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Chicago Gifted Community Center

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School Profiles

The following information is provided from local schools who are members of CGCC. Each was asked to answer the following as it relates to gifted and talented students:

  • Practices related to identification
  • The delivery of instruction
  • Grouping, cross grade work, and acceleration policies
  • Independent study options
  • Parental involvement
  • Any other goals and objectives 

Schools profiled:

Greenfields Academy

The Avery Coonley School

Science & Arts Academy

Vanguard Academy

(MAGE) Midwest Academy for Gifted Education

Quest Academy

Greenfields Academy, Chicago

Grades K-8, planned High School inclusion in 2021

Practices related to identification

Our curriculum is differentiated for all children.  

The delivery of instruction

Our school day has three main parts.  Morning is core skills time during which students generally work independently on their personal reading, writing, and math goals, using a blend of online and offline tools to track progress and assess mastery.  Lunch time is used for community building and includes town hall meetings, Socratic discussions, and civilization stories, as well as free time and fresh air.  Afternoons are for project work, and students are expected to use this time to work towards the completion of a long-term challenge such a writing and coding an animated short for presentation at a film festival, or designing and producing a unique new chocolate bar for presentation to a candy company.  

Grouping, cross grade work, and acceleration policies

Our classrooms are multi-age and progression from one level to the next is based on completion of all the expectations for that level.  To progress from one level to the next, or into the next classroom, students must earn badges by: demonstrating mastery in specific core skills, successfully completing a given number of book clubs and published written pieces, and showcasing their ability to be a community member through challenges related to social/emotional skills and executive function.  Age is only a guideline for placement and progression, readiness is more important.  

Independent study options 

Much of the Greenfields curriculum involves independent study. Students have choice over what they read, what they write, and how to go about completing their learning goals.  Our projects have a challenge (for instance, start a business) but are intentionally open-ended so that students can customize to their interests.  Some of our progression badges require students to discover what they are most curious about and explore it further so that they can present to their peers.  Middle and high school students incorporate off-site internships and apprenticeships into their curriculum.  

Parental involvement

None is required, but it's always encouraged.  We have several active parent committees who support the school in things like planning fields trips and speakers, designing parent education events, and hosting fun family socials.  Parents are regularly invited to the school to participate in student showcases of their work at the end of each project.  

Any other goals and objectives

We believe the most important role for a student is to stay curious, challenge yourself, and make a difference.  By following these three tenets, our students emerge with a lifelong love of learning as well as the mindset and skills to make a difference in our ever-changing world

The Avery Coonley School, Downers Grove

Preschool - 8th Grade

Practices related to identification

Your child’s journey at The Avery Coonley School begins with the online inquiry and application form (these can be found at

If your child is applying for our Early Childhood Program, the Admissions Office will contact you to schedule a screening date. 

If your child is applying to Kindergarten through 8th grade, you will be notified of testing procedures and deadlines. To qualify for the next step in the admissions process, children must have a full scale IQ score in the 95th percentile or above with consistent subtest scores.  

For children applying to grades 1-8, copies of report cards, achievement test results and recommendations are also required.  More information about the admissions process can be found at

The delivery of instruction 

At The Avery Coonley School we understand that gifted education is more than simply an accelerated curriculum. We strive to educate the whole child and foster the unique talents and meet the special needs of gifted learners. Our classrooms, lessons, and expectations are designed in the best interest of gifted learners:

  • ACS classes consist of like-minded peer groups where academic motivation is the norm. We are a place where it is "cool to be smart.”
  • Perfectionism is a characteristic of many gifted children. Risk-taking is encouraged and acknowledged here and mistakes are viewed as invitations to learn.
  • Flexibility within the classroom (both physical setting and climate) creates a relaxed yet challenging environment that encourages responsibility and autonomy.
  • A multitude of opportunities exist for hands-on, less-structured learning experiences, including many long-term and cross-curricular projects, dramatizations, and fairs.
  • Students are allowed to quickly explore higher levels of thinking with fewer rote-learning activities and repetitions. Boredom is not an option.
  • Opportunities for both independent and collaborative group work encourage students to engage their own interests and benefit from different perspectives.
  • Emphasis on both divergent and convergent thinking encourages creative problem solving.


