Application FAQ

Does the wait list carry over to the next school year, or do I need to re-apply?

The wait list does not carry over and closes in mid-September. Students not selected from the wait list will need to re-apply. Applications for the new school year are available the first Monday of October.

Where is my child on the wait list?

If you have applied online, you may log in to your account and view your child's status. If you did not apply online, you may call the CICS office at 312-651-5000 for an update. Please note that the wait list status of a student will be given within a ten-point range. For example, "your child falls between one and ten on the wait list."

If one child is admitted off the wait list, will their sibling be admitted?

If one child has been offered a seat, CICS will try to place their sibling(s) at the same campus. Unfortunately this is not guaranteed, as placement for any student relies on available seats at that campus. Please note: sibling preference status will be verified.

How does the wait list work?

In the instance that there are more applications than seats available, students may be placed on the wait list. Students that were not selected through the lottery are randomly placed on a wait list. The wait list remains open until mid-September. CICS will call waitlisted students as seats become available. Once selected, the parent will either receive an acceptance letter or a phone call offering the seat to the child(ren). Once a student has been given an offer for a seat, the child will be removed from all other campus waitlists.

How will I be notified of the lottery results?

Letters will be mailed out to parents on the Friday after the lottery has been conducted. Parents will either receive an acceptance letter or a wait list letter. Results of the lottery will not be given by phone for the 2 weeks following the lottery. If the student has been given an offer to one of our campuses, an acceptance letter will be sent that will include registration information. If the student was not selected through the lottery, the student is placed on a wait list and the parent will receive a wait list letter.

Do I need to be present for the lottery?

The lottery is open to the public and it is not mandatory to be present.

When will the lottery take place?

Lottery Deadline is March 20, 2020 

Lottery is April 1, 2020

What is the deadline to receive the applications?

GoCPS 9th Grade applications deadline: December 22, 2017.

Chicago High School Application Deadline for 10th-12th grade: January 26, 2018, 5:00pm

Chicago Elementary Application School Deadline: March 23, 2018, 5:00pm

Applications received after the deadline will automatically be added to the wait list.

How will I know if my application was received?

Applications can be filled out online and will receive an email confirmation of the application received. For applications that are faxed to 312-651-5001, it is recommended the parent contact the CICS Network Office at 312-651-5000 15 minutes after it was faxed for verbal confirmation. For applications that are mailed in, it is recommended the parent contact the CICS Network office at 312-651-5000 one week after it has been sent for verbal confirmation.

Will my child receive sibling preference?

Students that have a brother or sister currently enrolled at CICS will receive sibling preference if you apply to the same campus. Acceptance is not guaranteed. Please note that cousins, nieces, nephews or living in the same household is not considered sibling preference. All applications received after deadline dates are added to the waitlist. Sibling status will be verified.

What application must be filled out?

If you are a new student entering high school, you will need to fill out a High School New Student Application.  If you are a current student and would like to apply for a transfer to another CICS campus, you are to fill out a CICS Transfer Application.

How do I obtain an application?

You can apply online, stop by any of our campuses, or call the CICS Network office at 312-651-5000 to request an application.

Charter School FAQ

What is an SMO?

CICS External Newsletter

What are the benefits of charters?

Charter schools offer many benefits to students, parents, teachers, and communities. At a charter school, decisions about how best to serve students aren't made at a district office; instead, those decisions are made in the school by teachers and administrators who know the student population they serve.

More Innovation 

As charter schools are free to determine all aspects of their school program and are not tied to district frameworks, they often serve as incubators of innovation. Charter schools can adopt progressive curriculum standards and techniques in order to better engage their students. They can embrace a new type of learning technology or a revolutionary way of teaching a subject. As a result, charter schools have pioneered practices now widely used today. The decision to lengthen the school day and year, to evaluate teacher effectiveness by examining student performance over time, and to reward teachers through referring to this performance, all first appeared in charter schools. This “best practice sharing” has enriched students and public school districts alike.

More Specialization

Charter schools can tailor their lessons and educational plans to their student’s needs. Curricula can be designed and adapted specifically for the students in the building. In order to execute this implementation effectively, the school must rely heavily on its educators. Teachers are empowered to design their own material. Provided with as much creative control as possible, teachers are better able to educate students with varying levels of ability, a process known as differentiated learning.

More Family and Community Engagement

Charter schools’ ability to innovate extends to their efforts beyond the classroom, and to their entire school community. Similar to what they do for their students, charter schools have proven to be committed to engaging parents and community members, often trying innovative strategies in order to succeed. They can provide “wrap around” services to families, utilize technology to understand each parent’s skill set, and include parents in the schools decision making processes by including them in focus groups and on the school’s board. In Illinois, 80% of public charter schools include parents, teachers, and community leaders on their board of directors. Furthermore, before a school even opens its doors, Illinois charters are required by law to “demonstrate a high level of local pupil, parental, community, business, and school personnel support” from the neighborhood where the new school is planned. These members can have a vital role in shaping the goals of the school from its inception and can continue to do so as the school serves its students. In addition, once the school is open, charter schools can engage their community by investing in their school buildings, spurring new jobs, and creating unique partnerships with local businesses.

