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March 3, 2006

ILLINOIS STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION

TO: District Superintendents
FR: Randy Dunn
DA: March 3, 2006
RE: Assessment Materials

Please forward this message to others who would benefit from reading it.

I want to let you know that we have been pushing with great diligence on our assessment vendor—Harcourt—to get tests and all related testing materials in your hands as we begin the Spring 2006 testing window. We know that you and some of your staffers who work in this area may be both anxious and upset about this and I do not blame you for that reaction.

We have been working with Harcourt for a year with the goal of having materials out to you by two weeks prior to your testing date. Many of you are still waiting to get your shipment as we sit—for the majority of Illinois Districts—one week out from the start of testing.

Our first priority, of course, is to get that small group of Districts starting testing on Monday the 6th everything in-hand that they need. From there, we will cover the remainder of the Districts so you are ready for your scheduled start of testing.

At ISBE, we have heard your concerns these past few days on the rollout of this year’s test cycle with Harcourt. You should know that we are holding their feet to the fire. I was in a conference call with the Senior Leadership from Harcourt yesterday where they pledged to push all resources necessary to correct the problems on this. Harcourt Call Center wait times have been too long and we have told them to get more people there. I am aware that Harcourt management has been physically going to their warehouses to obtain materials for over night shipping where need be. The bottom line here is that we expect Harcourt’s performance and level of responsiveness to be commensurate with the level of funding they are receiving from Illinois (i.e., high) and they are striving to accomplish this.

We want to maintain your trust through this process as we bring Harcourt online with us. ISBE staff will monitor developments on a continuous basis until every school is “up and running,” with this spring’s assessment underway.

Thank you for your patience. We will continue to work the emails that we receive here if you experience problems. Do not hesitate to contact us if need be.

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Illinois State Board of Education
100 North First Street
Springfield, IL 62777