Sent: Tuesday, January 18, 2005 7:33 AM
Subject: Message from Randy J. Dunn - State Superintendent
Good morning.


I am probably not unlike every other local district superintendent in the state . . . after the monthly board meeting, it takes some time to recover!  The State Board of Education met here in Springfield Wednesday and Thursday last week for its January meeting and accomplished a great deal.  However (and as any superintendent will attest), after your board meets, you take a quick breather and get ready for next month.  If you’re lucky, you get all of the follow-up from the preceding meeting worked through before it’s time to do the agenda for the subsequent one.  I consider myself fortunate; the State Board conducts its business with care, efficiency and good will.  A superintendent can’t ask for much more. 


I want to take a moment to share an item that we addressed at the January meeting that may have interest for you.


Many of you are aware that the State Board of Education must submit an annual report to the Illinois General Assembly that lists all types of waiver mandates, and modifications of mandates, granted by the SBE or the General Assembly.  ISBE staff members Winnie Tuthill and Shelley Helton in Legal, do an outstanding job of overseeing this important, complicated and detailed work for the agency.


As part of approving that cumulative waiver report for this year, the State Board forwarded recommendations to the General Assembly for legislative action that address the large number of modification approvals that are granted in two areas. 


One is a legislative proposal to amend Section  24-2 of the School Code to allow the use of legally mandated school holidays honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Abraham Lincoln, Casimir Pulaski, Christopher Columbus and all veterans of foreign wars for student attendance and other uses (e.g., teacher institutes, parent-teacher conferences), provided appropriate instruction is given to students. 


The second legislative proposal we sent would amend Section 18.8.05(F)(2) of the Code to allow districts to shorten the instructional day when the PSAE is administered, and to count those shortened days among the 176 days of pupil attendance as required (provided that the districts first accumulate sufficient time beyond the five-clock-hour requirement to be attributed to the shortened days).


It is, of course, the will of the General Assembly as to whether or not they respond to these proposals, but given the flexibility each provides to local districts, the recommendations from the State Board were warranted. 


In addition to the two legislative recommendations, the cumulative waiver report also provided to the General Assembly a policy discussion of issues surrounding:

a)      an increase to the maximum amount that districts can charge for Driver Education (presently set at $50); and

b)      the use of P.E. waivers, and remedies that could be explored to reduce the number of requests being submitted.  Again, no actual legislative changes were recommended for Driver Education and P.E.—rather, we sought to present a discussion of changes that could be made to help reduce the frequency of these waiver requests.


I have a lot of traveling upcoming over the next couple of weeks, and I look forward to seeing many old friends and making new ones.  Have a great week!    




Randy Dunn

State Superintendent of Schools (Interim)



Included in today’s message:

·         New IWAS system—Estimated Best Three Months Average Daily Attendance

·         Mental health policies

·         Guidelines for school and district improvement panels

·         LEA Special Education Profiles now available at

·         Even Start Family Literacy RFP released

·         Announcement for Needs Assessment Report

·         Pre-ID label now due

·         NAEP testing

·         Illinois Alternate Assessment

·         ISBE employment opportunities

·         News Clips


New IWAS System—Estimated Best Three Months Average Daily Attendance

In the December 3, 2004 Superintendent’s Message, we announced a new annual IWAS application entitled Estimated Best Three Months Average Daily Attendance which replaced a previous paper request form.  The requested date for transmitting this information was January 15, 2005.  If you have not already done so, please provide the estimate to the Illinois State Board of Education as soon as possible.  The figure should be the estimated best three months average daily attendance for the 2004-05 school year.


The estimates districts provide will be used by the General Assembly to determine the General State Aid (GSA) appropriation level for the 2004-2005 claim year payable during Fiscal Year 2006.  Accurate estimates are invaluable for district level budget purposes, as projected GSA entitlements will be based on these estimated figures.


Mental health policies

Mental health policies were due to the State Board of Education in August 2004.  There are still 100 districts that have not submitted their adopted policies.  Each of these districts will receive a letter notifying them of this issue.  The deadline for submission is January 21, 2005.  Recognition status is in jeopardy of being lowered if the policies are not received by January 21, 2005.  Please submit to:

Donna J. Luallen, Division Administrator

Accountability Division

Illinois State Board of Education

100 North First Street

Springfield, IL  62777


Fax: 217-524-8750


Guidelines for School and District improvement panels

There are 540 schools in the State of Illinois required by law to have a school improvement panel.  Each district and ROE will receive a letter notifying them of this requirement.  Any school or district that is in Academic Watch Status must have a school improvement panel.  There is a 45 day window from the date of the letter.  It is in the district’s best interest to forward panel members names as soon as possible to the State Board of Education.  Please use the following guidelines.


The statute cited below requires the State Superintendent of Education to appoint a school improvement panel for districts and schools in Academic Watch Status.  To assist the Illinois State Board of Education with this task, we request that schools and districts participate in this process as follows:


1.      The district/school may recommend to the State Superintendent of Education three panel members familiar with educational issues.  To avoid conflicts of interest, panel members may not be board members or employees of the district.  Panel members may not have other conflicts of interest, such as a contractual relationship with a school or district.


2.      The district/school may request assistance from the regional superintendent of schools in the identification of panel members.  ISBE will request the regional superintendent’s endorsement of all recommendations.


3.      The district/school may request assistance from the RESPRO in the identification of panel members.


4.      Districts/schools should also recommend the member of the panel who will serve as chairman.


5.      Districts/schools must submit their recommendations to the state superintendent no later than 45 days following the notification of being in AWS.  Otherwise, ISBE will proceed with the appointment of a panel without recommendations from the district/school.


