Sent: Friday, March 12, 2004 5:18 PM
Subject: Weekly Message from State Superintendent Robert Schiller 3-12-04
Good afternoon.


“No Child Left Behind” appears to be a loaded statement these days. Two years have passed since this well-meaning legislation was passed and all of us have been challenged by it. I would like to take this opportunity to talk about the implementation issues that have affected all of us in Illinois as well as what we might do make the intentions of NCLB more workable and consequently more successful.


The Timing of NCLB has been backward: First came the Act, then 11 months later, the federal regulations coincided with the January 2002 implementation. My own experience at that time resulted in two unique perspectives. Like many of you I was grappling with the law as a superintendent, seeking guidance on how NCLB would affect the 50,000 students in my district. When I assumed the post as State Superintendent I truly began to question why the U.S. Department of Education did not let us first understand the new law, its intent and corresponding regulation, then set a more reasonable date for implementation, like the 2003-2004 school year. Hence, nationwide we could question the timing of NCLB, but the reality is, this law is absent of make-up dates, do-overs or mulligans. Despite my own belief that NCLB implementation was ill-timed, we have to accept this timetable and make the best of it.


With that in mind, what all of us in Illinois have been able to embrace are the good intentions and aspirations of NCLB. I am proud that our educational leaders—superintendents, central office administrators, principals, teachers, and school board members – have embraced the spirit of more accountability.


This spirit is often challenged, however, by the binding and sometimes conflicting, as well as illogical, regulations approved by the USDOE. Our goal in Illinois has been to meet the obligations of the law, but not to exceed the federal requirements. I credit the members of the Assessment Advisory Task force for their invaluable insight in the shaping of ISBE decisions on accountability requirements contained in our USDOE Accountability Workbook.  While I sometimes hear vague criticisms that our state has gone beyond the federal requirements, I have yet to see evidence of that being the case. Should there be a documented example of Illinois exceeding the requirements, I stand ready to advise the ISBE to accordingly amend its Accountability Plan.


Stepping up our accountability has been paralleled by increasing costs. There is much debate about how much is enough. Illinois will see roughly $800 million this year, which is about $25 million more than last. I think we need to clear the air on this point – NCLB is not unfunded but it has been and remains to be under-funded!


While some of us have been tempted by the idea to outright reject NCLB requirements, we would also be turning away roughly $800 million. Despite the heightened rhetoric, no state has rejected the funding. In these troubled fiscal times, turning away this money – that undeniably helps some schools more than others – is not a viable option.


I say that because NCLB is intended to drive improvement among our struggling students. How NCLB does this is another sore spot: Transfer before tutor? This point has troubled me since the law’s enactment. Offering students the right to choose a better performing school, before we offer the supplemental services that will help them improve in their own school is backward thinking at its best. Further, school districts offering supplemental services are required to use only Highly Qualified Teachers, but private providers are not held to the same standard. This needs to be changed by offering tutoring first, choice second and create equity supplemental service standards for both public and private services.


Until that change occurs I must point out that there is nothing that prohibits districts from using available Title I funds to offer supplemental services and choice options simultaneously.  In fact, I encourage all affected schools to use the law to offer parents options so that they become full partners with schools in improving their child’s education and consequently the school’s performance.


I continue to encourage your thoughtful suggestions for considerations by the Advisory Task Force.  These suggestions do have positive results. For example, a Task Force member had asked that we review a USDOE approved calculation of Adequate Yearly Progress in another state. In December, we looked at this possibility: schools would have to miss AYP for two consecutive years in a single subject (math, reading) instead of our current computation of either subject.  We ran simulations and found that about ten of our schools would be positively impacted (meaning that under this new calculation they would make AYP). At this month’s board meeting I am recommending that we adopt the calculation.


In my capacity as Chief State School Officer, I have had meetings since August 2002 with Secretary Paige and his top staff and have implored them to make needed changes.  My colleagues in other states have done so as well.  After two years of problematic implementation, perhaps the USDOE will act on our requests. We have just recently seen reconsiderations of assessing LEP students and the 1% waiver rule. Nevertheless, I do not see regulatory changes in the offering in the very near future.


I think it is safe to assume that if improvement of NCLB does not come from Washington, we must continue to look at the problems in Illinois and other states and implement solutions to the benefit our students and schools.


NCLB is wrought with good intentions that are coupled with regulations that are inconsistent with good practices. The law must be altered by the USDOE so that states can best meet its intent through flexibility that truly allows us to best serve students.


