Chicago Unveils Comprehensive School Principal Quality Strategy 

Five Core Initiatives Designed to Ensure Strong Leadership in Every School By Recruiting, Retaining and Rewarding Quality Principals


February 6, 2013


Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Barbara Byrd-Bennett today announced a comprehensive, multi-tiered Principal Quality Strategy to recruit, retain and reward quality principals with the goal of ensuring every school in the District has strong and effective leadership by the start of the 2014-2015 school year. The Strategy, made up of five initiatives, aligns with CPS’s broader efforts to build greater accountability at every level of the District and create school environments that help all Chicago students become successful in college, career and life.


“As a former principal and teacher, I know from experience that great schools don’t exist without strong leaders that set high standards for everyone from teachers to students,” said CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. “Our Principal Quality Strategy centers on our shared goal of preparing students for success at CPS, in college, career, and life, and it is essential to providing teachers with the single greatest resource for improving instruction – an effective school leader.”


Mayor Rahm Emanuel championed increasing principal accountability during his campaign for mayor and has made it a priority during his administration, codified now in this comprehensive and multifaceted Principal Quality Strategy. It is designed to raise the bar for principals across the District and strengthen CPS’s ability to recruit, retain and reward high-quality leaders through implementing a more rigorous recruitment process, setting higher standards for eligibility and selection, supporting leadership development, determining effective measures of performance, and recognizing and rewarding success.


“We strive for nothing less than the best for our children and our principals play a vital role in their academic success,” said Mayor Emanuel. “We hold our principals accountable for the gains or losses our students are making within their schools and this comprehensive strategy will ensure that from the very start we are effectively supporting, recognizing and motivating our principals to help our students thrive and achieve outstanding results.”


The five initiatives of the Principal Quality Strategy are:


  1. Recruitment: Ensuring a high-quality principal for every school begins with recruiting aspiring leaders through the  Chicago Leadership Collaborative (CLC), which was announced by Mayor Emanuel in November 2012. Made up of four external partners, the CLC facilitates internships for aspiring principals, providing hands-on experience to help them become proficient in principal competencies and gain real-world experience as a school leader.
  2. Eligibility and Selection: A significantly upgraded eligibility and selection process for CPS principals will ensure that the pool of principal candidates offers high quality professionals for all schools. The new process includes two steps: an initial screening and a “Day in the Life” simulation, which will assess candidates’ abilities to manage real-life stressors and expected responsibilities that principals face on a daily basis. In recognition of the critical role parents and communities play in supporting schools and children, family and community engagement will be included in the criteria for assessing principal candidates. Development of a more rigorous recruitment and screening process is currently underway, spearheaded by a dedicated team of 80 principals working alongside Network Chiefs, Deputy Chiefs, Chicago Leadership Collaborative partners, and Chicago Principal and Administrators Association members. A full transition to the new process is expected in March 2013.
  3. Leadership Development: For existing principals, greater opportunities for leadership development will be available through two significant investments. New principals will receive focused support on fundamental school leadership skills. Rising principals, generally mid-career school leaders showing signs of success, will receive targeted support to advance specific skills such as use of data, financial management, and parental engagement. Additional support for veteran principals will be offered next year to assist them in reaching career goals.
  4. Effective Measures of Performance: Implementing CPS’s improved evaluation system, announced by CEO Byrd-Bennett in January 2013, will further support principal quality by incorporating a balanced assessment of success by measuring both student growth tied to national benchmarks and principal performance factors.
  5. Recognition and Rewards: Starting this year, CPS will encourage and reward outstanding performance through the Principal Achievement Awards, which recognize and reward principals whose school, staff, and students demonstrate significant improvement based on specific evaluation criteria. Honorees meeting two of the evaluation benchmarks will receive a $5,000 award, those meeting three benchmarks will receive a $10,000 award, and those meeting all four benchmarks will receive a $20,000 award.


About CPS

Chicago Public Schools serves 403,000 students in 681 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.


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Page Last Modified on Wednesday, February 06, 2013