Sent: Friday, August 06, 2004 12:41 PM
Subject: Weekly Message from State Superintendent Robert Schiller 8-6-04
Good afternoon,


It seems that summer never really arrived in Springfield, with the extended special session(s) of the General Assembly wrapping up last week; we now have the start of the school year right around the corner.


Last week I shared with you the year-to-year comparison of the funding for elementary and secondary education. If you haven’t seen the breakout please visit our budget page on the Illinois State Board of Education web site at


I believe the 2004 legislative session proved to be a significant one for education not only because of Senate Bill 3000 but also because of the other more substantive legislation that passed. Our Governmental Affairs division has done a Legislative wrap-up of the session, which can be found at (


In the wake of the General Assembly’s exit, there have been a few new stories that I would like to comment on.


This week began with an article that was moved on the newswire and carried statewide regarding Senate Bill 1553 and the changes to the teacher certification process in Illinois. I want each of you to know that we neither see this bill as watering down our standards nor providing less oversight for teachers. We have responded to the article and will share that with you next week through our news clips, which are provided at the end of the weekly message.


Also this week, Governor Rod Blagojevich signed legislation that increases the compulsory attendance age. There was a news article that included a broad overview of the legislation, but even better was an article by the Chicago Tribune, but it failed to run in the downstate edition of the paper. The point made in the Tribune story that our legal staff researched was this: the last time the compulsory attendance age changed was July 1, 1907 when it was increased from 14 to 16-years-old. It has been nearly a century since we have made a change to the compulsory attendance age! The change is a result of Senator Miguel del Valle and several others members of the General Assembly who held hearings last year to address the dropout issue, during which I was asked how can we stem the tide? I responded, for starters increase the compulsory attendance age and second provide those students, who do not want to be in school, alternative pathways to obtaining an education. I have used this weekly message previously to express my concern about the dropout problem, and I believe that this progressive legislation which is now law will definitely help us keep these students in school.


Another issue that had generated a lot of press has been the $6.3 million budget cut to the ISBE budget in the area of assessment. ISBE is barred from assessing students beyond the subject areas required under the No Child Left Behind Act. NCLB currently includes Reading and Math, with Science becoming a required subject area to be assessed in 2006. This change is effective immediately. Therefore the 2005 State Assessments will NOT include the writing and social science assessments. We have received many questions from the field regarding this cut, and all that I can say is this, we were asked for the amount of money needed to assess only NCLB required subjects, and we turned over the $6.3 million figure while stating our position that the cut would be shortsighted and that we were opposed to it.


Last week we shared with you the aggregate assessment information, which at first glance we have a lot to be proud of, especially when we focus on the narrowing of the achievement gap. The news coverage was generally positive and it should be. However, because of the assessment cuts, I remain cautiously optimistic that our students will be spending the proper amount of time on subject areas that will NO longer be subject to state assessment.


We also released an area of our website where schools, which participated in the 2003 data verification process, can review their updated AYP Page from their School Report Card. While I was very pleased at the number of schools that saw their AYP status change for the better, I was also saddened that we still had schools that did not correct all of their data and therefore still failed to make AYP. Last year was a tough one, it being the first year that we were held accountable for test participation in the students’ subgroups, and all of us can admit that there were a lot of growing pains.


Let’s not revisit last year, unless we take the hard lessons that were learned with us. Below you will see a lot of important information about the current correction window for administrators and deadlines for School Report Card information. None of us need a second year; where people stay focused on AYP, let’s keep them focused on the strides and improvements that we are making, as the preliminary aggregate assessment data illustrated this week.


Also included in today’s message:


SB 2349 – Impact on General State Aid

Public Act 93-0845 was signed into law on July 30, 2004, which changes the methodology for computing General State Aid with regard to certain adjustments to equalized assessed valuation changes (e.g. PTAB).  Due to the timing and impact of this new law for General State Aid, we will only calculate and load the August scheduled payments until the necessary programming changes can be implemented.  The August payments can be reviewed by all districts next week via the Financial Reimbursement Information System Inquiry (FRIS).  Final scheduled payments for FY 2005 will be loaded in the inquiry system when they are calculated.  If you have any questions regarding this issue, please contact Jim Mathes at 217-782-5256 or via email at


HB 4225 Status – Special Education Extraordinary

As of today a decision on HB 4225, which changes the distribution method for Special Education Extraordinary funding, has not been made by the Governor.  Due to the current August 15 statutory date for filing Special Education Pupil claims, we have reminded staff in the Governor’s office of the importance of making a decision on this bill.  In the interim you are advised to prepare your 2003-2004 Special Education Extraordinary claims as normal and transmit by the statutory deadline (August 15th).


Adequate Yearly Progress Calculations

Under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, states are required to make annual Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) determinations. Recently, Secretary of Education Rod Paige provided additional flexibility to states in certain provisions related to calculating AYP.  In order to apply the provisions, amendments to the Illinois accountability plan were submitted to U.S. Department of Education.  One amendment to the accountability plan includes averaging two-or-three years of assessment participation rates to meet the minimum of 95% tested. Another amendment addresses how Title I schools are identified for school improvement status. The amendments to the plan were approved in June 2004 and will be implemented during the 2004 calculations of AYP. 


