Sent: Monday, February 14, 2005 4:40 PM
Subject: Weekly Message from State Superintendent Randy J. Dunn 2-14-05
Please forward this message to principals and other district and building administrators.



Good afternoon,


Happy Monday. (They tend to come sooner each week it seems…)  I hope you all enjoyed the warmer temperatures we had this weekend.  Let’s hope they indicate that spring is just around the corner.


In this week’s message I’d like to share a letter with you that I think speaks to the importance of one of our new focuses here at the State Board – the generation of new and innovative approaches to solving some of the tougher education problems we face as a state.


Last week I received a very heartfelt letter from a local district superintendent.  This administrator was very proud of some of the programs his school had developed to help engage and motivate students in their educational progress, and he challenged ISBE to come up with more ideas along those lines.


I certainly don’t pretend to have any great answers here; if I did I would bottle them up, sell them, and probably not be in Springfield right now.  But, after reading the letter I did come across a piece in the Harvard Education Letter called “Beyond the Gap: What educators and researchers are learning from high-achieving African American and Latino students” that seemed to speak to the very same issue.  The article outlined a number of recommendations which I believe merit some consideration.  They include:


What’s particularly compelling about these recommendations is that they were made by some of the highest-achieving minority students from across the country, but I know they would have meaning for ALL students.  A key finding of the Harvard article was that the student voice can and must play an important role in our efforts to think innovatively about these kinds of issues.


As a final note--to principals and superintendents with a local PTA organization--please do what you can to point your parents toward the School Report Card survey we are conducting in conjunction with the Illinois PTA.  We hope to have a large number of responses to generate as many ideas as possible for our redesign of the Card.


Best wishes for a productive week.


Randy Dunn

State Superintendent of Schools (Interim)


Also in today’s message:


ISBE website shutdown/maintenance – Monday, Feb 21, 2005

Next Monday, February 21, 2005, is a state holiday.  On this day, ISBE will be performing planned maintenance on our network from 8:00 am through 8:00 pm.  During this time all ISBE resources (email, web sites, IWAS, OTIS, CERTS, etc.) will be unavailable or off-line.  ISBE plans to have all resources back online by 8:00 pm.  We appreciate your patience and understanding during this planned outage.


Report Card Survey

The State Board and Illinois PTA are designing a new “snapshot” of School Report Cards that provides the information parents want to know about their schools in an easy-to-read format.  These “snapshots” will focus on making school performance information more accessible to parents and the general public.


Please encourage parents to complete the survey, which will be posted on our website at The survey will be available on the web until February 25, 2005.


2002 Census data For FY 2006 Title I allocations

Census Bureau data based on income year 2002 will be used to calculate school year 2006 Title I allocations.  You may access this data by clicking on the following link  The data includes the census poverty count; the 5-17 population; the poverty percentage and the total population.  NOTE:  This data does not include other formula children (foster, neglected and delinquent) which will be used to calculate final allocations.


This information may assist local education agencies (LEAs) in estimating eligibility for Title I funds.  To be eligible for a Basic Grant, an LEA must have at least 10 children counted under the census poverty count and those children must be greater than two percent of the school age population.  To be eligible for a Concentration Grant, an LEA must generally have more than 6,500 census poverty children or the number of children must exceed 15 percent of the LEA’s school age population.  To qualify for Targeted and Education Finance Incentive Grants, an LEA must have at least 10 census poverty children and that number must be at least 5 percent of its school age population. 


This information may also assist districts in planning for a minimum funding level for FY2006.  The eligibility data in combination with the 85, 90 and 95 percent hold-harmless guarantee on the prior year’s allocation provides information to calculate a minimum amount for next year.  Districts with a poverty percentage of 30% or more have a 95% hold harmless; districts with a poverty percentage of at least 15% but less than 30% have a 90% hold harmless; districts with a poverty percentage of  less than 15% have an 85% hold harmless.  From the list districts may apply their appropriate poverty count, poverty percentage and hold harmless to the four categories of their FY2005 allocations.


The Census Bureau has provided a link explaining various aspects of the Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE) counts.  In the December 10, 2004 Superintendent’s Weekly Message, information was provided regarding the Challenge Procedures for Estimates which can be accessed at The challenge period for the 2002 estimates ends on March 7, 2005.  This link describes what constitutes the basis of an appeal and provides the Census Bureau appeals contact name, phone number and email address.


For questions on this information, contact Jacquie Hayes at or Kim Lewis at or call 217-782-5256. 


Board Meeting access - reminder

In our previous message we informed you that we are trying to determine how best to provide public access via real-time technology for the various meetings that we conduct (e.g., the State Board of Education, SBE Committees, and State Teacher Certification Board).  Our phone records report heavy use of the “listen only” phone line for meetings and we have heard from many people that this is their preferred method to access the meetings.  We also currently offer a live Internet audio broadcast of Board meetings and some committee meetings.  We are trying to get a sense of the number of people who access meetings via these live audio Internet broadcasts.  If you are a regular Internet listener, please send us an email to so noting that fact.


Register your Service Learning Project

Our 2004-2005 Teacher of the Year, Deb Perryman has been traveling the State talking about the importance of service learning.  Now is your time to register your project with the state. 


You can access the registration form at  

Filling in this form takes just a few moments and will help the Lt. Governor’s staff know who is participating.  You do not have to run the project on March 31st.


IDEA Reauthorization Discussion groups

As you are aware, on December 03, 2004, President Bush signed into law the reauthorization of The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and the Illinois State Advisory Council (ISAC) will hold two-3 hour sessions for each of the following 6 key areas of IDEA implementation for a total of 12 sessions between February 28 and March 10, 2005.



These preliminary discussion groups will be chaired by ISAC members and assisted by ISBE staff.  The purpose of these sessions is to identify critical issues related to each of the areas.  Further information regarding these groups may be found at: [insert web link}


Dates, locations, etc., for the IDEA Reauthorization discussion groups is posted online at


Wild Illinois History project

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources' Division of Wildlife Resources is developing a web-based education resource for teachers and students interested in Illinois history and wildlife heritage. The activities offered on the website correlate to late elementary Illinois learning standards. The site interprets how wildlife influenced the shaping of Illinois and its culture, and compares and contrasts that influence to the role of wildlife in Illinois today.


They would like your input to develop a useful resource for Illinois educators by reviewing the draft "Wild Illinois History" website and sending feedback.


To provide your input:

  1. Go to the "Wild Illinois History" link
  2. Open the student game (large or small screen) and complete the activity.
  3. On the teachers' page, review the lesson plans/class activities.
  4. Click on the survey link and answer the questions there.


March is Nutrition Month

The Interagency Nutrition Council invites you to join the Nutrition Month celebration in Springfield on Tuesday, March 1 at the State Capitol.  A Special Awards Event  is scheduled from 12 p.m. – 1 p.m.  Displays featuring local and state USDA Food Assistance and Nutrition Education programs and other food and nutrition services providers will be available from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.


If you cannot attend the event you may be interested in the following additional resources:


ISBE employment opportunities

ISBE Vacancy List (05-05) can be accessed through the following link:


News clips

Last week’s education-related clips can be accessed at: