The collaboration and resource sharing of the CEEDAR-Illinois partnership brings to life the well-known phrase “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” In order to understand more about the education reform efforts underway in Illinois, we spoke with Ann Denoyer, principal consultant for the Illinois State Board of Education. Ms. Denoyer shared that CEEDAR Center professionals have provided a needed structure for collaboration among the state education association (SEA), institutions of higher education (IHEs), and local education agencies (LEAs). This structure enables communication among stakeholders that may not have otherwise occurred due to demanding schedules.
Ms. Denoyer spoke highly of all of the resources the CEEDAR Center offers and shared excitement for current state initiatives that relate to the common mission. Ms. Denoyer said that the CEEDAR Center’s resources have been instrumental in moving the state toward the development of a technical assistance (TA) plan that integrates the needs of a diverse group of state stakeholders. She routinely shares CEEDAR resources (See Resources/Tools at the top of the page) with education professionals at charter schools and large group presentations, which has increased awareness of the state’s partnership with CEEDAR. Ms. Denoyer also highlights the innovation configurations (ICs), particularly the reading IC (click here), as resources that have the potential to transform the way that program professionals integrate evidence-based practices (EBPs) within the state. As the state continues its work as outlined in its TA plan, state leadership team members will work with CEEDAR Center experts to increase access to information about EBPs through the IC process. Ms. Denoyer stated that the CEEDAR Center’s resources have served as a rallying point to raise awareness about the importance of this work in Illinois. She looks forward to further collaboration with CEEDAR Center staff members to examine the ways in which the state can improve professional learning systems (PLSs) so that all students graduate ready for college or career.
In addition to increasing collaboration, state professionals view the CEEDAR-Illinois partnership as a vehicle for change and revitalizing efforts. In order to raise the bar for all students, the Illinois state leadership team developed numerous goals through the partnership with CEEDAR, including analyzing standards and licensure, sharing EBPs, and learning from other states’ reform efforts. Overall, Illinois leaders want to break down silos between general and special education to better focus on all students by providing multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS). According to Ms. Denoyer, ensuring that all students have access to quality instruction and intervention can “close the gap between general and special education.”