Elevate: Whole School Redesign

The Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is currently piloting Elevate, a whole-school personalized learning (PL) reform model, in over 25 low-income neighborhood schools in an effort to better support students in the district. The Elevate model attempts to combine the power of technological platforms with evidence-based practices to try to generate novel conditions for teaching and learning that facilitate the type of PL we know can dramatically improve outcomes for youth. CPS is the first large, urban school district that has attempted such a transformation at this scale.

The Elevate model focuses on providing students with tailored instructional and social-emotional learning (SEL) supports through technology adoption and professional supports for staff. Each Elevate school will receive comprehensive investments from the Department of Personalized Learning in order to create the necessary conditions for whole school adoption as the program systematically leads schools through three stages (planning, piloting, and implementing) over 2 ½ years.

The Chicago Public Schools has asked the Education Lab to partner on this ambitious effort and we will work closely with the CPS Personalized Learning Department to conduct an implementation evaluation and school-level cluster randomized study. The study identified elementary schools serving low-income students in the City’s most economically and racially segregated south and west side neighborhoods, and randomly selected which schools would implement the Elevate program over two cohorts. Elevate will be fully implemented in all study schools by the 2021-2022 school year.

This evaluation also includes a 3-year implementation fidelity study from SY2018-2019 to SY2020-2021 to shed light on potential implementation challenges and provide insights into how the Elevate framework is translated into a school setting. For this study, the Education Lab and CPS has partnered with the American Institutes for Research to collect implementation data. Initial data collection, including classroom observations, teacher focus groups, and administrator interviews, was originally scheduled for Spring 2020, however given the disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we instead plan to conduct data collection in Spring 2021. As of September 2020, the Elevate model continues to be implemented by the CPS Department of Personalized Learning as originally planned; however, the program has switched to providing remote supports for teachers and students. 

This study, the first of its kind, is designed to rigorously understand the impact this model could have on academic and SEL outcomes for students and to what degree it improves upon traditional practices for addressing academic disparities. We believe this project has the potential to generate evidence of the promise of PL on student outcomes, as well as create a roadmap for implementation in a large urban school district.