Fall 2017: Applying to Kindergarten / Elementary School

September 22, 2017 at 10:03 pm 63 comments


Coonley Elementary + RGC

In the next couple weeks, the application season for Elementary School will begin.

While the high school application process is changing slightly, the Elementary process should still be largely the same.

So far, the CPS Access & Enrollment site doesn’t have the start date or end date of the application period open, but it should be ready soon.


In a nutshell, the process will involve:

Request a PIN for the site

Once you have your PIN, sign up to schedule a test (if you’re interested in the gifted or classical test)

Select and rank the schools you want to apply to (this can be done up to the closing date)

For magnet schools (no testing needed,) apply online for up to 20 magnet or other open enrollment schools

Separately, get familiar with your neighborhood school to assess whether it’s a good option.  Your child can always attend that school at any point.  Being part of a neighborhood school has many benefits:  local friends (kids and parents,) walking to school, and being part of a local community.






Entry filed under: Applying to schools, Kindergarten, Uncategorized.

High School Application News – Fall 2017

63 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Chicago School GPS  |  September 23, 2017 at 8:44 am

    Thanks for starting this year’s string, CPSO!

    Here is a little blurb with what we’re hearing:
    “CPS is making a big change this Fall to their application system that will affect all applicants, from preschool to high school. Instead of their old online system, CPS is changing over to a one-stop shop at http://www.go.cps.edu. It uses an online platform that many charter schools have used for years called SchoolMint. You can enter your family’s basic information into the system and get an idea of what your child “is eligible to apply to” by first “activating” your account (not sure if they are using PINs this year). You can activate an account now and browse programs, tag “favorites”, etc, but you CANNOT apply to any schools until the application window opens on Oct. 2nd. The application closes on Dec. 15th.
    If you have a non-CPS student wanting to apply to 5th-9th grade programs, they will also need to take the NWEA MAP qualifying exams. The October exam dates of 10/21 & 10/22 require registration by Oct. 2.

    CPS has said that the new GoCPS website is intended to be a single location to Learn, Research, Explore & Apply to all their programs managed by the Office of Access & Enrollment. This is from their website:

    Get detailed information and explanations about all CPS application processes.
    Track important dates and events related to applications, testing, and enrollment.
    Access informative videos, brochures, news, and community engagement material.
    Answer important questions using Frequently Asked Questions.
    Contact support from the Office of Access and Enrollment.

    Find CPS schools and programs using multiple search and display options.
    Find your neighborhood school using your computer or mobile phone’s geo-location.
    View school profiles with detailed background, contact, performance, program, and admissions data.
    Select and compare up to four different schools side by side.
    View map overlays of attendance, geographic, and political boundaries.

    Learn about which schools are the best fit for your student.
    Access statistics and success data about CPS as a district.
    Read detailed descriptions and information about school and program types.

    Activate an account and create a family profile supporting multiple students.
    Access and review student program eligibility information.
    Select and apply to elementary and high schools.
    Receive and accept school admission offers.

    CPS’s Office of Access & Enrollment is in the process of migrating their information over to this new site. Each day there is more information regarding all programs, but it looks like you will still be able to add up to 20 non-selective elementary schools on the “Standard Elementary School” application and get accepted to all, none, or any amount in between. Waitlists will still move a lot over the summer. SEES programs should still allow up to 6 choices and one offer.

    Bottom line, if you want to apply to CPS this Fall for the 2018-2019 school year, then Activate your GoCPS account and do your research as the Oct. 2nd application open date will be here before you know it! CPS is adding new info to their GoCPS site every day so check back often!”

  • 2. KCabral  |  September 23, 2017 at 1:40 pm


  • 3. HSObsessed  |  September 26, 2017 at 10:13 am

    Hi CPS obsessers! My kid sailed through 13 years of CPS in the blink of an eye (or so it seemed to me) and is now in college, so I’m not on this blog as much as I used to be. I saw this interesting free school-related event in a newsletter and thought I’d cross post it here, although it’s short notice for Wednesday, Sept 27th. It looks like a great panel.

