Aligned with the mission of the University of Illinois as a land grant institution and with the goals of the College of Education, the Center for Education in Small Urban Communities serves as a vital resource to local school districts and educators. The Center works collaboratively with local education agencies to create sustainable improvement in education. The core focus of the Center is to collaboratively plan and sustain long-term, job-embedded professional learning experiences for teachers. The Center partners with local schools to conduct research on these collaborative efforts in order to further understanding of what works and to explore ways to grow such efforts. The importance of the research, service, and outreach that the Center provides is based on the critical need to support the success of our schools and its students. To date, our collaborative work has resulted in expanding the capacity of local schools to deliver quality instruction as well as the establishment of other meaningful partnerships supporting literacy, mathematics, and second-language learning.
The majority of research on educational reform in the U.S. is focused on large urban and rural communities. However, over the past decade, small urban centers have become the model type of community in the country. These communities—representing nearly three-fourths of the school districts in the nation—are experiencing the opportunities and challenges of changing demographics, globalization, federal intervention into school policy, education for economic development, and other social trends to the same or greater extent than large urban centers.