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​​​​​​​​​​​​​From the Executive Director: Goals for the Upcoming School Year

Betheny Lyke, Ed.D. Director, Illinois Center for School Improvement

With summer vacation ended or almost ended, I'm sure you're all as excited as I am about the upcoming school year. Approaching September with a renewed commitment to improving student outcomes is the perfect time to set goals for all we want to accomplish in the new school year.


My goal for Illinois CSI is to positively impact the students in the districts we serve by doing the following:


  1. Continue to identify the needs of districts and those who lead them.

  2. Share research-based best practices for districtwide continuous improvement with district and school leaders.

  3. Deliver professional development opportunities to some of the best practitioners in the field of education to help support district leaders as they meet the needs of their students and staff.

  4. Support district and school leaders as they implement strategies to help them meet the needs of their students and staff.

  5. Facilitate opportunities for district and school leaders to use a variety of resources to implement and monitor plans for continuous improvement and network with each other to discuss these experiences.


Although laying out these five goals is straightforward, achieving them is not as easy as 1-2-3. Realizing these complex goals for our districts across the state is a challenging journey for not only Illinois CSI staff but also the district and school leaders we work with. It is my hope going into the new school year that knowing we are making a difference in the lives of students can help reinvigorate our commitment to school improvement.​


Please continue to count on all of us at Illinois CSI to support your efforts as you set (and achieve!) goals for the 2016–17 school year.

And thanks for all you do on behalf of Illinois's students,​

Betheny Lyke, Ed.D.



District Voice: Round Lake Area Schools
Ana Fuhrer, EdD, Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Education


In Round Lake Area Schools Community Unit School District 116, we are proud of the progress we have made in advancing our teaching systems and providing enhanced learning opportunities to continue raising student achievement. Our district leadership team has formed a strong partnership with Illinois CSI that is yielding focused and aligned planning and process development for school improvement.


In 2015, our district staff and community members collaboratively came together and developed a 5-Year Strategic Plan for 2016 through 2020. In this plan, we outlined goals and initiatives that will focus all our work to provide strong learning experiences and educational excellence for all students. Our partnership with Illinois CSI began in fall 2015, and we have accomplished a significant amount of work since then, including the following:

  • Implemented a multitiered needs assessment by using an in-depth data co-interpretationSM and root-cause analysis process

  • Identified our top priority areas and aligned them to our strategic plan

  • Developed a unified approach to goal setting, along with a standard process for school improvement planning

  • Held deeper discussions about documenting and analyzing progress toward our goals


As a result, we established fully aligned school improvement plans across all our schools that provide a narrow focus for instructional leaders and teachers.


The initiatives we are developing and implementing at the elementary level (prekindergarten to Grade 5) are as follows:

  • Put into practice project-based learning experiences in all schools.

  • Establish an Elementary Scholars program to challenge our highest academic achievers.

  • Implement a student-centered instructional coaching model.

  • Implement an administrator walk-through system aligned with the Danielson Framework for Teaching Evaluation Instrument.

  • Establish a school improvement leadership team.

  • Improve alignment of instruction and curriculum with the Illinois Learning Standards.

  • Significantly increase access to technology in classrooms.

  • Establish instructional technology coaches to increase the use of technology with instruction.

  • Prepare teachers, students, and parents for standards-based grading implementation in 2017–18.


Some initiatives at the secondary level (Grades 6–12) are as follows:

  • Develop, improve, and implement a standards-based, vertically aligned curriculum.

  • Implement a comprehensive staff development model that is designed to improve teacher practice and provide targeted support in areas identified as priorities in District 116.

  • Develop and implement a process that increases access to rigorous courses for all students (including subgroups) in an effort to promote upward diagonal movement (e.g., foundations to regular, regular to honors, and honors to Advanced Placement).

  • Implement a process-oriented guided inquiry learning instructional model in science and social studies.

  • Implement Year 3 of the cross-curricular literacy plan, which includes continuing the common expectations in reading and writing in all subject areas and implementing higher level literacy strategies.


We are extremely excited about continuing our collaboration with Illinois CSI in the great work we have started to achieve the goals we set and provide our students with challenging and engaging learning experiences in our schools.


Illinois CSI Launches New Website Design


The Illinois CSI website was recently redesigned to maximize its usability and better provide Illinois districts with helpful resources. The new design puts the focus on the valuable work being done in schools, and it will be regularly updated throughout the coming school year.


The Research and Resources tab has been updated with new materials to support districts in various areas. Under this tab, users will find the Core Functions & Indicators page, which contains the 29 indicators of effective practice that guide our work.​ Each indicator is accompanied by the research behind it and a wealth of resources to support the idea. menu image Also under this tab is the Research Forum page, where users can read about upcoming and past events. ​Each past research forum is archived with pictures, a full recording of the event, a downloadable PowerPoint presentation, any handouts from the presenters, and Ask the Expert videos recorded with the keynote speaker. This tab also contains the revamped Resource Library, where users can search through resources created by Illinois CSI (e.g., handouts and webinars), annotated bibliographies, and other useful materials on various topics. The Resource Library is searchable and also employs a filtering system to help users find exactly what they are looking for.


Countless other resources and pieces of information can be found throughout the website. We hope users find the site helpful in improving education in the state. If you have feedback, write us at, Tweet us @IllinoisCSI, or message us on Facebook @IllinoisCSI.


Useful Resources From the Illinois CSI Resource Library




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