Chicago Public Schools Gifted Program
What are the Chicago Public Schools Gifted Programs?
Chicago Public Schools Gifted Programs offer a plethora of choices for your gifted child’s educational needs. The Chicago Public School (CPS) system is one of the largest school districts in the United States, so there are many elementary school options to consider. In addition to general education programs, CPS offers magnet and magnet cluster schools (special emphasis on a topic area such as Fine Arts or Math & Science), along with charter (privately run), and Regional Gifted Centers and Classical Schools (academically advanced).
Take Note: Within designated magnet, magnet cluster and open enrollment (neighborhood) schools, through school assessment, there are Comprehensive Gifted Programs, which serve students in 1st – 8th Grade in all subjects. Also, Specific Aptitude Programs are pullout programs in specific subject areas, for specific grade levels in these schools, as well.
However, our focus here is on the Selective Enrollment Elementary Schools (SEES) of the Chicago Public Schools (CPS), specifically, the Regional Gifted Centers (RGCs) and Classical Schools. If you are seeking a “free” academically-advanced curriculum for your gifted child, this is the way to go. SEES are designed to meet the needs of academically advanced students.
Where to Begin for the Chicago Public Schools Gifted Programs
Selective Enrollment Elementary Schools (SEES) are offered through the Options for Knowledge program of Chicago Public Schools. All SEES and application-based elementary programs are managed by the Office of Access and Enrollment (OAE). Regional Gifted Centers and Classical Schools offer academic programs to challenge children identified as gifted. These are students who consistently demonstrate superior general reasoning ability and the potential to excel in a specific academic, creative or artistic areas.
You would follow the same process to apply your child to a Regional Gifted Center or a Classical School Program.
You apply for your child to take the test in the fall one year before your child’s entry into the program you are testing for. Children who turn 5 before September 1 are eligible to apply for the Kindergarten entrance test in the fall when they are 4-years-old and children who turn 6 before September 1 are eligible for first grade entrance testing in the fall when they are 5-years-old.*
All students must be tested. There are no pre-qualification requirements (i.e., test score and grades) to take the admissions test for children applying for kindergarten through 4th grade entry. Students applying to 5th grade and above must pre-qualify for testing eligibility based on a student’s standardized testing percentiles in reading and math. Cut-off scores vary based on the program to which your child is applying.
Eligibility requirements for Selective Enrollment Elementary Schools can be found here.
If you apply to Regional Gifted Centers AND Classical Schools, your child will need to take two separate tests. The number of test appointments required depends upon the grade level for which your child is applying. Your child will only require one appointment if he or she is applying for kindergarten. Your child will require two separate appointments if he or she is applying for grades 1 – 4.
Information for Non-CPS Students Regarding the 2019-2020 Application Process
Regarding Testing: Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Office of Access and Enrollment (OAE) does not disclose the names of the tests that they administer for admission to their programs. They do, however, release the skills that are assessed for each program. We have sample practice questions for tests that assess the same skills that CPS states are covered by their exams.
What is the Curriculum in the Chicago Public Schools Gifted Program?
Regional Gifted Programs
- Receive instruction at up to two years above grade level
- Emphasis on critical thinking, logical reasoning, problem solving, and creativity
- Rigor in the core content areas
- Expose students to a world language or Latin, laboratory science, computer science, and fine arts
- Timeframe leaves time for projects, term papers, and group work that take the student deeper into the subject matters
Regional Gifted Centers for English Learners
- Specifically designed to meet the needs of high-ability students whose primary language is Polish, Russian, or Spanish
- Provide gifted bilingual students specialized and individualized instruction at up to two years above grade level
- Emphasis on critical thinking, logical reasoning, problem solving, and creativity
- Rigor and differentiation in the core content areas
- Develop fluency and literacy in English and the home language, with exposure to laboratory science, computer science, and fine arts
- Provide challenging liberal arts instruction for students with high academic potential
- Program in these schools is accelerated and highly structured for strong academic achievement in literature, mathematics, language arts, world language, and the humanities
- Classical Schools begin in kindergarten and serve students through sixth grade (with the exception of Skinner West and Skinner North, which serve students through eighth grade). Curriculum is accelerated one grade above current grade level.
Find a school near you that offers a gifted program.
*There are some exceptions where a younger child can apply for a first grade seat, and we recommend that you consult with our test experts for advice if you have a child in that situation.
Test Prep Tips for the Chicago Public Schools Gifted Program
Do I really need to prepare my child using all 3 tests?
