Creative Schools Certifications provide principals, teachers and parents with a comprehensive overview of the arts offerings in their school and a roadmap for expanding quality and access.

The Creative Schools Certification, or CSC, identifies the level of arts instruction in every CPS school using a five-point scoring rubric. The CSC score appears on each school’s progress report, along with other indicators of academic performance. Certifications help school personnel develop plans and partnerships to address gaps in arts equity, sustain the arts in their school and develop innovative arts education models that can be replicated in the District.

A detailed explanation of the CSC scoring rubric can be found here.


  • What is the purpose of the CSC?

    Since the 2012-13 school year, the Creative Schools Certification (CSC) has provided a quantitative summary score that measures a school’s progress toward benchmarks set by the CPS Arts Education Plan created the same year.  Data for the CSC is compiled from school responses on the annual Creative Schools Survey as well as administrative data provided directly by CPS Central Office.

    The CSC provides a pathway for schools to improve their arts offerings while also providing Ingenuity, CPS, and other arts education stakeholders with actionable data to help strategize arts education planning, more deeply understand the arts education landscape, and leverage existing resources and partner relationships to enhance arts education initiatives. 

  • What factors into the CSC score?

    The CSC takes into account key indicators of schools’ progress and needs:

    • Measures of school performance in providing access to the arts:
      • CPS arts teacher staffing (the recommended arts instructor-to-student staffing ratio is 1:350)
      • Average weekly minutes of arts instruction offered at CPS elementary schools (the recommended minimum is 120 minutes)
      • Percentage of CPS students with access to arts instruction (this metric is tied closely to staffing and minutes of instruction)
      • Program discipline and depth (high schools only): this refers to the number of arts disciplines offered and depth of instruction, such as opportunities for sequential learning
    • Measures of school performance in providing high quality arts education opportunities:
      • Whether arts learning standards guide instruction
      • The extent to which arts education is represented in school governance bodies and practices
      • Whether schools provide a dedicated arts budget, arts-specific professional development, use of arts teaching strategies, community arts partnerships, and parent and community engagement.

    A detailed explanation of the CSC scoring rubric can be found here: Creative Schools Certification Scoring.

  • How is this information collected?

    Ingenuity collects some data from CPS Central Office and some through the annual Creative Schools Survey, which we distribute to every school in the District. After thorough analysis, Ingenuity designates Creative Schools Certification ratings to every CPS school that participates in the Survey.

  • How are CSC scores used?

    The CSC is the backbone of Ingenuity’s work with CPS to ensure that every student, in every grade, in every school, has access to the arts as part of a well-rounded education. Some ways the CSC scores are used include:

    • Appearing on each school’s progress report, along with other indicators of academic performance.
    • Creative Schools Roadmaps that offer each CPS school a customized report that outlines how their individual school scored on individual components of the CSC. Roadmaps identify strength and growth opportunities and suggest support strategies to help school personnel develop plans and partnerships that address gaps in arts equity, sustain the arts in their school, and develop innovative arts education models that can be replicated in the District. Click here to see a Sample CPS Elementary School Roadmap and a Sample CPS High School Roadmap.
    • Providing a shared system for measuring and understanding equity in access to the arts in CPS.
    • Allowing for publication of analyses of arts education in CPS through Ingenuity’s annual State of the Arts reports and other research and analysis projects.
    • Guiding the development and provision of supports to schools that are made available through the Creative Schools Fund.
  • What's this I hear about "CSC 2.0"?

    A lot has changed in the 10 years since Ingenuity’s founding and the subsequent creation of the initial CSC. The Certification is changing too. Starting in our reporting on the 2021-22 school year, Ingenuity will be using an updated CSC 2.0, which reflects improvements in our ability to track arts offerings in detail, updates to our thinking about the key factors that make a quality arts education possible, and new ideas about how to translate the elements of the CSC into a plan for school improvement. A detailed explanation of CSC 2.0 can be found here.

    The Creative Schools Certification scoring system and its supporting data continue to lie at the core of Ingenuity’s work of supporting equitable access to arts education. As both Ingenuity and CPS continue to collaborate and expand capacity to support arts education across Chicago, CSC 2.0 will help all stakeholders better understand the needs of all schools, identify specific opportunities for improvement, and encourage all actors to invest in equitable access to arts education throughout the District. The CSC score schools receive will now, more than ever, trigger action and support for improvement.

  • OK, so what has changed in CSC 2.0?

    Over the last two years, Ingenuity and CPS have worked together to advance the thinking behind the CSC. The result of this work, CSC 2.0, remains a summary score measuring school progress toward the goal of providing access to quality arts programming as part of a well-rounded education. Most of what you’re familiar with is still critical to the scoring rubric. 

    What previously made up “Phase 1” of the scoring rubric are now referred to as measures of “Access.” These will look familiar. The Access measures capture student access to the arts through arts instructor staffing levels, minutes of instruction and the share of students who have access to the arts (among elementary schools), and the number of disciplines and depth of instruction offered in those disciplines (among high schools). 

    The elements that previously made up “Phase 2” of the scoring rubric, as well as several additions, are now part of the “Quality” section of CSC 2.0. These include indicators of schools partnering with outside arts organizations, providing opportunities for parent and community engagement with the arts, school participation in professional learning in the arts, and school budgeting for the arts. There are also new opportunities for schools to make non resource-dependent improvements to their school arts programs (e.g., by including arts in their school governance) and to get credit toward their final CSC score for doing so. 

    Importantly, these and other advancements in data collection and our scoring rubric are the next steps forward for a more equitable scoring system; schools now have the ability to improve their scores by making arts-positive changes beyond basic resources. 

    A detailed description of all changes from the original CSC to CSC 2.0 can be found here. 

    A detailed description of CSC 2.0 can be found here

  • Why is 2018-19 the last year a CSC score is available for my school?

    Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, CPS announced it is suspending the School Quality Rating Policy (SQRP) during the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years as it reimagines how accountability functions in CPS.  Following this precedent, Ingenuity and the CPS Department of Arts Education (DAE) will not publicly release school-level Creative Creative Schools Certification (CSC) ratings for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years. 

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