Jana Fleming, Aisha Ray, Florence Kimondo
Summer 2012- Fall 2014

Envisioning Change is a statewide effort to close the achievement and opportunity gaps that impact thousands of African American students beginning in the earliest years.

Disparities in academic achievement and opportunities persist between African American and economically disadvantaged students and their white counterparts. Research consistently shows that the antecedents of poor school performance emerge early (birth to age 8), culminating in the “fourth grade drop,” by which time many African American students trail their white peers by as much as two grade levels in math and reading. These disparities continue throughout elementary school and consequently affect high school graduation rates and college completion.

There has been insufficient focus at all levels of state and local government on the factors in pre-kindergarten through third grade that contribute to disparities in achievement.

To address these disparities the Envisioning Change project aims to:

  • Mobilize diverse stakeholders statewide who are committed to developing and implementing policies and practices for improving the academic outcomes of African American children beginning in the early years.
  • Build awareness and understanding of achievement and opportunity disparities by examining core issues and effective interventions.
  • Develop a statewide action plan that will serve as a blueprint for future work aimed at assuring high-quality educational outcomes for all African American children in Illinois.

The project is funded by the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.