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Office of Academic Enhancement

Selective Enrollment Elementary Schools
Classical Schools


Classical Schools provide challenging liberal arts instruction for students with high academic potential. The instructional program in these schools is accelerated and highly structured for strong academic achievement in literature, mathematics, language arts, world language, and the humanities. Classical Schools begin in kindergarten and serve students through sixth grade (with the exception of Skinner West, which serves students through eighth grade).

Currently, there are five classical schools in Chicago – Decatur, McDade, Poe, Skinner North, and Skinner West. Testing is required for admission into these schools.

Program Activities

  • Curriculum is accelerated one grade above current grade level.
  • Principals and teachers from each school visit other Classical Schools, and they collaborate monthly at professional development meetings.
  • Leaders have established community partnerships at the local level to maximize resources beneficial for learning. 
  • Schools have aligned their programs to match the expectations as outlined in the Illinois State Code for establishing and maintaining gifted and talented programs.
Teacher Training

To be considered to teach gifted/talented students in the Classical Schools program, high- quality candidates are selected who have participated in a myriad of training. The Office of Academic Enhancement is proud to have offered training in curriculum and instruction from nationally renowned experts in the field of gifted and talented learners.  Training has also been offered through Gifted Education Seminars, Advanced Gifted Institutes, and Summer Best Practice Workshops.

Interesting facts  

  • Many Classical Schools offer a wide variety of after-school programs, sports activities, and clubs.
  • World language instruction is offered at each school.
  • Classical School students participate in Academic and Latin Olympics, Science Fair, History Fair, and the Problem Solving competition.
  • Classical Schools have advanced science laboratories.
  • Partnerships with Classical Schools include Ravinia, Blue Cross/BlueShield, CNA, University of Chicago, and the University of Illinois.

Currently, transportation is provided to students who reside more than 1.5 miles from the school and within the boundaries identified below:
North Boundary
South Boundary
North City Limits
Fullerton - 2400 North
Skinner North         
5200 North - Foster
Cermak - 2200 South
Fullerton - 2400 North
Pershing Road - 3900 South
Pershing Road - 3900 South
106th St. South
71st St. South
South City Limits


National Association of Gifted Children (NAGC)