Student to Teacher Ratio

Early Childhood Program – seven to one

Junior Kindergarten Program – eight to one

Kindergarten – eleven to one

Groups One to Eight – Sixteen to one

Faculty & Administration

Approximately 70% of the School's faculty and administration holds a master's degree; the average length of service is 12 years.

The School is a member of National Association of Independent Schools, Independent Schools Association of the Central States, Lake Michigan Association of Independent Schools, Independent School Management, National Association for Gifted Children, and Illinois Association for Gifted Children.

Middle School faculty act as advisors to students, offering guidance in areas of academics, study skills, time management, and peer relations.

ACS is governed by a Board of Trustees which holds regular meetings each month except during March, July, August, and December. At these meetings, financial statements are reviewed, committee reports are received, and questions of policy are discussed and acted upon.

Student Activities 

Student Council provides leadership training and opportunities for school and community service for students in Groups 1-8. ACS students enjoy participating in a number of academic competitions, including spelling bees, geography bees, and numerous math competitions.

Many clubs and activities allow ACS students to pursue their interests in greater depth. These options generally include Art Club, Book Club, Chess Club, Choir, Computer Club, Intramurals, MATHCOUNTS, Orchestra, STEAM, Tech/Video Club, and Yearbook. Sports offered include soccer (co-ed), volleyball (girls), basketball (boys and girls), and track and field (co-ed).

Many community service initiatives take place throughout the year, most prompted by student leadership and interest at all grade levels.


Many of the activities at ACS date back to the very earliest days of the school. These much-anticipated events become milestones for the students and form some of the fondest memories for alumni. They also provide valuable opportunities for students, teachers, staff, and parents to gather together for friendship and fun. School wide activities include the Halloween Parade, Thanksgiving Program, Holiday Presentations and Sing-A-Long, Shakespeare, Greek, and Americana Fests, Spring Fair, and Grandparents’ Day. Group specific activities include First Group Circus, Second Group Maple Tapping, Third Group trip to Wisconsin, Fourth Group Native American Fair, Fifth Group Egyptian Mastaba, Sixth Group World’s Fair, Seventh Group trip to Washington, D.C., and Eighth Group trip to Quebec.  

Parental involvement

There are several opportunities to be involved as a parent of an Avery Coonley Student. Our Home and School Association organizes and sponsors several popular events, including our Fall Fest, Holiday House, Fun Run, and Enrichment programming. We have volunteer opportunities available through our Development Office, including assisting with our annual Auction. Last but not least, we always have a need for Room Parents, Parent Ambassadors, and chaperones.  

Any other goals and objectives

We believe that the joy and excitement of learning must begin early in life. We place a high premium on developing the desire in our students to become critical thinkers and independent, life-long learners.   We assist our students in realizing their intellectual, emotional, social, creative, and physical potential by promoting academic achievement, character development, self-reliance, self-confidence, independent thought, and personal fitness.  We recognize and are sensitive to the unique needs of gifted children. Within a traditional structure, we provide acceleration and enrichment, and foster a supportive atmosphere that provides opportunities for creativity, problem-solving, and risk-taking.  We believe that diversity is the foundation for a strong, competent, and compassionate community. Therefore, we value racial, religious, economic, and cultural diversity in our student body, faculty, and staff.  We strive to build a community that encourages understanding and mutual respect and nurtures appreciation of the individual, civility, gratitude, honesty, kindness and consideration, responsibility, and 

Science & Arts Academy, Des Plaines

Junior Kindergarten - 8th Grade

Practices related to identification

Science & Arts Academy is an independent day school serving the needs of gifted students in Junior Kindergarten through 8th grade. The best way to learn more about Science & Arts Academy is by visiting the school. School tours are offered daily, and Open House events are offered twice per year (November and January). To sign up for a visit, please click here.

