Sent: Friday, November 14, 2003 5:13 PM
To: 'Regional Superintendents and Special Education Directors District Superintendents '
Subject: Weekly Message from State Superintendent Robert Schiller 11-14-03
Good afternoon,


The results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) produced no surprises for Illinois.  The results were mixed.


The state’s 4th and 8th graders scored at or above the national average in reading and mathematics.  While we faired better than many states, these results and our own ISAT results clearly show there is still much room for improvement.


The NAEP showed a larger gap between white students and African-American and Hispanic students, as well as between low-income and non low-income students.  You may recall, however, that our ISAT five-year results show a pattern where students are narrowing the gap.  These gaps still exist, but our own results are more encouraging.  Additionally, the NAEP test samples 9,000 of our students, while the ISAT tests hundreds of thousands.


For more on the NAEP Illinois results please see the Illinois release which includes a link to the national results.


Also in today’s message: 


Cert Board – North Greene

The State Teacher Certification Board met Thursday to conduct a hearing in the teaching certificate revocation proceeding brought against North Greene High School Guidance Dean Cary Knox by me as State Superintendent of Education.


At the conclusion of the live testimony, the record was left open to permit the inclusion of an evidence deposition of an unavailable witness.  After the deposition transcript is received, attorneys for the parties will file briefs.  The Hearing Officer will then submit proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law for consideration and final decision by the State Teacher Certification Board.


Previously, Principal Mark Keller settled with ISBE in the case.  Under the agreement, Keller will surrender his administrative certificate and his secondary teaching certificate will be suspended through June 30, 2005.


Notice of Completed Rulemaking

Please be advised that a rulemaking item recently adopted by the State Board of Education is now in effect.  This set of rules has been posted on the agency’s web site at; choose “Rules Currently in Effect” and scroll to the relevant Part number.  (If you print only the affected Sections, remember to include the table of contents for the Part, which changes every time the Part is amended.)



Certification (Part 25)


Much of this material will serve to assure Illinois school districts that individuals they hire will be considered highly qualified under the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).  For example, Section 25.92 establishes a new certificate for visiting international teachers who are recruited by Illinois districts to fill a need for qualified teachers.  This is an initiative that responds to NCLB by providing a separate, full certificate to individuals whose preparation and background have been evaluated against standards established by the State.


Another principal purpose of these amendments is to clarify current policies and practices for issuing elementary, secondary, special, and early childhood certificates and to make explicit how the requirements are applied to various groups of candidates, including those who are completing approved programs, those who come to Illinois with comparable credentials from other states or countries, and those who are seeking “subsequent” certificates, i.e., those that are not their first certificates.  Within this context, ending dates for several provisions have been deleted so that those provisions will continue in effect for the foreseeable future.  In particular, it would be counter to NCLB’s provisions to allow the requirement for a major to “sunset” this year as was previously indicated in Sections 25.30 and 25.40.


Finally, Sections 25.20 and 25.30 are being amplified to eliminate a point of confusion regarding professional education by reinserting specific coursework requirements in place of a cross-reference.  This is not a substantive change and merely serves to state all applicable requirements for each certificate in one location.


This rulemaking replaces very similar emergency amendments that took effect on June 26, 2003.


Affected Sections:      25.11, 25.20, 25.30, 25.35, 25.40, 25.80, and 25.92

Effective Date:           October 20, 2003


State Board of Education Meeting

The State Board of Education will be meeting on November 19-20 in Springfield.  Please go to to view the agenda and further Board meeting information.


AC/Heating Units Advisory

Please be advised that ISBE has become aware of possible problems with AC/heating units that may have been responsible for smoke or fire damage in school buildings. Schools are encouraged to review proper care and maintenance of all AC/Heating units and ventilators. For information on related stories please visit:


Manufacturer McQuay International has advised ISBE that the issue relates to a small subset of models called self-contained unit ventilators with electric heat which can be identified by the models, AZ, AR, and AE, the majority of which are in Chicago Public Schools.


