Chicago Public Schools


Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is committed to ensuring that social and emotional learning is a core component of every student’s educational experience from prekindergarten through twelfth grade. CPS has defined three pillars for the infusion of SEL into the fabric of our schools: (1) creating a positive and proactive school climate in which SEL is present in all practices and procedures; (2) adult awareness, modeling, and integration of social-emotional competencies in their teaching practices; and (3) explicit and integrated student instruction in social-emotional competencies.

CPS began supporting 16 SEL Pioneer schools in school year 2012-2013 and added 12 additional schools in 2013-2014. Each Pioneer School has identified an SEL team and developed an SEL action plan aligned to the CASEL Theory of Action.  CASEL and CPS provide ongoing professional development to support implementation of each school’s action plan and work to capture best practices emerging from their work. So far, schools have created SEL book groups to analyze their own practice, professional learning communities to examine and enhance lesson planning to integrate SEL, mentoring groups for students, and alternatives to suspension that enhance SEL skills. Many have also begun implementing evidence-based SEL programs.

At the district level CPS also convened a cross-content area task force on SEL integration. This task force built knowledge within the central office on SEL theory and practice and committed to supporting SEL implementation across all content areas. Further, SEL was highlighted as a key component of the new CEO’s five-year plan of action for the district. SEL is embedded in several districtwide initiatives, including Multi-tiered Systems of Support (MTSS), REACH Students (the district’s new teacher evaluation system), and the Suspensions and Expulsions Reduction Plan. Further illustrating the district’s commitment to SEL, in September 2013 the Department of Youth Development and Positive Behavior Supports was renamed the Office of Social and Emotional Learning.

About the Chief Executive Officer

Forrest Claypool was appointed CEO of the Chicago Public Schools in July 2015. His previous positions included chief of staff to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Democratic member of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, president of the Chicago Transit Authority, and superintendent of the Chicago Park District.

About the Chief Education Officer

Janice Jackson was named the district's chief education officer July 2015. Previously she had served as principal of two Chicago high schools recognized for their high quality and academic excellence. A native of Chicago’s Auburn-Gresham community, Dr. Jackson is a product of CPS schools, graduating from John W. Cook Elementary and Hyde Park High School before earning a bachelor’s in secondary education and a master’s in history from Chicago State University. She also holds a master’s in leadership and administration and a doctorate of education in policy studies and urban school leadership from the University of Illinois at Chicago..

Recent Activities

An August 2014 meeting that included U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel spotlighted significant improvements in CPS suspensions, expulsions, and in-school arrests. Download a handout summarizing these improvements.

Chicago Public Schools former CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett emphasized social and emotional learning in a front-page article in her special bulletin to the district in January 2014. Download the bulletin. As a participant in the annual CDI Cross-Districts Learning Event in Nashville, Tenn., in November 2013, she spoke eloquently about how SEL is integrated into all aspects of the district. View the video.

District Stats

Joined CDI: 2012

Total Student Enrollment: 396,683

  • Largest Racial/Ethnic Groups: Hispanic (45.6 percent) and Black (39.3 percent)
  • Economically Disadvantaged Students: 86 percent
  • Students with Limited English Proficiency: 16.7 percent
  • Students with Disabilities (Individualized Education Programs) 13.1 percent

Total Number of Schools: 522

  • Elementary Schools: 420
  • Middle Schools: 0
  • High Schools: 96
  • Continuation Schools: 6

SEL Web page:

District Website:


Karen Van Ausdal
Director, Office of Social and Emotional Learning

Amy Mart
Manager of Universal Supports, Office of Social and Emotional Learning

Ruth Cross
Illinois Training Specialist