For Immediate Release
August 24, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich signs Higher Standards,
Better Schools plan into law
Plan increases high school graduation
better prepares students for success after high school
BURBANK - On the first day of school at Reavis High School
in Burbank, Governor Rod Blagojevich today signed a new
law, putting into place the centerpiece of his Higher
Standards, Better Schools plan for Illinois schools.
The legislation will ensure that students take tougher
courses before they can graduate from high school.
Higher Standards, Better Schools increases the number
of credits required for high school graduation, requires
students to take more math, science and writing-intensive
courses, and requires school districts to offer a broader
range of electives and Advanced Placement courses to students.
"Before we passed this bill, Illinois had some of
the weakest high school graduation requirements in the
nation. If you don't take enough math classes or science
classes or writing intensive classes, you're not going
to be prepared to compete in college or the workplace
- no matter what your diploma says. This bill makes sure
that students will take the classes they need to get the
education they deserve," said Gov. Blagojevich.
Sponsored by Sen. Miguel del Valle (D-Chicago)
and Rep. Calvin Giles (D-Chicago), Senate Bill 575 increases
course requirements for English, Math and Science and
requiring all students to complete two writing-intensive
courses, one of which must be in English. The current
Social Studies requirements remain unchanged.
"This plan will make the high school curriculum
in Illinois more rigorous, which is something we've needed
for a long time," said Sen. del Valle. "Too
many of our high school graduates have been unprepared
for college and the workforce. This plan addresses that
problem and assures that students in all schools across
Illinois will take the courses they need to be prepared
for a successful future."
The Higher Standards, Better Schools plan helps
college-bound high school students prepare better for
their work in higher education. Enhanced graduation requirements
have been proven to improve student test scores. Students
with more Math, Science and English coursework completed
at the time they take Illinois' eleventh grade standardized
Prairie State Achievement Exam (PSAE) do better on the
test. In 2004 Illinois students who chose to complete
the coursework that will now be required for all students
scored an average of 1.8 points higher on the ACT than
"With this new law, students in every school in
Illinois will be learning the critical skills they need
for success beyond high school," said Rep. Giles.
"We have to make sure that we're preparing all our
graduates for what comes after high school. It's important
for their future and it's important for the future of
While Illinois schools have a responsibility to prepare
students for higher education, they also must recognize
that some students enter the workforce immediately after
high school graduation. Gov. Blagojevich's Higher Standards,
Better Schools plan will support that effort, as well.
Business leaders look for employees who can write, communicate
effectively, analyze information, conduct research and
solve problems-the skills gained through courses in Math,
Science, English and writing. The quality of Illinois'
workforce is critical when it competes with other states
for businesses deciding where to locate.
Gov. Blagojevich fought for increased education funding
to support his Higher Standards, Better Schools
plan in the FY 2006 budget. These increases include an
additional $1 million for Dual Credit/Dual Enrollment
classes, an increase of $1.5 million for Advanced Placement
courses, $3.5 million for Career & Technical Education
programs and an added $2 million for Arts and Foreign
In summary, SB 575:
- increases the English requirement to four credits
- increases the Science requirement to two credits from
- increases the Math requirement to three credits from
two, and requires Algebra I and coursework with Geometry
- adds a new requirement for two writing-intensive courses,
one being an English course.
The requirements will be phased in over the course of
four years. Members of the class of 2009, which begins
high school this fall, will be required to complete three
years of Math in order to graduate.
In addition to the requirements of SB575, Gov. Blagojevich's
Higher Standards, Better Schools Plan helps schools
offer more foreign languages, arts and music, provides
more training opportunities for career-track students,
helps schools offer more Advanced Placement classes, and
gives more high school students access to community college
dual credit and dual enrollment courses.
The Illinois State Board of Education has begun to develop
the criteria for the new writing-intensive course requirement
and will provide guidance and assistance to schools in
SB 575 is effective immediately.