Navigating the CPS School Search

Written by: Didi Lewis

If you missed our two CPS 101: Elementary Options seminars this Fall, here's a quick hit list of things to have on your radar at the beginning of the school search process.


  • Age requirements:  For Kindergarten - your child must be 5 by September 1st of the school year.  For Preschool - children must be 3 and fully potty-trained by Sept 1st of the school year.
  • Determine your neighborhood school:  Use the CPS School Locator. You are guaranteed Kindergarten admission at this school. Preschool admission is NOT guaranteed at any school.
  • Explore the Options for Knowledge process & schools: Magnet School admission is determined by lottery.  Selective Enrollment Elementary School (SEES) admission is based on testing.  Learn more
  • Create your list of potential schools: Include a variety of magnet, magnet cluster, SEES and open enrollment schools. School visits are highly recommended.
  • Start the Options for Knowledge application process:  For the 2015/16 school year, request a PIN starting Sept. 19th at Starting Oct. 1st, you can apply via TWO applications. The Standard Application is for up to 20 magnet, magnet cluster, and/or open enrollment schools that are purely lottery based, with no testing required. The SEES Application is for up to 6 gifted and/or classical schools with admission based on testing.  
  • Testing: If applying for a SEES school, request a test date between Oct. 1 - Dec. 12, prior to completing and submitting your application. Confirmed test dates will be sent via mail by January 31. 2015; testing will occur November 2014 - February 2015, or until all applicants have been tested.  Decide what is the best way for your family to help your child prepare for the test.
  • Deciding your options:  In March 2015, you will receive notification letter(s), test score(s), and admission information. You may receive admission to one or more schools via the Standard Application process. Waitlist numbers are given for each non-SEES school where no seat is offered. For the SEES process, you will receive up to 1 offer with no waitlist information. Both processes see movement on their waitlists through the summer and even into the first few weeks of the school year.

If you need more information about CPS schools and the application process, do not hesitate and register for NPN's Annual Preschool & Elementary School Fair presented by Bright Start College Savings TODAY! It is filling fast, don't miss the opportunity. Have any questions about the NPN School Directory, the fair or anything else school search related? Comment below with your question and we'll do the best we can to answer!


Posted on September 30, 2013 at 12:24 PM