May 5, 2011
A clear vision and the fundamentals for improving learning and instruction in all Chicago Public Schools are the highlights of a new report released by Interim Chief Executive Officer Terry Mazany today.
At the start of his tenure, CEO Mazany invited parents, educators, and civic leaders to develop this vision and recommendations for education in the Chicago Public Schools that are aligned with the new demands for teaching and learning in the 21st Century.
Mazany said the report outlines a framework for moving CPS toward a fundamental goal: a high-quality education for every student in every school. This report builds on decades of research and is the product of several months of collaboration involving national and local education experts and practitioners as well as civic leaders, community stakeholders and parents. A complete list of participants in this planning process can be found on www.cps.edu/educationvision.
The project was funded by a grant from the Chicago Community Trust. Mazany, an experienced educator and President and CEO of The Chicago Community Trust, was appointed by Mayor Daley in November 2010 to lead the Chicago Public Schools until the next Mayor appointed a new CEO.
Key recommendations in the report center on placing increased focus on the quality of classroom instruction; helping teachers become consistently effective in the classroom and able to serve a diverse student population; and more fully engaging parents, community and partners.
“This dramatic shift in how we increase achievement is based on what we have learned from the world’s high-performing schools,” Mazany said. “We weren’t limited by conventional wisdom, labels or panaceas but we went to the heart of what is working in classrooms.” The report will be delivered to Mayor-elect Emanuel’s incoming CEO and new Board of Education.
“This framework was developed to support the work of the incoming administration,” he said. “We offer this not as a last word, but as the starting point for many conversations that will build stronger schools and more successful students.”
A guiding principle that underlies the vision is that all children have capacities for learning that exceed current expectations. To help them reach those capacities, researchers concluded, CPS must set district-wide expectations tied to rigorous standards, support every school, and develop the capacities of teachers and administrators to deliver a comprehensive educational program.
The report released by Mazany and Interim Chief Education Officer Dr. Charles Payne targets three priority areas:
1.) Ensure a system-wide focus on high-quality instruction. To realize this new vision of learning, CPS must reorient administrative structures, curricula, budgets, schedules, tests and professional development to support high-quality instruction in every school.
School based changes: At the school level, this means creating teams of teachers and giving them time to collaborate, and aligning professional development with school and teacher needs. Schools within the larger CPS Area structure should provide opportunities for cross-school collaboration and ensure that more time is spent on instruction and less on test preparation.
Central Office can better support schools by aligning instructional frameworks with Common Core State Standards; creating assessment platforms that include non-standardized measures and that contain tailored criteria for special student populations; and working with partners to ensure that professional development opportunities provide content, knowledge and understanding of how to support all student populations.
2.) Create the safe, respectful and supportive climates where students learn best. Climates that support high-quality instruction are engaging, supportive, trusting and accessible, respecting both similarities and differences. They make education more relevant to children’s lives by using family and community resources to enrich learning and by linking academic learning to community life.
School-based changes: Schools should create rituals that reinforce positive school norms; create a culture that discourages bullying and social isolation; and communicate with and seek the support of parents.
Area Offices should provide professional development opportunities centered on school climate, parental involvement and working with partners.
Central Office should ensure curriculum, instruction and professional development integrate strategies for school climate and human development. The system should provide resources to reduce language barriers and develop standards for school-community partnerships, as well as seek funding for them.
3.) Promote effective leadership at all levels. Good principals are essential for effective schools and stable, focused, consistent leadership at the Central Office is clearly needed to achieve District-wide improvement.
School-based changes: Schools should provide opportunities for teachers to work in leadership teams, as well as allocating time and resources to develop teacher leaders, and supporting and mentoring student leaders within each school.
Area Offices should assist schools by drawing on best practices, fostering principal mentoring and offering principals professional development on evaluating on-staff leadership potential.
Central Office should create opportunities and resources for leadership development and mentoring, build career ladders for instructional leaders, and redesign the principal eligibility process.
“This report challenges practices and beliefs that created the inequities of the past and raises expectations for educating all our students,” the report says. “It shows how we can turn schools in every neighborhood into genuine learning communities and organize resources throughout the system to support them.”
Mazany and Payne thanked the diverse group of experts, leaders and stakeholders who contributed their time and ideas over the past several months to prepare this guidance for improving quality and opportunity for Chicago Public Schools students.
Chicago Public Schools serves 409,279 students in 675 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.