Sent: Monday, August 08, 2005 6:22 PM
Subject: Weekly Message from State Superintendent Randy Dunn - August 8, 2005
Good afternoon.


You know how you get a gut-check impression of things…I’ve been having that feeling as I talk to school folks around the state about our SIS (Student Information System) initiative here at ISBE. This is a huge project (not new knowledge for those of you who have been following its development) that will touch every public school student in Illinois. Also, it is a necessary undertaking to advance our ability to do many other important things, such as preparing required reports, reducing paperwork, following students over time and supporting value-added or growth accountability models. Nearly every state in the nation is also involved in similar efforts.


When a colleague recently asked “what is this SIS thing,” I figured it was time for another update to the field.


The following topics have been outlined by the numerous staffers involved in this project in an attempt to address some of the key issues concerning SIS development. If you have further questions after reading this, please call the ISBE Help Desk at 217-558-3600.


1.   Need for ISBE Student Information System

The primary purpose of the ISBE Student Information System (ISBE SIS) is to assign unique identifiers (SIDs) to every public school student in Illinois. The assignment of identifiers will enable us to capture demographic, enrollment, program indicator and assessment data for all students, thereby allowing us to better report information required under NCLB, IDEA, the Illinois Report Card and other federal and state mandates.


The ISBE SIS is not designed to replace student information management software currently used by school districts. ISBE will collect only the information necessary to meet its reporting needs. With the full implementation of the ISBE SIS, aggregate reporting requirements like the Fall Housing Report and the End of Year Report will no longer be necessary.


Moreover, one of the major promises of the new system is that the entire assessment process will be streamlined and less subject to error. Student identifiers and other demographic information will be sent to ISBE’s assessment vendor for pre-coding on answer sheets. This identifying information along with test answers will be scanned, processed and returned to both the home district and ISBE. ISBE anticipates very little need for manual intervention by districts, with much less cleanup work having to be done by local staff. Finally, this improved process will most certainly increase both the quality and timeliness of the data.


2.   Participation in ISBE Student Information System Will Be Required for All School Districts


ISBE has filed a proposed amendment to Agency rules with the Secretary of State to require that all districts participate in the ISBE SIS. This proposed amendment was posted on the ISBE Home Page on Friday, July 8, 2005. To review this proposed amendment, go to, click on the Rules link in the left-hand menu, click on the Proposed Rules and Amendments and click on Text of Rulemaking on Proposed Amendments to Part 1 at the bottom of the page. Please note the deadline for public comment is Tuesday, September 6, 2005.


3.   Required “Phase 1” Data Elements

There are 23 required Phase 1 data elements for each student. Their definitions and code sets are available at the ISBE Student Information System home page. These elements are classified into three categories: demographic, enrollment and program participation.


Demographic Data (six elements)

· Legal Last Name

· Legal First Name

· Legal Middle Name

· Date of Birth

· Gender

· Race/Ethnicity


Enrollment Data (seven elements)

· Home Region-Count-District-Type-School Code (Home School-also see #10 below)

· Serving Region-Count-District-Type-School Code (Serving Entity-also see #10 below)

· Enrollment Date at the Serving Entity

· Type of Enrollment in the Serving Entity

· Grade Level I at the Serving Entity

· School Year at the Serving Entity

· FTE at the Serving Entity


Program Participation (10 indicators)*

· Supplemental Educational Services (SES) Indicator

· Homeless Indicator

· Limited English Proficient (LEP) Indicator

· Individualized Education Program (IEP) Indicator

· IEP Accommodation Indicator

· 504 Accommodation Indicator

· Career/Technical Education Indicator

· Migrant Indicator

· Free/Reduced Lunch/Low Income Indicator

· Century 21 Indicator


*Note: These indicator fields are now required to have either a “yes” or “no” response when a student is submitted for a SID (a change from our pilot activity).


4.   Phase 1 File Formats 

Files may be submitted as:

· Comma-delimited text files

· XML files

· Comma-separated value (CSV) files converted from an EXCEL template.

The file formats can be found at the ISBE Student Information System home page.


5.   Contacting ISBE SIS Project Staff 

Call the ISBE Help Desk at (217) 558-3600 or send an email to with the subject line “ISBE SIS Inquiry.”


