Sent: Friday, April 30, 2004 5:24 PM
Subject: Weekly Message from State Superintendent Robert Schiller 4-30-04
Good afternoon,


We can go through our entire life aspiring to be better people, hoping that our actions reflect our true morals and beliefs, wanting people to know that our concerns are genuine and hanging on to the belief that what we do today will someday improve the world around us. Rarely, however, do we meet a person who embodies all of those characteristics. Senator Vince Demuzio did, and his legacy does and will always reflect that.


Being a politician can wear on some people. It can break them down and destroy the reasons for which they first entered the public life. But Vince was grounded. There was always consistency in his beliefs because there was no compromising of his integrity.


When I came to Illinois, there were many people who thought that the State Superintendent of Schools should not be appointed before the next governor was elected. Vince was one of those people. The decision was made contrary to his position. Some people may think that because of that Vince and I would have started off on the wrong foot, but Vince’s good will toward others did not let that occur.


Shortly after I arrived in Springfield, Vince invited my wife, Lucille, and I to his home in Carlinville. We visited his beloved city, including the schools, and Blackburn College. We met his family and spent a warm day in August initiating a strong friendship that politics could not mar.


I can not sufficiently articulate the value of that day, or the relationship that followed. The political insight that I gained from Vince has helped me immensely through my tenure here, but while remarkably important to me, it was less significant than the respect that I gained for the man. Vince Demuzio had a heart unlike others. His family was his greatest priority and everything else was borne from that. Vince’s passion to improve education and his desire for fair representation for every community in Illinois were integral components of his character.


Even over the course of the past few months, we have spoken several times, trying to find a way, some type of compromise that would do one thing important to all of us – improve education.


As I said previously, rarely do we get to meet such people of strong character in our lives. I have reflected often upon the reception that he gave me. This week I have recollected much and am eternally grateful that I had the opportunity to know such a fine man and that this state benefited from the fruits of his labor.


Unbeknownst to many, Vince Demuzio has improved the lives of children in every part of this state. His reputation preceded him and it is my great hope that his passion for a better Illinois lives on. My sincere condolences go out to his wife Deanna, his son, Brad and daughter, Stephanie.


We were lucky to have him.


Robert Schiller

State Superintendent

  of Education



Included in today’s message:


PRIORITY Processing of Applications for Certificates and Endorsements

The Certification and Professional Development Department has adopted a special procedure designed to help districts and candidates fill positions and find employment this spring.  This procedure will result in priority processing of already-submitted applications for certification and endorsements.


Eligibility for priority processing: An application qualifies for priority processing if two conditions are met:


Process for requesting priority processing: Priority processing may be requested only through a Regional Superintendent (in Chicago, the Human Resource Department of Chicago Public Schools).  A local district or a teacher candidate may request that the ROE (or CPS) send a priority notification to the State Board of Education. The Regional Superintendent will determine the validity of the request (particularly for candidates seeking a job) and then submit the request to the State Board with a notation that explains why priority handling is necessary. ISBE staff will process priority applications within five working days.


Note:  Applicants should contact their ROE for information about their application.  Applicants should NOT visit ISBE’s Springfield office, since the Certification Department does not have sufficient staff to assist applicants in person.


New Guidelines on Alternate Assessment

New guidelines for participation in state developed Alternate Assessment are available through the Special Ed section on the website or the Alternate Assessment section.  December 9, 2003, the U.S. Department of Education released final regulations promoting the participation of every child in state and district-wide assessments, a requirement in existence since the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 1997.


For more information go to:

Forms are available at:

Instructions are available at: http://


Legislative Update

Last week, several business organizations presented an alternative proposal to the Governor’s plan to create a Department of Education.  Members of the Business Roundtable, Illinois Chamber of Commerce, and the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago, outlined for the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee their idea of legislatively terminating the current members of the State Board of Education and allowing the Governor to reappoint his own choices.


The House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee has also scheduled two hearings this week.  On May 4, the committee will take testimony on the consolidation of local functions, including school construction oversight by the Capitol Development Board, the pooling of employee benefits, and the purchasing of school supplies.  On May 5, the committee will convene to discuss the proposed restructuring of the State Board of Education.


