FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Illinois one of six states selected
to lead in
implementing No Child Left Behind law
Washington, DC – Wednesday, August 7, 2002
– Education Leaders Council (ELC) today announced that
Illinois is among the six states asked to lead the first phase
of the Following the Leaders project designed to increase
student achievement and the quality of public education in
America. Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Following
the Leaders provides states with technology and hands-on guidance
to enable teachers, administrators and policymakers to implement
the dramatic changes in educational quality mandated by the
federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).
“We look forward to entering into this unique partnership
with the Council and these other states,” said State
Superintendent of Education Robert E. Schiller. “Illinois
has already undertaken many of the initiatives required by
No Child Left Behind, and we are pleased to be selected as
a national leader in implementing NCLB.”
“ELC is eager to work with Illinois in this first phase
of Following the Leaders to realize the goals of the new law,”
said Lisa Graham Keegan, CEO of the Education Leaders Council.
“Last month, 28 states applied to participate in this
project. Each applicant showed great enthusiasm and a ‘can-do’
spirit. Illinois has an infectious enthusiasm and commitment
to students and we have the tools to help them put the promise
of NCLB into practice,” she said.
Following the Leaders includes a combination of standardized
tools and reports, as well as teaching aids and other features
that can be customized to particular school needs. Teachers
and principals will benefit from direct assistance as they
begin to employ new resources that not only help them to align
their lessons to state standards, but also to determine individual
student progress. Parents also play a significant role, as
they will now receive regular updates about their child’s
performance, ensuring that all stakeholders are informed and
responsible for student achievement, a hallmark of NCLB.
Illinois will be required immediately to mobilize a leadership
team, including a project coordinator; identify and prepare
10 to 15 of the 435 Title I schools identified by the state
as eligible to participate; provide detailed technical specifications
for each of the schools and state offices that will be involved;
and begin a comprehensive needs assessment.
Alaska, Illinois, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and
West Virginia were selected for their immediate capacity to
use Following the Leader tools effectively for realizing the
goals mandated by the NCLB, the landmark statute enacted in
January 2002 that requires dramatic increases in the quality
of public education. The law calls for all students to be
tested annually in grades three through eight beginning with
the 2002-2003 school year. School ratings will be based on
tests of individual student performance, rather than on average
class scores, to allow parents, teachers and policymakers
to better address student needs so that “no child is
left behind” in pursuit of a quality education. Schools
not meeting minimum standards for student achievement must
provide parents and students with a wide range of supplemental
learning and instructional services.
The six states chosen for the first phase represent a broad
cross-section of the U.S. education landscape. Some states
are well on their way to compliance; still others recognize
that there is more work to be done. The six states are small
and large, spread across the geographic, economic and political
Throughout the selection process, all 28 states that applied
were informed that there are no winners and losers. September
2002 is simply the beginning of the first phase with the second
rollout of states scheduled for January 2003 and yet another
later in the year. Expansion of the program to additional
states is dependent upon future appropriations, as is the
extension of Following the Leaders services to other schools
and districts within existing states. The first phase of the
project does include capacity-building features necessary
to sustain reform and build for the future. Furthermore, ELC
and its partners are committed to action and the need to deliver
a model with workable solutions for the nation to follow.
About Following the Leaders
Following the Leaders is a nationwide initiative
coordinated by ELC in partnership with Project Achieve, AccountabilityWorks,
the Milken Family Foundation and the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation.
Funding for Following the Leaders was awarded by the U.S.
Department of Education on June 28, 2002. Applications for
the project were received from 28 states on July 19, 2002,
including: AL, AK, AZ, AR, CA, CO, FL, GA, ID, IL, IO, LA,
MA, MI, MN, MS, NH, NJ, NM, OK, PA, TN, UT, VT, VA, WV, WI,
For more information visit: www.followingtheleaders.org.
About Education Leaders Council
Washington DC-based Education Leaders Council (ELC) is a not-for-profit,
policy “action tank.” It is comprised of reform-minded
state leaders who are committed to make a difference in education
and student achievement. As advocates for school choice, teacher
quality, accountability and standards, ELC is actively engaged
in regional and national debates focused on these issues,
maintaining that “good enough” is not good enough.
ELC shares the belief that the time is now for no child to
be left behind, continuing to exert pressure and provide the
resources necessary to ensure excellence in education for
For more information visit: www.educationleaders.org.
Following the Leaders –
August 7, 2002
Following the Leaders (FTL) engages participating states,
districts and schools in a rapid deployment of the No
Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). It provides all participants
not only with the tools they need to put the essential
elements of reform into place, but also with the constant
guidance, expertise and reform-oriented philosophy they
need to ensure that these goals are fully and permanently
Education Leaders Council received $3.5 million from
the U.S. Department of Education Fund for the Improvement
of Education to lay an immediate groundwork to ensure
the success of the project.
FTL funding will ultimately determine the number of
states participating in the program, as well as the opportunities
to extend the program within existing states.
FTL garnered an overwhelming initial response with 28
states that submitted applications to participate in the
project. 12 states were invited for interviews and six
states were selected to participate in the first phase
of the project. These six states include: Alaska, Illinois,
Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and West Virginia.
FTL does not award cash grants. It offers states and
schools a comprehensive system for analyzing the extensive
data that is required to be collected and reported under
NCLB, and then using that information to set policies
that will improve classroom instruction and school management,
ensure state assessments are rigorous and meaningful,
and that data (and the resulting analysis) are readily
available to parents, schools, districts, and policymakers.
FTL builds upon work that has already been done in the
states and helps them improve their own systems of assessment.
It does not dictate to states what their standards should
be or what tests it should use. Rather, it provides states
with the best information about their current assessments
to allow states to determine their needs and what changes,
if any, are needed.
FTL provides a comprehensive system of data analysis
for the Congress and US Department of Education to gauge
progress toward meeting high academic standards, closing
the achievement gap, and realizing that ambitious goals
FTL provides State education agencies, governors and
other state policymakers with the ability to closely monitor
progress in districts and schools toward meeting the requirements
of AYP. It also provides them with an idea of what a quality
assessment system looks like, allowing them, if they so
choose, to continually improve the State assessment.