Improving Teacher Leadership to Support Teacher Retention in Chicago Public Schools

While Illinois is facing a statewide teacher shortage, data show that 40% of the state’s unfilled teaching positions are in Chicago Public Schools (CPS). The CPS Talent Office identified a subset of 60 schools—called “Opportunity Schools”—that face consistent challenges with hiring and retaining teachers compared with other schools in the district. Opportunity Schools predominantly serve students from low-income families of color on the city’s South and West sides. These schools typically receive about half as many teaching job applications and have twice as many vacant positions as other CPS schools, and teachers in these schools are 2.5 times more likely to leave their positions than other CPS teachers. CPS Talent Office leaders are working to increase teacher retention in the Opportunity Schools by providing teacher leadership opportunities such as mentoring and induction support for new teachers and serving in a master teacher role called a “multi-classroom leader.”

To support this work, the Region 9 Comprehensive Center (R9CC) is collaborating with the CPS Talent Office to increase its capacity to measure teacher retention by streamlining data collection and analysis processes. In 2019–20, R9CC is supporting CPS staff as they examine strengths and assess needs in areas such as data collection methods, measures of success, best practices, and support systems for teacher retention. As a result of these initial needs assessment activities, R9CC and CPS will identify, collect, and analyze formative data sources to monitor teacher retention and build organizational capacity to monitor and support continuous improvement of evidence-based teacher retention strategies. In addition, R9CC is collaborating with the Illinois State Board of Education to identify best practices and lessons learned to inform teacher leadership initiatives in other districts across the state.