By Barbara Stamets

(August 19, 2010) The Association of Illinois Middle Level Schools (AIMS), affiliated with the Illinois State University College of Education, is pleased to announce that its application in partnership with the National Forum has been selected by the U.S. Department of Education as one of 49 highest rated proposals out of nearly 1,700 applications to receive funding under the Investing in Innovation (i3) program. The i3 fund, which is part of the historic $10 billion investment in school reform in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), will support local efforts to start or expand research-based innovative programs that help close the achievement gap and improve outcomes for high-need students.

The National Forum, in collaboration with AIMS, the California League of Middle Schools, the North Carolina Middle School Association, and the Academy for Educational Development, submitted a proposal to further develop a school transformation network based on its Schools to Watch model. The model will be used to build the capacity of persistently low-performing middle-grades schools, to improve their students’ academic performance, and to close achievement gaps among their students.

AIMS has spent thirty-four years developing and strengthening its organizational capacity to provide various services to schools. Located within the College of Education at Illinois State, AIMS has strong affiliations with the College of Education, school districts, and personnel across the state and has successfully created many networks of reform-minded schools statewide. It provides high-quality professional development at school, district, state and national level events.