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Illinois State Board of Education’s Vision for Illinois Schools​

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ISBE launched Teach Illinois: Strong Teachers, Strong Classrooms in September 2017 to better understand staffing challenges and craft a holistic set of policy solutions to address them. The year-long effort aimed to build on the work already underway across Illinois. Teach Illinois, a partnership between ISBE and the Joyce Foundation, began with a “year of study," which gave State Board officials a chance to conduct more than 40 focus group sessions and hear from more than 400 teachers, parents, students, principals, superintendents, college of education deans, and other partners. ISBE staff heard about challenges, such as the dilemmas rural and high-poverty urban districts face in recruiting teachers and, in particular, shortage areas such as English as a second language (ESL)/bilingual. ISBE officials also heard about promising practices and thoughtful policy ideas regarding licensure, teacher preparation, leadership, and teacher advocacy. Recommendations acquired from the focus groups were compiled into a report that was approved by the State Board of Education on October 17, 2018.

The Teach Illinois: Strong Teachers, Strong Classrooms year of inquiry resulted in a suite of seven recommendations. Click each recommendation to learn more and track the process of each initiative. ​

 Recommendation I: Coordinate a Statewide campaign to elevate the teaching profession and inspire young people, especially those of color, to join the profession.

​To highlight and celebrate the work that teachers do every day to elevate the teaching profession, ISBE will coordinate a campaign that provides an accurate image of work that occurs in schools through a variety of avenues (e.g. social media, community outreach) and identify and support those within diverse communities who can serve as the strongest voices to share this work. The work includes contemplating a variety of issues including compensation, working conditions, and professional growth. 


 Recommendation II: Create and incentivize opportunities for P-12 and postsecondary institutions to work together to create streamlined pathways into the teaching profession

​ISBE will continue to work with stakeholders on the identification of a college and career pathway endorsement in education. Current work in Township High School District 215 in Cook County and Rockford Public Schools exemplify this work, and the Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness (PWR) Act, the Dual Credit Quality Act, ESSA, and the reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act present opportunities to further this work. 

As part of the PWR Act, a career pathway within the Health and Public Service Career Cluster should be formally identified no later than March 2019. This work is currently ongoing within the 60x25 regional network located at Northern Illinois University.

 Recommendation III: Support partnerships between school districts and teacher preparation programs in order to closely align teacher supply and demand

Peer-to-Peer Learning Opportunities
ISBE will host regional peer-to-peer meetings between school districts, ROEs/ISCs, and institutions of higher education to identify effective partnership models in Illinois and to create guidance on developing mutually beneficial partnerships.  

More specifically, questions such as the following will be considered:
  • What are the elements of a successful partnership between districts and colleges/universities for the purposes of educator preparation?
  • How can institutions of higher education, ROEs/ISCs, and districts work together to target high high-needs areas within a district or region?
  • What experiences and supports are necessary in order to recruit, prepare, and retain a diverse teacher candidate corps?
ISBE will begin to establish meeting dates and locations imminently.  The first meetings will occur in the spring of 2019 and meet quarterly thereafter.  

Teacher Residency Grant Opportunity
As ISBE was formulating the Every Student Succeeds Act State Plan for Illinois, it identified a competitive grant that provides awards for a school district and an institution of higher education with approved educator preparation programs to partner in order to develop residency programs to prepare teacher candidates. Information about these partnerships will be shared via peer-to-peer learning.

The Teacher Residency grant will be released December 2018. The intent is for planning work to occur in FY 2020 and for implementation to occur in FY 2021. Three successful applicants will receive $50,000 for a planning year and an additional $200,000 if their plan is approved by ISBE to be implemented in fiscal year 2021. 

 Recommendation IV: Develop innovative, results-based approaches to educator preparation.



 Recommendation V: Develop and adopt a research-based bar for licensure that leads to a highly effective and diverse workforce.

​ISBE is committed to ensuring educators demonstrate basic skills and will continue to require a test of basic skills for the issuance of a license for those individuals who have not yet completed a bachelor’s degree.  The ACT or SAT will be used as the test(s) of basic skills a candidate may use. The TAP will be discontinued on June 30, 2019. Prior to June 30, 2019, teacher candidates may continue to complete the TAP test or complete either the SAT or ACT. ISBE will pursue legislative changes to allow individuals who already possess a bachelor’s degree from a regionally-accredited institution of higher education to be exempt from the test of basic skills.

As identified in the Teach Illinois report, examining the relationship between performance on a test of basic skills and the effectiveness of pre-service and in-service teachers will provide ISBE insight into both the appropriate instrument(s) for this work as well as the content of the exam.  To be sure, ACT and SAT scores are two means of doing this.  In addition, some stakeholders suggested another way of considering basic skills is through the student submission of a portfolio.  Indeed, in addition to math, reading, and writing, a portfolio approach can also include other experiences or work that can be understood as “basic skills” (e.g., demonstrated experience/evidence of engaging students, work-based learning experiences, and participation in co-curricular activities, among others).


 Recommendation VI: Promote teacher leadership and career pathways with differentiated responsibilities and appropriate incentives.

​As part of the ESSA State Plan for Illinois, ISBE identified a competitive grant that provides modest grants for school districts to propose and implement Teacher Leader projects.  Information about teacher leadership that is gleaned from these projects will be shared via peer-to-peer learning.

The Teacher Leader grant will be released December 2018. Four applicants will be awarded grants ranging from $50,000 to $75,000 to explore a local problem of practice related to teacher leadership.

 Recommendation VII: Develop robust teacher mentorship and induction programs.

 Policy Recommendations

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