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Chicago Public Schools NIC

Cultivating Improvement

Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is partnering with leading educators to support leaders in 36 schools as they implement the district’s new Skyline curriculum, ultimately improving teacher skills and student outcomes.

About the Partnership

The Need & Vision

In 2017, Chicago Public Schools administrators noted significant variations in instructional focus across schools and classrooms. They grew concerned about unequal access to quality teaching. These concerns stemmed from research that emphasized the importance of grade-appropriate assignments for student success and linked instructional material quality to outcomes.

The conclusions led to a system-wide assessment of curriculum quality, availability, and accessibility in a district where most decisions had been decentralized.

  • A 2019 survey of 500 teachers confirmed the issue; almost half lacked access to curriculum resources, and 35% spent over five hours weekly searching for materials.
  • An overwhelming 85% believed it was essential for the district to provide unit and lesson plans and teacher resources.

These findings galvanized Chicago leaders into action. Schools began to adopt a new, Chicago-specific curriculum known as Skyline in 2022.

System-wide shifts are inherently complex for Chicago Public Schools as the nation’s third-largest school district. The rollout of Skyline across six content areas simultaneously, following a limited pilot year and pandemic disruptions, created uncertainty and a large scale of change.

Solution

Leading Educators is working with CPS offices to facilitate a Networked Improvement Community NIC) focused on supporting Skyline implementation and problem-solving with research-based and data-informed practices.

Together, stakeholders from 36 schools will develop mindsets that support effective change management and high expectations for students, applied instructional knowledge, and skills in improvement science. These skills will enable them to support their educators better and strengthen the quality of learning they provide students. 

A Skyline NIC will:

  • Center Skyline classrooms and use practical data to identify bright spots and problems of practice. 
  • Accelerate skillful Skyline implementation by defining, testing, and refining solutions to high-leverage classroom challenges.
  • Fuel Skyline’s continuous improvement cycle by fostering the necessary structures, roles, and habits across the district.
  • Eliminate silos by systematically bringing together stakeholders across organizations, networks, and schools.

Chicagoland schools theory of action that will result in students succeeding in school and in life.

Partnership Features

Chicagoland schools and Leading Educators work together to accelerate student learning and achievement through three primary activities.

Systems/Strategic Advising

Leading Educators oversees the Skyline Improvement Science Network (SISN) programming and engagement with CPS Central Office staff, including setting meeting agendas for ongoing collaboration and supporting SISN participant recruitment.

The team also facilitates the transition to specialists leading SISN planning, programming, and coaching. It ensures that the change ideas of SISN Fellows are well-documented and accessible to CPS stakeholders. We also collect and analyze data related to Skyline Math perception, implementation, and impact on learning, supporting specialists in sharing data and learnings with CPS stakeholders.

Ongoing Professional Learning Design

Leading Educators designed a year-long scope and sequence for SISN meetings and coaching of SISN Fellows. 

Coaching

We coach participants around implementing Plan-Do-Study-Act cycles to test change ideas. 

Partnership By The Numbers

Icon on a a boy with a backpack

2,167 students

benefiting from instructional improvements in math and literacy

White icon of a school

10 schools

working to accelerate student learning and achievement

Icon of plant in hand

13 PLC leaders

being supported to implement the Skyline curriculum

What's Unique

This approach is unique because it utilizes a problem-solving method grounded in improvement science. Instead of making significant changes all at once, we begin with small-scale tests of ideas to determine what works best.

Doing this allows for rapid learning and adjustments to ensure the idea is practical and effective before expanding it on a larger scale. By adopting this strategy, we can achieve enduring and meaningful changes that positively impact teaching and learning.

Read a Related Story
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Meet The Team

Our team of experienced classroom educators, former school and system leaders, content and coaching experts, and fearless advocates work shoulder-to-shoulder with Chicago Public Schools to go further faster.

Claudine Andrews

Senior Director of Programming
Claudine is the Senior Director of Programming working with district, school and teacher leaders to ensure that schools and system partnerships are effectively supported.
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LeAnita Garner

Director of Content & Coaching
LeAnita is a partner to school teams within Chicago Public Schools, who uses her experiences in and out of the classroom to support them in working toward educational equity.
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Tori McGowan

Director of Content
Tori is a Director of Content with Leading Educators. She supports school leaders and teachers in the Chicago area.
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Shondele Gillens-Vazquez

Instructional Leadership Coach, Chicago
Shondele Gillens-Vazquez is an Instructional Leadership coach who supports leaders in North Chicago.
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Morgan Qin

Instructional Leadership Coach, Math
Morgan Qin is an Instructional Leadership Coach – Math for the Chicago team.
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Danielle Parker

Associate Director of Networks
Danielle Parker is the Associate Director of Networks for Chicago-based partnerships.
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Claudine Andrews

LeAnita Garner

Tori McGowan

Shondele Gillens-Vazquez

Morgan Qin

Danielle Parker

Learn About Other Partnerships

Chicago Schools is just one of a dozen partnerships across the country that are pushing the boundaries of what schools can offer students. Learn more about how we customize our supports to meet the needs and strengths of visionary districts.

Meet Our Partners
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