<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=1392659690788492&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">
Skip to content
Watch a Demo

How One Chief Academic Officer is Creating Systemic Access to Excellence


It is no secret that COVID-19 had major effects on education. School districts nationwide struggled to bring an equal and quality education to all its students amid educational decline. Despite the years of challenges, according to a new study, Chicago Public School has bounced back from its pandemic decline with some of the largest post-pandemic gains in both reading and writing. At ThinkCERCA’s 2023 Leadership Institute, we had the pleasure of having CPS Chief Education Officer, Bogdana Chkoumbova, share how the district overcame adversity to bring equitable education to all its students. 

Watch the full video here

What we can learn from CPS:

The CPS mission is clear: to provide a high-quality public education for every student in every neighborhood that prepares each for success in college, career, and civic life. 

To achieve its goal of systemic access to excellence, CPS developed a plan based on three strong prongs: academic progress, operational excellence, and building trust. 

While CPS was still in remote learning, the district introduced an instructional core framework to make improvements at a sustainable scale focused on developing its inner core: identity, community, and relationships. The goal was for students to experience core instruction that reflects who they are as individuals and their values and to inspire them to be critical thinkers and responsible citizens in a democratic world. 

Three Instructional Core Shifts for Your District to Try:

1. Focus on Practice Data, not just Outcomes Data

Give educators the data they need frequently to make decisions about student needs and be intuitive beyond state assessment data.

2. Centering Students in the Instructional Core

Support students in building positive identity, community, and relationships through the instructional content. 

3. Centering Students and their Needs

Foster students’ sense of connectedness, belonging, and well-being. 

Watch our clip below. ⬇️

Additional strategies to put the plan into action: 

  • Increase additional staffing to reduce class sizes and provide access to art to every student. 
  • Conduct a district-wide student survey to give a voice to all its students and their ongoing experiences in their classes. Then structure different professional learning pathways for each school depending on what their students are saying. 
  • Encourage dual credit and dual enrollment attainment. CPS increased the number of kids attending postsecondary with early college credentials not seeing any opportunity gaps. The results? African American students were on par with every other group, and 5000 kids achieved early college credentials. CPS saw the highest number of students achieving associate degrees at the same time they graduated high school. 
  • Expand dual language programs to underserved communities to build their access. 
  • Offer every school to design their after-school program to suit their needs. 1 in every 3 kids in CPS now attends an after-school program. 
  • CPS invested in their own unique, digital curriculum that is not only high-quality but also culturally relevant and adaptable. CPS chose not to force schools to adopt it but rather let them self-reflect and self-assess to meet the expectations of a high-quality curriculum. Currently, 90% of schools have adopted the Skyline curriculum.

Every student has unique needs and a district should prioritize and strive for an instructional program that reflects their differences. By successfully achieving systemic access, students can graduate with dignity, pathways of upward social mobility, and the mindsets and skillsets to be an integral part of society. 

Watch the full video and access the presentation here