Voices from the Field: Strategies from School Leaders to Improve REACH

Our 2015 School Leadership Report, Chicago’s Fight to Keep Top Principals, outlined four recommendations for making Chicago the best city in the country to lead a public school. Focus groups and one-on-one interviews revealed that three of these recommendations apply to how the teacher evaluation system used by Chicago Public Schools (CPS) can maximize its potential to drive instructional improvement. The system, called Recognizing Educators Advancing Chicago Students (REACH), is the subject of this brief. School leaders said they see REACH as a critical tool in their work with teachers and that they want help implementing it well. In fact, in our 2015 principal engagement survey, one in every three district principals expressed interest in additional support for REACH implementation. With the intention of encouraging that support from the district, nonprofit partners and the funding community, this brief shares perspectives on REACH as it impacts daily work in schools. This brief also underscores the importance of principal voice in ongoing policy discussions, especially as teacher evaluation systems continue to evolve at the state and national levels. Finally, this brief hopes to spark ideas that serve to measurably improve the context in which our principals lead, our teachers teach and our students learn. Read the full brief to learn more about the three specific ideas to help school leaders better leverage REACH as a tool for improving instruction and accelerating learning, to understand the history of teacher evaluations in Chicago, and to get insight into how several of Chicago’s best school leaders and their instructional teams developed cultures of trust to maximize the full impact of REACH.

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