Top Twenty Chicago Neighborhood Elementary Schools

In many ways, finding the right neighborhood elementary school in Chicago for your kids to attend is no easy task. An initial search will pull up more than 300 neighborhood schools, more than 100 of which rank Level 1 or 1+ in performance rating, according to the Chicago Public Schools data

When it comes to finding the best neighborhood elementary school for your family, where should you start?

It will first help to get a general lay of the land - since, in Chicago, not all elementary schools are exactly the same. Actually, there are so many layers of complexity to the CPS school structure that this article is really just going to scratch the surface. Instead of giving a comprehensive ranking of every individual school in the city, our goal is to help our clients understand where they should be looking for a home, which means that most important is examining Neighborhood Schools (capital N, capital S).  

"Wait," you might ask, "what else is out there?"

There are actually four categories of public schools in Chicago. Let's break them down a bit.

    • Neighborhood Schools - These are what we'll focus on in this article. If you live within the school boundaries for a neighborhood school, you don't need to worry about getting in. You're in. If you want your child to go to a good Chicago school, then moving within the boundaries of a good Neighborhood School will get you set - and ensure that you won't need to concern yourself with anything else.
    • Selective Schools - These have no boundaries, but they do require an application and acceptance process. They include:
  • Magnet Schools - These schools, which focus on specialized subject areas, are sort of a hybrid of the above two major categories. Magnet schools often have neighborhood boundaries, but there are no guarantees when it comes to admission. Instead, they open a lottery process to students within the boundaries, and to the rest of the city. CPS will give you more info on Magnet Schools here
  • Charter Schools - These schools play by their own rules. Literally. They set their own policies and their own processes, and they even hire whomever they like (i.e., union or non-union teachers and administrators.)

20 Best Neighborhood Elementary Schools in Chicago

We're going to focus on top-ranked neighborhood schools - that is, schools where attendance is determined first and foremost, if not solely, by living within the specific school district's boundaries. This excludes schools that are private (enrollment by privately paying organizations or individuals), contract (an independent public school that is not operated by the school district), or part of citywide enrollment (including Selective and Magnet Schools).

As we've already suggested, some of these neighborhood schools do have other means of enrollment (by testing, application, or lottery), but living within the neighborhood district will admit your child into these schools - and since real estate is our business, that's what we're focused on.

Here are 20 Chicago neighborhood-focused elementary schools we've chosen based on a combination of criteria, including CPS rankings, Great Schools scores, test scores (NWEA MAP, as provided by CPS), location within the city, and class size. Here they are (in alphabetical order):

Bell Elementary School

Bell offers a great general education program, a Regional Gifted Center for Grades 1-8, and a specialized program for deaf students.

Click here for the CPS page | Click here for Bell's website

Great Schools Score10
Math NWEA MAP results: 96th Percentile
Reading NWEA MAP results: 98th Percentile
Class Size: 18
Enrollment: 955
Neighborhood: North Center
Unique features: Chinese language classes, ASL language classes, Regional Gifted programs available

 

 

Blaine Elementary School

Blaine is an extended-day school that strives to integrate arts education into their curriculum.

Click here for the CPS page | Click here for Blaine's website

Great Schools Score10
Math NWEA MAP results: 96th Percentile
Reading NWEA MAP results: 98th Percentile
Class Size: 20
Enrollment: 886
Neighborhood: Lakeview
Unique features: Suzuki-Orff, musical instrument education, drama, partnerships with groups including Chicago Cubs, Looking Glass Theatre, Joffrey Ballet, Field and Notebaert Nature Museums

   

 

Burley Elementary School

Burley offers a Literature, Writing, Technology magnet program which focuses on authentic inquiry.

Click here for the CPS page | Click here for Burley's website

Great Schools Score10
Math NWEA MAP results: 93rd Percentile
Reading NWEA MAP results: 97th Percentile 
Class Size: 11
Enrollment: 537
Neighborhood: Lakeview
Unique features: State-of-the-art multimedia center, Spanish language classes, writer's workshop and literary-focused education

 

Burr Elementary School

With its motto of “high school ready, college-bound,” Jonathan Burr Elementary offers a number of impressive programs and community partnerships.

Click here for the CPS page | Click here for Burr's website

Great Schools Score7 
Math NWEA MAP results: 77th Percentile
Reading NWEA MAP results: 84th Percentile
Class Size: 17
Enrollment: 437
Neighborhood: West Town
Unique features: World Language program (Japanese); programs such as LookingGlass Theatre, Chicago Dance Institute, Pulse Beat Music, and Purple Asparagus.

