Sent: Friday, May 16, 2003 12:21 PM
To: 'Regional Superintendents and Special Education Directors District Superintendents '
Subject: Weekly Message from State Superintendent Robert Schiller 5-16-03

Good afternoon.

This week, as last week, budget analysis and discussions remain the leading concern. The first item in this message summarizes the results of budget changes made by the House Education Appropriations Committee.

The State Board met on Monday evening and Tuesday. Much of the discussion centered on issues of compliance with the provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). Board members took following actions:

·        Deferred acceptance on the proposed “Illinois Criteria for Meeting NCLB Requirements for Highly Qualified Teachers” – your comments on the criteria should reach me by May 30.

·        Approved a proposal to make comprehensive changes in the System of Support.

·        Updated the list of providers of Supplemental Educational Services.

This message also contains information on the following items:

·        A survey to update teacher credentials – information needed by June 30.

·        An update on processing certification and endorsement applicatons.

·        Demographic data for NCLB – submission deadline, May 30.

·        Reimbursement for services for children with disabilities for the 2003 summer term – submission deadline, June 20.

·        Update on review and approval of federal and state entitlement grants

·        USDOE Education News to broadcast program on students with disabilities – program airs May 20.

·        Illinois Arts Council to celebrate 25th anniversary of Illinois Arts Week – deadline for submitting events, August 11.

House Education Appropriations Committee Makes Changes to Education Budget

The House Education Appropriations Committee met Wednesday and approved amendments that would, among other things, fund the mandated categoricals at 100 percent and restore partial funding for Regional Offices of Education and the Truant Alternative program. The full House will now consider the amendments, which add almost $300 million for K–12 education above the Governor’s proposed level.

In summary, the amendments make the following changes:

·        Maintain the Governor’s recommended increase of $250 per pupil in the foundation level;

·        Assume use of the DHS rather than the U.S. Census to calculate poverty grants (adding about $54 million);

·        By changing the poverty grant, lower hold harmless by about $12 million;

·        Fund mandated categoricals at 100 percent;

·        Fund Truant Alternative at $12 million instead of $18.6 million;

·        Fund ROEs at $17 million instead of $22.7 million (School Services & Salaries)

·        Fund charter schools at $4.2 million instead of $7.4 million; and

·        Fund the ADA block grant, district consolidation, Community/Residential Services, Material Center for the Visually Impaired, Illinois Governmental Internship, and the Textbook Loan Program at FY03 levels;

·        Fund new wireless technology grants at $10 million;

·        Eliminate Teachers’ Academy for math and science, mentoring and induction, and parental involvement lines;

·        Transfer the Philip Rock Center, Ag Education, and Jobs for Illinois Graduates back to ISBE; and

·        Provide $5.2 million in transition funding to hold districts harmless.

Action Deferred on “Illinois Criteria for Meeting NCLB Requirements for Highly Qualified Teachers”

At the May meeting of the State Board of Education, members deferred action on the proposed “Illinois Criteria for Meeting NCLB Requirements for Highly Qualified Teachers” until the June meeting. The additional time will give Board members and the public additional time to consider the proposal and the Board’s Education Policy and Planning Committee time to discuss the issues formally and prepare a recommendation to the Board. Send your comments to me ( no later than May 30, 2003.

The proposal was revised to indicate that both new and current special education teachers who meet the existing special education certification requirements will be considered highly qualified. More information and a link to the proposed criteria are posted at

State Board of Education Approves Proposal to Begin Comprehensive Changes in System of Support

A proposal to make comprehensive changes in the state’s System of Support was accepted by the Board at its May meeting. NCLB accountability requirements are expected to dramatically increase the numbers of schools and districts for which the state will be required to provide academic assistance.

To handle the increased burden on the System of Support, ISBE staff, in partnership with the Regional Offices of Education and others, have developed a plan to shift the delivery of services from the current centralized model, in which ISBE delivers services from the top down, to a regionalized model. The new approach would rely on Regional Offices of Education as the primary providers of services except for the approval and program administration of most of the grants associated with NCLB. More information is available at You can access the full proposal at

State Board Accepts Proposed Additions to the List of Approved Providers of Supplemental Educational Services

The State Board of Education accepted additions to the list of approved providers of Supplemental Educational Services (SES) at its May meeting. Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, schools that receive federal Title I funding are required to provide supplemental educational services for students if the school fails to make adequate yearly progress on the state’s assessment tests for three consecutive years. In such schools, parents are allowed to pick providers from the list of approved SES providers, and districts then contract with the approved providers for services to eligible students.

For additional information, see You can access the list of providers at

Survey to Update Teacher Credentials

Within the next week to ten days, the State Board will be sending you a survey to update the credentials of Illinois teachers. This information is needed to meet NCLB reporting requirements, which include a September 2003 report on statewide data on highly qualified teachers. We would like to have the information returned to us by June 30, 2003.

Using the Teacher Service Record and the Teacher Certification Information System, we have already been able to verify that, for the current school year, more than 70 percent of teachers of core academic subjects (as defined by NCLB) meet the proposed Illinois criteria for highly qualified teachers. The survey is intended to give teachers who did not fall into this “automatic” category an opportunity to provide additional information about their credentials in relation to their 2002–2003 assignments. The survey will be sent only to teachers whose on-file credentials have not already indicated that they are highly qualified in relation to the proposed Illinois criteria. For example, given my recommendation that all appropriately certified special education teachers be considered highly qualified, we will not need to survey them. In the near future, you will receive a list of the teachers for whom information is needed and a personalized form for each. The cover letter will provide instructions for your distribution and return of these surveys.

