Office of Access and Enrollment

Magnet Cluster Schools

A Magnet Cluster school is a specialized neighborhood school – it has a neighborhood attendance boundary and accepts students who live within that boundary. Magnet cluster schools focus their curriculum on one of five subject areas: fine and performing arts, world language, International Baccalaureate Primary or Middle Years, technology, or STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). Students who live outside of the neighborhood attendance boundary must submit an application in order to be considered for acceptance. A student may apply to any magnet cluster school. Transportation is not provided to incoming students.

Application Information

Eligibility Requirements for Magnet Cluster Schools

There are no eligibility requirements for magnet cluster schools, with the exception of the age requirement to enter kindergarten (five years old, on or before September 1st) and first grade (six years old, on or before September 1st). Note that there are exceptions to the kindergarten and first grade age requirements. See the Accelerated Placement Act for more information.).

Student Selection Process

Students are selected for available seats through a computerized lottery, which ensures that all applicants have an equal chance to be selected. (Note that tiers are NOT considered in the selection process for magnet cluster schools.) The computer program randomly selects students to fill the spaces in each grade.

For Magnet Cluster schools, there are three types of lotteries, conducted in the following order:

  • Sibling lottery: conducted only for students who have a brother or sister in the same household who already attends the school to which the student is applying, and who will still be enrolled in that school in the upcoming school year.
  • Staff preference lottery: Conducted only for students who are applying to a school where their parent/guardian is a member of the staff. Two seats are allocated through the staff preference lottery. These seats are filled based on space availability, after siblings are accommodated.
  • General lottery: conducted for all students not included in the sibling or staff preference lottery (tiers are not considered in the selection process for magnet cluster schools).

Students who are not selected for a seat through the computerized lottery are randomly assigned a number on a waitlist.


After the available spaces in each grade are filled through the computerized lottery, waitlist numbers are randomly assigned, beginning with number 1, to the remaining students in each category. Parents of students who are selected in the lottery are given approximately three weeks to accept an offered space. After the deadline for accepting an offer, principals must fill any remaining spaces through the waiting list, beginning with number 1 and selecting students based on their category. For example, if a student was selected in the sibling lottery and the parent does not accept the space, the principal will contact the parent of the first student on the sibling waiting list for that grade to offer him/her the available space. If this student declines the offer, the principal will contact the second student on the sibling waiting list for that grade, and so on. Principals are not allowed to contact students outside of the waiting list order, and offers must be made to replace students in the same category. For instance, a principal cannot offer a space to the student who is number 1 on a waiting list and then skip the next five students to offer a space to the student who is number 6 on the list. As another example, a principal cannot attempt to fill a space declined by a student from the sibling category by offering the space to a student on the general waiting list, unless the sibling waitlist has been exhausted. (Note that when parents of waitlisted students are contacted, they will be given 48 business hours to accept or decline a seat. Be sure to include at least one telephone number on your application where you can be reached at all times.)

NOTE: If your child is currently on a waitlist from last year’s application process, and you have not yet received an offer for the current school year, you will need to reapply for the upcoming school year if you want to be considered for that year. Waitlists are not maintained from year to year.


Apply to a Magnet Cluster School

Applying to magnet cluster schools is easy! Just follow the directions below, and contact the Office of Access and Enrollment at 773-553-2060 or if you have any questions.

But first, please note the following:

  • The application period begins September 30, 2019, and ends December 13, 2019.
  • You have a choice of applying through the online application site, or by using a paper application. (We recommend the online site you can submit your application, receive email/text notifications, and receive and accept offers — all online!)
  • There is no testing required for magnet cluster schools – students are selected via computerized lottery.
  • You will be notified in April 2020 whether or not your child received an offer from any of the schools to which you applied. If you apply online, you will receive your notification on your online account If you apply via paper application, your child’s letter will be mailed to your home address
  • Next, see the step-by-step instructions below, for both the online process and the paper process.

Online Process

Step 1: Go to GoCPS, and click “Sign Up” at the top of the home page. This will allow you to open an account, with an email address as your user name, and create your password. You will need a CPS ID number to open an account. If you don’t have a CPS ID number, complete the CPS ID Request Form; the deadline to request a CPS ID number is November 22, 2019. If you do not request a CPS ID number by that date, you will need to submit a paper application(s). The CPS ID number will be mailed to your home address. After you receive the CPS ID, you can continue.

Step 2: Follow the instructions to enter your information and add your child(ren) to your account. Note that the account can be opened with one primary parent/guardian only. If you wish, later in the account creation process, you can add the contact information of another parent/guardian or other persons that you want to receive automated messages regarding application submission and admissions exams scheduling. However – and this is very important – the account must be opened with the name and address of the parent/guardian with whom the student resides. The address for this parent/guardian will be the address that is used for determining tiers, proximity boundaries, and attendance boundaries.

Step 3: After you successfully open an account, you will see the list of all elementary schools to which you can apply, including magnet, magnet cluster, open enrollment and Selective Enrollment Elementary Schools.

You can apply to up to 20 magnet, magnet cluster and open enrollment schools. These are identified as “Choice” schools on the application, and a counter will keep track of the number of schools that you’ve selected on your application. Note that you are not ranking these schools in any order. All magnet, magnet cluster and open enrollment schools are considered equally in separate lotteries. (As a result, it is possible for your child to receive an offer from more than one magnet, magnet cluster, or open enrollment school.)

