The final report of the Illinois School Leadership Advisory Council (ISLAC) was released yesterday.

This Final Report was made possible through funding by The Wallace Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation. The members of ISLAC thoughtfully engaged over the last year and a half in providing an agenda for continuous improvement to Illinois’ new P-12 principal endorsement.

Early research on implementation of the new principal endorsement from IERC and the Consortium on Chicago School Research is encouraging, and the ISLAC recommendations show how further new resources will be necessary to maintain Illinois as a national leader in this work. The national agenda on school leadership development has continued to press forward, and Illinois continues to receive national recognition for its school leadership policy formation, as illustrated in a very recent Developing Excellent School Principals report by The Wallace Foundation and a Policy Makers Guide by the University Council for Education Administration.

Illinois is the only state to be ranked in the top two for school leader development policy in both of those national studies. The reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (no longer no Child left Behind but now ESSA, the Every Student Succeeds Act), has created a new focus on school leadership support, in part by authorizing new resources for principal development. Highlighting this, CSEP staff created a white paper showing how the state can maximize on ESSA to support ISLAC’s recommendations.

The single most important district decision made with respect to student learning outcomes may be the choice of school principals.

The report is the accumulation two years of research where teams examined two key questions:

  • What do school leaders do that leads to significantly improved student learning?
  • How can Illinois provide the systemic supports that ensure all new school leaders are learning what they need to improve student academic performance in all Illinois schools?

Finding show that for Illinois to make a significant, measurable impact on student learning through improved principal preparation, state leaders must build a statewide architecture of preparation program support. ISLAC study team recommendations converged around three common themes that frame a statewide, systemic approach to improving school leader development: State-level Leadership, Communities of Practice and Clinical Experience.

These major themes, together with specific recommendations from each study team, enabled ISLAC to develop a Five-Year Strategic Plan for High Quality Principal Development at Scale. The report contains the full plan and recommendations.

Please help disseminate this report with your members and through your communication venues in support of Illinois’ esteemed work in leadership development.