Best Elementary Schools in Chicago and the Suburbs

WINNING COMBINATIONS: We crunched data from more than 1,700 public elementary, middle, and junior high schools in the Chicago area and picked the 121 best. PLUS: how to get into the best of the best and a look at education’s financial crisis

photography: Katrina Wittkamp

School Rankings »
Rating the best elementary schools in Chicago and the suburbs

Getting In »
An admissions guide for the city’s most prestigious public schools

Six Great Schools »
A look inside some schools that performed well on our charts

Illinois’s Budget Crisis Leaves Schools Scrambling »
Educators are working to cut costs—without cutting classroom programs

Methodology »
How we ranked the schools

Additional research by Geoffrey Johnson, Kaitlin Petersen, and Margaret Rhodes



4 years ago
Posted by Mugsy

Why are some schools listed twice?

Since school spending in IL is based on local property taxes, why rank a school higher simply because it is in a wealthy neighborhood? Wouldn't it make more sense to see how that spending pays off? Why not rank a school higher that achieves more with less money?

Looking at a school like Prairie Crossing Charter School, student achievement is quite high, student spending is low, class sizes are low and the teachers' salaries were remarkably low. Seems like they are doing something right with the taxpayer's money.

4 years ago
Posted by Emily

Where are Avoca and Marie Murphy schools in Glenview/Wilmette? Is there a reason why they are not on the list at all?

4 years ago
Posted by parisfrance22

YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!! PSD202!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GO SANCHEZ!!!!!!!!!!!! WILDCATS ARE THE BEST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

4 years ago
Posted by parisfrance22

Indian Trail is the best school! Teachers are great! The entire Staff is Awesome!!! Expectations from everyone in the school are extremely high! I couldn't ask for a better school for my daughter (Sanchez) to attend... Plainfield School District 202 is the best!!!

4 years ago
Posted by LaGrange mom

The data listed for Spring Ave school in La Grange is in inaccurate. The score listed is 94.7 and the ISAT score on the Illinois report card website is 90.2%. That's a big difference!
Ogden school and Cossit both in La Grange score much higher than Spring and are not on the list. Ogden actually scored 94.7%. This is a big disappointment since many people rely on this information when making a decision in purchasing a home. I'm glad we didn't trust an article we read in Chicago mag and did more research.

4 years ago
Posted by spoty1

Your article on top Chicago elementary schools is good if you have a child without learning disabilities. When you were doing the research for this article did you make any inquiries regarding the Special Ed programs at the schools? Why are they always forgotten? It is extremely difficult for middle or low-income parents to find a good Special Ed program for their child. I have been trying for four years and have yet to get any satisfaction.

4 years ago
Posted by concernedparent

Why didn't Chicago Magazine take into account how schools were servicing those with disabilities? According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in every 6 children have a developmental delay and/or behavioral problem. Over 20% of the students in my son's class have an IEP. The students that take the IAA are not counted in district test scores. It is easy for a school to manipulate their ISAT outcomes on this alone.

4 years ago
Posted by Realtor-in-the-know

Under the "DuPage" county rankings, the writer places Pleasantdale Middle School in the number 2 position. Pleasantdale is located on Wolf Road in Burr Ridge, which is in Cook County.

4 years ago
Posted by fedupwithless

Why is it they don't address the cramped conditions that some of these schools work in. They give up the basics and still perform above average.CPS sweeps them under the mat because they are not low income schools. All students and teachers deserve buildings that provide the basics cafeteria, gym, library, science lab, working restrooms, heat, air,and electric that is up to code, and a classroom for the large number of students. Wealthy area means you are the last if ever to get a proper school for your children.

4 years ago
Posted by bellegal

As "ConcernedParent" stated, this article doesn't take into account how students with special needs are serviced. District 202 (Plainfield) does a horrible job of servicing students with special needs, but people keep moving in thinking it's such a great place. Children who are lower functioning but could do well in an inclusive setting are pushed into poorly staffed self contained rooms where they don't get the opportunity to interact with typical peers - it's the worst special education system I've seen.

3 years ago
Posted by mwms

to Dennis Rodkin...
I sure hope that you include Fox River Country Day School ( in your evaluation of private schools. I swear it is the best kept secret in the Northwest suburbs. The school is too humble for its own good, so as a parent I will tout it's strengths. It is precisely the type of school that is advocated at the end of "Race to Nowhere." I kid you not. The campus is an unbelievably beautiful 55 wooded acres. The academic program is great; the character education program is even better (one of 2 State Schools of Character, up for national award, see: The graduates are academically prepared for a challenge, well-rounded with great critical thinking skills. The school also has a small middle school boarding program, so it is prepared to include students who are not local residents. That said, like other private schools, the last economics of the last few years have really hit hard. Ironic to have such difficulties in such a great programs.

3 years ago
Posted by i_believe

Some of the schools on this list (Stone Academy) are failing No Child Left Behind. Only 49% of the students in their school with an IEP labels (kids who have some learning disability i.e. ADHD, Dyslexia, etc) are meeting or exceeding the standard. This is terrible and they should not be included in the best schools list. Also for the children in 4th through 8th grade there is no recess. There is also no lunchroom at this school and the children eat lunch at their desk with no real socializing during lunch. They have gym only once a week. Other than that, they are in their seats for the entire school day.

How can this be a great school? You need a few other standards to judge them by.

3 years ago
Posted by jayden910

st. bede is the best great staff and awesome school they teach u a lot my students that went there are in great jobs i consider st. bede school if you are looking for a school to go to you can go to our website at and check out more things about our fantastic school and fun actives we have planed out

2 years ago
Posted by Choo on This

Greetings All,

I am the Director of Educational Programs for Former Original Harlem Globetrotter Charles "Choo" Smith. Mr. Smith is also an author of a children's book and motivational speaker. We are planning to tour the Chicago area in October of 2012 and would love to visit and perform in some of the schools spoke about in this group. During the assembly, Choo Smith gets kids and staff energized and engaged through Globetrotter ball handling tricks. Everyone is involved and having a great time during this high energy show. The 2nd part of the show is where Choo delivers a powerful motivational speech to kids about determination, perseverance and over coming obstacles. He outlines his signature 4L principles and gives students a formula for setting and reaching their goals. Additionaly we work closely with the principal to make sure specific topics of interest are included in the speech. Choo's anti-bully message is a huge favorite right now.

There are thousands of schools in the Chicago area. Unfortunately during the time we are in the Chicago area we can only visit 6 to 8 schools. Our team works directly with the schools to plan creative ways to fund the assembly. The cost is about $3500 and we don't want buget issues to be the reason students miss out on having a professional athelete come to thier school. It's a once in a lifetime experience for students. Administrators and parents who are interested in exposing their kids to something rewarding as this work collaboratively to make it happen. We are scheduling now. If you want your school selected for this event visit our website at and call our office at 410-298-4503. Ask for Kim or Karyn.

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