Schiller announces Illinois schools chosen for national education project

All State Schools to Benefit from Resources

November 7, 2002

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Springfield – State Superintendent of Education Robert E. Schiller today praised the selection of nine Illinois schools to participate in the federally funded “Following the Leaders” project: Leepertown Elementary District 175 (Bureau County); the elementary, jr. high and high schools in Virginia District 64 (Cass County); and Rock Island District 41’s Lincoln Elementary, Longfellow Elementary, Thurgood Marshall Learning Center, Washington Jr. High and Edison Jr. High (Rock Island County).

Following the Leaders is an initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Education to provide schools with direct services – including teacher training and online support – to help them meet the requirements of the new federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Building on existing resources, participating schools will begin to use technology that links lesson planning and classroom assessment to state standards and annual testing. In addition, schools throughout the state will now have access to an online resource center that provides a comprehensive library of curriculum guides and teaching activities – also aligned with state standards.

“This is an exciting opportunity for these schools and for our whole state,” Schiller said. “Teachers and principals will become a driving force behind our efforts to comply with the law and ensure academic achievement for all Illinois students.”

Illinois was among six states selected to launch Following the Leaders; a total of 28 states applied to participate. As an early leader in No Child Left Behind implementation, Illinois will demonstrate to the nation that the dramatic changes in public education brought by the new legislation can become standard practice in the classroom.

Joining Illinois are Alaska, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and West Virginia. Close to 34,000 students, representing 64 schools, will benefit from the school-based resources made available by Following the Leaders in the first part of the 2002-03 school year.

At the core of No Child Left Behind are a number of measures designed to significantly improve student achievement, and to further focus the efforts of states and schools on academic progress. This emphasis is intended to close the achievement gap among students and to ensure all children have the educational opportunities they need to succeed.

To truly have an impact on individual student performance, parents, teachers, administrators and policymakers must have ready access to accurate information. Following the Leaders brings the systems to make this communication a reality and ensures that everyone has the data needed to make better-informed decisions.

Upon selection to participate in Following the Leaders, Illinois was required to: mobilize a leadership team; host informational meetings; identify and prepare schools eligible for participation; provide detailed technical specifications for each of the schools; begin a comprehensive needs assessment; and offer statewide access to the Achieve Resource Center.

A delegation of state education leaders and legislators represented Illinois at the first of two Accountability Institutes, September 20-21 in Chantilly, Virginia, as part of the Following the Leaders project.

About Following the Leaders

Following the Leaders is a nationwide initiative coordinated by the Education Leaders Council in partnership witdation and the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation. Funding for Followingh Project Achieve, AccountabilityWorks, the Milken Family Foundation and the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation. Funding for Following the Leaders was awarded by the U.S. Department of Education June 28, 2002. For more information visit: