Sent: Friday, March 05, 2004 5:00 PM
Subject: Weekly Message from State Superintendent Robert Schiller 3-5-04
Good afternoon,


This week Senate Bill 3000, the legislation that would create a Department of Education under the Governor’s purview, was the subject of a rare Committee of the Whole in the Senate. Testimony lasted about seven hours as dozens of witnesses, including ISBE Chairwoman Janet Steiner, board member Greg Kazarian and myself, testified about the ramifications of losing an independent board.


The bill was not voted on. Senator Miguel Del Valle, the Senate Education Committee chairman has pledged to have two more committee hearings, one in the Chicago suburbs and another downstate. While the passage of this bill may greatly change the face of state education administration, it doesn’t stop the current demands upon us.


Many of you are well aware of ISBE’s role to ensure compliance of state and federal rules, and also distribute funds. We don’t often talk about the programs that don’t involve assessment or auditing. But before I jump ahead I do want to make you aware of an important item in this week’s message regarding streamlining some paperwork in our Funding and Disbursements division. Upon review, we have found several areas that do not require quarterly reports, and these will no longer need to be submitted.


Aside from that I would like to take this opportunity to highlight two programs this week that recognize our best teachers and young writers, both of which are celebrating their 30th anniversaries this year.


Those Who Excel is our teacher recognition program that honors people who have made outstanding contributions to public and nonpublic elementary and secondary education. The program also, through the contributions of our selection committee made up of representatives of teachers and education organizations, selects our Teacher of the Year. We have just wrapped up interviews with the 12 finalists for the Teacher of the Year award, and I would like to introduce you to them:

            Lana Jean Baker of Plano High School in Plano;

            Shaun Carey from Seymour Jr/Sr High School in Payson;

            Christine Corpus of University High School in Normal;

            Eric Curry from O’Fallon Township High School in O’Fallon;

            Jane Frailey from Hononegah Community High School in Rockton;

            Sarah Greer of J.B. Johnson Elementary School in Alton;

            Anna Kraftson-Hogue from Queen of Peace High School in Burbank;

            Christine Kelly of Adlai E. Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire;

            Judy Murphy from Olson Park Elementary School in Machesney Park;

            Deborah Perryman of Elgin High School in Elgin;

            Pam Rathke from Ridgeview Jr/Sr High School in Colfax; and

            Betty Waldhauser of Pawnee High School in Pawnee.


The 2005 Illinois Teacher of the Year will be announced at the Those Who Excel banquet on April 17 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Springfield.


Also celebrating its 30th anniversary is the Young Authors conference, where we recognize our future Bestsellers as these aspiring writers come together to celebrate the art of verse.


Each year, over 2,000 students, volunteers and family members meet at Illinois State University to participate in Illinois ’ Statewide Young Authors Conference. ISBE is honored to be part of this event which is cosponsored by the Illinois Language and Literacy Council. I know that many of you are already holding competitions to select the students in Kindergarten through Grade 8 who will participate in the conference. Over 3,000 informational packets have been sent to schools, and the conference guidelines have been made available on the homepage of the ISBE website at The conference will be held on Saturday, May 15 with registration due by April 9.


Further information on both of these programs can be obtained by contacting our Communications division at (217) 782-4648.


Robert Schiller

State Superintendent

  of Education


Other important items in this week’s message include:


Legislative Update

As I mentioned, education was placed top on the agenda in the legislature last week. I welcome any debate concerning the welfare of our schools and ultimately our children – even if that debate concerns the current governance structure.


The Senate Committee of the Whole offered by the Senate President, Emil Jones, and the Chairman of the Senate Education Committee, Miguel del Valle, provided for a good public discussion of the SB 3000. I believe many Senators are skeptical about the proposal in its current form as evidenced by the recent announcement of the Senate Black Caucus whose members are raising serious questions.


Also on Wednesday, the following bills advanced out of the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee:


HB 3942 would require school boards to publish each school’s lunch menu and the nutrition content, including calories, of each meal item. It also would require comprehensive health education programs to include instruction on clinical depression and suicide prevention.


HB 3970 which limits PE waivers to a two year non-renewable waiver.


HB 3974 which prohibits the sale of soft drinks and candy via vending machines to students.


