The Chicago Principal in Comparison

Our joint report with the Illinois Principals Association, The Illinois Principal: Their Work, Their Challenges, Their Impact, highlights several factors of the principal role that are common across the state. However, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is an extraordinary district, and school leaders in Chicago face unique challenges not shared by their colleagues in other districts. At the same time, CPS’ principals enjoy a level of autonomy and other benefits that are rare elsewhere.

This fact sheet, “The Chicago Principal in Comparison,” showcases some of the ways in which the principal role in CPS differs from that in other Illinois school districts. Some differences, such as the number of students or staff a CPS principal oversees, are a result of CPS being by far the largest school district in the state. Others, including the unique autonomy granted to principals in Chicago, show the recognition that strong and autonomous school leadership makes a positive difference for Chicago’s students.

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