About UEI

The mission of the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute (UEI) is to create knowledge to produce reliably excellent urban schooling.

The University of Chicago Urban Education Institute represents a model for how to engage in the systemic improvement of pre-K–12th grade schooling. UEI conducts applied research, prepares classroom teachers, operates multiple school campuses, and creates and disseminates tools and solutions that are research-based and practice-proven. No other institution in the country joins these domains of work and depth of expertise under a single roof. This integrated whole creates a powerful mechanism to improve student outcomes nationwide—UEI is uniquely positioned to make lasting and significant changes to the quality of American education.

The Challenges in Urban Education

The majority of our nation’s public schools fail to prepare students from low- income families to succeed in college and life. The odds that children growing up in urban America will finish college are discouraging.

We have amassed decades of empirical evidence that demonstrates the extraordinary influence schooling can have on the lives of poor children. And we are convinced that by building knowledge born from exemplary practice and scholarship, by creating new methods to develop and support teachers and school leaders, and by creating scalable tools and models for improving urban schools we can influence the lives of children nationwide.

Across four integrated units, the Urban Education Institute:

Conducts rigorous applied research

The University of Chicago Consortium on School Research (UChicago Consortium) leads UEI’s applied research effort, informing practice, policy, and the public about schooling in Chicago. Since its founding in 1990, the Consortium has undertaken research to document, analyze, and assess Chicago’s school reform efforts. It is a national model for undertaking research to track the progress of urban school systems, partnering closely with district leaders, creating and administering longitudinal surveys of schools, and creating indicators and methods to deepen understanding of school reform and improve educational practice. The UChicago Consortium has inspired replicas in New York City, Los Angeles, Baltimore, San Diego, and other major cities nationwide.

Trains exemplary teachers and leaders 

University of Chicago Urban Teacher Education Program (UChicago UTEP) prepares exemplary teachers for Chicago Public Schools while empirically testing a model for urban teacher preparation and support. UChicago UTEP is a two-year graduate program accredited by the Illinois State Board of Education. Students enroll in rigorous course work and receive intensive clinical preparation over a 15-month period. Graduates receive three years of in-classroom coaching upon entry into Chicago schools. UChicago UTEP’s five- year retention rate is 90%, far exceeding the national rate of 50% of teachers leaving the profession within five years.

Operates a multi-campus pre-K to 12 school

University of Chicago Charter School (UChicago Charter School) is a pre-K–12 superhighway to college. UChicago Charter’s four campuses educate 1,900 students on Chicago’s South Side near the University. The Donoghue and North Kenwood/Oakland campuses serve pre-K–5th grade students, the Carter G. Woodson campus serves 6th–8th grade students, and the Woodlawn campus serves 6th–12th grade students. UChicago Charter School is non- selective, admitting all students by lottery. 100% of graduating seniors have been accepted to college for five years in a row and UChicago Charter has one of the highest college persistence rates of any non-selective high school in the city of Chicago.

Provides empirically-based tools and training nationwide

UChicago Impact provides schools, school systems, and states with the highest quality research-based diagnostic tools and training designed to produce reliably excellent schooling. UChicago Impact tools and training are derived from knowledge culled across UEI—from our applied research, teacher training, and the day- to-day operation of effective schools. All UChicago Impact products are research and practice based—designed to improve instruction, leadership, and college readiness and to accelerate academic achievement. UChicago Impact currently works in 60 major cities across 31 states—including some of the highest performing school systems and charter management organizations nationwide.

  • 5Essentials is an evidence-based system designed to drive improvement in schools nationwide. The 5Essential system reliably measures changes in a school organization through its survey, predicts school success through analysis, and provides individualized actionable reports to schools, districts, parents, and community partners, and professional development to school leadership and teachers.
  • Created at the University of Chicago, the STEP™ (Strategic Teaching and Evaluation of Progress) tool for pre-K to grade 3 is a developmental literacy assessment that includes a set of tools, tightly aligned with scientifically established milestones in reading development. It is used in school districts and networks throughout the country, large and small.
  • 6to16 is a classroom and online high school and college readiness program for grades 6 to “16” (the completion of the undergraduate degree) that is being used in schools in Chicago, Houston, New York, D.C. and the Bay Area.  Chicago recently launched The Success Project, an iniative bringing the 6to16 program directly to middle schools across Chicago. 

UEI also works in partnership with faculty from across the University.

The Committee on Education (COE) serves as the center of multi-disciplinary scholarship in education drawing together faculty members from economics, human development, mathematics, public policy, psychology, sociology and social services administration. COE contributes to the mission of UEI by addressing core questions about how children develop language, how they learn to reason mathematically, how schools function as formal and informal organizations, and how the political economy of schooling shapes the incentives, practices, and effectiveness of educators. Faculty members with appointments in other departments are also actively involved in education research and consultation with Chicago public schools.

UEI is a significant undertaking. We employ over 450 part- and full-time personnel and have an annual operating budget of approximately forty-one million dollars. 

Joining Forces

At the root of our model is one principle: reliably excellent schooling depends upon each of UEI’s components joining forces. If we are to systemically educate children growing up in urban America at high levels, reform must:

  • Support the development of effective school models,
  • Systematically train, support and place human capital (teachers and leaders) for urban schools,
  • Support applied research that informs day-to-day practice in the classroom, and
  • Employ tested tools and practices that help bridge the achievement gap.

The Urban Education Institute is ready to be a resource. We invite you to:

Please contact Ashley Szofer at 773.834.8173