NEWS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 17, 2000

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
(217) 782-4648 or (312) 814-3490

"ISBE has been enjoined from publishing in the Illinois Register proposed rules relating to certificate renewal and, consequently, the rulemaking process is 'on hold.' ISBE will accept no public comment regarding the draft rules until proposed rules have been printed in the Illinois Register."

State Board of Ed seeks public comment
on historic teacher development rules

Springfield – Rules spelling out the kind of continuing education teachers must complete to earn their licenses were released today for comment following Illinois State Board of Education review

The public and teachers are invited to comment on the new rules at any of 10 public hearings scheduled in the next 45 days. The State Board will publish the suggested rules on its website (www.isbe.net) and in the Illinois Register. The board is expected to vote on the proposed rules in May.

“Teachers are by far the most important link in the education ‘chain’ because they touch students first and foremost,” said State Superintendent of Education Glenn W. McGee. “Through the Illinois Learning Standards we are asking much more of our students than ever before, so it only makes sense that our teachers should be held to equally high standards,” McGee said.

“Some people wrongly downplay the essential nature of teachers and criticize their professionalism,” McGee said. “We believe that these new rules will not only help teachers be the best educators they can be, but also bolster their image with the public as the professionals we know they are.”

The new certification system requires teachers to engage in rigorous professional development activities that will directly impact or contribute to improving student achievement.

The State Board, the Illinois Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Educators Association, and the State Teacher Certification Board worked for about six months to create the proposed rules governing the certification system.

In addition, a special, statutory task force representing the State Board and the two teachers unions assigned point values to the long list of professional development activities that teachers will be able to perform. 

McGee complimented the Certification Board for its valuable efforts in this joint venture. He agreed with virtually all of the Certification Board’s recommendations. He differed in only a few instances and chose to forward the Task Force’s recommendations to the State Board.

The Illinois Statewide School Management Alliance comprising about 20 organizations representing school administrators, school boards, regional superintendents, the business community and teacher education and training institutions reviewed and commented on an initial draft of the plan.

The Illinois business community also supports challenging professional development requirements. “High quality teaching is the key ingredient to improving student achievement,” said Jeff Mays, “Illinois already has high standards for student learning. Our expectations for the quality of teaching in our schools must be equally high.” Mays said.

“We encourage the State Board to keep the continuing professional development process rigorous and focused on enhancing teacher knowledge and skills that directly improve student learning,” Mays said.

Many local teacher contracts require ongoing professional development as part of their pay structure. But these proposed rules, the result of the 1997 Education Reform Act, are the first state-level initiative to link teacher professional development and teacher certification.

Teachers now must create a professional development plan and complete activities to renew their certificates on either five or 10-year cycles. The rules incorporate the point values for those activities as recommended by the Task Force.

Teachers will coordinate their plans through local and regional professional development review committees.

Other top-ranking education community officials support the program’s intent. “Illinois teachers deserve a system of continuing education and training that heightens their professionalism,” said Cheryl Gray, executive director of the Illinois Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (IASCD).

“The activities and coursework for which they receive credit should be worthy of their valuable time and attention, and should clearly translate into stronger teacher performance and higher student performance,” Gray said.

“Superintendent McGee’s recommendations to his board go directly to the heart of those issues. I commend him for his diligence and commitment to quality.”

“We all certainly want our students to be the best, and our students can be their best only if they have teachers who are at their best,” said Dave Turner, speaking for the management alliance.

“Rigorous professional development requirements will ensure that for all students,” Turner said. “We applaud the State Board for standing up for rigorous continuing education requirements, and we look forward to adding specific comments during the upcoming public comment period.

Many of the statutory professional development activities are already a part of teachers’ regular professional routines and may be counted toward their professional development requirement.

The new, three-tiered certification system became effective February 15, but realistically teachers will not be able to exchange their certificates until July 1.