    Millie’s Meetups

    Choosing the right school for your children is enough to make you feel like all the homework in the world won’t amount to a passing grade! The inaugural edition of Millie’s Meetups will focus on helping Chicago parents navigate through the school election process via a panel of the real experts: other parents!

    We are thrilled to have Mary Dempsey, president of DePaul College Prep, moderate our discussion.
    Jane Herron: Educational Consultant
    John Martin: (Alexander Graham) Bell Elementary
    Marc McDonald: St. Josaphat School
    Hillary Schneider: Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School
    Amy Shulman: (Augustus H.) Burley School
    Neena Vlamis: British International School of Chicago, Lincoln Park
    Keren Weiss: Latin School of Chicago


  • 4. futuremom  |  September 27, 2017 at 1:45 pm

    Does anyone know when the Open House Calendar will be posted for SEES?

  • 5. Corey President  |  September 28, 2017 at 9:30 am

    I called OAE, and they said that they are still waiting for schools to let them know when they will hold open houses. Once this is done, OAE can update the calendar. They didn’t give me an estimated time that they will have the Open House Calendar complete, but there is a website that has the open house dates for some schools (chischoolgps.com).

  • 6. futuremom  |  September 29, 2017 at 9:14 am

    @5. Corey President. Thanks so much

  • 7. sloanesmom  |  September 29, 2017 at 12:42 pm

    Just an FYI, if you already have a student enrolled in CPS, you DO NOT need to request a PIN. This was verified by CPS Admissions (I called their helpline to confirm).

    You can just activate your account (you will need your child’s CPS Student #) at:


  • 8. Chicago School GPS  |  September 30, 2017 at 2:15 pm

    CPS just announced revised application dates for this Fall. Applications now open on October 10 and close on December 22.

    “Dear Families and Students,
    One of the most important priorities for GoCPS is that all families and students have the best possible experience with and access to the new platform. In order to make sure the system supports anticipated demand, we will briefly delay the planned launch date to Oct. 10.
    CPS will extend the application deadline to Dec. 22, 2017 so that no student loses time in applying to school.
    We look forward to offering an improved school application process for all our students.
    Tony Howard
    Executive Director of Enrollment and Education Policy

  • 9. CPSparent  |  October 1, 2017 at 8:25 pm


  • 10. R_WL  |  October 2, 2017 at 9:20 am

    Thanks for the 10/10 update! Question- we live in the Skinner West boundaries (.7 miles away) but Brown is coming up (1.4 miles away) as his neighborhood school? We were quite looking forward to walking to school each morning. Can I make a fuss about this?

  • 11. No Horse In the Race  |  October 2, 2017 at 11:08 am

    #10–are you East or West of Ashland? Skinner West boundaries end at Ashland. IME, CPS doesn’t care what’s closer.

  • 12. R_WL  |  October 2, 2017 at 11:35 am

    East of Ashland. We fall directly into the center of the boundaries listed on CPS’s website but they are sending us West of Ashland as our “neighborhood” school

  • 13. jfc  |  October 2, 2017 at 12:23 pm


  • 14. No Horse In the Race  |  October 2, 2017 at 12:51 pm

    When Skinner West opened, I was told that Burnett made them agree any child East of Ashland could attend. BUT I am not sure whether there were any caveats related to Skinner enrollment.

  • 15. Rankings?  |  October 2, 2017 at 2:08 pm

    #12 What is your cross street? Skinner’s boundaries are from Lake to Congress and Ashland east to Canal.

  • 16. public mom  |  October 2, 2017 at 2:47 pm

    @10 original question the best thing to do is call the school directly and provide your address they will confirm the “true” answer for you

  • 17. R_WL  |  October 2, 2017 at 2:48 pm

    @15 – its Jackson & Des Plaines

    @16 – I will do that too- thanks!

  • 18. R_WL  |  October 2, 2017 at 2:56 pm

    I called the school and they confirmed that we are, in fact, in their district for neighborhood school. I’ll just raise a ruckus if CPS tries to assign him elsewhere! It seemed so silly to me that we would walk or drive PAST the Skinner to go to another school.

