Sent: Friday, January 30, 2004 5:35 PM
Subject: Weekly Message from State Superintendent Robert Schiller 1-30-04
Good afternoon,


It is hardly business as usual at the State Board of Education these days. In fact we are busier than ever.


Many of you know that over the past year we had more than 100 ISBE employees take advantage of the early retirement initiative. That loss of staff became more difficult in light of the Governor’s hiring freeze and his budget cuts that resulted in additional layoffs. There is no doubt that our capacity was compromised. One of the areas hit hardest was our Teacher Certification Department where the staff was cut in half and the funding for the Regional Office in Chicago eliminated. Over the past few weeks, I have read many of your remarks to local reporters that ISBE is not the problem, in fact many of you point out that if anything ISBE is understaffed. I appreciate your candor and support.


This week I traveled to the collar counties where I joined board member Dean Clark to visit Glen Ellyn School District 41. The following day, Board member Joyce Karon and I visited Barrington Community School District 220. I again witnessed the successes being made in our schools on a daily basis. Contrary to recent assertions, our schools are not failing. If there is anything obstructing their success, it is the insufficient portion of funding coming out of Springfield.


As we move into February I think that we should all look to February 18 with great anticipation. Will the Governor move education forward by implementing the State Board of Education’s recommendations – 91-percent of which address the $250 per pupil increase in General State Aid and appropriate funding of the mandated categoricals? Will he choose Dollywood over funding for the programs for gifted students or the reinstatement of the ADA block grant to the FY03 funding level? I anxiously await the unveiling of the Fiscal Year 2005 budget and wonder how our 891 school districts will fare.


I also look forward to an opportunity next Tuesday when I will illustrate how great an impact $609 million will have on our 102 counties when I testify before the House Appropriation Committee.  On Wednesday when I testify before the Senate Education Committee on the Condition of Education report I anticipate being asked about the local control issues involved in the Governor’s plan. I admit I am curious how one might acquire $1 billion in savings byconsolidating costs through purchasing plans and health coverage, without shifting more costs onto districts.


I know what the State Board of Education’s vision is for our schools. It is outlined in the Condition of Education report and addresses what schools need because they are real, but those needs don’t always make banner headlines. The Condition of Education report advances education. It reinforces our Learning Standards. Each of you knows that our learning standards were adopted in 1997. A copy of those standards went out to each one of our teachers statewide. Our standards are our bedrock, our foundation for education in Illinois. It’s why we earned the high marks for Accountability from Ed Week this year.


But our standards for funding education are not as solid, and conversely, earned Illinois an F. Each of you is aware of how far you can stretch a dollar in your district, and how the State Board of Education – absent politics – advocates for your needs. We need to step back and ask ourselves, will the dismantling of the State Board result in improved education, or sweeping your needs under the rug for the sake of politics? Commitments not to raise taxes have been made. Budget limitations are already evident. Revenues, including the sale of the Thompson Center, have not been realized. Let us embrace this for what it is:  a distraction from the fact that there is no money available for education this year.


Secondly, by consolidating costs there will be control of dollars. Local control is meaningless if the Governor dictates how your locally raised dollars are spent. I am continually asked if school construction grants will become the equivalent of pork projects and if school districts will have to replace grant administrators with lobbyists?


I wish I had better answers for all you. Rest assured today, and whatever tomorrow will bring that I will continue to offer each you is my honesty and advocacy.


Also in today’s message:


2003 Report Cards Are Now Available Online


The 2003 English and Spanish school, district, and state report cards are now available online at:


Individual school report cards dating back to the 1998-99 school year are also available.  District report cards are available for the last two years.  This year the site has a new feature that provides access to the district summaries.  In order to view/print the report cards, please make sure your system meets the following requirements:


Assessment Update


How to Code Students Having Multiple Races/Ethnicities--Multiple races/ethnicity can only be indicated in the spring 2004 testing for grades 3-11 for ISAT, IMAGE, IAA and PSAE by marking all of the relevant racial/ethnicity codes on the student answer documents.  It is not possible to submit multiple races/ethnicities on the pre-ID files for this year.  Students who are coded on their answer documents this year as having multiple races/ethnicities will be included in a separate subgroup for the 2004 AYP participation and performance calculations.  There is a special process for collecting multi-racial/ethnicities information from Grade 2 schools this year and they will be contacted individually about how to submit this information. 


