For Immediate Release
Monday, May 14, 2007

Illinois receives nearly $500,000 grant for character education

Pilot program at 8 high schools to teach skills for success in life

Springfield, Ill. – The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) announced today the Illinois Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support (PBIS) Network will be receiving a $471,038 grant from the U.S. Department of Education to help implement programs aimed at teaching character development. The Illinois PBIS Network received one of four Partnerships in Character Education grants for Fiscal Year 2007; other recipients included Los Angeles Unified School District, New York City Department of Education and the Black Hills Special Services Cooperative, in Rapid City, South Dakota.

“We’re proud the Department of Education is recognizing Illinois’ place as a national leader in PBIS education over the past decade, and look forward to sharing our research with others as we continue to implement this on a broader scale,” said Illinois State Superintendent of Education Christopher Koch. “Being able to expand our work in this area will help us as we continue to move forward with educating all of our students, not just for classroom success, but success in life.”

The Illinois State Board of Education started the PBIS Network nearly a decade ago to create and maintain safe and effective learning environments in schools and ensure all students have the social/emotional skills needed for success. ISBE and the School Association for Special Education in DuPage County administer the program.

“Character education is integral to a well-rounded education. Positive, respectful students help create and maintain healthy school environments,” U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings said. “Lessons in responsibility and respect are just as important as lessons in reading, math and science.”

The four year program funded by the grant will allow the Illinois PBIS Network to work with 8 public high schools to integrate school-wide positive behavior supports and character education as part of their curriculum. The schools included are:

The Partnerships in Character Education Program awards grants for up to four years to eligible state and local education agencies to design and implement character education programs, which teach students core ethical concepts, such as: civics; citizenship; justice; responsibility; and respect themselves and others. Grant recipients must show how they have integrated character education into classroom instruction and teacher training. They also must involve parents, students and the community in the process. The projects are evaluated to determine their success in helping students develop positive character, reduce discipline problems and improve academic achievement. Projects also must increase parent and community involvement with the school. This year’s recipients were chosen in rank order from the list of the most qualified FY 2006 applicants, which had not yet received funding in FY 2006. The grantees were solicited and peer reviewed during FY 2006. Since 1994, a total of 147 state and local education agencies have received character education grants.