Special reports on the essentials of elementary school improvement

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With this special report, Catalyst: Voices of Chicago School Reform begins an eight-part series examining What Matters Most in Chicago’s ongoing struggle to create schools that meet the needs of our children. After more than seven years of chronicling school reform’s twists and turns in the nation’s third largest school system, we decided it was time to focus on its essential elements. In each installment, we will highlight some of the people, programs and schools that have had the most success, and report on efforts to spread the success citywide.Because the challenges that elementary and high schools face are so different, we have chosen to focus on just elementary schools.

The three school profiles in this issue set the scene for future topics: principal leadership, professional development, parent-school partnerships, effective local school councils and small schools. In the last installment of this school year, we will address standards and accountability. We will conclude at the beginning of next school year with a wrap-up that draws on responses from you, our readers. (Comments will be posted throughout the year on our World Wide Web site, www.catalyst-chicago.org.)

What Matters Most will supplement our regular issues. The series has been made possible by grants from The Chicago Community Trust, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The Field Foundation of Illinois, McDougal Family Foundation and The Spencer Foundation. Thanks to their generosity, we are sending the series not only to our subscribers, but also to thousands of other community leaders.

Linda Lenz Editor & Publisher