June 7, 2011
Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard met with principals today to launch the first in a series of discussions to provide principals with more autonomy in running their schools and develop a principal performance contract and evaluation system to hold principals and staff accountable for results. Highlighted as a key priority in Mayor Emanuel’s education transition recommendations, the conversation kicks off an effort to recruit, support and retain high-performing school leaders and principals.
A former principal himself, Brizard’s discussion with principals focused on empowering school leaders with more autonomy, in an effort to foster innovation in their school. Brizard asked principals for their ideas and input on growing student success and empowering principals to lead their schools in new directions. The goal is to develop an organic, bottom-up system that taps the school staff as a resource for driving innovations.
"Our goal is to create a system where teachers and principals have ownership over analyzing data about the programs and teaching practices within their own school," Brizard said. "We want to provide them with the tools needed to evaluate their schools effectively and the support to institute innovative changes that will increase student achievement."
“At the same time we need to build a system that will set clear expectations and accountability among principals and school leaders. Empowerment and accountability among principals must go hand in hand to ensure that we are best serving the interests of our kids,” said Brizard
Today’s meeting at John M. Smyth School, 1059 W. 13th Street, continues Brizard’s citywide listening tour aimed at engaging teachers, parents, principals, students, community leaders, the faith community and other stakeholders in a dialogue about education issues.
The conversation today is the start of a framework for a principal performance contract and evaluation system. Brizard is drawing on his own experiences as a principal, while using data-based evaluations and soliciting feedback from stakeholders to help understand the key drivers that would propel that process. The goal would be to raise the bar for school leadership and transform expectations in order to align them with school needs for future generations. The system will help identify clear behaviors, expectations and metrics that are common among the highest performing principals in the district.
Also discussed today was the creation of a new, independent Chicago Leadership Academy to increase the number of high-quality principals entering the district and to help address principal vacancies throughout the system. These leaders will integrate their school within their community, work to close the achievement gap and continue to demonstrate gains on district-wide measures—creating a pipeline of high quality school leaders.
“Empowering principals is critical to building strong schools that drive student achievement,” said Brizard. “This process begins with seeking principals’ input into how we can create better principal evaluation systems, a performance contract, and train the next generation of school leadership.”
Chicago Public Schools serves 409,279 students in 675 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.