A five-year, $3.9 million federal grant has been awarded to the DuPage Regional Office of Education to implement a program to improve student learning at more than 50 public schools here and in other parts of the state.
The education innovation and research grant from the U.S. Department of Education will fund Partners to Lead, a program to provide training and support to principals so they can more effectively engage teachers and staff members at their schools to improve instruction.
As part of Partners To Lead, principals and staff members will receive "coaching supports and a comprehensive system of processes, protocols and routines." Darlene Ruscitti, the DuPage regional superintendent of schools, said Thursday the goal is to have "continuous improvement in student outcomes, particularly in high-need schools."
Officials said the award includes matching grants from the Steans Family Foundation and the Tracy Family Foundation.
"I feel very strongly that this is an opportunity for students," Ruscitti said Thursday. "This is going to impact leadership in new and better ways and really emphasize the principal as the instructional leader -- not the manager -- working on student learning."
Partners to Lead is a voluntary program scheduled to begin next October.
Principals and other leaders from up to 56 public schools in DuPage and central and west central Illinois are expected to participate.
The program will involve a statewide group of trained professionals from DuPage and two other regional offices of education. Other partners include Illinois State University, Loyola University-Chicago, North Central College, Western Illinois University and the National SAM Innovation Project.
When the project is done, the regional offices of education will sustain the work by collaborating with their districts and local universities.
"I am so excited about the possibility of doing some powerful things to change our profession for the better," Ruscitti said.
An external evaluation of the project will be conducted through the American Institutes for Research to determine the effectiveness of the program.
In addition to getting the grant for Partners to Lead, DuPage's regional education office is a partner in two other federally funded grants.
The first is a five-year, $4.6 million School Leadership Program grant. The other is a three-year, $12.5 million Supporting Effective Educator Development grant.