School Year 2015

ISBE Hot Topics

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It’s a new day for education in Illinois. We raised expectations for students and teachers and many are already seeing the benefits in the classroom with innovative instruction practices and more engaged learners. We’ve worked to develop more meaningful ways of measuring and reporting student progress toward college and career readiness. Below is an overview of the current efforts and upcoming changes that are transforming teaching and learning across the state:

  • Implementation of the new Illinois Learning Standards — The clear, consistent and higher expectations of the new standards are changing the way teachers engage and challenge their students by focusing on concept mastery, critical thinking and real-world application. Illinois has already adopted new learning standards in English language arts, mathematics, science and physical education  and will soon be reviewing arts and social studies standards to update and raise expectations in these important subjects as well.
  • PARCC 2015— The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exams will debut this school year and aim to measure how well our students are mastering content aligned to Illinois’ new, more rigorous learning standards tied to college and career readiness. The online assessment system will ultimately offer more timely and meaningful testing data.
  • NCLB Flexibility Waiver — ISBE’s flexibility waiver from some aspects of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) goes into effect this school year, outlining the state’s plan to ensure all students are on track to succeed in college and careers though differentiated accountability, informative data, strong leaders and instructors and support for the neediest schools.
  • Teacher Evaluations — Districts continue to implement, or plan to implement,  a new comprehensive educator evaluation system that incorporates multiple measures of student growth and professional practice.
  • Report Card Metrics — The redesigned Report Card  will be released this fall with new features and metrics for 2014, including the full 5Essentials profile and report for districts and schools.
  • Family Engagement – ISBE is developing guidance to promote the vital partnership between parents and the school community to achieve student success.

 Implementation of the new Illinois Learning Standards


The new Illinois Learning Standards for English language arts (ELA) and math, adopted in 2010 and based on the Common Core State Standards, establish clear, consistent and high expectations for what Illinois students should know in these two core subjects from kindergarten through grade 12.

Teachers continue to have the freedom to tailor lesson plans to the individual needs of their students.  Since the adoption of the new standards, ISBE has developed professional learning opportunities, resources and technical assistance to support school districts as they implement the new standards. A  February 2014 ISBE survey shows that 85 percent of teachers feel somewhat or completely prepared to implement the new standards. And according to results from Scholastic’s Primary Sources Survey of Illinois teachers last fall, a majority of educators believe the new standards will improve students’ ability to lead, focus and connect with ongoing initiatives to improve the quality of education in our state.

Click here for more information about the new Illinois Learning Standards

New Illinois Learning Standards Fact Sheets

Three Things You Need to Know About the New Illinois Learning Standards

New Illinois Learning Standards Talking Points

New Illinois Learning Standards Support Information

Illinois Learning Standards Presentations and Webinars


  PARCC 2015 (5/21/15)


Starting this school year, Illinois schools will administer new assessments created through the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). These online assessments are fully aligned to the new Illinois Learning Standards in English language arts (ELA) and math and are designed to make sure each student is not only prepared for the next grade level but also on track for postsecondary success. The PARCC system places a greater emphasis on academic rigor, critical thinking, problem solving and college and career readiness for all students.

The PARCC assessments replace both the Illinois Standards Achievement Test ( ISAT) and the Prairie State Achievement Exam (PSAE). Third- through-eighth-graders will take the PARCC in both ELA and math. For high school students enrolled in specific courses, three PARCC tests will be available:  Algebra II or Integrated Math III, and English Language Arts III.

The PARCC was developed to be an online system, offering more accommodations and support for test takers. In a post-field-test survey in spring 2014, a third of student test takers reported they preferred taking an online assessment to a paper and pencil version.

ISBE and the Illinois PTA present schools with PARCC Primer materials. PARCC Primer is an event for students who will be taking PARCC assessments and their families. It provides an opportunity for students and parents to get familiar with the computer-based test, engage in some fun educational activities and ask questions about the PARCC assessment system. PARCC Primer is a turnkey event and most materials can be edited to suit a specific school’s event.

PARCC Test Design Changes Slated for SY16

In response to feedback from teachers, students, and parents, the new Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessment will return next year with a shorter, simpler format to improve the testing process while ensuring reliable results.
  • Test Design Change Facts pdf (5/21/15)
  • Design Change Infographic  pdf (5/21/15)
  • ISBE News Release (5/21/15)
  • Illinois PARCC Testing Windows for 2014-2015 PDF format

    Fact Sheet: PARCC Testing Times PDF format

  • Spanish Version PDF format
  • Click here to for more information about PARCC.

