The Chicago Equity-Centered Innovation Forum (CEIF) is a partnership between Education Systems Center and Chicago Public Schools aimed at supporting innovative models for addressing systemic inequities such as student-centered personalized instruction, competency-based approaches, and performance assessments. CEIF works to identify, support, and amplify models that are unlikely to emerge from schools making more incremental changes. It provides space for innovators in Chicago high schools and high schools across the state to share best practices and strategize toward solutions, gain support and guidance from national experts, and investigate implementation models from other Illinois districts and other states. CEIF is open to educators from Chicago Public Schools as well as districts across Illinois.

CEIF Webinars and Blogs


Working Toward a Thriving Illinois

EdSystems applauds the adoption of the Illinois Board of Higher Education’s new 10-year strategic plan, A Thriving Illinois: Higher Education Paths to Equity, Sustainability, and Growth.

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Announcing the Chicago Equity-Centered Innovation Forum

In collaboration with leaders of Chicago Public Schools, school leaders of competency-based education (CBE) pilot schools, and other interested stakeholders, EdSystems will support the implementation of innovative instructional models as strategies for dismantling systemic inequities in traditional educational approaches.

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Competency-Based Education Resources

ISBE CBE Website

Find all Illinois CBE pilot districts plus useful resources

Chicago Public Schools CBE Pilot Sites

Approval yearHigh schoolInitial pilot students Scope of Initial implementation
2018Benito Juarez Community AcademyGrades 9-12All courses school-wide
2018Consuella B. York High SchoolAges 18-21, selected cohortAll courses provided to student cohort
2018Gwendolyn BrooksGrades 7-12Math, Science, English and Academic Center High School Courses
2018LindblomGrades 7-12CTE courses
2018PaytonGrades 9-12All courses school-wide
2018Southside Occupational High schoolAges 16-21All courses school-wide
2019Curie High SchoolGrades 9-12World Language courses
2019Disney II High SchoolGrades 7-11All core courses provided
2019Northside College PrepGrade 9 opt-in cohortAll courses provided to student cohort
2019Phoenix Stem Military AcademyGrade 9 opt-in cohortEnglish provided to student cohort
NAHyde Park AcademyGrades 9-12All courses school-wide

Relevant Publications and Articles

How Does SEL Support  Educational Equity and Excellence? from CASEL
Imagine a school community that fully supports students’ learning and development so that all children can thrive. Most people agree that it is important for young people to have trusting relationships, a sense of purpose and belonging, and to learn and practice the skills needed to work toward their goals and contribute to their communities. That is why social and emotional learning (SEL) is important—because it can help create educational opportunities and environments that promote learning and practicing social, emotional, and academic skills, all of which are fundamental to healthy human development.

Transformative Social and Emotional Learning: In Pursuit of Educational Equity and Excellence from American Federation of Teachers
In this article, AFT shares its revised definition of SEL and focus on identity, agency, belonging, collaborative problem solving, and curiosity. AFT then describes some considerations and directions for ongoing action research with some partnering school communities. These include co-constructing equitable learning environments via project-based learning and SEL for adults. Plus, next steps in ongoing research-practice partnership efforts.

Breaking the Ice With Student-Made Videos from Edutopia
Combining the six-word memoir with a film containing six shots gives students a way to introduce themselves at the beginning of the year.

Continued Progress: Promising Evidence on Personalized Learning from RAND
Achievement findings indicate that compared to peers, students in schools using personalized learning practices are making greater progress over the course of two school years and that those students who started out behind are catching up to perform at or above national averages. The study finds that teachers at most schools were using data to understand student progress and make instructional decisions, all schools offered time for individual academic support, and the use of technology for personalization was widespread. However, some strategies, such as competency-based progression, were less common and more challenging to implement.

Crowdsourced Data Supporting Student-Centered Learning from Students at the Center
As the number of schools, districts and states committed to student-centered, personalized learning practices grows, so does the evidence base. On this page, you’ll find an evolving library of data points that describe the impacts of student-centered and competency-based approaches on student learning and other key outcomes. The findings are searchable and are sourced from research studies, external evaluations and evidence collected directly by schools, districts and states using student-centered and personalized learning approaches.

How States are Rethinking Instructional Time and Attendance Policies in the COVID-19 Era from KnowledgeWorks
States have begun to remove the barriers of seat time through legislation, guidance, or changes to state code over the past year. They are rethinking seat time using a variety of strategies ranging from providing additional waiver opportunities to individual schools and districts to rethinking the state’s very definition of hours of instruction. These examples help states begin to consider policy changes that provide schools greater flexibility to design student-centered and resilient education systems.

Knowledge in Action Efficacy Study Over Two Years from USC  Dornsife Center for Economic and Social Research
Because only scores of 3 or higher out of 5 on Advanced Placement exams can translate into college credit, schools often worry that without lectures and textbooks, teachers won’t be able to cover the breadth of the curriculum and students won’t be prepared for the high-stakes tests. This approach to instruction is a missed opportunity, write contributors Anna Rosefsky Saavedra and Amie Rapaport. They recently conducted the first-ever randomized controlled trial evaluation of project-based learning in an AP setting, compared to business-as-usual lectures, in five of the nation’s largest, predominantly urban school districts, four of which have a majority of Black and Hispanic students and three of which serve a majority of students from low-income households. The result: More AP U.S. Government and AP Environmental Science students would be eligible to earn college credit using PBL than a regular AP classroom approach.

Niemi: CASEL Is Updating the Most Widely Recognized Definition of Social-Emotional Learning. Here’s Why from Karen Niemi, CEO of CASEL
As the creators of the most widely cited SEL definitions, CASEL saw a need to clarify what’s necessary to achieve the vision of SEL for all educators, adults, and young people. They updated their definition and framework to pay close attention to how SEL affirms the identities, strengths and experiences of all children, including those who have been marginalized in our education systems. 

Supports for Innovative Education Models

Aurora Institute – A New Dawn for Every Learner 
The Aurora Institute’s mission is to drive the transformation of education systems and accelerate the advancement of breakthrough policies and practices to ensure high-quality learning for all.

Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL)
CASEL is helping make evidence-based social and emotional learning an integral part of education from preschool through high school.

Facing History and Ourselves
Facing History and Ourselves uses lessons of history to challenge teachers and their students to stand up to bigotry and hate.

Great Schools Partnership
The Great Schools Partnership is a nonprofit school-support organization working to redesign public education and improve learning for all students at all levels of the education system. The Great Schools Partnership provides school and district coaching, professional development, and technical assistance to educators, schools, districts, organizations, and government agencies.

John Spencer
 Informative sketchnote videos as well as maker prompts and writing prompts that teachers can use in their classrooms, including how to videos on inquiry-based learning, adaptable thinking strategies, and project-based learning.

Dr. Karin Hess
Karin Hess, PhD is a recognized international leader in developing practical approaches for using cognitive rigor and learning progressions as the foundation for formative, interim, and performance assessments. Download excerpts from A Local Assessment Toolkit to Promote Deeper and Deeper Competency-Based Learning: Making Equitable, Student-Centered, Sustainable Shifts. Learning.

What’s the Story?
Devoted to helping adolescent learners become more informed, empathic, and strategic change agents.