Illinois among five states selected to work with CEEDAR Center

Outcome will lead to improved preparation systems for teachers and leaders serving students with disabilities.

SPRINGFIELD, IL – A panel of education experts selected Illinois as one of five states to work with a national center to better prepare educators to serve Illinois public school students with disabilities and ensure those students are ready to succeed in college and the workforce. The center, the Collaboration for Effective Educator Development, Accountability, and Reform, or the CEEDAR Center, will work with Illinois education partners to align educator preparation programs, certification standards and evaluation systems with the goals and best practices for educating children with special needs.

Through a competitive selection process, Illinois was chosen to participate in this important collaboration based on its commitment to multiple education reform efforts, such as the implementation of the new Illinois Learning Standards and comprehensive teacher evaluations. A total of 16 states vied to be among the five states that will work with the CEEDAR Center, a national technical assistance center dedicated to supporting states in their efforts to promote the academic and social growth of students with disabilities.

Illinois State University, Loyola University Chicago and National Louis University have been selected to participate in the technical assistance collaboration. ISBE will help coordinate the collaboration between the selected institutions of higher education and the CEEDAR Center.

“This is a terrific opportunity for Illinois to ensure our teacher candidates as well as teachers in the classroom have access to the very best and most up-to-date training and expertise for working with children with disabilities,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “This collaboration with the CEEDAR Center is another step toward preparing all students for success in college and careers.”

State Superintendent Koch is co-chairing a CEEDAR Policy Framing Forum of experts that will include representatives from both general and special education. The forum will work to identify and discuss key issues at the intersection of educator preparation, college and career-readiness standards and the needs of students with disabilities. David Chard, Dean of the School of Education at Southern Methodist University, will be co-chairing alongside Superintendent Koch.  The forum will meet twice this spring to articulate how policies can be designed to ensure that evidence-based practices, multi-tiered systems of support and inclusive practice are used to assist students with disabilities attain college and career-readiness.  The group of experts will specifically focus on educator candidate and faculty capacity to implement college and career-ready standards.

Receiving technical assistance from the CEEDAR Center will further benefit Illinois’ K-12 students by expertly preparing Illinois’ future teachers and school leaders for the classroom. By collaborating with the CEEDAR Center, Illinois teachers will be at the forefront in meeting the needs of a diverse student population. The technical assistance received from the CEEDAR Center will allow students in Illinois teacher preparation programs to better their understanding and application of methodologies such as instructional design and differentiated instruction for the betterment of academic outcomes for all students.

As part of a collaborative effort, the CEEDAR Center and its partners – Illinois State Board of Education, participating Illinois higher education institutions and local educational agencies – will review current state policy and participating educator preparation program requirements and curricula to ensure that teacher and leader graduates can demonstrate evidence-based practices for educating students with disabilities and demonstrate that revised programs and policies result in better student outcomes.  Partners will also work together to develop policy, a plan for implementation and infrastructure for collecting and reporting  outcome data to assess the impact of revised educator preparation programs on the performance of students with disabilities.

“We look forward to working closely with each of these entities as we all share the same goal of providing rigorous instruction to all students,” said Elizabeth Hanselman, Assistant Superintendent of Specialized Instruction, Nutrition and Wellness. “The technical assistance offered by the CEEDAR Center will provide teacher candidates with the necessary training and knowledge for fostering academic success in future classrooms.”

Effective preparation and training for teacher candidates will ultimately lead to positive educational outcomes for students of all ages and abilities. According to the CEEDAR Center mission statement, higher education institutions and Local Education Agencies will be assisted in creating aligned learning systems and standards that will support students with disabilities in achieving college and career readiness.

States will receive up to $200,000 in funding from the CEEDAR Center over the course of two years. The funds can be used toward expenses incurred from carrying out the work of the grant such as travel, meeting costs, and sub-awards to institutions of higher education.

The CEEDAR Center’s efforts will complement multiple initiatives that Illinois currently has in place to enhance educator preparation and development. The Center will coordinate resources among various education partners to improve the quality of instruction. Illinois uses a multi-tiered comprehensive system of learning supports to better prepare teachers, provide ongoing training and foster collaborative initiatives such as adoption of the new Illinois Learning Standards based on the Common Core and leading training and professional development practices.

In 2010, Illinois adopted the Illinois Professional Teaching Standards which focuses on addressing the needs of diverse learners and the individual needs of every learner. These standards are directly aligned to various other preparation initiatives currently in place in Illinois.  Various advisory groups having multiple contributors from across the state developed standards for specific content areas such as bilingual education, high school education, special education, elementary and middle school, early childhood.

Illinois has established several regional service delivery systems that target specific student groups, including students with disabilities. These regional delivery systems provide explicit services relative to school improvement by offering technical assistance in areas such as data-driven decision making, response to intervention and family and community engagement.  In addition to the Statewide System of Support, which provides research-based support, services, and resources designed to improve student outcomes for all Illinois school districts, the two other primary regional delivery systems serving Illinois school districts are the Illinois Statewide Technical Assistance Collaborative (ISTAC) and the Illinois Resource Center (IRC).  ISTAC is designed to specifically build the capacity of school districts to serve the needs of students with disabilities and their families. The IRC has similarly provided technical assistance, since 1972, to teachers and administrators serving linguistically and culturally diverse students.

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