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).

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:

  • 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 2018-2019 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.
  • 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 24-48 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 2018-2019 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

The regular application process for magnet cluster elementary schools is closed for the 2018-2019 school year. However, you still have an opportunity to apply!

An End-of-Year application process will be offered in late May or early June that consists of magnet, magnet cluster and open enrollment schools that still have seats available. Please contact the Office of Access and Enrollment in May for more information on this process.

For information on how to apply to magnet cluster schools for the 2019-2020 school year, please return to this website in September 2018.

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 Monday, March 12, 2018