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Best schools in Chicago USA

A snapshot overview of schools in Chicago that are considered (although not necessarily chosen) by English-speaking expat parents.

If there is no ribbon, pending or otherwise, it means we are aware of the school but have elected not to review it at this time. This could be for a number of reasons, but we continually update information and add or remove reviews as deemed appropriate.

Schools selected for full GSGI review are noted with  next to their names. "Pending" means that we are planning to review that school.

By full GSGI review, we mean the school write-ups that are completely selected, researched, visited and written by our own editors. Our final write-ups 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 descend on the school for an exhaustive visit.

The schools below have been brought to our attention but until we have more reports from parents, we are unable to consider reviewing them.

Schools in Chicago considered by The Good Schools Guide International

Bell Elementary School

American curriculum; ages 5-14; co-ed; day; state; 960 pupils

Founded in 1917, including classrooms for deaf students and it still offers a deaf department from kindergarten to grade 8. Also a Regional Gifted Centre throughout the school. Located in the North Center neighbourhood.

British International School of Chicago

Adapted curriculum/IGCSEs/IB Diploma/BISC High School Diploma; ages 2-18; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned; 600 pupils (Lincoln Park) 1,100 pupils (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). Both campuses are now run by Nord Anglia, the rapidly expanding global education company, currently with 61 schools in 28 countries.

Drummond Montessori School

Montessori/adapted curriculum; agers 3-14; co-ed; day; state; 350 pupils

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 pupils

Founded by the Dominican Order in 1929 as an all-boys 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; 950 pupils

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).

The Francis Xavier Warde School

American curriculum; ages 3-14; co-ed; day; independent; private non-profit; 1,000 pupils

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

GEMS Academy

PYP/MYP/IB Diploma (candidate); ages 3-16; co-ed; day; independent; privately owned; 440 pupils

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 small numbers in the older years. Seeking 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; 450 pupils

Originally founded as a grade school in 1869 and has grown steadily to its current numbers. 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; 1,800 pupils

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 Technical College Prep

American High School Diploma/AP ages 13-18; co-ed; day; state; 4,500 pupils

Founded in 1908, offering technical skills in addition to academics. Located in the Roscoe Village neighbourhood. Huge school with high academic standards and a 94 per cent graduation rate in 2018. Third in the top 100 high schools in Illinois.

Lincoln Elementary School

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

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 pupils

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 and one of the most selective IB programmes in the city. Diverse student population.

Latin School of Chicago

Adapted curriculum; ages 5-18; co-ed; day; independent; private non-profit; 1,175 pupils

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).

Loyola Academy

American curriculum/AP; ages 14-18; co-ed; day; independent; private non-profit; 2,050 pupils

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. The class of 2018 matriculated 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/Bac/MYP/IBD ages 3-18; co-ed; day; independent; private non-profit; 820 pupils

Founded in 1995 and part of the French Schools in Foreign Countries worldwide network (AEFE). Moved to a new campus in Ravenswood in 2015. Offering a French education with the option of the Middle Years and Diploma IB programmes in high school. Accredited by the Independent Schools Association of Central States (ISACS).

Northside College Prep

American High School Diploma; ages 14-18; co-ed; day; state; 1,050 pupils

Founded in 1999 and located, unsurprisingly, in the North Park neighbourhood. A selective school and rated second in the top 100 high schools in Illinois in 2019 and twenty-third nationally. In the past its rankings have been even higher, achieving #3 ranking from Newsweek in 2014.

Ogden Elementary School

American curriculum; ages 5-14; co-ed; day; state; 830 pupils

On two campuses since 2018, East campus in the Gold Coast area of the Near North Side for elementary grades and Jenner campus (the former Jenner School) in the Cabrini-Green area for middle and preschool. Above average test scores.

Ogden International High School

MYP/IB Diploma; ages 14-18; co-ed; day; state; 715 pupils

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 pupils

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 pupils

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; 700 pupils

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 pupils

Jesuit Catholic school in the heart of Chicago. Ranked as one of the leading preparatory schools in Chicago and more diverse than some 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; 600 pupils

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 College Preparatory High School

American curriculum/AP/IB Diploma; ages 14-18; girls; day; independent; private non-profit; 500 pupils

Catholic high school for girls located in River Forest, Illinois. Offering college preparatory classes and the IB 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; 2,160 pupils

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 building for over 600 pupils. Ranked at the very top for sending graduates to elite universities and colleges.

Walter Payton College Prep

American High School Diploma; ages 14-18; co-ed; day; state; 1,075 pupils

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 Young Magnet School

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

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 Programme; ages 13-18; co-ed; day; state; 3,700 pupils

The largest IB school in Chicago, located in the Norwood Park neighbourhood, built in 1939. Most famous for being the school that the musical ‘Grease’ was based on. Majority of students from white or Hispanic families.

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