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State of Illinois - Governor Blagojevich 

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For Immediate Release
April 23, 2004

Illinois receives highest grade for High Quality Teacher Standards
Only state with an "A"

(Springfield, Ill.) - In a first report of its kind, Illinois received a grade of 'A' for its Highly Qualified teacher standards designed to meet requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). The grading was conducted and recently released by The National Council on Teacher Quality.

In the first of several report cards, NCTQ gave Illinois the highest grade (and only 'A') noting the state is, "Very rigorous; teachers become highly qualified (HQ) primarily through a hefty 24 semester hours in content course."

According to NCTQ's report - Necessary and Insufficient: Resisting a Full Measure of Teacher Quality - the non-profit organization reviewed the standards of 20 randomly selected states. Each state was then given a grade for the quality of its standards and their progress toward meeting NCLB's requirements. The standards are known as High Objective Uniform State Standard of Evaluation or HOUSSE. Of the 20 states surveyed, the average grade was a D+. The next closest state to Illinois was Oregon with a B+. As of March 2004, according to the report, only 30 states had finalized their HOUSSE standards.

"We know that we have been ahead of the curve when it comes to many aspects of meeting NCLB," said State Superintendent of Education Robert Schiller. "It is gratifying to have this type of recognition which shows that we are doing well. At the same time, there is still a lot to do for all states as we struggle to meet the law's requirements."

Release of the report comes as the nation is just past the halfway mark toward the January 2006 deadline when most teachers will need a "highly qualified" designation to stay in the classroom. NTCQ graded each state on the basis of their rigor; likelihood that they will identify teachers weak in subject knowledge; the degree to which they reflect the state is serious about addressing the problem; their clarity; and on how readily accessible these are to the public.

According to the report, Illinois and Oregon recognize that "short of a test, college- or graduate-level course work is the most reliable, objective measure of content knowledge. These states have created standards that compel teachers to document their knowledge via content-area course work."

In one indicator assessed, the report looked at whether states set a minimum requirement that is likely to significantly improve teachers' subject matter competency. Illinois and Maryland were specifically cited as states that "wisely set minimum course work requirements to ensure teachers earn a significant portion of their credit through a rigorous option such as course work."

Listen to Dr. Robert Schiller's comments (MP3 audio file)

For a table of the grades and criteria please go to:

For a full report, visit:

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