District 428 and NIU worked together closely for decades, but the
partnership started in a new direction in 2003, when planning began for a
professional development school. Paul T. Wright School opened in fall 2004
as a PDS and a school of choice with strong support from educators and the
community. Due to high student performance and family enthusiasm, Wright was so
popular that the annual lottery was always over-subscribed.
Spurred by a successful referendum that enabled the building of a new high
school in 2008-2010, the NIU-428 partners began planning a high school PDS that
would focus on educating students for global competitiveness. Also in the fall
of 2010, enrollment changes caused a merger of Paul T. Wright and Chesebro
schools into Founders Elementary, which became another new PDS. By 2012,
District 428 had found the PDS model so valuable in raising performance of their
students that they requested development of professional development schools in
all 11 district buildings. The development process is underway.