Key Questions

1. How can school enrollment policies be designed to take advantage of the benefits of choice while also maintaining small schools as a resource for their neighborhood?

2. In what ways should the district, principals, and teachers distribute leadership, responsibilities, and authority for shaping the reform?

3. What constitutes high-quality instruction and how can it be pursued?

4. What are some productive ways in which principals and teachers are exercising leadership that lead to curricular and instructional improvement? What supports should CPS and CHRSI provide?

5. What policies and practices can be developed to help schools share buildings in a productive manner?

6. How can administrative and other non-teaching roles at small schools be structured to efficiently meet the school's administrative and program needs, given their sizes?


This report follows up the UChicago Consortium’s 2003 data brief, Chicago High School Redesign Initiative: A Snapshot of the First Year of Implementation. Both reports examine the implementation experiences of small high schools, and will serve as springboards for a systematic, three-year qualitative study beginning in fall 2004.

In this interview-based report, the responses of students, teachers and principals from 11 CHSRI-supported small schools are compiled to examine questions within four broad topics: how Chicago Public Schools policies relate to small schools; characteristics of the small schools; integration of support, standards, thematic focus, student interest and community involvement; and student experience and instructional reform. Notes from the Ground also includes issues for discussion and action among stakeholders, as Chicago continues to open small schools under the proposed Renaissance 2010 plan.