Upstate/Downstate: School Effectiveness in Illinois

During the early years of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), “low-income school” was mostly code for an urban school that served high concentrations of non-white students. But these days, the connections between low-income enrollment and lower achievement are being enacted at scale in predominantly white communities with the same depressing regularity as they have been for years in low-income communities of color.

A new report, "Upstate/Downstate:  Changing Patterns of Achievement, Demographics and School Effectiveness in Illinois Public Schools," describes some surprising shifts in local and regional achievement patterns in the State of Illinois, one of the most demographically representative states in the country.   These shifts show worrisome declines in many communities that were not the original focus of NCLB and promising growth in some communities that were.

Race and family income still predict standardized test scores with remarkable accuracy in most school districts.  But Upstate/Downstate offers new evidence that changes in school effectiveness - what schools and districts do to improve their impact on student and adult learning - can play as powerful a role in local and regional achievement as race and family income do.

Authors:  Paul Zavitkovsky and Steven Tozer

Media Coverage

"The High Price of Poverty" - Illinois Public Radio
"Perception Vs. Reality: Chicago Students Outperform Kids In Rest Of Illinois" - WBEZ Chicago
"Faltering Scores For Poor Black Students In Chicago And Statewide" - WBEZ Chicago
"Chicago-Area Public Schools Matching Downstate Counterparts" - Chicago Tonight (WTTW Chicago)
"Good News: Chicago Public Schools Outperform Matched Schools Across Illinois" - Diane Ravitch Blog
"New Report Finds Race and Income Are Still Strong Predictors of Achievement, But School Effectiveness Makes a Difference" - Evanston Roundtable

Reports

Read the executive summary:  Executive summary for Upstate/Downstate
Read the full report:  Upstate/Downstate
Read regional summaries of changes in achievement, demographics and school funding under NCLB
Read district-level reports for the 55 districts in the Illinois Large Unit District Association (LUDA)

Read earlier Center studies on assessment and achievement in Illinois under NCLB:

Taking Stock:  How Standardized Test Reports Let Us Down under NCLB (2016)
The Testing Mess - Why It Won't Go Away (2016)
The Grammar of American Schooling and the Challenge of the Common Core (2014)
Testing and the Common Core (2012)
Something's Wrong with Illinois Test Results (2009)


Recent Research

Center Research in Progress
  • External Evaluation of the Ounce of Prevention Fund's i3-Funded Professional Development Initiative (PDI). January 2012 through December 2014.  CUEL is conducting a 3-year impact and implementation evaluation of an innovative, job-embedded design for ambitious professional development for community-based early childhood educators in Chicago, based on the Ounce of Prevention Fund's highly-regarded EduCare early childhood education model.  The project is funded through the US Department of Education's Investing in Innovation (i3) grant program.

  • School Leadership Program Grant. U.S. Department of Education Office of Innovation and ImprovementSchool Leadership Program Grant. U.S. Department of Education Office of Innovation and Improvement. $1,000,330, funded 2013-2017. Principal Investigator, Steve Tozer, Department of Educational Policy Studies. Co-principal investigators Sam Whalen, Shelby Cosner, Andrea Evans, and David Mayrowetz.

  • Examining pre-service preparation of school leaders. Finnegan Family Foundation, $30,000, funded 2013-2014. Lead Researcher: Shelby Cosner

  • Examining the principal residency experience and its impact on candidate competency, role, and identity development. Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, $200,000, funded 2013-2015. Principal Investigator: Sam Whalen, Center for Urban Education Leadership. Lead Researcher: Shelby Cosner.

  • Building a suite of measures for assessing the development of leadership capacities for transformational school leadership. Two years, $200,000 from an anonymous donor. Principal Investigator: Steve Tozer, Director, Center for Urban Education Leadership. Research couples with the Fry Foundation project above. 

