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Illinois State center awarded $12.5 million grant to improve school leadership

DeGarmo Hall in the sunlight

DeGarmo Hall

Illinois State University’s Center for the Study of Education Policy (CSEP) has been awarded a three-year, $12.5 million Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) grant by the U.S. Department of Education. The funds will be used to increase principal effectiveness in performance areas that lead to increases in student achievement, particularly in high-need schools.

The project, titled the Together Everyone Achieves More Through Integrated Leadership (TEAM Lead), will engage principals and other school leaders in 101 public and private high-need schools in rural, suburban, and urban settings across the state. TEAM Lead will involve a statewide P-20 cadre made up of regional offices of education (ROEs) out of Quincy (ROE 1), Bloomington (ROE 17), and Wheaton (ROE 19); a network of Catholic schools; four universities (Illinois State, Loyola University-Chicago, North Central College, and Western Illinois University); and a national nonprofit organization (the National SAM Innovation Project). External evaluation of the project will be conducted through the American Institutes for Research (AIR).

The TEAM Lead project will implement leadership support systems that empower principals to more effectively engage teachers and staff in schoolwide instructional improvement efforts. In addition, participating schools will adopt the school administration manager (SAM) professional development process. The approach redirects many administrative tasks to other dedicated staff.

“Through distributed leadership practices and an intentional focus on instructional improvements, the SAM process allows principals to devote a greater portion of their time working with teachers on problems of practice,” said Alicia Haller, co-director of TEAM Lead.

This grant is about systematic improvement, and the best way to do that is by building regional capacity. After the grant is complete, the ROEs will be able to sustain this work by working in partnership with their districts and local universities

To accomplish this work, the strategy capitalizes on existing school structures, such as instructional leadership teams. School principals and staff will receive coaching supports and a comprehensive system of processes, protocols, and routines to enable these structures to more effectively support teaching and learning.

The initial work of TEAM Lead will be to provide much needed resources and support to the ROEs, which are located in northern, western, and central Illinois.

“This grant is about systematic improvement, and the best way to do that is by building regional capacity. After the grant is complete, the ROEs will be able to sustain this work by working in partnership with their districts and local universities,” said Erika Hunt, TEAM Lead co-director and senior policy analyst and researcher for CSEP.

About the center

The CSEP’s faculty and professional staff conduct applied research, manage a variety of grant-funded projects and contracts, and perform program evaluations to inform policymakers and practitioners regarding improvements across the P-20 education continuum.

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