6.   IWAS Sign Up Required to Access ISBE SIS

Coming in mid-August to the ISBE SIS Home Page:


IWAS SIS production system has been turned on.

“We are pleased to announce that the IWAS SIS production system has been turned on. If you do not yet have an IWAS account, you may apply for one by going to the ISBE Student Information System home page and clicking on the IWAS link at the top of the page. Once you are at the IWAS site, click on the Sign Up Now link and follow the instructions.”

Your superintendent will be notified that you have applied and are awaiting her/his approval. Once approval has been granted and the ISBE Student Information System has been turned on, you will be able to upload and download files to and from the ISBE SIS. You also will be able to request student identifiers for new students using the Web-Based Student Locator Service.


7.   Sign Up for ISBE SIS Training.

From the ISBE SIS Home Page:

ISBE SIS Training

“In preparation for the statewide rollout of unique student identifiers for the ISBE Student Information System, school districts that did not participate in the pilot project have been advised to attend a half-day session which is designed to demonstrate the features of this system and provide hands-on practice for school or district staff. Each district should send two participants, one whose role is to enter student information into the school district's student administrative package (SAP) and another whose role is to interact with the school district's SAP vendor or in-house technical staff to upload or download batch files.”

We have held 35 training sessions at 14 locations geographically situated across Illinois during this past several weeks, ending this Thursday, August 11, 2005. For those who still need to get in under the wire, session-specific online registration forms and logistical information, including directions, are provided at SIS Registration.

8.   An Important Date

August 15 - Production ISBE SIS will be turned on. School District batch live data may be submitted for SID assignment. The web-based student locator system will be available for online assignment of SIDs. Updates to existing student data will be accepted.


Also, District batch test data may be submitted to validate export process and test ISBE SIS validations.


9.   Software Vendor Interactions with School Districts

Some vendors are charging additional fees for modification to their existing packages; others are not. Downloading existing data from local packages to an EXCEL spreadsheet template, adding columns to enter missing required ISBE SIS data and converting the file to a comma-separated value (CSV) file for submission to ISBE could be an alternative to incurring additional expense. 

10. Region-County-District-Type-School (RCDTS) Codes for Home Schools and Serving Entities*

The RCDTS codes are found in the Directory of Educational Entities which has a link on the ISBE SIS website.

The RCDTS code is 15 digits in length:

Region 2 Characters

County 3 Characters

District/Entity 4 Characters

Type 2 Characters

School 4 Characters


The codes that are found in the Directory of Educational Entities are listed in RCDST order. The user must rearrange to map to ISBE SIS RCDTS:


*Note: RCDTS codes for special education private facilities will be available by August 1, 2005.

11. Submitting and Updating Student Data (Procedure modified 6/20/2005)

Only home Districts and Schools may request an SID and send and receive original or updated demographic, enrollment and program participation indicator for students. This information must come from student management packages or other data sources maintained by the home district and/or school.



Let me close by reiterating that if you have any questions on what is to be happening at the local level, please make sure to contact us at the Help Desk. While this massive project is a necessary undertaking, we want to do everything possible to not add to your frustration level during its implementation.


Have a great week.

Randy Dunn



Also included in this week’s message:


Interrupted School Days/Heat Policy

A major responsibility of a local school superintendent is the health and safety of students.  Section 18-12 of the School Code permits a school district to count as a full day of attendance any school day where “a school district has provided at least one hour of instruction but must close the schools due to adverse weather conditions . . . .”  105 ILCS 5/18-12.  The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has interpreted “adverse weather conditions” to include excessive heat.  A partial day of attendance under this provision of Section 18-12 is referred to as an “Interrupted Day” (as long as the partial day is announced the “day of” and not in advance, see the boldfaced language below). 


With regard to excessive heat, then, ISBE allows three options:


If an Emergency Day or Interrupted Day is utilized, a school district must, within 30 days of occurrence, submit to their Regional Office of Education an Amended Calendar electronically through the ISBE Web Application Security system (IWAS).  The ROE will then forward the Amended Calendar to ISBE for approval.  The Calendar Code for an Emergency Day is ED.  The Calendar Code for an Interrupted Day is XID.  The Calendar Code XID requires Student Attendance Time to verify a minimum of 1 instructional clock hour was conducted as well as a brief explanation of why the day was interrupted. 


