Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the difference between a magnet school and a magnet cluster school?
A magnet school does not have a neighborhood attendance boundary, in most cases. There are some exceptions – the following magnet schools have attendance boundaries; students who live within the boundaries do not have to apply: Gallistel, Goodlow, Kanoon, Mayer, Pershing East, Pershing West, Randolph, Smyth, and Wildwood. For all other magnet schools, no student can attend without submitting an application, no matter where they live. In addition, magnet schools have specific racial/ethnic goals.
A magnet cluster school is a neighborhood school – it has a neighborhood attendance boundary and accepts students who live within that boundary. Students who live outside of the neighborhood attendance boundary must submit an application in order to be considered for acceptance. You may apply to any school in any cluster. Transportation is not provided to incoming students.
Both magnet schools and magnet cluster schools place an emphasis on one particular subject area, such as math/science, world language, or fine and performing arts. Most magnet schools and magnet cluster schools do not require testing for admission.
2. How do I apply?
For most schools in this guide, complete the STANDARD application and send it directly to the school(s) in which you are interested. You may photocopy the application as needed; there is no limit to the number of schools to which you can apply. You must submit one standard application per child, per school.
For Regional Gifted Centers, Classical Schools, Academic Centers, and International Baccalaureate Preparatory Program schools, you must complete a Gifted and Enriched Academic Programs (GEAP) application and follow the directions on the application. Do not use the Standard application for these schools. DO NOT PHOTOCOPY THIS APPLICATION. Only one GEAP application is needed per child. If you are applying for more than one child, you may download additional applications from one of our websites, or, under Application Materials, or you may call the Office of Academic Enhancement at (773) 553-2060.
For Selective Enrollment High Schools and Military Academies, you must complete the application designed especially for these schools. You may obtain this application from the Selective Enrollment School or Military Academy, from any public elementary school, or by calling the Office of Academic Enhancement at (773) 553-2060.
Other high schools may require separate applications that may only be obtained from the high school. These are indicated in the high school listing of this guide.
Because of the limited number of spaces available, THERE IS NO GUARANTEE THAT YOUR CHILD WILL BE ACCEPTED TO ANY SCHOOL. Most openings are at the entry-level grades (kindergarten or first grade, and ninth grade). You are encouraged to apply to all of the schools in which you are interested. If a school receives more applications than there is space available, a computerized lottery will be conducted. All applications must be postmarked no later than December 19, 2008.
3. Does my child have to take a test to get into these schools?
Most schools select students through a computerized lottery – no testing is required. However, we do have schools designed for academically advanced students – Regional Gifted Centers, Classical Schools, Academic Centers, International Baccalaureate Preparatory Programs, and Selective Enrollment High Schools. For these schools, admission testing is required.
In addition, for Academic Centers, International Baccalaureate Preparatory Programs, and Selective Enrollment High Schools, the selection process includes the student’s prior year’s standardized test scores, final grades, and attendance.
Schools that require testing do not conduct a computerized lottery.
Students with disabilities are encouraged to apply to these schools, and testing accommodations will be provided in accordance with the student’s IEP.
4. My child was absent for several days last year because of illness. Will this hurt her chances for getting into a Selective Enrollment High School?
Selective Enrollment/Military Academy applications and GEAP applications (for grades 5-8) require attendance information from the prior school year. If your child was absent for a significant number of days due to medical/health issues, participation in an education-related event, death in the family, or any other justifiable reason, write a letter explaining the absence. Send your letter to the Office of Academic Enhancement, 125 S. Clark, 4th floor, Chicago, IL 60603, and include your child’s name and birth date. The justification will be entered into your child’s file and considered as part of the selection process.
5. What is the difference between Regional Gifted Centers and Classical Schools?
Both Regional Gifted Centers and Classical Schools serve academically advanced students at the elementary school level. Both types of schools accelerate learning so that there is time for projects, term papers and group work that takes the learner deeper into the subject matter, and the curriculum for both types of schools includes a world language component.
Regional Gifted Centers place an emphasis on thinking, reasoning, problem solving and creativity. The test for Regional Gifted Centers assesses the student’s critical thinking skills and reasoning abilities. Classical Schools place an emphasis on scholarship with a liberal arts focus. The test for Classical Schools assesses the student’s reading, language arts, and mathematics abilities.
6. What is a computerized lottery?
Computerized lotteries are conducted to ensure that all children have an equal chance to be accepted at a school. The names of all applicants are entered into the computer, and the computer randomly selects students to fill the spaces in each grade. There are three types of lotteries:
• Sibling lottery: conducted only for students who have brothers or sisters in the same household who already attend the school to which they are applying. As many as 45% of all entering students may be accepted through the sibling lottery.
• Proximity lottery: conducted at magnet schools only. This lottery is for students who live within a 1.5 mile radius of elementary magnet schools, and a 2.5 mile radius of magnet high schools. A magnet school may accept up to 30 percent of its population from students who live within these limits. Proximity lotteries will only be conducted at magnet schools that have not achieved the 30 percent requirement.
• General lottery: conducted for all students who are not included in the sibling or proximity lotteries. Students not selected through the lottery are placed on waiting lists.
