Our Work

The Region 9 Comprehensive Center provides intensive capacity-building services to state education agencies and other education stakeholders in Illinois and Iowa. We help the states, districts, and schools in our region successfully identify, implement, and sustain evidence-based programs and practices, with the goal of improving outcomes for educators and students alike. This work supports states in the implementation of their Every Student Succeeds Act and strategic plans.

Impact Stories

In 2015, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) applied processes specified in the Elementary and Secondary Schools Act (ESSA) to identify struggling schools. The schools designated as Comprehensive or Targeted Support and Improvement (CSI or TSI) schools were eligible for additional services and supports aimed at helping them improve student outcomes and close achievement gaps between student subgroups. ISBE created the IL-EMPOWER program to support CSI and TSI schools statewide.

Despite funded initiatives to attract, hire, and retain teachers, Illinois continues to struggle with teacher shortages, particularly in hiring diverse teaching staff to reflect communities served by public school districts. In conversations with the Region 9 Comprehensive Center (R9CC) about the challenge, Illinois State Board of Education’s (ISBE’s) Department of Teaching and Learning staff raised the need for additional evidence, resources, and support to better understand teacher shortages and how to strengthen recruitment and retention efforts.

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Current Work

R9CC is collaborating with ISBE to support the development of a 5-year plan for the IL-EMPOWER School Improvement Process that aligns to ISBE’s 2020-2024 Strategic Plan and the State’s ESSA plan. R9CC is continuing to support the development of a learning series for school leaders, identifying strategies to support continuous improvement across departments, and supporting newly hired IECs and the Director of IL-EMPOWER with the onboarding staff.

R9CC is working with ISBE to use their strategic planning process to align and continuously improve statewide efforts for the recruitment, retention, and recognition of effective teachers. Continuing into 2023, R9CC is working to create and maintain a Geographic Information System (GIS) map to support education stakeholders to better understand factors that may be affecting educator shortage challenges and identify and share effective locally developed practices.

R9CC is collaborating with ISBE’s Department of Career and Technical Education and Innovation to determine the percentage of all students, CTE students, and CTE concentrators who earn an Industry-Recognized Credential (IRC). R9CC is also helping ISBE to map out the current data collection process and create a communication plan template that can be used to inform school districts about Illinois Perkins V goals and processes.

R9CC is supporting ISBE and the Director of Wellness in the development of a cross-department logic model with the Student Care department, in addition to supporting the facilitation of convenings, gathering and analyzing wellness initiative data, engaging in collaborative review and interpretation of the data, and supporting the revision of state social and emotional learning standards.

R9CC is working with ISBE to support the development and implementation of a multi-tiered approach to conduct their Resource Allocation Reviews (RARs), assisting in the development of a tool to help districts complete the RAR process, and helping create a community financial meeting toolkit.

R9CC supported ISBE in co-facilitating a stakeholder engagement meeting to receive feedback on the needs of teachers, schools, and districts to ensure they are meeting the literacy development needs of students. R9CC is working to synthesize the information to present a report to determine next steps to support all students.

R9CC is collaborating with the Iowa Department of Education to identify what practices, interventions, or supports Iowa's Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI) schools need to make meaningful improvements and exit status. R9CC is working with IDE to gather insights from the former CSI schools and will analyze specific school data to explore what practices, interventions, or supports will prepare CSI schools to make meaningful improvements.

R9CC is collaborating with state and district leaders in Iowa to plan and facilitate a Community of Practice (CoP) for school district leaders focused on effective implementation and sustainability of evidence-based programs and promising practices supported with ARP ESSER funds.

Previous Work

R9CC collaborated with IDE to identify best practice across the Teacher Leadership and Compensation (TLC) System for implementation and progress monitoring to support districts in clearly articulating the system’s effects on teaching and learning. R9CC worked to develop and implement a continuous improvement process and sustainably plan for the Iowa TLC system.

R9CC collaborated with the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Talent Office to increase its capacity to measure teacher retention by streamlining data collection and analysis processes. R9CC supported CPS as they developed a strategic plan which detailed next steps for supporting continuous improvement of teacher retention and identified best practices and lessons learned to inform teacher retention initiatives in other districts in Illinois.

R9CC supported IDE staff in assessing the capacity for and needs related to implementation and systems of support for equitable practices in all content areas. R9CC collected interview data and identified where districts needed additional support to implement, monitor, and continuously improve equitable practices to increase student learning.

R9CC worked with districts in Illinois and Iowa to improve the implementation of social and emotional learning practices that promote positive learning conditions for students through structured community of practice sessions focused on instructional specialists working in rural districts.

R9CC partnered with IARSS and ISBE to establish peer-to-peer focus groups across the six IARSS service areas to provide Illinois education leaders access to a well-planned, strategic system of professional learning. R9CC also developed a final report that documented the conversations and resources shared by district superintendents through the focus groups.

R9CC worked with the Region 1 Comprehensive Center on a community of practice that supports districts in assessing the quality of remote or hybrid teaching models. R9CC and Region 1 Comprehensive Center developed a framework for district leaders to use to assess the quality of remote/hybrid learning measures from information discussed in the meetings.

R9CC worked to gather information to highlight successful evidence-based strategies implemented by schools, districts, or regional offices that exemplify good work happening within the region either in response to COVID-19 or reflecting how previous work helped them support student success during the pandemic.

R9CC collaborated with ISBE and the Illinois Association of School Business Officials to facilitate a virtual peer-to-peer series for district leadership across Illinois, involving superintendents, business officials, and other district staff to discuss how to strategically engage ESSER and Title funds to support effective long-term resource allocation.

R9CC collaborated with ISBE to improve their Family and Community Engagement (FACE) Framework to better guide districts as they implement systems to improve equitable family engagement in schools and districts across the state.

R9CC collaborated with ISBE to plan a community of practice (CoP) for district leadership teams focused on blending and braiding funds. R9CC also worked to compile the resources and lessons learned from the CoP to produce a guide for school and district leaders.