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Real Learning for Real Life

Have you been to yet? Check out the resources for families and educators, including videos and downloads. Don't forget to sign-up for the Core Connection newsletter.

The Real Learning for Real Life web site is now available in Spanish.  Read the press release here

Advance Illinois is a member of the Core Coalition, a group of 45 organizations committed to keeping communities informed about the new learning standards and assessments and their impact on our education system in Illinois.  

Employment Opportunities

No open positions at this time. 

60 by 25 Network

Watch this wonderful video produced by the Dunham Fund on the recent
60 x 25 Network conference in Aurora.

The State We're In: 2014

Watch Former Gov. Jim Edgar and Robin Steans present The State We're In: 2014 at the City Club of Chicago on Nov. 20, 2014.

The State We're In

The State We’re In: 2014 is Advance Illinois’ biennial report on the foremost challenge we face as a state: providing a public education that prepares all students for success in college, career and democratic citizenship.  To measure our performance meeting this challenge, we track 55 metrics related to early education, K-12 and postsecondary over the last 10 years. We examine both overall performance and achievement and equity gaps by race and income.

You can also download the presentation slides from Robin Steans and Jim Edgar's presentation at the City Club of Chicago. 

Funding Our Future

From the Desk of Robin Steans

Executive Director, Advance Illinois

Several Illinois legislators took an important step this week to improve how the state funds public schools by proposing a new, straightforward funding formula with the driving goal of improving student performance.

Filed by Illinois Sen. Andrew Manar (D-Bunker Hill), the School Funding Reform Act of 2014 (SB 16) would distribute more than 90 percent of state funds invested in K-12 education through a single formula that better serves students, particularly those most in need, and consistently accounts for school districts' local property wealth, thus affecting their ability to support public education with local resources. 

Students who confront academic challenges such as poverty, language proficiency or special learning needs would receive additional funding to support their education, a targeted investment backed by decades of research. 

If approved, the School Funding Reform Act of 2014 will shape Illinois public education for decades to come. Continue reading Funding Our Future

These are Challenging Times for Illinois Public Schools

Funding Expectations report coverIllinois advanced landmark reforms in recent years to improve instruction for the 2 million students in public schools. Yet the drain of state resources threatens to derail progress, hamstring academic opportunities and unravel the basic education needed to prepare Illinois students for today’s world. Illinois confronts a financial crisis that threatens its very solvency.

How Illinoisans – whether policymakers or parents, teachers or taxpayers – respond will shape the next generation of students.

Learn more about the funding of education in Illinois and alternatives to proration in Funding Expectations.

Making Assessments Work

Illinois set new, rigorous standards for students – the Common Core State Standards – that are the bedrock of Illinois public education. The next step is putting in place a new generation of assessments that will measure whether students have the knowledge, skills and understanding to succeed in an ever-changing world.

With input from educators, Illinois leaders will consider whether to adopt Common Core assessments, invest in the technology required to deliver them and fund diagnostic assessments that provide an early window into teaching and learning.

The Common Core represents a fundamental shift in teaching and learning. As a state, we must be vigilant to ensure students, educators and schools have the resources needed – time, training, technology and otherwise – to achieve these higher expectations. This is a new starting point for Illinois.

Student Pathways to College and Career Readiness

Through the Illinois Pathways Initiative, public school leaders and private industry partners are creating and organizing resources to help give students meaningful career exploration, work-based learning opportunities, and rigorous academics that will prepare graduates for life in the real world.

On January 16th and 17th 2014, Advance Illinois, in partnership with the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, and Northern Illinois University's Office of Education Systems Innovation brought together 130 community leaders from across the state to discuss how to increase the number of Illinoisans with high-quality college degrees, certificates or other credentials to 60% by 2025.

Read more about this work.


“School Funding Reform Act” Improves How Illinois Supports Public Schools, Students

Advance Illinois Press Statement

 Advance Illinois supports the School Funding Reform Act of 2014 that proposes a new, straightforward funding formula with the driving goal of improving student performance.

The cornerstone of the proposed legislation is a single formula that would distribute 92 cents of every state dollar invested in K-12 education in a way that attends to student needs and consistently accounts for school districts’ ability to support public schools with local resources.

As introduced, additional funding would be provided for students who confront specific academic challenges such as poverty, language ability or special learning needs. This represents a targeted investment backed by decades of research.

“The School Funding Reform Act of 2014 lays the groundwork for a state education funding system that supports all Illinois students no matter where they live or how much their family earns,” said Miguel del Valle, chair of the Illinois P-20 Council and an Advance Illinois board member. “Research, and our own common sense, tells us that students come to school with varying needs and abilities, and Illinois must create an education system that supports all kids to reach their potential.”

Filed by Sen. Andrew Manar (D-Bunker Hill), the School Funding Reform Act of 2014 represents a comprehensive overhaul of Illinois education funding system that has not changed in nearly two decades.

The legislation stems from the blueprint put forth by a bipartisan task force of Illinois senators. In February, the Illinois Education Funding Advisory Committee recommended the state revamp the education funding system with the aim of more efficiently spending what state funds are available for education.

“In 1997, during my tenure as governor, we made meaningful changes to a funding system that served the needs of Illinois public schools at the time,” said former Gov. Jim Edgar, who served as Illinois’ chief executive from 1991 to 1999 and a founding co-chairman of Advance Illinois. “Nearly two decades later, Illinois needs a funding system that responds to the needs of today’s students, educators and schools.”

The School Funding Reform Act of 2014 focuses on how Illinois distributes state education funds, though Illinois leaders should not overlook the challenge of how much Illinois invests in public education. Illinois would be wise to develop a long-term plan to reach a truly adequate level of education funding. It will require a sustained commitment to ensure all Illinois students have the resources needed to succeed.

“Only by creating a more equitable state education funding system in tandem with long-term plans to increase revenue to a truly adequate level will we meaningfully invest in the future of our students and our state,” said Robin Steans, executive director of Advance Illinois.