According to ISBE’s policy, though, if the district’s announcement that it will be closing on any day or days after less than five clock hours because of excessive heat is made in advance of the shortened day (e.g., the previous day or week as opposed to the “day of”), the school district cannot consider the day(s) to be Interrupted Days; instead, the day(s) must be counted as Emergency Day(s) (and so reflected on the Amended Calendar).  Under those circumstances, a school district cannot count the shortened day as a full-day of attendance.


We hope the reminder of this information will be helpful for the upcoming school year.  If you have any questions, please contact Marj Beck at or 217-782-5256.


Permissible ISAT/IMAGE test for grades 3-8 window for 2006

For the 2005-06 school year only, the Illinois State Board of Education will allow a school district to move its two week state test window for ISAT/IMAGE one week early for the following reasons stated below, in addition to the reasons stated in the Illinois School Code. The early state test window is March 6 – 17, 2006. This permission is granted only if all criteria listed below are met.


1)      The district spring break occurs during the week of March 27 – 31, 2006, which is immediately after the regular state test window, of March 13 – 24, 2006,


2)      The local school district board approved its 2005-06 school calendar prior to ISBE’s notice about the state test window of March 13 – 24, 2006,

3)      Testing during the regular state test window (March 13 – 24, 2006) would jeopardize proper handling and return of state test materials or would jeopardize test security. Such concerns need to be documented by district personnel and approved by the local school board, and

4)      The State Board is notified by December 1, 2005 of this decision.


School treasurer bonds

Section 3-8 and Section 8-2 of the School Code (105 ILCS 5/3-8 and 105 ILCS 5/8-2) require Regional Superintendents of Schools to file an affidavit with the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) showing which treasurers of school districts in their region are properly bonded. This affidavit must be filed by September 1 of each year. Copies of the actual school treasurer bond do not have to be filed with ISBE.


Section 8-2 of the School Code (105 ILCS 5/8-2) requires each treasurer of a school district to be properly bonded. The penalty of the bond shall be 25 percent of the amount of all bonds, notes, mortgages, moneys and effects of which the treasurer is to have custody. The bond shall be increased or decreased from time to time, as the increase or decrease of the amount of notes, bonds, mortgages, moneys and effects may require. The bond shall be payable to the township trustees of schools over the district or payable to the school board of the district, whichever is applicable. The bond shall be filed with the Regional Superintendent of Schools. School districts do NOT need to file a copy of their bonds with ISBE.


Section 3-8 of the School Code (105 ILCS 5/3-8) describes the duties of the Regional Superintendent of Schools upon receipt of the treasurer bonds. When the bond of any school treasurer is filed with the Regional Superintendent of Schools, the Regional Superintendent shall carefully examine it. If the bond is found to be in all respects according to law and the sureties sufficient, the Regional Superintendent shall endorse his/her approval and file it with the papers of his/her office. If the bond is in any respect defective or if the sureties are insufficient, the bond shall be returned for correction.


Electronic version of the Affidavit and other information can be found on the ISBE website at:\sfms\html\t_bonds.htm.  Please contact Michelle Heninger at 217-785-8779 or e-mail her at with any follow-up questions.


Clarification on driver facilities that will allow school bus driver “S” endorsements

We have received an update from the Illinois Secretary of State on driver facilities that will allow school bus drivers to receive the new “S” endorsement.


Effective August 1 through September 30, school bus drivers can only go to designated facilities to add the "S" endorsement to their CDL license. If testing is required, all drivers must go to a CDL Regional facility only.


To assist with determining what is a designated facility that will be allowed to issue the "S" endorsement, please go to and click on “Find Your Nearest Drivers Facility”. You may go to any facility in the state with the exception of the Chicago and Vicinity Area. In this area of 28 facilities you may only go to Elk Grove Village, South Holland, West Chicago, Libertyville or Plano.


If companies want to arrange a sizable group to go to a facility to have the "S" endorsement added to their license they must make arrangements in advance. This can be done through your local driver's license regional managers. If you do not know who your regional managers are, you may contact the Illinois Secretary of State Safe Ride Section at 217-782-7674, Monday thru Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and they will give you the appropriate person to be able to help you schedule a mass visit.


