Sent: Friday, April 11, 2003 3:11 PM
To: 'Regional Superintendents and Special Education Directors District Superintendents '
Subject: Weekly Message from State Superintendent Robert Schiller 4/11/03

Good afternoon. This week, as you are aware, Governor Blagojevich released his budget plan, which increases funding for elementary and secondary education and targets more state resources to financially strapped school districts. My full statement regarding the budget and a link to a spread sheet comparing the Governor’s proposal with FY02 final, FY03 final and ISBE’s FY04 proposed budgets is posted at


Other topics in this message include the following:



May and June State Board of Education Meetings Rescheduled


The May and June State Board meetings have been rescheduled. The May meeting will be held May 12–13, 2003; the June meeting will be held June 16–17, 2003. Both meetings will be held at the board offices, 100 North First Street, Springfield. Interested parties may listen by telephone at the Board’s Chicago offices in the Thompson Center, 100 West Randolph Street, 14th floor. The audio of the meeting can be heard over the Internet through our Web site at



Assessment and Accountability Task Force Meeting


The Assessment and Accountability Task Force met on April 9, 2003. They discussed the current assessment and accountability bills before the General Assembly, reporting for students who are not attending their home school, and the Illinois Alternate Assessment (IAA), among major topics.

Regarding the assessment bill (HB 235 by Representative Mitchell et al.), the task force had seen the draft bill in January 2003, and it matched their earlier recommendations. Rep. Mitchell was present and spoke to the status of the bill. He said that the major concern by the House was that the length of testing time over the ISAT years
(grades 3–8) would be increased to 35–40 hours. The task force discussed students who are actively engaged with the test yet need a little additional time in that same setting to complete the assessment. They recommended to the State Board of Education that there be an allowance to do so.


The accountability bill (now a draft amendment to SB 878 by Sen. del Valle) had been reviewed at the March 2003 meeting. Suggestions offered then were made in the draft amendment and circulated to all task force members. Those who responded had their questions addressed, and that language was then shared with Sen. del Valle. There was extensive discussion at the meeting in April regarding school, district and state interventions. One approach was to be literal and follow the details in the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) in terms of rewards and sanctions; the other was to note all of them by reference to the federal law. The task force asked that staff draft a revised accountability bill that aligns the state and federal system into a single system of accountability as required by NCLB but not describe the interventions except as a reference and limit those interventions to what is prescribed. The task force will meet again on April 18 on this specific issue.


The USDE Peer Review Team that visited Illinois on March 27 suggested that additional language be added to the current definition of graduation rate for the sake of clarity. The modified language was shared with the task force and will be referred to the School Report Card Advisory Council, which originally created the definition many years ago. They also reviewed the issue of a threshold figure that must be established for Illinois. Looking at the current statewide average of 85 percent, which has remained fairly constant over time, and how many schools would be left behind if the graduation rate were at that threshold, the task force recommends a threshold of 65 percent in 2003, 67 percent in 2005 and so on in 2 percent increments until 85 percent is reached. This recommendation, like others from the task force, will be taken to the State Board of Education for review and action.


The results of the survey taken in February of superintendents and directors of special education were shared. Most of the respondents said they were satisfied with the way the results of the assessments of students not served in their home school are distributed. Others said the student scores should go to all concerned schools, both the sending and the receiving schools. The IAA subcommittee recommended to the full task force that the reports be shared with all concerned parties and the home school be held accountable (per long-standing policy of the State Board). Staff will check into how this recommendation aligns with the need to be in attendance for a full year before the student counts in a school, as they are in the receiving school all year.


The IAA subcommittee also recommended that for 2003–04 and beyond as needed, the two collection periods be equally divided over the time available. They also recommended that the contract with Measured Progress be extended on a year-by-year basis only, which the Task Force modified to say for only 2003–04. Discussions on further IAA work have taken place with the State Advisory Council on the Education of Children with Disabilities. Further work on IMAGE is continuing as requested, working with the Illinois Advisory Council on Bilingual Education.


The task force meets again on April 18, 2003, in Springfield from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. concerning the accountability bill language.



Status of the Citizenship Requirement for Teaching Certificates


Illinois law currently requires that a noncitizen who obtains Illinois teaching or other education certificates become a citizen within six years or their certificate is canceled. Legislation is pending in the General Assembly that would remove this citizenship requirement. HB 3587 has been favorably received in the House, and if it is adopted, will become effective immediately. The State Board is strongly supporting this legislation.


While the issue is being resolved, we don’t believe that it is appropriate to either deny or to move forward with certificate registration for noncitizens whose time under the current law has expired. Therefore, Regional Offices of Education (ROEs) will accept registrations from these noncitizens, but their registrations will be flagged and ROEs will provide applicants with a letter notifying them that their registration is being held pending the outcome of the legislation. If the legislation is approved, ROEs will be able to complete the noncitizens’ registrations; if it is not approved, applicants will be notified regarding the next steps, including the return of their registration fees.


If you or your teachers have questions, please call the local ROE office first and then, if you require further information, call or e-mail Lee Patton, Interim Director for the Teaching and Leadership Division, at 217/782-4123 or



21st Century Community Learning Centers Program Grant


The State Board of Education has released the FY04 request for proposals (RFP) for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program Grant. Through the competitive grant process, approximately $5 million will be available to fund academically focused after-school programs that will serve students who attend schools that have a high concentration of low-income students (high concentration is defined as not less than

40 percent of the students being eligible for free or reduced-price lunch).


A competitive priority will be given to applicants that propose to serve students in poverty who attend schools in need of improvement and that submit an application jointly submitted by at least one LEA receiving funds under Title I, Part A, and at least one public or private community organization.


The FY04 RFP is posted on the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program Web site at and may be downloaded from that site. The deadline for proposals is 5:00 p.m. on May 15, 2003.

Please call Carol McCue or Paul Kren, System of Support Division, at 217/524-4832 if you have questions about the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program or this RFP. You may also e-mail questions to


Robert Schiller

State Superintendent

  of Education