Chicago Chief Education Officer Janice Jackson states that Chicago’s principal-development strategy is directly correlated to its improving graduation rates and test scores. Here, we visit the high school that she opened as principal, George Westinghouse Academy on the west side of Chicago, and meet principal Patrick McGill, who says, “The landscape of school leaders has completely changed in CPS over the last 10 to 15 years.” But even well prepared and supported principals still need help to know what to focus on because the job, as Jackson says, sometimes seems “insurmountable.” That’s where the Chicago Consortium comes back in the picture, providing principals and the district with important data analysis and research that helps principals focus their limited time on the most important issues. Taken all together, Chicago has shown steady, solid improvement over three decades of work. Says deputy director of the Chicago Consortium Jenny Nagaoka, “If it can happen in Chicago, it can happen anywhere.”

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ExtraOrdinary Districts was made possible with a grant from The Wallace Foundation, which fosters improvements in learning and enrichment for children from low-income families and encourages efforts to improve the recruitment, training, and support of school leaders.