The many centers housed within the College of Education 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. After featuring several of them in an earlier article, we wanted to highlight the tremendous efforts of these three centers.

The Mary and Jean Borg Center for Reading and Literacy

The Mary and Jean Borg Center for Reading and Literacy is a research and public service center committed to facilitating the development of multiple literacies among the residents of Illinois through a range of programs, partnerships, and collaborations. The Center achieves this goal by providing service, teaching, and research of use to educators, parents, employers, policymakers, and others.

The Redbird Educator Series (RES), created in fall 2020, features College of Education faculty in one-hour virtual professional development sessions designed for PK-12 teachers. In this series, faculty share their research and evidence-based practices on relevant topics in education. The webinars are free and Illinois teachers can earn professional development credits when they register for and attend the webinars. All webinars are recorded and can be accessed online.

Three unique sessions were offered during both fall and spring semesters on a variety of key topics for today’s teachers such as anti-racist education, knowledge building in the literacy classroom, and e-learning methods and routines to promote mathematical thinking. Over 500 educators registered for the webinars, and recorded videos of the webinars have been viewed more than 500 times. Consider proposing a topic to present at a future session.

Based on the success of RES, the Center has also started offering six-week short courses for extended learning opportunities. Each course includes six virtual meetings with readings and assignments between meetings.

In addition to professional learning opportunities for educators, the Center houses an Eye Movement and Miscue Analysis (EMMA) lab to study reading processes and development and offers literacy assessment and tutoring services for school-aged children. The Center also houses a library of children’s literature that is accessible to COE students and faculty. Thanks to recent fundraising efforts, the library is being updated to purchase texts that represent a wide range of non-dominant perspectives, backgrounds, and cultures.

Illinois Center for Specialized Professional Support (ICSPS)

The Illinois Center for Specialized Professional Support (ICSPS) has been a part of the College of Education since 1977. The mission of ICSPS is to support the success of every learner through the comprehensive application of research-based practices, encouraging professionals to educate equitably, and offering expertise in creating excellent learning environments through professional development events.

ICSPS designs and delivers professional development, technical assistance, and program improvement strategies for career, technical, and adult education professionals. The Center focuses on equity, access, recruitment, retention, completion, and transition−encouraging achievement of special populations learners.

A current project of ICSPS is the design and piloting of the Training for Instructional Practices for Postsecondary Success (TIPPS) curriculum.  This series of professional learning modules provides postsecondary instructors in career and technical education with an overview of evidence-based practices that strengthen the teaching and learning process. Ultimately, TIPPS will lead to a better prepared workforce and greater personal fulfillment for both instructors and learners.

The TIPPS curriculum will provide a framework for faculty as they create student-centered conditions for learning that support diverse learners. Creating such an environment can promote equity in a classroom and help ensure that no learners are left behind. Using TIPPS, each instructor can work through the learning modules, constructing a Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework for their teaching by infusing pedagogical strategies with diverse learners in mind. Using a UDL framework encourages instructors to think intentionally about how to make curriculum accessible for all–and apply engaging instructional practices that make the course inviting and functional for all types of learners. This curriculum will be available in fall of 2021.

Visit our website to learn more about TIPPS and all the work of the Illinois Center for Specialized Professional Support (ICSPS).

National Board Resource Center

The National Board Resource Center (NBRC) continues ongoing efforts to meet their mission of supporting diverse educators seeking National Board Certification, building the capacity of National Board Certified Teachers to improve teaching and student learning through mentoring and facilitating professional development, and partnering with educational stakeholders to elevate the teaching profession.

During the onset of the global pandemic, the NBRC became very flexible.  They shifted timelines and methods of support offered to Illinois educators seeking and renewing National Board certification. These included on-going virtual support and professional development opportunities through webinars that ranged in topics from Zoom training to self-care. All of these efforts prepared Illinois educators for success in their professional journey.

The NBRC’s perseverance proved fruitful, as demonstrated in a February announcement where Illinois earned national recognition as being sixth for the number of total NBCTs, fifth for the total of new NBCTs, and fourth for the total of renewed NBCTs. These educators will be recognized for their achievement at the first ever NBRC Virtual Recognition Ceremony, recently held on April 22.

The NBRC is also presenting at ROE meetings and conferences, hosting webinars about certification, and communicating with potential candidates. A promotional video was also produced and provides information on the National Board process and reflections on personal and professional growth by Illinois National Board Certified teachers. 

The state of Illinois continues to show support for the positive impact that National Board Certified teachers make through improving teaching and student learning, evidenced in Public Act 101-0654 which was recently signed by Governor Pritzker. It contains language which expands the National Board program within the state through various recruitment efforts and incentives provided to eligible NBCTs. For more information, contact Amy Smith, Director of the National Board Resource Center, at