CPS CEO Brizard Sets Out Vision For Reinventing CPS to Better Serve All Students 

Brizard discusses first phase of redesign to lay the foundation to provide school leaders with the supports they need from Central Office


July 27, 2011


CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard today laid out the first phase of a plan to bring coherence to and reinvent a “fragmented” system to better serve all students in the district to help improve student achievement and college readiness.


This first phase of the redesign includes what Brizard referred to as the foundation of his plan including redefining roles of his Leadership Team to ensure accountability for every position throughout Central Office. Structuring and reporting of Central Office positions that will report to the Leadership Team will be decided in Phase II of the redesign, which is expected to be completed within the next 60-90 days.


At the presentation today, Brizard cited data that underscores the demand and urgency for reinventing the system in order to give school leaders the tools and support they need to impact student achievement. Despite many reform implemented over the last several years, more than 100,000 CPS elementary students and 55,000 high school students are attending underperforming schools, the high school graduation rate is 55.8 percent and the achievement gap still hovers at more than 20 percentage points.


“This redesign allows us to redirect our resources to support school leaders, teachers and families more directly in order to create a climate conducive for learning. Our students cannot wait any longer for change to make its way into the classroom and it is our goal to move this forward quickly, inclusively and thoughtfully,” CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard said at the monthly Chicago Board of Education meeting.


The first phase of a redesign of the Central Office that provides the foundation for reinventing CPS to serve all CPS students, creates opportunities for world class learning, and delivers the support needed for all school leaders to achieve these goals.


At the core of the plan is a streamlined Senior Leadership Team that will be directly accountable to the CEO. Services and supports will be strategically grouped together under a single chief officer, rather than fragmented across several different departments.


The Chief Executive Officer will move from 14 to 9 direct reports including: Chief Education Officer, Chief Communications Officer, Intergovernmental Affairs, Chief of Talent, Chief Administrative Officer, Chief of Staff and General Counsel.


The ways in which supports are delivered will change in part as result of the feedback Brizard received during listening tour visits with teachers, principals, parents and community members. During several listening tour stops, parents and community members explained that they wanted simplified access to CPS supports and wanted these resources to work together more effectively.


The position of Chief Community & Family Engagement Officer, another direct report to the CEO, is being created to ensure that active outreach and services are provided strategically to parents, families and communities. This includes bringing together many different services – including Local School Council supports, Parent Engagement, External Partnerships, and Health and Wellness Partnerships – to identify the needs of schools and entire communities, then provide supports with a more holistic approach. Currently, these supports are housed under different departments at Central Office.


The Chief Portfolio Officer, also a new position reporting to the CEO, will be tasked with developing long-term strategies to ensure that all students have multiple high-performing school options to choose from, and within a reasonable distance from their home. The Portfolio Officer will also be responsible for managing CPS relationships with our charter school networks and working with charter schools to ensure that they achieve the same rigorous standards of student achievement. Brizard noted that he expects to hire for both of these positions in the next several weeks.


The Chief Education Office will have expanded roles to aid in streamlining access to both curriculum and professional development resources for school leaders and teachers. The office will be accountable for principal and school leadership performance, development and growth as well as overseeing and supporting all PreK-12 schools. Additional responsibilities of the Chief Education Office will be: Standards-based Curriculum and Instruction, language development, Special Education, Early Childhood, College and Career Readiness, Academic Support Programs, Youth Empowerment, Health and Wellness, Research, and Assessment and Accountability.


“In the past, the area offices did not have a structure that promoted alignment of pre-k through high school curriculum and goals. The system was fragmented and in need of coherence across the district. Now, they will be working together in teams to achieve curriculum alignment and develop programming that aims to increase achievement for all of our students throughout their time at CPS,” said Noemi Donoso, CPS Chief Education Officer.


Area Offices, which report directly to the Chief Education Officer, have been reduced from 24 to 19---14 elementary networks and 5 high school networks. Networks will align to neighborhood boundaries to better serve communities and families, as well as allow network leaders to partner more effectively with community organizations across schools. Each network leader will have the title of Chief of Schools for their elementary or high school network.


At the network level, principals and school leaders will focus on sharing best practices about instruction, teacher development and programs that drive student achievement. The new network system will pair elementary networks with high school networks to form 5 different “collaboratives” that will be accountable for student success throughout the entire PreK-12 pipeline.


The redesign aims to build accountability throughout the district for college readiness and encourages collaboration to create a continuity of curriculum from preschool through high school graduation. Chiefs of Schools within these collaboratives will be accountable for working together to ensure that instruction and programming is driving student achievement.


Collaboratives will also share a support center that will provide more direct access to formerly centralized services including facilities, operations, technology and compliance personnel.


To support the new Network Structure, the Chief Education Office has established two new offices.


  • The new Chief of Instruction will be Jennifer Cheatham. Her role will be responsible for design and implementation of a coherent instructional program that will align PreK-12 curriculum and teaching to the state core education standards.


  • The new Chief of Leadership Development will support professional development of principals, School Chiefs, instructional coaches and school-based leadership teams. This position is expected to be hired shortly.


“This redesign ensures that our organization is aligned with our goal of increasing student achievement and ensuring that our organization directly supports schools in their efforts to get students both college and career ready,” Brizard added.



About CPS

Chicago Public Schools serves 409,279 students in 675 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.


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