I want to take a few moments to talk a bit more about the programmatic piece of Governor Blagojevich’s Higher Standards, Better Schools plan unveiled this past Thursday. As many of you are aware, I am very much in support of strengthening high school graduation standards and I have used the “bully pulpit” provided by the state superintendency to speak about increasing high school capacity in Illinois.
Currently, Illinois has some of the lowest graduation requirements in the country. Other than the eight states which have no set requirements, we sit at the bottom of the barrel. But we know that requirements can help make a difference: Illinois students who take the ACT core curriculum score four points more in math, and three points more in science on the ACT than their peers who take less than the core.
I realize that a significant number of districts already go well beyond the minimum requirements and I applaud that local initiative, but I do believe that low expectations are communicated by the present graduation policy in our state. Students do better when we challenge them--and policies communicate expectations just as much as practices and behaviors do. As a state, we can do better.
I share the Governor’s desire to challenge all high school students to prepare for some sort of post-secondary educational or career development experience. For those students who are college-bound, the expanded Advanced Placement and dual credit-dual enrollment funding will encourage course-taking that improves student readiness for the rigors of a college curriculum. The State Board’s previous support for Career and Technical Education is also enhanced to serve those students focusing on career preparation programs. It is my hope, too, that the Governor’s push for arts and foreign language grants, and writing-intensive courses, will sustain a focus on the arts and humanities in Illinois high schools that is eroding.
We want to allow schools sufficient time to respond to these program improvements. The ramp-up schedule would phase in all of these changes out through the Class of 2012.
I look forward to the conversation on these proposals that will take place around the state as this initiative makes its way through the legislative process.
Have a great spring week—and of course—ILL-INI!
Also in today’s message:
President Bush orders flags flown at half staff
President Bush has ordered flags flown at half staff in memory of Pope John Paul, II, the head of state for the Vatican, an independent nation recognized by the State Department. The flags shall remain at half staff until sunset the day of his interment. The U.S. Flag Code provides authority to the President to order that the flag be flown at half staff, including at school buildings. Attached is the link to the President's proclamation.
Changes to Illinois Accountability Workbook proposed to USDOE
As the student assessment period for ISAT is winding down and for PSAE is winding up, we are all considering what the results on student and school achievement will be for 2005. We know the hard work of teaching and learning has been ongoing, and that students continue to progress and move forward. We also know that the target for making adequate yearly progress (AYP) moves up in 2005 from 40percent to 47.5percent in 2005.
Are there better ways to hold schools and districts accountable than what is contained in the current Illinois Accountability Workbook for NCLB? We believe so. The State Board of Education has accepted the opportunity from the U.S. Department of Education (USED) to seek changes in the workbook. The agency submitted a letter on March 31, 2005 of changes under consideration in Illinois. Over the next few weeks those considerations will be discussed with the State Board, some advisory groups, staff of USED, and others.
We appreciate the work of an ad hoc group within Illinois that has helped us formulate ideas to date. Once a final agreement is reached on the issues, staff will prepare the final wording for the workbook. Once that is approved, it will be posted on the agency’s NCLB web site (www.isbe.net/nclb), just as the revisions made in May 2004 were displayed. We will keep you apprised in the meantime.
Early childhood block grant continuation applications go electronic
The Illinois State Board of Education is preparing to offer continuing applications for the Early Childhood Block Grant (ECBG) through the Electronic Grant Management System (eGMS) for school year 2005-2006 (FY06). All Early Childhood Block Grant programs funded in FY05 will apply online for their FY06 continuation grant funds.
FY06 will be the second year for eGMS. During 2005-2006 school districts applied for five NCLB grants online through the NCLB Consolidated application in eGMS. Benefits of eGMS over the paper process include:
Like the electronic expenditure reports currently submitted by ECBG recipients, access to online applications in eGMS is through the State Board’s Web Application Security System (IWAS). Applicants will need to make sure that their approval groups are properly assigned through IWAS in order to access the appropriate ECBG application(s) in eGMS. Two ECBG continuation grant applications will be available – a birth to three application and a three to five application. Applicants will complete both applications if they are authorized to offer programs for birth to three and three to five. Grant funds will be preloaded in the eGMS system and will appear on the Budget Detail page of each application.
ISBE will notify applicants of the availability of the Early Childhood Block Continuation Grants via the Superintendent’s Message and information will be posted on the Early Childhood Block Grant webpage http://www.isbe.net/earlychi/html/block_grant.htm. The grant applications are expected to become available during the first week of April.
Criminal history record information symposium announced
In an effort to inform non-criminal justice users regarding the Illinois Criminal History Record
Information program, the Bureau of Identification in conjunction with the Elgin Police Department and the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police will be conducting a Criminal History Record Information Symposium. This symposium is scheduled for Wednesday, April 27, 2005, from 8:00 am - 12:30 pm. This event will be held at The Centre located at 100 Symphony Way in Elgin. In times of heightened security, is important that CHRI users understand what information is available to them through ISP. This information presented will help users make good hiring and licensing decisions on potential child care users, health care workers, local government applicants and general employment staff. We will educate attendees on the following matters:
• Role of ISP, BOI as the State Central Repository
• Uniform Conviction Information Act
• Name Check vs. Fingerprint Check
• Processing Procedures
• Sex Offender Registration Database
• Accessing FBI CHRI Records
• How to Interpret a Rap Sheet
• Inquiry and Response Methods
• Fiscal Procedures
2004-05 Illinois teacher salary study online
This document is now available online http://www.isbe.net/research. It is a PDF document and can be found under "Updated Information" at the website. Hard copies are not available.
What’s important now with child nutrition
National School Lunch Program Workshops Scheduled for June
The Nutrition Programs Division will be conducting a series of workshops during June for business managers, food service directors, administrators, and others responsible for the administration of school-based Child Nutrition Programs. What’s Important Now (WIN) With Child Nutrition workshops will highlight changes that will impact nutrition programs as a result of the Child Nutrition and Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Reauthorization Act of 2004. Sessions will cover such topics as household applications, verification of eligibility, menu planning (including Offer vs. Serve), meal counts, and local wellness policies. In addition, staff from the Illinois Department of Public Health will present important information regarding food safety. A special session will be offered to provide assistance to sponsors implementing a new School Breakfast Program.
All workshops will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. with registration beginning at 8 a.m. The special how to session on implementing a School Breakfast Program will be held from 3–4 p.m. Pre-registration is required for these workshops. To pre-register, go online to http://www.isbe.net/nutrition/htmls/workshops.htm.
For further information on the workshops, contact the Nutrition Programs staff at 800/545-7892 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Weekly news clips
This week’s news clips can be accessed at http://www.isbe.net/news/2005/newsclips/050401.htm