Sent: Friday, October 31, 2003 4:25 PM
To:Regional Superintendents and Special Education Directors
Subject: Weekly Message from State Superintendent
Robert Schiller 10-31-03
In this weeks message I need to share with you the
status on this years Report Cards. First, we expect
to provide you with access to your School Report Card information
next week via a secured website. Since you will not be receiving
the Report Card this week, ISBE will not be enforcing the
October 31 mandated deadline this year.
I want to emphasize that our priority throughout this process
has been to insure the accuracy of the data released. Given
the high stakes for school and district accountability, accuracy
is of primary importance. I am grateful for your understanding
and support regarding the need for accuracy, and know that
it is important that you have sufficient time to share your
Report Card data with the public prior to state publication.
As you may remember from previous messages, ISBE has in the
past months been migrating to a new e-report card
whose aim is to provide a faster, more efficient, integrated
electronic system of gathering and reporting the annual data.
We believe there will be great long-term benefit from this
new system that replaces a cumbersome paper process with online
data collection, calculation and publication. Further, we
envision that this integrated database will eventually be
able to correlate with various other educational databases
which should result in eliminating multiple and redundant
Several factors entered into this years report compilation.
As you know, the process was done in-house in past years.
This year it was outsourced as part of a larger data
warehouse initiative that applies better technology
for data management. The agency efforts also include development
of the e-grant management system and student identifier system.
The Report Card relies on a variety of separate databases:
the Fall Housing Report, the Teacher Service Record, annual
financial data, and state testing data, to name a few. As
with all complicated data projects, the initial transfer of
multiple databases to a single system, along with coding for
various interrelated calculations, has multiple design and
testing steps. Until all data is final and complete, a full
test run of the Report Card system could not occur.
Additionally, this year was the first time that additional
data entry related to student subgroup data. This was specified
by NCLB which also required desegregation of data. The database,
therefore, required a new and expanded design. The new coding
system also posed problems for some districts, as a result
of the added requirements.
I encourage you to review the data as soon as possible. ISBE
also provides the same information to the media and will make
all the Report Card data public 30 days after you receive
it. As always, you should release your own information between
the time of receipt and the end of the embargo period.
Again, thank you for your support and understanding in this
years process. Please extend my appreciation to all
who worked diligently to review and provide necessary information.
I hope this information will assist you in communicating with
your parents and staff.
Also included in todays message:
- Statewide Clean School Bus Program Begins
- Invitation to Comment on Rules
- Release of State Assessment Pools
- Title I Comparability Report Reminder
- Update on Competitive Grant for Schools
- Illinois Art Council Showcase
Statewide Clean School Bus Program Begins
Governor Blagojevich recently announced the kick-off of his
Illinois Clean School Bus Program to significantly
reduce emissions from existing diesel-powered school buses.
The program includes providing assistance to Illinois school
districts in replacing existing buses with cleaner models,
retrofitting existing buses with advanced emission control
technologies and implementing cleaner fuels.
The Illinois State Board of Education is partnering with
the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) and the
Governors office to promote the program to Illinois
school districts. Implementation of the program will be provided
by the IEPA.
Options available include installing after-market retrofits
such as oxidation catalysts or particulate filters; replacing
existing diesel fuel with cleaner burning fuels such as ultra-low
sulfur diesel (ULSD) or 20 percent biodiesel; and utilizing
clean diesel technology, including engines that can meet the
more stringent emission standards set for 2007 or natural
gas and propane powered engines.
The IEPA will also work with school district personnel and
commercial school bus contractors to provide resources on
the potential health and environmental impacts and to reduce
or eliminate unnecessary idling of school buses.
Funding for the program has been initially provided by a
supplemental environmental project, under terms of an Illinois
enforcement case. This initial funding is restricted to twenty-four
counties in the state (a map is available at www.epa.state.il.us/news-releases/2003/)
For additional information on the Illinois Clean School Bus
Program contact the Illinois IEPA at 217-524-4947.
