Since school year 2015-16, UIC has served as an external partner to the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Office of Network Supports in the professional development of CPS Network Chiefs. Chiefs supervise principals in nearly all of Chicago’s neighborhood schools apart from the 75 Independent School Principal schools that are not members of a CPS Network. The UIC role in developing Network Chiefs began in 2015, before UIC graduate Dr. Janice Jackson became Chief Education Officer in CPS, (from which she was promoted to CEO of CPS in 2017), and the work has continued to evolve in its fifth year.
For the first three years of the UIC/CPS collaboration, all Network Chiefs and their deputies received monthly PD from UIC. The central challenge to CPS has been to be explicit about the highest-leverage responsibilities for Chief performance, and to create a plan for Chiefs to engage in the necessary learning to be able to perform these at an increasingly higher level. The Chiefs themselves took a significant role in identifying these responsibilities by the end of SY17:
- Network office organizational capacity & supervision
- Supervising a learning network of principals
- Providing developmental coaching for selected principals
- Co-leading Chief learning in a community of professional practice
- Facilitating school/District communications, including crisis management and trouble-shooting
In the fourth year, when CPS separated its 80 neighborhood high schools from their combined elementary/high-school networks, UIC worked exclusively with the four new High School Network Chiefs. The approach uses a Networked Improvement Community (NIC) model to develop Chiefs in their ability to focus their work not on principal compliance with district directives, but on development of principal leadership capacity. This work has shifted in the fifth year to focus on supporting the new Deputy Chief of High Schools in leading development of a new HS strategy for CPS.