Sent: Friday, June 06, 2003 12:22 PM
To: Regional Superintendents and Special Education Directors District Superintendents
Subject: Weekly Message from State Superintendent Robert Schiller 6-6-03



Good afternoon.

This week I have two updates on legislative issues: a note regarding FY04 budgetary issues and a review of major education bills that have passed the House and Senate and are now awaiting the Governor’s signature. The bills, if signed, will affect assessment and accountability, funding for special education extraordinary services, the citizenship requirement for teachers, and interfund transferability.

In other items—

·        The June meeting of the State Board will be June 16–17, 2003.

·        I am asking you to take the time to provide us certain information that we will need for the School District Financial Profile. The deadline to complete this survey is June 20, 2003.

·        The deadline for submission of portfolios for teachers seeking National Board certification has been moved from February to April 2003 for Illinois applicants. Applications are due July 1, 2003.

·        Finally, I want to bring to your attention the Fulbright Teacher and Administrator Exchange. The U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs is now accepting applications for teachers and administrators who would like to participate in this program during the 2004–2005 school year.

June Meeting of the State Board of Education

The regular monthly meeting of the State Board will be held June 16–17, 2003, at  the State Board offices, 100 North First Street, Springfield. In Chicago, interested parties may listen to the meeting at the ISBE office on the 14th floor of the James R. Thompson Center, 100 West Randolph. The 20-minute packet and meeting agenda will be posted at

Request for Information for School District Financial Profile

We need your help in gathering certain financial information about your district.

As you know, in March of this year ISBE announced the new School District Financial Profile, which will be released annually for the fiscal year ending the prior June 30th. The reporting of transactions regarding certain long-term debt that may be included in your school district’s operating funds – Educational, Operations & Maintenance (O&M), and Transportation Funds – has the potential to affect the Total Profile Score and designation in any given fiscal year. To understand the effect such reporting has on the profile, we need certain information from you.

To submit the required information, access the document Schedule of Debt Impacting the Operating Funds (Educational, Operations & Maintenance, and Transportation Funds) at If the schedule does not apply to your school district, check the box at the top of the schedule that so indicates.

Return the completed schedule via e-mail to by June 20, 2003.

A letter that can be accessed at explains this survey in more detail. (Note: this letter is available on the Web site; it will not be mailed to you.) If you have any questions or need assistance in completing the schedule, contact Ken Wargo or Lou Ferratier of the School Business and Support Services Division at 217/785-8779. Additional information on the profile can be accessed at

Note To The Field Regarding the FY04 Budget

We have received numerous inquiries regarding the status of Summer Bridges and other programs in the budget. As you know, the General Assembly passed a budget but the Governor may veto some elementary and secondary items from that budget.

We believe that programs that were in the Governor’s original budget and were not reduced at some point in the appropriation process will likely remain in the budget. We are moving forward with programs, such as Summer Bridges, that fall into this first category. However, if you do not want to risk state reimbursement, you may wish to wait for the Governor to act before implementing this and other programs. For instance, you may wish to move your Summer Bridges program to August instead of offering it inJune.

We are not as confident about the Governor’s position on programs for which the final appropriation was different from the Governor’s budget proposal. The attached list includes most of the programs that the Governor eliminated but that the General Assembly returned or increased above the Governor’s recommendation:

·        ROE Salaries and Services

·        Truant Alternative

·        Technology for Success

·        School Safety and Educational Improvement (ADA) Block Grant

·        Charter Schools

·        Jobs for Illinois Graduates (returned by the General Assembly
as Federal Funds)

·        GSA Poverty Component

·        Transition Assistance

·        District Consolidation

·        Textbook Loans

·        Tax Equivalent

·        Special Education Transportation

·        Special Education Personnel

The next list includes most of the programs that were eliminated in the final appropriations and will not occur in FY04:

·        Gifted Education

·        State Substance Abuse and Violence Prevention

·        Mathematics Statewide

·        Family Literacy

·        Parental Involvement

·        Career Awareness and Development

Key Education Bills Await Governor’s Signature

The following is a list of key education bills that were passed by both the House and Senate and are awaiting the Governor’s signature. For each bill we include an overview and explain how the bill affects districts.

1. HB2352 – Student Assessment Changes

In September 2002, State Superintendent Schiller appointed an Assessment and Accountability Task Force. The superintendent co-chaired the task force with Dr. Robert Nielsen, superintendent of Bloomington District 87. After conducting numerous meetings and five public hearings across the state, the task force recommended the changes required by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2003 (NCLB) and additional changes that would ensure a more useful system of state assessments.

The task force recommended an enhancement of the current state assessment system as the basis for a high-quality, statewide student assessment system that measures achievement with respect to the Illinois Learning Standards. The enhanced statewide assessment system should have a high level of credibility, reliability, and validity and provide continuity from the current assessment system. The system must provide timely results that are meaningful and educationally useful for educators, parents, and the broader community. This system will bring Illinois into compliance with NCLB and create a useful tool to continuously improve student learning with respect to the Illinois Learning Standards.

HB2352 includes the following specific changes:

·        By 2005–2006 there will be several changes in the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT):

1.      Assess all students in reading and math in grades 3–8;

2.      Assess social science in grades 5 and 8 (currently assessed in
grades 4 and 7);

3.      Increase writing assessment so that students are assessed in grades 3, 4, 6, and 8 (currently students are assessed in grades 3, 5, and 8);

4.      Assess writing in a more developmentally appropriate manner; and

5.      Limit time for ISAT testing to 38 hours (currently 25 hours).

·        There will be no changes in the Prairie State Achievement Examination (PSAE), which assesses reading, math, writing, science, and social science at grade 11.

