The Chicago Principal Partnership is working to ensure that every public school in Chicago is led by a strong principal.

We know that strong principals are important for student success, that they keep great teachers, and that they create a welcoming environment for families and the community. Strong principals set high expectations for students and foster a community that enables students to live and learn to their fullest potential.

Together, members of The Partnership help Chicago attract, develop and keep strong leaders in the public schools that need them the most.


The Partnership includes a diverse group of members who participate in one of three groups: the Advisory Committee, the Partners Council and the Champions Council. We use the committee and council structure to engage individual partners in the right work at the right time.


Members of the Advisory Committee champion principal quality in public schools and set The Partnership’s priorities. They also help drive improvement in their own organizations and in those that impact principals across Chicago.


Members of the Partners Council provide input on specific projects undertaken by The Partnership. This includes our current work on ChicagoPrincipals.org and the creation of a new data system.


Members of the Champions Council lend visibility to The Partnership’s mission. They help elevate the importance of strong principals in every public school.

Announced May 2017. Sign-up here.

Current partners include representatives from the education, nonprofit, parent and philanthropic communities, as well as principals in a diverse set of schools. These leaders represent many perspectives and are united in their commitment to strong principal leadership in every public school.

Partners are currently working to make this site, ChicagoPrincipals.org, a resource to advance principal quality in Chicago and to create a shared data system that drives positive change within and across organizations.

Learn more about the important work of The Partnership.



Chicago has been a national leader in advancing strategies designed to attract, develop and keep strong principals. We were among the first cities in the country to raise the bar on principal eligibility for district schools and to deliberately grow the number of job-embedded training opportunities available to top educators.

August 2015

Chicago Public Schools (CPS) convened a group of 16 stakeholders charged with identifying ways to build on our past success and to make Chicago the best city in the nation to lead a public school. Led by Dr. Janice K. Jackson, Gail Ward and Tony Miller, this Principal Quality Working Group also included principals, teachers, researchers and civic partners as well as representatives from the district and from charter management organizations.

January 2016

The Principal Quality Working Group recommended the creation of a new effort to support all stakeholders in accelerating and improving principal quality. Now called The Partnership, the new effort that emerged serves as a primary source of information and a nexus of collaboration for stakeholders supporting strong principals across Chicago.

July 2016

The Chicago Public Education Fund, one of the founding partners, supported a series of conversations with approximately 90 stakeholders across the city. Stakeholders confirmed the opinion of the Principal Quality Working Group: In spite of challenges, Chicago has the right conditions to accelerate principal quality. Stakeholders agreed that a partnership approach would be most efficient and effective.


Principals matter in all schools, but principals in Chicago’s schools are provided unique flexibility to lead. This is an advantage in recruiting top leaders to serve as principals, and it means that the stakes are especially high for making the right match into every open principal role.

Read below to learn about the potential paths to becoming a principal in Chicago and why Chicago is an attractive city for principals to successfully lead in a public school.


Who makes hiring decisions in Chicago?

Three entities are authorized to hire a Chicago public school principal:

hiring decision


What potential paths exist for educators pursuing the principal role in Chicago?

Teaching and leadership training are common across many paths; other experiences vary based on school type and needs:

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What makes a principal role appealing to strong educators?

The perception that the job is important and competitive makes the principal role appealing to strong educators.


Best Practices

  • A high bar for principal applicants.
  • Competitive salary and benefits.


  • Eligibility requires aspiring principals to demonstrate key skills and knowledge before applying to district roles.
  • Competitive compensation; above national and state benchmarks.
  • More than $10 million in public and private dollars invested annually to support principals in the city.
Strong leaders in any field prepare for their next role. Aspiring principals are no different. Access to opportunities to learn key skills before becoming a principal make the role more attractive.


Best Practices

  • On-the-job residency experiences that mirror principal duties.


  • One-year Chicago Leadership Collaborative residencies, which are regularly cited as a national best-practice.
Flexibility around the use of resources, both money and talent, is critical in attracting strong principals to lead in Chicago.


Best Practices

  • Principals allowed to make decisions about staffing and purchasing at the school level.


  • Principals have control over 50 percent of the operational budget annually and allows considerable flexibility in budgeting.
  • Principals allowed to hire and manage the teachers in their buildings.
  • Principals and instructional teams empowered to make curriculum decisions.
Clear role expectations help create an environment where principals are encouraged to continuously improved in their positions. Predictable performance assessment, with multiple factors considered at all stages in a principal’s career, help advance principals professionally.


Best Practices

  • Clear principal evaluations, which tie to both practice and student growth.


  • School accountability system and a principal evaluation system that prioritize student learning and recognize strong climate and culture.