Sent: Friday, October 15, 2004 4:57 PM
Subject: Weekly Message from Interim State Superintendent Randy J. Dunn 10-15-04


Good Afternoon.


At this writing, I have just come from a meeting of the Governor’s Education Task Force here in Springfield. That group continues to suggest important and vital ways to improve the work of the State Board of Education. As has been the case each week, a great deal continues to be done at the agency. I am pleased to report we’ve made progress on a number of the agency’s biggest priority areas.


Our certification staff continues to work overtime to process certification applications, and we have made significant headway in eliminating the backlog. Headcount is up in the division, and we have been able to process 2,579 completed applications in the past three weeks. That said, it remains clear that a comprehensive revision of the rules governing certification is necessary if we are going to be able to prevent future backlogs once the current backlog has been cleared.


In addition, by working together we have successfully cut the number of districts with errors on their AYP data significantly. However, some districts still show discrepancies.  ISBE staff members will contact these districts by phone by early next week at the latest to walk them through Schoolhouse and complete this process. While we still have a bit more to do before all of the School Report Card data has been corrected, I’m confident we’ll get there.


At next week’s board meeting we are planning to announce a three-point plan of attack for comprehensively reviewing and streamlining current rules and regulations for school districts. As a reminder, if you have recommendations on this topic, you can share them with the agency at We have also begun meeting regularly with the Illinois Finance Authority to look at programs they have available that can save schools money. Stay tuned—more on these initiatives will be forthcoming.


Randy J. Dunn

State Superintendent of Education (Interim)


Also included in today’s message:



Annual Claim for Pupil Transportation Reimbursement Revisions DUE OCTOBER 29

All entities who submitted a 2003-04 Annual Claim for Pupil Transportation Reimbursement via the Pupil Transportation Claim Reimbursement System in IWAS are hereby notified that the review and amendment (if needed) process will end at close of business on October 29, 2004.  Revisions will not be accepted after October 29, 2004 in order to close the claim file and schedule the three remaining quarterly payments. If you have questions regarding the correction process please contact Cinda Meneghetti at 217/782-5256 or via email at


New Interim Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning makes School Report Card Data a priority

Dr. Ginger Reynolds joined the State Board this week as Interim Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning Services. She completed her doctorate in educational policy at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where she also completed her undergraduate studies. She has extensive experience in education policy and previously served as Policy Associate at Learning Point Associates in Naperville, Illinois.


Dr. Reynolds has placed finalizing School Report Card data at the top of her priorities.  She reports that State Board staff members are calling a small number of schools with remaining data discrepancies. Once that process is complete, School Report Cards will be finalized as quickly as possible.



In the next few days, superintendents of unit and high school districts will be receiving a memo from the Student Assessment Division that will provide guidance for implementing Public Act 93-857 – Prairie State Achievement Examination as a Condition for Graduation for 2004-05 school year.


Please make sure that principals and guidance counselors receive this memo as well.

This guidance will also be posted at If you have any questions, please call Student Assessment at 217-782-4823.


Spring Testing Dates for 2005

The dates, grades and content areas that will be tested in spring of 2005 can be found at The testing sessions for ISAT can be found at


The checklist of dates for 2005 PSAE spring testing can be found on the PSAE Web page ( under Information for PSAE Test Supervisors/Accommodations Coordinators) – please refer to it for critical milestone dates.  The revised School Schedule and Site Options document is also posted there – the link to the off-site request form is included in that document under Option 7.


Notice of Completed Rulemaking

Please be advised that a rulemaking item recently adopted by the State Board of Education is now in effect. This updated set of rules has 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.)


Part 575 (School Technology Program)


P.A. 93-368, effective July 24, 2003, made the following changes to Section 2-3.117a of the School Code that necessitated amendments to these rules:

·         allows charter schools, area vocational centers and university laboratory schools to apply for loans;

·         allows participants to use up to 10 percent of loan proceeds to purchase computer furniture; and

·         requires that rules for the program specify collateral for the loan.


General state aid will be used as collateral in the case of a loan recipient's default on a loan, and the amendments describes the process for the State Board of Education's accessing general state aid when a default occurs.


