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Best schools in Chicago USA

A snapshot; schools in Chicago considered (but not necessarily chosen) by English-speaking expats.

Schools with a full GSGI review are noted with  next to their names. 

 (pending) means that the school is on our list to review.

By full GSGI review, we mean school write-ups that are completely selected, researched, visited and written by our own editors. Our final reviews take the good with the bad, warts and all, but we look for a preponderance of good before we drill down for in-depth details and descend on the school for an exhaustive visit. We are aware of the other schools on this page and we continually add or remove schools, as deemed appropriate.


Schools

Bell Elementary School

American curriculum; ages 4-14; co-ed; day; state; 960 students

Founded in 1917, including classrooms designed for deaf students, and still offering a special department for those with hearing difficulties which is open from kindergarten to grade 8. Also, a Regional Gifted Centre throughout the school. Located in the North Center neighbourhood of Chicago.

British International School of Chicago Lincoln Park

National Curriculum for England/ International Primary Curriculum/ IGCSE/ IB Diploma/ BISC High School Diploma; ages 2-11; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned; 600 students (Lincoln Park) 1,100 students (South Loop)

Founded in 2001 as the British School of Chicago and now on two campuses. South Loop teaches children, all-through, from UK nursery to year 13 (US pre-K to grade 12) whilst Lincoln Park takes children from age two and finishes at year 6 (grade 5).There is a slightly lower student: teacher ratio and average class size in the South Loop school. Both campuses are now owned by Nord Anglia Education, which currently runs over 65 schools in nearly 30 countries.

Drummond Montessori School

Montessori/ adapted curriculum; ages 3-14; co-ed; day; state; 350 students

Founded in 1893 in the Bucktown neighbourhood of Chicago. Montessori curriculum until grade 6 and then a school-developed programme for the last two years.

Fenwick High School

American curriculum/ Honors programme/ AP; ages 14-18; co-ed; day; independent; private non-profit; 1,200 students

Founded by the Dominican Order in 1929 as an all-boys, college preparatory school, becoming co-educational in 1992. SAT and ACT scores have been continuously ranked in the top 100 in the nation and they have maintained a 100 per cent college matriculation rate.

Francis W Parker School, Chicago

American curriculum/ AP; ages 4-18; co-ed; day; independent; private non-profit; 935 students

Founded in 1901 as a ‘progressive’ school, based on the philosophies of John Dewey and Francis Wayland Parker. Low student teacher ratio 9:1 and almost every graduate proceeds to a four year university course with the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, Brown and Washington University in St Louis currently topping the popularity polls. A member of the Independent School League (ISL).

Francis Xavier Warde School

American curriculum; ages 3-14; co-ed; day; independent; private non-profit; 970 students

Catholic elementary school, established in 1989 in downtown Chicago on two campuses. Accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States (ISACS).

GEMS World Academy Chicago

PYP/ MYP / IB Diploma; ages 3-16; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned; 440 students

Lower school opened in 2014 and growing organically, currently accepting applications up to grade 11. A member of the education company GEMS World Academy Connect, a group of private schools with campuses in the Middle East, Singapore and Switzerland. Located in downtown Chicago, at present with smaller numbers in the older years. Accreditation from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).

Immaculate Conception - St Joseph School

American curriculum; ages 4-14; co-ed; day; independent; private non-profit; 540 students

Originally founded as a grade school in 1869 and has grown steadily to its current numbers. A Catholic Parish school on two campuses. Pre-K to grade 3 at North Park and grades 4-8 at Hill Street. Graduates secure admittance to leading private and public high schools in Chicago.

Jones College Prep

American High School Diploma; ages 14-18; co-ed; day; state; 1,910 students

Established in 1938 and located in the Printer’s Row neighbourhood of Chicago. Part of the Chicago Public Schools system and fifth in the top 100 schools in Illinois.

Lane Tech College Prep High School

American High School Diploma/ AP; ages 13-18; co-ed; day; state; 4,520 students

Founded in 1908, offering technical skills in addition to academics. Located in the Roscoe Village neighbourhood. Huge school with high academic standards and an extremely high graduation rate . Third in the top 100 high schools in Illinois.

Latin School of Chicago

Adapted curriculum; ages 5-18; co-ed; day; independent; private non-profit; 1,155 students

Founded in 1888 as a parent owned, boys’ school with a girls section opening in 1913 and merged into Chicago Latin School in 1953. On three campuses with the middle and upper schools being purpose-built, architect designed buildings in the Gold Coast neighbourhood on the Near North Side. A member of the Independent School League (ISL).

Lincoln Elementary School

American curriculum; ages 5-14; co-ed; day; state; 1,000 students

A neighbourhood school founded in 1871. Offering the International Gifted Programme to advanced students in grades 6-8. Active parents’ association.

Lincoln Park High School

MYP/ IB Diploma/ IB Careers; ages 14-18; co-ed; day; state; 2,100 students

Opened in 1875 as the first public high school on the north side of Chicago. Offering four programmes including the Fine Arts/Performing Arts school. They also offer the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme and then the option of either the IB Diploma or the IB Careers Programme. Diverse student population.

Loyola Academy

American curriculum/ American High School Diploma/ AP; ages 14-18; co-ed; day; independent; private non-profit; 2,050 students

Founded in 1909 as a Jesuit, Catholic, college preparatory school for boys. Merged with the Sainte Louise de Marillac High School in 1994 to become co-educational. Located in Wilmette, Illinois, just north of downtown Chicago. Students matriculate to leading universities (including most Ivies) right across the country with over 80 per cent going to out-of-state destinations.