We realize this is a very bad time of year to request this information, but we believe the results will be beneficial for everyone – for you in making employment decisions and teaching assignments, for your teachers in knowing whether they are considered highly qualified, and for all of us in meeting the NCLB reporting requirements. The survey will not address every option in the proposed criteria because not all of the implementation details have been worked out (for example, CPDUs for veteran teachers). In addition, we know that we will need to do some follow-up, including but not limited to additional information regarding Type 29 Certificate holders. Nonetheless, we believe that this survey is a necessary starting point and that it is sufficient to establish a strong database for determining whether teachers are highly qualified.

Please keep in mind that teachers whose names are on the list sent with this survey will not be considered highly qualified for the designated assignments unless additional qualifying information is provided through this process.

Processing of Certification and Endorsement Applications

Spring and summer are always peak times for processing certification and endorsement applications. However, the challenges inherent in meeting that increased work load have been substantially increased this year by staff transfers to other parts of the agency. In addition, the many changes in the certification system are prompting teachers to ask for additional credentials, information about acceptable coursework, and other related issues. Unfortunately, the more phone calls and e-mails we receive from anxious individuals who want to know the status of their request, the less time our staff has to actually review transcripts and issue certificates. As a result, we are falling further behind in our processing time, which is now at about 12 weeks.

We are working on a number of strategies to address these problems and will provide additional information to you in the future. In the meantime, we want to let you know, and ask that you tell your teachers, the following:

·        Any application submitted before the first week of March is probably still pending. That means that the information we have received has been put into the system but that it has not yet been evaluated for certification or endorsement.

·        Teachers should call their local Regional Office of Education for information before calling the State Board. ROEs have access to the data system and can tell whether a request is marked as “pending.” If that is the indication on the computer, there really isn’t anything to know other than that the request is in line for consideration and will be reviewed as soon as possible.

·        If a request is truly job critical – that is, an individual has a potential job offer and must know whether he or she is qualified for it – the ROE can request that it be made a rush priority. We are asking everyone to use the “priority request” system responsibly, since it is not fair to all applicants if a few people abuse the system by claiming a priority that can’t be justified. Unfortunately, we have had a number of those pseudo-emergencies.

·        Teachers and others who call the State Board Certification Services Division should be prepared to clearly and succinctly explain the nature of their request – for example, are they asking whether a transcript has been received, whether their request has been processed, etc. – so that we can triage the calls. The most complicated requests will go to the transcript evaluators; the rest will be assigned to other staff as appropriate.

·        We will be reviewing the current requests to determine whether we have received all information needed for a decision. The lack of a key document often results in a delay in processing a request that has finally reached the head of the line and is ready for formal review. We will therefore be asking individuals whose files have a gap to submit that as quickly as possible.

If you have suggestions for improving the system, please send them to me at

May 30 Deadline for Demographic Data Required by NCLB Draws Near

More than 250 districts either did not return the Demographic Sheets they received from NCS Pearson in April 2003 or returned them too late to be processed.

By May 19, 2003, all districts will have received a District Demographic Verification Report and a School Demographic Verification Report for each of their schools.

Districts that did not return their demographic sheets before the deadline will have zeros on their school and district Verification Reports. These districts must enter the correct enrollment information on their Verification Reports and return them to NCS Pearson by May 30, 2003.

Districts that submitted their information on time should verify the enrollment information and return the reports to NCS Pearson. Accuracy matters. The enrollment data will help determine whether districts and schools made adequate yearly progress for NCLB.

2003 Summer School Approval and Reimbursement Processes for Services Provided to Eligible Children with Disabilities

Reimbursement for services for children with disabilities for the 2003 summer term must be approved by June 20, 2003. The specific approval processes and funding sources can be accessed at


Update on Review and Approval of Federal and State Entitlement Grants

The State Board of Education is reviewing and approving grant applications for Title I, II, IV, and V on site at Regional Office of Education offices. Reading Improvement block grants should be sent to the Springfield office by the end of May and will not be reviewed on site. 

May 20 USDOE Education News TV Broadcast on Students with Disabilities

The U.S. Department of Education’s May television broadcast will feature students with disabilities. The targeted audience for the series is parents, but this one may be of interest to special educators as well. The hour-long broadcast airs on Tuesday, May 20, 2003, at 8:00 p.m. EDT. Information about the broadcast and how to access it through a satellite downlink are at I ask that you share this information with your special education teachers.

25th Anniversary of Illinois Arts Week

The Illinois Arts Council (IAC) is celebrating the 25th Anniversary of Illinois Arts Week October 12–18, 2003. All Illinois public and private schools, colleges, and universities are invited to participate.

You can access the Illinois Arts Week 2003 promotional package at the IAC Web site ( It includes the Illinois Arts Week proclamation from Governor Rod R. Blagojevich, ways to celebrate, a list of IAC granting programs to support Arts Week projects and programs, and an Arts Week calendar-of-events form. The deadline for submitting events for inclusion in the Arts Week Calendar of Events is August 11, 2003.

Join the festivities with hundreds of other schools, parks, libraries, theaters, museums, galleries, and other community-based organizations by bringing the arts into focus in your community. For further information, e-mail the IAC at or call 312/814-6750.


Robert Schiller

State Superintendent

 of Education