CPS Principal Quality Working Group Recommends Forming Non-Profit Group to Help Recruit, Develop, Support and Retain Effective Principals 


Monday, January 4, 2016

For more information, contact:
CPS Office of Communications
Phone: 773-553-1620
CHICAGO – Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Forrest Claypool and Chief Education Officer Dr. Janice Jackson today announced the initial recommendations made by the Principal Quality Working Group (PQWG), which includes the chief recommendation of forming a new not-for-profit organization that would assist the District as it works to identify, train, retain and support principals.
To improve principal quality in the long-term, the Principal Quality Working Group recommends launching a new partner organization, tentatively titled the Chicago School Leadership Institute (CSLI), to build on the capacity of existing stakeholders and respond to critical gaps in order to address system-wide principal quality challenges.
“Chicago’s students will benefit from the insights and work of experts and community leaders from across the city, who worked together to assess our progress and lay out ways to better recruit, develop and retain strong school leaders,” said CPS CEO Claypool. “The Principal Quality Working Group’s recommendations will guide the strategies we put in place to ensure Chicago’s schools continue their upward trajectory.”
CSLI will facilitate a collaborative, sustainable and citywide approach to accelerate and improve principal quality at every stage: training, placement, support and retention. It will engage a diverse group of principals and leverage data and resources to develop and support all principals in Chicago. With the support of the new CPS administration, leaders will work with philanthropic organizations and local universities in the coming weeks to create an organization that will focus on principal recruitment and training.
The Principal Quality Working Group was formed in August 2015 by CPS CEO Claypool and Chief Education Officer Jackson as one of their first initiatives. It includes leaders from across the education, civic, parent and business communities.
The Principal Quality Working Group recognizes the role that many strong leaders in CPS have played in driving student academic progress over the last decade, as well as credited the District for several recent initiatives designed to develop, empower and retain stronger leaders, including;

    •    Substantial principal autonomy and control over school budgets;
    •    A better principal evaluation system with clear and consistent expectations;
    •    New principal management tools to help monitor improvement throughout their schools;
    •    The Chicago Principals Fellowship; and
    •    The Independent School Principals program.

With collaborative stakeholder partnerships, transparency around quality and performance, and consistent, accurate data analysis, CSLI would support CPS to find long-term, sustainable solutions to its principal quality challenges. As an entity housed outside the CPS bureaucracy, CSLI would build off past successes and leverage the strengths of citywide partnerships that will ensure more coordinated and sustainable strategies even in the face of the District’s fiscal challenges and management transitions.
“We know effective principals are key to improving our schools and driving student success,” said Chief Education Office Jackson. “We look forward to working with partners across our city to design a coordinated, sustainable approach to principal quality that will ensure transformational leadership in every CPS school in the years to come.”
The Principal Quality Working Group also issued near-term recommendations to assist the District in recruiting, developing, support and retaining high quality principals, which include:

  1. Implementing a revised eligibility process and creating eligibility supports for aspiring assistant principals (APs) pursuing leadership roles. Former versions of the CPS district Principal eligibility process have been time-consuming, and the group supports changing the process to better align with the needs of principal candidates and schools with vacancies. The district launched a revised version in November 2015. As a supplement to the process itself, CPS will also offer several sessions to provide further clarification for potential candidates, with a particular focus on aspiring APs.

  2. Developing a website that meets the needs of both aspiring principals, such as APs, CLC residents and external candidates, as well as hiring authorities, including LSCs and charter boards. Building off national best practices, the website will contain information about the multiple pathways to principalships and offer resources for both candidates and hiring bodies in a clear and accessible manner.

  3. Exploring and piloting new ways to retain existing high-performing principals in their roles. CPS and the charter community should explore ways for high-performing principals to address new challenges within Chicago’s public schools. Additionally, compliance mandates and paperwork responsibilities of principals should be reduced to allow them to spend more time on instruction and school management.

  4. Supporting professional development for APs. APs are an important group of leaders who play a critical role in school management and performance. More attention should be paid to developing and retaining APs and supporting high-performing APs interested in principalships.

  5. Conducting additional research and analysis on principal quality. Specifically, the group recommended research and analysis on the following four topics:
           a.       Principal placement, performance and retention rates for programs working with large numbers of aspiring or sitting principals citywide.
           b.      A map of all PD currently offered to principals through Network Chiefs or other principal supervisors, preparation programs and other partners to evaluate quality and identify gaps.
           c.       Principal compensation and ways to improve satisfaction with the system.
           d.      APs in Chicago, including retention in role and interest in principalships.
The Principal Quality Working Group’s first report is attached. Its members include:
Principal Quality Working Group | Co-chairs
  • Janice Jackson, Chicago Public Schools
  • Tony Miller, Vistria Group
  • Gail Ward, Board of Education, City of Chicago

Principal Quality Working Group
| Members
  •  Rebecca Braun, Wildwood IB World Magnet School, Chicago Public Schools
  •  Alfonso Carmona, Healy Elementary School, Chicago Public Schools
  •  Gillian Darlow, Polk Bros Foundation
  •  Ana Espinoza, Sandoval Elementary School, Chicago Public Schools
  •  Zipporah Hightower, Chicago Public Schools
  •  Gregory Jones, Kenwood Academy High School, Chicago Public Schools
  •  Tim Knowles, University of Chicago
  •  Ana Martinez, New Leaders
  •  Rachel Resnick, Retired, Chicago Public Schools
  •  Unmi Song, The Lloyd A. Fry Foundation
  •  Luis Soria, Chicago Public Schools
  •  Eric Thomas, Noble Network of Charter Schools
  •  Steve Tozer, University of Illinois at Chicago

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