State Board Gives Designation System the Green Light
For Immediate Release
Date: November 21, 2001
For Information Call
Illinois residents will be able to tell how well their local public schools are performing from a clear, comprehensive school designation structure endorsed by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) at its November meeting.

Board members approved the structure for the system and called on the superintendent to direct staff to develop rules to implement it in September 2002 for elementary and middle schools and September 2003 for high schools. The rulemaking process includes opportunities for public input and comment on the proposed implementation requirements before they are adopted in final.

The designation system combines data from test results and a variety of other sources, including graduation rate, attendance rate, etc., that will shed light on school performance in five ways: a composite performance rating; an improvement rating; accomplishments; assessment compliance requirements and adequate yearly progress.

The composite performance rating reflects the overall performance of a school's students on the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) or - for high schools - the Prairie State Achievement Examination (PSAE).

Schools will receive a rating based on the combined percentage of scores that meet or exceed Standards. There are six ratings levels:

Exceeds Standards - 83 percent or more of the student scores meet or exceed Standards.
Meets Standards at a High Level - 82.9 percent to 67 percent meet or exceed Standards.
Meets Standards - 66.9 percent to 50 percent meet or exceed Standards.
Approaching Standards - 49.9 percent to 33 percent meet or exceed Standards.
Limited Success in Meeting Standards - 32.9 percent to 17 percent meet or exceed Standards.
Little Success in Meeting Standards - 16.9 percent or fewer meet or exceed Standards.

Under the system, schools with high performance will receive relief from selected mandates and become eligible for discretionary grant funds. In addition, the State Board will recognize schools with public reporting to the media, posting of the recognition on the Illinois School Improvement Web Site.

Schools with a rating below Meets Standards will be targeted for assistance by ISBE's System of Support (SOS). The System of Support targets state and federal resources on schools with the greatest need. ISBE brings together a variety of assistance and specific interventions, across the entire range of educational services. By building a team of experts on school improvement with local teachers and administrators, the System of Support is designed to help low-performing schools improve student performance.

Schools where fewer than half the students meet the Illinois Learning Standards for two consecutive years will go on the state's Academic Early Warning List. If they do not make adequate yearly progress, they become eligible for placement on the Academic Watch List.

The second area of school performance will be an improvement rating based on the three-year trend in average percent of student scores meeting and exceeding Standards: improving (showing an upward trend over three years), stable (showing no statistically significant change over three years) or decreasing (showing a decline over three years).

Schools will also earn recognition for special accomplishments in numerous categories ranging from a significant increase in attendance rate or excellence in customer satisfaction to maintaining a full-day kindergarten for all students or having a teacher named Illinois Teacher of the Year. Districts will receive a similar notation for outstanding programs in early childhood education or induction and mentoring.

All schools must meet assessment compliance requirements by showing that the school followed test security regulations and can account for all students taking the appropriate assessment. Schools should also have at least half of low-income students meeting or exceeding standards. Schools failing to meet these requirements will have a notation on their designation.

Schools must demonstrate adequate yearly progress, which means increasing student scores at a rate that will result in 50 percent of students meeting or exceeding the Illinois Learning Standards within five years.

In October 2000 board members received the recommendations of the Designation System Task Force. During that meeting, board members asked that focus groups representing a variety of stakeholders review the recommendations.