HB 3979 provides that if a pupil is suspended for one or more school days, then, for that period of suspension, the pupil's parent or guardian may place the pupil in a community-based education program approved by the State Board of Education


HB 4167 requires pupils to engage in daily courses of physical education for periods that are commensurate with their other courses of study, but does allow school boards to excuse pupils in grades 9 through 12 if that time is spent for special education support and services.


HB 4265 provides for a tax equivalent grant for the city of Springfield to recoup lost property taxes for state-owned buildings.


HB 4266 would increase the foundation level by $250.


HB 4522 would repeal the provisions placed into the school aid formula last year that requires the poverty grant to be prorated is the GSA appropriation is not sufficient to cover the cost of the formula.


HB 5041 is the Governor’s proposal to require students to perform community service.


HB 6714 would require that all school districts establish a school bus idling policy that includes having parked school buses at least 100 feet from a school air intake system.


Other actions taken in the legislature this week include the Senate’s passage of SB2362 which, if enacted, will ensure the recent tax amnesty funds received by many school districts will not be included in calculation of available local resources.


The following bills also advanced to third reading in the House:


HB4944 calls for the State Board to establish a three-year technology immersion pilot project that would provide a wireless laptop computer to each student, teacher, and relevant administrator, in the participating pilot schools.


HB6813 would allow the parents of special education students who prevail in a due process hearing to recover attorney fees and expert witness fees.


The legislative session will resume on March 23.


Updated Information Regarding the 2004 Assessment of English Language Learners

Information submitted to USDE in the accountability workbook for Illinois as revised February 2004: For 2004, based on February 2004 guidance from USDE, LEP students new to the United States will have different accountability rules applied than was the case in 2003. This is being done by the USDE, to have a fairer role in assessing such students’ content knowledge in reading/language arts in their first year of enrollment in a U.S. public school. This will now allow LEP students, during their first year of enrollment in U.S. schools to have the option of taking the reading content assessment. All LEP students regardless of years in the program must take the English language proficiency assessment. They would take the mathematics assessment, with accommodations as appropriate. States may, but would not be required to, include results from the mathematics and, if given, the reading content assessments in AYP calculations under NCLB. This new policy by USDE is intended to ensure that states and schools continue to get the assessment information they need to target their efforts and help all children get to grade level in reading and math.


Clarifying information from ISBE on this topic: Illinois believes that scoring at the proficient level, although for three consecutive years rather than the two years indicated in Federal information from Secretary Paige, is evidence that students have overcome difficulties in listening, speaking, reading, writing, or understanding the English language. The additional years would be applicable for both Title I as well as Title III purposes; however, full implementation of this three-year tracking system will not be realized until the statewide student identification system currently under development is in place. Full implementation of this system is anticipated in conjunction with the enhanced assessment system in 2006, at which time all grade levels will be tested (3-8 and 11). In the interim, we will make every effort to include students in the LEP subgroup for two years following transition from the program. This rationale is supported in the February 2004 USDE guidance on this topic.


How all this will be implemented in Illinois -- Students new to the U.S.:  School districts can exempt first year LEP students new to the U.S. from taking the Reading Assessment (IMAGE or ISAT), by using the following process. In FY04, schools should submit an answer document for each of these students. By June, school districts will receive a student roster, listing all students assessed in FY04, at which time the newly arrived students can be coded. These students will not be counted for performance AYP but will be included in the calculations of AYP participation rates.


Including former LEP students in the LEP subgroup:  For any student who has transitioned out of state approved TBE/TPI programs either one or two years ago, the field entitled “Years Since Student Exited the TBE/PI Program” must be indicated on the pre-ID label or by filling in the correct bubble on the answer document. Scores for students who have this field coded, will automatically become part of the LEP subgroup for AYP.


New Pupil Transportation Inquiry System

A new inquiry system is now available for local education agencies and the general public to view pupil transportation information submitted to ISBE such as claims, depreciation schedules, reimbursement and annual statistical data from FY 2003 and forward. The inquiry system can be accessed at and can also be reached by clicking on “School Finance” on the ISBE Home Page. The inquiry system is located under the Electronic Financial Services heading. Questions regarding this new inquiry system can be directed to Jan Reische, Division of Funding and Disbursement Services at 217-782-5256.


