The Illinois Center for School Improvement (Illinois CSI) provides Focus services to 65 urban, suburban, and rural districts to help close student achievement gaps. Many Illinois districts have identified "Focus schools": those that during a three-year period have had underperforming subgroups–such as students from low-income households, those with special needs, or those for whom English is a second language.
These students and schools can benefit from additional support. Illinois CSI helps meet that need by providing Focus services at no cost to the district.
For a map of districts supported by Illinois CSI, click here.
How It Works
Illinois CSI services are designed to put into practice the research-based Core Functions and Indicators that:
- Create strong, effective teams across district, building, and classroom leadership.
- Build effective data systems into school culture so data are routinely used to guide and assess the implementation of best practices.
- Create systems to monitor those practices and support continual improvement.
Root Causes and Solutions
Although the step-by-step Illinois CSI process for Focus services is largely the same as for Priority services, each of the steps described here is applied through the prism of a detailed look at root causes of problems and their solutions for specific student subgroups. More details are available in the Focus Services FAQs. The process includes:
- Assessment: Illinois CSI undertakes an intentional data review, which includes a root cause analysis to examine relevant information and unearth sources of concern where targeted coaching support is needed.
- Analysis: District leaders, teachers, support staff, and community members–guided by Illinois CSI and its co-interpretationSM tool that fosters consensus–collaboratively assess relevant data and analyze student achievement overall and among subgroups.
- Planning: After identifying critical areas of need and areas for growth, Illinois CSI and the district work together to refine or create new strategies using research-based best practices to raise the academic performance of all students, with a focus on underperforming subgroups.
- Coaching: Illinois CSI's statewide team of 100-plus professionals–who come from the school communities they serve–coach district leaders in applying proven best practices and implementing the plan to transform their districts.
- Collaboration: Illinois CSI brings together leaders of comparable districts to share their experiences and learn about best practices. See the District Leadership Team Learning Network fact sheet and FAQs to learn more about this process.
- Monitoring: To ensure continual improvement, Illinois CSI supports district leaders as they evaluate initial results of their new strategy, gather ongoing feedback, and constantly revise the strategy and tools as needed to ensure growth and progress.
- Research Forums: These topic-focused forums bring together national and local experts who share the latest in research and best practices with district leaders. The Research Forum series provides content-specific opportunities to enhance understanding and incorporate the research within district conversations. Watch videos of the forums.
- Principals Institute: As an extension of the District Leadership Team Learning Network, Illinois CSI created the Principals Institute, as a community of practice to support and connect school-level administrators to the continuous improvement efforts occurring in their districts.