Northern Illinois University

Dist 428-NIU Partnership

About the Partnership

DeKalb High SchoolA new DeKalb High School building will open in August 2011, replacing the existing, overcrowded facility.  Recognizing an extraordinary opportunity, District 428 and NIU are developing a partnership high school that will achieve national recognition for the following accomplishments:

  • World-class student achievement.  “Achievement” includes academics, activities, and citizenship.  Currently, 54% of students meet or exceed PSAE standards; 91% graduate; 75% enroll in higher ed. DHS enrolls a diverse student body that is 35% low income; 67% white, 17% Hispanic, and 10% African-American.
  • Rigorous curriculum that matches expectations of higher education and the workplace.
  • Superior preparation of pre-service teachers whose skills match the needs of today’s classrooms, including proficiency in skills for improving achievement of low-achieving students.  Four NIU colleges are involved – Liberal Arts and Sciences, Visual and Performing Arts, Health and Human Sciences, and Education.
  • Excellence in professional learning that supports DHS and NIU faculty in their pursuit of globally competitive student achievement. 
  • Joint research and co-teaching by DHS and NIU faculty.

Partnership Development

After exploratory discussions by leaders of District 428 and NIU, faculty and staff of DHS and NIU began meeting in July 2008.  They will work together over the next three years to build a partnership that achieves the vision outlined above.  Nationwide, few high schools have implemented large-scale strategies for raising performance of all students.  Few teacher preparation programs train students in all of the skills needed to participate in this type of teaching activity.  The DHS-NIU partnership will focus on building this model, which challenges existing practices, and will disseminate its results.

The partnership will use a professional development school structure, benefiting high school students, NIU pre-service candidates, plus faculty and staff of both institutions. The necessary changes in curriculum, teaching methodologies, and organizational arrangements will present transformational opportunities at both institutions.  A unique national model is in the making.

Developing the new high school partnership promises to require extensive resources; e.g.  compensation for committee work by both DHS and NIU faculty and staff, curriculum development funding, and travel expenses for visits to benchmark sites.