Democracy Schools Recognition Process
Illinois Civics Hub (ICH) at the DuPage Regional Office of Education is excited to be the new home of the Democracy School Initiative through generous funding from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation. The ICH is committed to building on the work begun by the Constitutional Rights Foundation of Chicago, with the recognition of 4 schools in 2006, and then expanded, to over 70 schools, under that stewardship of the Democracy Program at the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.
The Democracy School Recognition Process provides schools with an opportunity to be elevated for their commitment to civic learning through an examination of instructional practices and organizational structures. The Democracy School distinction can be incorporated on a school’s state report card and, in communications with the larger community, to advocate how school practices have been distinguished to support students to succeed in college, career, and civic life. Member schools also become part of the Democracy Schools Network (DSN) to facilitate civic learning across the disciplines through professional development, communities of practice, and regional convenings of the DSN. DSN schools also have opportunities to apply for targeted funding to support their continued growth.
Once designated as a Democracy School, individual schools will have the opportunity to renew their commitment to being a Democracy School every four years through targeted reflection on both their successes and continued opportunities for growth.
Below is a brief overview of the Democracy School Recognition Process
1. Sample Survey
To participate in this process, Illinois high schools create a school-based team of 6-8 individuals that consists of teachers from various disciplines, administration, and students. After participating in an orientation with the ICH Democracy School Staff, the team works with colleagues at their school to survey a representative sample of students and staff to get data on the civic learning experiences, organizational supports, and civic engagement outcomes for students.
2. Data Summary
ICH Democracy School staff will compile and share a dashboard summary of the collected survey data with schools, providing guidance as to how to read and analyze the data.
The school team has an opportunity to reflect on their student data and then complete a self-assessment rubric that explores the frequency and quality of Democracy School indicators as it relates to civic learning practices and organizational supports in the school. This self-assessment helps the team identify areas they would like to focus on in strengthening and deepening their commitments to school-based civic learning.
4. Partnership Selection
The ICH Democracy School staff will analyze data from the school and help the team create a plan of action to address their goals. These plans may include working with a civic learning partner, ICH professional development opportunities, and funding from the ICH Democracy Schools Program to secure curricular resources. All DSN schools will make a commitment to participate in communities of practice based on affinity groups with common goals within the DSN.
If you are interested in learning more about Democracy Schools, please email Sue Khalaieff, Democracy Schools Manager. Please be advised that the ICH Democracy School team currently has the capacity to support the addition of 5 schools in the 2021-22 school year. Schools will be selected based on regional representation, with priority given to areas in the state of Illinois that are underrepresented.