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What is a tier? Click here for information!

NOTE: The tiers for the 2015-2016 application process have been updated. 

Selection Process for Magnet and Selective Enrollment Schools: An Overview
On August 24, 2011, the Chicago Board of Education approved the Admissions Policy for Magnet, Selective Enrollment and Other Options for Knowledge Schools and Programs. This policy is designed to ensure equal access and equity in the provision of magnet and selective enrollment schools and programs offered by the District. The following provides information regarding the impact of the policy on the selection process.

How Tiers Are Created

Every Chicago address falls within a specific census tract. We look at five socio-economic characteristics for each census tract: (1) median family income, (2) percentage of single-parent households, (3) percentage of households where English is not the first language, (4) percentage of homes occupied by the homeowner, and (5) level of adult education attainment. We also look at a sixth characteristic, the achievement scores from attendance area schools for the students who live in each census tract.

Based on the results of each of these six areas, each census tract is given a specific score; these scores are ranked and divided into four groups – or ‘tiers’ -- each consisting of approximately the same number of school-age children. This is how we establish the four tiers. Consequently, every Chicago address falls into one of the four tiers, based on the characteristics mentioned above.
How Tiers are Used for Selections

Siblings and Proximity
For magnet schools, magnet cluster schools, and open enrollment schools, the first seats are offered to applicants who are siblings of students who are currently enrolled, and who will be still enrolled, in the school in the 2015-2016 school year. (If more siblings apply than there are seats available, a computerized sibling lottery will be conducted to fill the available spaces.) Sibling preference will only be given if the application indicates that the student is applying as a sibling, and this information has been verified.
After the siblings are accommodated, the next 40% of the available seats in magnet schools are designated for students who live within the school’s proximity (a 1.5 mile radius of the elementary magnet school). 

After the proximity students are accommodated, the remaining seats are distributed evenly among the four tiers, and the seats are filled by computerized lottery. (Note that the distribution of seats among the four tiers applies to the entry-grade level only – for most elementary schools, the entry-grade level is kindergarten. In the three Montessori magnet schools, the entry-grade level is the PreK-3 level, and in Inter-American Magnet School, the entry-grade level is the PreK-4 level. For high schools, the entry-grade level is ninth grade.)
There is no proximity or tier consideration for non-entry grades in magnet schools, elementary magnet cluster schools, open enrollment schools, or high school magnet programs. In addition, proximity lotteries are not conducted at magnet schools that have an attendance boundary.
Selective Enrollment Schools
For the entry grade level for Selective Enrollment Elementary and High Schools and programs, the first 30% of available seats are filled strictly according to the student scores – also referred to as the “rank” score – the seats are filled by the top-scoring students. The remaining seats are equally distributed among the four tiers and are filled by the highest-scoring students in each tier.  There is no sibling or proximity consideration for these schools.

How to Determine Your Tier

Several options are provided to provide your tier:

CPS School Locator

Click here to access the CPS School Locator.  Once there, you will follow these easy steps to identify your tier:

1. Type in your address.
2. Click 'Overlays.'
3. Scroll down to 'Geographic Overlays' and click 'CPS Tiers.'
4. Click the Search button under address.
5. The map to the right of your address will display a pushpin graphic. (If you cannot clearly see the pushpin, use the device of the left side of the map to zoom in toward the plus sign.)
6. Put your cursor over the pushpin. Your address and your tier will be displayed.

Census Tract Map

You can also find your tier by clicking here to access the census tract map. The tiers are color coded. Use the legend on the lower right corner of the map to see which color corresponds to the tier.

U.S. Census Website

You can also calculate your tier by following the steps below:

1. Click here to go to the U.S. census website.

2. Enter your address and click 'go.'

3. Scroll down to the table entitled "Geography Results." Under the column "Geography Name," look in the sixth row for your census tract number, followed by the county and state.

4. Click here to access the “Census Tract to Tier for Chicago” document. The census tracts are sorted in numeric order; the number in the “short tract” column corresponds to the census tract number you obtained on the U.S. census website. Click “Control F” and type in your census tract number. The number in the third column is your tier.

Summary of Census Tract Data

Click here for a summary of the census tract data for the city of Chicago. You can use this document to view the socio-economic data for your census tract and tier.