Sent: Friday, September 19, 2003 12:26 PM
To: Regional Superintendents and Special Education Directors District Superintendents
Subject: Weekly Message from State Superintendent Robert Schiller 9-19-03
Good afternoon,

At this week’s State Board meeting, agency staff presented information on a new resource that will help educators better prepare for the requirements of No Child Left Behind.  I have included an overview of this information in today’s message.  I am looking forward to working with you during the next several months as we formally introduce the Illinois Assessment Frameworks.  As always, your feedback will be most beneficial to us.


Also included in today’s message:

·        Prairie Crossing Charter School Renewal

·        State Board Hears District Presentations

·        State Board Announces Important New Resource

·        Fall Data Collection Update

·        Special Needs Transportation

·        RFP Issued

·        Safe and Drug Free Prevention Resources

·        Federal School Breakfast Program

·        National School Lunch Week

·        Nutrition Grants

·        Newsclips


State Board Approves Five-Year Renewal for Prairie Crossing Charter School

The Illinois State Board of Education today approved a five-year renewal of the charter of the Prairie Crossing Charter School of Grayslake to Begin July 1, 2004, when the school’s current 5-year charter expires. 


Prairie Crossing has an enrollment of 260 students and has been in operation for four years.  It will operate for the 2003-04 school year under the final year of its original 5-year charter.  It is the only charter school in Illinois chartered by the State Board rather than a local school district.  Further details are available on the agency website in a press release and within the Board meeting documents.


State Board Hears Presentation From Three Districts In Financial Difficulty

The number of schools in financial difficulty continues to increase. To understand why this is happening and to better predict its occurrence, the State Board has adopted a new financial designation system based on the Financial Profile and has also designated three staff as Regional Financial Consultants to work with districts in financial difficulty on a daily basis. Because the Board members feel it is also critical for them to hear directly from districts to understand the specific financial issues facing them, we invited three such districts to present at this week’s board meeting. Representatives from Elgin School District #46, Calhoun CUSD #40, and West Harvey–Dixmoor PSD #147 shared their stories with us and contributed to both our understanding of their problems and our ability to formulate legislative or administrative ways to help districts in trouble. Our great thanks goes to those districts for their willingness to inform us.


 State Board Announces Important New Resources for Educators

At its monthly meeting, the Illinois State Board of Education announced the completion of the Illinois Assessment Frameworks which will help educators better prepare students to meet the assessment requirements of No Child Left Behind beginning in the 2005-06 school year.


The Assessment Frameworks concentrate on math, reading, writing, science, and social science and are more focused than the State Goals for Learning.  Teachers, curriculum developers, and state test designers will all be working from the same page to help ensure student success.


The Framework for each subject consists of Assessment Objectives at each grade level, linked directly to the Illinois Learning Standards and providing clear, concise statements of what students will be expected to know and do on Illinois statewide assessments.  They describe the percent of questions on each test for each objective.  In addition, they identify “enabling” objectives from previous grades that will help students and teachers understand prerequisite skills.


The primary goal of the Assessment Frameworks is to help educators make good choices about what should be taught and the emphasis to place on specific skills and topics when they are planning lessons and making curricular changes that will best help students learn.  Additionally, the Assessment Objectives specify what is considered “fair game” to be tested on the state assessments beginning in the 2005-06 school year and beyond so districts will have ample time to make any needed curriculum changes. 


The new Assessment Frameworks are expected to be available on-line within the next few weeks, and we will be communicating with you soon regarding other ways we plan to help all Illinois educators become familiar with this important new learning resource.


Fall Data Collection Update:  Fall Housing & Immunization Go Electronic

The Fall Housing/Enrollment Report (87-03) and the Immunization Survey (70-11) will be collected online via IWAS this year and will be available on Sept. 30.  The Unfilled Positions Survey, which has been on IWAS the past two years, will be available the first week in October.  Paper copies of these three data forms will not be accepted this year.  Questions should be directed to the ISBE Call Center at 217/558-3600.


The Teacher Salary Study and the Reduction in Force surveys will continue to be collected on paper forms which will be mailed in September.


Fall Housing/Enrollment Report

A viewable form of the survey will be available on IWAS the week of September 15.  Users will be able to access the system on September 30.


Schools are required to report their enrollments as of September 30th and forward their completed form to the district superintendent by October 15.  The district superintendent will review school documents and submit them to ISBE by October 29.  District Superintendents also have the option of entering data for some, or all, of the schools in their districts. 


Immunization Survey

Users will be able to access the Immunization system on October 1.  The due date for submitting the Immunization School Survey is on or before November 15, 2003.  Immunization data must be reported at the school level for both public and nonpublic schools. 


Public Schools:  1) the school level data must be submitted to the district-level IWAS administrator (usually the district superintendent); 2) the district superintendent (IWAS district-level administrator) must electronically approve and submit the data to ISBE.

Nonpublic Schools must submit by school level (school administrator, principals, etc.,) directly to ISBE.


