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Mayor Richard M. Daley and Chicago Public Schools officials today announced CPS has received a total of $58.8 million in federal grants that will be used to develop a program to increase teacher effectiveness and student achievement in 25 elementary schools and reduce drop-out rates and increase graduation rates at the high school level.
“To build a stronger Chicago and assure that every student is able to achieve success in life, we must make every school in every neighborhood the best it can be,” Daley said in a news conference held at Ravenswood Elementary School, 4332 N. Paulina St.
“Everywhere in Chicago, our neighborhood schools are getting stronger, but there is much more to do, especially in our high schools,” he said.
The largest of the grants -- $34 million from the federal Teacher Incentive Fund -- will support a five-year effort that will involve about 1,100 teachers at some 25 high-need schools. These are elementary schools with a high percentage of low-income students and which have also historically struggled with high teacher turnover.
The goal of the program is to strengthen the education profession by rewarding excellence, by attracting teachers and principals to high-need and hard to staff areas and by providing teachers and principals with the feedback and support they need to succeed.
“We are committed to providing our students with great teachers in the classroom, and these funds will provide us with added tools to do just that,” said Ron Huberman, CPS Chief Executive Officer.
“Developing meaningful evaluation criteria, putting in place supportive professional development, improving student outcomes and rewarding performance for achieving and exceeding goals are all key components the program we will develop with this grant,” he said.
CPS was one of 62 school districts from across the country to receive a Teacher Incentive Fund grant from DOE. Nearly 100 school districts applied to be part of the $1.2 billion program.
CPS worked closely with many groups to develop the grant proposal, including principals, Chief Area Officers, representatives of the Chicago Teachers Union and the Chicago Public Education Fund (The Fund).
The grant application submitted to DOE emphasized:
- Fiscal sustainability and strong outside stakeholder partnerships.
- A meaningful system of evaluation that balances student growth and practice.
- A long-term strategy to strengthen the educator workforce during and beyond the initial grant period.
- Improved recruitment and retention of teachers for high-need students and in hard-to-staff subject areas.
“How we measure a teacher’s effectiveness in a classroom or a principal’s success in a school is probably the biggest challenge facing the education community today,” noted Janet Knupp, founding president and CEO of The Fund. “It’s complicated, and people will understandably be apprehensive about it. But, we believe Chicago should be and can be a leader on this and build a system that is robust, fair and beneficial to all teachers and school leaders.”
Daley said the other two grants, which total about $24.8 million, are aimed specifically at improving high schools.
The first is for $9.9 million from the federal “Smaller Learning Communities” program.
This grant will help some of the City’s large high schools create smaller, more personalized learning environments that will help students improve their performance and better prepare themselves for higher education.
The second grant is for $14.9 million from the federal “High School Graduation Initiative,” which provides support to reduce high school drop-out rates and increase graduation rates. The High School Graduation Initiative supports activities such as early warning systems designed to identify students at risk of dropping out, rigorous academic programs and support services to engage students and implement dropout prevention, credit recovery programs and targeted re-engagement programs that identify out-of-school youth and encourage them to reenter school.
“Our goal should be to make every neighborhood school a quality school that a parent wants to send their child to because it offers our students a great opportunity for a solid education,” Daley said.
“More than ever, because the competition for new jobs and businesses is global in scope, businesses must be satisfied that Chicago's workforce is well trained and ready towork. The kind of federal support we are talking about today plays a big role in moving us closer to our goal of making Chicago’s schools the best in America,” he said.
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