UIC Faculty Research: Selected Recent Publications
  • Cosner, S., Kimball, S., Barkowski, L. Carl, B., & Jones, C. (under review). Principal roles, work demands, and supports needed to implement new teacher evaluation. Research on Urban Education Policy Initiative.

  • Cosner, S. (in press). Advancing a phase-based model of school leadership for the support of collaborative data practices as a school-wide improvement strategy. Journal of School Leadership.

  • Cosner, S. (in press). Strengthening collaborative data practices in schools:  The need to cultivate developmental perspectives and diagnostic approaches. In A. Bowers, A. Shoho, & B. Barnett (Eds.), Using data in schools to inform leadership and decision making. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

  • Cosner, S., Tozer, S., & Smylie, M. (2012). The Ed.D. Program at UIC: Using cycles of inquiry and improvement to advance leadership preparation. Planning and Changing, 43(1-2), 127-148.

  • Cosner, S. (2012). Leading the on-going development of collaborative data practices: Advancing a schema for diagnosis and intervention. Leadership and Policy in Schools, 11(1), 26-65.

  • McDonald, J. P. with Christman, J. B., Corcoran, T. B., Fruchter, N., McLaughlin, M. W., Pradl, G., Reich, G., Smylie, M. A., & Talbert, J. (in press). Cities and their schools. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

  • Murphy, J.; Smylie, M.; Mayrowetz, D.; Louis, K.S. (2009). The Role of the Principal in Fostering the Development of Distributed Leadership. School Leadership & Management, 29 (2), p181-214 Apr 2009

  • Shoho, Alan R.; Barnett, Bruce G.; Martinez, Peter (2012). "Enhancing 'OJT' Internships with Interactive Coaching," Planning and Changing, 43(1-2). Illinois State University

  • Superfine, B. M., Gottlieb, J. J., & Smylie, M. A. (2012). The expanding federal role in teacher workforce policy. Educational Policy, 26(1), 58-78

  • Superfine, B. M. (2013). Equality in education law and policy: 1954-2010. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

  • Smylie, M. A., (2009). Continuous School Improvement (Leadership for Learning Series). Newbury Park, CA: Corwin Press. 

  • Smylie, M. A. (2010, June). Never good enough: Tips for continuous school improvement. The Leader’s Edge (a monthly publication of the American Association of School Administrators).

  • Superfine, B. M. (2010). New directions in school funding and governance: Moving from politics to evidence, Kentucky Law Journal, 98(4), 653-701.

  • Superfine, B. M., Smylie, M. A., Tozer, S.E., & Mayrowetz, D. (2009). "Promising strategies for improving K-12 education in Illinois: Improving the educator workforce," The Illinois Report 2009 (pp. 49-64). Urbana-Champaign, IL: Institute of Government and Public Affairs, University of Illinois.

  • Tozer, S.E., B. Gallegos, & A. Henry, eds. (2011). "Handbook of Research in the Social Foundations of Education," New York: Routledge/Taylor Francis, Inc.  

School Leadership Knowledge Base Exemplars
Policy Briefs
  • Wallace Foundation: Research Findings to Support Effective Educational Policies: A Guide for Policymakers, 2nd Edition. March, 2011. Illinois cited as an example in multiple areas. Read the full report here

  • Göncü, A., Main, C., Perone, A. & Tozer, S. A. (2012). "Crossing the Boundaries: The Need to Integrate School Leadership and Early Childhood Education." UIC Research on Urban Education Policy Initiative, Vol. 1, Book 2. November 2012. 

Assessment and Cycles of Inquiry
  • UIC data model adopted by Evanston school district - UIC's principal preparation coach Paul Zavitkovsky inspired the school district to become the first in the state to adopt UIC's model of test-score interpretation. The model is one of many innovations developed by UIC's EdD program and supported by the Center to help leaders transform education.

  • UIC report shows how school leaders can better slice test scores to improve teaching and learning - 2009 presentation before the American Educational Research Association