7. How will I know if a school has received my child’s application?
If you are using a Standard application to apply for any grade level, or if you are using a GEAP application to apply to grades K-4, enclose a self-addressed, stamped postcard with your application. The postcard will be mailed back to you as notification that your application has been received. Your postcard should be returned within two weeks. If it is not, contact the school (for Standard applications) or the Office of Academic Enhancement (for GEAP applications).
For students applying to Gifted and Enriched Academic Programs (GEAP) schools for grades
5-8, or Selective Enrollment High Schools, it is recommended that parents request a receipt that indicates the time, date, and to whom the application was submitted at the home school.
8. How old does my child have to be to start kindergarten next year?
According to Illinois state law, your child must be five years old by September 1, 2009, in order to begin kindergarten in the 2009-2010 school year.
9. Do I have to select a racial/ethnic category for my child on the application?
Yes. If you do not select a racial/ethnic category, your child cannot be considered for enrollment. The category you select is your decision. Select only one category.
10. Can students with disabilities apply to magnet schools and programs?
All students with disabilities or mobility impairments are eligible to apply to magnet schools and programs. Appropriate services within these programs will be provided to meet individual needs. If a student with a mobility impairment is selected by lottery for a magnet school or program that is not accessible, transportation will be provided to a comparable magnet program at an accessible school.
11. Are students with disabilities required to meet entrance test requirements for enrollment?
Students with disabilities are required to take entrance tests at schools that require them. Applicable test accommodations described in the student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 Plan will be made available.
12. Can English Language Learners (ELLs) apply to magnet schools and programs?
Yes. All ELLs are eligible to apply to magnet schools and programs.
13. When will I find out if my child has been accepted?
Notification letters will be mailed according to the schedule below:
All high schools: February 20, 2009
Elementary magnet schools: March 16-20, 2009
Magnet cluster schools: March 16-20, 2009
Elementary open enrollment schools: March 16-20, 2009
Regional Gifted Centers, Classical Schools
Academic Centers, IB Prep Programs: March 20, 2009
14. Is transportation provided?
The following types of transportation are provided to elementary school students:
• Gifted Program transportation service: This service is provided only to students attending Regional Gifted Centers. Students must live more than 1.5 miles from the school in order to receive transportation service (with the exception of Carnegie, which provides transportation to students living between 3900 South and 7500 South, from Lake Shore Drive to the city limits; Coonley, which provides transportation to students living between 900 North and the North city limits, and 3200 West to Lake Shore Drive; and South Loop, which provides transportation to students living between 900 North and 3900 South, from Lake Shore Drive to the city limits).
• Classical School transportation service: This service is provided to students enrolled in one of the four Classical Schools. Transportation is provided to students who reside more than 1.5 miles from the school and within the boundaries identified below:
School                              North Boundary — South Boundary
Decatur                            North City Limits Fullerton — 2400 North
Skinner                            Fullerton — 2400 North Pershing Road — 3900 South
McDade                           Pershing Road — 3900 South 106th St. South
Poe                                 71st St. South South City Limits
• Magnet school transportation service: In most cases, school bus transportation is provided to students attending elementary magnet schools who live more than 1.5 miles but less than 6 miles from the school. For students attending Davis, Disney II, Kershaw, LaSalle II, and Mayer, the Bureau of Transportation Services will provide Chicago Transit Authority fare cards or travel reimbursements for parents and guardians of students who qualify for transportation.
• Magnet cluster school transportation: Transportation is not provided for incoming students to magnet cluster schools.
• Majority-to-minority transfer program transportation: Transportation is not provided for incoming students in most cases. Transportation is only provided if there is an existing bus route from the student’s neighborhood school to the transfer receiving school. If there is no existing bus route, Chicago Transit Authority fare cards will be provided to the student.
• Academic Centers and International Baccalaureate Preparatory Programs: Transportation is provided to students who live more than 1.5 miles from the school. Students must get to a designated pick-up location; no bus route will require a student to ride the bus for more than 60 minutes each way.
Bus transportation is not generally provided for high school students. Transportation at the elementary and high school levels is provided to students with disabilities if the IEP or 504 Plan requires it. Transportation may also be provided to homeless students upon enrollment. Contact the Office of Specialized Services at (773) 553-1800 for more information.
Note: All transportation provisions and policies are subject to modification.
15. My child wasn’t accepted to any schools. Do I have another chance to apply?                                                       Yes. If additional spaces are available after the fall application process has ended, an end-of-year application process is conducted in the spring. This applies to elementary magnet schools, magnet cluster schools, majority-to-minority transfer schools, and elementary open enrollment schools only.
16. Who should I contact to obtain this document in an alternate format?
You can contact the ADA administrator at (773) 553-2698 (Voice) or (773) 553-2699 (TTY).
17. Who should I contact if I have more questions?
For further information, call the Office of Academic Enhancement at (773) 553-2060. You may also wish to contact the following CPS departments:
Charter Schools (773) 553-1530
Special Education Services (773) 553-1800
Student Transportation (773) 553-2860
JROTC Programs (773) 534-9770
Education-to-Careers (773) 553-2460
Early Childhood Programs (including Tuition-Based Preschool and Preschool for All) (773) 553-2010

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