Lycée Francais de Chicago

French curriculum/ Brevet/ French Bac/ MYP/ IB Diploma; ages 3-18; co-ed; day; state; 820 students

Founded in 1995 and part of the French Agency for Foreign Education (AEFE), a  worldwide network of over 500 schools. Moved to a new campus in Ravenswood in 2015. Offering a French education with the option of the Middle Years and Diploma International Baccalaureate programmes in high school. Accredited by the Independent Schools Association of Central States (ISACS).

Marist High School

American High School Diploma/ AP; ages 14-18; co-ed; day; independent; private non-profit; 1,780 students

A Catholic High School founded in 1963, at the instigation of the then Cardinal of Chicago, Albert Mayer, who invited the Marist Brothers to open a school for boys in the city. Becoming co-ed in 2003 and accredited by Cognia (formerly AdvancED).

Northside College Prep

American High School Diploma/ AP; ages 14-18; co-ed; day; state; 1,090 students

Founded in 1999 and located, unsurprisingly, in the North Park neighbourhood of Chicago. A selective school and recently rated second in the top 100 high schools in Illinois and twenty-third nationally. In the past its rankings have been even higher, achieving #3 ranking (nationally) from Newsweek in 2014.

Ogden Elementary School

American curriculum; ages 5-14; co-ed; day; state; 715 students

On two campuses since 2018. The East campus is located in the Gold Coast area of the Near North Side, serving elementary grades and Jenner campus (the former Jenner School) in the Cabrini-Green area, which teaches middle and pre-school. Above average test scores.

Ogden International High School

MYP/ IB Diploma; ages 14-18; co-ed; day; state; 630 students

Part of the Chicago Public Schools system with selective admission. Based on the West campus in West Town. Partly due to the merger with Jenner School, one of the ten per cent of Chicago schools with no racial majority.

Oscar Mayer Magnet School

Montessori/ PYP; ages 3-14; co-ed; day; state; 770 students

Established in 1956 and renamed Oscar Mayer Magnet School in 2008. Offering a Montessori approach with particular emphasis on the fine and performing arts.

Pulaski International School of Chicago

PYP/ MYP; ages 3-14; co-ed; day; state; 900 students

Offering the first two elements of the International Baccalaureate programme .Emphasis on languages and internationalism and also a Regional Gifted Centre for English Learners. Located in the Bucktown neighbourhood.

Sacred Heart  The Academy and Hardey Prep

American curriculum; ages 4-14; co-ed; day; independent; private non-profit; 715 students

Founded in 1876 and part of the Sacred Heart network of over 150 schools. Providing a Catholic education, unusually blending single-gender and co-educational classrooms. The school states that, on average, 95 per cent of graduates are accepted by their first-choice schools.

St Ignatius College Prep

American curriculum/ AP; ages 14-18; co-ed; day; independent; private non-profit; 1,400 students

Jesuit Catholic school in the heart of Chicago. Ranked as one of the leading preparatory schools in Chicago and more diverse than some of the others, with 34 per cent of students coming from minorities. Graduates matriculate to leading universities across the country but with a high proportion heading to Catholic destinations. Accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCASC).

St Rita of Cascia High School

American curriculum/ AP; ages 14-18; boys; day; independent; private non-profit; 570 students

Founded by an Augustinian friar in 1905 and currently on a campus on South Western Avenue. Students (still male only) divided by ability into three academic programmes with the gifted student programme offering 12 AP courses. Accredited since 1921 by the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges (NCASC).

Trinity High School

American curriculum/ AP/ IB Diploma; ages 14-18; girls; day; independent; private non-profit; 460 students

Catholic high school for girls located in River Forest, Illinois. Offering college preparatory classes and the International Baccalaureate Diploma. Rigorous academics, 100 per cent of graduates moving on to four year courses with a high proportion winning scholarships. Accredited by the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges (NCASC).

University of Chicago Laboratory Schools

Adapted curriculum/ AP; ages 3-18; co-ed; day; independent; private non-profit; 2,050 students

Founded by the American progressive educator John Dewey in 1896 and located in the Hyde Park neighbourhood. The huge main campus for about 1,400 students has five connected buildings and the Early Childhood Campus has a new, architect designed structure for over 600 students. Ranked at the very top for sending graduates to elite universities and colleges.

Walter Payton College Preparatory High School

American High School Diploma; ages 14-18; co-ed; day; state; 1,150 students

Founded in 2000 (named after football legend Walter Payton) and part of the Chicago Public Schools system. Rated first in the top 100 high schools in Illinois in 2019 and ninth nationally.

Whitney M Young Magnet School

American High School Diploma; ages 14-18; co-ed; day; state; 2,150 students

Opened in 1975 as the first public magnet high school in Chicago, located in the Near West Side neighbourhood. Admission based on entrance exam performance, standardised test scores and elementary school grades and open to all Chicago residents. Fourth in the top 100 high schools in Illinois.

William Howard Taft High School

MYP/ IB Diploma/ IB Careers; ages 13-18; co-ed; day; state; 3,400 students

The largest International Baccalaureate school in Chicago teaching the IBMYP in middle school and then offering the choice of the diploma or careers programmes. Located in the Norwood Park neighbourhood and built in 1939. Most famous for being the school that was the inspiration for the musical ‘Grease’. Majority of students from white or Hispanic families.

For more information on the schools above, please go to  each school’s individual entry on The Good Schools Guide International search.

 

 

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