Sent: Friday, January 23, 2004 6:04 PM
Subject: Weekly Message from State Superintendent Robert Schiller 1-24-04
Dear Colleagues,

Over the past week many of you have been asked to take a position on the Governor’s proposed education plan.  The State Board believes this plan usurps local control through cost savings initiatives that would occur by controlling your money.  I know that none of you wants to let Springfield determine how your funds are spent.

Many of you have requested that we provide some clarification regarding the Governor’s recent and repeated assertion that ISBE only spends 46-cents of each dollar in the classroom.  The number the Governor refers to solely accounts for the cost of instruction defined as the direct teaching of pupils, including aides and assistants.

It is misleading to say that is all that is spent on the classroom.

I say this because the number excludes the cost to build and maintain the classroom, to transport the child to the classroom, to equip the classroom with the desk that the child sits in and the books that the child reads, and other important costs and services.

The data shows that when one accounts for all classroom, costs the numbers is closer to 80 cents of each dollar making its way into the classroom.

There are other costs driving classroom instruction:

Locally, elected school boards, not Springfield, determine how schools use the approximate $20 billion of local, state, and federal resources available to them.  These boards are limited only where a specific state or federal program dictates the specific use of a grant or where the state or federal government mandates certain programs and expenditures.

Because the state only allocates 27.5% of its general fund resources to schools and most of that is in the form of general unrestricted state aid, state funding does not generally dictate how schools will use their funds.  While other state grants must be used for costs of specific program areas (e.g., reading, career and technical education, technology, and textbooks), less than 1% of state education funds restrict the flexibility of local school boards between support and instructional categories.

However, the state and federal government have passed many laws which require schools to allocate funds to certain activities.  For instance, schools are mandated to transport children to school, provide special education services, provide bilingual services, assure the health life safety of students, test students, and provide guidance and social work services. The overall allocations by Illinois school boards are not significantly different from those in other states, particularly on a per pupil basis.

To assert that only the cost of instruction is a legitimate educational expenditure evidences a lack of knowledge of what education is, what schools are mandated to do by state and federal laws, and what needs Illinois students bring with them to school.  This misplaced assertion undermines the public’s understanding of what it takes to help all students achieve academic standards and it undermines the effort of local schools to raise funds locally.

The chart of accounts needs to be updated so these essential costs of instruction and classroom support more accurately are depicted.

The Governor knows, or should know, that the State Board of Education is not responsible for the allocation decisions of locally elected boards of education and the many state and federal laws that mandate local spending.

It is essential for local school leaders to set the record straight so that Illinois citizens get an honest picture of the facts.

Today’s message includes:

Board meeting

If you were unable to listen in on this month’s meeting, Board members discussed the Governor’s recently announced education plan.  In addition to loss of local control, the Board believes the plan does not address other fundamental education issues, such as funding, and would not improve education in Illinois.

In action items, the Board approved the recommendations of the Hazel Crest School Authority to continue district operations for another year.  This is a remarkable turnaround for a district that was on the verge of closing its doors last June.  For more on Hazel Crest please go to the agency’s press release at:

The Board also approved:

·        The recommendation of the Appeals Advisory Board regarding a Kankakee appeal

·        Approval of “Continuing Accreditation” status to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

All of the action items listed in the Board packet were approved.  For the list and additional information please go to:

New census data now available

The 2000 census data is now available for local educational agencies.  The updated data will be used to calculate FY2005 Title I, Part A allocations.  This new census data will affect Title I funding.  It is important that you review information at the following link:

Important assessment information

 Data Correction Window for 2003 Test Cycle Closes March 1

We are still accepting requests from districts for 2003 data verification and corrections until March 1.  This will allow ISBE to process all data prior to the 2004 state testing dates.

To request data verification forms, send your request on district letterhead to:

Planning & Performance Center

Illinois State Board of Education

100 N. First StreetSpringfield, IL 62777-0001

ATTN:  Data Verification

You may also send an e-mail with the same request to

Be sure to include the names of the schools in your district for which data verification is being requested, and describe the types of data you would like to correct.

