May , 2018

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Program emphasizes collaboration and peer feedback during a concentrated time span

SPRINGFIELD, IL – A group of Illinois school district leaders, from Rockford to Mounds, are piloting a collaborative improvement process that aims to better prepare students for success in college and careers. Called the District Leadership Team (DLT) Learning Network, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) initiative provides support and expert training so that local administrators can plan and implement best practices to improve their schools. Throughout the 18-month process, district administrators will receive immediate feedback from state school improvement experts and their colleagues in schools throughout Illinois.

“The DLT Learning Network is designed to support leaders who are eager to tackle significant challenges in their districts,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “They are excited to roll up their sleeves and work collectively to implement effective practices throughout their districts and sustain them so that all students are better prepared for college and careers.”

ISBE’s Center for School Improvement is overseeing this initiative and chose participating districts that demonstrated a readiness to learn and implement strategies targeting student improvement throughout their districts. The seven inaugural districts of the DLT Learning Network are: Bloom Township High School District 206, Kankakee School District 111, Madison Community Unit School District 12, Meridian Community Unit School District 101, Rockford School District 205, Sandoval Community Unit School District 501 and J. Sterling Morton High School District 201.

“My leadership team and I found the DLT Learning Network a valuable experience,” said Dr. Michael Kuzniewski, Superintendent of J. Sterling Morton High School District 201. “As soon as the first session ended, I felt compelled to schedule a meeting with my team to continue working through the improvement process Illinois CSI introduced to us. While Morton has many of its own initiatives designed to move us forward, the guidance we are receiving from the network and Illinois CSI already is proving valuable.”

During the 18-month DLT Learning Network, the seven districts will meet once a quarter and develop measurable, research-based strategies designed to create lasting improvements in teaching and learning throughout their schools. Between the quarterly sessions, coaching teams will support the districts as they put these plans into action. They also will learn how to use data to assess whether they are successful.

“Illinois CSI introduced us to an in-depth model for choosing a goal and developing plans to accomplish it,” said Jennifer Garrison, Superintendent of Sandoval CUSD 501.  “I appreciate that the DLT is listening to where we are at locally and then helping us grow stronger as a team by giving us time to plan and reflect while at the same time asking questions as a critical friend. We are getting instant feedback on our plans from other district leaders who know what we are going through.”

The DLT Learning Network is one of several services provided by the Illinois Center for School Improvement (Illinois CSI), a partnership between ISBE and American Institutes for Research. Illinois CSI services are designed to support leaders at the district level as they target student improvement throughout their districts. Illinois CSI began rolling out services to ISBE-selected districts last November. To learn more about Illinois CSI, please visit www.illinoiscsi.org.

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