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Continuous Improvement for Implementation of IL-EMPOWER

Project Lead: Donna Warthan, Ed.D.

Over the past four years, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has collaborated with R9CC to support the implementation and continuous improvement of their statewide school improvement system, otherwise known as IL-EMPOWER. In 2020-21 R9CC worked with ISBE leadership to update and clarify the roles and responsibilities of the IL-EMPOWER coordinators (IECs) and provide professional development on ESSA requirements related to identification and selection of evidence-based practices. The 2021-2022 project year focused on assisting ISBE in drafting an internal IL-EMPOWER strategic plan that aligns with ISBE’s 2020-2023 Strategic Plan and the state’s ESSA plan. In 2022, R9CC supported the facilitation of a community of practice for the IECs, which included monthly sessions and regular planning and progress monitoring focused on building coordinators’ knowledge and skills related to data literacy, identifying and selecting evidence-based practices, and operating as a collaborative team to support school improvement.

Going forward in 2023, R9CC is supporting ISBE in three ways. 1) R9CC continues to build upon work from the previous two years with ISBE IECs in the development of a learning series for school leaders to effectively implement and sustain evidence-based school improvement practices. 2) R9CC and ISBE review priorities in the IL-EMPOWER plan and identify strategies to support continuous improvement and coherence within and across ISBE departments. 3) R9CC is supporting newly hired IECs and the Director of IL-EMPOWER by collaboratively determining onboarding support that includes a timeline of activities, agendas, and materials for onboarding sessions. R9CC anticipates this collaborative onboarding process will result in an IEC team that understands the expectations for their roles and has the tools necessary to support Targeted and Comprehensive schools and improve overall student achievement in the state.