In mid-July, we shared the results from our 2023 Principal Engagement Survey with Chicago Public Schools (CPS) principals. This was our tenth annual survey, and 70% of principals at district-managed schools responded, providing representative insight on satisfaction, development needs, and retention.
The survey responses inform our programming and help us to work toward our mission to improve public schools in Chicago by investing in the talented educators who lead them. For the first time, we are excited to announce the program changes that are informed by the survey before the start of the school year. Based on the survey data, and discussions with members of our Educator Advisory Committee, we are:
1. Providing more support for principals’ professional development.
87% of participating principals want more time for professional learning and development.
We are investing over $1 million in our core programs for 2023-24. We aim to serve more than 200 principals through our Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). Based on survey feedback, we will offer Illinois Administrator Academy credits for free through select semester-long PLCs. We will also offer our traditional yearlong PLCs focused on topics ranging from community partnerships, instructional leadership teams, and Local School Councils. Participants in yearlong PLCs will be eligible to receive a stipend for continued learning.
For principals leading schools in communities with high student mobility, we are launching a new, two-year fellowship program. The Malott Educator Fellowship will provide support to qualifying elementary school principals in years three through seven.
2. Renewing our commitment to adequate, equitable resources and principal flexibility.
57% of participating principals want more resources, and 53% want more flexibility in how resources are used.
We know adequate, equitable resources are required for the hard work that school leaders do. In the year ahead, we will share budget adequacy and equity analyses with elected officials and other local and state leaders. We will publish reports that shed light on the positive impact of increased funding and on the need to maintain and grow funding levels. Our past case studies and reports highlighted equity and the need for adequacy.
The survey results also showed that many principals value the flexibility to use resources in ways they know will best serve their school communities. We know there is a relationship between increased leadership latitude, joyful student learning, and positive school culture. Supporting school leaders’ ability to lead with local needs at the center is critical to increasing principal satisfaction and keeping them in their role.
Our continued investment in the Summer Design Program (SDP) and the Design Challenge are avenues for principals to pursue change that makes a difference for the communities they serve. Participation also helps build capacity across their leadership teams. In our Design Studio format, teams work together to build future solutions for the challenges they are experiencing today.
3. Investing in social and emotional learning (SEL) supports.
58% of participating principals want more support with student SEL, and 50% want more support with personal mental health.
SEL — for students and adults — continues to be a topic that matters to leaders citywide. Our PLC and Masterclass catalog for 2023-24 includes several educator-led opportunities to learn and deepen practices related to well-being.
Beyond the existing program catalog, we will bring principals together to discuss issues of trauma and loss in their personal and professional work and to build a supportive community. We plan to pilot this initiative in 2023-24.
More broadly, our educator newsletter and social media channels will include a focus on educator and student well-being in 2023-24. We will intentionally highlight proven tools, strategies, and experiences designed to improve mental health for adults and social and emotional skills for students.
Finally, we would like to thank Chicago principals for their commitment and leadership. We remain grateful every day for all that they do, and we look forward to working with them to support their schools and communities in the year ahead.