The State We’re In (2010)

The State We’re In: 2010 was the first full assessment of our educational performance as a state, from birth through higher education. It covers a broad range of measures from student test scores to dropout rates, from the availability of preschool to the quality of learning environments in our schools.

This report had three simple aims: (1) to outline what it means to be ready at each transition, (2) to identify the conditions in our schools that lead to success, and (3) to clearly understand the results we are getting. If we have done our job well, the information set out in this report will empower families, educators, and policymakers. And, in these fiscally challenging times, it will help target our limited resources.

While the primary purpose of this report was to make information available to families, educators, and decision-makers, a number of conclusions warrant highlighting.

Illinois needs more and better ways to assess student “readiness.” If we want students to attain at high levels, we need to set clear expectations. Illinois needs agreed-upon ways to understand whether students are starting school ready to learn and finishing college- and career-ready.

Illinois must evaluate key drivers of student success, including learning conditions and teacher and principal effectiveness. Conducting annual, statewide school climate surveys is an affordable way to gather critical data to help administrators and families make informed decisions. And if teachers and principals are the key determinants in student growth, we must develop ways to assess the caliber of our workforce.

Illinois is lacking critical data it needs to set goals, target resources, and evaluate progress. Better and more targeted information helps families, educators, and state leaders make informed decisions about how to use limited resources. We hope the creation of a state longitudinal data system will help fill in the gaps we identify in this report.

Given our success in expanding preschool, if we make it a priority together we can prepare Illinois students for college and career.