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Illinois board of education proposes culturally responsive teaching standards

Teacher Kathy McInerney, center, spends intervals of time dedicated to teaching a specific group of students during class at CICS West Belden. The Chicago charter school employs the personalized learning method for its K-8 students. The school is part of the Chicago International Charter School network, and is managed by Distinctive Schools. Photo by Stacey Rupolo/Chalkbeat
The Illinois State Board of Education proposes culturally responsive teaching standards to be implemented by October 2025 at teacher preparation programs throughout the state.
Stacey Rupolo

The Illinois State Board of Education is proposing the state implement culturally responsive teaching and learning standards for teacher preparation programs by October 2025.

The new standards will train educators — regardless of their racial or economic background — to address implicit bias, systems of oppression in society, value students’ lived experiences, create relationships with students’ families and communities, and represent students’ identities in curriculum. This is the latest effort by the state to ensure that teachers are able to connect with students of color in meaningful ways that will help them excel academically.

The new standards will be voted on Feb. 16 by the Joint Commission on Administrative Rules, where Democrat and Republican lawmakers will review them. They will have the choice to approve, dismiss, or provide recommendations for the board. Republican legislators have spoken out against the bill saying that it is pushing politics into schools, as reported by WMBD.

If approved, the standards will be implemented in teacher preparation programs at colleges and universities across the state. The state board of education also will provide professional development to educators who are already in classrooms.

Not only does the board hope that it will ensure that early career educators are able to better connect with students, they hope that the standards will attract more teachers of color. The board said that teachers of colors have proven to be key in students’ success and are rated highly among all students. Research shows that Black students have better academic outcomes when they have at least one Black teacher in school.

In Illinois, teachers are predominantly white, while more than half of students identify as students of color.

State Superintendent Carmen Ayala sees the new teaching standards as a way to close the gap between white students and students of color on the state’s standardized tests.

“As we help students recover from learning loss due to the pandemic, giving our teachers opportunities to learn about effective, equitable, and research-based strategies like cultural responsiveness could not be more important,” she said in a press release on Monday.

If the rule change passes, it’s not clear whether it would be incorporated into a new accountability dashboard that tracks which teacher prep programs in the state are successfully placing teachers and recruiting diverse candidates.

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