Midwest Comprehensive Center (MWCC)

The Midwest Comprehensive Center (MWCC) is one of 15 regional comprehensive centers that was funded by the U.S. Department of Education for the October 2012–September 2019 grant cycle of the Comprehensive Centers Program. The centers provided capacity-building technical assistance to state education agencies (SEAs) in their implementation and administration of programs authorized under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, reauthorized in 2015 as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

Image of infographic about MWCCDownload our infographic, Seven Years of Supporting the Midwest (PDF), to learn more about our 2012–2019 accomplishments, including leading 125 intensive projects and developing more than 50 resources.

During the grant period, MWCC worked closely with SEAs in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin to support their efforts to implement, scale up, and sustain initiatives statewide and to lead and support their school districts and schools in using evidence-based policies, practices, programs, and interventions to improve student outcomes. MWCC worked on 125 intensive projects, addressing a variety of high-priority topics, including teacher and leader effectiveness, improving low-performing schools, college and career readiness, data-based decision making, and standards and assessments. Through this work, the MWCC developed more than 50 resources for SEAs as well as many blogs and success stories. Partners in MWCC’s work included AIR, Bowman Performance Consulting, and WestEd.

A selection of the center’s state-based projects and key resources are featured below.

Key Projects

Webinar Series: Evidence-Based Practices Under ESSA

The MWCC and the Minnesota Department of Education co-hosted a webinar series on identifying evidence-based practices for low-performing schools. ESSA requires that at least one improvement practice in schools identified for comprehensive (CSI), targeted (TSI), or additional targeted (ATSI) supports be based on rigorous research. These webinars provided participants with an understanding of the research concepts embedded in the minimum requirements for CSI, TSI, and ATSI schools to help schools select evidence-based practices for their improvement plans.

Project flyerSupporting Minnesota's American Indian Students

In 2012, the data on mathematics and reading proficiency from the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) highlighted a significant achievement gap between the state’s American Indian and overall student populations. In response to a disproportionately low graduation rate and large achievement gap, MDE established the Director of Indian Education position to work closely with the Tribal Nations in the state. MDE partnered with the Midwest Comprehensive Center, which supported the director’s office in planning and hosting the first Minnesota American Indian Education Summit. Learn more about the project (PDF).

Scaffolding Innovation: Supports for Competency-Based Education in Illinois

In 2017, the Illinois State Board of Education initiated a competency-based education (CBE) pilot that encouraged high schools to create innovative, personalized learning opportunities for students. MWCC supported the agency’s implementation of the CBE pilot and provided resources, access to CBE experts, coaching, and peer-to-peer networking and sharing opportunities for pilot districts. Learn more about the work (PDF).

Improving Teacher Retention in Chicago Public Schools

The Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Talent Office assists a cohort of 50+ hard-to-staff Opportunity Schools to provide intensive teacher recruitment, retention, and teacher leadership supports. MWCC, in collaboration with the Center on Great Teachers and Leaders and Public Impact, worked with CPS to implement a strategic plan to reduce teacher attrition by addressing pertinent teaching conditions in these schools. Read a related blog post about the work.

Wisconsin's Academic and Career Planning Initiative

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction’s (Wisconsin DPI’s) Academic & Career Planning initiative was developed to encourage students to take active ownership of their education and college or career goals, anticipating that increased student engagement in postsecondary planning would improve graduation rates and college and career readiness. Wisconsin DPI requested support from MWCC in implementing the Initiative, including creating professional development competencies and a framework for project evaluation. Learn more about the project (PDF).


Implementing the Iowa Core (PDF)
During the seven-year grant period, MWCC provided technical assistance to the Iowa Department of Education on the revision and implementation of its statewide academic standards, the Iowa Core.

Supporting Career and College Readiness in Minnesota (PDF)
MWCC collaborated with the Minnesota Department of Education and the College and Career Readiness and Success Center to develop and improve Minnesota’s college and career readiness (CCR) policies and support districts in their development of CCR programs.

9 SEP 2019 | BLOG POST
Increasing Equitable Access to Quality Instruction: The Minnesota Standards Portal
MWCC helped the Minnesota Department of Education develop its standards portal to support districts in responding to ESSA legislation.

5 JUN 2019 | BLOG POST
Promoting Equitable Education for American Indian Students
MWCC worked with the Minnesota Department of Education and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction to elevate the expertise of American Indian community members and support more equitable opportunities for American Indian students.