 

Chappell Elementary School

Eliza Chappell Elementary boasts test scores well above the state average, and is known for its “well organized” school culture and climate.

Click here for the CPS page | Click here for Chappell's website

Great Schools Score8 
Math NWEA MAP results: 79th Percentile
Reading NWEA MAP results: 83rd Percentile
Class Size: 17
Enrollment: 582
Neighborhood: Ravenswood/Bowmanville
Unique features: World Language Magnet Cluster, featuring Spanish.

 

Coonley Elementary School

Coonley is dedicated to focusing its students towards becoming achieving academic scholars with a sensibility toward their community.

Click here for the CPS page | Click here for Coonley's website

Great Schools Score: 8
Math NWEA MAP results: 98th Percentile
Reading NWEA MAP results: 99th Percentile
Class Size: 28
Enrollment: 1006
Neighborhood: North Center
Unique features: Extensive after-school programs and community programs 

 

Dixon Elementary School

Dixon has consistently ranked as one of Chicago Magazine’s “best public schools in Chicago.” At Dixon, educators believe that every student has the ability to be successful, creating “a culture of hope and optimism.”

Click here for the CPS page | Click here for Dixon's website

Great Schools Score6 
Math NWEA MAP results: 93rd Percentile
Reading NWEA MAP results: 96th Percentile
Class Size: 20
Enrollment: 562
Neighborhood: Chatham
Unique features: Emphasis on college and career prep, emphasizing literacy, science, mathematics, technology and the incorporation of the arts

 

Haines Elementary School

John Charles Haines School provides a safe learning environment, and offers a rigorous instructional program with a focus on literacy, critical thinking, and overall improvement.

Click here for the CPS page | Click here for Haines's website

Great Schools Score9 
Math NWEA MAP results: 97th Percentile
Reading NWEA MAP results: 90th Percentile
Class Size: 18
Enrollment: 689
Neighborhood: Chinatown/Near South Side
Unique features: Strong emphasis on multilingual education; community partnerships with Chicago Public Libraries, the Chinese-American Museum of Chicago, the DuSable Museum, and more. 

 

Healy Elementary School

Robert Healy Elementary School is known for its high achievement and diverse array of after-school programs, including drama/chorus, folk dances, tutoring, and sports.

Click here for the CPS page | Click here for Healy's website

Great Schools Score9 
Math NWEA MAP results: 98th Percentile
Reading NWEA MAP results: 94th Percentile
Class Size: 20
Enrollment: 1415
Neighborhood: Bridgeport
Unique features: World Language courses (Mandarin); comprehensive gifted program; partnerships with the Chinese American Service League, the Children’s Inner City Education Fund, and Communities in Schools.

 

James Ward Elementary School

James Ward Elementary School (Ward J) provides a high-quality instructional program that includes a comprehensive, standard/research-based curriculum, which challenges students, utilizes effective literacy strategies, and embraces cultural diversity.

Click here for the CPS page | Click here for Ward's website

Great Schools Score8 
Math NWEA MAP results: 97th Percentile
Reading NWEA MAP results: 86th Percentile
Class Size: 21
Enrollment: 586
Neighborhood: Armour Square/Dearborn Homes
Unique features: World Language (Spanish) program; Academic Olympics; Bilingual Support; Creative, Leadership, and Sports opportunities.

 

Kellogg Elementary School

Kate Starr Kellogg Elementary School’s student body embraces the motto “It is cool to be kind.” It provides a rigorous Common Core and Inquiry-based curriculum.

Click here for the CPS page | Click here for Kellogg's website

Great Schools Score7 
Math NWEA MAP results: 62nd Percentile
Reading NWEA MAP results: 82nd Percentile
Class Size: 17
Enrollment: 258
Neighborhood: Beverly
Unique features: Partnerships with Chicago Children's Choir, Might Acorns Science; Garden Club, Running Club, Chess Club, and CPS sports.

Lincoln Elementary School

Lincoln focuses on a humanities-based curriculum, including a school wide arts-integration program.

Click here for the CPS page | Click here for Lincoln's website

Great Schools Score10
Math NWEA MAP results: 98th Percentile
Reading NWEA MAP results: 99th Percentile
Class Size: 20
Enrollment: 896
Unique features: French language, music, art, instrumental band

 

Norwood Park Elementary School

Norwood Park consistently ranks as one of the top schools in the city.  It is a Spanish World Language Magnet Cluster School.