(Note that if you are also interested in applying to Selective Enrollment Schools, you will select these schools as well. If you apply to Selective Enrollment schools, you will then be given instructions on how to rank these schools in order of your preference, and you will be instructed to schedule admissions exams for any of the schools/programs to which you’ve applied.)

Step 4: Submit your application no later than 11:59 pm on December 13, 2019. After you submit your application, you will receive an email confirmation.

Paper Process

Step 1: Starting September 30th, go to GoCPS and click ‘Elementary School’ and ‘Apply.’ Scroll down to download and print the Choice Elementary Schools application. If you do not have printer access, contact the Office of Access and Enrollment at 7773-553-2060.

Step 2: Use the School Codes accompanying the application in order to indicate the schools of your choice. You can apply to up to 20 magnet, magnet cluster, or open enrollment schools. You can list the schools in any order; you’re not ranking them in order of any preference. Be sure to sign the application.

Step 3: Submit your completed application to the Office of Access and Enrollment. Paper applications can be mailed or hand-delivered only. Paper applications must be received by the Office of Access and Enrollment no later than 6 p.m. on Friday, December 13, 2019. (Note that this is a RECEIVED BY date, not a postmarked date.) If you mail your application, we strongly recommend that you (1) send your application via registered mail so that you will have a receipt, (2) enclose a self-addressed, stamped postcard or envelope, which will be mailed back to you as proof of receipt, and (3) mail your application in plenty of time to ensure that it is received by the Office of Access and Enrollment on or before the application deadline. If you do not have a receipt and your applications do not reach our office, your child will not be considered for any of the schools to which you applied. Applications received after the deadline date cannot be processed.


Program Descriptions

Fine and Performing Arts

The Fine and Performing Arts Magnet Cluster Program (FPAMCP) is a network of arts-focused elementary schools in CPS. Arts teachers at FPAMCP schools work with students and other classroom teachers to provide intensive and integrated instruction in the arts.


  • Students have the opportunity to learn and grow in multiple art forms: dance, drama, media arts, music, and/or visual arts.
  • The fine and performing arts programs develop cultural awareness and understanding.
  • Schools strive to use the program to make connections between arts learning and other subject areas (curriculum integration).
  • Students are exposed to arts opportunities and environments, both in and out of the Chicago community, whether through visiting artist partnerships, performances, or museum trips.

International Baccalaureate (IB) Programmes

The International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme (PYP) is designed for students in grades K – 5, and focuses on the development of the whole child as an inquirer, both in the classroom and in the world outside. The IB Middle Years Programme (MYP) is for students in grades 6-10; it provides a framework of academic challenge that encourages students to embrace and understand the connections between traditional subjects and the real world, and become critical and reflective thinkers.


  • IB programs are recognized around the world.
  • IB World Schools must undergo an exhaustive authorization process, which includes a study of the school’s resources and commitment to the IB mission and philosophy. The authorization process typically takes two or more years and includes site visits by an IB team.
  • IB teachers participate in a wide variety of professional development opportunities to constantly update their knowledge and share their expertise with colleagues around the world.
  • The core components of IB programs encourage students to participate in creative and service-oriented activities, while at the same time emphasizing the importance of reflection on a personal and academic level.


Technology Magnet Cluster Program schools thoughtfully integrate technology and digital media throughout the curriculum to ensure that students develop the skills and habits of mind that will enable them to be successful in whatever endeavors they wish to pursue. This includes enabling students to use technology and digital media to demonstrate creative thinking and construct knowledge; communicate and work collaboratively; gather, evaluate and use information; conduct research, manage projects, and solve problems, practice legal and ethical behaviors while online; and understand technology concepts, systems, and operations (National Educational Standards, 2007).


  • Technology lead teachers at each school serve as site-based experts who work with staff at the school and district level to incorporate technology and digital media throughout the curriculum.
  • Technology lead teachers and classroom teachers attend and provide professional development on the integration of technology and digital media across the curriculum.
  • Technology magnet cluster schools incorporate new and emerging technologies and digital media such as blogs, wikis, podcasting, and video production as they engage students within core curricular areas such as reading and mathematics.

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math)

The goal of STEM programs is to develop students into literate citizens with a solid foundation in math, science, technology and engineering. Students are expected to explore the world around them and become problem-solvers and critical thinkers, capable of developing and designing multiple solutions for complex real-world situations, and grounding their decisions in evidence-based reasoning.


  • Science: Students design experiments, analyze data, and make evidence-explanations. Learning experiences are supplemented with an online curriculum.
  • Technology: Students are introduced to a variety of skills, including online drawing, digital presentations, word processing, beginning computer programming, and data analysis.
  • Engineering: Students explore engineering concepts and ideas; using these concepts, they explore problems, identify possible solutions, develop prototypes for the solutions, and then test the ideas.
  • Math: The math program supports student development of both factual and conceptual understanding of math through a problem-based approach.

World Language

World Language Magnet Cluster Program (WLMCP) schools incorporate the world language magnet focus into their mission, vision and school culture. The languages currently offered through the WLMCP include French, Japanese, Mandarin and Spanish.


  • World Language lead teachers work with staff at the school and district level to incorporate world language throughout the curriculum.
  • Students and parents are provided with extended learning opportunities such as World Language clubs, arts integration, and cultural celebrations.
  • Many WLMCP schools partner with a sister school in the target language country, through the Sister Cities Program.
  • WLMCP schools adhere to the National Standards for Foreign Language Learning and the Illinois Learning Standards for Foreign Language through both FLES and FLEX program options.


Page Last Modified on Wednesday, February 12, 2020