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CPS plans training programs for candidates for principal jobs

Updated: March 8, 2013 7:43AM

Chicago Public Schools is about to put candidates for principal jobs through real-life training as part of a new screening process, the district announced Wednesday.

Anyone aiming to take the helm of a school will have to prove a knack for dealing with parents who are upset or breaking upa student fight in the hall and other routine situations, Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said.

CPS wants to prepare 100 qualified principal candidates a year, each with practical, on-the-job experience as part of its five-step Principal Quality Strategy.

“Great schools don’t exist unless you get great people in place,” Byrd-Bennett said.

Aspiring principals who want to be hired by Local School Councils will be trained by Loyola University, the University of Illinois at Chicago, New Leaders for New Schools and Teach For America and serve as residents or assistant principals in schools.

LSCs also will continue to make firing decisions and do their own evaluations of their school’s leaders.

CPS will evaluate all principals beginning this month. Half of the evaluation will be based in elementary schools on principal practice; a quarter on the test scores of all students; 15 percent on test-score growth for English language learners and special-education students, and 10 percent on factors such as attendance and misconduct. For high schools, it’s half performance; 20 percent test score growth; 15 percent of growth for students with special needs; 10 percent graduation and dropout rates plus attendance, and five percent for the number of freshmen who’ve earned enough credits to graduate on time.

Principals who excel could be awarded up to $20,000 in performance bonuses.

Some school administrators have anecdotally criticized the bonuses, suggesting instead that the money — raised by private philanthropists —should be awarded to schools rather than to principals personally.

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