Unfilled Positions Survey

The Unfilled Positions Survey will be available on IWAS the first week in October.  As in years past, districts are to report the number of unfilled positions as of October 1, 2003 and submit the data to ISBE by October 22, 2003.


Teacher Salary Study

Data forms (paper) for the 2003-04 school year were mailed out this week.  They are due back to ISBE on September 25, 2003. Questions should be directed to Richard Yong at 217/782-3950.


Reduction in Force Survey (86-28)

The data collection forms will be mailed out in paper format to school districts in mid-September to collect both the 2002 and 2003 district level data.  These forms are due back to ISBE in late fall after all the 2002 and 2003 dismissals, recalls and re-employments are finished.  Questions should be directed to Niann Chern at 217/782-3950.


USDE Memo Regarding Special Needs Transportation

Communication between local school districts and transportation providers is critical to addressing transportation issues for special needs students.  The United States Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services has issued a memorandum which encourages effective communication in this regard and we support their effort.  The complete text of the memorandum can be accessed at


RFP Issued

A Request for Proposal (RFP) was issued by the State Board of Education on September 10, 2003, to identify up to 6 high schools interested in adopting the High Schools That Work (HSTW) model.  School districts with high schools that offer both academic and career and technical programs approved by ISBE are eligible to apply. 


High Schools That Work (HSTW) is the nation’s first large-scale effort to engage state, district and school leaders and teachers in partnerships with students, parents and the community to improve the way high school students are prepared for work and further education.  It provides a framework of goals, key practices and key conditions for accelerating learning and setting higher standards.  Schools are encouraged to eliminate the general track of studies and to strengthen their courses in math, science and language arts. Illinois is the 30th state to join the consortium. 


The funding period for the grants is from January 1, 2004, to July 31, 2004, with a commitment (depending on the availability of funds) to continue the initiative for an additional four years. 


A webcast was recorded to assist respondents to the RFP in lieu of a bidder’s conference.  It was designed to answer questions and provide specific information about requirements, fiscal information, proposal format and criteria for evaluation.  The webcast may be accessed directly at  The complete RFP and webcast may be accessed through the ISBE homepage at  Click “Grants” on left and scroll to “RFP’s and Competitive Bids.”


For more information on this RFP, contact Dora Welker at 217/782-4620.


Safe And Drug-Free Prevention Resources For Schools

ISBE and Prevention First, Inc. (PFI), a nonprofit training and information organization, have entered into a partnership to inform schools about the wide variety of scientifically based prevention resources available to them through PFI.


Research shows that prevention efforts in schools work to help children and teens avoid drugs, violence and other risky behaviors. PFI offers Illinois educators the tools they need to get prevention messages to students and parents.  The organization's Lura Lynn Ryan Prevention Research Library holds more than 13,000 books, videos, periodicals and curricula on subjects ranging from conflict resolution to violence and teen pregnancy. Librarians also will provide customized research on prevention topics.  Branches are at 2800 Montvale Drive in Springfield (800/252-8591) and 720 N. Franklin St., Suite 500, in Chicago (800/572-5385).  Both are open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Patrons in other Illinois cities may borrow items via the mail or interlibrary loan.


PFI also houses a clearinghouse containing pamphlets, handouts, posters and myriad other items on drug use, gambling, anger management and more. The items are available by mail order.


Library services and clearinghouse materials are free to all adults in Illinois. Catalogs for both can be found on  The Web site also provides information about training programs offering continuing education units on a wide variety of prevention and professional skill topics such as cultural competency and youth group facilitation.


Illinois Awarded Federal School Breakfast Start-Up Grant

We are pleased to announce that Illinois is receiving federal dollars for targeted schools to implement School Breakfast Programs.  Partners in the grant include the Illinois Hunger Coalition, Midwest Dairy Council, the St. Louis District Dairy Council, and the Illinois Association of Community Action.  The grant activities include a statewide breakfast conference, onsite visits providing technical assistance, a breakfast newsletter, and other resources to assist in the implementation of the School Breakfast Program.  This grant will allow 235 schools with high rates of free and reduced-price eligible students to receive funding to begin School Breakfast Programs.


National School Lunch Week October 13-17

For 57 years, the National School Lunch Week has been celebrated in October to help raise awareness of, and garner support for, the role that school foodservice and nutrition programs play in education.  This year’s theme, Wild about School Lunch, highlights the enthusiasm and energy of school lunch personnel in this endeavor.

Visit the American School Food Service Association’s Website at menus, proclamations, a toolkit, logos, activities and more to plan your NSLW celebration.

Grant Funds Available for Nutrition Program Start-up and Expansion

Share Our Strength has announced funding opportunities for current or potential program sponsors to increase the number of children participating in after- school and summer nutrition programs.  Fund amounts of $15,000 will be awarded for start-up costs incurred in initiating and supporting sites, and expansion grants are available to increase program participation at existing sites.  The grant applications are due September 30. Visit for the grant application.  Click on the “Childhood Hunger” button.


Newsclips may be accessed at


Robert Schiller

State Superintendent

  of Education