$1 million grant helps great teachers become urban principals

A doctoral program at the University of Illinois at Chicago that prepares school principals to turn around struggling urban schools has received a three-year, $1 million grant from the U.S. Dept. of Education to further develop the program model and research its impact on schools.

The grant to the Urban Education Leadership program is one of 20 awarded nationally for a total of $13.3 million to colleges, school districts and nonprofit organizations to support principal development.

The  program, now in its 11th year of partnership with Chicago Public Schools, selectively admits outstanding teachers and prepares them to lead high-need urban schools. It develops their skills through leadership coaching after they have taken their roles as principals.

Steve Tozer heads UIC's Center for Urban Education Leadership. (Click on image for larger file.)

Steve Tozer heads UIC’s Center for Urban Education Leadership. Photo: Jenny Fontaine/UIC Public Affairs (Click on image for larger size.)

“Most teachers in their first year of teaching have limited ability to teach low-income kids effectively. Our principals learn how to turn schools into adult learning environments that attract, develop, and retain strong teachers,” said Steve Tozer, professor of educational policy studies and head of the Center for Urban Education Leadership.

Principals trained in Urban Education Leadership have led nearly 80 schools in Chicago — “schools that on average out-perform other CPS schools in improvements in attendance, graduation rates, and standardized test scores,” Tozer said.

“This work builds on a decade of nationally recognized efforts at UIC to transform principal preparation from a conventional, course-based master’s program into a four-year continuum of aggressive, practice-based leadership development,” he said.

The program received the 2012 Urban Impact Award from the Council of the Great City Schools for its improvement of student learning, and has been featured on PBS NewsHour. Tozer has been notified that in November, it will receive the first Exemplary Program Award from the University Council on Education Administration.

Tozer and a team of UIC education faculty plan to further document their model and disseminate it nationally through presentations to state agencies, universities and other education organizations.

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