Mayor Emanuel and Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett today recognized 82 principals from across the district as the first recipients of principal performance pay, part of the groundbreaking Chicago Leadership Collaborative initiative the Mayor announced last fall that works to provide support and training for principals as well as reward them for building school environments that drive student success. These principals are building the foundations within their schools that drive student success, as demonstrated by exceptional growth shown by their students over the course of the last school year.
“We hold our principals accountable for the gains or losses our students are making within their schools. Providing the training, support and resources our principals need to help our students thrive goes hand-in-hand with rewarding those with outstanding results,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Across the board, my administration is working to increase accountability so we can see the improved performance and drive results that taxpayers deserve to see; in schools, our principals are responsible for creating an environment within their schools that leads to student success, and we will maintain high expectations for this success.”
In November, Mayor Emanuel and CPS announced the formation of the Chicago Leadership Collaborative to help provide professional development, training, differentiated coaching and support for every principal in the district, working in tandem with the creation of Networks led by “Chiefs” of schools, which allow more personalized and targeted professional support and mentoring for principals.
“When I was a teacher, no one was more valuable to the work I did than my principal – they are the heart of every school and are the ties that bind the support systems at every school,” said CPS CEO Bennett. “Today we are recognizing and rewarding those that have built some of the best support systems across our district that are pushing our students towards success.”
The performance awards are supported by donations from Chicago’s philanthropic community, with a total of $5 million designed to support awards over the course of 5 years. Principals were selected to receive achievement awards based on metrics developed over months of discussions with CPS principals.
“Over the past year, our students have achieved major accomplishments, posting record growth in math and reading scores, reaching the highest average ACT score on record, and hitting the highest graduation rate and lowest drop-out rates on record, and one of the ways we can continue to build on these is through maintaining a high level of accountability among our principals for student growth and success,” added Mayor Emanuel.
Out of the 82 principals recognized this year, 72 were elementary school principals and 10 were high school principals. Achievement factors included student college readiness and graduation rate, two critical pieces in providing students a better opportunity for success, as well as decreasing the achievement gap among students and growth in student test scores. Achievement was determined based on the student growth that was demonstrated among schools at similar levels and across the same grades (for instance, student growth at the high school level was not compared with student growth at the elementary school level). These factors will be revisited regularly to ensure they are current, accurate and fair indicators of success.
“As a former principal, I know first-hand the ups and downs that these school leaders face every day and the hard work it takes to support teachers, staff and students in each and every room of their buildings,” said Dr. Mahalia Hines, member of the Chicago Board of Education and President of the COMMON Ground Foundation. “Achievements at every level should be recognized and I commend these principals on the strides they have made in creating a brighter future for their students.”
There are three levels of achievement awards: demonstrated student growth in two of the four factors merited an award of $5,000; demonstrated student growth in three of the four factors merited an award of $10,000; and demonstrated student growth across the board, in all four factors, merited an award of $20,000.
The Emanuel administration is implementing similar efforts to link performance and accountability across City departments and agencies. For example, in September, the City Colleges of Chicago announced a new contract with their full-time faculty that included “student success pay,” in which up to 1 percent of salary per year will be tied to increases in student outcomes, rewarding faculty, training specialists and student-facing professionals based on state-developed metrics such as student outcomes, transfer rates, completion rates and students’ rate of employment in their field of study. Additionally, the administration last year implemented managed competition in recycling services, leading the City to spend $2.2 million less than projected in only 6 months and expand this strategy to tree trimming and street marking. This past September, Mayor Emanuel announced an innovative new agreement to reduce costs and improve services at O’Hare International Airport through competitive bidding; and in October, the Mayor announced a City employee wellness challenge, in which City employees in Chicago and San Antonio are eligible for cash rewards in a friendly competition aimed at increasing the health of employees, thereby decreasing their health care costs to taxpayers.
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