·        Language is clarified regarding assessment of students with limited English proficiency, consistent with NCLB, to allow additional time for pupils in bilingual programs.

·        Clarifies that there will be a state testing window for all state student assessments, rather than a common testing month.

·        Voluntary testing would be available – if there is sufficient federal funding to support it – for local diagnostic purposes, for additional high school writing, and for physical development and health and fine arts standards.

·        A definition of “all pupils” is provided to ensure that students in all public settings are assessed, consistent with SB878 of 2003.

·        School districts are encouraged to consider elimination of local annual testing once the revised state assessment is in place.

This bill would become law effective immediately. Steps will be taken to put a revised ISAT into place for 2005–2006.

2. SB878 – Accountability Changes

At this time, HB2352 contains the necessary changes in the law to incorporate the assessment modification such as testing in reading and math in grades 3–8 (primarily adding grades 4, 6, and 7) and defining all pupils who must take the test. SB878 contains the necessary changes in the law to incorporate the accountability modifications.

This bill on accountability outlines several areas of change, effective immediately:

·        Defines school districts to include other public entities that are operating programs in order to hold all parties accountable for public education (for example, regional Safe School programs) of students who are in those programs for a full school year.

·        Recognizes and rewards school districts in the same manner as is done for schools.

·        Clarifies definition of Academic Early Warning List and Watch status to be consistent with past practice and compliant in terms of NCLB, and addresses schools as well as districts.

·        Creates an Appeals Advisory Committee to review requests regarding status determination.

·        Expands the list of sanctions for all schools and districts and makes it clear that the federal sanctions (such as public school choice and supplemental educational services) apply only to schools receiving funding under Title 1, Part A, of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.

The changes will enhance the system and align it with federal requirements.

3. HB1180 – Funding for Special Education Extraordinary Services

HB1180 makes substantial changes in the way districts are funded for special education extraordinary services and eliminates the need to file claims on a per pupil basis. The bill has four significant components:

·        Calculates the yearly state appropriation request by multiplying the foundation level by 17.5 percent and then multiplying the product by the most recent December 1 child count;

·        Provides funding via a “base amount” that is defined as the amount of extraordinary payments received in FY03 plus an amount split 85 percent between each district’s average daily attendance and 15 percent for their poverty count as used in General State Aid;

·        Provides a mechanism for districts to claim a special needs student with “excess costs,” which is defined as educational costs in excess of four district per capita tuition charges; and

·        Provides summer-term reimbursement for any approved special needs student served by the district.

4. HB3587 – Teacher Quality

This bill amends the School Code to remove U.S. citizenship as a requirement for obtaining a teaching certificate.

The bill requires a person applying for a teaching certificate who is not a citizen of the U.S. to file a signed letter of intent with the Illinois State Board of Education indicating that either (1) within 10 years after the date that the letter is filed or (2) at the earliest opportunity after the person becomes eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship, he or she will apply for U.S. citizenship.

5. HB765 – Interfund Transferability

This bill allows for a two-year window in which school districts may transfer funds among their Operations and Maintenance, Education, and Transportation Funds. It removes the one-time nonrecurring expense restrictions for this two-year period.

Deadline Change for Teachers Seeking National Board Certification

Please share the following information with the teachers in your district, especially if you know that they may be interested in seeking certification by the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS).

We understand that some teachers are waiting to apply for the NBPTS program because they do not want a February 2004 due date for submission of their portfolio entries. Through a special arrangement with NBPTS, Illinois candidates who apply now will be eligible to turn in their portfolios in April 2004. We hope you will take advantage of this opportunity to help teachers in your district get a jump start on the National Board Certification process for 2003–2004. Encourage interested teachers to submit their applications by July 1, 2003. The State Board will continue to support Illinois candidates by underwriting the cost of the application fee. For more details, visit or contact Stephanie Epp, NBCT, at

Fulbright Teacher and Administrator Exchange Seeks Applicants

The U.S. Department of State has mailed packets of informational materials about the Fulbright Teacher and Administrator Exchange to school districts throughout the country. The postmark deadline for applications for the exchange program for the 2004–2005 school year is October 15, 2003.

The Fulbright Teacher and Administrator Exchange is an educational exchange program that offers opportunities for U.S. teachers and administrators to participate in the operation of an educational institution in another country. Exchange schools for the 2004–2005 school year are in Asia, Africa, Europe, South America, and – for the first time – the Middle East.

Three options are available:

·        Each U.S. school continues to pay the U.S. teacher’s salary and receives in exchange a highly qualified foreign teacher (paid by his or her home school).

·        School or district administrators participate in a consecutive, theoretically focused, six-week job-shadowing experience with their foreign counterpart.

·        Schools or districts host an administrator from Jordan, Oman, or Uruguay.

The State Department is particularly interested in having American teachers who take part in the program reflect both the diversity of the U.S. population and the multiple disciplines that are taught in U.S. schools. There is no limit to the number of educators who may apply to the program from a single school or district.

If your school did not receive an informational packet, you can access further information at the Outreach Department’s Web site,, or by calling 202/314-3527 or 800/726-0479.

Robert Schiller

State Superintendent

   of Education