Resources for Families

Finding the right school for your child is no easy task. Below you’ll find resources and frequently asked questions to help you navigate the process.

Frequently Asked Questions

Charter schools are unique public schools that have the freedom to be more innovative while being held accountable for advancing student achievement. Because they are public schools, they are open to all children, do not charge tuition, and do not have special entrance requirements.

Each charter public school is unique. Some may focus on college prep, some are STEM focused, and others integrate the arts into each subject. While the possibilities are endless, charter public schools aim to provide a range of options so that parents can choose the school that best fits their child’s needs.

Charter public schools serve all children, including those who are English language learners and special education students. In fact, 15 percent of Illinois charter school students are enrolled in special education, and 14 percent are English language learners.

There are 142 charter public schools in Illinois serving 64,710 families; 128 charter schools are located in Chicago. Click here to find a charter school near you.

IllinoisReportCard.com is the state’s official source for information and data about public schools across Illinois, including academic performance, school environment, educators, students, and highlights provided by principals. The Illinois Report Card includes scores from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), the state assessment and accountability measure for Illinois students enrolled in a public school district.

In Chicago, the district uses the School Quality Rating Policy (SQRP) to measure annual school performance. SQRP is a five-tiered performance system based on a broad range of indicators of success, including, but not limited to, student test score performance, student academic growth, closing of achievement gaps, school culture and climate, attendance, graduation, and preparation for post-graduation success.

Utilize INCS’ data tool to find a top-performing charter school near you.

To enroll your child in a charter high school, you must use GoCPS (go.cps.edu), a platform that manages the research, application, assessment, and notification process for all district and charter high schools in the Chicago Public Schools system.

However, unlike for high schools, you must submit an application directly to the school to enroll your child in a charter elementary or options school in Chicago. Click here to download a list of charter elementary schools and their contact information, along with where to access the application.

To enroll your child in a charter school, you can obtain an application for a charter school by visiting, calling or looking online for each charter school’s application. All charter schools have a deadline for applications to be submitted, which will be printed on the application. If the school receives more applications than available seats, the school will hold a blind lottery and contact parents by letter or phone to let them know whether their children will be able to enroll in the school.

Charter schools do not exist in most communities outside of Chicago. If you’re interested in starting a charter school in your community, contact Allison Jack at ajack@incschools.org

If you’re interested in sharing your charter school story, contact Melissa Ramirez Cooper. To get involved in INCS’ advocacy work, visit our Take Action page.

Resources

  • ISBE Charter Schools Resources:
  • Resources for English Language Learners:
  • Resources for Students with Special Needs:
  • Chicago Public Schools’ universal enrollment system, GoCPS: