Sent: Monday, June 20, 2005 3:18 PM
Subject: Weekly Message from State Superintendent Randy Dunn - June 20, 2005
Good afternoon.


Last week was a busy one at ISBE. Aside from the usual increase in activity associated with the monthly State Board meeting, we unveiled the new Illinois School Purchasing Network, our shared services initiative. You’ve already received a special email bulletin about the Network’s kick-off.


In addition to that major announcement, ISBE staff also presented to the Board a proposal to overhaul our regulation of Supplemental Educational Service (SES) providers in Illinois. That proposal was adopted by the Board and I wanted to share a few details of that project. We especially appreciate the support we received on this from the Chicago Public Schools and CEO Arne Duncan and were heartened to see the endorsement of our efforts on the Chicago Tribune editorial page last week.


Holding SES providers accountable has to begin well before a provider is approved to offer services. With the new rules in place, the ISBE application will be made more stringent and local districts will be better engaged in the provider review process. In addition, ISBE hopes to partner with an outside entity to evaluate providers and restrict the provider application process to two windows per year (replacing ISBE's current rolling application process).


Once approved, monitoring of providers will be enhanced through data collection, reports from providers, on-site visits and a state-level grievance and dispute resolution process. In cases where a provider cannot demonstrate the results called for by a student's respective Individual Learning Plan, ISBE's removal rights will be expanded.


To round out this more aggressive approach to application and monitoring, ISBE will also implement measures (e.g., a requirement for more detailed financial reporting) to ensure that provider rates reflect the actual costs of providers. Finally, ISBE will create additional resources to assist districts in their implementation and oversight efforts. One of these resources will be an SES “toolkit” that will be made available to schools and districts, as well as providers. It will include sample letters and forms, in addition to guidance information on supplemental services.


Many people were involved in this large-scale effort, but I especially want to thank a number of folks integral to this initiative: Jon Furr, ISBE General Counsel; Dr. Ginger Reynolds, Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning; and Donna Luallen and Cheryl Bradley in our Accountability Division.


With these measures in place, Illinois is taking the preeminent national leadership role in its regulation of SES providers. Better regulation will mean that more students can be served by providers that can bring about the best results. In addition, I hope that these changes will help you by making SES district-level requirements more comprehensive. All of this work is important for answering the core question of whether or not kids are learning more through the provision of these services.


Let me close with a final note: I am aware there is some amount of “chomping at the bit” for guidance and direction on the initiatives coming out of this spring’s session of the 94th General Assembly. Please be assured that we have not been sitting idly by and are apportioning out the work from the many legislative packages left at ISBE’s doorstep. We’ll be coming to you with details as they are available.


Have a great week.


Randy Dunn


Also in today’s message:


State Board of Ed approves change to IMAGE cut scores

The Illinois State Board of Education at its June 16, 2005 meeting approved changes to cut scores for the IMAGE reading assessment at grades 3, 5, 8 and 11. This approval means that these new IMAGE reading cut scores will be applied to the 2005 IMAGE reading tests. Therefore, the posting of all IMAGE results will be delayed. IMAGE mathematics cut scores were not changed. The IMAGE score reports for reading and mathematics will be posted on or before July 5, 2005.


We apologize for this delay, but having new IMAGE reading cut scores applied to the 2005 IMAGE reading tests was a priority and could not be done without Board approval. We appreciate your patience and understanding in the delayed posting of the IMAGE score reports.


Testing window change for ACCESS for ELLs

The Bilingual Advisory Committee approved the Student Assessment and the Division of English Language Learners recommendation to change the 2005-06 testing window for ACCESS for ELLs. The window for testing ELL students for language proficiency will be January 30 through March 10, 2006.


After listening to the concerns from educators, ISBE proposed changing the testing window in order to meet the best interests of students. By testing January 30 – March 10 rather than the October – November dates,


1) There will be a longer period of time to instruct ELL students using the English Proficiency Standards.

2) There will be a longer period of time for training teachers in the administering of the ACCESS test.

3) There will be more of an opportunity to view students' progress over time

4) There will be a longer period of time between reporting progress periods.


USDE issues statement regarding requirements for paraprofessionals

Paraprofessionals must show competency by January 8, 2006. Because the deadline falls in the middle of the school year, Deputy Secretary of Education, Ray Simon, announced that the US Department of Education will align its monitoring and enforcement efforts of states for both the highly qualified teacher and paraprofessional provisions of the law. Simon believes that this will ensure a more efficient, effective and coordinated method of monitoring state efforts.


Employer TRS contribution change on salaries paid from federal funds

On June 1, 2005, Public Act 94-0004, which was formerly Senate Bill 27, was signed into law. This legislation contained a number of provisions that will impact TRS-covered employers.


Per this legislation, the Teachers’ Retirement System recently updated an Employer Bulletin which states that effective July 1, 2005, the employer TRS contribution on salaries paid from federal funds will be 7.06% for earnings in the 2005-06 school year. This is a change from the 14% rate that was provided in previous Employer Bulletins. The bulletin can be accessed at


If you have questions, you may contact TRS at (888) 877-0890.


Reading Improvement Block Grant

Look for the Reading Improvement Block Grant application on eGMS this week. The FY05 Annual Performance Report is already available on the ISBE website under Curriculum and Instruction – Reading. The form for the report may be typed, printed out and submitted with data any time before Nov. 1. Please feel free to contact Laurie Lee, principal consultant, with any questions regarding the Reading Improvement Block Grant. She may be reached at 217-557-7323 or


Healthy and safe schools initiative

A state law banning the purchase or acceptance of mercury, chemicals containing mercury compounds and instructional equipment or materials containing mercury added during their manufacture for use in a primary or secondary school classroom goes into effect July 1, 2005. The law was signed last year by Governor Blagojevich as part of his Healthy and Safe Schools Initiative. A copy of the law can be found at


An exemption can be given by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IL EPA) for measuring devices used as teaching aids if no adequate mercury-free substitute exists. At this time the IL EPA is not aware of any instances where an adequate mercury-free substitute does not exist. However, the IL EPA is currently developing procedures and rules for requesting an exemption from this law.


If you have any questions about the law please contact Becky Lockart of the IL EPA at either 217-524-9642 or


Bring history to life at The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (ALPLM) is offering four complimentary one-day workshops in June and August focused on incorporating digital resources into the classroom and using history to teach across the curriculum. Each workshop will include two sessions, one with the Library of Congress “An Adventure of the American Mind” project to instruct teachers how to incorporate digitized information into their curriculum and the other will be led by Peoria’s renowned storyteller Brian “Fox” Ellis, who will demonstrate how to teach historical fiction and relate it to state standards in English, history, science, geography and even math skills. The workshops will be held at the ALPLM in Springfield on June 28th or 29th or August 9th or 10th from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.


Each teacher that attends the ALPLM workshop will receive a complimentary educator pass to the new Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum. To register, choose a date and e-mail contact information to: or


Educational opportunities at Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum

Schools in areas of the state that are unable to visit Adler can now enjoy many of the educational opportunities available at Adler right in their own classroom. Schools can now directly interact with the museum though loaned videconferencing equipment. The institution is offering distance learning sessions this summer and again in the fall. Please call 312/922-7827 for additional information.


Weekly news clips

This week’s news clips may be viewed at