  • 19. public mom  |  October 2, 2017 at 3:32 pm

    @18 R_WL you shouldn’t have a problem when you register directly at the school. Neighborhood schools you go directly into the school versus having to deal with OAE and assignment. My friend moved into the Beverly area and walked into the main office and registered with no problem. She later provided her proof of address and other docs and was successful.

  • 20. public mom  |  October 2, 2017 at 3:36 pm

    @18 R_WL also you will be surprised of the boundaries CPS have created. I literally stay directly across the street from an elementary school but my block is the cutoff. Therefore if I chose to take my son to the neighborhood school I would have to walk 8 blocks or drive. It would make sense for me to walk out front door, cross the street and be at school but you will learn CPS has a very special way of doing ALL things.

  • 21. 1stGradehopeful  |  October 4, 2017 at 10:17 am


  • 22. cpsobsessed  |  October 4, 2017 at 10:09 pm

    R_WL, I would probably still enter the application process for other schools as backup just in case there is any kind of change, if you are in a hard-to-interpret block. You’d hate to get stuck if something changes (I know nothing about the other school you mentioned, so no judgement there.)

    The key is getting the school to register you as a neighborhood family, then you’re in. But that won’t happen until Spring.

  • 23. Chicago School GPS  |  October 7, 2017 at 12:15 pm

    Some tidbits gleaned from the newest Options for Knowledge guide for 2018-2019:

    Coonley RGC is not accepting new K students, so their program will run from 1st-8th grade only. Means this application season may not have many accepted into 1st, since most kids from current K will go into 1st.

    Bell’s RGC IS accepting a new K class, as well as their original 1st grade entry class, so they will probably accept 28 students for K and 28 students for 1st this Fall. Next year’s application forward will only really have spaces for K students.

    Lincoln Elementary’s International Gifted program is phasing out, so no new 6th graders coming in. They will probably only have fill in spots for 7th and 8th this coming year.

    South Loop RGC is just doing fill-in spots for 7-8 since they are phasing out their RGC while NTA will be accepting K-6 for this Fall. (When their new campus opens, that may change again).


  • 24. northsidemom  |  October 10, 2017 at 9:06 am

    @23 Chicago School GPS thanks for the info. Regarding your comment on Coonley RGC wouldn’t this be the same challenge for most schools that have a K RGC program? I would imagine the K students will stay at move into the 1st grade slots so I am not making the connection? How many classes per grade level does Coonley have? I’m asking because Coonley would be on my list and need to see the best approach. Thanks!

  • 25. northsidemom  |  October 10, 2017 at 9:08 am

    just checked the gocps.edu site is NOT OPEN as expected! LOL

  • 26. lincolnsquaremama  |  October 10, 2017 at 9:27 am

    Well it’s open now. And what is unclear to me is (1) is there no PIN anymore? and (2) do we have to submit our applications before getting to schedule a test date? They seem to have uprooted the prior system just a bit.

  • 27. north side mom  |  October 10, 2017 at 9:43 am

    @26 you do not need a PIN if you have a current CPS student just activate your account on the website. If you are new to CPS I believe the process is different. Not sure on other questions.

  • 28. lincolnsquaremama  |  October 10, 2017 at 9:50 am

    Thanks @27 but we have a new to CPS 2018 Kindergartener so I’m a bit confused by the lack of a PIN request. I had thought that was how they verified your address.

  • 29. CP  |  October 10, 2017 at 9:58 am

    @27 We have a new to CPS 2018 Kindergartener as well, and I just completed the applications without having to use a PIN, so the process is the same as current CPS students. @28 I’m not entirely sure how addresses will be verified myself, but I’m assuming we’ll have to show proof of residency when it comes time to register our kids to the accepted school.

  • 30. lincolnsquaremama  |  October 10, 2017 at 10:23 am

    @29 – Did you actually submit the application? I’m assuming you can still go back and edit?