Yes, we highly recommend using all 3 tests to prepare your child and Testing Mom has practice materials for all three! Since they do not name the test they use, you will want to prepare using the OLSAT, NNAT and CogAT. Each of these tests has different subcategories, too, so you will need to practice all 3 to make sure your child has practiced all possible question types.
What is the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Gifted Program?
The CPS Gifted Program is a selective enrollment program designed to provide academically advanced and talented students with an accelerated and enriched educational experience. It aims to challenge and support gifted students in reaching their full potential by offering advanced curricula, specialized instruction, and individualized learning plans.
How does the CPS identify gifted students?
CPS uses the NWEA Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessment and the Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT) to identify students who are eligible for gifted programs. These tests measure students’ academic aptitude and cognitive abilities, which help the district determine their eligibility for gifted programs.
What are the different types of gifted programs in CPS?
CPS offers two main types of gifted programs: Regional Gifted Centers (RGCs) and Classical Schools. RGCs focus on developing students’ intellectual, creative, and leadership potential, while Classical Schools provide a rigorous, liberal arts education with an emphasis on critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
How can my child apply for the CPS Gifted Program?
Parents or guardians can apply for the CPS Gifted Program by submitting an online application through the GoCPS portal. The application process typically opens in October and closes in December for the following school year.
When should my child take the gifted program tests?
CPS typically administers the NWEA MAP and CogAT tests in the fall and spring for eligible students. It’s essential to check the CPS website for specific testing dates and deadlines to ensure your child is prepared.
Can my child prepare for the gifted program tests?
Yes, your child can prepare for the tests by practicing sample questions and familiarizing themselves with the test format. Testing Mom includes practice questions and test prep materials, to help your child build their skills and confidence. We also offer one-to-one tutoring in case your child needs extra support to prepare for the CPS test.
What is the minimum score required to qualify for the gifted program?
There isn’t a set minimum score to qualify for the gifted program, as the selection process is based on a combination of factors, including test scores, student performance, and available seats in the program. However, higher scores will generally improve a student’s chances of being accepted into the program.
How are students selected for the gifted program?
The selection process for the CPS Gifted Program is based on a combination of factors, including students’ NWEA MAP and CogAT scores, academic performance, and availability of seats in the program. Students are ranked based on their composite scores, and those with the highest scores are offered seats in the program.
Can my child apply to multiple gifted programs?
Yes, your child can apply to multiple gifted programs within CPS, as long as they meet the eligibility requirements. It is essential to research each program to determine which best fits your child’s needs and interests.
If my child is not accepted into a gifted program, can they reapply in the future?
Yes, if your child is not accepted into a gifted program, they can reapply for future school years, provided they meet the eligibility requirements. It is crucial to continue supporting your child’s academic growth and consider additional enrichment opportunities to help them reach their full potential.
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Thanks so much! I found a workbook on amazon. My daughter is in preschool and a perspective for the kindergarten gifted programs. Should I purchase preschool and kindergarten workbook or 1st grade (1 grade level above)?
If your child is in PreK, then I would recommend using the Prek-K workbook. Most schools will test incoming Kindergarten students at Kindergarten level.
My child, will turn 5 between 9/2 and 12/31 and will test this spring for early entrance to Kindergarten in CPS. If my child meets the requirements of the Developmental Survey for Kindergarten readiness, then they will sit for an academic and cognitive test at a CPS testing center.
How can I prepare my child for the tests beyond getting a Pre-K workbook on Amazon (Thanks Verdana for the tip!)?
Hi Emily –
CPS does not provide the test that they use for admission to the Gifted or Classical programs. One of the tests that they have used in the past is the CogAT and we do sell a workbook for the CogAT on Amazon that you can purchase here: https://www.amazon.com/CogAT-Test-Prep-Workbook-Kindergarten/dp/0999158309
All the best,
Thanks Marcus! And thanks Vandana!
We’re moving to Chicago and my currently 7th grade child would like to take a test to start 8th grade in CPS (either gifted regional school or classical school) starting 2022 Fall. Do they take 8th graders, too? How should I prepare the test? Any tips would be greatly appreciated.
My son is currently in 3rd grade but testing at 99% and way above grade level. He attends a private school that won’t do anything for him. So basically a waste of money. Is there any way this could benefit him?
Please reach out to our Parent Success Team at email@example.com or by calling (877) 609-6203. They will be more than happy to assist you!
Thank you for all the information. How long is the classical test for 3rd graders? I can’t find the information anywhere
For Chicago CPS test it’s usually around 60 to 90 minutes for the test.