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January 9, 2004

Illinois shares spotlight in Education Week’s Quality Counts report

(SPRINGFIELD) – Illinois shared the spotlight with 10 states receiving high marks for its learning standards and its accountability system an annual review by Education Week revealed Wednesday.

“Our accountability system is strong because of the learning standards that it is built upon,” said State Supt. Robert Schiller and added that the grade was an improvement over last year’s B-.

This year’s edition of Education Week’s Quality Counts report includes state report cards. Illinois saw year-to-year improvement in Standards and Accountability and School Climate. Illinois received the following letter grades in the areas of Standards and Accountability, A-; Improving Teacher Quality, C; School Climate, B- and Resources, including a C+ for Adequacy, and an F for Equity.

The standards and accountability category was divided into three major sections: whether a state has clear and specific standards for what students should know and be able to do; how the state tests students on those standards; and how the state hold schools accountable for results.

“Illinois took an important step when it adopted its learning standards,” Schiller said. “It didn’t stop there, however. We aligned the standards with the assessments to ensure that we can measure what students are learning. We are especially proud of this integral part of our educational system.”

According to the Education Week report, Illinois learning standards “makes a strong foundation for Illinois’ overall accountability system.” Illinois was cited as one of 14 states whose tests are aligned with their standards in each subject at elementary, middle and high school. The state educational system was also credited for having clear and specific learning standards in English, mathematics and science in elementary, middle, and high school. Further, state assessments are tied to a schools performance, including financial help toward improving poor performing schools. Even before the sanctions under the No Child Left Behind Act, Illinois already had consequences in place for schools that fail to improve including possible reconstitution.

The Quality Counts report also included achievement data from the 2003 National Assessment of Educational Progress. Compared to 2000 NAEP scores Illinois made gains in Math with 32% of 4th graders performing proficiently or greater in math, compared to 21% in 2000. Eighth-grade reading scores saw a five-percentage point jump with 35% performing proficiently or above.

The report also noted an improvement in School Climate from a C to B-, but downgraded the Teacher Quality grade from a C+ to a C. Schiller attributed the lower grade to the elimination of funding in professional development, which the state board is considering reinstatement of in the FY 05 budget.


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