Sent: Friday, October 22, 2004 4:35 PM
Subject: Weekly Message from Interim State Superintendent Randy J. Dunn 10-22-04


Good Afternoon.


We continue to thank you all for your patience and perseverance in doing the data corrections with ISBE and Pearson staff. The number of schools with correct data and “closed” is improving markedly, but we must continue to work this project. We have pushed Pearson to triple the number of phone staff and have instituted quality control measures with them to ensure you receive accurate information. (On particularly difficult situations, you may be referred back to ISBE staff so that you are given correct information.) Also, we have told Pearson to establish a protocol so we receive real-time information as schools complete this work, instead of having to wait until the completion of a data run.


Again, we appreciate the ways you have continued to work with us as we strive to get accurate School Report Cards out in as timely a fashion as possible. I am aware many of you are under pressure to distribute these at your upcoming parent-teacher conferences—and we may not make that deadline for many of you, thus complicating your distribution of the cards. But given the high-stakes nature of the data that will ultimately come from this process, we have to do everything necessary to get it right.


A couple of highlights from this week’s State Board of Education meeting centered around an informational presentation that was given on middle grades certification as the Board continues to study this issue. Also, we reported to the State Board our plan for the rules review process. We will initially seek to remove rules for programs that are nonexistent or no longer funded (and with no prospect of funding returning). Also, ISBE Division Administrators are being directed to initiate a staff review of rules around a series of guidelines we’ve proposed. Finally, we are looking with interest at the ideas from you that are coming in on to additionally guide our thinking about priorities are we get this project underway.


I had a great opportunity to be with many of our state’s principals at a couple of different meetings in conjunction with the IPA Conference this past week in . As always when I meet with these groups, and it’s certainly true with the principals, I am excited about the passion and commitment I see to kids and education in . I had a particularly special reason for going over to IPA this year as well: Our congratulations go to ISBE’s own Student Assessment Division Administrator Becky McCabe on being named National Distinguished Principal of the Year in . Becky is currently on leave from in /st1:City> to lead Student Assessment at the Illinois State Board of Education. I know MANY of you share my desire for us to get Becky to stay with us here at ISBE. For more on her selection please go to our news release at


Randy J. Dunn

State Superintendent of Education (Interim)


Also included in today’s message:


FY 2005 State & Federal Expenditure Reports/Claims Due List

Please find the FY 2005 Expenditure Reports and Claims Due listing by going to the underlined text or at Please note that many claim programs (e.g., Special Education Personnel, Private Facility and Summer School) have specific statutory dates. Fiscal related questions can be directed to the staff listed in the document at 217-782-5256.


New Public School Calendar Inquiry System

A Public School Calendar Inquiry System is now available to the general public, the media and all external partners in education, beginning with the 2004-05 school year. Information may be accessed alphabetically by individual district name, region-county-district-type or by county name order. Users can view all codes included in the legend for completion of the school calendar, e.g., Pupil Attendance Days (X) or Days Not in Attendance (NIA). All reports have print capability. The Public School Calendar Inquiry System may be accessed by clicking on the underlined text or at

Questions may be directed to Randy Johnson at 217-782-5256.



Letters are being prepared to notify school principals that their schools have been selected to participate in the 2005 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) assessment. The NAEP is mandated by the U.S. Congress and is the only nationally representative, continuing assessment of what ’s students know, and can do in school, on a variety of key subject areas. For 2005, national assessments will be conducted at grades 4, 8, and 12 in reading, mathematics, and science. In a small number of schools, national field tests will be conducted at all three grades in a variety of subjects. All assessments will be conducted between January 24 and . For further information, please call Student Assessment at 217-782-4823.


Flu Vaccine Health Department Advisory

The Illinois Department of Public Health has asked for ISBE’s assistance in disseminating information to prevent transmission of influenza during this period of a flu vaccine shortage. Schools play a vital role in the process to prevent disease within their communities. The flu has caused high rates of absenteeism among students and staff in schools, with nearly 22 million school days lost each year to the common cold alone.


