Sent: Monday, March 07, 2005 3:11 PM
Subject: Weekly Message from State Superintendent Randy J. Dunn 3-7-05
Good afternoon,


First, let me apologize for not getting an opener ready for last week’s message. I appreciate those who checked to see that all was OK with me. I came in late from Washington where I had attended the education summit, had a couple of pressing personal issues to attend to, and then had a full day in the Chicago office last Monday. Glad to say that this week will be a little more settled for me.


As alluded to last week, I do want to take a moment to speak to the National Education Summit on High Schools sponsored by the National Governors Association and Achieve, Inc. that was held that weekend of February 26-27.


The primary call coming from the meeting was for an improved standards-assessment-accountability framework for high schools—something we have had a much better handle on in Illinois than some of our colleague states. Of course, Bill Gates received the bulk of the press coverage when he opened the Summit with his charge that the American High School is “obsolete” and in need of redesign. Gates ostensibly came to that conclusion based upon his comparison of our high school experience to what he sees happening abroad.


However, the difficulty and subtlety of such comparisons was not something that received much attention at the meeting. Neither, unfortunately, did the social-cultural milieu of the typical American high school. There was some implication (not dominant certainly, but present nonetheless) that if we can just find the right mix of high standards and testing tools, that will ameliorate the number of kids we are losing at the ninth-grade level and beyond. Anyone who’s spent any time in a high school knows better than that.


One theme coming from the summit that I do think has relevance centers around the belief—which I share—that all students should graduate ready for some sort of post-secondary educational experience, be it the traditional four-year college, a community college, an apprenticeship or training program, or something else. All high schools need to be thoughtful about how they “reach down” to freshmen and sophomores to get that post-secondary planning started early.


There was also some political overlay to the Summit that was reflective of President Bush’s plan to increase high school testing under NCLB. As I have said on this point already, I think we need to look at “second generation” reforms to NCLB before we start adding significantly to the requirements of the present law.


As time goes on, I may have a bit more to say on this.  For now, we’ll all want to watch carefully to see how, and if, this high school initiative develops.


Have a great week!




Randy Dunn

State Superintendent of Schools (Interim)


Also in today’s message:



Illinois Honor Roll schools

The Illinois State Board of Education and Northern Illinois University (NIU) announced the Illinois Honor Roll schools for the 2003-2004 school year last week in Chicago. These outstanding schools are recognized for their accomplishments in making progress toward or maintaining academic excellence.


The Honor Roll roster includes elementary, middle, and high schools, each of which made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) as defined by federal No Child Left Behind legislation.


For a list of the honorees and their accomplishments please go to


Residency and homelessness

The Accountability Division has received numerous phone calls regarding the educational rights of the homeless. Many students who do not fit the stereotype of a homeless person are in fact homeless. Examples would be a student whose family is temporarily living with friends or relatives, students living in a shelter or students separated from their families. Parents of homeless students may enroll students without many of the customary proofs of residency that are often requested. For information on this topic please contact the Accountability Division at 217-782-2948 or visit ISBE’s Homeless Education page at


School District Annual Financial Report Verification Process coming soon

Superintendents will soon receive an email broadcast asking their districts to verify the Operating Expense Per Pupil (OEPP), Per Capita Tuition Charge (PCTC), Indirect Cost Rate (ICR) and the School District Financial Profile Report. 


Included in the broadcast will be a cover letter, instructions and definitions to assist with the verification process. When the broadcast is sent these reports will be available on the IWAS website. The reports are generated from the School District Annual Financial Report (ISBE Form 50-35) for the year ending June 30, 2004.


The email broadcast will be the only notice provided to the district. Please contact ISBE if an email is not received by March 11, 2005. If you give authority to another person verifying these reports, please forward the email broadcast on to them. It is very important that they have the instructions and deadlines to assist them in completing the verification. Once the deadline passes it may not be possible to make changes to the Annual Financial Report data for fiscal year 2004.


Any questions regarding this notification or verification process should be directed to Debbie Hemberger in School Business and Support Services at 217-785-8779. Any questions regarding IWAS please contact the Call Center at 217/558-3600.