Alert Regarding E-mail Communications from Pearson Educational Measurement--Please be certain to verify with your district’s technical support staff that your server is not blocking emails from Pearson Educational Measurement.  Pearson has not been able to send many districts their pre-ID summary reports because the district's server is identifying them as SPAM and not delivering their emails (which end with  This will become increasingly more important as the Illinois State Board of Education works with Pearson Education Measurement for better and faster data collection and data reporting for you and your schools.


Retaining Your Sample Assessment Materials--Many schools and districts have been asking when to expect their 2004 sample books for ISAT, IMAGE, and PSAE.  Please remind your staff that the Illinois State Board of Education requested that the 2003 sample books in all subjects be retained in the districts for the next two to three years for future reference.


Studies to Be Conducted Regarding Change in Test Dates--

Concerns have been expressed regarding the earlier testing dates for 2005, especially for the PSAE.  We will be conducting score adjustment/re-norming studies in the coming year.  Since the PSAE measures knowledge and skills accumulated over the entire time of a student’s education, seven weeks is not predicted to cause a significant discrepancy, but we will certainly be studying this as we bridge into the new testing schedule.  We have been conferring extensively with ACT about this matter throughout the test date selection process.  If you need further information, please contact


Four Illinois Schools Selected to Implement High Schools That Work


In July, 2003, Illinois became the 30th state to join the High Schools That Work consortium.  High Schools That Work (HSTW) is a framework for whole-school improvement that seeks to advance the mathematics, science, and communications competencies of students who complete a career major and to increase the percent of students who continue postsecondary education in their chosen field of study.  The intent is to assist school districts by integrating and upgrading the level of academic studies that students receive in both academic and career and technical courses.


In September, 2003, a Request for Proposal (RFP) was released to public high schools to identify sites interested in replicating the High Schools That Work model for school improvement.  The high school had to show a commitment to:


·        Support academic and career and technical teachers with staff development, materials, and time to work together to implement the key practices.

·        Give school leaders and teachers the encouragement and flexibility to define problems and to change what and how they teach.

·        Give students access to modern career and technical education courses, working closely with employers and two-year postsecondary institutions.

·        Create and implement a site-based staff development plan.

·        Be an active member of a state and multi-state network for information and idea sharing.


Through the competitive RFP process, four high schools were identified as HSTW sites:  Carlinville High School, Charleston High School, Warren Township High School and Waverly High School.  These sites will implement HSTW strategies aligned with their school improvement plans that will lead to accelerated student learning and meeting higher standards.  Additional sites will be added to the network through a Request for Proposal released in early April, 2004.



Invitation to Comment on Rules


At its January meeting, the State Board of Education released two sets of proposed amendments for public comment.  These rulemaking items have been posted on the agency’s web site at; choose “Proposed Rules and Amendments.”  Please submit any comments or suggestions you may have to


Part 1 (Public Schools Evaluation, Recognition and Supervision)


Most of the material in this set of amendments is needed to complement the proposed amendments to Part 25 (Certification) published last month, so that it will be clear who may be assigned to which positions in schools as the standards-based system of educational credentials is fully implemented.  Subpart F of Part 1 describes the requirements for assignment and supervision of paraprofessionals, and Subpart G conveys the requirements for assignment of teachers at various grade levels and in various academic subjects and other areas.


Requirements for Teachers

One of the key issues addressed in the proposed rules is the status of the many current Illinois teachers who do not hold formal endorsements in their subject areas but who have been assigned to teach particular subjects based on a local determination that they met the requirements for those assignments.  That is, an individual has been eligible to teach a given subject if he or she held the required number and distribution of semester hours of college credit stated in Subpart G of Part 1 (chiefly in Section 1.730).  Possession of the endorsement has not been required.  This practice has been in place for many years, and its local implementation was subject to review during routine compliance monitoring by state and regional staff.


Under the proposed amendments, these teachers will continue to be eligible for assignment in areas in which they have already taught for at least two full semesters.  This requirement for experience is intended to provide the assurance that the teacher’s credentials were reviewed at the local level.


Individuals who hold the qualifications that were previously accepted for particular assignments but who have never been assigned in those fields will have two options for maintaining their eligibility under these proposed rules.




