Innovation can mean different things to different people, but when it comes to the state of Illinois, the Education Commission of the State (ECS) seems to be in agreement.
Illinois has recently received the Innovation Award for its cooperative work in improving the training and accreditation of school principals.
The ECS National Forum presented the 2014 Frank Newman Award for State Innovations to Illinois on July 1.
“This award means a great deal for Illinois,” Erika Hunt, ISU senior policy analyst at ISU’s Center for the Study of Education Policy, said.
“This work has been occurring for over eight years, five of which went into the planning and development of the new state law and rules,” Hunt said.
“The last three have been devoted to the implementation of this work among universities throughout Illinois, including at ISU,” she added.
The ISU Center for the Study of Education Policy, Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) are to credit for the success of receiving this award for the state.
All three agencies worked with principals and other leaders from grades pre-kindergarten through high schools, as well as universities, businesses and the State Legislature.
The goal of the three organizations was to restructure ways to prepare school principals to be successful through means of improved criteria and professional growth.
Hunt was among the individuals who accepted the award on behalf of the state, including Christopher A. Koch, State Superintendent of Education, James Applegate, IBHE executive director and Harry Berman, IBHE’s previous executive director.
“This work is a result of a grass roots effort based on over five years of planning and input both through formal state task forces, but also planning and feedback by the field,” Hunt said.
Southern Illinois University–Edwardsville’s Illinois Education Research Council (IERC) has been given a two-year $500,000 grant from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.
IERC has also received a two-year $50,000 grant from the Wallace Foundation, which will let them put together an evaluation of the state’s new strategy for restructuring the programs through which school principals will undergo.
The University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research will be working with the IERC for this review.
“The [ISU] Center facilitated and staffed these meetings, but the success of this work is dependent on so many people and organizations that championed the voice of the field and piloted new approaches for preparing effective principals,” Hunt said.
To learn more information, check out illinoisschoolleader.org, which serves to keep visitors updated on the Illinois principal preparation redesign. The site also provides background information and helpful resources to those who log on.