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K-12 education resources

The following resources focus on the educational climate and betterment of those serving the K–12 educational community.

Building Safe, Engaging and Equitable Schools  In September, AIR hosted a roundtable discussion, “Building Safe, Engaging, and Equitable Schools.” Experts presented comprehensive and evidence-based best practices, strategies and recommendations for creating strong learning environments, with a focus on social and emotional learning.  Catch up on School Safety Strategies.

Fight Illinois Brain Drain by Preparing Students for College and Careers  There’s another sort of “brain drain” in Illinois: the loss of graduating high school students not because they migrated to other states, but because they are not ready for college, in-state or out, or for a promising career. (Chicago Sun-Times)

Illinois School Funding Bill Getting Praise from Educators and Legislators  “There’s no doubt it has helped tremendously. Our rural school districts have seen an uptick in resources,” said David Ardrey, executive director of the Association of Illinois Rural and Small Schools. (The Southern Illinoisan)

How are America’s Public Schools Really Doing?  Jack Schneider, an assistant professor of education at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell and the author of “Beyond Test Scores: A Better Way to Measure School Quality,” takes a look at the broad question of how public schools are doing. (The Washington Post)

STOP ILLINOIS BRAIN DRAIN: Building Pathways to Prosperity for High School Students  Illinois has a bad case of brain drain – the second worst in the nation.  More Illinois high school graduates go to out-of-state colleges than students from any other state but New Jersey. As they leave Illinois, so do their well-educated minds and buying power.  Read Stand for Children’s report on state- and district-level policy changes and practices that will quickly have a positive impact in helping high schools graduate more students who are ready for college, career training, or careers.

Making Family Engagement a Real Partnership for Boosting Student Achievement and Improving Schools  The importance of well-designed family, school, and community engagement in supporting children’s learning from cradle to career is well documented by a growing body of research. Beyond the research, it is reasonable – and some would say commonsensical – to conclude that parents, as their child’s first and primary teachers, offer the most expertise on their child.  However, what may seem like common sense has not been common practice.

School Resource Officers: A Policy Option to Improve School Safety  About half of all public schools across the country now have at least a part-time school resource officer on campus. Heidi Macdonald takes a closer look at these programs and how states play a role in determining standards, policies and more.

Supporting Social, Emotional, & Academic Development Research Implications for Educators  The synthesis brings together the UChicago Consortium’s ground-breaking research on the influence of school climate on student achievement, the importance of mindsets and developmental experiences, as well as other leading education research. It draws attention to the critical role of engagement and mindsets in student success; how teachers and administrators can create strong school climates that support students and engage families as partners; and how responsive classrooms can enable all students to have strong academic engagement.

How Rauner and Pritzker Would Fix Illinois Education  “Not only do we have a teacher shortage in general, we cannot attract minority candidates at all,” according to Centralia High School Superintendent Chuck Lane. The Chicago Tribune breaks down the gubernatorial candidates’ positions on key education issues like the teacher shortage and school funding. (The Chicago Tribune)

Putting it all Together: K-5 Strategy Dive – Nov. 6 and Dec. 12  Join for a day of professional learning focused on the unique needs of K-5 educators! The day will be centered on specific strategies that can be utilized in the elementary classroom. Explore the science and social science shifts. Discover instructional strategies that work across all content areas. Walk away with a variety of strategies and resources that can be implemented in the classroom right away! Registration is $25 and available for Nov. 6 in Marion or for Dec. 12 in Normal.

Engaging Students in the Middle Grades: Connecting with 6-8 Students – Nov. 7 and Dec. 13  Looking for new ways to engage middle school students as well as address social-emotional standards in the classroom? Join us for a day of professional learning centered on specific strategies to enhance any content focus in the middle school classroom. Explore strategies to connect with students and help them transition to and throughout middle school. Discover strategies for facilitating discussions and discourse. Walk away with a variety of strategies that can be implemented in the classroom right away! Registration is $25 and available for Nov. 7 in Marion or Dec. 13 in Normal.

Upcoming Public Hearings on FY 2020 Budget Recommendations ISBE is hosting three public hearings this fall to gather requests to inform ISBE’s FY 2020 budget recommendations for pre-K through 12th-grade educational service providers statewide. All individuals – including those attending a hearing in person – should submit their comments and stories by completing a budget request form and emailing the form to  The remainder of the public budget hearings for FY 2020 will take place in:  Chicago – Friday, Nov. 16, immediately following the Board meeting (approximately 11 a.m.) in Conference Room 16-503 at the Thompson Center (100 W. Randolph St.)

Seeking Competency Pilot Applications; Upcoming Informational Webinar  ISBE released a Request for Applications (RFA) for the Competency-Based High School Graduation Requirements Pilot Program on Oct. 11. Public school districts may participate in the pilot program for some or all of its schools. School districts may collaboratively apply to participate in the pilot program. All districts interested in applying may access the application, as well as a library of research and resources, on ISBE’s Competency Pilot webpage. Applications are due to ISBE by Dec. 7, 2018.

Apply for Breakfast After the Bell Grants  No Kid Hungry offers Breakfast After the Bell grant opportunities in Illinois. Grants support schools with the purchase of approved equipment, materials, and initiatives that facilitate Breakfast After the Bell delivery models in an effort to increase student participation in breakfast.  Applying schools must either be implementing or be prepared to implement a Breakfast After the Bell delivery model, such as Breakfast in the Classroom, Grab and Go, and Second Chance Breakfast. Individual schools may apply for up to $5,000.  Subject to funding availability, No Kid Hungry has two remaining grant rounds with the following due dates: Nov. 16 and March 4. To complete an application, you will need a detailed budget outline of the grant request; key strategies you have taken/plan to take to implement your program and anticipated challenges; the breakfast model you plan to implement, the anticipated start date, and where you will serve meals; school level breakfast and lunch data for the month of October and total school enrollment; and contact information.  To get started, visit,  where you can set up a new user account. Complete your application and click “Save and Next” before hitting “Submit.” For program-related questions, email Sonianne Lozada at For technical questions, email

Why One Science Professor Has Students Write a Children’s Book  For the past seven years, Stan Eisen, a biology instructor, has been offering his students a choice of taking a final exam or writing a children’s book about the course content. The book option, he notes, is a form of experiential learning: “If you can make a 7-year-old understand it,” he says, “you’ve accomplished something.” (The Chronicle of Higher Education Teaching Newsletter)

The National Student Attendance, Engagement and Success Center (NSAESC) is excited to announce the launch of its new website.  This website provides easy access to hundreds of resources aimed at helping schools, districts and states address chronic absenteeism through the design and implementation of early warning systems and Success Mentor initiatives. The website is intended for a broad audience including faculty, administrators, and community members from all facets of education. There are webpages devoted to educators and mentors. The site also includes valuable information and resources for principals, guidance counselors, program directors, community-based organizations, mentees, My Brother’s Keeper Coordinators, researchers, and students.