For immediate release
February 4, 2004
Schiller: Our schools are not failing
State Superintendent presents accurate picture of schools
and plan to support continued success
(SPRINGFIELD) Illinois schools are not failing, State
Superintendent Robert Schiller told members of the Senate
Education Committee Wednesday.
Schiller presented to the Committee the Illinois State Board
of Educations 2003 Condition of Education report and
its long-term plan to support continued achievement.
The fact of the matter is, not all of our schools are
failing many are excelling. Schiller said. The
Boards plan will help all of our schools reach their
Schiller highlighted some of the successes of Illinois public
schools, as outlined in the report.
- Illinois graduating seniors who took the SAT scored 76
points higher in verbal skills and 77 points higher in math
skills than the national average.
- State assessments illustrate continued improvement in
- Hispanic student achievement in state tests is increasing
in reading, mathematics and science faster than any other
- Illinois saw its lowest dropout rate in the last five
years at 4.9 percent in 2003.
- The graduation rate is up at 86%.
- More than 3,800 students who were expelled or dropped
out came back to attend Regional Safe Schools in 2003.
Schiller also discussed the changing population in Illinois
schools, including how the percentage of Hispanic students
continues to increase; the number of white students continues
to decrease and the number of our low income students is on
the rise accounting for nearly 38 percent of our student
While the State Board is proud of the strides that our schools
have been making, it is equally concerned with the challenges
that lay ahead, Schiller said.
The plan proposes implementation or expansion of the following
programs over the next decade that would truly improve performance
in the classroom:
- Early Childhood education for at risk students.
- Universal Early Childhood Education for all three and
four year-olds to assure they can read.
- Expand kindergarten by a month for at risk students. The
initiative would be carried on through first grade as well.
- Offer an extra month of service in the middle grades for
students performing below math and reading standards.
- Reading Comprehension Initiative for grade 5 -8.
- Upper middle grades Mathematics Initiative including upgrading
algebra and geometry requirements.
- Upper middle grade Science Initiative including upgrading
requirements for biology, chemistry and physics.
- Make a second language a requirement in the upper middle
- High School raise the bar for graduation, including
tougher requirements. Illinois has the lowest graduation
requirements in the country.
- Better preparation for the Prairie State Achievement Examination.
- Make the Prairie State Achievement Examination a requirement
for a high school diploma.
- Expand the Standards-Aligned Classroom training.
- Provide sufficient resources for an effective System of
- Make after school and extended year (summer school) programs
available to all.
- Expand learning opportunities and quality instructional
programs for the increasing numbers of students learning
English as a Second Language by increasing the level of
funding for this program.
- Assure adequacy of services for children with disabilities.
The plan further addresses efforts that will streamline government
to benefit parents and children, including:
- Reducing paperwork for teachers and administrators.
- Supporting our Regional Offices of Education as intermediary
agency offices and expanding their capacity.
- Expanding the use of learning technology in the classroom.
- Developing a network of community support.
- Establish an interagency state collaborative to coordinate
and leverage the resources of multiple agencies to best
address the needs of children and parents.
The longer we put off these reforms, the longer it
will take before we see improvement, Schiller said.
He presented an overview of the FY 2005 recommendation and
how the current funding limitations restrict the states
ability to sponsor programs that will improve achievement.
The recommended FY05 budget for education in Illinois includes
a $609 million increase over the current fiscal year; however,
the largest portion is distributive aid to school districts.
More than $6 billion or 74.6% of the FY05 general funds budget
is for General State Aid, General State Aid Hold Harmless
and reimbursement for mandates categorical programs.
Schiller said that the ISBE budget recommendation recognized
that more than 75 percent of our school districts are operating
in deficits, includes the commitment to an annual $250 General
State Aid increase and the need to appropriately fund the
We need to do more than keep the lights on, Schiller
said. This plan recognizes that and proposes programs
that will do just that.