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Illinois Adopts Culturally Responsive Teaching and Leading Standards to Further Support Equity and Inclusion Efforts in Illinois Schools

K-12 Education Publications

Illinois’ new  Culturally Responsive Teaching and Leading (“CRTL”) Standards, aimed at helping future teachers engage and connect with students from all backgrounds, have been approved by the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (“JCAR”) and will soon become effective. Based on research for closing student achievement gaps, the new CRTL Standards apply a culturally responsive approach to Illinois’ rules for teacher training programs, requiring programs to incorporate concepts such as implicit bias, historical inequities, student advocacy and representation, and social-emotional development into their educator training coursework. Applicable to programs for future teachers and administrators, the new CRTL standards require all existing teacher preparation programs to incorporate the new standards by October 2025, and any new programs to have them in place by October 2021. ISBE Executive Director for Teaching and Learning Dr. Jennifer Kirmes will join Franczek’s next webinar in our educational equity series to discuss the new standards and their anticipated impact on education in Illinois.

The origins of the CRTL Standards stem from Republican Governor Rauner’s administration in 2018, when the Council of Chief State School Officers partnered with ten states, including Illinois, to engage in work to diversify the state’s teacher pipeline and ensure that all teachers practice culturally responsive teaching. The standards were created over a two-year period by a steering committee comprised of diverse stakeholders from institutions of higher education, district and school-level leadership, the Illinois State Board of Education, and the Illinois General Assembly. The standards support inclusion and equity for students by guiding educators to do the following: 

  1. Reflect and gain a deeper understanding of themselves and how they impact others;
  2. Understand that there are systems in our society that create and reinforce inequities, thereby creating oppressive conditions;
  3. View and value their students as individuals within the context of their families and communities;
  4. Center learning around students’ experiences and position them as co-creators, with emphasis on prioritizing historically marginalized students;
  5. Support and create opportunities for student advocacy and representation in the content and classroom;
  6. Partner with families and communities to build rapport, form collaborative and mutual relationships, and engage in effective cross-cultural communication;
  7. Intentionally embrace student identities and prioritize representation in the curriculum; and
  8. Ensure the diversity of their student population is equally represented within the learning environment, and provide exposure to under or misrepresented minority groups even when they are not present within the population of their school and community at large.

The adoption of the CRTL Standards support the equity and inclusion work being done by districts throughout Illinois, inviting future teachers to examine how their personal convictions and their own backgrounds can influence their teaching practice. In a recent statement, State Superintendent Dr. Carmen Ayala recognized that the standards will help reach students from different cultural backgrounds, and that incorporating the standards into educator preparation programs will help combat the teacher shortage and help attract and retain educators of color. Franczek will be discussing districts’ efforts to attract, hire and retain diverse teachers and administers at our next webinar in our educational equity series on March 11 and will be joined by ISBE Executive Director for Teaching and Learning Dr. Jennifer Kirmes to hear more about how the CRTL Standards will support districts in these critical efforts. Toya Campbell, Chief Human Resources Officer for Evanston Township High School District 202, and Ken Kleber, Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources and Organizational Effectiveness at Champaign Unit School District 4, will also be featured speakers on the webinar, which you can register for here.

Higher education institutions providing teacher preparation programs should ensure their standards and the timetables for them. For institutions that currently have teacher preparation programs, those programs must align to the new standards by October 1, 2025. However,  any new teacher preparation programs must align those programs with the CRTL standards by October 1, 2021, to be approved by ISBE.

For questions on these standards or for education law questions generally, contact the authors of this alert or any Franczek attorney.