Since 2005, Illinois has pursued improving the quality of school principals as a top priority to reform K-12 education. A Commission on School Leader Preparation, followed by an Illinois School Leader Task Force, paved the way for groundbreaking state legislation in 2011, requiring alignment with new criteria for principal preparation programs and certification standards.
Behind this progress is a strong collaboration between the Illinois Board of Higher Education, the State Board of Education, and the Center for Study of Education Policy at Illinois State University. On July 1, the Education Commission of the States (ECS) presented the 2014 Frank Newman Award for State Innovations to the three entities for their work. “In improving our schools, there is little that matters more than the quality of our principals,” said ECS President Jeremy Anderson, in a press release. “Illinois’ work exemplifies what can happen when stakeholders collaborate in such a critical area.”
In 2013, the Illinois State University, in partnership with several other state higher education institutions and high-need school districts, launched the Illinois Partnerships for Advance Rigorous Training (IL-PART) project to build upon the redesigned principal preparation programs as well as new principal performance evaluations that must incorporate multiple measures of student growth. Supported by a $4.6 million, five-year School Leadership Program grant from OII, the consortium of universities and school districts will build upon the recent policy changes by identifying the key elements of effective district/university partnerships, and evaluating several principal internship models’ impact on student learning outcomes.
Illinois’ work has also been highlighted in recent publications by the National Governors Association and National Conference of State Legislatures, in a seminar for legislators, and during a webinar co-hosted by the Council of Chief State School Officers. Continuing efforts on school leadership improvement in the state can be found at the Illinois School Leadership website.
Cross-posted from the July 24, 2014 edition of The Teachers Edition, a weekly e-newsletter of ED’s Office of Communications and Outreach.