Elimination of Some State Expenditure Reports

Recently there has been discussion on the number of forms (e.g. Expenditure Reports) that local education agencies must complete and submit to the State Board. An administrative decision has been reached to eliminate all quarterly expenditure reports effective immediately on STATE programs except for Summer Bridges (Extended Learning Opportunities in FY 2005), Regional Safe Schools and Early Childhood. These programs are exempt because we are working in cooperation with the Governors Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the state Department of Human Services (DHS) to claim various allowable state education expenditures under the federal Temporary Assistance to Needy Families Program (TANF). The state Bilingual program is exempt due to statutory requirements in the School Code; in addition, there may also be exceptions for some unique state appropriation grants that require greater financial accountability. We will still require end of year expenditure reports for all grant programs. This decision does not impact federal programs due to cash management requirements per federal rule. Questions can be directed to staff in the Division of Funding and Disbursement Services, 217-782-5256.


Certification Updates

Certificate Renewal and Moving from Initial to Standard Certification

Updated information about the requirements, options and procedures for certificate renewal and moving from Initial to Standard certification is now available at A home page hot topic called “Updated Certification Information” will connect you to a page with links to each of these topics.  Please read this information carefully and share it with your staff.


Professional Development Providers

An email reminder was recently sent to all professional development providers whose original approval is scheduled to expire July 1, 2004. If your approval ends this summer, we urge you to access the PDP system and choose the option to either “Renew your application” or “Withdraw your application” on the “Renewal Application” screen.


Another New Use for OTIS

Beginning Monday, March 8, teachers and administrators will be able to apply for duplicate certificates through the Online Teacher Information System (OTIS) and to pay their fee by credit card. Access to OTIS is available at


Illinois Mathematics and Science Partnerships Grants Awarded

The first round of grants for the Illinois Mathematics and Science Partnerships (IMSP) program have been released.


The discretionary grants offer additional training to teachers to enhance their content knowledge and skills in both math and science. The initial recipients reflect partnerships between regional offices of education, public school districts, universities and national science laboratories. The learned teaching methods are intended to drive student achievement in those two core areas.


The competitive grants will require participants to attend two-week institutes this summer and four follow-up sessions during the 2004-2005 school year. Participating teachers will become part of a statewide research team that will test their newly acquired skills in their classrooms. Teachers will be asked to evaluate their new teaching methods and report their successes and/or suggestions for refinement.


The grants are federally funded through Title II, Part B of the No Child Left Behind Act. Illinois’s appropriation for 2004 is slightly more than $3,200,000 with approximately $5,200,000 anticipated for the next cycle of grants. The release for the new Request for Proposals is tentatively scheduled for early August. For a list of the ten coordinating offices and their partnerships please visit our website at


2004-2005 Official Public School Calendars

The Official Public School Calendar is currently in the final testing stages for deployment via the Illinois State Board of Education Web Application Security system (IWAS). All 2004-2005 Official Public School Calendars will be required to be transmitted through this system when it becomes available in the next few weeks. However, an Excel version of the calendar is being made available in the interim at Please note that this should only be used as a working document for planning purposes and should not be transmitted to ISBE as an email attachment. We will notify you very soon when the IWAS version of the Official Public School Calendar is available. If you have any questions please contact Randy Johnson, Division of Funding and Disbursement Services at 217-782-5256.


Drivers Education Work Zone Awareness Program

The Illinois Department of Transportation, in conjunction with the American Traffic Safety Services Association and the Virginia Department of Transportation, has developed a Drivers Education Work Zone Awareness Program.


The program consists of a 90-minute presentation including a CD-ROM with a PowerPoint presentation, handout materials, the Pact-student agreement and completion certificate.  For more details, please see the press release located at


Illinois Arts Education Week

March is Arts Month in many states across the country. The Illinois Art Education Association sponsors Youth Art Month during the month of March. The week of March 8-14, 2004, is the 22nd annual Illinois Arts Education Week. A poster sponsored by the Illinois State Board of Education and the Illinois Alliance for Arts Education is on its way to all public and nonpublic schools. The back of the poster contains references to the Illinois Learning Goals and Standards for the Fine Arts as well as suggested resources, activities and celebrations. This is a great time to plan family arts events, hold student performances and exhibitions, and advocate for arts education.


A proclamation promoting Illinois Arts Education Week will be available to be downloaded from our website at next week. A smaller version of the poster and other additional information will also be linked on our website on the Curriculum and Instruction homepage.