Sent: Friday, August 01, 2003 3:10 PM
To: Regional Superintendents and Special Education Directors District Superintendents
Subject: Special Certification Update from State Superintendent Robert Schiller 8-1-03
Good Afternoon.

This special message is focused on important and time-sensitive certification matters.  We hope you will read it carefully and share it with your colleagues and staff.

Topics covered in this message are:

Elimination of Phone Service

Because of line item budget cuts by the Governor, the Department of Certification and Professional Development has sustained a loss of 20 positions, about 45% of the current staff in this department.  This requires significant changes in our operating procedures, including closure of the Chicago Regional Certification Office (serving Chicago District 299) and elimination of phone service for certification and certificate renewal questions.  We regret that it is necessary to take these actions; however, with the reduction in staff, we simply cannot answer phone calls nor provide certification services in Chicago.

On or before August 15, 2003, the 800 phone numbers for the Department will be modified to indicate that we are unable to take calls and to refer the caller to other resources.  Within a few months after that, the 800 numbers will be eliminated. 

We are establishing special email addresses for public use in submitting certification and other questions that cannot be answered through the Regional Offices of Education, the institutions of higher education or the State Board website.  Those email addresses are:

            Certification -
            Certificate renewal -
            All other matters related to the responsibilities of this Department -

If the volume of questions exceeds our staff resources and therefore our ability to respond, we will need to modify this arrangement as well.  Again, we regret having to take this action.

Status of Certification Processing

Because of the staff reductions and the volume of applications for certification and/or endorsements, we have a significant backlog of pending cases

To address the large number of requests that had been identified as "job-critical priorities" by Regional Superintendents, we have suspended our work on the regular transcript review cases due to our budget cutbacks. 

"Job-critical priorities" are those cases in which the teacher's ability to obtain or retain a position is dependent on a certification decision by this office.  This priority does not apply to individuals who want or need a response in order to seek jobs; there are simply too many of those.  However, individuals who have a job offer, or who have a job and need to obtain a certificate or endorsement to retain it, may request priority attention through the Regional Office of Education.  That office will forward it to us with an indication of the nature of the priority, and we will try to respond within a few days.

If your district has a situation that requires priority attention, or you have a teacher who has submitted a job-dependent request to this office, please go through the ROE, and only the ROE, to have it sent to us as a priority.  If there is a deadline by which an answer is needed, please give that information to the ROE.  Please do not send your requests directly to us. 

We will resume work on the regular transcript review cases as the priority backlogs are accommodated.  Meanwhile, any teacher who submitted an application for certification or endorsement that requires transcript review after April 15, 2003 should assume that the case has not yet been reviewed. 

We will continue to update you on these matters.

Moving from Initial to Standard Certification

New requirements for moving from the Initial Teaching Certificate to the Standard Certificate became effective on July 1, 2003.  Information about these requirements and relevant procedures was posted on the State Board website ( in late June.

Now we need your help in assuring that beginning teachers have opportunities to meet the professional development requirements to establish eligibility for the Standard Teaching Certificate.

When you access the previously listed web link, scroll to the bottom of the page to the grouping called ·Proposal Submission Documents.·  This section includes invitations to submit proposals for programs and activities that would fulfill two of the six professional development options: induction and mentoring programs and Continuing Professional Development Units (CPDUs).  A hard copy of these documents will follow and the ·Notice to Providers· is also posted on the Professional Development Provider System. (Note: if you have not become an approved provider for teacher professional development, we hope you will choose to do so.)

We strongly encourage you to develop or adapt programs and activities that will help your teachers meet the new Standard Certificate requirements. If you have questions, please look at the websites identified in the attachments. If that does not provide sufficient information for your situation, please send an email to

Administrative Certificate Renewal

New requirements and procedures for administrative certificate renewal went into effect on July 1, 2003.  Information about the new system was sent in hard copy to all district superintendents and cooperative and state program directors, and it is also available on the State Board website.

A special procedure has been adopted to address an issue related to the transition to this new system.  Administrators who are unable to enter their renewal plans because a reviewer has not been identified will be allowed to claim credit for participation in local professional development activities and approved Administrators Academy courses in the interim.  This is contingent on the following:

If you are responsible for serving as, or designating a reviewer for administrators under your authority and you have not entered the reviewer information into the CeRTS system, we urge you to take immediate action to do so. 

We are continuing to accept proposals for Administrators· Academy courses using our previous procedures.  However, since all funding for the Academy has been eliminated through the Governor·s veto of that line item, we expect that some changes will be necessary.  We will update you on this situation as we become more certain about our future direction. 

