Hiring, Assignment, and Transfer in Chicago Public Schools

Christina Hentges

The New Teacher Project
July 2007

Tradition trumps progress in teacher recruitment and assignment in Chicago Public Schools (CPS). So finds a new audit by The New Teacher Project (TNTP). This methodical look at teacher recruitment, transfer, and reassignment practices exposes the ingrained traditions that block CPS from qualified and evenly dispersed classroom workforce. For example, CPS has a strong candidate pool but its hiring process begins late in the school year. Thus, the system sacrifices many highly qualified candidates to bureaucratic delays. CPS does have a (relatively) progressive teacher transfer process--both teacher and principal must agree on the placement--that enjoys the support of 78 percent of educators. But teacher re-assignments are ultimately based on seniority, which often renders the "mutual agreement" moot. Seniority placements usurp principals' authority to assemble their own teams, and take no account of teacher performance. Furthermore, the way CPS evaluates its teachers only exacerbates such problems; a whopping 88 percent of schools failed to issue even one unsatisfactory rating over the past four years. TNTP recommends linking evaluation and hiring/transfer practices, and the organization points out that CPS should design an impartial, comprehensive evaluation system that sacks bad teachers and allows performance-based transfers and reassignments. TNTP offers an actionable road map for CPS to follow--one hopes it encourages the system to slough off its bad habits. Check out the report here.

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