McQuay also stated that they will be in contact with all Illinois schools that have the units within the next week.  If you have any additional questions, contact McQuay at 1-866-448-6374.


Those Who Excel Applications Available Online

Nomination forms for the annual Those Who Excel Education Awards Program were recently mailed to all Illinois schools. The forms are now also available via  If you have questions about the program please contact Public Information at 217/782-4648.




Robert Schiller

State Superintendent

  of Education





November 10 - 14, 2003


CALIFORNIA BOARD FOCUSES EXIT EXAM ON BASIC SKILLS. The California State Board of Education unanimously voted to cut a number of the more difficult questions from the state's high school exit exam in English and math. Board member Carol Katzman said the Board was not "dumbing down the test in any way," but rather concentrating on the test's objective of measuring students' mastery of basic concepts. The Board had already voted in July to shorten the test from three days to two. However, it also decided this week to keep the current cut score for passing the test at 60 percent correct for English and 55 percent correct for math. Students in the class of 2006 will be the first required to pass the test in order to graduate. Source: San Diego Union-Tribune (11/13/03).


TEXAS ANNOUNCES $130 MILLION HIGH SCHOOLS INITIATIVE. Governor Rick Perry unveiled the $130 million "Texas High School Project" initiative, which calls for restructuring or building 70 to 80 high schools, mostly in minority or low-income areas. Under the program, Texas high schools will compete for grants to be used to target dropout rates, build teacher-student relationships, and develop stronger college preparatory programs. The initiative received $55 million through charitable foundations established by Dell Computer Founder Michael Dell and Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, along with $7 million from the Communities Foundation of Texas and $2.5 million from an anonymous donor. Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer (11/13/03).


COLORADO VOUCHER PLAN GOES TO COURT. Arguments for and against Colorado's new pilot voucher program were heard in Denver District court as part of a challenge to the program filed by the state's largest teachers union. The attorney for the union argued that the program unconstitutionally takes control away from school districts by requiring them to a "fund instruction over which [they] have no control." A state deputy attorney general countered that districts don't lose authority because students in the voucher program essentially leave the district, and while students take funding with them, "the legislature holds authority to direct expenditure of state funds for education...We're not telling the districts what to do in their own systems." The district judge said would rule on the suit in a few weeks. Source: Rocky Mountain News (11/13/03).


ALABAMA OFFERS STANDARDIZED TEST FOR TEACHERS PROVE THEY ARE HIGHLY QUALIFIED. Alabama's Department of Education approved a standardized test that teachers can voluntarily take to show that they are highly qualified, and thus eligible to keep their jobs under the No Child Left Behind Act. Teachers previously could receive the highly qualified classification only if they had taken a certain number of college courses in the subjects they teach. Now teachers may choose either option to prove they are highly qualified. The Praxis II test costs teachers between $70 and $80, and some districts will reimburse teachers who pass the test. Source: Mobile Register (11/11/03).


TEXAS EDUCATION AGENCY TAKES OVER CHARTER SCHOOL DUE TO ACADEMIC FAILURES. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) plans to assume control of a charter school campus for the first time since taxpayer-funded charter schools were approved in Texas. The TEA is set to take over a northwest Houston charter school, following a yearlong struggle over academic performance and other issues with the organization that runs the school. The school has received a low-performing academic rating for three consecutive years. New Superintendent Ray Thompson arrived this week, and school officials and parents will meet with new trustees on Monday. Source: Houston Chronicle (11/13/03).


MICHIGAN SCHOOLS DISPUTE STATE REPORT CARDS. More than 1,000 of Michigan's 2,700 elementary and middle schools have appealed the results of the state's new school accountability report cards. One testing consultant said, "There were just an amazing number of different and unique problems," the most commonly cited being faulty data. The state has 30 days to settle the appeals and then the results will be posted on the Department's website. Source: Detroit Free Press (11/13/2003).


NASBE CONGRATULATES Veronica Garcia on her appointment as New Mexico's first Secretary of Education.


CONGRATULATIONS from all of us at NASBE to West Virginia State Board member Paul Morris, recognized by his Board as the Character Educator of the Year.


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