Choosing the right place to live for you and your family is important. Let us help give you the resources you need to make your best choice of neighborhood and school.
A big theme among our clients is that they want to get closer to family: maybe physically closer to grandparents, closer to friends who are family, or closer to where they can envision their family blooming. It often means a home near a good school, in a great neighborhood. Our team intrinsically understands this and we can help you strategize so you can reach that goal. Having grown up in a small midwest town, I am regularly asked, “What’s it like to raise kids in the city? How do you do this!?”
My husband and I have made the decision to put a stake in the ground in Chicago and to raise our family here. As long as our jobs and hearts have us here – we will invest here. Everyday is an adventure. The Carlson’s love adventure! Being in the city allows our children unmatched access to museums, unique schools, art/science/music programs, sprawling parks and beautiful Lake Michigan. On any given week, my son participates in a private class at the Zoo, attends a music program and bakes bread with friends at Waldorf. He plays at the beach and swims at the pool. He gets to ride his bike along the Lake Shore Path – considered a Runner’s World’s Rave Run. We hope that rubbing shoulders daily with people from diverse backgrounds, will allow our children more thankful, patient, welcoming, and expanding of their worldview. It’s a wonderful adventure and challenge!
At the forefront of our client’s minds is how to manage the Chicago Public School System. Between the cost of living and the media focus on the issues with CPS, it sounds like a daunting place to call home. Luckily, we are blessed to have really fabulous public and private schools in this city. The media misses what’s great about our local schools.
My team is prepared to guide you to the right investment in the city. Together, we regularly tour public and private schools so that we are up to date on the accomplishments and flavor of each. Below is our guide to navigating the city. Whether you have a family in tow or not, you will find excellent resources here. Nothing is comparable to joining me for a cup of coffee to learn your goals first hand. It would be a privilege to help guide you into the right spot to call home.
NAVIGATING THE SCHOOLS
1. DISCOVER CHICAGO'S NEIGHBORHOODS
- @properties Neighborhood Reports will give you access to neighborhood news, photos, school rankings and test scores, business reviews and more. https://www.atproperties.com/neighborhoods
- Walk Score gives a great overview of transportation options, nearby restaurants, coffee shops, gyms, groceries, and more: https://www.walkscore.com/
- Google Maps is always a great resource for commute times and distance comparisons: https://www.google.com/map
- Quickly zoom in to see neighborhood boundaries in this tool by Kevin Zolkewicz of Zolk.com.
- Get to know the personality and culture of various neighborhoods in this @properties city neighborhood guide.
2. ELEMENTARY SCHOOlS
Whether you are interested personally in schools for your family or you follow the philosophy that it’s always wise to invest in a good public school district, we have the resources for you! There is no one size fits all school- and there are endless options and opportunities. We have tried to organize resources for you here- and are just a phone call away if you want to discuss more!
To help you navigate the schools here are the various types of schools you will come across in your search:
Early Childhood Education
Pre-school programs are offered throughout the city through public and private schools. Since you have to pay tuition, even at CPS, many of my client’s choose to take the opportunity to pay for preschool at a private school, knowing they will partake in public school once their kids hit kindergarten.
CPS only offers tuition based preschool at select schools. There is huge demand for a limited number of spots, so enrollment occurs the January before the school year. Neighborhood children are given preferential treatment, but not guaranteed.
This is also a great resource for CPS Preschool parents which includes how to apply and enroll: https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/sites/chicagoearlylearning/home.html
Neighborhood Public Schools (K-8)
Selective Enrollment Schools (K-8)
- Kindergarteners can attend their neighborhood school or apply to either a Regional Gifted Center or a Classical School within the Selective Enrollment School Program, which does involve testing. Kindergarteners must test into Selective Enrollment schools. You can request a test date once you have received an activation code and ranked up to 6 schools on go.cps.edu. Testing takes place between the first week in October through the 2nd Friday in December. Kindergarteners will take two tests on the same day- one for the Classical Schools, which measures reading and math achievements and another for Regional Gifted Centers, which measures critical thinking, reasoning and problem solving aptitude.
