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April 30, 2003

State Board of Education Recommends Legislature
Deny 3 of 85 Waiver Requests

The State Board of Education today authorized sending the sixteenth semi-annual Waiver Report to the General Assembly with recommendations that three of the 85 waiver requests from school districts be denied.

Both the Illinois House of Representatives and Senate must deny a waiver request to prevent it from being implemented. The legislature has thirty days from the time it receives the Waiver Report from the State Board to act on the requests. If not acted upon during that thirty-day period, waivers automatically go into effect.

Two school districts requested waivers from Section 2-3.25d of the School Code requirement that districts be placed on the Academic Watch List after serving on the Academic Early Warning List for two consecutive years without making adequate progress in student achievement. St. Anne Community High School District 302 and Madison Community Unit School District 12 were notified in December that their high schools were being moved from the Academic Early Warning List to the Academic Watch List. The schools were initially placed on the AEWL in 1998, and since that time the percentage of students meeting standards on state tests has decreased--from 49.3% in 1998 to 18.4% in 2002 for St. Anne and from 49.1% in 1998 to 24.1% in 2002 for Madison High School.

The State Board recommends that the legislature deny these two requests for several reasons:

* The requests would violate the accountability requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.
* The requests are not based upon sound educational practices.
* The requested actions would compromise equal opportunities for learning.
* The request does not have improved student performance as a primary goal.

Norridge School District 80 submitted a request to renew a waiver to allow the district to employ instructional aides without their being under the direct supervision of a certified teacher. This request seeks to waive the provision of Section 10-22.34 of the School Code that requires that any instruction provided by noncertificated individuals be provided under the “immediate supervision” of a certified teacher and that the certified teacher be “continuously aware of the non-certificated persons’ activities and shall be able to control or modify them.”

A legislative denial is being recommended because the waiver, if approved, would violate the teacher quality provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. In addition, the State Board notes:

* It is not sound educational practice for one group of students to receive instruction from individuals who do not have the complete training of a certified teacher, who is assumed to be fully and highly qualified.
* Having noncertificated individuals providing instructional support outside of the immediate control of the classroom teacher compromises the learning opportunities for students since the instructional aides do not have the benefit of the pedagogical expertise and teaching experience of the classroom teachers.
* The request does not have improvement of student performance as its primary goal.
* Noncertificated personnel do not enjoy the same protections from liability suits as those enjoyed by certificated personnel.

The Spring 2003 Waiver Report is the sixteenth report to be submitted to the General Assembly pursuant to Section 2-3.25g of the School Code. That law, enacted in 1995, permits school districts to request waivers or modifications of state education laws and administrative rules promulgated by the State Board of Education. The State Board is authorized to act on those requests, but all waivers of state law must be submitted to the General Assembly for its consideration.

This report contains 85 requests that seek to waive mandates contained in 14 School Code provisions. These include requirements pertaining to daily physical education (20 requests), driver education fees (19 requests), administrative cost limitations (11 requests), parent-teacher conferences and inservice training (seven requests each), and non-resident tuition and evaluation plans for tenured teachers (five petitions each). Other requests to be forwarded to the General Assembly for action address the Academic Watch List, bonds, consolidation, General State Aid, substitute teachers, superintendent duties, and teacher aides.

Since the fall waiver report, the State Board of Education has approved 163 requests that modify School Code mandates or modify or waive agency rules. Of those, 133 address legal school holidays; 17 address adjustment of instructional time pertaining to the spring administration of the Prairie State Achievement Examination; eight address daily physical education; two address driver's education; and one each addresses criminal background checks, school food program, and substitute teachers.

The entire waiver report may be accessed on the State Board's website at


Illinois State Board of Education
100 North First Street
Springfield, IL 62777