CPS Awarded $1.1 Million U.S. Department of Education Grant to Further Develop Educator Recruitment and Retention Strategies
14 September 2022
Nation’s third largest district the only K-12 system recognized for developing teacher pipeline and awarded funds to further bolster efforts
CHICAGO - Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is honored to announce that it will receive a $1.1 million U.S. Department of Education grant this year - and a projected $6 million over five years - that recognizes the strides made at CPS to address the national teacher shortage and further develop a strong and diverse workforce. CPS was the only K-12 school district in the country to receive the Teacher Quality Project grant to better recruit, prepare, develop and retain a strong teacher workforce in partnership with local colleges and universities.
“We’re excited to expand our strategic teacher recruitment and retention efforts with the help of this new grant and collaboration with local colleges and universities.” said CPS CEO Pedro Martinez. “This grant will help us not only hire teachers for our hardest-to-staff schools and positions but it will ensure that they’re ready to succeed and make a difference in our classrooms.”
The grant, announced Monday, will help the District build on successful efforts already underway, including the CPS Residency Program and Teach Chicago Tomorrow which aim to expand the pipeline of teachers and ensure that the District recruits and retains more teachers of color. The District is among 22 entities earning a total of $24.8 million as part of the grant’s first year.
CPS will apply the funds to help deepen and expand, strengthen and fine tune the District’s existing teacher training, recruitment and maintenance efforts through a proposed new initiative called the Pre-Service Teaching Equity Project, or P-STEP. The project aims to form a partnership to enhance existing pathways to teaching by leveraging the expertise of local Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs). This collaborative work will focus on strengthening the qualifications and preparation of incoming teachers, particularly in order to support CPS students in hard-to-staff schools. The project will help develop stronger collaboration and ties with faculty across Departments of Education and Arts and Sciences at local colleges and universities, elevating the quality of induction support for new teachers and meeting the Teacher Quality Partnership definition of an effective pre-baccalaureate teacher preparation program.
During the five-year grant period, P-STEP proposes to implement five strategies:
1) provide opportunities for all PSTs to complete field experiences in hard-to-staff CPS schools;
2) equitably place student teachers throughout CPS;
3) improve the pre-service teaching experience, including improved direct-to-PST training, leading to more PSTs accepting full-time positions in hard-to-staff CPS schools;
4) recruit, train, and retain Cooperating Teachers (CTs) in hard-to-staff schools, with specific attention paid to improving training and recruiting and retaining CTs of color; and
5) streamline efforts within our Talent Office to ensure pre-service teachers from underrepresented groups and those studying high-needs subject areas accept pre-service teacher placement and full-time employment at hard-to-staff CPS schools.
The U.S. Department of Education’s Teacher Quality Project program funds teacher preparation programs in high-need communities at colleges and universities for the undergraduate, “fifth-year” level, and for teaching residency programs for individuals new to teaching with strong academic and professional backgrounds. In announcing the program, the U.S. Department of Education noted a central feature of all TQP grantees is a strong partnership between the teacher preparation program and the school districts they serve, with CPS standing alone as the one school district being awarded funding based on its work through Teach Chicago and its two main programs, Teacher Residency and Teach Chicago Tomorrow.
Teach Chicago coordinates the District’s pre-service teacher/teaching readiness and programming services and resources; and focuses on the hardest-to-staff schools, which typically serve low-income students, with high-need subjects including special education and bilingual teaching. Teach Chicago employs myriad efforts to both support new teachers and offer leadership initiatives to the District’s existing cadre of educators. Through Teach Chicago, the District’s staffing levels have improved substantially - up by more than 1,500 teachers since 2017 - with an emphasis on supporting hard-to-staff schools and hard-to-staff positions, including 1,000 more special education teachers. The percentage of new teachers who are Black and/or LatinX has risen from 33 percent in 2017 to 48 percent in 2022.
The Teacher Residency has grown into the District’s signature teacher preparation pathway . Since 2017, when the program launched, it has mitigated the chronic staffing shortages in high-need areas with fast-growing, highly effective residency programs, operating in partnership with local colleges and universities. These partnerships collaborate to curate and deliver training and development experiences, including careful selection of training site schools. Participants earn an Illinois teacher license after one full year of training and are eligible to be hired as teachers of record. Teacher residency models offer teachers from nontraditional backgrounds an accelerated and highly rigorous training path to fill positions across the District, including within our most hard-to-staff school.
The Teach Chicago Tomorrow program (TCT), launched in 2020, focuses on recruiting CPS students to emerge as our future cadre of teachers. The first class of Teach Chicago Tomorrow teachers are expected to be in classrooms by August of 2024.
The District partners with City Colleges of Chicago and Illinois State University to attract and support CPS high school students to become teachers. TCT recruits current CPS students who largely identify as individuals of color and are interested in becoming a teacher. The program connects them to a structured college pathway to their educational degree and licensure tailored to their specific teaching discipline and vast suite of wrap-around services: tutoring, academic supports, financial supports, and mentorship. The pathway includes an intentional approach to mitigate the barriers that students of color-- many of whom also identify as first generation college students-- face in their higher education experiences.
Under the P-STEP grant, the District will partner with Chicago State University’s College of Education and College of Arts and Sciences, Northeastern Illinois University and DePaul University.
“Given the national teacher shortage, this new investment is more important than ever before,” said Ben Felton, Deputy Chief of Talent at CPS. “This collaborative work will foster an earlier level of support for prospective teachers in partnership with university programs and builds on the gains we’ve made thus far in our District.”