Case Study: Inside Chicago Public Schools’ Opportunity Schools Initiative
This case study details the Opportunity Schools initiative, Chicago Public Schools’ effort to address teacher recruitment and retention issues in its hardest to staff schools. At the heart of Opportunity Schools is a commitment to equity—ensuring that students in these schools have equal access to high-quality teachers who are also passionate about teaching in the city’s lowest performing schools. Among the supports Opportunity Schools receive include centralized recruitment, providing principals slates of candidates who fit customized profiles principals themselves create; instructional coaches and school-based mentors for new teachers; and training for principals on how to implement strategies to retain their best teachers.
Early results from Opportunity Schools are promising, with teacher vacancy and attrition rates down in schools participating in the initiative. Additionally, several Opportunity School principals indicate the recruiting supports have been helpful in producing candidates that are a better “fit” for their schools. This case study shares insights from CPS teachers, principals and central office staff that have been a part of this initiative, and offers considerations for school districts and others seeking to launch similar efforts.