Affected Sections:      575.100, 575.200, 575.300, 575.400, 575.500, 575.600, and 575.700

Effective Date:            September 17, 2004


National Mock Election – October 28

The National Student/Parent Mock Election is sponsoring a special national election to get students and parents actively involved in the democratic process.


The program promotes teacher and student participation in the National Student/Parent Mock Election set for October 28, 2004. Utilizing the resources provided by the National Student/Parent Mock Election and its partners, American students will vote for President, Senators, Congresspersons and Governor (in states that are having a gubernatorial election). Mock Election voters will also be voting on four national issues: Homeland Security/War on Terror, The Economy, Education and Healthcare. Parents, if they wish, will also be participating in the National Student/Parent Mock Election. Over 40 million people have participated since the project began in 1980.


Educators and parents can enroll at, by mail to the National Student/Parent Mock Election, P.O. Box 36653, Tucson, AZ 85704, or by fax to 520-742-3553. Free curriculum materials, for grades kindergarten through twelve, are also on the Web site. All materials were developed around the National Standards for Civics and Government in hopes to engage students in debates, issues forums, mock press conferences, candidate forums, cable call-in programs and get out the vote campaigns.


Additionally, all state ballots can be downloaded from the National Student/Parent Mock Election Web site on the “How to Vote” page, and on the New Jersey Division of Elections Web site. Teachers who wish to have their students vote individually online will be able to take advantage of e-voting on October 28, 2004. Results will be posted to the New Jersey site throughout the day, and final results will be available after 10.00 PM PDT on October 28, 2004.


Thomas Lay Burroughs Award Nominations

The State Board of Education invites you to nominate your local board president for the Thomas Lay Burroughs Award for the State's Outstanding School Board President.


This award was created in 1991 in memory of the late ISBE chairman and is presented each November at the IASB/IASA/IASBO conference in Chicago. This year, the conference will be held on November 19-21 and the award will be presented Sunday morning, November 21.


Nominations should be submitted to the address listed below by the close of business on Friday, November 5, 2004. You may fax your nomination to 217/785-3972 to meet that deadline, and then follow with a hard copy for receipt after November 5. If you have questions, call Jean Ladage or Alison Harbour at 217/557-6626.


For nomination information and format please go to:


Please nomination materials to:


Jean Ladage

Office of Board Services

State Board of Education

100 North First Street, S-405

Springfield, IL 62777


Those Who Excel Nominations

Recognize the unsung heroes of your school or district! Nomination information and forms for the 2004-05 Those Who Excel program may be accessed at or please call Ann Keran at 217/782-4648 for a paper copy.


Middle Grade Education Symposium

A national symposium on middle grades education, entitled, Lessons in the Middle Grades: Research, Policy and Practice in Today's World is scheduled for December 6th & 7th at the Westin Hotel O'Hare (near Chicago). The purpose of this symposium is to examine research and best practices in order to help shape policy that will promote effective teaching and learning in the middle grades.  It is made possible by The National Forum, The Center for Prevention Research and Development at the University of Illinois, and a Teacher Quality Enhancement Grant through the Illinois State Board of Education.


The middle grades have been described as the "last best chance" to reach adolescent learners. During a period of their lives marked by rapid physical, emotional, social and moral development, these students need teachers specially prepared to address their unique developmental needs. These educators must be prepared in both content and pedagogy in order to challenge and nurture these young, eager minds. Yet out-of-field teaching in the middle grades ranges between 39% and 82%. The No Child Left Behind law makes these issues even more urgent.


This symposium seeks to propel the movement for better education for adolescent learners to ensure that every child has the opportunity to reach his/her potential. Please join us as we initiate an action agenda for middle grades reform.


An overview of the symposium's sessions and presenters, and online registration is available at


Beyond Field Trips – Children’s Museum Event

The Chicago Children’s Museum is hosting an educator’s event on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. “Beyond Field Trip Basics: What Children Really Learn.” The interactive presentation offers insights from educators on the impact of informal experiences on the classroom curriculum. The evening’s events include a reception, presentation, special previews and presentation in the IMAX theater.


Participants can earn one Continuing Professional Development Unit.


The event and free admission is for educators only. For more information on the schedule, speakers, or to RSVP, please call 312/464-8243.