Feb 15, 2023 - News

CPS principals more racially diverse than in many other districts

Illustration of a green apple surrounded by red apples.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

When it comes to racial diversity among principals, CPS does a better job than many other urban school systems, per a new UChicago report analyzing data in the district.

Why it matters: Research suggests principals can affect student achievement nearly as much as teachers do, increasing pupils' learning by up to 3 months.

  • Plus, "race/ethnicity of principals matters in … helping to recruit teachers, [of color] into the workforce," researcher Molly Gordon told WBEZ recently.

Zoom in: Most Black and white CPS students have principals of the same race/ethnicity, per the report.

  • Yes, but: That's not true for Latinos. They make up 47% of the CPS student body yet only 17% of principals. That's an issue Gordon says needs "more attention."

By the numbers: Beyond race, the reports also looked at how often principals stayed in the job for at least five years, an important factor for school stability.

  • Elementary (52%) vs. high school (32%)
  • Schools with high levels of poverty (45%) vs. other schools (50-54%)
  • Predominantly Black (49%), Latino (58%), racially mixed (57%), and Black and Latinx (23%)

Context: The reports were created by the UChicago Consortium on School Research, the National Opinion Research Center at UChicago, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

  • They looked at eight years of demographic and retention data among hundreds of CPS principals.
  • The researchers also interviewed principals to glean the most important skills for the job. The winners: emotional intelligence, organizational and managerial skills.

What they're saying: "We wanted to identify existing gaps in the critical experiences and essential skills of CPS principals so that policymakers and programs can better support their leadership development," Gordon said in a statement.

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