Administration of the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI) or the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) is required as a part of the application process for students entering kindergarten through eighth grade. (IQ testing is not required for entry into the Junior Kindergarten program). The IQ test serves as a helpful measure of a child’s cognitive ability and potential. Children with a full scale IQ score of 125 or above are considered for admission to SAA. Please keep in mind that IQ testing is only one component of the application process, as we consider all aspects of the applicant’s qualifications when making admissions decisions.

In addition to the IQ evaluation, the following materials are requested as a part of an application to SAA:

  • Latest School Report Card/Progress Update
  • Teacher Recommendation Form
  • Principal Recommendation Form
  • Writing Sample
  • Standardized test scores (as available) 

Applicants will also have an opportunity to spend a “shadow day” at SAA, where they will attend classes, meet other children and teachers, and experience first-hand what it could be like to attend the school. For more details about the application process, please visit:


The delivery of instruction

SAA fosters excellence in a carefully balanced program, utilizing methodologies and approaches to learning that assist gifted children in understanding the full capacity of their intellectual, artistic, physical, emotional, social and creative potential. The SAA experience is defined by the integration of three distinguishing characteristics: Academic Challenge, Artistic Expression, and Personal and Social Development, made possible through the support and partnership of our Community of Learners.

Academic Challenge: 

SAA maintains an unwavering commitment to the academic needs of the gifted student. Highly qualified instructors provide challenges appropriate to each student’s ability and intellect. Differentiated instruction allows teachers to tailor learning to best meet the needs of the student. Depth, breadth, enrichment, and acceleration are incorporated in all academic areas.

Artistic Expression: 

SAA provides gifted students with unique opportunities for artistic expression and exploration, which foster creativity and broaden curiosity. Artistic expression is highly valued at SAA, as students at every grade level participate in year-round art, drama, and music. Students develop their talents and gain greater self-confidence through these immersive experiences, cultivating a fondness and appreciation for the visual and performing arts.

Personal and Social Development: 

SAA understands the most effective learning occurs within the context of supportive relationships. SAA provides the tools to help all gifted students acquire and apply the knowledge and skills to understand and manage emotions, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. Throughout the SAA experience, students gain the confidence to be successful at each stage of their development.

Community of Learners: 

SAA is a community of learners, all working together to advance the mission of the school. Intellectually and creatively talented students have the opportunity to be in the company of likeminded peers with similar abilities and interests. Small classes are led by skilled educators with expertise and knowledge in supporting gifted children. Parents work together to support the students, the school, and one another. A broad selection of extracurricular activities further develops a sense of community, as students interact outside of school hours with peers across multiple grade levels. The SAA community of learners provides an environment in which all students are known, valued, and understood.


Grouping, cross grade work, and acceleration policies

Students move throughout the building during the day, going to different classes taught by subject area expert teachers. First and second graders and mixed together into cross-grade level homeroom classes, as are third and fourth graders. Math classes throughout the school may contain students from different grade levels and, along with Language Arts, are grouped by ability, allowing each child to be challenged at his or her individual level. Differentiated instruction across all subject areas and grade levels allows teachers to tailor learning to best meet the needs of all students.

All SAA teachers are responsible for developing and adjusting the curriculum to match the changing needs and interests of the students. Within each grade level and each class, there exists a range of skill levels. SAA is prepared to take students where they are and provide an appropriate level of challenge to each student. As a result, SAA does not ascribe to a “one size fits all” acceleration policy.

Independent study options 

Lessons offer a degree of flexibility so that students can be free to explore their questions and interests in greater depth. Middle school students also get to self-select an elective class.

Parental involvement

The Family & School Association (FSA) is a school-wide parent organization that supports and enhances the mission of Science & Arts Academy. The FSA works to create a community atmosphere by providing opportunities for increased engagement and involvement among students, parents, faculty and staff. SAA parents are encouraged to share their time, talents, and treasure with the school to enhance the supportive environment in which SAA students thrive.