I would like to continue this exploration of NCLB in the upcoming weeks Friday message, specifically concerns I have with the AYP calculations, the required assessments, timing of sanctions and reporting, and the problems associated with the regulations affecting special populations of students. But I don’t want to just opine on the problems with NCLB, I would also like to offer some solutions.


As we navigate through the often murky waters of NCLB, I invite all of you to submit brief essays on some aspect of NCLB regulations that need attention or change. Together, we can move ahead in this journey.


Robert Schiller

State Superintendent

  of Education


Also included in today’s message:


Education Agency Sesquicentennial

This week I invite you to join me in celebrating education in Illinois.  Monday, March 17 marks 150 years of the creation of a state education agency.  In 1854 the General Assembly passed legislation creating the Office of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction and Ninian Edwards became the first full-time Superintendent.


It is interesting to note that while a lot has changed since then.  Free public education and compulsory attendance was opposed by many, especially in rural areas where children were needed to help work farms.  A typical school in the 1850s consisted of one school building that provided basic education through grade 8.  Illinois had no public institutions of higher learning for educating teachers.  Those that did teach made an average monthly salary of $45 a month for men and $27 for women.


Some things have not changed.  At the turn of the 20th century, Superintendent Francis Blair focused his attention on teacher certification, safe schools and the inequality of school funding.


For more on education history please go to

For a history timeline, please go to:


Administrative Rules Work Group

Please be advised that I have sent letters to members of 17 educational organizations inviting them to send two representatives to a work group which will review the state’s education administrative rules.  The task force will have the charge of making recommendations to reduce nonessential administrative burdens related to rules on curricular mandates; health safety, or specific rights of students and staff; accounting, claiming and reimbursement for various programs; grants and loans that are currently available; public schools evaluations and school food services.  I am asking for the names to be forward to me by Monday, March 15.  For more information please contact my assistant Amy Fifer at (217) 524-9651.


Legislation Update – March 19

The General Assembly is in recess until March 23.


On March 22, the day before the legislature reconvenes, there will be another hearing concerning Senate Bill 3000, the proposal to create a new Department of Education under the direct control of the Governor.  The hearing will be held in the auditorium of York Community High School, in Elmhurst, starting at 3:30 p.m.   Unlike the rare Senate Committee of the Whole held earlier this month, this hearing will be before the eleven-member Senate Education Committee.


The House Elementary & Secondary Education Committee has scheduled a hearing on March 24 at 8:30 a.m. in room 114 of the Capitol to take testimony regarding Senate Bill 1074.  The bill, which the Senate passed last April, calls for the creation of an independent Professional Teacher Standards Board consisting of eleven members appointed by the Governor.


It is important for members of the legislature, and the public, to hear the facts about both of these proposals.  Neither plan addresses the critical issues of the day – properly funding our schools and ensuring every child in Illinois is provided a quality education.  As such, I will be at both of these hearings to share the facts.


Opportunity to Comment on Proposed Rulemaking:  Special Reminder

Amendments are currently pending to the State Board’s rules for Public Schools Evaluation, Recognition and Supervision (Part 1) that will have significant effects on the ways in which districts assign their staff beginning July 1 of this year.  The public comment on this set of amendments extends through March 22, and I encourage you to use this opportunity to inform us of any problems or issues you see in this material.


In particular, the rulemaking includes a wording change in Section 1.440 (Additional Criteria for High Schools) that we believed would simply clarify a long-standing requirement.  It has come to our attention that the existing rule may not have been interpreted in the field as it has been meant, so that changing the rule would involve a significant change for some districts after all.  The proposed change is displayed below; please let us know how this amendment would affect your district.


c)         No teacher shall should have more than five different preparations.


The rulemaking encompasses a large amount of additional material implementing the new structure of endorsements that corresponds to the standards adopted over the last several years.  The complete text has been posted under “Proposed Rules and Amendments” on the “Rules” portion of our web site, and we encourage you to review it during the comment period.  As always, comments and suggestions may be e-mailed to  We would greatly appreciate receiving your input.


Notice of Completed Rulemaking

Please be advised that two other rulemaking items recently adopted by the State Board of Education are now in effect.  Both these sets of rules have been posted on the agency’s web site at; choose “Rules Currently in Effect” and scroll to the relevant Part number.  (If you print only the affected Sections, remember to include the table of contents for the Part, which changes every time the Part is amended.)