In response to the new provisions for calculating participation rates, Illinois will implement the following approach: Participation rates are calculated by dividing the number of students tested (numerator) by the student enrollment on the first day of testing in the tested grades (denominator) multiplied by 100. Beginning in 2004, participation rates will be calculated first for the current year. If a school or district fails to have 95% of the students participating in the state assessments, the participation rates for the current year and the previous year will be averaged. If a school or district still does not meet the 95% threshold, then the current year will be averaged with the last two years. If the school or district still does not meet the 95% threshold, then they do not make AYP for the participation rate.


Changes in how schools are identified for school improvement status were also approved by USDE. Previously, a school or district that did not make AYP for two consecutive years, regardless of subject area, were identified as in need of school improvement. The approved amendment to the accountability plan classifies a Title I school or district that fails to make AYP for two consecutive years in the same content area (reading and mathematics) as being in need of improvement.


There are three conditions for making AYP and a school or district must meet ALL three of the requirements.


1.   Achieve At Least A 95% Participation Rate In State Assessments For Reading And Mathematics For The All Group And Subgroups (Subgroups include the following categories: American Indian, Asian, Black, Hispanic, White, Multiracial/ethnic, IEP, LEP, and Low Income).


2.   Reach The Meeting And Exceeding Performance Targets For The All Group (40% For 2004) And All Subgroups (37% For 2004) In Reading And Mathematics.


3.   Reach The Targets For One Other Indicator:

            Attendance rate for elementary and middle schools (89% in 2004)

            Graduation rate for high schools (66% in 2004).


(Note: When Calculating Unit District AYP, Both Attendance And Graduation Rates Are Included.)


REMINDER:  Report Card Data Due by August 16, 2004.

The school report card data collection form (ISBE 86-43) is available online via IWAS.  Please enter, verify and approve all the data for your school(s) by the due date which is August 16, 2004.  All data, including those related to educator characteristics need to be approved by the district superintendent as a final step in this process.  If you have any questions, please call 217/558-3600.


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):


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.


Changes in Local Professional Development Committees

Public Act 93-679 went into effect June 30, 2004, changing the requirements for certificate renewal.  Local Professional Development Committees (LPDCs) are no longer required.  The decision to maintain or change LPDCs must be made by each district, charter school, cooperative or joint agreement in conjunction with its exclusive representative, if any.  After consulting with the exclusive representative, if any, you must notify your Regional Office of Education (ROE) of the decision to:  1) eliminate; 2) change the membership or structure; or 3) keep the LPDC the same.


Please use your administrator login and password to access CeRTS: for Administrators.  Choose the new menu item “View/Change LPDC Information.”  Then, for each LPDC in your district click on, “Accept LPDC List” if no changes are made; “Add New” if you choose a new LPDC; or “Update/Delete” to change membership or eliminate an LPDC.  You Must Do This By August 31, 2004. 


If you have any questions or need assistance using CeRTS for Administrators, contact Rajesh Iyer at or 217/558-3674.


Thank you for your assistance in the Certificate Renewal process.  Overviews of the changes in legislation are available at the ISBE website:


Student Information System Survey

You may recall that ISBE approved the development of the student information system last month.


One of our initial activities will be distributing a short survey to all public school district superintendents. The purpose of the survey is to identify the type of student information system, if any, that your school district is using or by what means your district is managing its student information. We are also seeking districts that would be willing to participate as pilot districts during our testing phase.


This survey is an initial step in the design process of the student information system. A critical component of the new system will be the means by which we send and receive student information from school districts. The information we are requesting will allow us to better design those interfaces.


Thank you and we look forward to working with you on this important survey in the future.


Reading Improvement Block Grant Allocations

The FY05 Reading Improvement Block Grant award letter containing each district's final allocation amount will be mailed to districts on August 13.  The letter will explain the procedure for submission of a revised budget reflecting the reduced allocation.  Any district whose grant application needs clarification or correction will be advised of this when they receive notification of their final allocation amount.


Canine Associates International

Canine Associates International (CAI) offers the Safer Schools Program to administrators who want to assure students and the community they are fulfilling the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) requirements.  The CAI program is designed to prevent the use of illicit drugs, alcohol, and guns by young people and foster a safe and drug-free learning environment that supports academic achievement.


CAI provides certified, reliable detection canines that are non-aggressive, friendly, and approachable.


NCLB Challenge: All children need a safe environment in which to learn and achieve. Too many schools in America remain unsafe; too many teachers are threatened by violence; and, too many children fear for their safety.


NCLB Solution: Ensure a safe and orderly school by implementing programs that protect students and teachers, encourage discipline and personal responsibility and combat illegal drugs.


NCLB-approved programs must meet the following requirements:


How CAI fulfills NCLB requirements:


CAI offers the following Canine Detection Services: