Good afternoon.  “Spirited and intense discussion” is the best way to characterize this week’s Assessment and Accountability Task Force meeting.  Beyond data reporting and the needs of our different constituencies, the objects of our intensity were an exploration of different testing options/grade levels, and the effectiveness and appropriateness of the Illinois Alternate Assessment.


The deliberations included a variety of scenarios in which some combination of norm-referenced testing and ISAT/PSAE could be used to measure student achievement for adequate yearly progress toward meeting the Illinois Learning Standards.  Virtually everyone present agreed that the IAA is problematic and needs revision.  The Task Force’s next meeting on November 6 will include further deliberations on testing options, IAA improvements, similar activities in other states and inquiries into what norm-referenced tests local districts are using and how much they cost.


In today’s message:

Ÿ    2002-03 Unfilled Positions Survey now on line

Ÿ    State Superintendent appoints Hazel Crest Financial Oversight Panel Members

Ÿ    Governor proclaims Principal Appreciation Day

Ÿ    Those Who Excel/Teacher of the Year nominations now available



2002-03 Unfilled Positions Survey now on line

In our attempts to collect the most recent and accurate data that will help us explain elementary and secondary education’s true financial needs, ISBE is requesting information about the number of unfilled educator positions in your district this fall.


Please log on to IWAS at and complete the 2002-03 Unfilled Positions Survey, which is the last item on the System Listing menu. The deadline for submitting information is Friday, November 8.


These data are crucial for documenting local personnel needs and shortages and will be used in the state Supply and Demand Study and by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission to determine the federally-defined shortage areas for scholarships and loan deferment. 


In order to better document regional differences in supply, the first section of the survey asks you to rate the supply of educators for various positions.  This is an extremely important component of the survey and should be completed whether or not any unfilled positions are reported.


 To avoid duplicating unfilled positions reported by public school districts, Special Education and Vocational Centers should only report unfilled special education cooperative positions or vocational center positions.  Regional offices should only report unfilled positions in regional programs.



Instructions for Accessing the Unfilled Position Reporting System:


To log on, please follow the steps identified below:

1.   Go to (will route the user to the security module).

2.   Click on the “Sign Up Now” link to get a login ID if an IWAS account has not already been created.

3.   The link will take you to a page that asks for your name, a login ID, password, and secret question/answer.

4.   Once that is done, click on the “System Listing” link on the left side of the screen and sign up for the application.

5.   When signing up for an application, the user is to put in their Region, County, District, Type code (RCDT), reason for access need, etc.

6.   The user request is submitted to their IWAS Administrative account for approval.  Once you are approved you can begin accessing the application. 


To enter data: 

1.   Login through

2.   Choose “System Listing” link from the ISBE security menu on the left side of the screen.

3.   Choose the “Unfilled Positions Survey” link (available once user is approved).

4.   This will bring up the “User Main Page.”

5.   Select the appropriate year that the user wants to work with.  If a specific year is not present, then it has not been finalized by ISBE staff. 

6.   If it is the user’s first time in for a particular year, enter the “Person Completing Form” and “Telephone” fields.  If a user has already saved data for that year, those fields will default.  The user then presses the “continue button.”

7.   This will take the user to the main survey page.  User enters appropriate survey data and may save a draft copy for future revision.  Once a survey is saved, it can also be printed. 

8.   When the user has finalized the data, the survey can be submitted to ISBE.  All edit checks will be performed at that time.  If all checks pass, the survey is sent to ISBE.  NOTE:  Once submitted, it cannot be modified!  It can be printed as many times as necessary and viewed after submittal.

9.   The user will receive a message in the system’s “Inbox” stating that ISBE has received the survey.


We appreciate your help in collecting this information electronically so that we can more quickly use the information we receive.  Any questions about logging on or gaining access to the system may be directed to the ISBE technical helpdesk at (217) 782-4313 ext. 1182.  If you have questions about the survey, please contact Jim Sweeney, Data Analysis and Progress Reporting Division, at (217)782-3950 or




State Superintendent appoints Hazel Crest Financial Oversight Panel Members

On Monday, November 21, I appointed three members to serve on the Financial Oversight Panel for the nearly insolvent Hazel Crest School District 152.5.   At the direction of the State Board, I met with the Hazel Crest board of education and other interested parties that same day to explore possible solutions.


More information about the panel members and my discussion with the district that day is available at




Governor proclaims Principal Appreciation Day

Governor George H. Ryan has proclaimed Friday, October 25, as Principals Day in Illinois. The day is set aside to recognize the good work done by principals, assistant principals, and deans in schools statewide . For more information, contact: David Turner, Executive Director, Illinois Principals Association at  217/525-1383.





Those Who Excel/Teacher of the Year nominations now available

Nomination forms for the State Board of Education’s 29th annual Those Who Excel/Illinois Teacher of the Year program are being mailed to all schools and districts, and is available on line at


This program is an excellent opportunity to publicly recognize people from all aspects of the education community:  classroom teachers, school administrators/principals, student support personnel, educational service personnel, school board members/community volunteers, and teams. 


A banquet honoring award recipients will be held March 22 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Springfield.  The 2004 Illinois Teacher of the Year will also be announced at this time.  If you have any questions about the nomination packet please contact Public Service and Communications at 217/782-4648 or



Robert Schiller

State Superintendent

  of Education