Board continues work on new designation system

March 21, 2001

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Springfield – The Illinois State Board of Education is continuing to develop a school designation system that will let the public know how well their schools are reaching the achievement targets contained in the Illinois Learning Standards.

“We still have work to do before we implement the new school designation system,” said State Superintendent Glenn W. McGee Wednesday at the board’s March meeting.  “We need to refine the components of the system, review how the pieces fit together and determine the role of Quality Assurance in supporting the system.” 

The board voted at its October 2000 meeting to endorse the general outline of the system contained in a report from the School Designation Task Force.  Since then, members of the State Board staff have met with administrators from across the state to gather input on the proposed system. 

The effort to gather input will continue, with an implementation plan to be placed before the board by its June 2001 meeting. 

The designation system is written in a clear, simple style to be a meaningful and easy-to-understand tool for parents and the public.  In addition, the State Board will use the designation system to identify schools with the greatest need for assistance. 

A key component of the designation is the composite performance ratings derived from the percentage of students meeting and exceeding the Illinois Learning Standards, based on their scores from the Illinois Standards Achievement Test and the Prairie State Achievement Examination.  The system will also indicate areas of high performance and improvement, such as high scores in the various tested subjects or outstanding improvement by selected groups of students. 

The system will also consider additional indicators of school quality in areas not measured by the state tests, such as program success, data from local tests of other subjects and grade levels, and enhanced learning opportunities for students. 

Schools with high performance could receive automatic waivers from certain state mandates and be eligible for recognition and rewards. 

At the same time, the designation will help to identify schools in need of additional assistance to reach the Illinois Learning Standards.  The state’s Quality Assurance efforts would place a greater focus on schools where scores for fewer than half of the students tested meet or exceed the Learning Standards.  The State Board will be able to target such schools with a range of improvement tools from the System of Support, including technical assistance and school improvement planning; financial monitoring; on-site school audits; Educators in Residence; and district performance agreements.