Sent: Friday, July 16, 2004 4:18 PM
Subject: Weekly Message from State Superintendent Robert Schiller 7-16-04

Good afternoon,


Today I am pleased to announce the piloting stage for the state’s new Student Information System (SIS).  ISBE approved the three-year project this week that will greatly enhance the data collection process of student information.  At the district level, and for all of us, it should result in more accurate information being collected for the annual report cards.


ISBE, in conjunction with IBM, will develop and implement the tracking system that will help districts to provide more accurate student information for state assessments used for the Report Card.


As some of you may be aware, we have been planning this for several years.  Fortunately, the actual implementation comes at a time when NCLB places a greater challenge on all of us for improved accuracy and accountability.  At the same time all of us involved are well aware of the magnitude of this project.  We are, therefore, committed to maintaining the privacy, confidentiality and security of student information.  Local involvement in all design, development and implementation decisions will be critical to the project’s success.


The contract with IBM over the next three years will cost $5.7 million and will be funded equally through state and federal sources.


The SIS system is yet another step to helping all of us move toward completely electronic and paperless processes. SIS promises to offer several benefits including:

·     Reducing the burden of repeated data collection by schools and districts;

·     Enhancing the use of state data by schools and districts;

·     Improving the accuracy and quality of information gathered from schools and districts;

·     Enable ISBE to respond to the accountability and reporting requirements of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), and other federal and state mandates; and

·     Increase Illinois’ capacity to follow an individual student’s progress over time and conduct longitudinal studies that enable educational leaders to make better data-driven decisions regarding policies.


Phase I of the project (school year 2004 – 2005), will involve two pilot projects with a consortium of selected districts, vendors that support their local student information systems, ISBE Student Assessment staff, and ISBE testing contractors.


One pilot project will focus on:

·     Collecting local student identification numbers and demographic information from pilot districts;

·     Assigning a unique student identifier to each student in each pilot district (this unique identifier will serve as the link between local student information systems and the ISBE SIS);

·     Assisting pilot districts and their local student information vendors to ensure that these systems are able to store the unique state student identifier and to transfer required data to ISBE in specified data formats;

·     Developing a process to allow pilot district administrators to request a unique state student identifier for students entering the district during the year (this process will include probabilistic algorithms to determine whether or not the student already exists in the ISBE SIS, thereby minimizing the assignment of more than one unique student identifier to each student).


The second pilot will involve working with selected districts, ISBE Student Assessment staff, and testing contractors to capture individual student assessment scores for NCLB reporting during the 2005 testing cycle.


Phases II and III will be implemented for the FY06 and FY07 school years.


I want to thank all of you who have been involved in providing input on this or who will be involved in helping us pilot the system.


Robert Schiller

State Superintendent

  of Education


Today’s message includes:

·     2004 Assessment Data Corrections

·     Small Rural School Achievement (SRSA) Program Funds

·     Title Program Performance Reports Deadline Extended

·     Posting/Converting Microsoft Excel FY05 Budget Form to Adobe PDF

·     ISBE at 2004 State Fair

·     Superintendent’s Conference

·     Proposals for “Smaller Learning Communities”

·     Illinois Recognized at High Schools That Work

·     Newsclips


SchoolHouse Update (2004 Assessment Data Corrections)

The first window for verifying 2004 state assessment data on Pearson’s SchoolHouse system closed on Monday, June 28, 2004. By this date, district superintendents were to have reviewed and approved demographic data that were collected on answer documents of tested students and first-day-of-testing enrollment data that were previously entered by districts on SchoolHouse (March 22 - May 21, 2004).


During the second correction window (July 27 - August 21, 2004):

·     District superintendents will review preliminary school and district score reports —for ISAT, PSAE, IMAGE, and IAA—and, if desired, print reports for local use.

·     District superintendents will also be able to review and make any additional corrections to enrollment and student demographic data. ISBE will again mail correction packets to districts with schools that participated in the Grade 2 Assessment of Reading and Mathematics.

·     Any requests from schools or districts to rescore tests for individual students should be made during this period.

·     All district superintendents will be required to re-approve the data whether changes were made or not. This will ensure that the district data (which comprises school data) has been accurately reported before being calculated for AYP.

·     District superintendents should be sure that they have submitted correct data at all levels – including the district level – counting all students in subgroups.


When the second window closes on August 21, 2004, only data that have been approved by the district superintendent in SchoolHouse will be used to produce final score reports and to calculate AYP status. Districts with schools that participated in the Grade 2 Assessment of Reading and Mathematics must return a final approval form.


There will be NO additional opportunities after August 21, 2004, for district superintendents to review and approve their 2004 state assessment data. If you have questions, feel free to contact the Student Assessment Division at 217/782-4823.


Assessment Frameworks Update

The Assessment Frameworks are the blueprints for the state tests that will be designed and administered beginning in 2006.  These frameworks are not intended to be the curriculum guide for districts but instead provide districts with a set of guidelines to what, and when, areas of the Illinois State Standards will be assessed.


The Frameworks were posted last fall in order to move the process along in our test design process. Through this process, however, practitioners have provided input and guidance on the assessment objectives and focus in these documents.  Therefore, the Student Assessment Division is in the process of including this input for the Frameworks in writing, mathematics, and science.  We will put these revised documents on the Web site in the near future for districts use (


We appreciate greatly the input and work that we have received from practitioners around the state in order to provide frameworks that reflect the standards.  Again, if you have questions, please contact the Student Assessment Division at 217/782-4823.


Small Rural School Achievement (SRSA) Program Funds

Notification by letter to approximately 240 Illinois school districts was made this week by ISBE's Federal Grants and Programs Division concerning their eligibility for fiscal year 2004-05 Small Rural School Achievement (SRSA) program funds. The window of opportunity to apply for these funds is very small this year.  Applications must be made to the USDOE by July 30, although the federal government has indicated that they may extend the window in some cases. Please contact Cheryl Ivy at 217/524-4832 if you have any questions.


