Building systems for global competitiveness


Illinois Shared Learning Environment

ISLEThe Illinois Shared Learning Environment (ISLE) is an ambitious new state initiative that is developing a common technology platform to deliver tools, resources and content to educators and students to better personalize instruction and more closely meet the needs of the individual learner – from pre-K students through post-graduates and career seekers. ISLE’s mission is to drive academic achievement and career success for all lifelong learners in Illinois by enabling personalized learning through open and accessible technologies.

The standards and technologies developed by the Shared Learning Collaborative (SLC) serve as the foundation for ISLE’s technology services. The SLC is a multi-state initiative to develop a common technology that uses student data to deliver tools, resources and applications that help facilitate personalized instruction. Illinois is one of five Phase I pilot states for the SLC. For more information please visit

ISLE is sponsored by the Illinois State Board of Education and Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and is being developed with the support of the IlliniCloud, the Illinois Interactive Report Card at Northern Illinois University, the Center for Workforce Development at Southern Illinois University, and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois. 

OESI plays a key role in the launch of this ambitious project through project management support to the state agency project sponsors, support for governance and policy decisions among the project team members, and development of sourcing and implementation strategies for the various project elements.

Longitudinal Data System Governance

Longitudinal Data System ScreenThe P-20 Longitudinal Education Data System Act, enacted into law in 2009, established the statutory framework for the Illinois longitudinal education data system (ILDS). In addition, the State’s receipt of approximately $21 million in federal funding through the State Longitudinal Data System grant program has accelerated the build-out of this system.

Over the last several years, state agencies and other external stakeholders have identified the need for an ILDS governance framework for interagency decision-making regarding the ILDS. The Illinois State Board of Education has contracted with OESI to establish such a framework, working with six other state agencies that will ultimately contribute data to the system. 

Illinois Pathways Initiative and Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness Policies

Illinois PathwaysIllinois Pathways, launched as part of Illinois’ Race to the Top grant, is a new and innovative State of Illinois-led STEM education initiative designed to support college and career readiness for all students. Illinois Pathways is supported by a partnership between the State of Illinois' lead education and economic development agencies. As part of this initiative, school districts establish STEM Programs of Study organized around a career cluster to facilitate transitions from middle school, to secondary, and into postsecondary and the workforce. To support local implementation of STEM Programs of Study, the State has facilitated the establishment of STEM Learning Exchanges--a new, innovative public-private education partnership organized to coordinate planning and investment, aggregate resources, and track talent pipeline performance in a particular career cluster area. For more information, please visit

Jonathan Furr has worked closely with State agency representatives and the Illinois Business Roundtable on all aspects of the Illinois Pathways Initiative since its inception as part of the State’s initial Race to the Top application. OESI currently provides overall implementation support to the public and private stakeholders involved with Illinois Pathways, with a focus on policy, governance, and the contractual structures needed for implementation.  

In November 2012, the P-20 Council's Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness (PWR) Committee commissioned OESI to analyze policy, regulatory, and legislative options to advance the Illinois Pathways Initiative and other state postsecondary and workforce readiness objectives. OESI developed a policy framework, provided detailed analysis, and recommended potential policy actions that are being considered for implementation. 

Performance Reporting in sub-Saharan Africa

African ClassromOESI is working in partnership with an international nongovernmental organization, Link Community Development International (Link), to build capacity and improve the quality of education in Sub-Saharan Africa. Founded in 1989, Link now works with the Ministries of Education in Ethiopia, Ghana, Uganda, Malawi, and South Africa.  In each country, Link has established a separate nongovernmental organization, and also has separately registered supporting nonprofit organizations in Ireland, England, Wales, Scotland, and the United States.

In particular, Link is known for its School Performance Review (SPR) model, a unique and innovative process which measures individual school performance against common, research-based indicators of school success. SPR introduces evidence-based data collection in the areas of school management and leadership, teaching and learning, and community participation. It enables communities, schools, district officials and national education departments to develop individual school and collated district performance reports. These are used to address weaknesses and make the best use of scarce school and district resources to meet each school's individual needs and drive improved student learning outcomes.

OESI is currently working with Link to adapt best practices in school and district performance reporting for Link’s work in its sub-Saharan African countries. OESI is developing a prototype performance report card website for schools in the Limpopo Province in South Africa that will incorporate features from the Illinois Interactive Report Card and Link’s existing SPR reporting system.