Standards for Certification in Specific Teaching Fields (Part 27)

This rulemaking removed a provision from Part 27 that was inappropriately included in the standards for Technology Education Teachers when these rules were originally promulgated.  The language that was struck (Section 27.460(k)) described inputs rather than competencies and thus was inconsistent with a standards-based approach.  Further, there was concern in the technology education field that the requirement for 2000 hours of work experience blurred the distinction between certification in vocational areas or trades (based on work experience) with certification to teach exploratory technology education programs.


It should be noted that this set of standards is for a specific credential – Technology Education Teacher – as distinct from the technology standards that are applicable to all teachers and are found in Part 24 of ISBE’s rules (Standards for All Illinois Teachers).  The individuals affected are teachers of exploratory technology courses.


Affected Section:        27.460

Effective Date:           


Pupil Transportation Reimbursement (Part 120)

This rule was developed in response to a problem revealed through a district’s application for a modification of an existing rule through the waiver process.  The rule that was the subject of the request was similar to the requirement for districts that own and operate their own transportation services to prorate their total transportation costs across all categories of transportation services, based on the ratio of miles traveled in each category to total system miles (Section 120.90(d)).  The same approach is used when a district chooses one contractor to provide all of its transportation services and is expressed in Section 120.90(e).


A district petitioned for authorization to treat each category of transportation services separately for the purposes of calculating its reimbursement even though it employs only one contractor to provide both regular and special education transportation.  The district requested that the types of transportation be kept separate because separate, competitive bidding had occurred for each type.  That is, there were two separate contracts, but the procurement process had resulted in issuance of both to the same contractor based on the low bid in each case.


The request could not be approved because waiving that requirement could not result in meeting the intent of the rule (cost containment) more effectively or efficiently, a criterion for approval of the request.  Other factors related to the effect on other districts also played a part in the agency’s denial of the request.


However, the Board and the staff accepted the premise behind the district’s request and determined that the rule should be revised to accommodate the situation that had been brought to light.  The revised rule now delineates the ability to treat categories separately even when there is a single contractor, provided that each contract is let based on the lowest bid among at least two.


Affected Section:        120.90

Effective Date:           


Student Information System Update

The Agency is now finalizing its procurement process to name a vendor to build and implement a statewide Student Information System (SIS).  The contractual process should be finalized sometime within the next month.  Throughout the development of SIS, the Agency plans to work closely with local school districts and vendors of School Administrative Packages (SAPs).  The goal is to conduct a SIS pilot in the spring of the 2004-2005 school year using unique student identifiers to transfer data back and forth between the Agency and local schools and implement the unique identifiers statewide during the 2005-2006 school year for assessment tests.  This system will help local schools and the state make important data-driven decisions about ways to improve student achievement and meet the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act.


Illinois Assessment Frameworks for Grade 11 now posted on website

ISBE is pleased to announce that the Illinois Assessment Frameworks for grade 11 are now posted on the ISBE Web site at  These frameworks focus on mathematics, reading, writing, science, and social science and provide another level of specificity linked to the State Goals for Learning.


The framework for each subject consists of a set of assessment objectives that are clear, concise statements of the knowledge and skills students are expected to demonstrate on the Prairie State Achievement Examination.  The assessment objectives for science, writing, and social science form the specifications for assessments starting in spring 2006.  The assessment objectives for reading and mathematics are based on the ACT AssessmentÒ and WorkKeysÒ tests that are used currently to assess these two subjects.  The writing and science frameworks also contain some references to the ACT Assessments in these subject areas.


Announcement of E-Grants Trainings

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has scheduled eight training dates and locations throughout the state for the new E-Grant Management System (eGMS).  There will be no fee for participating, however registration is required.  Electronic registration and additional details regarding the training sites can be accessed through our new eGMS web page at  ISBE will release its first grant application through (eGMS) this spring.  Districts will submit the FY05 No Child Left Behind (NCLB) consolidated application for the following grants:

·         Title I, Part A, Improving the Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged

·         Title II, Part A, Teacher Quality

·         Title II, Part D, Enhancing Education Through Technology (formula grant)

·         Title IV, Part A, Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities

·         Title V, Part A, Innovative Programs

Districts will use ISBE’s Web Application Security System (IWAS) to access eGMS and submit the NCLB consolidated application via the Internet.  The system will significantly reduce grant preparation time for districts, improve data quality and communications, standardize ISBE grant applications, and improve efficiency of the grant review and approval process.  Questions about the workshops can be directed via email to


