News

For Immediate Release
November 24, 2010

Illinois state school chief selected to lead national organization of state superintendents


Superintendent Koch named president of the Council of Chief State School Officers

SPRINGFIELD– State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch has been named president of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). The Council, made up of public K-12 education officials from around the country, works with federal and state agencies as well as Congress on national education policy development and decisions. Koch was elected CCSSO president last week in Kentucky during the national organization’s annual fall meeting.

“It is important that Illinois has a seat at the table during this crucial time as we review critical education policy for students across the country,” said Jesse H. Ruiz, Chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education. “The overdue reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act is one of the most important decisions facing our state and country.”

Koch, Illinois State Superintendent of Education since 2006, replaces Steven L. Paine, state superintendent of schools for West Virginia. Koch was selected to serve on the Presidential transition team in 2008, to co-chair the Elementary and Secondary Reauthorization Committee and to serve on the Council’s Board of Directors.

As State Superintendent, Koch has led efforts to bring coherence between state standards, curriculum, assessments and college entry requirements in Illinois through state membership in the American Diploma Project and 21st Century Skills initiative. He has long advocated for using data to inform policy and is leading the agency as it establishes a P-20 longitudinal data system that will link pre-K-12 student achievement data to postsecondary education and careers. He was among the school chiefs leading the development of the internationally benchmarked Common Core Standards and pending assessments for more accurate comparisons about student performance among states and countries, and to help ensure all students can compete and collaborate in a global economy.

“This is one of the most exciting and challenging times in education as we implement unprecedented reform and grapple with tight fiscal times across the country,” Koch said. “I am honored to lead our state school chiefs as we work on the re-authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, implement the more rigorous Common Core Standards and a new generation of assessments to better prepare students for college and careers.”

Superintendent Koch is an Illinois native, graduating from Brown County High School in Mt. Sterling and from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. He obtained his master’s and doctoral degrees in Educational Policy and Leadership from George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

As a special education teacher, Superintendent Koch taught in four states in various settings, including an Outward Bound program, a college preparatory school, a youth detention center, and a psychiatric hospital. He served at the federal level, administering programs in correctional and School-to-Work transition programs at the U.S. Office of Vocational and Adult Education. He joined the ISBE in 1994 and has served in a variety of administrative capacities, including Director of Special Education and the state’s Chief Education Officer.

“Chris Koch’s skill of generating consensus among state school chiefs will be vital as we move forward with the education reform agenda of the states,” said CCSSO Executive Director Gene Wilhoit. “Now, more than ever, strong leadership from states is critical to continuing efforts to dramatically improve American public education for our children. I am pleased to have Chris at the helm of the CCSSO Board of Directors.”

As president of CCSSO, Koch will continue the Council’s focus on building an enhanced state and federal partnership between state education agencies and the U.S. Department of Education and the Obama administration. Koch will spend his one year term with CCSSO, working on efforts to reauthorize the ESEA, formerly known as the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, and assuring the smooth implementation of Common Core standards and aligned assessments. Koch will also concentrate on ensuring chief state school officers are focused on the key leverage points of education reform, through the Council’s strategic initiatives: Education Workforce; Information Systems and Research; Next Generation Learners; and Standards, Assessment, and Accountability.

The Washington, D.C.-based CCSSO is made up of K-12 school chiefs from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity, and five U.S. extra-state jurisdictions. CCSSO provides leadership, advocacy, and technical assistance on major educational issues.

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