Good afternoon. This week’s message updates you on several important decisions made at the regular State Board meeting held this week and also includes guidance provided by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) regarding the effect of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) on foreign student exchange programs.
One topic of interest to all of you is the State Board’s approval of qualifications for paraprofessional educators. That information is now available on our Web site at http://www.isbe.net/nclb/pdfs/paraprofqual.pdf. Other Board actions include the following:
Other issues in this message include
Release of the State’s Financial Profile for School Districts
As you know, the State Board released its new state
Financial Profile for
The profile is not meant to embarrass school districts or to “fix blame.” It is a tool designed to help school administrators and communities plan the fiscal future of their districts. It is also a tool for informing the public at large regarding the significant financial challenges facing public education in our state.
In that connection, let me say that no one plays a more
important role in convincing our elected officials that they need to address
this situation now than district superintendents and their board members.
Whatever time you and your board members can spare to meet with your
representatives – either at home or here in
Academic Early Warning and Academic Watch Lists Amended
The State Board amended the 2002 Academic Early Warning List to remove four schools and add five others that were miscoded when the list was released in December. The final total for the 2002 AEWL is now 664 schools from 124 districts. The 2002 Academic Watch List now totals 50 schools in five districts after being amended to remove two schools. For more information, go to http://www.isbe.net/news/2003/mar20-03.htm.
USDE Guidance on Foreign Exchange Programs with Respect to NCLB
Maria Hernandez Ferrier, Ed.D., Director of USDE’s office of English Language Acquisition, Language Enhancement, and Academic Achievement for Limited English Proficient Students, has provided guidance to states regarding foreign student exchange programs in relation to the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Following are excerpts from Dr. Ferrier’s letter:
exchange programs have been very successful at helping our students learn about
the language, culture, history, and government of other nations. In addition,
the foreign students who come here to attend school learn about
“Recently, I have learned that some school districts are concerned that requirements of No Child Left Behind might make it more difficult for them to accept foreign exchange students. I want to assure you that the overriding purpose of No Child Left Behind is to provide American students with the best education possible. Consequently, No Child Left Behind does not seek to discourage school districts from participating in a foreign student exchange program. In fact, we believe that foreign exchange programs enrich the education of our students.
“An important goal
of No Child Left Behind is to help English language learners who reside in the
for foreign exchange students who are enrolled in a school in the
“No Child Left Behind does not prevent or make it more difficult for school districts to participate in foreign student exchange programs. A school district’s decision on whether to participate in a foreign student exchange program, therefore, should only be based on the educational value of that program.”
Reporting Disruptions of the 2003 State Achievement Tests
The Illinois State Board of Education is asking
districts and schools to notify its
If such situations arise, please contact the Student Assessment Division of the State Board at 217/782-4823.
Homeland Security Information
With the beginning of the Iraqi War and the consequent high alert levels, I will reiterate the Homeland Security information that was included in the February 14 weekly message. We are advised that every county has an emergency management person who is responsible for coordinating the county’s disaster preparedness plans. The best preparation for any potential disaster is to review your school and district disaster plans regularly, to coordinate your plans with the county’s emergency management plan, and to have a designated person to keep in contact with the county emergency management staff and with local law enforcement and fire department officials.
You can also find a large amount of additional information on Governor Blagojevich’s Homeland Security Web pages at http://www100.state.il.us/security/. Included are American Red Cross guidelines for recommended action at each of the threat level classifications, which were adopted by the Illinois Terrorism Task Force, as well as “County and Municipal Government Guidelines for Implementation of the State of Illinois Homeland Security Advisory System,” developed by the Illinois Terrorism Task Force.
The Illinois Emergency Management Agency also has a good Web site for further information about emergency planning: http://www.state.il.us/iema/.
As I reported to you last week, the Illinois Rural Bond
Bank is developing a pooled tax anticipation warrant program to provide
short-term finance solutions for Illinois school districts with reduced issuance
costs and low interest rates. If you have not yet filled out the survey that was
included in last week’s message, please do so now. The deadline has been