NEWS

“ILSI” website offers tools, information
for schools, parents and public

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 15, 2000

FOR INFORMATION:
(217) 782-4648

Educators and members of the public will have unprecedented access to information about how well their schools perform academically and how they compare to other similar schools around the state, thanks to the Illinois School Improvement Website, or ILSI.

The site, ilsi.isbe.net, will enable educators to analyze their achievement data and give them information about resources and practices they can use to improve teaching and learning.  Educators can compare with other schools in their district or statewide with similar characteristics.  ILSI will also provide easy access to information that helps educators, parents and the public better understand the role of the Illinois Learning Standards, while providing links to resources and tools proven to boost learning in the classroom.

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), the Illinois Business Roundtable (IBRT) and the North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL) pooled their efforts to develop and promote the site.

“We are equipping teachers and principals with the information they need to improve their schools and to accurately monitor how well they are doing,” said State Superintendent of Education Glenn W. McGee.  “With this new tool, we can help ensure that every school in Illinois offers an education that aligns to the Illinois Learning Standards and that students are getting the knowledge and skills they need.

“These resources make ILSI a national model for school improvement planning,” McGee said. “While many states have adopted standards as a means of measuring performance and guiding schools in what they should be teaching, the resources at ILSI provide a unique tool for the benefit of Illinois schools.”

The site is divided into four sections:

  • Standards: Where do we need to be? – This section describes the Illinois Learning Standards and how they affect learning in the state’s elementary and secondary schools.
  • Analysis: How are we doing? – This section measures the achievements of individual schools against the Illinois learning Standards and compares a school’s performance to state and district averages, past performance and schools with similar demographics.  The data include results from  the 2000 Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) and demographic information about the schools.
  • Process: How will we get there? – This section includes background information on the school improvement process and a “starter kit” to launch schools down the path to better classroom performance.
  • Knowledge: Where can we find the resources? – This section provides a wealth of information aligned to the Learning Standards, including model classroom activities, materials related to professional development and samples of student work.

“The journey to being the best in the world, whether in business or in education, begins with knowing where you are and from whom you can learn.  The Illinois School Improvement Website gives educators and the broader community both of these important pieces,” said Ed Rust, CEO and chairman of State Farm Insurance and chairman of IBRT.

“This website shows that the partnership between business and education is stronger than ever,” says Richard Laine, director of education for IBRT and one of the project managers for ILSI.  “We are taking the best from education and business to improve the quality of student learning across Illinois.”

The leadership at IBRT played a major role in developing ILSI and making sure it met the needs of the public – including members of the business community – as well as educators.  ILSI demonstrations for local educators, employers and citizens were hosted around the state by IBRT members, including:  Bloomington (Ed Rust of State Farm Insurance, Ed Weise of Verizon), Moline (Hans Becherer of  Deere & Co.), Peoria (Glen Barton of Caterpillar), Quincy (Harold Knapheide of Knapheide Mfg.), Springfield (Ron Ridlehuber of The Franklin, Mark Ferguson of Firstar), Decatur (Marty Andreas of ADM, Larry Altenbaumer of Illinois Power), and LaSalle (Blouke Carus of Carus Co.)

McGee also credited NCREL for bringing support and expertise to the project that were instrumental in its development.

“This represents an important partnership among the Illinois State Board of Education, the Illinois Business Roundtable, and the North Central Regional Educational Laboratory,” said Gina Burkhardt executive director of NCREL.  “The website provides meaningful data that will help inform school improvement decisions.”

Educators will use the material in the “Standards” section to align their classroom activities to the Illinois Learning Standards.  Parents will find tools they can use to help make sure their children are prepared to meet and exceed the Standards when they go to school.

For many users, the “Analysis” section will offer the most in-depth picture of how well their school is performing – with the ability to make comparisons over time, to other schools in the same district and to demographically similar schools statewide with high performance.  In addition, the “Analysis” section contains information on the ISAT and the role state tests play in helping make sure students around the state develop the skills and knowledge outlined in the Illinois Learning Standards.

The “Process” section of ILSI outlines the keys to successful school improvement plans, along with a starter kit to help schools develop integrated school improvement plan.  Educators benefit from seeing high-quality plans that have led to successful results, along with other models that help schools implement continuous improvement.

The “Knowledge” section is built around one basic idea: learn from what works best.  Whether it is by Learning Standard or by topic, this section contains information and links to research, best practices, professional development and a wide variety of other tools that will enable teachers to raise the level of their classroom work and the level of their students’ performance.

Some sections of ILSI are still under construction, but McGee emphasized that the site will be continually updated so users always have the most current information available.