Use of Pre-ID Labels Strongly Encouraged for State Assessments

As a reminder, districts are strongly encouraged to order pre-ID labels to be used in the 2004 spring testing to help ensure the accuracy of the data submitted about each student.  Deadlines for ordering pre-ID labels are February 7 for ISAT and IMAGE labels, and February 23 for PSAE labels.  Ordering pre-ID labels generates a student roster listing all of the information submitted about each student.  Logins and passwords were sent in the fall to the district contacts for ISAT and IMAGE and to high school principals for PSAE, along with specific directions for ordering these labels.  If you have any questions about this process or if you cannot locate your password and login, please contact Pearson Educational Measurement at 1-800-627-7990, state code 814; or email, or

Information Available to Help Ensure Accurate Submission of Data for the 2004 Assessment Cycle

PowerPoint and WORD versions of a presentation given to four ROEs during the week of January 20 regarding how to ensure data accuracy” will be available via the assessment website starting early next week.  To access this information, go to  This information explains the “Collection and Use of Data for AYP Calculations.”

Illinois garners top marks in Teacher Aide support and development

Illinois tied with New York as one of two states ranked highest for being on track to prepare teacher aides and meet the 2006 deadline in the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, according to a report released last week by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).

In a state-by state ranking released by the AFT: Illinois and New York were the only states “very well prepared” to meet the NCLB deadline for ensuring that aides – also known as paraprofessionals – meet the pending standards.

Illinois received an overall score of 95 from the AFT (with 60 considered passing and 105 as the highest score) as part of its Jan. 8 report Midterm Report on States’ Efforts to Assist Paraprofessionals in Meeting NCLB Requirements.  According to the report five other states rated as being “well prepared” while 23 others were “having some success in improving the quality of teacher aides.”

States were rated in nine categories.  Illinois received the majority of its points from:

AFT’s report measures whether states that use federal Title I funds for students in disadvantaged communities are helping paraprofessionals meet NCLB requirements.  By Jan. 8, 2006, Title I paraprofessionals must have either a two-year degree, two years of credit toward a four-year degree or a passing score on a state assessment.

The full report is available at:

Opportunities web page

At the suggestion of program staff, ISBE has created an “Opportunities” page on the agency Web site.  The page features special grant and educational opportunities that may benefit schools, administrators, and teachers in Illinois.

View it at:

You’ll find the link to this page in the resource boxes on the Teachers and Administrators pages.

To post notices of similar opportunities please send to Becky Gideon in Web services at

The Century Program announced

The Foundation for Excellent Schools (FES) recently announced a program designed to help students in high-need communities overcome a variety of obstacles that could keep them from attending college.

The Century Program was created by FES with significant support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.  Selected individuals will form one-on-one partnerships that will enable at least 100 students from each of the selected K-12 schools.  Students will receive special academic support, along with practical advice and counseling needed to access college and successfully navigate the admissions process.  Service learning, mentoring, early college awareness, and goal setting will be woven into every program.

To learn more about the program please visit

 Middle Grade Conference

We are grateful for the overwhelmingly positive response to the rapidly approaching Middle Grade Reading Conference.  The conference has been carefully planned to respond to the issues of lack of achievement in reading of our middle grade students.  We will have opportunities to hear from educators that have successfully turned their schools around and improved achievement using scientifically based reading approaches.

Conference participants will be afforded opportunities for active engagement in the dialogue on current developments in middle school reading as well as opportunities for the exchange of information about successful experiences with best practices. A few slots remain for those who have not yet registered for the conference, but you are encouraged to register as soon as possible, because availability is limited.

Conference activities will take place at three different locations.  The times, dates, and locations are as follows:


8:30 A.M. - 4:00 P.M.

                                    DATE                                                 LOCATION

                        February 23, 2004                            National Lewis University in Chicago

                        February 27, 2004                            University of Illinois in Springfield

                        March 4, 2004                                   Logan College in Cartersville

You are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity to interact with colleagues and noted educators with expertise in the area of middle grade reading.  We look forward to having you join us for this unique professional growth experience.

Register on line at