- Students grades 5-8 are selected based on their NWEA test scores.
- 7th and 8th graders can test into Academic Centers at 7 High Schools in Chicago. They qualify for the admissions test based on their NWEA scores. These programs provide an accelerated curriculum that enables students to earn limited high school credits, in a high school setting, while still in elementary school. The high schools that house these centers are: Harlan High School, Kenwood Academy, Lane Tech High School, Lindblom Math and Science Academy, Morgan Park High School, Taft High School and Whitney Young Magnet High School.
- No one is guaranteed a seat because of where they live. Most of the seats are filled through the tier system. CPS Tier descriptions found here.
Special CPS Programs
- Regional Gifted Centers – Provides 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. Apply using the Selective Enrollment Elementary Schools (SEES) Application (go.cps.edu) + an entrance exam. More information on the exam is found here: https://cps.edu/AccessAndEnrollment/Pages/KindergartenTesting.aspx
- Below is a list of schools that offer the regional gifted program, should your child qualify. CPS assigns which school your child will attend, taking into account the region of the city where you reside.
- These schools are filled entirely with Regional Gifted Students: Edison, Keller, and Lenart
- These Neighborhood Schools offer the program in conjunction with the normal neighborhood educational program: Beaubien, Bell, Carnegie, Coonley (phasing out), Greeley, National Teachers Academy, Orozco, Pritzker, Pulaski and South Loop
- Beasley Magnet School also offers a Regional Gifted Program
- If the child’s first language is Spanish, Polish or Russian, and they qualify for the program, they will attend: Greeley, Orozco, and Pulaski
- Classical Schools – designed to provide a challenging liberal arts course of instruction for students with high academic potential. Transportation is provided to students who live within designated street ranges. Apply at www.apply.cps.edu OR www.cpsoae.org
- International Gifted Programs – This intensive study of English, French, social studies, laboratory science, mathematics, technology, arts, physical education, library science, and advanced research is designed to allow intellectually-able students to learn at an accelerated pace. It is offered at Lincoln Elementary School and the Ogden International School of Chicago for gifted sixth, seventh and eighth grade students.
Magnet Schools (K-8)
There are 41 Magnet schools in Chicagoland area, listed here: https://cps.edu/AccessAndEnrollment/Pages/MagnetSchoolsElementary.aspx You can apply to a magnet school here: https://cps.edu/AccessAndEnrollment/Pages/OAE.aspx
Charter Schools (K-8)
Contract Schools (K-8)
Private Schools (K-8)
Here is a list of popular private schools:
- St. Andrew
- St. Bens
- St. Sylvesters
- St. Clements
- Catherine Cook
- Francis W Parker
- The Latin School
- The British School
- The French School
- North Park
- Chicago City Day
- Chicago Montessori
- Rogers Park Montessori
- … and the list goes on and on!
3. HIGH SCHOOLS
All CPS students have the option to attend their neighborhood public high school, to test into a Selective Enrollment Program, or enroll into a private school.
The 11 Selective Enrollment High Schools are: Brooks, Hancock, Jones, King, Lane, Lindblom, Northside, Payton, South Shore, Westinghouse, and Whitney Young. A student’s NWEA Test Score and grades will determine if the student is eligible for Selective Enrollment Programs. Students take the NWEA Test in 7th grade. Students must rank up to 6 Selective Enrollment schools and up to 20 Choice Programs on their application. The order of preference they place them in, is the order in which they will be considered.
If a student is applying to a neighborhood school outside of their personal neighborhood school boundaries, this would be called entering the “Choice Program.” Admittance is based on a lottery or a points-based system, but are not tested into.
Students with Priority Preferences (proximity to school, or having a sibling at the school, etc.) will be placed in separate lotteries. Students who qualify will receive one Choice Program offer and one Selective Enrollment offer.
For more information and very informative videos, visit:
Click here to see high school neighborhood boundaries.