  • 31. Chicago School GPS  |  October 10, 2017 at 11:08 am

    @24- In a nutshell, I would not expect many acceptances at lower grades from Coonley this year as they are transitioning to their 1st grade entry year. You are also correct that any SEES that starts at K wouldn’t ordinarily have many acceptances to 1st. Coonley has one class of RGC per grade. My post was just clarifying that come April, we won’t be hearing much about Coonley or see scores reported because they are barely accepting any new kids into the RGC this year with no more K RGC. Hope this helps.

  • 32. Chicago School GPS  |  October 10, 2017 at 11:25 am

    @30- You are supposed to be able to still go back and edit your school choices until Dec. 22. This is from the bottom of the page:
    “How can I change my school choices?

    We encourage you to attend Open Houses and conduct any other school-related research BEFORE submitting your application, to decrease the need for changing school choices. If you apply online, you can make changes by deleting your application and submitting a new one. If you apply via paper application, contact the Office of Access and Enrollment at 773-553-2060 or oae@cps.edu to request a paper Application Modification Form. Changes must be submitted no later than December 22, 2017.”

  • 33. CP  |  October 10, 2017 at 11:34 am

    @lincolnsquaremama Yes, I submitted the application. After you submit, there is an option to edit the application online.

  • 34. BTAQ  |  October 10, 2017 at 11:37 am

    Ranking Magnets??? I just submitted my application for Kindergarten. I noticed that I could rank my Selective Enrollment choices, but could not the Magnet choices. However, upon completion and submission, my Magnet choices now appear to be ranked. Do I need to go back and re-rank my Magnet choices?

  • 35. MN  |  October 10, 2017 at 11:54 am

    Does anyone know if there is early testing this year for kindergarten? I think last year for those who took the test in November results were posted in Dec? Is it no longer the case? Can’t find this info on the site. Thanks

  • 36. BTAQ  |  October 10, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    Just called the Office of Enrollment. There was apparently a pop up saying that the Magnet schools are not ranked – even though they show up as being ranked on the Student Dashboard.

  • 37. CP  |  October 10, 2017 at 12:04 pm

    @MN I called the OAE, and was told that if a child is tested between Nov 1st and Nov 21st, parents should receive their scores before the end of the application period (Dec 22nd).

  • 38. north side mom  |  October 10, 2017 at 12:06 pm

    @33BTAG there are NO ranking options for magnet; the computer just defaults to a ranking but the lottery takes precedence. Which is why the system did ask you to rank Magnet and only SEES

  • 39. north side mom  |  October 10, 2017 at 12:07 pm

    @28 lincolnsquaremomma you can go back and edit your application and ADD a student with no PIN needed.

  • 40. MN  |  October 10, 2017 at 12:31 pm

    @CP Thank you so much!

  • 41. lincolnsquaremama  |  October 10, 2017 at 1:20 pm

    Following up – I submitted the applications and was given the option to RSVP for a test date. (1) Testing starts 11/2 and goes into December, (2) you have to submit both applications (selective and non-selective) to get to the option to pick a test date, (3) I confirm no PIN was required, (4) it looks like the applications can be revised fairly easily (the dashboard screen after you submit has an option to cancel applications – I haven’t tried doing another addition yet).

    Looks like the “new normal” is going to be to do your research ahead of time, select all the schools you think you want and apply when the window opens, do open houses and testing as needed to help narrow your choices and then make sure you have your final picks in when the application window closes.

  • 42. northsidemom  |  October 10, 2017 at 1:34 pm

    @ 37 CP is early testing only for K or all grade levels?

  • 43. Dina  |  October 10, 2017 at 1:35 pm

    Following – thank you for the awesome comment thus far…

  • 44. Chicago School GPS  |  October 10, 2017 at 2:11 pm

    Typically early results for Nov. 1- Nov. 21 tests has only been for K. CPSOAE actually didn’t even test the upper grade entry kids until after that time period last year.

  • 45. Mom2Mom  |  October 10, 2017 at 3:07 pm

    So to clarify, the only ranking we’ll be doing is of selective enrollment, right? So that will be like last year? (we won’t be ranking say Gifted over Magnet) ?