The Senate Education Committee approved an amended version of HB4522 that would extend the 100% hold harmless for one year for those school districts that will see a decrease in their poverty grant (current law would drop the hold harmless to 66% for next fiscal year).  The bill would eliminate the current provision of the School Code that provides for any appropriation shortfall in General State Aid to be taken against the poverty component (supplemental GSA) and not the foundation GSA.


The House Revenue Committee passed SB2112, a measure similar to HB850 which was recently passed by the Senate.  SB2112 would increase the maximum for the general homestead exemption and the senior homestead exemption.  It would also allow counties to adopt an alternative general homestead exemption for property taxes which would cap property tax assessments at seven percent annually for residences.   For non tax-cap districts, all of these exemptions would result in less property tax revenue.  The alternative exemption would also cause problems in the General State Aid formula for all school districts in any county that opts in.


Several education-related bills have now passed both chambers and will be forwarded to the Governor.  I am pleased to report that one of the measures that passed was HB4266 which, if signed by the Governor, will assure school districts will receive $250 per-pupil increase in the foundation level (from $4,810 to $5,060).  For a breakout of the local impact by county, please see document at:


The other bills that have been passed by both houses include:


SB1550 Creates the Grow Our Own Teacher Education Act. Establishes, subject to appropriation, the Grow Our Own Teacher Education Initiative to prepare highly skilled, committed teachers who will teach in hard-to-staff schools and hard-to-staff positions and who will remain in these schools for substantial periods of time.


SB2115 sets the conditions under which a student may be denied enrollment into school for one semester for failing to meet minimum academic or attendance standards if certain conditions are met.  It also requires a district to identify, track, and report on the educational progress and outcomes of reenrolled students.


SB1271 will, if approved by the Governor, restore the $1.5 million appropriation to ISBE from the Teacher Certificate Fee Revolving Fund for the current fiscal year.  Last year the appropriation for teacher certification was reduced by Governor Blagojevich to only $375,000, resulting in dramatic cuts in ISBE staff that process teacher certifications. 


English Language Updates

Upcoming Events:


Don’t Forget to Submit Your Enrollment Data!

The deadline is fast approaching to have your “enrollments on the first day of testing data” submitted via the SchoolHouse™ electronic data collection system (May 21st).  Since the first day of testing has now passed for all of the state assessments, all districts should be able to enter and submit their enrollment figures.  Please be certain to communicate to the appropriate staff that these numbers should reflect ALL students enrolled on the first day of testing—regardless of which assessment the students may, or may not have, participated in. 


Both Pearson and the State Board are receiving many phone calls from schools and districts believing they should indicate the number of students only taking ISAT, IMAGE, or PSAE.  However, to clarify this, please remember that the numbers you are supposed to enter are your actual enrollments on the first day of testing, not necessarily the numbers of students you actually tested.


Collecting your enrollment data electronically this year using this innovative system will allow ISBE to calculate preliminary AYP participation rates for all schools by mid-June.  (As a reminder, these enrollment figures will provide the denominators used in calculating your 2004 AYP participation rates.)


Only data authorized by the Superintendents will be used to prepare both the school and district reports.  In the event that no authorized data are submitted, then by default a 0% preliminary AYP participation rate will have to be calculated.  The Superintendent’s user ID and password that were sent to the districts earlier should be used to authorize and submit the enrollment data for all schools in the district.  Instructions for authorizing and submitting this data can be found on page 19 of the user guide, which is posted on the SchoolHouse homepage, after logging in at  If there are any questions about this process, please contact the ISBE Student Assessment Division at 217-782-4823.


Report Card Data Collection

Data for the 2003-04 school/district report cards will again be collected online through IWAS.  There will be a few NCLB-related changes in the data elements to be collected, e.g., new racial/ethnic category for attendance and graduation rates; defining students with disabilities as those with IEPs; and use of the state definition for highly qualified teachers.  For details, a generic hard-copy of the form plus instructions may be reviewed at:


The E-Report Card System for data collection through IWAS will be online in late May



News Clips

You may view this week’s news clips at