Academic Progress

Academic Progress

Safe and Supportive

Students learn best when they feel safe, both physically and emotionally. We must ensure that every student feels welcomed, supported and respected in school by both peers and adults. Students also learn more when they have the opportunity to develop social and emotional skills, such as managing frustration, building relationships and making responsible decisions. Those skills are needed to persist with a tough math problem, collaborate on a group project, and to set goals for college and career. Well-maintained and well-equipped buildings also support learning. Research 3 has found that school facilities have an enormous influence on student learning, behavior and health. We must invest equitably in school facilities across the city to support students’ well-being and academic progress.


Establish School-Based Leadership Team Dedicated To Improving School Climate

At every school, a team of staff, students, families and community members will work together to promote a positive school culture, using the CPS Climate Standards as a guide. Teams will analyze school data, identify strengths and weaknesses, generate solutions, lead their implementation and evaluate results. Schools that develop strong school climate practices are eligible for Supportive School Certification on their school progress report.

Integrate the Teaching of Social-Emotional Skills with All Subject Areas

Every school will create a plan for teaching social and emotional skills that integrates state standards for social-emotional learning into all academic areas. That might include coaching students to overcome frustration with a challenging assignment or to collaborate effectively with peers on a project. Some schools may also choose to adopt research-based instructional programs that explicitly teach social and emotional skills. Students who need more assistance will be supported interventions that meet their social and emotional needs (refer to the MTSS section for more information).

Guide Schools to Adopt “Restorative Practices” to Improve Student Discipline

A restorative approach to discipline explores the root cause of student behavior and then guides young people to understand how their actions affect others and to make amends. Taking time to identify the causes of misbehavior can also lead to changes in school practice, such as better supervision. CPS schools that adopted restorative approaches to discipline have seen a significant reduction in student suspension and expulsion since the 2011-2012 school year, with suspensions falling by 67 percent and expulsions dropping by 82 percent. The CPS Office of Safety and Security and the Office of Social and Emotional Learning will continue providing training and coaching to ensure all schools adopt restorative approaches to discipline.

Guide Schools to Adopt “Restorative Practices” to Improve Student Discipline

Teaching young people strategies for coping with conflict, peer pressure and other life stressors can reduce risky behavior and engage them in school. With programs like Becoming a Man (BAM) and Working on Womanhood (WOW), the Mayor’s Mentoring Initiative is connecting vulnerable youth from Chicago’s high-crime, high-poverty communities with supports that will keep them on track to graduate from high school and help them avoid interaction with the criminal justice system. Not only will we continue these successful programs, but others including a supportive intervention program with the Chicago Police Department, a privately funded jobs and mentoring program in partnership with the city’s Department of Family and Supports Services, and the Saturday Morning ReachOut and Teach (SMART) program, which builds social and emotional skills and serves as an alternative to expulsion.

Expand Services to Students at “Options” Schools and Programs

CPS has 44 “Options” schools and programs to serve 8,000 youth aged 14 to 21 who have returned to school after dropping out, were significantly behind in credits needed for graduation or who face other significant challenges, such as incarceration. To better support these students, we will partner with community organizations that can provide additional services including job training, internships, apprenticeships or job placement, tutoring, counseling, mentoring, service learning or leadership development.

Learn more about CPS Options

Transform the Primary Role of School Security Officer from Enforcer to Mentor

Security officers are essential to creating a positive school climate as they interact with students throughout the day. Several years ago, CPS began training them to go beyond rule enforcement and build trusting relationships with students. When security officers show that they care, students are more likely to seek them out with safety or other concerns. Officers have been trained to mediate conflicts before fights break out, to protect the rights of all students, including LGBTQ youth, and to identify and aid students experiencing trauma. CPS will continue to promote professional development for security officers to improve their interactions with students, while also maintaining high standards for school safety.

Learn more about Safe Passage

Invest in Capital Improvements that Enhance Learning

Children learn best in schools that are free from overcrowding, in good repair and equipped to meet their needs. CPS is finalizing the installation of air conditioning for every classroom this spring, with a $27 million budget to complete the Mayor’s initiative to install air conditioning in every classroom within five years. The plan has been completed substantially ahead of time and under budget. Thanks largely to a newly instated Capital Improvement Tax that can only be used for capital projects and not operating expenses, CPS will invest more than $900 million to make critically needed improvements to school buildings in the most financially responsible way possible. Moving forward, we will continue to swiftly address any structural issue that raises a safety concern. We will also execute a capital plan, as funding permits, which equitably addresses overcrowding relief and deferred maintenance. As we expand programs such as STEM, IB and other specialty programs, we will also provide capital improvements that support instruction such as new science labs, computer labs, workshops or art studios.

Expand a New Model for Building Maintenance and Repair

We will expand a piloted model for custodial care called Integrated Facilities Management that results in cleaner schools and gives principals more time to focus on student learning. It also helps the district to more quickly identify and eliminate potential safety issues with older buildings. The model, which will be gradually expanded districtwide, appoints one building manager to supervise both engineering and custodial tasks that were formerly overseen separately. That provides principals with only one point of contact for building issues, which can be handled more efficiently.

Connect Every Classroom to High-Speed Internet

New educational websites and applications are enhancing classroom learning like never before. They are also placing greater demands on existing wireless internet service in our schools, some of which are ill-equipped to support it. With a $21 million matching grant from the Federal Communications Commission, we will provide every classroom with high-speed wireless internet so that no child misses out.

Ensure that Every Elementary School has a Quality Playlot

Outdoor play spaces with quality equipment encourage young children to move in ways that develop their balance, coordination, and strength; as well as important social skills like conflict resolution. To ensure that all students have this opportunity, CPS, with funding support from partners such as Space to Grow, will complete the construction of playlots for the 20 CPS elementary school still in need of one. Additionally, through our Space to Grow program; developed in partnership with Mayor Emanuel’s Office, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago and the Chicago Department of Water Management; schools will receive newly designed schoolyards that meet community needs, reduce storm water runoff and promote green spaces in urbanized areas. CPS and its partners have already renovated nine schoolyards through Space to Grow and will complete a total of 28 by 2019.

Learn more about Capital Plan


Educating the whole child means extending our reach beyond the school day. Whether it’s before school, after school or on weekends, our goal is to provide all students with a variety of out-of-school-time opportunities that give them a safe, positive space in which to build confidence and develop skills. These programs include everything from arts and technology clubs to mentoring, health and fitness activities, and academic intervention. Mayor Emanuel has expanded the ability of the Chicago Public Library to make learning and knowledge accessible to youth around the city through out-of-school-time programs that are offered year-round. They include homework help and tutoring, early learning opportunities, and the Rahm’s Readers program. Through Chicago City of Learning students can to seek out in-person learning opportunities that match their interests, earn digital badges and build a digital portfolio to showcase their achievements over time. Athletics are also a major part of our out-of-school-time efforts, with thousands of students participating in CPS SCORE (Sports Can Open Roads to Excellence)—a partnership between CPS, the Chicago Park District, and private partners that gives all students in grades 5-8 the chance to join athletic teams and develop a variety of skills. This no-cut program is CPS’ official interscholastic league for elementary sports, and nearly 9,000 students from nearly 200 schools participated in the inaugural season.

Our priority going forward is to get a more detailed picture of which out-of-school-time programming is proving most effective for CPS students and to increase access to that programming across the district. In support of this, we are collaborating with Thrive Chicago to engage with a wide variety of community partners to help them analyze and recommend targeted programming to best meet students’ needs.

Learn more about CPS SCORE

Page Last Modified on Thursday, January 04, 2018