Illinois Record of Service
Great Lakes West State Manager: Monique M. Chism, Ph.D.
Great Lakes West has a collaborative, consultative approach to technical assistance. Work within identified focus areas often develops over time. As work develops or state and national priorities change, Great Lakes West may need to adapt its work to meet state needs. Following is an update on recent work with the Illinois State Board of Education.
Center on Innovation and Improvement Pacesetter Academy
In July 2009, the Center on Innovation and Improvement (CII) completed the first annual Academy of Pacesetting States, involving nine states from seven regional comprehensive centers (RCCs). At the academy, which convened in Princeton, New Jersey, comprehensive center liaisons joined teams comprised of key administrators, change agents, and instructional specialists from Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, Oklahoma, and Virginia. Working alongside their respective regional center representative, the state teams engaged in weeklong intense, sustained training, consultation, and support to develop expertise in critical areas of effective state systems of support.
This initiative is designed to help states ramp up their systems of support by developing skilled experts in three areas: leadership, change, and instruction. After the five-day Academy, the subscribed states continued involvement in the monthly distance learning program and team conference calls with their comprehensive center representatives and will attend a three-day year-end meeting and advanced training session in May 2010. To help inform Illinois's action plan for improving its statewide system of support, agency staff will sponsor a series of listening forums across the state. The purpose of the forums, which will last approximately 45 minutes, is to initiate a conversation with stakeholders so that ISBE staff can better understand needs in the field and what they can do to help educators be most effective in their jobs. Great Lakes West staff is working with the Illinois team to design an actionable plan and to support its implementation.
America's Promise: Illinois Dropout Summit
America's Promise Alliance is convening an Illinois Statewide Dropout Prevention Summit at Illinois State University's Bone Student Center in Normal, Illinois, on Wednesday, November 4, 2009, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Registration is open to anyone who is interested in becoming part of the solution to the dropout crisis or who has best practices to share. Visit the summit website for a preliminary agenda and registration details.
During the America's Promise Alliance Illinois statewide summit, attendees will be grouped by region so they can develop the framework for an action plan to implement in their own communities. Attendees will complete the first three steps of a six-step community stakeholder alignment and integration process, with the completed work documented in a shared Web portal that forms the basis for an integrated action plan.
Alliance Chairwoman Alma Powell will keynote the event and will be joined by Jo Anderson, Jr., a senior advisor with the U.S. Department of Education. Other presenters include State Superintendent Dr. Christopher Koch and State Farm Insurance Chairman and CEO Ed Rust, Jr., who will frame the current crisis in Illinois. Great Lakes West is working with ISBE to help plan and organize the summit and to identify ways to encourage further collaboration after the summit ends.
National Common Core State Initiative
In June of this year, Illinois signed on with 48 other states (including Wisconsin) and U.S. territories to join a state-led process to develop a common core of state standards in English language arts and mathematics for Grades K–12. The Common Core State Standards Initiative is jointly led by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers, in partnership with Achieve, ACT, and The College Board. These standards will be research and evidence based, internationally benchmarked, and aligned with college and work expectations and will focus on rigorous content and skills.
The Common Core State Standards Initiative builds directly on several key statewide initiatives such as the Illinois American Diploma Project, which involved a cross-section of state partners, including the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE), the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB), ISBE, the Governor's Office, and the Illinois Business Roundtable. Last year, these state entities convened educators to reexamine the Illinois English language arts and mathematics learning standards for Grades 9–12 to better align these high school standards to internationally competitive college and career-ready benchmarks. Illinois's participation in the American Diploma Project has positioned the state to engage fully in the Common Core State Standards Initiative.
The first drafts of the common core college and career readiness standards for English language arts and mathematics were released on September 21, 2009, offering an opportunity for anyone who is interested to provide comments and feedback that is research and evidence based.
Great Lakes West supported ISBE, in collaboration with IBHE and ICCB, as it held a series of regional meetings in October to gather feedback on the draft standards. Illinois determined that a strategy to coordinate the collection and submission of comprehensive feedback on the draft standards would maximize the state's opportunity to provide meaningful comments on the standards and engage the state's practitioners early in the revision process. ISBE, IBHE, and ICCB also hosted four regional meetings in early October.
The partnership between the three education agencies in the state ensures representation from secondary and postsecondary practitioners at the regional meetings. The comments and recommendations generated at each regional meeting will be pulled together into a centralized response by the state of Illinois. Great Lakes West will continue to support ISBE with this important work.