Legislative update

Below you will find the list of bills that have been signed by the Governor since the last update. Please refer to for a more complete description of each piece of legislation. Additionally, if you would like to access the full text for any piece of legislation, go to  on the left hand side of the page, you can search for legislation by bill number. For a House Bill, type in HB and the bill number (ex: HB 1) or for a Senate Bill, type in SB and the bill number (ex: SB 1). The bill status page for that particular legislation will come up. Click on "full text" to see the entire bill.


HB 312 PA 94-0478 Effective immediately, this legislation amends the School Code by providing that in addition to a unit of instruction studying the events surrounding the Holocaust, every public elementary school and high school curriculum will include a unit of instruction studying other acts of genocide across the globe, including, but not limited to, the Armenian Genocide, the Famine-Genocide in Ukraine and more recent atrocities in Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda and Sudan. HB 404 PA 94-0438

HB 404 PA 94-0438

Effective July 1, 2005, this bill allows that a shortened school day (below the required 5 clock hours) as a result of the Prairie State Achievement Examination, will count towards the 176 days of pupil attendance if the required time has been accrued prior to the examination.

HB 881 PA 94-0410

This legislation re-establishes the Gifted and Talented Children Article of the School Code. The Article shall apply beginning with the 2006-2007 school year. School districts shall continue to have the authority and flexibility to design education programs for gifted and talented children in response to community needs. This article sets forth minimum requirements that must be met by local programs for the education of gifted and talented children in order for the programs to be approved by the State Board of Education and to qualify for State funding if available. The local educational agency operating the program must submit a written program description to the State Board demonstrating the fulfillment of the requirements. A child shall be considered gifted and talented in any area of aptitude and, specifically, in language arts and mathematics, by scoring in the top five percent locally. The local program for the education of gifted and talented children must use a minimum of 3 assessment measures used to identify gifted and talented children in each area in which a program for gifted and talented children is established and provide a fair and impartial appeal process within the school, school district or cooperative of school districts operating a program for parents or guardians of aggrieved children. Requires the State Board to designate a staff person who shall be in charge of educational programs for gifted and talented children. The local program must also provide a description of how gifted and talented children will be grouped and instructed in order to maximize the educational benefits the children derive from participation in the program and a show that the certified teachers who are assigned to teach gifted and talented children understand the characteristics and educational needs of the children and are able to differentiate the curriculum An Advisory Council on the Education of Gifted and Talented Children is reestablished. It provides that initially, 4 members of the Advisory Council shall serve terms through January 1, 2007 and 3 members will serve terms through January 1, 2009.


This legislation also further amends the School Code with respect to school districts other than the Chicago school district by providing that nothing in the School Code may preclude an elected school board member from participating in a group health insurance program provided to an employee of the school district that the board member serves if the board member is a spouse or unmarried child of that employee.


Effective immediately : 

HB 3680 PA 94-0439 Effective July 1, 2005, under the provision allowing a school board to provide free transportation when conditions are such that walking constitutes a serious safety hazard, this legislation continues to require that a school board annual review the conditions and make a determination as to whether or not the condition still exists, but removes the requirement that a school board certify those findings to the State Superintendent of Education.

SB 69 PA 94-0426 This legislation states that the total amount from driver education fees and reimbursement from the State for driver education cannot exceed the total cost of the driver education program in any year and must be deposited into the school district's driver education fund as a separate line item budget entry. The money in the district’s driver education fund can only be used for the funding of a high school driver education program approved by the State Board of Education that uses instructors certified by the State Board of Education. This legislation is effective upon becoming law.

Effective January 1, 2006 :

   SB 1493 PA 94-0432Effective immediately, this legislation amends Article 5 Trustees of Schools for Class II county school units (Cook County). An elementary district that, when combined with “another” elementary district, has a fall 2004 enrollment of 5,000-7,000 and coterminous boundaries with a high school district that crosses township boundaries, may withdraw from the jurisdiction of its current township treasurer and trustees of schools in order to use the township treasurer and trustees that serve the high school district. Subject to written notice to all involved by certified mail within the same 30-day period, affirmative vote of 5 members of the school board and adoption of a resolution and approval by a majority of the voters in the elementary district voting on the question. All rights, title, securities, etc. attributable to the elementary district vest in the receiving trustees of schools. This provision is repealed on January 1, 2010.

This legislation also amends Section 5-2.1 to allow electors in a high school district that crosses township boundaries to vote for both the trustees of the township in which the voter resides and the trustees of the township in which jurisdiction becomes assigned. Additionally, a waiver of a mandate established under a provision concerning eligible voters may not be requested.

