As our educational systems continue to grow and evolve in response to the needs of students and expectations for our students as they graduate from school, it is imperative that as an organization we implement quality practices that provide the educational opportunities, services and supports that best equip our students for the future. NSSEO has embraced the importance of life-long learning by developing organizational goals and measurable objectives that blend required changes with high standards and expectations established for ourselves, our staff and our students.


We believe that the strong partnerships between our schools/programs, families and communities will continue to enhance opportunities that result in greater student success. While we continue to face significant funding challenges, it is equally important that we continue to embrace a philosophy that unites stakeholders around a common purpose reflected in our mission statement – to build a promising future for our students.

Our NSSEO board goals are developed through a collaborative team process with input and review from various stakeholders effective ways to measure student growth for our diverse student population. Continuous improvement is a term often associated with the educational process and reflects the ongoing nature of our work – setting goals, determining appropriate measures, providing supports and coaching to meet the expectations and evaluating our success.

Indicators of Success:

Collaborative Problem Solving
Reflects 21st Century Practices
Customized/Individualized Instruction

Engages School, Family, and Community Partnerships
Establishes Systems that Measures Progress
Effective Internal and External Communication Practices
Use of Data to Guide Instruction

  • Instructional Practices – Implementation of a systemic data-based decision-making process that guides effective teaching and learning practices.

System Infrastructure:

Review and revise systems, infrastructure, and roles to reflect an active use of the process and progress across NSSEO that incorporates the data-driven process for instructional, programmatic, and organizational decision-making.

Align professional development and coaching supports that reflects the data-based decision-making process.

Instructional Design:

Implement, analyze, and expand appropriate assessment tools for social/emotional learning.

Using assessment data, develop an instructional continuum in ELA, math, social/emotional learning, and communication (year 1).

Assess, analyze, and refine the instructional continuum for ELA, math, (year 1) social/emotional learning, and communication (year 2).

Program Implementation:

Develop a Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound (SMART) goal for each programbased on identified student needs.

Analyze data throughout the year for identified SMART goals.

  • Transition – Within six months to two years of exiting school services, students’ post-secondary outcomes will reflect the transition plan.

Develop job coach training for years one, two, and three of employment.

Develop long-term assessment process for monitoring adult outcomes (after exiting services).

Increase opportunities for employment through customized employment process.

Develop training for district-wide person-centered process.

Develop multi-use portfolios for each student ages 14 and older.

Develop opportunities to highlight student accomplishments and skills within the business community.

  • IEP Best Practices – NSSEO will redefine a high-quality IEP process based upon a person-centered philosophy designed to support the students’ progression toward identified post-secondary outcomes.

Develop and implement a professional development and coaching plan that connects instructional practices and IEP processes reflective of indicators of success.

Select and refine assessments that reflect person-centered, school/family partnerships, collaborative problem-solving process.

Collect data to review and evaluate observable practices to guide continued professional development and coaching.

Continue module development and embedded approach to professional development and implementation.

Engage in activities with federal and state educational leaders to identify and implement best practices in the field of special services and regulatory changes that support them.


We are using a continuous improvement process as we look closely at how we can redesign and improve upon the success of our programs/ services and engage others in the process through active communication with our educational community. Our theme for this year is ‘the power of partnerships’ and we see that occurring in so many ways every day across NSSEO.  It is the key to our continued success and to the future success of the students we serve as they become adults in the communities.


Over the past several years educational systems across Illinois have continued to experience many challenges associated with significant state and federal budget constraints while simultaneously experiencing additional expectations and requirements in the areas of assessment, instruction, common core standards, evaluation measures that reflect student growth and greater transparency across all aspects of an educational system. As an organization we continue to strive to not just meet but exceed the expectations of our districts, our families and the Illinois State Board of Education because we know that high expectations and a strong well-designed plan to meet those expectations will result in better outcomes for our students. As we complete a lengthy NSSEO website redesign process this fall, it has provided us with the opportunity to reflect and better articulate what and more importantly, why we do what we do. We hope that you see across NSSEO that we believe that our students are at the core of the decisions we make, that we must continue to question practices that do not move us forward while we work diligently to advance those best practices that have been demonstrated to be most effective. We must keep our focus on the next phases of our students’ lives and ensure that our collective efforts reflect an integrated approach to preparing our students for adulthood and the future opportunities in work, school while fostering independency and self-determination that support students as they navigate post-secondary opportunities. This is a critical time in education to rise to the expectations and challenges by answering the question of why we do what we do convincingly. Carol Ann Tomlinson, a strong educational researcher and presenter has said, “Excellence in education is when we do everything that we can to make sure they become everything that they can.” We will continue to strive for excellence at NSSEO, reflective of the important role we all play in assisting all students to become everything that they can possibly be.   Judy Hackett, Ed.D. Superintendent

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