Chicago Schools Targeting Aid According to School Data and Need

Chicago Public Schools plans to distribute $160 million in flexible resources directly to schools – including $47 million in FY22 alone – based on an index of student need called the “Unfinished Learning School Investment Index”. The index looks at a variety of factors across schools and student populations and is designed to prioritize supports for the most impacted schools and students. This approach gives principals increased flexibility to respond to needs in their schools and to pilot new solutions. Chicago Public Schools is asking school leaders to create individualized plans to implement funds and will gather community feedback in early 2022 to assess the impact. 

We are spotlighting this because providing principals with maximum flexibility to address their specific local context is an innovative approach to meeting student needs.

Reviewer Analysis

National Parents Union

Allowing principals the flexibility to make decisions based on the needs of their individual school community and what works in their individual context is critically important to ensuring not only that ESSER funding will be spent well, but will be spent to address urgent issues. - Keri Rodrigues

Leslie Villegas

English learners and their families have been among those most affected by the pandemic and considering that Chicago is home to tens of thousands of English learners, an effort like this is likely to funnel resources in their direction. It will be important to ensure that the Unfinished Learning School Investment Index that will be used to identify the schools in most need includes measures that are applicable and accurate measures of ELs’ opportunity to learn during the pandemic.


Principals deserve more autonomy to make budget decisions and investments that are informed by their direct experience with the school community. - Matt Shaver

New Leaders

This approach gives school leaders the agency to directly meet the unique and individualized needs of their school community and respond to the highest leverage priorities. Lots of potential for innovation and targeted practices!

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