Occupational and Physical Therapy in Illinois Schools

A new publication, “Recommended Practices for Occupational And Physical Therapy In Illinois Schools,” has been developed.  The purpose of this document is to present administrators, occupational and/or physical therapy personnel, educators, other professionals, and parents, with information regarding the provision of occupational and/or physical therapy in educational environments.  This document is intended to serve as guidance so that each Local Educational Agency (LEA) employing therapists can establish or update their own procedures for providing these support services to students.   Included is a statute review, an explanation of the differences between IDEA and Section 504, an overview of OT/PT as a related service, factors in the determination of the need for therapy, the provision of OT/PT in the education setting, and administrative considerations.  This document may be downloaded from our website at


Enrollments on First Day of Testing to be Collected Electronically This Year

Early next week, all superintendents will be receiving notification letters about the new electronic data collection and reporting system ISBE will be using this spring to collect the districts’ and schools’ enrollments on the first day of testing.  This will be collected using the Pearson SchoolHouse system.  Enrollment numbers can either be entered by the district office or the superintendent can give each principal a password to enter his/her school’s data.  Either way, by May 21st each superintendent must authorize the final submission of all of the district and school enrollment figures.  Secure passwords for your district and schools are included in next week’s letters.  A user guide at provides instructions on using this system and should be studied carefully.


The main advantage of this system is that it has many checkpoints built into it.  For example, it will not let you submit your data if the school’s numbers do not add up to the district totals or if you have omitted your IEP or low income students.  This should help to ensure accurate collection of data this year.  ISBE will also be reporting data back to the districts electronically later this year.  If there are any questions about this system please contact


Guidance for Districts with Schools Identified for Corrective Action as Required by NCLB

As a result of not having made AYP for four consecutive years, some schools in Illinois must now be identified by their districts and by ISBE as requiring Corrective Action. Now that the federal government has issued basic, non-regulatory guidance on the subject, ISBE has prepared a document that will help those districts which have schools requiring Corrective Action to select the best of six available options. These options are detailed in the document. The document can be accessed on the ISBE website by selecting "New Guidance on Corrective Action" under Hot Topics.


Business Community Shows Support for CTE

One hundred and thirty-five Illinois employers and agencies have signed resolutions that endorse career and technical education (CTE).  They joined almost 5000 businesses across the nation expressing strong support of CTE and the need for the federal government to continue its investment in this system through Perkins funding.  The campaign was initiated by the National Association of State of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEC) as a way to gauge the support of the business community of CTE and its important role in the nation’s economic development.


The results of this campaign, accompanied by the alphabetical listing of companies that supported the resolution and aggregated company profile information, will be unveiled at a Media Briefing on March 17 at the National Press Club.  Panelists will explain the value the business community places on the nation’s career and technical education system.


National Youth Science Camp Application Announcement

The National Youth Science Camp has opened the application period for attending this summer's adventure.  The National Youth Science Camp is a four week long, all-expense paid program that will take place between June 24 and .  Scientists from across the nation who work on some of the most provocative topics in science today present lectures and hands-on science seminars and linger to interact informally with student delegates. Delegates are challenged to explore new areas in the biological and physical sciences, art, and music with resident staff members.  They also may present seminars covering their own areas of interest and research.  The delegates visit Washington D.C. to take advantage of some of the nation's premier scientific, governmental, and cultural facilities.  The four week experience includes three overnight expeditions into the Monongahela National Forest featuring backpacking, rock-climbing, caving, mountain biking, or kayaking opportunities.  Delegates are required to participate in the camp program for its entirety as the fast-paced activities in the remote location make coming and going very difficult.


Please recommend this program to seniors who could be interested.  More information about the program can be accessed at  Applications are due April 14.  (Please note that this date is extended from the national due date.)  Please contact Gwen Pollock at for electronic copies of the application materials.  If you need hard copies of the materials, please call 217/557-7323 for assistance.


Migrant Education Summer Programs Application Due

Applications for Migrant Education Summer Programs for FY 04 were due by .  Please submit your proposal ASAP.  Applications are available in our office.  Please contact us at 312/814-3850.


Foreign Exchange Teachers Recruitment

Recruitment of Foreign Exchange Teachers is scheduled to take place in Madrid, Spain the week of .  School districts wishing to participate should contact our agency as soon as possible at 312/814-3850.