  • 46. Coonley Mom  |  October 10, 2017 at 3:11 pm

    I’m curious how this will affect entry scores for Bell and Coonley? Typically the schools with 1st grade entry tend to have slightly lower scores (since many people prefer getting their child placed in Kindergarten.)

  • 47. BTAQ  |  October 10, 2017 at 3:51 pm

    @45Mom2Mom – I ranked selective enrollment and RGC on the same page through a drop down menu. (You aren’t given the option to rank Magnet schools, even though the Student Dashboard shows the Magnets schools as being ranked.) I didn’t rank gifted/classical over magnet as there was no such option and they are separate applications. Also, I received three email confirmations: (1) Magnet application; (2) Classical/RCG application; and (3) Test date confirmation stating “Thank you for your RSVP to Regional Gifted and Classical Schools Admissions Exam.” For Kindergarten, both tests are apparently given on the same date and at the same location per the OAE.

  • 48. SoLo MoM  |  October 10, 2017 at 8:29 pm

    @46: My understanding is the 1st grade scores are typically lower than K because the test isn’t structured similarly vs. lesser popularity. Sure, there aren’t as many applications . . . but it’s PLENTY competitive. Maybe even more so due to fewer spots. Plus, the test is administered differently with the kids filling in the bubbles themselves. So. Many. Pages. My child left there exhausted.

  • 49. 1stGradehopeful  |  October 10, 2017 at 9:02 pm

    Is the first grade test one day or two days? If two days, how long is the test each day?

  • 50. CPSparent  |  October 10, 2017 at 9:37 pm

    The first grade test is actually scored differently and is out of 150 points instead of the 160 for kindergarten so scores are “lower.” Kids test in a group and you have to go on two different days if you are testing for both classical and RGC schools. I remember my daughter being in the test for about 45 min or so but I also saw them taking bathroom breaks as a group so they’re not testing that entire time. My daughter did not complain about filling out a lot of scantrons or anything and we didn’t do any prep. Her scores did go down about 10 points from K to 1st for RGC but she still got an RGC offer (which we declined) and her score for the Classical test went up (99 math and 99 reading) and we got an offer for that as well (after decling the RGC spot). Hope that helps people who are testing for 1st.

  • 51. CPSparent  |  October 10, 2017 at 9:40 pm

    Oh and for what it’s worth the principal at my daughters Classical school told me often the kids who get in at a non-entry year are some of the highest performing students because they had to test super high to get the very few spots available. I was asking since I was nervous that she had not been at an accelerated school for K. Turns out she has consistently been in the top math and reading groups since starting at the school in 1st. Again, just FYI for concerned parents.

  • 52. cpsobsessed  |  October 10, 2017 at 10:16 pm

    @SoLo Mom – that is a good point about the scoring. That is my understanding as well that the test for 1st grade results in lower scores.
    Another factor is that it’s given in a group and not one on one.

    I think I’m going to ask my now-9th grader if he remembers his test before Kindergarten….

  • 53. cpsobsessed  |  October 10, 2017 at 10:18 pm

    Ok, my 14 yo has only a vague memory of being there, in a room with someone. and he remembers not being worried about it.

    So after all your kids go through with the testing… they won’t even remember it some day! 🙂

  • 54. Chicago School GPS  |  October 10, 2017 at 10:36 pm

    If anyone is interested in learning more about the SEES Classical & RGC tests and admissions process, join us on Saturday, Oct. 21 at 1-3pm at IIT for our annual “What’s on the Test?” seminar: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/whats-on-the-test-understanding-chicagos-gifted-testing-admissions-2017-tickets-37317417400?aff=erellivmlt

  • 55. northsidemom  |  October 11, 2017 at 8:31 am

    @50 CPS parent, where does your child attend school now if you turned down RGC?

  • 56. northsidemom  |  October 11, 2017 at 8:34 am

    I know several kids took the Kindergarten test scored high then took the 1st grade test and scores dropped. I think like most are saying the K test was mostly pointing but the 1st grade test you have to fill in bubbles correctly. The kids are in a group however I heard they have little desks with privacy boards and the teacher is at the front using like a projector screen slowly asking the questions. the 1st grade test for RGC covers a lot of patterns, paper folding, following instructions, analogies, etc.

