The Coalition's Mission

The Future of Learning Coalition is an alliance of organizations working to advance an innovation ecosystem for equitable, student-centered education in Illinois to better prepare future-ready students and empower them to realize their greatest potential.

The Coalition is led and sponsored by Education Systems Center at Northern Illinois University, Illinois Digital Educators Alliance, LEAP Innovations, LUDA, and Teach Plus Illinois. We believe that together, we can help Illinois capitalize on this moment to build the groundwork for encouraging and supporting districts interested in using innovative, equity-focused strategies.

The Coalition believes that students in Illinois deserve an education that equitably:

  • fosters individual leadership and agency; 
  • empowers each student to solve problems with critical thinking and creativity;
  • exposes every young person to ambition-fueling ideas and opportunities; and 
  • prepares them to compete and lead in our 21st Century digital economy. 

Grounded in these core principles of what students need and deserve, the Coalition also believes that school districts across Illinois zip codes must seize this unprecedented opportunity of focus, funding, and flexibility to shift the way students learn: away from antiquated time- and place-based systems and toward a modern, future-forward, student-centered, “learn everywhere” system.  

The pandemic crisis has shone a spotlight on deeply embedded, systemic problems and inequities in our schools. To overcome them we need models that are doing more than “tinkering at the edges” of structures that have underserved students for decades. We want Illinois to be a part of the growing movement around the country to transform education, and we want to respond to our constituencies who are asking for support with innovation. 

The Future of Learning Coalition is composed of organizations designed and equipped to innovate and support the implementation of new ideas for schools, teachers and the education ecosystem. Through a shared lens of racial and socioeconomic equity, with a whole-child focus, coalition members are pursuing four specific areas.

Advancing Innovative Models

We will advocate to expand innovative models, such as the current Competency Based Education pilot program, and seek to eliminate barriers to new education models. We will promote new and emerging education practices, publicize existing flexibility, and support districts implementing innovative learning models.

A Balanced System of Student Assessment

We will work to shift the Illinois accountability assessment culture from one that relies solely on standardized tests to one that more broadly integrates high-quality interim assessments that are district-selected and provide teachers with actionable data to improve teaching and learning, in comprehensive areas including academic competency, social-emotional development, and 21st-century skills.

Borderless Learning

We will increase opportunities for students to engage in learning outside of traditional school building and seat-time constraints, including community-based and workplace settings.

Teacher Advancement

We will support pre-service and current teachers in building their capacity to both engage in innovative practices themselves and to lead systemic change that encourages innovation.

What’s needed to advance in these areas is a set of comprehensive ongoing priorities to mobilize key stakeholders to prioritize innovative programming, share best-in-class case examples and resources to inspire and empower this, and take advantage of the flexibility that exists to innovate toward a unified student vision that is future-forward.

Under the banner of the Coalition, partner organizations—in an organized, ongoing, and evolving series of district outreach and education efforts—will share and promote their research, initiatives, programs, and especially innovative school and educator case studies under the six areas. 

What are the outcomes we seek? Overall, the Future of Learning coalition will inspire and enable and empower districts and schools to try new, bold pedagogical approaches, enact new models of learning and take better advantage of established and emerging efforts to support this innovation. As we move forward, the effort will serve to 1) raise awareness about resources available to advance innovation, 2) increase program participation among districts and schools, 3) secure stakeholder support for schools to engage in innovative programs, and 4) advocate for policy change to enable innovation.