Each of the existing sets of requirements in Subpart G will now be prefaced by an explanation of how and when it is replaced by new requirements and where those are to be found.  The corresponding new Sections then identify all the groups who may be assigned, including:


At the secondary level, new minimum requirements for assignment are stated.  These generally involve the same total number of semester hours of college credit that have been required for certain endorsements for quite a few years, but stripped of the previous specificity about the distribution of those semester hours among particular topics.  This will help accommodate the transition to a standards-based system, in which the course-by-course coverage of topics may not be as readily predictable, while still requiring a significant amount of coursework before someone is eligible to teach in a particular field.


Requirements for Paraprofessionals

Many of the changes in Sections 1.610 through 1.660 involve technical updating and/or revisions whose purpose is to make clear what districts’ obligations are.  Some existing provisions are being reorganized for the same reasons.  The function of Part 1 is to describe how districts may assign paraprofessionals and administer their services.  This material will now complement the pending revisions in Part 25 that describe the requirements paraprofessionals must meet in order to secure approval.


The main substantive issue in this group of rules is the applicability of the requirement for a letter of approval to paraprofessionals in special education programs (see Sections 1.630(b)(2) and 1.630(b)(5)(C)).  Long-standing practice has exempted these individuals from the requirement for approval, but this is inconsistent with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).  Therefore, these rules require that instructional aides in special education meet the same requirements as other paraprofessionals but give them three years to earn the approval.  The three-year window that this rule establishes is in keeping with federal regulations regarding personnel who serve students with disabilities.


It should be noted that the requirement for approval as a paraprofessional does not apply to individuals who serve primarily as personal care assistants to students with disabilities.


Additional Matters

These proposed amendments also affect three other Sections unrelated to staff qualifications.





Deadline for Public Comment:          March 22, 2004


Part 25 (Certification)


It is nearly time for the first group of teachers who hold standard certificates to complete five years of teaching on those certificates and to apply for their renewal.  As ISBE staff members have been reviewing the procedures that all the parties will need to take in the certificate renewal process, one aspect of the rules has been identified as entailing unnecessary expense not required by the statute.


The requirements for processing teachers’ applications for certificate renewal include keeping teachers informed via written notification of the recommendations that are being made at each stage.


In all four of these situations, written notice of recommendations and decisions not to renew must be sent by means that include a return receipt.  In the second instance, the rule (Section 25.835(d)(3)) requires every notification to include a return receipt.  There is clearly no need for teachers to be notified by a means that entails extra expense when the recommendation is positive and they will have no need to appeal it.


We assume that the large majority of recommendations will be for certificate renewal and that streamlining these communications will lead to significant savings in at least some instances.  At a time when resources are very scarce and when LPDCs in particular may have very limited access to financial support, we believe it is incumbent on the State Board to eliminate this requirement in time for this spring’s implementation of the renewal process.  Consequently the agency has filed an emergency amendment to this effect so that the change will be in effect when this year’s notices are being sent.  Promulgation of this identical regular amendment is also needed, to replace the emergency amendment when it expires.


Deadline for Public Comment:          March 22, 2004


USDA letter regarding Mad Cow Disease

The Illinois State Board of Education has received a letter from the United States Department of Agriculture which explains the supply chain for beef supplied to the Food Distribution Program.  The purpose of this letter is to express their complete confidence in the safety of the beef in light of the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) recently discovered in Washington State.  BSE is commonly known as MAD COW disease.

We have posted this letter on the Nutrition Programs and Support Service website. If you would like to view and/or print this letter, go to

We hope you find this useful.  If you have questions, direct them to Jerry Scranton at 800-545-7892 or at

Funds Available to Support Artist Residencies in Illinois Schools

Application Deadline: February 17, 2004


The Illinois Arts Council (IAC) is pleased to announce the availability of the Arts-in-Education (AIE) Residency Program grants. These grants provide financial support to Illinois not-for-profit organizations for professional artist residencies lasting from two weeks to six months in one fiscal year. The IAC provides a grant for 60% of the residency costs, and the school must supply a 40% cash match. The AIE program provides a unique opportunity for schools to work with professional artists in the disciplines of creative writing, dance, media, music, theater, and visual arts. The exceptional artists that participate in this program have been approved by a panel based on the quality of their work, their record of professional achievement, and their skills and experience as educators. To read more about the program and to apply access the online version of the Arts-in-Education (AIE) Residency Program Guidelines, Application, and Artists Roster at A hard copy can be requested by calling 312/814-6780. Due to the extensive planning required for this program, interested schools should begin planning well in advance of the application deadline and attend one of the free application workshops to learn more about completing a successful application. For further information please contact Marissa Hockfield at 312/814-6780.


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