  • 57. CPSparent  |  October 11, 2017 at 9:05 pm

    @northsidemom – the Classical school my daughter attends is Skinner North.

  • 58. Leslie Triplett-Bracy  |  October 12, 2017 at 11:21 am

    My son is in kindergarten and will be testing for both gifted and classical for 2018-19. I have found this awesome Critical Thinking Boot Camp to prepare him for the test. What I have learned so far has been extremely helpful with test taking techniques for my son. They also gave me customized books for me to help coach my son through the material for the test. So far, I am completely amazed!

    The Critical Thinking Boot Camp came highly recommended from other parents that I know that have used them. One parent said that if you want your child to test into these schools that the Boot Camp is a must. Another friend of mine said that it is the best way to prepare your child for academic excellence. There are also testimonials from university professors on the website too.

    You should check out their website: http://www.thecriticalthinkingchild.com/critical-thinking-boot-camp-for-kids/

    Let me know what you think.

  • 59. Chicago School GPS  |  October 12, 2017 at 11:26 am

    If anyone wants to get a better feel for what is on the CPS Selective Enrollment Classical and Regional Gifted tests and how admissions and selection is done, join Chicago School GPS and Critical Thinking Child as we take you in depth on what to expect.
    Saturday, Oct. 21 from 1-3pm at IIT (near the testing site for CPS SEES).

    “What’s on the Test? Understanding CPS Gifted Testing & Admissions
    If you are a PreK – 3rd grade parent who is confused about navigating the Chicago Public School System (CPS) Gifted and Classical school options or is seeking gifted test prep tutoring strategies and resources, please join our expert speakers:
    Saturday, October 21st 1pm to 3pm
    Grace Sawin – Chicago School GPS
    Lemi-Ola Erinkitola – The Critical Thinking Child
    Preschool & Early Elementary Parents (PK-3rd) will gain answers to:
    Understanding of the CPS Gifted and Classical School Options (what’s new this testing year?)
    How to successfully navigate the CPS admissions and selection application process
    What’s the difference between Gifted and Classical schools?
    Entrance test tips & strategies for “What’s on the test?”
    How does testing for kindergarten differ from other grade levels?
    How do I prepare my child for the CPS Gifted and Classical admissions tests?
    What resources should I use if my child is learning multiple languages?
    How can I register my child for The Critical Thinking Boot Camp for Kids?
    What sample questions are used for test prep?
    What strategies work best for parents of multiples?
    More FAQs
    Registration is required. Adults only please!
    Hurry!!! Seating is limited! – Sorry “No Walks-ins.
    All tickets must be purchased in advance and online.
    No tickets will be sold at the door.
    Thank you!”

  • 60. helpfulmom  |  October 12, 2017 at 1:08 pm

    @58 I concur. My son took two Critical Thinking Child boot camps and is so advanced as a result.

  • 61. Chicago School GPS  |  October 12, 2017 at 2:07 pm

    Here is the “helpful” but a bit unwieldy online application guide. Has high school (pp 6-34), then elementary (pp 35-52) and finally preschool (pp 53-66) instructions. http://cps.edu/sitecollectiondocuments/gocps/GoCPS-HS-Application-Guide-English.pdf

  • 62. Chicago School GPS  |  October 15, 2017 at 4:09 pm

    CPS TIers have been updated for the 2018-2019 application season. Type in your address into http://cps.edu/ScriptLibrary/Map-SchoolLocator/index.html and the blue box will have your tier listed under the yellow pin.

  • 63. Skinner West  |  October 16, 2017 at 6:10 am

    Has there been a change to Skinner West’s neighborhood boundaries? I typed my address in to the updated Tier Map as found this:

    Brown School: 7th-8th Grade
    Skinner West: K-6th Grade
    Wells HS: 9th-12th

    Is SW no longer accepting Middle School kids?

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