Any other goals and objectives

In addition to the school-year program, Science & Arts Academy also offers a robust summer program. Summer Adventures in Learning pairs enrichment programming with physical education activities to create a unique summer camp experience for 3-year-olds to children entering 8th grade. Science & Arts Academy's summer program is open to the community - all children are welcome to enroll, regardless of the school they attend during the academic year or their achievement level.

Vanguard Gifted Academy, Batavia

Kindergarten - 5th Grade

Practices related to identification

At Vanguard students entering at 5 are evaluated by teachers and then tested at age 6.  All other students entering the school at 6 or older need to have IQ testing.  We are looking for an IQ of 125+ 

The delivery of instruction

Instruction is delivered in small group teacher-led mini-lessons, teacher-led whole group problem solving, through the use of technology, and through personal and partner exploration

Grouping, cross grade work, and acceleration policies

All groups are of mixed ages. Vanguard has three learning Bands based upon developmental stages: primary, intermediate, and middle. Mini-lessons for foundational skills and concepts are given at each student's learning level regardless of age. Problem-based learning is most often completed with Band level students. By eliminating the age = level learning correlation and teaching children at their personal learning level the "acceleration" concept is no longer needed.

Independent study options 

Students have opportunities to engage in independent study within the curriculum exploration and during independent project work.

Parental involvement

Parents are asked to help on occasion with transportation, Showcase Nights, or field trips. Attending the 4 Showcases each year is the most important part of parent participation.

Any other goals and objectives

Vanguard's goal is to open the minds of the gifted learners unleashing their individual potential so they may become well-adjusted adults invested in bettering our world.

(MAGE) Midwest Academy for Gifted Education, Chicago

Kindergarten - High School

Practices related to identification

Applicants have to submit:

· Free Application

· IQ or standardized test scores in the top 2%. See Admissions page for specifics.

· If applicable, school report card or progress report

· A teacher recommendation or equivalent.,

· If an application is accepted, there is a family interview and assessment; Additional support documentation may be requested by the admissions committee.

· Do not send art, essays as part of the initial application. We look at that in the family interview if we feel that we need to.

The delivery of instruction

We are progressive school for students age 4-18. Our practices include being homework-free (including not assigning parent homework) and grade-free. We pre-assess where applicable, to ensure the right skills will be taught, and we measure learning outcome to guide further instruction. We aim to give the just-right opportunities to learn and take personality into account, providing rigor and differentiation without pressure. Besides our core program offering, we also have occasional evening, weekend, and camp activities, including free parent workshops, and a free elementary math circle. You can reach out to admissions@mage.educationto be put on the email distribution list to stay informed about our program offerings.


Subject blocks across all subject matter to allow students to travel to their appropriate academic levels across the whole school once a child is ready. Else the teacher differentiates in the room they are in for age-appropriate homeroom. The groupings are flexible and are evaluated at each topic and by subject. Learning happens 1:1 or in small groups if there is a peer match with the same knowledge and speed. There is 1:1 teacher : student time in every core subject for every student every week by design and this is why we keep student teacher ratios so low. Students generalize the studies through projects and experiential learning, as well as games. For example, students who are learning about probability might learn through circle math activities and other games. We have a strong arts, trades and hands-on focus, it’s not all about academics, and we also make sure they have quality outdoor and indoor play time or activity as appropriate for their age.

Please refer to Website for all curriculum details..

Grouping, cross grade work, and acceleration policies

Academically, we do not have age-restrictions for grouping, so long as students can tolerate switching rooms. We ability group for learning. In order to provide both academics and social/emotional learning opportunities, we have homeroom, play group, recess and physical education as age-peer exclusive interactions for the most part (there may be exceptions as we look at what’s best for each individual). We also want the students who are of different ages but have academic work together have social time together too. We provide free movement between age groups during lunch, school-day clubs, and some specials.

Independent study options

We build in student-selected mini-sabbaticals into our curriculum for our regular program. We are inquiry-based, so there are plenty of natural opportunities for this. For our most advanced students we discuss options with families. In some cases, a child may be enrolled in a DAO class as part of their school experience, for example. We are also working on reciprocal relationships with colleges. We are building a bank of mentors available to students on different subjects of interest as well, to help when there is a profound interest in a topic.

