The School Leadership Program (SLP), housed in the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement, provides grants to support the development, improvement, and expansion of programs designed to provide high-need schools with high-quality leaders.  In this edition of the SLP Highlights, how Illinois State University (ISU) used SLP funding to test and implement academies for administrators across the state is shared.  The SLP funding was used to create the Illinois Partnerships Advancing Rigorous Training (IL-PART) project.

In 2010, Illinois passed bold and innovative legislation to strengthen the standards guiding principal preparation. The team at the Center for the Study of Education Policy at ISU supported the research-based changes and was confident that the new program standards would improve the quality of school leadership throughout Illinois. They also knew that the strengthened standards were at risk of repeal without a clear model and strong data validating impact on student outcomes. The team endeavored to produce actionable research that provided evidence on how principals impacted student learning.

​“It is doubtful that we would have been able to sustain the strengthened Illinois standards for principal preparation without the SLP grant. The grant helped us validate expectations for the field and offered assurance to districts and preparation providers alike that we were on the right path,” said Erika Hunt, senior policy analyst and researcher in the Center for the Study of Education Policy at Illinois State University.