New grant for urban school leadership program

Steve Tozer

Steve Tozer heads UIC’s Center for Urban Education Leadership. Photo: Jenny Fontaine/UIC

A doctoral program that trains educators to transform failing urban schools has received nearly $2 million in continued funding from the U.S. Department of Education.

The Urban Education Leadership Program at the University of Illinois at Chicago places its graduates as Chicago Public Schools principals. It also places coaches in each school to guide the principals through their first three years of school leadership.

The new grant is the program’s third federal grant in three years. It will fund “systematic improvement of our principal pipeline,” said Steve Tozer, founding coordinator of the program.

“Our principal preparation partnership with Chicago Public Schools has won national recognition since its inception in 2002, but it must improve to be a national model worthy of the attention it has received,” he said.

Tozer said the program can further improve outcomes in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade classes by:

• Strengthening its collaboration with Chicago Public Schools.

• Refining leadership development, from initial recruitment and selection to integration of classroom and on-site experience, and later coaching of early-career principals.

• Improving the administrative structure to support extensive school-based experience and continuous data analysis of principal performance.

• Demonstrating to policy makers nationally, through experience and data, that transformational principals are the single most cost-effective levers to improve the lowest-performing schools.

The Urban Education Leadership program has received many awards, including the 2012 Urban Impact Award from the Council of Great City Schools, in partnership with Chicago Public Schools, for the impact of UIC principals on student learning.