Identifying Applicable Certificate Renewal Requirements

Individuals who have some assigned administrative duties but hold only a teaching certificate must meet the certificate renewal requirements for teachers.  Individuals in this situation have often been designated as ·administrators· by their district or cooperative (especially if they evaluate other staff), so they may have been unaware of this expectation.  These individuals need to begin participating in the teacher certificate renewal system as of July 1, 2003.  Procedures for adjusting the their continuing professional development requirements to the time remaining on their certificate will be posted at the following location within the next several days.

Please note: the staff reductions in the Certification and Professional Development Department do not allow us to contact each person in this circumstance as we had originally planned.  Therefore, each person to whom this might apply will need to be responsible for checking the website and taking appropriate actions to assure that he or she will be eligible to renew the teaching certificate.

Please advise your staff about this clarification.

Highly Qualified Teachers

The final ·Illinois Criteria for Meeting the NCLB Requirements for Highly Qualified Teachers· were adopted by the State Board on June 17, 2003, and are posted on the State Board website under ·Hot Topics.·  Several important changes were made to earlier drafts, including the following.

We had planned to provide you with information about the alignment of your teachers· credentials with the new Illinois criteria for being ·highly qualified· for each assignment.  Unfortunately, the impact of the budget cuts on the Certification and Professional Development has been so severe that we are unable to provide this service.

However, the format for the Illinois criteria · a list of the options available to be considered ·highly qualified· for each type of assignment · was designed to serve as a checklist for teachers and administrators to determine whether an individual meets the ·highly qualified· criteria for a given position.  This should enable to each district to conduct its own analysis of how its teachers· credentials are aligned with the Illinois criteria.

Subsequent Certificates and Endorsements

Emergency rules adopted by the State Board in June allow the agency to continue to use transcript review as the basis for issuing subsequent certificates to individuals who already hold a valid Illinois certificate.  This action was intended to eliminate confusion about this matter and give us time to develop requirements for subsequent certification and endorsements that are appropriate for a standards-based certification system.  We hope to present those recommendations to the State Board by mid-year.  Meanwhile, subsequent certificates may be issued through transcript review. 

Citizenship Requirements for Certification

HB 3587 eliminates the requirement that the State Board cancel the certificates of non-citizens if they do not become a citizen within six years.  Instead, this legislation requires that the certification candidate indicate on the application that he or she will seek citizenship within ten years, or as soon as possible.  There is no requirement for subsequent follow-up.

The Governor has not yet signed this legislation, but we are ready to implement it as soon as he does so.  This will mean that the registrations of those individuals who have applied this spring will be processed and that we will not cancel any certificates of educators whose citizenship window has expired.  This is consistent with the intent of the General Assembly, which was to assure that individuals did not lose their right to teach because of factors beyond their control, such as the length of time typically taken by the federal agency that processes citizenship applications.

We will let you know when this legislation is signed.  Meanwhile, we hope you will take these facts into consideration as you make staffing decisions for the coming school year.

Guidance Counselors

HB 514, which has been signed by the Governor and is now PA 93-0125, allows the State Board to issue School Service Personnel Certificates for guidance counselors to individuals who do not hold a teaching certificate if they meet other requirements established by the State Board of Education.  Since the State Board has not yet had time to establish the ·other requirements· referenced in the law, the only route to certification as a guidance counselor that is available at this time is through the existing requirements · which include the teaching certificate. 

The task force that developed the Standards for Guidance Counselors also developed recommendations that would address the new option for ·other requirements.·  We plan to create a small advisory group to build on that earlier work and make recommendations to the State Board as quickly as possible.  We·ll keep you posted on our progress.

National Board for Professional Teaching Standards

The State Board of Education has awarded a grant to Illinois State University (ISU) to develop and implement a statewide system of support for the National Board for Professional Standards program in Illinois.  The law refers to the NBPTS program as the ·Illinois Teaching Excellence Program,· and this grant will provide an infrastructure that will support teachers in seeking National Board certification and also support districts and the State Board in using National Board certified teachers to promote teaching excellence.

Although the State Board will continue to process the funds for NBPTS teacher stipends and candidate registration fees, ISU will handle all other aspects of the program.  For information, call 309/454-4980 or send an email to Stephanie Epp ( or Lynn Gaddis (, who are the co-directors for the grant program.

In an earlier email, we indicated that Illinois had been given special permission to allow its earlier registrants to access a later testing window.  This has been a very successful incentive to early registration in Illinois and the national office for NBPTS has now expanded this option to all states.  Illinois could have as many as 1000 candidates for National Board certification for FY04.

Professional Development Providers

The approvals of approximately 1300 professional development providers were scheduled to expire on June 30, 2003.  However, because the agency·s website is being updated to accommodate providers for the Initial to Standard Certificate, we have extended the time for renewal of the approval to October 1, 2003.  If you are affected by this circumstance, please see the notice on the Professional Development website (

Robert Schiller
State Superintendent
  of Education