Click here for the CPS page | Click here for Norwood Park's webpage

Great Schools Score10
Math NWEA MAP results: 94th Percentile
Reading NWEA MAP results: 95th Percentile
Class Size: 18
Enrollment: 434
Neighborhood: Norwood Park
Unique features: Daily Spanish language instruction

 

Sauganash Elementary School

Sauganash strives to differentiate curriculums based on students' needs, providing ample tools to do so.

Click here for the CPS page | Click here for Sauganash's website

Great Schools Score10
Math NWEA MAP results: 97th Percentile
Reading NWEA MAP results: 98th Percentile
Class Size: 11
Enrollment: 608
Neighborhood: Sauganash
Unique features: Access to Smart Boards, computer and science labs, Spanish language (after school program)

 

Skinner West Elementary School

Skinner is recognized for its rigorous and accelerated curriculum (classical, fine arts, technology), extremely high student achievement, diversity, and parental involvement.

Click here for the CPS page | Click here for Skinner's website

Great Schools Score10
Math NWEA MAP results: 99th Percentile
Reading NWEA MAP results: 99th Percentile
Class Size: 28
Enrollment: 1103
Neighborhood: Near West Side
Unique features: Extracurricular activities, community partnerships, classical education

 

Solomon Elementary School

Solomon is a small neighborhood school boasting high attainment levels in math, science, and reading.

Click here for the CPS page | Click here for Solomon's website

Great Schools Score10
Math NWEA MAP results: 96th Percentile
Reading NWEA MAP results: 96th Percentile
Class Size: 16
Enrollment: 360
Neighborhood: Lincolnwood
Unique features: Accelerated math instruction; Mandarin Chinese instruction; Chicago History Fair

 

South Loop Elementary School

South Loop Elementary features a diverse learning community and involves parents and staff at all levels to create and support a high-quality learning environment for all.

Click here for the CPS page | Click here for South Loop's website

Great Schools Score8 
Math NWEA MAP results: 95th Percentile
Reading NWEA MAP results: 98th Percentile
Class Size: 12
Enrollment: 791
Neighborhood: South Loop
Unique features: Emphasis on the “7 Habits” and South Loop “P.R.I.D.E.” (“POSITIVE. RESPECTFUL. INSPIRING. DETERMINED. EXCELLENT”)

 

Twain Elementary School

Located on the Southwest Side of Chicago, Mark Twain Elementary serves a diverse population of students in grades PreK-8, offering rich classroom libraries, mobile technology labs, student-centered learning environments, collaborative professional development, and parent involvement activities.

Click here for the CPS page | Click here for Twain's website

Great Schools Score8 
Math NWEA MAP results: 79th Percentile
Reading NWEA MAP results: 79th Percentile
Class Size: 21
Enrollment: 1138
Neighborhood: Garfield Ridge
Unique features: Early Childhood Program; Health and Wellness programs include crisis intervention services and school-based dental services.

 

Wildwood Elementary School

Wildwood provides advanced, cross-curricular instruction based on inquiry, language, and technology/media.

Click here for the CPS page | Click here for Wildwood's website

Great Schools Score9
Math NWEA MAP results: 93rd Percentile
Reading NWEA MAP results: 96th Percentile
Class Size: 27
Enrollment: 494
Neighborhood: Northwest Side
Unique features: International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years and Primary Years Programs, international focus, world language program in Spanish grades 1-8, cross-curricular instruction

         

Zapata Elementary Academy

Zapata Academy provides a computer lab, mobile labs, and science lab. Students and teachers at Zapata work very hard to excel, with students frequently earning perfect attendance and honor roll awards.

Click here for the CPS page | Click here for Zapata's website

Great Schools Score7
Math NWEA MAP results: 74th Percentile
Reading NWEA MAP results: 61st Percentile
Class Size: 18
Enrollment: 771
Neighborhood: Cicero/Little Village
Unique features: Activities include Debate, Algebra, Environmental Club, Reader's Theater, sewing, crochet, dance, choir, and sports; Bilingual Support

Don't see your school? Let us know what we should include next!

This list is a just small sampling of notably successful schools around the city that we think are worth mentioning, largely clustered around areas where our team helps Chicagoans buy and sell homes every day. We realize that there are plenty of stellar schools out there, and we want to know your opinion! Which schools do you think we should include in our next line-up? Send us an email, drop a comment on Facebook, or send us a Tweet to let us know! 

 

Are you looking to move to a new Chicago school district? Our team would love to help! Why not get started by checking out some of our neighborhood guides:

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