Invitation to Comment on Rules
At its October meeting, the State Board of Education released
two sets of proposed amendments for public comment. These
rulemaking items have been posted on the agencys web
site at www.isbe.net/rules;
choose Proposed Rules and Amendments. Please submit
any comments or suggestions you may have to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Part 27 (Standards for Certification in Specific Teaching
This rulemaking will remove a provision from Part 27 that
was inappropriately included in the standards for Technology
Education Teachers when these rules were originally promulgated.
The language being struck (Section 27.460(k)) describes inputs
rather than competencies and thus is inconsistent with a standards-based
approach. Further, there is concern in the technology education
field that the requirement for 2000 hours of work experience
(see Section 27.460(k)(2) on the last page of the rules) blurs
the distinction between certification in vocational areas
or trades that is based on work experience with certification
to teach exploratory technology education programs. Representatives
of approved technology education programs have also indicated
that this standard is incompatible with the NCATE standards
to which the programs must conform. As such they indicate
that its inclusion places their institutions in an untenable
position. Subsection (k) of the rule should be deleted so
that it will not be a factor in the review of these approved
It should be noted that this set of standards is for a specific
credential Technology Education Teacher as distinct
from the technology standards that are applicable to all teachers
and are found in Part 24 of ISBEs rules (Standards for
All Illinois Teachers). The individuals affected are teachers
of exploratory technology courses.
Deadline for Public Comment:
December 22, 2003
Part 120 (Pupil Transportation Reimbursement)
This rule has been developed in response to a problem revealed
through a districts application for a modification of
an existing rule on pupil transportation reimbursement through
the waiver process established under Section 2-3.25g of the
School Code. The rule that was the subject of the request
is similar to the requirement for districts that own and operate
their own transportation services to prorate their total transportation
costs across all categories of transportation services, based
on the ratio of miles traveled in each category to total system
miles (Section 120.90(d) of the rules). The same approach
is used when a district chooses one contractor to provide
all of its transportation services and expressed in Section
Earlier this year, Oak Park District 97 petitioned to be
allowed to treat each category of transportation services
separately for the purposes of calculating its reimbursement,
even though the district employs only one contractor to provide
both regular and special education transportation. The district
requested that the types of transportation be kept separate
because separate, competitive bidding had occurred for each
type. That is, there were two separate contracts, but the
procurement process had resulted in issuance of both to the
same contractor because that entity submitted the low bid
in each case.
Agency staff understood that using the pro-ration mechanism
provided in the rules would reduce the districts annual
transportation reimbursement from the State by more than $60,000
(because the higher rate of reimbursement for special education
transportation would be diluted by combining the
two categories). Nevertheless, waiving that requirement could
not result in meeting the intent of the rule (cost containment)
more effectively or efficiently, a criterion for approval
of the request. Other factors related to the effect on other
districts also played a part in the agencys denial of
This is not to say that the Board and the staff did not accept
the premise behind the districts request. It was agreed
that the agency should explore a revision to the rule to accommodate
the situation that had been brought to light. The amendment
presented here delineates the ability to treat categories
separately even when there is a single contractor, provided
that each contract is let based on the lowest bid among at
least two. It is hoped that this provision will resolve the
issue faced by Oak Park for that district and potentially
for others, without creating unintended incentives that would
compromise cost containment.
Deadline for Public Comment: December
Release of State Assessment Sample Item Pools
Sample ISBE-developed reading, mathematics, science, and
social science test items from past ISAT, PSAE, and IMAGE
tests are now available to schools and districts. These item
pools contain valid and reliable items from previous ISAT
and IMAGE test administrations and the ISBE-developed portions
of the PSAE. Teachers can select items from these pools to
help construct formative, on-going assessments to check for
student understanding using the same types of items that are
administered on the state assessments. ROEs, ISCs, districts,
and schools throughout Illinois may make additional copies
of these materials as needed.