Parental involvement

We encourage parents to be partners with us in their child's learning. We are transparent in our school and we love to have parent support but never require it. We value the family unit and understand that you may participate in your child's schooling as you see fit.We will provide plenty of optional ways to be involved, and always want to hear your feedback.

Any other goals and objectives

Our number one goal is the social and emotional support of our students and to help them grow into fulfilled, confident, well-rounded individuals with exposure to global citizenship, trades and basic skills in various hands-on areas. Our goals are to teach to the strengths and to scaffold the weaknesses of each student.

 Quest AcademyPalatine

Preschool - 8th Grade

Practices related to identification

Quest Academy is a private and independent school for students ranging from preschool through 8th grade. Quest Academy provides a nurturing educational environment for gifted students by providing a challenging curriculum and fostering a love of learning. There are numerous Admissions events hosted throughout the year, but the best way to get to know Quest is by scheduling a tour with the Admissions Team. Please visit our website to schedule a tour: Inquire Today

The admissions process requires completion of the following steps: Inquiry Form, School Tour, Application, IQ Testing for Kindergarten through 8th grade placement, School Records and Student Visit Day experience. After completion of all steps, the application will be under review by the Admissions Team. Full Scale IQ score of 125 is the minimum requirement for admission. Preschool and Junior Kindergarten requires completion of all the Admission steps, with exception of IQ testing.

For more information on the Admissions process, please visit our website: Admissions Process

The delivery of instruction

Quest Academy values the importance of a well-rounded educational experience for gifted students. Our program is designed specifically for the gifted child and our faculty has the proper training to acknowledge, appreciate and accommodate the skills and traits associated with giftedness. Students are placed with age appropriate and like-minded peers, formulating thoughtful opinions. Classroom sizes are kept small with no more than 17 students in each class.

We understand that the needs of each child are different from that of others. The curriculum is aligned with state and national standards without the constriction of grade-level constraints. Our “no-ceiling” approach allows students to grow at their own pace and our faculty can tailor the learning experience to the children in the classroom.

Students have outstanding gifts and talents, which can only be enhanced by good character. Quest Academy serves as a community of educators who teach, guide and exercise the valuable characteristics that encourages students to develop respect for self and others. Our Character Education program is part of the weekly curriculum across all grade levels and includes participation in service-learning projects in our local communities.

To learn more about our curriculum, please visit our website: Academic Life

Grouping, cross grade work, and acceleration policies

In addition to the core academic subject areas, all students benefit from a full learning experience that includes instruction in Spanish, STEAM, Makerspace, Art, Music, Drama and Physical Education. Students follow a daily schedule where they travel with their grade level to each class. Students can be placed with other grade levels for Math and will remain with their same age peers for the remainder of their classes. Each grade has time to meet daily with their classmates outside the classroom walls during lunch and recess. Our students value this time to converse with their friends.

Independent study options

Our Middle School students have an option to select a flex subject or area of interest.  We also offer various extracurriculars and clubs that students can join. This is a great way to meet new friends within the Quest community.

Parental involvement

The Parent School Association (PSA) is managed by an elected Board to support parent and family social events throughout the school year.  These events help build the close school family relationships, which have been described as a core component of Quest foundation.

Any other goals and objectives

Gifted children benefit from a robust and intentional Social Emotional Learning (SEL) program that is designed to provide them with the tools necessary to address perfectionism, self-control, healthy relationships, responsible decision-making and problem-solving strategies. Our teachers provide SEL lessons into their classrooms and we are committed to remain at the forefront of this initiative.

About cgcc

The Chicago Gifted Community Center (CGCC) is a member-driven 501(c)(3) non-profit organization created by parents to support the intellectual and emotional growth of gifted children and their families. 

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We  are an all volunteer-based organization that relies on annual memberships from parents, professionals, and supporters to provide organizers with web site operations, a registration system, event insurance, background checks, etc. 

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