Illinois Record of Service
Great Lakes West State Manager: Monique Chism, Ph.D.
High School Update
In September, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) requested that Great Lakes West review the 29 research questions that the agency is working on with the Coalition for Illinois High Schools. These research questions will help agency staff, policy makers, and practitioners gain a better understanding of the current status of Illinois high schools. Specifically, attention is given to course placement and graduation requirements, data representation and usage, performance trends, and patterns and educational opportunity. Great Lakes West will work with ISBE and the coalition to address several of the questions utilizing Illinois-specific information from data that already exist or data that we collect. Our center will work closely with ISBE and the coalition to define the research questions and design and begin work on this project in early January.
Statewide System of Support
In an effort toward continuous improvement, ISBE is engaged in a process to self-assess their statewide system of support (SSOS). Under NCLB and related state statutes and policies, districts and schools labeled as in need of improvement are entitled to certain state supports. As state departments of education across the nation transition from a role of oversight to one of capacity building, they are beginning to reexamine the support systems they have in place.
The process for assessing and planning SSOS improvement has been developed by the Center on Innovation and Improvement (CII) in collaboration with several SEAs that participated in discussions with CII researchers about the nature and operations of their statewide systems of support, including how these systems were developed, as well as their specific strengths and weaknesses. At the same time, CII commissioned an extensive review of literature regarding the question of how to foster successful change. This review identified a trio of functional categories appearing to underlie the more effective efforts: (1) creating incentives for educators to engage in change, (2) building the capacity of organizations and individuals to effect change, and (3) providing organizations and individuals with opportunities to change.
With assistance from Great Lakes West, an internal ISBE self-assessment team will gather data and conduct a careful analysis of their current SSOS in order to develop a complete profile of the components of the current system and plan for improvement. The self-assessment team is comprised of Susie Morrison, Special Assistant to the Superintendent; Rene Valenciano, Assistant Superintendent for Educational Programs; Myron Mason, Interim Division Administrator Over Federal Grants and Programs; Carol Diedrichsen and Marti Woelfle, principal consultants in Federal Grants and Programs; and Jan Bowman and Joyce Nelson, Regional Educational Service Provider Offices.
The team completed the first part of the self-assessment and shared their findings with a group of key stakeholders on January 7, 2008. The purpose of the January meeting was to review ISBE's key findings from the SSOS self-assessment report and gather information and feedback from key stakeholders that will inform the plan for improvement.