More Choice

In addition to the advantages that they provide to students, charter schools provide an important benefit to school systems. Beyond spurring best practice sharing through embracing innovation, a charter school introduces choice into the school system. With school openings comes variety, as parents are given multiple options on where to send their children. The freedom to choose where to enroll creates competition. As a result, neighborhood schools are forced to provide a quality education for our children or risk parents and families electing to educate their children elsewhere. Thus, schools are inspired to improve their performance by trying innovative strategies and eliminating failing practices. Through their role as reformers, charter schools inspire traditional schools to reform as well.

More Accountability

According to Illinois State Law, charter schools are held to the same legal and academic standards as traditional schools. Additionally, charter schools are also held to unique financial and mission constraints: “Under Illinois Charter Law, a charter may be revoked or not renewed by its authorizer in cases where the charter school failed to comply with any of the requirements of Article 27A, or in the following specifically enumerated circumstances: (1) the charter committed a material violation of its charter agreement; (2) the charter failed to meet or make reasonable progress toward achievement of the goals and objectives set forth in its charter; (3) the charter failed to meet generally accepted standards of fiscal management; and/or (4) the charter violated any other provision of law from which it was not exempted. A charter school may also terminate operations by mutual agreement with the authorizer.”(2009-2010 and 2010-2011 Illinois Charter School Biennial Report).

In addition to these increased standards, a charter contract in Illinois must be renewed at maximum every five years. Thus, charter schools have constant motivation to improve or they risk their charter being revoked, and closing their doors. Stringent standards and frequent requirements to be renewed combine to make public charter schools more, not less, accountable than their traditional public school counterparts.

What is the charter process?

A state legislature creates a charter law, which gives specific authorizers, such as public school districts and universities, the right to grant charters to foundations, community organizations, or other groups. The charter is a contract between the group that wants to operate a school and the authorizing organization; it details the school's mission, the student population the school will serve, and the ways the school will measure performance, among other things. Once a group earns a charter, that group can either manage its own school programs or contract with another organization to manage the school programs.

There are several similarities between a charter school and a traditional public school. Both are open to all students and funded by public dollars. As it does with failing traditional public schools, the city has the right to close a poorly performing charter school.

Who can apply to charter schools?

Since charter schools are public schools, all city students are eligible to attend charter schools. Enrollment in Chicago International Charter School is open to all students, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, or disability status. For more information or to download an application visit our applications page.

What is a charter school?

A charter school is a privately managed public school that is free from many of the rules and regulations imposed by state and local education and governmental agencies. In exchange for this freedom, charter schools are held accountable for student performance.

Addressing Bullying and Bias-Based Behaviors 

The Illinois General Assembly has found that a safe and civil school environment is necessary for students to learn and achieve. Bullying and bias-based behaviors are directly contrary to this and can cause physical, psychological, and emotional harm to students and interfere with their ability to learn and participate in school activities. A safe and civil school environment is necessary for students to learn and achieve.

Chicago International Charter Schools (CICS) promotes a safe and secure learning environment for all students and takes allegations and reports of bullying very seriously. If you suspect your child is being bullied, please contact an administrator or your child's teacher. The sooner the school knows, the sooner the school can intervene and work to improve the situation.

For more information on our bullying policy or how to report these behaviors, please click here. 

Did you know?

  • The first charter school law was passed in Minnesota in 1991.
  • The first charter schools in Illinois opened in 1997, including CICS.
  • Illinois law says that all charter schools must be non-religious, tuition-free, open to all students, and designed to serve a substantial portion of at-risk students.
  • Statewide, there are 124 charter schools in 13 districts operating more than 120 campuses. 11% of Chicago Public Schools students attend a charter school.
  • There are more than 50,000 charter school students in Illinois. 
  • Nationwide, there are 5,000 public charter schools open in 41 states and D.C., serving more than 1.6 million students.

More on Charters

Common Core FAQ

How can I learn more about how common core relates to my child's education?

What are PARCC exams?

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exams will align to the Common Core State Standards and provide better information about students’ abilities to master the appropriate skills and content benchmarks for college and careers. Unlike the ISAT and PSAE, the PARCC test is a K-12 computer-based assessment that will be given multiple times during the school year and provide a clearer, more detailed picture of a student’s strengths and areas for improvement.

The transition to the PARCC tests is scheduled for the 2014-2015 school year.

What are the Common Core State Standards (CCSS)?

In 2010, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) adopted new Math and English Language Arts standards for K-12 education. It was the first significant change in setting knowledge and skill standards for Illinois schools since 1997. By adopting the common core standards, known as "The New Illinois Learning Standards Incorporating the Common Core," ISBE has set targets for schools in their preparation of Illinois students for participation in college and the workforce in a competitive global economy.


  • Create high-quality assessments
  • Build a pathway to college and career readiness for all students
  • Support educators in the classroom
  • Develop 21st century, technology-based assessments
  • Advance accountability at all levels

CICS Budget and Reserve Fact Sheet

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