Sent: Friday, August 29, 2003 3:22 PM
To: Regional Superintendents and Special Education Directors District Superintendents
Subject: Weekly Message from State Superintendent Robert Schiller 8-29-03

Good afternoon,

With most schools about to go into full operations for the fall semester, I would like to extend an official welcome back to everyone.  I hope your summer was restful and/or productive. 


I would also like to invite each of you to visit the ISBE website as a couple of new features have been added.  I notified you last week of the Online Teacher Information Service (OTIS) that administrators and educators may access for certification status.  In the first few days of operation, OTIS has already logged more than 800 account visits.


You will also be able to guide parents and teachers to a site with information about Choice.  From the ISBE homepage, visitors can follow the NCLB link to a page of information on Choice.  This will be evolving within the next week as staff adds more information on this hot topic.


I am also very pleased with the recent results of the SAT and AP tests.  Our students’ aggregate scores surpassed those of their peers across the country.  Only five other states scored higher in aggregate scores.  Additionally, the initiatives that the State Board put in place for the AP exam helped increase the number of test takers to more than 69,500.  For scores and more on the SAT see our news release.


Today’s message contains the following information:


Deadline Approaches For Making Corrections To State Test Data

Please remember that the firm deadline for accepting corrections to state test data is September 15th, 2003.  After this date, all 2003 test data will be considered final.  Accuracy is extremely important since the state test results will be on your School Report Cards this October, and will be used for calculations of Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) as required by the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001.  The most common errors seem to be those involving the coding of student test forms.


The following is an excerpt from instructions you received with your test reports:


“You may correct errors by marking needed changes to the reports.  Most mistakes occur because students have been misclassified (e.g., your reports have no students coded as having IEPs).  Changes for individual students should be marked on the School Roster.  Make copies for your records and return the originals to:


Pearson Educational Measurement

Attention:  ISAT (or PSAE or IMAGE) Reporting M/S 160

2510 North Dodge Street

Iowa City, Iowa  52245


Writing Assessment Update for All Districts:

Based on recommendations from the Assessment and Accountability Taskforce, the Illinois State Board of Education adopted the following change to be implemented in the Grade 3 Writing Assessment:  Starting in the spring of 2004, students will write one expository essay on the Grade 3 ISAT.


Further changes adopted by the Board that are scheduled for implementation in the spring of 2006 include the following:  Starting in 2006, Grade 4 students will write one essay in either the expository or persuasive mode.  Students in Grades 6 and 8 will write two essays in the expository, persuasive or narrative modes.  In the Grade 10 voluntary writing assessment, students will write two essays in the expository, persuasive or narrative modes.  Grade 11 students will continue to write one essay in the PSAE from either the persuasive or expository mode.  Please share this information with all staff.


FY 2004 Expenditure Reports/Claims Due Spreadsheet

Many state and federal grant programs require financial expenditure reports periodically throughout the school year.  In addition, school districts and other local education agencies must file claims for certain state programs such as General State Aid, Special Education Personnel, Pupil Transportation and Driver Education.  The Division of Funding and Disbursement Services has updated the list of programs, claims and expenditure report filing dates for FY 2004.  A schedule is available by program at or you may check what is due monthly at  If you have fiscal related questions related to these programs, claims or reports please contact the Division of Funding and Disbursement Services at 217/782-5256.


Illinois Teacher Salary Study 2002-03 On-line

This document is now available online at  It is a PDF document and can be found under “What’s New and Announcements.”  Hard copies are not available.



Applications Available for Fulbright Memorial Fund Teacher Program

Primary and secondary educators are eligible to apply for the Fulbright Memorial Fund Teacher program.  The grant enables educators to spend three-weeks in Japan participating in their educational and cultural systems.  Applications for the program are available at



Certification through Entitlement


Several Illinois professional preparation programs have been authorized to issue a “temporary employment authorization” to their program completers.  This is valid for six weeks and allows the educator to seek employment while the official certificate is being printed in Springfield and registered by the Regional Office of Education.  Please consider any “Temporary Employment Authorization” issued by the following institutions as an indication that the person has met the certification requirements and is eligible to enter the classroom. 


Help Your Students Be Real

Prevention First’s Be Real campaign has a new website and new prevention planning guide.  Designed to supplement and support other drug prevention efforts, Be Real involves parents, youth and faith-based organization leaders, educators and community members in efforts to reach children aged 10-14. 


The updated website offers prepared lesson plans that meet Illinois Learning Standards, resources for parents, and plenty of ideas.  To learn more visit




Madigan: Cut crime with after-school programs


By Daniel Duggan, Staff Writer, Beacon News


  ELGIN — When Andrea Ceron thinks about ways to keep her two children out of trouble, the first thing that comes to mind is having a place for them to go after school.