The State Superintendent will notify districts/schools of his decision regarding the recommended panel members no later than 30 days following receipt of the district/school recommendations.


All recommendations, and any questions about this process, should be sent to:

            Donna J. Luallen

            Division Administrator

            Illinois State Board of Education

            100 North First Street

            Springfield, IL  62777


(105 ILCS 5/2-3.25e) (from Ch. 122, par. 2-3.25e)

Sec. 2-3.25e.  School and district improvement panels. A school or school district on academic watch status shall have a school or district improvement panel appointed by the State Superintendent of Education. Members appointed to the panel shall include, but not be limited to, individuals who are familiar with educational issues. The State Superintendent of Education shall designate one member of the panel to serve as chairman. Any panel appointed for a school operated under Article 34 of the School Code [105 ILCS 5/34-1 et seq.] shall include one or more members selected from the school's subdistrict council and one or more members from the school's local school council. The school or district improvement panel shall (1) assist the school or district in the development and implementation of a revised Improvement Plan and amendments thereto and (2) make progress reports and comments to the State Superintendent of Education pursuant to rules promulgated by the State Board of Education. 


LEA Special Education Profiles now available at

In accordance with the State’s Improvement Plan for Special Education, ISBE has posted the 2003 Local Education Agency (LEA)  Special Education Profiles at .  LEA Special Education Profiles allow readers to view a district’s progress toward improving results on critical performance indicators in the areas of student performance, educational environment and school completion for students with disabilities.  In addition, the Profile allows the reader to access all special education performance information in one location.   The profiles will be most helpful to districts, including those that did not make Adequate Yearly Progress because of scores of students with IEPs, in conveying to the public actual progress attained on critical indicators for these students over time.  The presentation of such measures over time increases the likelihood that progress can be accurately demonstrated.  


Local data are displayed along with statewide data for comparison purposes.  In addition to school year-specific information, the Profiles also include historical results for certain variables so trends can be observed.  The Profiles are comprised of four sections:

1.      Background Data

2.      Student Performance

3.      Educational Environment

4.      School Completion


In addition, links are provided to the Guide to Understanding District Special Education Profiles and the 2003 Annual State Report on Special Education Performance.  The profiles are at under “Students/Parents,” “Administrators” and “Teachers” and at


Even Start Family Literacy RFP released

The Even Start Family Literacy FY 2006 Request for Proposals (RFP) has been released.  School districts, Regional Offices of Education, approved public university laboratory schools, charter schools or area vocational centers, in partnership with a community-based organization, public agency, institution of higher education or not-for-profit organization may submit a proposal.  The purpose of Even Start Family Literacy grants is to help break the cycle of poverty and illiteracy by improving the educational opportunities of low-income families through the integration of early childhood education, adult literacy, parenting education, and interactive parent and child literacy activities into a unified family literacy program for parents and children, primarily from birth through age 7.  All four of these components must be present in each Even Start program in order to meet the goals of the program, which are to: 

·         help parents improve their literacy or basic educational skills,

·         help parents become full partners in educating their children, and

·         assist children in reaching their full potential as learners.


The RFP is available online at The RFP can also be obtained by contacting Cindy Zumwalt in the Early Childhood Division at or 217/524-4835.


Announcement for Needs Assessment Report

More than 2400 of Illinois’ mathematics and science teachers participated in a needs assessment survey during the fall of 2004 (more than 2000 in 2004).  The needs assessment survey questioned their interests in pursuing professional development opportunities, based on the professional teaching standards they face.  The data from this survey is available at  This data can have profound implications for local, district, regional and state decision-making.  You are invited to review the data by manipulating choices of grade levels, geographic distribution and combinations of math and or science assignments.  The 2004 survey also included questions associated with experience and out-of-pocket expenses. 


Northern Illinois University, Office of Outreach, conducted the survey and has now released a report of an analysis of this data and interpretive findings. 


Pre-ID label due now

With few exceptions, schools are required this year to use pre-ID labels on answer documents for spring testing (ISAT, IMAGE, and PSAE, but not for IAA).  The deadline for submitting this information online at Pearson Educational Measurement’s SchoolHouse Web site is rapidly approaching.  The deadline for ISAT and IMAGE is January  21, 2005; for the PSAE, the deadline for submitting pre-ID label data files is February 22, 2005Please check with the ISAT and IMAGE Coordinators for your district and, for the PSAE, with your principals to be sure files are submitted on SchoolHouse in a timely manner.   Thanks.


NAEP testing

The 2005 biennial National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) will open its testing window January 24th.  Participating schools and districts have been notified of their selection.  NAEP is an important provision of NCLB.  Participation for grades 4 and 8 is required by state and federal law for schools in districts receiving Title I funds.  The results will be available in reading, mathematics, and science later this year for the U.S., each state, and select urban centers including Chicago.


Illinois Alternate Assessment

The IAA binders and demographic forms for students taking this assessment will be in school districts by February 1, 2005.  If you are not sure whether you have ordered binders for your school or district or have not received binders by this date, please contact Amanda Breitmaier at Measured Progress at 877-732-5306 or Marilyn Leveque in Student Assessment at 217-782-4823. All completed IAA portfolios must be shipped to Measured Progress for scoring by Friday, February 25.


ISBE Employment Opportunities

An external vacancy list can be accessed at


News Clips

This week’s news clips can be accessed at