Questions and Answers

Why did CPS Develop an Arts Education Plan?

The arts are a critical component of a well-rounded education for all students. Research has shown that participation in the arts, particularly for low-income students, strengthens student academic outcomes and other protective factors such as increased school engagement and civic participation. Young people who participate in the arts learn 21st Century skills required to be successful in a the today’s global economy such as critical and innovative thinking and, problem solving and innovation.

Chicago Public Schools recognizes the critical role arts education play in building better schools, teaching environments, and creating more opportunities for student success both in school and out of school. The arts can serve as a gateway to better student outcomes.

How was the Abstract & CPS Arts Education Plan developed?

The content of the CPS Arts Education Plan centers on elevating five standards in arts education and the strategies on how to achieve those standards. The Plan was informed by diverse stakeholders including principals, teachers, students, arts organizations and the general public utilizing three key strategies:

I. Represent All Voices

To ensure shared and distributed leadership in the creation of the CPS Arts Education Plan, the CPS Arts Steering and Advisory Committees were formed. The CPS Arts Education Plan Advisory Committee was charged with developing the critical priorities for the Plan and making recommendations to the Steering Committee for final approval.

The Steering Committee included leadership from the City, District, and philanthropic community at the time:

Michelle Boone, Commissioner, Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events
Jean-Claude Brizard, CEO, Chicago Public Schools
Dr. Jennifer Cheatham, Chief of Instruction, Chicago Public Schools
Kassie Davis, Executive Director, Chicago Mercantile Exchange Trust
Sandra Guthman, President, Polk Bros. Foundation
Jewel Malone, Deputy Commissioner, Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events
Beth Swanson, Deputy Director of Education, Office of Mayor Rahm Emanuel
David Vitale, President, Chicago Board of Education

The Advisory Committee included two representatives from each stakeholder group. The groups included:

• CPS Network Chiefs
• CPS Principals
• CPS Teachers
• CPS Parents
• CPS Students
• CPS Charter Schools
• CPS Dept. of Arts Education
• National Cultural Advisors
• Local Arts Partners
• Arts Advocacy
• Higher Education
• Philanthropy
• Civic Leadership

For a full list of participants serving on these committees, please click on the “Stakeholders” section above.

II. Honor All Voices

CPS & Ingenuity Incorporated hosted over 25 public community engagement sessions from June through September 2012 where principals, teachers, students, parents, and arts and cultural organizations shared their expertise and knowledge regarding the creation of the first CPS Arts Education Plan.

Additionally,  Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) hosted over 30 town hall meetings,  from February through August of 2012 that were attended by thousands of residents where arts education was listed as one of the top three cultural priorities for the City of Chicago. The CPS Department of Arts Education and Ingenuity Incorporated joined forces with DCASE to lead discussions on arts education at several DCASE town hall meetings.

III. Honor Local & National Models and Research

The following sources were used as guides to developing the content of the Plan:

• The CPS Chicago Guide for Teaching and Learning in the Arts

• Teacher recommendations from The VIVA Project report entitled The Time, Teachers and Tomorrow’s Schools

• Data from The Teaching Artist Research Project conducted by Nick Rabkin, NORC at the University of Chicago

• Recommendations from Collaborating for Change, produced by the Chicago Arts Learning Initiative (CALI)

• Master Arts Education Plans from other national urban school districts

• Recommendations from the Chicago Community Trust Arts Convenings

• Ingenuity Incorporated Mapping and Data

• Arts at the Core (Arts Alliance Illinois)

What is the goal of CPS’ Arts Education Plan?

The goal of the CPS Arts Education Plan is that every CPS student will receive ongoing high quality arts education both in and out of the classroom. Each school and community, no matter the neighborhood or academic emphasis, will be called upon to embrace the notion that each and every students must be provided with the arts as an integral part of the academic day.

What are the Guiding Principles behind the CPS Arts Education Plan?

