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For Immediate Release
August 20, 2004

ISBE releases its first Special Education Performance Annual Report

Springfield, Ill. - The percent of Illinois students ages 6-21 who receive special education services is up slightly since 2001 and continues to be higher than the national average. That information and other findings is contained within the Illinois State Board of Education's "2003 Annual State Report on Special Education Performance" which outlines progress achieved by students with disabilities. The report, the first of its kind from the agency, is a result of the Illinois Continuous Improvement Plan (ICIP) which calls for improved outcomes for students with disabilities.

"This is the first in a series of annual reports that will ensure that the public and parents are regularly informed of how we are performing as a state," said State Superintendent of Education Robert Schiller. "As the 2003 report illustrates, we are effecting positive change on the special education Critical Performance Indicators and we are now measuring those effects."

The five-year ICIP addresses five goals that center on school completion, educational environment, personnel, family involvement, and general supervision and monitoring.
A U.S. Department of Education grant received in 2002 through the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) made the data collection, analysis and report possible. The data will also be used to measure ISBE performance in accomplishing the goals of the ICIP, all of which relate to ISBE responsibilities for general supervision under IDEA.

The initial component of the annual report provides background information about the state of special education in Illinois such as number of students served, disability categories and demographics.

Other sections of the report focus on critical performance indicators (CPIs) which are measures of academic achievement:

" High School Completion - Obtaining a high school diploma carries significant psychological and financial importance for students with disabilities, as it does for all students. It becomes important, therefore, to track the level at which students receiving special education services remain in school and graduate with a standard diploma."
" Student Performance - Assessing the success of an educational system with disabilities goes beyond gaining access to educational opportunities. It must move toward a systemic evaluation of how well students receiving special education services are actually learning."
" Educational Environments - This refers to the extent to which students with disabilities receive special education and related services in classes or schools with their non-disabled peers."

Highlights of the report include:

  • The percent of the Illinois students ages 6-21 receiving special education services has increased slightly since 2001 and continues to be higher than the national average. The national 2003 national average was 11.55%; Illinois' average was 14.70%, up from 14.64% in 2002, and 14.42% in 2001.
  • Both white and black students are slightly over represented among students receiving special education services, while Hispanic and Asian students are under represented.
  • Formal disputes have decreased overall since 2001 and more conflicts have been resolved through mediation.

With the January of 2002 implementation of the Illinois Continuous Improvement Plan, ISBE established several broad improvement goals for special education including:

  • To better measure and account for progress, ISBE has obtained grants from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs. Funds help enhance and align the Illinois student and school data system with the data collection and analysis needs identified at the state and local levels.
  • The gap between graduation rate of students with and without disabilities decreased from 2002 to 2003. However, the increase of 3.4% for students with disabilities was less than the 4.5% goal as stated in the Illinois Continuous Improvement Plan for Students with Disabilities.
  • To increase by 4.5 percentage points (per year), the percentage of youth with disabilities who exit school with a standard diploma and increase employment and/or post-secondary education.
  • To increase by 4.5 percentage points (per year), the number of students with disabilities who are provided Free and Appropriate Public Education in general education classrooms in the school they would attend if not disabled. While the 4.5 percent annual gains has not been met, annual gains over two percent were realized.
  • The percent of students receiving special education services outside of the general education classroom less than 21% of the time increased in 2003, while the percent of students with disabilities receiving special education services in a separate educational facility has remained the same.

The report will be available shortly on the Special Education section of the ISBE website

bullet item Audio from:
James Gunnell, Division Administrator, Special Education Services, ISBE

bullet item 2003 Annual State Report on Special Education Performance PDF File

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