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News

For Immediate Release
November 17, 2004

New State Board of Education team and Illinois schools clean up School Report Cards
Launches re-design of Report Card and
begins plans to speed up reporting

Springfield, Ill. – Working together with Illinois school districts, the new State Board of Education has corrected the errors in this year’s School Report Cards, which were distributed to districts today. The new State Board leadership avoided the problems that plagued last year’s report cards, which caused more than 400 Illinois schools to be incorrectly identified as not making adequate yearly progress (AYP). The Board also announced plans to speed up the release of future report cards, and to redesign the report cards to make them easier for districts and parents to use.

In preparation for distribution of the 2003-2004 School Report Cards, the State Board worked with local school districts to correct the data errors impacting more than 1,900 schools. The agency will now forward the Report Card data to districts for review and discussion with local school boards. Districts and schools will issue their respective cards.

The State Board will issue individual student test scores to schools on December 15.

The data correction process began in September, less than one week after Interim State Superintendent Randy Dunn was appointed by the new State Board of Education. At that time State Board staff identified more than 1900 schools with data discrepancies, prompting Dunn and the State Board staff to launch an aggressive effort to correct the data. The State Board re-opened the data correction period so that schools and agency staff could work together to correct the errors.

“There were terrible problems with errors on last year’s report cards,” said Dunn. “We knew we couldn’t let that happen under our leadership. The agency staff worked hand in hand with the districts to pinpoint and fix the problems so that the information we provide to schools will be accurate. ”

Last year’s inaccurate data release resulted in significant problems for local schools, many of which were incorrectly labeled as not having made AYP, the critical performance measure for schools under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. In addition to the hundreds of inaccuracies last year, the data were also issued to schools later than this year’s release.

“It was good to work so closely with the State Board this year to fix the problems,” said Ben Schwarm, Illinois School Boards Association representative. “We never had this kind of cooperation from the agency in the past. It was a big help to us and to our schools.”

“Working directly with the schools, our staff has accomplished amazing results. They gave up holidays, weekends and evenings to make it happen,” said Dunn. “We appreciate our staff’s dedication and the districts’ commitment to work with us on this problem. We pledge to them that we will make the process better in the future.”

The State Board has already begun work on future plans to improve responsiveness to schools and increase agency accountability for data accuracy throughout the process. The agency will also make changes to the timeline so that schools have their final data much sooner and can distribute their School Report Cards much earlier in the year.

"This is a good example of what can be accomplished when the State Board and local schools work hand-in-hand," said Dr. John Dively, President of the Illinois Principals Association. "We applaud Randy for his leadership."

In addition, the State Board will work with the Illinois Parent Teacher Association to launch an effort to redesign school report cards in a way that makes them more user-friendly. To make suggestions, go to www.isbe.net and click on Report Card Ideas in the Education Ideas box.

“Parents need to have accurate information about their childrens’ schools, in an easy to understand format,” said Gayla Boomer, Illinois Parent Teacher Association President. “On behalf of our members and all parents in Illinois, I look forward to working with Superintendent Dunn to make Illinois’ school report cards more user-friendly.”

Illinois State Board of Education
100 North First Street
Springfield, IL 62777