Advanced Placement Incentive Program (APIP) grants

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has announced more than $250,000 in educational grant awards for 25 teams of Illinois educators who participate in Advanced Placement programs in their respective schools. The awards are part of the federal grant program (the Access to High Standards Act (Section 1705 of Title I, Part G of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 [ESEA]), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). The Act provides funding to state education agencies to establish incentive programs to prepare students for, and encourage, participation in the Advanced Placement Program.


ISBE intends to fund 25 programs consisting of school teams of educators and administrators from eligible middle grade and/or high schools that serve high concentrations of low-income students and demonstrate a pervasive need for access to advanced placement incentive programs.


For additional information, please contact the Curriculum and Instruction Division at 217-557-7323.


ISAT and IMAGE testing begins

For most schools and districts ISAT and IMAGE testing begins next week.  We have received numerous calls and have posted the Frequently Asked Questions and Answers on our Web site –


If you have questions about administering the test, please do not hesitate to call us at 866-317-6034 or 217-782-4823.



The second step in the SchoolHouse data collection process is to enter your enrollment counts as of the first day of testing for grades 3, 5, and 8. The window is open from February 28-March 28 so those counts can be entered. These counts should reflect the number of grade 3, 5, and 8 students in total and in each subgroup for a home school—regardless of whether they are scheduled to take ISAT, IMAGE, or IAA, and regardless of whether they are scheduled to test at their home or receiving school. This should be done as soon as possible in order to assist in accurate data. To enter these enrollment counts, log in to using the User ID and Password that was mailed to the district superintendent, and click on the Demographics tab.


For more information, please see our Web site,


Invitation to comment on rules

One set of proposed amendments released for public comment by the State Board of Education at its February meeting has been posted on the agency’s web site at; choose “Proposed Rules and Amendments”.  Please submit any comments or suggestions you may have to


Part 350 (Secular Textbook Loan)


The proposed amendments respond to two separate issues.


1.       Section 18-17 of the School Code authorizes either a parent/guardian or a student to request the loan of a textbook under the Secular Textbook Loan Program. The rules implementing this provision, however, have stipulated the content of that request in such a way that it appears only a parent can request the loan of a textbook. Rather than stipulating the content of the request form, the proposed amendments would require that school districts establish procedures for parents/guardians and students to use when requesting the loan of a textbook and that information about the process be provided to parents in writing (e.g., student handbook, newsletter, flyer).


2.       The rules set forth the deadlines by which applicants can request the purchase of textbooks through the loan program. Using the April 15 deadline currently in the rules, applicants found that the textbooks they ordered were sometimes not received by the start of the school year. Additionally, problems arose for the agency when vendors could not be paid by the end of the fiscal year for books ordered in that fiscal year.


Deadline for Public Comment:  April 18, 2005


Qualified Zone Academy Bond (QZAB) Program for calendar years 2004 and 2005 authorization

The Qualified Zone Academy Bond (QZAB) program has been extended for two more years as a result of the passage of the Working Families Tax Relief Act of 2004 (P.L. 108-311). The implementing regulations provide that Illinois’ share of these allocations is $17.445 million (for calendar year 2004) and $16.819 million (for calendar year 2005), for a total of $34.264 million.


For additional information please go to


Those Who Excel banquet – date and location change

Please note that this year’s Those Who Excel banquet will be held Saturday, April 16, at the Holiday Inn Select in Decatur. You will be receiving information for ordering tickets next week.


Enhancing Chemistry: A conference for chemistry teachers

Friday, March 18, 2005

The Illini Union

1401 W. Green

Urbana, Illinois

For more info & to register please visit


Much work completed in developing Student Information System in Illinois

To better respond to the new requirements of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and other federal and state reporting requirements, ISBE and the IBM Corporation are in the process of developing and implementing a state-level Student Information System (SIS).


The use of individual student records will:


An overview of the SIS plans, schedule and other details are at


News Clips

To access highlights of this week’s news clips please visit