Student Supports

What are student supports?

Every student brings a diverse set of talents, skills, and challenges with them to the classroom, and sometimes these require special supports to meet children’s unique needs.

Illinois classrooms are more diverse than they ever have been. For example,

  • Nearly half of students are non-white
  • Nearly half of students come from low-income families
  • One-tenth are English language learners
  • Fourteen percent require special education services

It is clear that classrooms like these challenge us to leave the old “one size fits all” education model behind, and meet each and every child where they are to help them achieve by providing customized supports.

Why do they matter?

The achievement and attainment gaps in Illinois between students of different races, native languages, and socioeconomic statuses are among the worst in the country, and they have been persistent, in some cases even widening. Each time a student leaves school without reaching his or her full potential, there are weighty implications, both for the student and for our larger society. We know that graduating high school and going on to postsecondary training positively impacts students’ future quality of life, level of civic engagement, and economic stability. It is our responsibility to provide support for any hurdles that stand in their way, so that all our young people can reach their potential regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, learning differences, socioeconomic status, or geography.

What is Advance Illinois doing?

  • We track how well Illinois students are performing and graduating in Illinois in our biannual report The State We’re In which calls attention to persistent achievement gaps in Illinois and proposes policy changes to help narrow that gap.
  • We participate in the Funding IL’s Future initiative supporting an equitable school funding formula for our state. It would provide additional funding for students who need additional resources such as English learners and students who receive special education services.
  • We provided guidance on how to support all students in the transition to the Illinois Learning Standards in our report Making Assessments Work.
  • We supported Illinois becoming the first state in the nation to require bilingual education services for English learners in state-funded preschool.
  • We advocate for ongoing attention to the needs of diverse learners through our participation in various committees around the state.


The Latino Policy Forum facilitates the involvement of Latinos at all levels of public decision-making, including education issues.

TESOL International Association has compiled Common Core-related resources for teachers of English language learners.