Superintendent of Education
Illinois State Board of Education
SUBJECT: School Report Card Update
All of us are well aware of the impact that the
No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) has had on our classrooms.
Over the past two weeks, we have also identified
its impact on state assessment and accountability.
This year, the rules have changed under NCLB. Our
breadth of accountability has become more specific.
Never before has the test participation rate for
subgroups been calculated and included in the report
I am writing to each of you today to inform you
that our staff has identified more than 300 schools
which met all federal and state Adequate Yearly
Progress criteria, with the exception of the test
participation rates, particularly for student subgroups.
The result is that these schools are classified
as not making AYP.
We believe this status resulted from coding errors.
For example, a student who may have been classified
as being low-income in the enrollment data was not
identified as such on the test forms themselves.
Therefore, the enrollment numbers dont match
the participation numbers for that subgroup. This
mismatch is primarily a result from not properly
cross-matching the data and/or not making changes
during the correction period. The consequence is
a school not making AYP. We believe this can be
Accuracy matters has been and continues
to be our message about the data submitted for assessment.
Our identification of these schools does not change
Therefore, ISBE will offer a verification period,
allowing these identified schools the opportunity
to corroborate their test participation data or
negate it. The schools that ISBE has identified
with this issue will be contacted. The verification
process is currently being structured and will be
Over the course of the past week I have met with
and discussed options to resolve these issues with
select members of the Assessment and Accountability
Task Force, including Phil Hansen, Becky McCabe,
Bob Nielsen, and Jim Rosborg, the Illinois Association
of School Administrators and representatives of
many other organizations. Additionally, since distributing
the school report cards to districts statewide,
ISBE has received more than 200 phone calls, in
addition to letters and electronic correspondence,
from administrators seeking clarification or questioning
how their schools AYP data was calculated.
Many schools have relayed to us that they met all
federal and state Adequate Yearly Progress criteria,
with the exception of test participation rates.
We will resolve this together.
Many of you have also expressed concerns over the
school status information being released to the
media. In response, we have reached out to the media,
many of whom have already contacted you or you have
contacted, and asked them to continue to honor the
December 19th embargo (see complete memorandum at
We are asking them that they include in their published
or broadcasted news stories words to the following
effect: The Illinois State Board of Education
identified more than 300 schools whose test participation
data adversely affected their Adequate Yearly Progress
calculation and therefore the schools AYP
status. ISBE is working with these schools to verify
We have additionally spoken directly to many of
them, who realize that what is included in the report
card is the result of what information was submitted
to the testing contractor, but acknowledge that
schools should not be placed on not making
AYP simply because of coding errors.
In the meantime, it is fair to say that the burden
of proof for correct participation data lies with
the school district itself. The data reflected in
the report card is the product of the testing data
compiled at the school level for student assessment,
attendance or graduation and test participation.
Administrators, whose schools are identified in
this process as not making AYP due to participation
rates, should begin assembling all appropriate enrollment
and assessment materials relevant to the 2003 test
An important additional note: When
student subgroup data is resubmitted, and participation
rates recalculated for subgroups, you need to understand
that those students test scores will now be
added to and recalculated within the correct subgroup
as well. This will mean that new numbers will likely
appear in the columns labeled Percent Meeting/Exceeding
Standards for reading and mathematics. This
is the logical completion of the verification process
and the quest for accuracy in AYP calculations.
The recalculation may still result in a school not
We are already working with many of you, and appreciate
additional insight on ways to prevent this from