    Click here for more information about the PARCC Primer Event

    PARCC Assessment Fact Sheets

    PARCC Assessment FAQs

    Three Things You Need to Know About PARCC

    PARCC 2015 Talking Points (9/22/14) 

    PARCC Primer (1/27/15)

    Other Documents

    Click here to access PARCC Assessment Webinars and Presentations

    Click here to access PARCC Assessment Video Series


     NCLB Flexibility Wavier


    In spring 2014, ISBE received approval for its flexibility waiver to the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) in exchange for a state-developed plan to prepare students for college and careers, focus aid on the neediest students, track and report more meaningful student and school academic data and support effective teaching and leadership.  Most of these initiatives were already underway for several years, but the waiver’s flexibility and relief from NCLB is effective as of July 1, 2014, impacting schools and districts in the 2014-15 school year.

    The waiver provides a road map for how Illinois wants to ensure all students are on track for success after high school graduation. It includes a more meaningful accountability system, featuring a new Multiple Measures Index (MMI) that will consider several factors that show student achievement and progress. The waiver also provides greater flexibility to districts, especially in terms of how they can use federal Title I funds. Ultimately, the waiver is the federal and state attempt to give educators what they’ve expressed they want in an accountability system. No more consequences based on one annual test and no more comparisons of schools around the state and across the country with vastly different conditions and demographics.

    Click here for more information about the NCLB Waiver.

    NCLB Flexibility Waiver Fact Sheets

    NCLB Flexibility Waiver FAQs

    Three Things You Need to Know About the NCLB Flexibility Waiver

    NCLB Flexibility Waiver Talking Points

    NCLB Flexibility Waiver Support Information

    NCLB Flexibility Waiver Presentations and Webinars


     Teacher Evaluations

    Signed into law by Gov. Pat Quinn in 2010, the Performance Evaluation Reform Act (PERA) requires new teacher evaluation models that consider student growth as well as professional practice. The new evaluation systems provide statewide consistency for what outstanding teaching and leadership should look like. image

    Implementation is staggered, with all school districts to incorporate student growth into their educator evaluation ratings no later than the 2016-17 school year. PERA allows districts local control as they form agreements with teachers/union representatives to develop their own evaluation systems that meet minimum state standards. A district defaults to the state model regarding the use of data and indicators of student growth for those aspects that cannot be agreed upon.

    Under the new evaluation systems, standardized test results do not determine a teacher’s future in Illinois as student growth is only a portion of an educator’s evaluation rating. Districts may choose between national, state and locally-developed assessments and must use at least two types of assessments.

    Click here for more information.

    Teacher Evaluations Fact Sheet

    Teacher Evaluations FAQs

    Three Things You Need to Know About Teacher Evaluations

    Teacher Evaluation Talking Points


     Report Card Metrics

    report card

    ISBE released a new interactive School Report Card on Oct. 31, 2013. The redesigned Report Card more accurately reflects a school’s academic performance, climate and learning conditions through information that is accessible to parents, educators and policymakers. It now includes information about a school’s extracurricular activities, special programs, advanced coursework, honors and awards. The Education Commission of the States recently identified Illinois as having the best report card out of all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Illinois was the only state ranked No. 1 by both parents and researchers following a three-part analysis done by experts and parents.

    report card video

    Watch the Video! (13:31)
    (May 2014)

    This year’s Report Card will provides the 2014 survey results for the 5Essentials, the statewide learning conditions and school climate survey. The survey was administered for the third year in spring 2015. Also new to this year's report card is the ability to search schools by name, region or grade and compare up to any four schools at a time. Other new features and metrics include the number of freshmen on track for college readiness, college enrollment, teacher retention, principal turnover and learning environment scores based on the 5Essentials Survey. The Report Card website will also be available for the first time in Spanish. 5 Essentials Survey

    Click here to visit the new Illinois Report Card Website
    Click here to view a short video about the new Illinois School Report Card video format (1:39)
    Click here to view an informative video about the new Illinois School Report Card video format (13:31)
    Click here to view "Illinois Report Card: What’s New in 2014" video format (43:04)
    Click here to view "Overview of the Freshman on Track Metric" video format(40:50)
    Click here to visit the 5Essentials page.

    Report Card/5Essentials Fact Sheets

    Report Card/5Essentials FAQs

    Three Things You Need to Know About the Report Card/5Essentials

    Report Card/5Essentials Talking Points

    Report Card Communication Documents


      Family Engagement

    When families, schools and communities work together to foster our children’s learning and healthy development, schools flourish and individual student outcomes improve. Research shows that regardless of socioeconomic background, students with involved parents are more likely to earn high grades and test scores, enroll in higher level programs, attend school regularly, show improved behavior and develop better social skills. ISBE has developed a set of principles and strategies to help schools and districts engage families in a meaningful and productive way. 

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    Family Engagement Fact Sheets


     Back to School Communications: Documents & Webinars