You may access these items by going to the ISBE assessment
Web site at www.isbe.net/assessment
and clicking on State Assessment Sample Item Pools.
The test-development software and item pools can be downloaded
in either Windows or Macintosh versions. Be sure to read the
instructions in the file called READ ME first so you will
know how to install the item pools.
You may also access these item pools by using the State Assessment
Sample Item Pool CD-ROMs which are scheduled to be sent in
November 2003. ISBE will send packets of these CD-ROMs to
each non-Chicago district office (containing enough copies
for 1 per building), to each Chicago school (1 copy), and
to every ROE/ISC (1 copy).
The item pools and test-development software replace ISBEs
previous paper copies of the ISAT and IMAGE sample booklets
which will no longer be available in paper format from ISBE
when existing supplies of these booklets run out. ISBE will
continue to produce and provide to schools the PSAE teachers
handbook and test-preparation materials for grade 11 students.
Both the Item Pool CD-ROMs and the assessment Web site (www.isbe.net/assessment)
also contain PDF versions of past sample booklets which schools
may download and copy as needed.
The item pool and test construction software will be enhanced
during the coming year with additional released items from
the ISAT and PSAE. In future years, the items in these pools
will be aligned with the Illinois Assessment Framework (www.isbe.net/assessment/IAFIndex.htm)
which is the blueprint for the state tests that will be administered
beginning in spring 2006 as part of the Illinois Enhanced
Assessment System. For further information about the State
Assessment Sample Item Pools, please contact email@example.com.
Title I Comparability Report reminder
External Assurance would like to remind those districts receiving
Title I funds this fiscal year that they must complete and
return there forms by November 14, 2003. The forms and instructions
for completing them can be accessed via the Web at http://www.isbe.state.il.us/ea/default.htm.
Update on the Competitive Grant for Schools
Information on the Healthy School Nutrition Environment grant
for Illinois schools has been delayed slightly. If you would
like a copy of the grant application mailed to you, please
call Illinois Nutrition Education and Training at 800/466-7998
(or email NET at firstname.lastname@example.org)
to be placed on the mailing list. The notice for this grant
opportunity will also be mailed out to all district superintendents
in Illinois. The due date is December 1, 2003.
Illinois Arts Council Showcases Artists For Touring and
Chicago --- The Illinois Arts Council (IAC), in cooperation
with the Hinsdale Center for the Arts, will host an Artist
Showcase on Monday, November 10, 2003 at the Holiday Inn Select
Convention Center in Tinley Park. This annual event, which
draws participants from throughout Illinois, provides an opportunity
for potential applicants to meet professional artists from
the IAC Arts-in-Education (AIE) and Artstour rosters, view
samples of their work and hear first-hand what they do in
the classroom and the community. This includes artists in
the following categories: creative writing, dance, ethnic
and folk arts, interdisciplinary arts, multi-disciplinary
arts, media arts, music, theater, visual arts, puppetry and
The IACs AIE and Artstour programs offer financial
support to primary and secondary educational institutions,
community colleges and community organizations throughout
the state for artist residencies and performances. This event
is especially beneficial for anyone interested in increasing
arts activities in their community, particularly K-12 educators,
parents, volunteers, community college faculty, staff from
libraries, schools, churches, civic, service, community and
arts organizations. The Showcase is always a good opportunity
to meet other educators, artists and arts administrators from
all regions of the state.
Organizations more than 150 miles from the Showcase site
may be eligible for a travel stipend. Teachers participating
in the full event will be eligible for CPDU credit. Registration
before October 31st is $25; thereafter $30. For more information
on the Artists Showcase please visit the IAC website at www.state.il.us/agency/iac
or contact IAC staff at 312/814-6780.
The Illinois Arts Council is committed to the cultural, educational,
and economic growth of the diverse people and communities
of our state through support and encouragement of artists
and the arts.