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June 14, 2010


Lumina exec to brief IBHE on ways the Illinois Public Agenda fits with the
Foundation’s effort to raise education attainment


SPRINGFIELD – A former first grade teacher from Taos, New Mexico, will visit with the Illinois Board of Higher Education to explain why at least 60 percent of Americans need to have high-quality degrees and other college credentials.

Dewayne Matthews, whose career began in a first grade classroom and who now is vice president for policy and strategy at the Lumina Foundation for Education, will brief the Board at its June 21 st meeting at Roosevelt University in Chicago.

Lumina is a major national foundation that has put millions of dollars behind its Big Goal strategic plan – to dramatically increase the level of educational attainment in the United States.

Just like the Illinois Public Agenda for College and Career Success.

“We are fortunate to have such a distinguished and prominent education leader as Dewayne Matthews help place the Illinois Public Agenda and the challenges facing our education system in a national context,” Carrie J. Hightman, IBHE Chairwoman, said. “Lumina has been in the forefront of the debate over education reform, and Dr. Matthews has been on the front line of this reform movement. We anticipate his discussion with Board members will be both informative and thought-provoking.”

Matthews may well find himself preaching to the choir.

Three of the four goals of the Illinois Public Agenda are aimed at smoothing the path for more Illinoisans to gain more education – Goal 1 to eliminate the achievement gap, Goal 2 to make college affordable, and Goal 3 to increase the number of Illinoisans holding degrees and certificates to meet workforce needs.

“The Public Agenda is now a year-and-a-half old,” Hightman said, “and while we are making significant strides in implementing its broad mandate, we can always profit from national perspectives that will inform and guide our efforts in Illinois.”

Hightman noted that the Board is engaged in several initiatives aimed at raising educational attainment, including many that have been the focus of Lumina’s efforts in its Goal 2025 – to increase the proportion of Americans with high-quality degrees and credentials to 60 percent by 2025. Lumina estimates the U.S. will need to produce 23 million more college graduates to meet that goal just 15 years hence.

Through the Public Agenda, Illinois is trying to do its part. Among the efforts cited by the Chairwoman are:

  • Complete College America. Illinois is one of the founding Alliance of States, a national project designed to set specific numerical goals for increasing the number of degrees and certificates for states and individual higher education institutions to meet to achieve the 60 percent threshold.
  • Senate Joint Resolution 88. This legislative mandate, sponsored by Sen. Ed Maloney and Rep. Fred Crespo, directs IBHE to create a Higher Education Finance Study Commission to examine funding trends, institutional productivity, alternative financing approaches used in other states, and financial aid policies and their role in improving certificate and degree completion.
  • Common Core Standards. This national campaign sponsored by the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association and developed by education leaders in the states is designed to create educational standards for English language arts and mathematics that states can voluntarily adopt. In addition, Illinois is among the states working to develop assessments to measure student performance in meeting the standards.
  • School Leadership. The passage this spring of Public Act 96-903 – the school leader reform act – is a monumental step toward ensuring that every school will be led by an effective instructional leader. The measure completely reforms the process for recruiting, training, and certificating school principals to strengthen rigor and standards in preparation programs and to emphasize the vital role the principal must play in instructional leadership.
  • The P-20 Longitudinal Data System. This initiative, embodied in Public Act 96-107 passed by the General Assembly last year, will give legislators, policymakers, educators, and the public comprehensive information on student mobility and performance from preschool to graduate school. It will be a valuable tool to enable policymakers and others to identify cracks in the educational system and to evaluate what measures are working or ineffective in improving student achievement.
  • American Diploma Project. Illinois is one of a network of 35 states to join this effort led by Achieve, Inc., to increase the rigor of high school preparation for college and careers. The efforts of state governmental and education leaders focus on high school standards, assessments, and curriculum to align expectations for what high school graduates must know and be able to do with the demands of postsecondary education and careers.
  • P-20 Council. This coordinating council, chaired by former state Sen. Miguel del Valle and comprised of a diverse group of business, labor, education, and governmental leaders, was appointed in 2009 to strengthen the links among state education agencies and the coordination of policies affecting students from preschool through graduate school.

This is an impressive roster of strategies and action steps that, by helping to implement the Illinois Public Agenda, will contribute to Lumina’s ‘Big Goal,’ which is our goal as well,” Hightman said. “We look forward to an edifying presentation by Dr. Matthews and to a lively discussion of these critically important issues by members of the Board of Higher Education.”

On the Board’s action agenda June 21 st is the approval of final rules to govern the distribution of $300 million in bond proceeds to fund capital projects at private colleges and universities. The Board is designated as the agency responsible for oversight and disbursement of the capital dollars to the independent institutions.

“The capital improvement program is an important force for the state’s economic recovery,” Chairwoman Hightman noted. “And we are pleased to have this mechanism in place to advance this needed and valuable endeavor.”


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