Skip to Main Content

To develop a research agenda that supports this ambitious mission, IWERC created an initial list of research questions through extensive outreach across the state.

A Research Advisory Council of 84 diverse statewide stakeholders—including educators, researchers, advocates, and state agency staff—then reviewed and helped pare down the list to the most pressing questions.

Throughout, four criteria guided the selection of projects: potential impact, equity focus, novelty, and ability to build statewide bridges. Below are the projects that emerged from this process.

IWERC Research Agenda

Our Research

IWERC’s research is organized around four portfolios of work:

Little Boy Playing With An Abacus

Understanding children’s journeys through early childhood programs and services.

This portfolio is focused on:

  • Categorizing the different programs and services Illinois children can receive.
  • Understanding what diverse communities across the state expect and want from early childhood programs.
  • Identifying how different combinations of programs and services lead to different outcomes.
Teacher Helping Boy To Use Digital Tablet In Computer Class

Maintaining a diverse, high-quality early childhood and K-12 teacher workforce.

This portfolio is exploring:

  • The factors that encourage teachers to go into and stay in teaching, with an emphasis on: teachers of color, teachers in geographic areas experiencing teacher shortages, teachers in high-need subject areas, such as special education and bilingual education.
  • Statewide data on teacher preparation.
Portrait Of Young Female Student

Exploring the diverse routes from high school to work.

This portfolio has several strands, including:

  • Identifying the pathways students take after high school, including into postsecondary and workforce settings, and the outcomes of those pathways.
  • Exploring computer science education in high school and postsecondary settings, with an emphasis on the experiences of Black, Latinx, and female students.
  • Supporting DPI with research on tech talent development.
At Seminar

Conducting targeted reviews and analyses of secondary data that can serve Illinois communities in the short term.

These project topics include:

  • Strategies that cultivate effective schools for different purposes and learners.
  • Mapping Illinois by important demographic variables, along with access to key educational services.
  • Instituting trauma-informed approaches in Illinois schools.

Research Advisory Council

IWERC’s Research Advisory Committee is comprised of three subcommittees: policymakers/leaders, researchers, and practitioners.  This committee has representation across the geography of Illinois, education levels (early childhood, K-12, postsecondary, workforce), racial/ethnic background, and role within various institutions.  A smaller group of volunteers from across the subcommittees participated in a “steering committee” meeting to solidify the research agenda.