For Immediate Release
Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Illinois State Board of Education Implements New Teaching Standards to Better Serve Diverse Population of Students

​Culturally Responsive Teaching and Leading Standards ensure educators from all backgrounds can teach Illinois’ increasingly diverse students

​SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois State Board of Education today adopted new Culturally Responsive Teaching and Leading Standards to prepare future educators to teach diverse students. ISBE's Diverse and Learner Ready Teacher (DLRT) Network developed the standards, which educator preparation programs in colleges and universities will integrate into their course content and field experiences. 

The standards aim to foster classroom and school environments in which every student feels that they belong. This feeling of belonging is critical to improving academic and behavioral outcomes for Illinois' increasingly diverse students. More than 52 percent of Illinois students identify as students of color and English Learners make up the fastest growing student population, but Illinois' teacher workforce remains more than 82 percent white. The ability to reach students from different cultural backgrounds is an essential skill to succeed as a teacher in Illinois today. 

“Culturally responsive practices improve engagement and help students from all backgrounds succeed in academic and non-academic ways," said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen I. Ayala. “Every student deserves to feel welcome, included, and accepted at school and to see their cultural identity and experiences affirmed and represented in all aspects of their educational journey. We all have room to grow in recognizing underrepresentation and in understanding how to affirm someone's life experiences that differ from our own. This work is naturally uncomfortable, and it begins with awareness." 

“These standards emphasize the responsibility of PreK-12 education institutions to affirm, validate, leverage, support, and listen to students' backgrounds and lived experiences. They also rightfully challenge us to be anti-bias, anti-racist, mindful, and inclusive of our most marginalized populations," said Dr. Ivette M. Dubiel, an adjunct professor at Aurora University and Lewis University, and a member of the DLRT. 

“With the beautiful, growing diversity of students in Illinois, now more than ever, we must embed culturally responsive and identity-affirming pedagogy and practices as a basic right to all students," said Dr. Dubiel, who is also founder, chief executive officer, and chief equity officer of Systemic Educational Equity, LLC. 

“The Culturally Responsive Teaching and Leading standards are not a response to any one event in American history but instead are a passionate attempt to bring racial, cultural, and linguistic equity to the forefront of the work we are doing as educators," said Maurice McDavid, principal at Turner Elementary School in West Chicago Elementary School District 33 and a member of the DLRT. “The standards invite us educators to consider the needs of every student in our building, including the needs we are comfortable talking about, like poverty and special needs, and those that give us pause, like racism and sexism. As an elementary school principal in a majority Latino district, I feel these standards will help our teachers and leaders move toward a higher standard." 

Culturally responsive practices can be life-saving for Illinois' LGBTQ+ youth. LGBTQ youth disproportionately experience bullying and are more likely to attempt suicide. However, Trevor Project's 2019 survey shows that LGBTQ+ youth who had at least one accepting adult in their lives were 40 percent less likely to report a suicide attempt in the past year. 

The standards support inclusion and equity for students by guiding educators to:

  1. Self-reflect and gain a deeper understanding of how their life experiences affect their perspectives;
  2. Understand that systems in our society create and reinforce inequities;
  3. Learn from and about their students' cultures, languages, and learning styles to make instruction more meaningful and relevant to their students' lives;
  4. Value students' feedback and leadership;
  5. Support and create opportunities for student advocacy;
  6. Develop relationships with families and the community;
  7. Curate the curriculum to include and represent a wide spectrum of identities; and
  8. Ensure the diversity of the student population is represented within the broader learning environment. 

ISBE develops standards for educator preparation programs through the rulemaking process. ISBE will submit the Culturally Responsive Teaching and Leading Standards to the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) for consideration. If JCAR issues no objection, ISBE will file the rules with the Office of the Illinois Secretary of State, at which time they will become effective. Existing educator preparation programs will align their programs to the standards by October 1, 2025. Programs that prepare teachers, school support personnel, and administrators in Illinois will submit evidence to ISBE showing how their course content and field experiences address the standards.