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One week before Chicago mayoral election, schools chief outlines five-year vision

School district CEO Janice Jackson presented the district's five-year vision plan at Bronzeville Classical Elementary School on March 26.
School district CEO Janice Jackson presented the district's five-year vision plan at Bronzeville Classical Elementary School on March 26.
Adeshina Emmanuel

Chicago school leaders unveiled their five-year vision for the district on Tuesday with a focus on continuing academic gains and financial stability, raising the achievement of black and Latino males, and restoring the public’s trust in Chicago Public Schools.

Schools CEO Janice Jackson and Chief Academic Officer LaTanya McDade presented the plan Tuesday morning at Bronzeville Classical Elementary School, outlining goals at the school district through the year 2024, with a focus on three core commitments: “academic progress, financial stability and integrity.”

The vision plan follows the release of school-level budgets for next year that provide underenrolled schools with more support, and district investments in academic programs at neighborhood schools, both measures Jackson and McDade said align with the district’s recent emphasis on equity.

Related: Good news for some schools in $32 million push, but questions surface about whether process is fair

“This is one of the greatest school district turnaround stories in the history of our nation,” McDade said, citing academic growth in the past decade. “But we know there are times when our students are not growing at the same rate or achieving the same outcomes.”

Jackson later echoed McDade’s point, emphasizing, “all of our work is grounded in equity.”

“We’re excited and we’re proud of the progress the district has made, but we will not realize our collective goals as a city unless we make sure the most vulnerable students in our city are meeting the same goals,” she said. “Because if you only look at the progress and look at the data, it can mask troubling signs and troubling disparities that lie beneath.”

Here are some goals from the district’s five-year vision:

  • Expand pre-kindergarten to all 4-year-olds.
  • Increase seats for academic programs like the International Baccalaureate and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).
  • Increase by 50 percent the percent of incoming kindergarten students meeting readiness benchmarks.
  • Increase by 70 percent the number of students who meet or exceed national reading and math attainment on the NWEA test.
  • Boost graduation rates to 90 percent.
  • Ensure at least 60 percent of students graduate with an early college or career credential.
  • Secure full state education funding
  • Review funding models and seek ways to improve equity and support neglected populations.

Related: In a shift, Chicago to prop up budgets at schools struggling to attract students

Jackson emphasized that more engagement and transparency was vital to restoring public trust in the school district, which had a history of scandals even before reports last year of mishandled student sexual abuse cases and violations of the rights of students with disabilities. The district, according to the plan, wants to increase the number of parents who feel that the district is on the right track, that their child has access to a quality education, and who report having many different ways to get involved at their child’s school.

Here are two copies of Chicago Public Schools’ five-year strategic plan, one in English and another in Spanish:

Here’s the Spanish version.

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