Title Program Performance Reports Deadline Extended

The deadline for completing the 2002-2003 Title Programs Performance Report has been extended to July 30. If you received any federal Title funds in 2002-2003, please have appropriate staff go into IWAS and complete the report. Title funds for 2004-05 may be frozen if the report is not complete. Call 217/524-4832 if there are any questions.


Posting/Converting Microsoft Excel FY05 Budget Form to Adobe PDF

Since budget time is once again on the minds of school business administrators, this is a reminder that if your school district has a website, in accordance with Section 17-1.2 and Section 34-43a of the School Code, you are required to post your budget on your school district’s website.  To assist you in meeting this requirement, follow the steps below to convert the ISBE 50-36 Budget Form to a .pdf that can easily be posted to your website.  This form can be located on the ISBE website.


Conversion of the Microsoft Excel format school district or joint agreement budget to an Adobe .pdf is now an 8 step process.  While placing your school district or joint agreement budget on your website as a .pdf adheres to statute, also note, you can adhere to Section 17-1.2 and Section 34-43a of the School Code by placing the Excel version of your budget on your website.  There is a free Excel viewer, which would assist your constituents who do not have Excel.


v Note:  Adobe Acrobat .PDF Maker/Writer is required for converting a Microsoft Excel form to Adobe .pdf.  The free Adobe Acrobat Reader is required for viewing a .pdf.


Conversion of your Microsoft Excel budget to Adobe .pdf format can be accomplished by following these steps:


1.   Open the Excel workbook and select all the worksheets – accomplished by selecting the first page, holding down the shift key, and then going to the end of the selection you want and clicking on that worksheet.  The tabs will appear highlighted.

2.   Within Excel, select “File” and “Print”.  Within the “Print” window, select “Adobe PDFWriter” as the “Printer” and click “OK”.

3.   This will prompt you to save the .pdf to your computer.  This is where the process deviates from the norm.  At this first “Save PDF File As” window, create a new folder, named “budget05” and use file name “1”.  Click “save” to start the process.

4.   Your computer will proceed as normal for a moment, and then return to the window which prompts you to save the .pdf.  At this second prompt, use the file name “2”, within the “budget05” folder.

5.   Again, your computer will proceed as normal, but will return to the window requesting a file name.  Continue to number your files in order, “1…2…3…” within the “budget05” folder.  You may go as far as 8.

6.   Once you have created all of your .pdfs, you will want to open “1” in your Adobe PDFWriter software. 

7.   With “1” open, select “Document” and “Insert Pages”.  This will open a window which will allow you to navigate to the “budget05” folder.  At this point, chose “2” and place “2” at the end of “1”.

8.   With “1” and “2” now successfully merged together, go to the end of the now larger “1” and select “Document” and “Insert Pages” and select “3”.  Complete this process until all of the .pdfs have been inserted at the end of “1”.  This has now created a .pdf of all the worksheets of the Excel budget.


Caution:  Depending on the printer settings of your computer, some pages of the Excel budget workbook and subsequent .pdf print on more than 1 page. 


To correct this:

1.   In Excel, select ONLY the page which needs to be re-created. 

2.   Choose “File”, “Page Setup” and within “Scaling”, select “fit to 1 page wide and 1 page tall”.  You can then check to ensure you have successfully reduced the page by choosing “Print Preview”.

3.   At this point, select “Adobe PDFWriter” and when prompted for a file name, use the page number you are re-creating, such as “pg30”. 

4.   Then, when in Adobe PDFWriter, delete the page that is not printing on one page and insert the new page – both deleting and inserting functions are found within the “Document” menu.


If you experience any difficulties and need assistance, contact Sally Cray, School Business and Support Services at 217/785-8779.


Proposals for “Smaller Learning Communities” Due in August

from Chiefline, CCSSO

The Office of Vocational and Adult Education has reopened “The Smaller Learning Communities” competition for new applications. Applicants that were not accepted during the spring competition should use the comments provided to them in order to revise and resubmit their proposals. Over $70 million is available for grants for the 2004-05 school year.

The Smaller Learning Communities Program is a $142 million competitive federal grant program to plan, implement, or expand smaller learning communities in large high schools. Local education agencies (LEAs), on behalf of one or more large high schools (schools that include grades 11 and 12 and enroll at least 1,000 students in grades 9 and above) may apply. These funds can be used for assisting those high schools identified as in need of improvement. 


Proposals are due August 9 and awarded by September. The full notice is in the July 8 issue of the Federal Register.  For more information, contact Tom Houlihan at .


ISBE at Illinois State Fair

ISBE is planning on having a booth at the Illinois State Fair Aug. 13-22.  We will be located within Tech Town.  The theme for our presence will be the Sesquicentennial celebration of public education in Illinois.  We plan to have experts from various departments available different days during the fair as well as our 2004 Illinois Teacher of the Year, Deb Perryman.  Staff from Certification and Data Analysis will also be on hand daily to answer questions from the public and visiting school members.


Details on activities will be forthcoming at a later date.  For now, please plan to stop by and meet our staff!


Illinois School Recognized at High Schools that Work

The 18th Annual High Schools That Work Staff Development Conference was held July 6-9, 2004 in Atlanta, Georgia.  During the conference, Thornton Township High School in Harvey, Illinois was recognized for being the most improved High Schools That Work Site in Illinois.  This was determined based on how the school performed on the High Schools That Work Assessment covering reading, mathematics, and science with pervious year’s assessments.


The conference provides state, district, school and teacher leaders with research-based practices for building a school culture that sets and meets high performance student standards.