About Us


The Center's Goal

The Midwest Comprehensive Center at American Institutes for Research (AIR) was launched in October 2012 under a five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The Midwest Comprehensive Center provides technical assistance to the state education agencies (SEAs) of Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin with a focus on building the capacity of the SEA to support districts and schools to ensure that all students graduate high school ready for college or a career. Technical assistance is tailored to each state's individual needs while also being aligned to the priorities of the U.S. Department of Education.

Technical Assistance Aligned to Federal Priorities

Midwest Comprehensive Center staff members work with SEA leaders to develop an annual scope of work based upon the following key initiatives identified in 2012 by the U.S. Department of Education:

  • Implementing college- and career-ready standards and aligned assessments
  • Identifying, recruiting, developing, and retaining great teachers and leaders
  • Turning around the lowest performing schools
  • Improving school readiness and transition in early childhood
  • Preparing all students for college and career readiness and success
  • Identifying and scaling up innovative, effective approaches to teaching and learning
  • Using data-based decision making to improve instructional practices, policies, and student outcomes

The Midwest Comprehensive Center collaborated with the network of federal technical assistance providers including seven national content centers and the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Midwest to connect state education agencies with current research and high-quality resources related to these key initiatives.

Capacity Building

The work of the Midwest Comprehensive Center focuses on building SEA capacity around the key initiatives. Capacity-building work includes supporting SEA efforts to:

  • Use research-based knowledge to inform planning and decision making.
  • Develop efficient organizational structures.
  • Implement, support, scale up, and sustain key initiatives.
  • Communicate effectively with stakeholders.
  • Lead and support districts and schools.
  • Connect and collaborate with external partners including other states.

Partners in Our Work

AIR partners with Bowman Performance Consulting (BPC) and WestEd to operate the Midwest Comprehensive Center. BPC is a professional consulting and scientific research and evaluation company based in Shawano, Wisconsin. BPC brings deep expertise in American Indian education issues to the Midwest Comprehensive Center team. WestEd is a nonprofit research, development, and service agency based in San Francisco, California. WestEd serves as the external evaluator for the Midwest Comprehensive Center.