• To Provide Equity and Access for All Children

• To Return the Arts to Education

• To Provide Quality Sequential (Year-to-Year) Arts Education

• To Prepare Young People for Life and Work in the 21st Century

• To Support Increasing High School Graduation Rates

What are the key standards in the CPS Arts Education Plan?

The Plan establishes five standards for the District in the following areas:

1. POLICY: Create district-level policies that support the arts in every child’s PreK-12 education experience and create conditions throughout the District that utilize the arts to support student success.

2. CURRICULUM: Develop district arts curriculum, instruction, and assessment that consistently support arts learning pathways from PreK-12, and utilize both direct arts instruction and arts integration strategies to support students in their arts learning.

3. CAPACITY: Provide consistent and embedded professional development for teachers, principals, and network chiefs to build their capacity for improving student learning in and through the arts.

4. PARTNERSHIP: Facilitate and support strategic partnerships and collaborations in the arts, built upon quality indicators, to enhance student learning at all levels.

5. DATA: Build sustainable system infrastructure to track, analyze and disseminate standardized data on arts instruction and programming; and develop strategies to address the District’s challenges to, and innovations in arts education.

What are some of the key goals of the CPS Arts Education Plan?

For each of the five priority areas, 4-5 strategies have been identified. Some highlights include:

• Establishing the arts a core subject

• Expanding the number of art forms offered

• Expanding high school graduation requirements

• Increasing staffing levels for arts instructors in schools

• Launching a Creative Schools Initiative to support principals

• Mapping and aligning arts curriculum to Common Core Standards in Literacy and Mathematics

• Identifying and activating an Arts Liaison in each school

• Creating a system to track elementary school-level arts data

• Creating a School Leadership Guide in the Arts

What is the time frame for implementation of the CPS Arts Education Plan?

The CPS Arts Education Framework & Plan spans a four-year period: school years 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015.

Who is leading implementation of the CPS Arts Education Plan?

The CPS Department of Art Education is the leader of the Plan’s implementation under the leadership of Mario Rossero and his arts education team. At the local school level, CPS administrators, principals and teachers, in addition to parents and students, will play integral roles in executing the Plan.


The implementation of the plan will be guided and evaluated by the public-private partnership formed in the creation of the plan. This partnership includes CPS, The Chicago Board of Education, City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, and Ingenuity Incorporated, as well as a sub-set of the CPS Arts Education Plan Steering and Advisory Committees comprised in part by school and parent leaders, national arts leaders, and Chicago’s philanthropic community.

How does the CPS Arts Education Plan support Chicago’s 2012 Cultural Plan?

In cultural conversations across the City, participants of the 2012 Cultural Plan planning sessions unanimously recommended that arts education in schools be one of Chicago’s top cultural priorities. CPS’ comprehensive Arts Education Plan addresses that priority.

How does the plan support certified arts teachers?

Highly qualified certified arts teachers are the backbone of any urban school district’s arts education program. Chicago is no different with over 900 arts instructors currently working in schools throughout the city providing high quality, sequential arts learning opportunities to young people. Chicago Public Schools is committed to offering a portfolio of arts programs and opportunities for all students that includes both in and out of school options. Subsequent to the roll out of the Full School Day, coupled with the labor agreement with teachers, an additional 200 certified arts instructors were hired to provide classroom instruction.

Arts partnerships and collaborations have played, and will continue to play, a critical role in providing the kind of rich education our students deserve. Chicago is home to world class cultural institutions and cutting edge arts organizations which are recognized globally for their work. We would be remiss as a community and a school system if we did not strive to ensure our children have access to the programs that enrich their city and neighborhoods.

These programs provide an opportunity for young people to develop a lifelong relationship with the arts. As they provide tremendous support and resources to teachers and students, we recognize these programs are best designed to augment, but not replace a standards-based K-12 arts education.

How will CPS Arts Education Plan be funded?

The Chicago Public Schools Arts Education Plan will be implemented over a four-year period. CPS will design an appropriate budget to attach to the Plan’s implementation. Funding will also be identified through both public and private funding sources.