SB 1734 PA 94-0440
Effective immediately, with regard to funds appropriated from the Driver Education Fund to the State Board of Education for reimbursement to school districts for providing driver education, this legislation provides that (i) as soon as may be after each quarter of the year, the State Comptroller shall draw his or her warrants upon the State Treasurer as directed by the State Board of Education, (ii) the warrant for each quarter shall be in an amount equal to one-fourth of the total amount to be distributed to school districts for the year and (iii) payments shall be made to school districts as soon as may be after receipt of the warrants. This legislation also removes a provision that prohibits the amount of driver education reimbursement made on account of any student from exceeding the per pupil cost to the district of the classroom instruction part and the practice driving instruction part combined and a provision that requires claims for reimbursement to be submitted in duplicate by each school district to the State Board of Education prior to October 1 of each year on such forms and in such manner as prescribed by the State Board.

HB 1851 PA- 0441 Effective July 1, 2005, this legislation removes the requirement that school districts file estimated reimbursement claims for costs of transitional bilingual education by certain dates and that the State Superintendent of Education transmit vouchers of the estimated claims to the Comptroller by certain dates. With regard to reimbursement claims for transitional bilingual education programs, this legislation provides that failure on the part of the school district to prepare and certify the final adjusted claims may constitute a forfeiture by the school district of its right to State reimbursement (now, failure on the part of the school district to prepare and certify the final adjusted claims on or before July 20 of any year and its failure thereafter to prepare and certify such report to the regional superintendent of schools within 10 days after receipt of a notice of delinquency shall constitute a forfeiture by the school district of its right to State reimbursement).


School breakfast program start-up incentive grant funds are available

Are you interested in beginning a School Breakfast Program? Are you looking for funds to assist you to in starting a School Breakfast Program? Does your school have at least 40 percent of the students eligible for free or reduced-price lunches? If you answered 'yes' to any of these questions, review the links at, click on School Breakfast Programs, then School Breakfast Start-up Incentive Grants to learn about this opportunity to receive funds to begin a School Breakfast Program. Federal grants of $2700 per site are available. The application deadline for the Federal grants is November 20, 2005 and the program must start no later than December 1, 2006. State grants of $3500 per site are available. Priority for the State program will be given to schools which have 40 percent or greater free and reduced-price eligibility and apply by October 31, 2005. Please contact us at 800/545-7892 or 217/782-2491 if you have any questions.


Take advantage of FREE nutrition education and training services

Illinois Nutrition Education and Training (NET) staff are gearing up for the next school year to support children’s’ health and achievement with the development of two new workshops: Local Wellness Policy and Building a Better a la carte Program.


For teachers, an online e-learning Team Nutrition curriculum program is being developed. Check the Illinois NET website for updates, to check out loan library materials, request workshops and more! Bookmark to view the complimentary services NET provides today!


Satellite seminar program on local school wellness policy

Mark your calendar and make plans to view the October 18, 2005, two-hour satellite seminar on Local School Wellness Policy development. The primary goal of the program is to provide child nutrition professionals and other key players in the school and community an opportunity to hear the most current school wellness policy information.

The National Food Service Management Institute is sponsoring the satellite seminar.

Visit for further information.


KidsFest coming to DuPage Expo in St. Charles

October 14 and 15, 2005


Illinois Nutrition Education and Training (NET) Program is pleased to announce the second KidsFest, a fun event for K-8 children and their families. The first one, Food, Fun & Fitness Expo was held in Chicago last October.


Vision for the Event: obesity is the number one health problem of today's children. The goal of this premier two-day event for children and families is to engage government, community and corporate partners in an annual event that strives to make a difference for Illinois children. This fun, interactive event will help raise awareness of children's health issues while providing the skills and encouragement kids need to make smart food choices and adopt an active lifestyle.


Highlights: Over 5,000 children, family members and school staff are expected to participate in the two days of fun while learning about healthy choices. This annual hands-on event includes exhibits that actively engage children in learning about healthy food and fitness choices, opportunities to taste healthy food and "get physical" and motivational food and fitness programs on two main stages.


Call the Illinois NET Program at 815-895-9227 or 800-466-7998 for more information


Weekly News Clips

This week’s news clips may be reviewed at: