There are several centers housed within the College of Education that are an integral component of the work we do. Each center is responsible for producing a wealth of amazing research and other efforts to advance the education profession. While we do not have the space to highlight all of the incredible work being done by the centers here, a small handful are represented below with more to come in future newsletters.

Center for the Study of Education Policy earns federal grant

Illinois State University’s Center for the Study of Education Policy (CSEP) has been awarded a two-year, $4.3 million Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) Renewal grant by the U.S. Department of Education.  The funding will be used to continue the center’s work through the Together Everyone Achieves More Through Integrated Leadership project (TEAM Lead) to increase principal effectiveness in performance areas that lead to increases in student achievement.

TEAM Lead engages principals and other school leaders from almost 100 public and private high-need schools in rural, suburban, and urban settings across the state. TEAM Lead involves a statewide P-20 cadre made up of Regional Offices of Education (ROEs) out of Quincy (ROE 1), Bloomington (ROE 17), Wheaton (ROE 19), Atkinson (ROE 28), East St. Louis (ROE 50), and Marion (ROE 21); a network of Catholic schools; and four universities (Illinois State, Loyola University-Chicago, North Central College, and Western Illinois University).  External evaluation of the project will continue to be conducted through the American Institutes for Research (AIR).

Matching grants to support the TEAM Lead project were also secured by two foundations:

  • $50,000 McCormick Foundation grant to design micro-credentials for building leaders and aspiring principals designed to build their knowledge of research-based, effective early childhood classroom practices. This work will build from the McCormick-funded PK3 Teach Lead Grow Project and through the Birth Through Third Continuity Project, funded by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) during the first round of the Preschool Development Grant—Expansion (PDG) grants by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • $60,000 Stone Foundation grant to partner with the Latino Policy Forum and Intermediate Service Center No. 40 to develop a series of micro-credentials designed to create more equitable and supportive environments for English Learners in schools. This work will build from the Latino Policy Forum’s EL Handbook and the audience for these micro-credentials will be district and school leaders and school board members.

Lauby Center provides professional development opportunities

In previous years, the Cecilia J. Lauby Teacher Education Center provided financial support for undergraduate and graduate student professional development through their Student Travel Award.  However, with current travel restrictions due to COVID-19, they sought out a new way to continue their efforts to provide students with an alternative professional development opportunity.

Noticing a significant increase across the state in schools using the Google platform to facilitate student learning, the Lauby Center decided to incentivize students in their student teaching semester to become Google Educator certified.  Students can review all the training modules for free, and may then choose to complete the Certified Educator exams for Level 1, Level 2, or both. Through successful completion of these certifications, which are good for three years, students will learn how to integrate the many resources provided by Google in their classrooms. Topics include engaging in professional growth and leadership, increasing efficiency and saving time, and facilitating and inspiring student learning and creativity.

Starting in October, the Lauby Center began providing reimbursements to those students who are student teaching in either fall 2020 or spring 2021. These identified students received information directing them to complete the student survey form to request a reimbursement for their certification exam. A limited amount of funds are available, and the Lauby Center has committed to fund the first 285 students.

The Lauby Center also decided to offer these opportunities to all teacher education faculty throughout Illinois State University, with total funding up to $5000 for tenure track faculty, non-tenure track faculty, or faculty associates. Interested faculty must complete the faculty survey form to request a reimbursement.

All awards are given on a first come, first served basis, but space is still available for both student teachers and faculty. Please contact Laurie Sexton for more information.

STEP-UP continues to prepare urban educators

The National Center for Urban Education (NCUE) STEP-UP program completed its 11th summer in 2020, and it was a big change to say the least.  This rigorous four-week summer residency program has operated in Chicago for years, providing pre-service teachers from Illinois State with the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in the communities they serve and teach alongside Chicago Public School (CPS) teachers.  STEP-UP focuses on the role that community plays in education and the ways which teachers contribute to the overall quality of life within their community.

Like everything else in the world, COVID-19 threatened how this program would operate this past summer. STEP-UP Fellows would typically be physically present within their communities, but this year, Fellows had to be a little more creative. While Fellows conceded that they were disappointed they couldn’t be physically present, they did acknowledge that there were positives to being virtual. 

Not being present in-person meant that they wouldn’t have to spend time traveling to different locations throughout the city, which was a significant part of the Fellows’ day previously. This summer, the commute was as simple as logging on to a Zoom call, providing them with more time to have deeper interactions with their host families, each other, and with CPS students they were assisting with virtual learning.

Even though they couldn’t be in person, the STEP-UP Fellows were definitely able to make lemons out of lemonade and still enjoy a tremendous urban education experience during a difficult time for all. While it wasn’t an ideal situation, the Fellows gained an invaluable tool needed by all educators: adaptability. STEP-UP will continue for summer 2021, and all current teacher education students scheduled to student teach during fall 2021, spring 2022, fall 2022, or spring 2023 are encouraged to apply. Upon completion of the program, students will receive a $2,000 scholarship and three credit hours. Interested students must apply by January 31, 2021. For more information, students can view the informational video, visit the STEP-UP website, or contact Trudi Langendorf, STEP-UP program coordinator.