| For Immediate Release
December 15, 2004
State Board of Education releases 2003-2004 State School
More schools and districts meet No Child Left Behind
requirements this year
State Superintendent calls for reform of Federal No
Child Left Behind law
Springfield , Ill. -- More Illinois schools and districts
met the standards of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) last year
than the year before, announced Interim State Superintendent
of Education Randy Dunn at todays release of the Illinois
State Report Card for the 2003-2004 school year. In 2003-2004,
133 more schools and 110 more districts met NCLB Adequate
Yearly Progress (AYP) requirements.
We are encouraged by Illinois results this year
and know that the hard work of educators and students is paying
off, Dunn said. We praise Illinois teachers and
schools for their commitment, and we pledge to help them continue
this growth and improvement.
But while the hard work of Illinois educators paid off, Dunn
said that changes are needed to NCLB to ensure that the law
is truly measuring the progress of all students. In 2003-2004,
235 school districts, or 69 percent of Illinois districts
that were labeled as not meeting standards, failed to make
AYP solely because of how the federal law requires states
to measure outcomes for students with Individual Education
Plans (IEP) and limited English proficiency (LEP). Dunn said
that there are significant problems with the way NCLB measures
the performances of those students.
Special education and bilingual students have unique
needs. Labeling them as a sub-group and setting an arbitrary
target ignores those needs and flies in the face of common
sense. It is unfair to these kids, their teachers and their
communities, Dunn said. Dunn further noted that bilingual
students who perform at a high enough level are removed from
their bilingual student sub-group, creating a ceiling on the
amount of progress the sub-group can ever show under NCLB.
Dunn also challenged districts to address the concern that
more needs to be done for special education and bilingual
students, and to ensure that improper assumptions about students
with disabilities are not being made. Dunn noted that although
the measurement tools used by NCLB are imperfect, districts
must still ensure that special education students are making
progress. He encouraged federal lawmakers to consider measuring
academic progress for special education and bilingual
students, instead of looking solely at their performance on
statewide tests; and he argued that districts should be allowed
broader latitude to offer accommodated tests as part of the
Individual Education Plans required for all special education
students by the Individuals with Disabilities in Education
Act (IDEA). Districts must be held accountable for the
services they provide to special education students, but No
Child Left Behind is not accurately measuring what theyre
accomplishing, Dunn said.
As we looked at this years results, it really
highlighted a problem with NCLB, said Dunn. NCLB
has created a situation where some good schools are inappropriately
labeled as failing. To truly measure how well our schools
are serving IEP and LEP students, we should be measuring the
progress those students are making on an individual basis.
Educators are working hard, students are working hard, and
its discouraging for them to be labeled as failing when
theyre achieving good progress.
This years State Report Cards were released with accurate
data six months earlier than in the previous testing cycle.
The Illinois State Board of Education worked closely with
local districts to correct data errors impacting more than
half the states schools in preparation for distribution
of the 2003-2004 School Report Cards.
The data correction process began in September, less than
one week after Interim State Superintendent Randy Dunn was
appointed by the new State Board of Education. After appointing
seven new members to the Board, Governor Blagojevich charged
the Board and Dunn with improving the way the agency works
with local districts. Days later Dunn launched an aggressive
effort to finalize School Report Card data, re-opening the
data correction period so that schools and agency staff could
work together to correct errors. These efforts saved many
schools from being incorrectly labeled as not making AYP.
The new State Board provided correct data to schools in mid-November
of the testing year. In comparison, four schools did not receive
2002-2003 corrected NCLB data until June of 2004, a full 16
months after the testing.
Responding to a call from Governor Blagojevich to improve
next years State Report Card process, the State Board
has already begun work on plans to improve responsiveness
to schools and increase agency accountability for data accuracy
throughout the process. The agency will also make changes
to the timeline so that schools have their final data much
sooner and can distribute their School Report Cards much earlier
in the year. In addition, the State Board has begun efforts
to work with the Illinois Parent Teacher Association and other
groups to redesign School Report Cards so they are more parent-friendly.
The 2004 Illinois State Report Card is available at www.isbe.net.