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​A Reason to Celebrate

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

Just in time for the winter holidays, I would like to share with you some encouraging data that show the influence Illinois CSI is having in our school districts. Although we have always received high "customer satisfaction ratings" from the district leaders with whom we partner, we wanted to know whether we are having an impact where it really matters most—on students coming to school ready to learn.

To that end, we asked our colleagues in the research and evaluation unit at American Institutes for Research to conduct an in-depth data analysis to learn whether the services delivered by Illinois CSI have resulted in measurable improvements in student achievement. Based on the available data, we learned that Illinois CSI has had the biggest effect in the following six areas:


As these data show, we are accomplishing what have always been our overarching goals: getting students to come to school and improving student outcomes, most notably test scores and graduation rates.

This document details how we analyzed the data. Please share this piece of collateral with your colleagues, parents, community partners, and policymakers so that they can see the wonderful achievements we are accomplishing together.

I wish you health, happiness, and prosperity this holiday season.


Betheny Lyke, Ed.D.


Dolton School District 149—Spotlight on Monitoring Through Enhanced Use of Data


By Dr. Shelly Davis-Jones, Superintendent, Dolton School District 149, with Karen Johnson, Liaison, Area I-B-C (South Cook)

Dolton School District 149 was identified to receive Focus services from Illinois CSI because data showed students from low-income households were underperforming compared to their peers. Our underlying belief about district and school improvement is that it requires a vision heralded by the district with state support and recognition of shared leadership.

When we began the school year, our goal was to increase student performance in reading and math. As a team, we acknowledged that our work needed to be guided by data monitoring and that we needed to strengthen our capacity in data analysis, data interpretation, and data usage. Thus far, we have changed how we are using statistical data from assessments, and we realize that frequent monitoring, with consistency and continuity, is critical to reaching our improvement goals.

Terra Nova, our local assessment vendor, retrained the district leadership team on how to interpret and analyze data. Our teacher leaders were trained to ensure they understand how to use our data to examine and determine areas of students' strengths and weaknesses and to change our adult practices to improve student performance. This work has informed us that the goals we set to improve student achievement must and will be supported by an intentional data system. This was a true "aha" moment and reality check for us. It led us to begin to design and build our own intentional data system that monitors adult practices in addition to student performance.

Through our focus on data monitoring, using our enhanced intentional data system, we look forward to regularly reviewing data that show movement toward accomplishing our goals and worthy targets established in District 149's District Improvement Plan.

Illinois CSI has been instrumental in helping our district leadership team foster collaboration, share the leadership, empower teachers, and develop researched-based worthy targets and actions that will be monitored using an intentional data system. Our partnership with Illinois CSI has definitely caused us to rethink our practices and dig deeper using an educational lens to enhance our current work.

Great work takes time, and we are a great work in the making!

Illinois CSI Co-Presents With Quincy Public School District 172 and Western Community Unit School District 12 at Raising Student Achievement Conference

Whether a team is large or small, teamwork makes the dream work in transforming systems. Illinois CSI was proud to partner with two of its districts to present at a breakout session during the Raising Student Achievement Conference in St. Charles, Illinois, on Tuesday, December 6, hosted by the Illinois Association of Regional School Superintendents.

Carol Frericks, assistant superintendent at Quincy Public Schools (left), Connie Thomas, elementary and high school principal from Western Community Unit School District 12 (center), and Illinois CSI's Roxanne Filson, Area III assistant director for district services(right), conducted a breakout session entitled "An Intentional Data Review Toward Systemic Continuous Improvement." During the session, the presenting team shared how Illinois CSI's intentional data review process worked in their context. They explained how the intentional data review entails a deep dive into district data to uncover root causes for systemic issues and serves as a springboard for further coaching and support in continuous improvement planning and implementation.

Although Quincy Public Schools (a large unit district) and Western Community Unit School District 12 (a small rural district), both located in West Central Illinois, have common concerns in addressing systemic issues that were uncovered in key findings, their approaches are unique to their settings. Administrators Frericks and Thomas shared challenges and opportunities related to bringing various stakeholders together for co-interpretationsm—an all-day, distinctively hands-on, collaborative, evidence-based approach developed by American Institutes for Research to help communities reach consensus on critical issues, each from their unique perspectives. They described how the information from their data interpretation processes informed the foundation of the district improvement planning that followed. Even though both districts ensured that planning was based on a clear and shared view of reality by using the intentional data review process, each district's outcomes were unique based on the context and culture of the district. Administrators Frericks and Thomas both agreed that the intentional data review served as a catalyst for reflection and action in the strengthening a data culture throughout their systems.


District Resources With You in Mind

The Illinois CSI Resource Library is consistently updated with handouts, slideshows, research briefs, and webinars for use in school districts. The library is designed for district usability to locate the resources you need. Check it out here.

Mark Your Calendars

Dr. Anthony Muhammad, author and education expert on culture and climate, will be back as the featured presenter for Illinois CSI's Research Forum series on Wednesday, February 8, 2017, in Bloomington. His topic: "The Will to Lead, the Skill to Teach." Visit the Research Forum webpage on our website to view content from his October 2016 event. You also will find pictures, handouts, slide decks, and the "Ask the Expert" segments that Dr. Muhammad recorded.

Superintendents of districts receiving Priority and Focus services: An e-mail invitation will be coming soon for the next Research Forum event featuring Dr. Muhammad.


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Let's Get Social

Join the discussion on social media by following Illinois CSI on Twitter and liking us on Facebook. We also encourage you to share your stories, photos, and resources, using the hashtag #IllinoisCSI.

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Upcoming Events

January 25, 2017
District Leadership Team Learning Network for Focus Districts
Matteson, Illinois

January 26, 2017
District Leadership Team Learning Network for Focus Districts
Naperville, Illinois

February 1, 2017
District Leadership Team Learning Network for Focus Districts
Springfield, Illinois

February 1, 2017
District Leadership Team Learning Network for Focus Districts
Mt. Vernon, Illinois

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