The proposed project, C2-PP, will examine the potential of a principal preparation program to reduce racialized student achievement disparities, which persist despite overall gains in the district. The partners will enhance an existing principal preparation program to strengthen the racially-focused, equity-oriented leadership practices of school leaders to create organizational conditions that support racially equitable learning environments for students. During the first year of the grant, the partners will develop a tool that identifies the characteristics of racially-focused and equity-oriented principals, focusing on instructional interactions with teachers, the promotion of community/parent collaboration, and equity-oriented teacher learning. They will then identify five exemplar leaders to serve as mentors and principals to observe in the refined principal preparation program. In the second year, they will use an experimental design to test the impact of the enhanced program on aspiring principals’ knowledge, perception, and practice of equity-oriented leadership. In the third year, after program participants secure leadership positions in Chicago schools, the partners will use observations, interviews, and evaluations by supervisors, faculty, and students to compare how the new school leaders practice equity-oriented leadership. The proposed research meets a need identified by Chicago Public Schools’ leadership to address racial inequalities in academic outcomes by strengthening school leadership. Institutional change efforts will focus on the College of Education at the University of Illinois-Chicago, where the College has already changed faculty hiring processes to support institutional change. For example, in Fall 2022, the College posted one advertisement for multiple positions to begin removing siloes and to encourage applications from community-engaged scholars. In addition, the College is now committed to making policy changes to faculty annual reviews, as well as and tenure and promotion policies and processes, to codify the College’s commitment to community-engaged research. The project team will be involved in supporting and guiding these changes and related efforts to create more efficient and robust policies, processes, and structures to incentivize and support community-engaged research.
This grant will strengthen an existing partnership between the Center for Urban Education Leadership at the University of Illinois-Chicago and the Chicago Public Schools.