.      


Tier System

CPS requires selective enrollment schools and selective magnet schools to use admissions quotas to balance representation across socioeconomic groups. To achieve this, they use the tier system, which evaluates an area’s median income, average education level, rates of home ownership, neighborhood school performance, the number of single parents, and the number of English speakers. Based on these data, a neighborhood is placed in one of four tiers, with level 1 areas being less-affluent and 4 being the most affluent based on median income. Tiers are recalculated every year, so be sure to check which tier you are in before applying.

Find Your Tier




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