  A single mom, the Elgin resident said it's hard to find programs that are affordable and where her 12-year-old and 9-year-old sons will be taken care of.

  "Keeping them out of trouble after school is my No. 1 worry," Ceron said.


  State and local officials went out of their way Monday — the first day of school for many Fox Valley students — to show Ceron has reason to worry.

  "Children may be learning about social studies and math in the early part of the day, but in the hours between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. they might be learning how to do drugs or shoplift CDs," Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said Monday. Madigan was attending an event at an Elgin middle school to draw attention to the need for the funding of after-school programs.

  Elgin Police Chief William Miller said more juvenile offenses take place in the hours after school than any other time of day.

  According to a study by the Elgin Police Department of local juvenile offenses in 2001 and 2002, 29 percent took place during the 3 to 6 p.m. period — an average of 52 offenses, compared to 29 offenses in the 6 to 9 p.m. time bracket and 11 in the 9 p.m. to midnight bracket.

  "It might be a shock for parents and others who think we see more (juvenile) crime after dark, because that's just not true," he said. "On school days, keeping an eye on youth is critical."

  East Dundee Police Chief Joe Pena said children in after-school programs are less likely to start smoking, have sex and try marijuana.

  "When we short-change after-school programs, we're cheating ourselves out of one of our most valuable assets," he said.

 Madigan was joined by Fox Valley state representatives Tim Schmitz, R-Batavia, Ruth Munson, R-Elgin and John Millner, R-Carol Stream.

  The group is working with a national lobbying organization, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, to seek more funding for after-school programs and to get back funding that was taken out of the current budget by Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

  Specifically, the advocates are trying to get funding reinstated for Teen REACH (Responsibility, Education, Achievement, Caring and Hope), a state-funded after-school program.

  In July, Blagojevich issued an amendatory veto to remove $550,000 from the program's $19 million budget, according to Tim Carpenter, director of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids' Illinois. Carpenter, Madigan and other officials intend to seek an override for the veto in the fall session.

  The cuts mean some of the 200 Teen REACH programs in the state will lose operating funds, including Elgin's YWCA, which will lose $25,000 of the $200,000 it gets to administer the program, YWCA Executive Director Julie McClendon said.

  She said the loss in money might mean fewer staff to work with the 350 kids in the program.

  "And that just means we can't be as helpful," she said.

  For Ceron, whose two sons are in the Teen REACH program, it's been a way to help make sure they're getting help with their homework and — most importantly — not joining gangs or doing drugs.

  "Both of them have grown up so much since being in the program," she said. "They'd be short-changed if the program didn't exist."




From Ed Review (U.S. Dept of Education)


Phi Delta Kappa International and Gallup, Inc., has released its 2003 "Public Attitudes Toward the Public Schools" poll, which documents significant trends in public opinion and explores the latest approaches at school improvement (  The poll found less than a quarter of the public considers itself well informed about the No Child Left Behind Act, although those that do have a favorable impression (58 percent are very or somewhat favorable).  In response to specific provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act, 83 percent believe decisions regarding what is taught should be made at the state level (22 percent) or by the local school board (61 percent), one of the law's four pillars; 45 percent would like tutoring for their struggling child to be provided by an "outside agency," as provided for under the law; and 58 percent believe it is possible to narrow the achievement gap without spending more money than is already being spent to help low-performing students.  On the other hand, the public is concerned about using a single test to evaluate whether a school needs improvement (or a student is proficient); emphasizing English and math, exclusively; and expecting special needs students to meet the same standards as other students.

Other findings: (1) local schools continue to be regarded favorably, with 68 percent of public school parents giving the school their oldest child attends either a grade of A or B; (2) nearly six in ten respondents say teacher salaries are too low, and 65 percent believe higher salaries should be paid as an incentive for teaching in schools determined to be in need of improvement; (3) while 61 percent of those surveyed oppose vouchers, respondents are split on the extent to which providing vouchers would improve achievement in community schools.  And, given a full-tuition voucher, 62 percent of respondents would choose a private school for their child.  



From Ed Review (U.S. Dept of Education)


According to a new report by the Washington, D.C.-based Center on Education Policy, high school exit exams have led to improvements in curriculum and instruction but also to ballooning implementation costs and disproportionately low pass rates for minority, poor, disabled, and limited English proficient students.  Among its useful data, "Put to the Test" includes charts showing the characteristics of various exit test regimens and state profiles that detail what the test covers, when it is given, when its "stakes" take effect (and in what form), and what alternatives are available for students.  Exit exams are now required in 19 states that educate more than half of all public school students and 55 percent of minority public school students.  Five additional states are scheduled to phase-in exit exams over the next five years.  FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE GO TO


Robert Schiller

State Superintendent

  of Education