IPDH is requesting schools to remind students to practice healthy habits.  Always remind students to:


A variety of materials are available for educators and school administrators at



Learn And Serve RFP Released

The Learn and Serve Program FY 2005 Request for Proposals (RFP) has been released. School districts, Regional Offices of Education, Intermediate Service Centers, and other eligible educational agencies may apply for a grant to plan, implement, operate or expand a district-wide or regional service-learning initiative. Service-learning is a teaching methodology that promotes increased student interest, motivation, and learning by providing opportunities for students to experience application of what they are learning in the classroom to real-life problems. By working with community partners on local service projects, students enhance their civic awareness and leadership skills, and help to strengthen school and community relations. The RFP is available online at

The RFP can also be obtained by contacting Patricia Poole in the Curriculum and Instruction Division at or 312/814-2220.


Science Supplies Warning

Recently, legislation was signed to enact the following prohibition about the purchase of mercury and mercury-added products (such as thermometers, barometers, etc.). The legislation does not prohibit the possession of such products at this time. However, prudent choices at the school and classroom levels are moving away significantly from the use of this highly toxic material. The pertinent wording that you should understand is 415 ILCS 5/22.23b (new):


Sec. 22.23b. Mercury and mercury-added products.

    (a) Beginning July 1, 2005, no person shall purchase or accept, for use in a primary or secondary school classroom, bulk elemental mercury, chemicals containing mercury compounds, or instructional euipment or materials containing mercury added during their manufacture. This subsection (a)does not apply to: (i) other products containing mercury added during their manufacture that are used in schools and (ii) measuring devices used as teaching aids, including, but not limited to, barometers, manometers, and thermometers, if no adequate mercury-free substitute exists.


The language prohibiting the purchase of mercury in schools and a link to the legislation is found at: More resources will be provided for examining local use and policies soon from ISBE.


Professional Development Needs Assessment Survey - Reminder

Please encourage all teachers of mathematics and science from kindergarten through high school to contribute to the statewide needs assessment survey for professional development. The survey will close on November 1. We need to have as many teachers as possible to respond to this survey. It takes less than ten minutes and will have great bearing of future possibilities for our teachers. It is found at in the announcements section. We need this vital information.


Reminder to District Superintendents: Please complete the mathematics and science survey distributed through the regional superintendents and intermediate service center directors. The survey asks five questions about dedicated science and mathematics professional development, materials/supplies budgets at the district level and the districts' graduation requirements. This information is vital to the planning for science and mathematics teaching and learning in . The survey is due by November 10. Questions can be directed to Gwen Pollock at


Mental Health Policy Reminder

Several districts have not submitted the mental health policy which was due on August 31. Please submit this to the Accountability Division as soon as possible. For more information contact Tom Rosene at 217/782-2948.


PSAE/Graduation - Reminder

Superintendents of unit and high school districts should have received a memo from the Student Assessment Division that will provide guidance for implementing Public Act 93-857 – Prairie State Achievement Examination as a Condition for Graduation for 2004-05 school year.


Please make sure that principals and guidance counselors receive this memo as well.

This guidance will also be posted at If you have any questions, please call Student Assessment at 217-782-4823.


Spring Testing Dates for 2005 - Reminder

The dates, grades and content areas that will be tested in spring of 2005 can be found at The testing sessions for ISAT can be found at


The checklist of dates for 2005 PSAE spring testing can be found on the PSAE Web page ( under Information for PSAE Test Supervisors/Accommodations Coordinators) – please refer to it for critical milestone dates. The revised School Schedule and Site Options document is also posted there – the link to the off-site request form is


Physicians and Health Experts Available for Career Fairs

The Illinois Academy of Family Physicians (IAFP) wants to encourage high school students to investigate careers in family medicine. If your school is interested in having an IAFP physician or representative at your high schools’ career fairs, please contact Ginnie Flynn at

or call 630-435-0356, extension 118. She will contact family physicians and health care providers in your community to attend and provide information at your school’s event. IAFP is a not-for-profit organization with a membership of over 2200 family physicians in .