Illinois Center for School Improvement

Illinois Center for School Improvement

The Illinois Center for School Improvement (Illinois CSI) is an organization created by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and American Institutes for Research to help district leaders from urban, rural, and suburban schools transform their systems to ultimately drive higher student achievement. Illinois CSI works at the district level, partnering with school superintendents, as well as with principals and other education leaders to connect the dots between strong leadership teams and successful students—a data-driven strategy proven to produce high-performing schools.

Illinois CSI has worked with 96 school districts encompassing 401 schools over a 5 year period

Although many education consultants draw conclusions and make recommendations, Illinois CSI uses a distinctively hands-on, collaborative approach that places district and school leaders front and center in driving their own transformations to get long-term results. To ensure consistent improvement that leads to higher student achievement statewide, we equip district leaders with research and best practices, and they, in turn, use this information to empower their teachers so they can perform their jobs effectively..

The step-by-step process Illinois CSI uses to help districts revamp their systems includes:

  • Data Collection: Illinois CSI collects extensive data from a variety of sources in order to assist in determining the district’s needs.
  • Analysis: Guided by Illinois CSI, our proprietary tool takes district leaders, teachers, support staff, and community members through a collaborative process where stakeholders roll up their sleeves and spend the day interpreting the data together to identify strengths and challenges.
  • Planning: Illinois CSI works with the district to develop a strategy for improvement based on key findings, drawing from research-based processes and practices proven to transform systems.
  • Coaching: Illinois CSI works closely with district leaders to coach them through implementation of those plans.
  • Collaboration: Illinois CSI brings leaders of similar districts together to share experiences and inspire change.

Feedback gathered from ISBE’s External Evaluation of the Illinois Statewide System of Support, prepared by Measurement Incorporated, reported that:

  • Ninety-six percent of districts receiving Priority Services reported that they have higher-functioning district leadership teams as a result of their collaboration with Illinois CSI.
  • Ninety-two percent of districts receiving Priority Services reported that Illinois CSI had improved their ability to analyze data and identify root causes affecting attainment of desired goals for all students.
  • Eighty-three percent of districts receiving Focus Services reported that Illinois CSI helped them identify evidence-based strategies and interventions to improve student achievement.

ESSA also supports state and school system innovation to make changes that ensure student success as a whole. Student success, as measured by a variety of factors, has always been our goal at Illinois CSI, and we have made progress in the years we’ve been providing services to districts.

Ahead of the curve, Illinois CSI has already begun the work ESSA calls for by:

Providing evidenced based practices and coaching supports to districts whose schools are struggling to close achievement gaps among subgroups including: students from low-income households, those who have special needs, and those for whom English is a second language
Ensuring statewide improvement by drawing on best practices to guide districts with struggling schools to revamp across their systems, ensuring continual progress
Aligning our work to the stated drivers of IL-EMPOWER: governance and management, curriculum and instruction and climate and culture.
Deploying a statewide team of more than 100 professionals who come from the school communities they serve and who coach district leaders in applying proven best practices to transform their districts

Illinois CSI Resources – The following resources were crated by IL CSI staff for use with Illinois District and Schools across the state

Annotated Bibliographies – Our team has produced a large number of annotated bibliographies addressing topics related to curriculum, instruction, and assessment.

The Overview of Type I Assessments assists educators in using and understanding the data collected through the Type I assessment process.

The A Guide Through the Classroom Assessment Process  provides background information about specific subgroups identified in the nationwide discussion of achievement gaps.  Whether used in part or as a whole, each section of the document includes a review of the literature, recommendations, resources, and references to help determine starting points for embedding transformative practices in the continuous improvement planning process to focus on improving student achievement.

Providing Access for Subgroups in Illinois – Exploratory Guides – Linking research and best practices to recommendations for supporting subgroups of students in Illinois.

Learning Snapshots – an accompaniment to Providing Access for Subgroups in Illinois Exploratory Guides, provides research and strategies on topics known to improve achievement. Recommendations are given on specific actions educators can take to support student learning at the classroom level.

NEW “School Improvement in Rural Communities: An Intentional Approach to Systemic Support” – The Illinois Center for School Improvement, a project of the American Institutes for Research has released a new report to shed light on the common issues in rural community schools and the partnerships we have forged to problem solve these important issues. The report was compiled by team members Illinois CSI at AIR who serve these communities.

1. Nye, B., Konstantopoulos, S., & Hedges, L. V. (2004). How large are teacher effects? Educational Evaluation & Policy Analysis, 26(3), 237–257. Retrieved July 5, 2011, from "How Large Are Teacher Effects?"