Proposed Amendments to Part 50 (Evaluation of Certified Employees under Article s24A and 34 of the School Code)

Section 24A-2.5 of the School Code requires that school districts performing in the lowest 20 percent of all school districts statewide implement performance evaluation systems incorporating data and indicators of student growth beginning September 1, 2015 (Section 50.20(d)). In 2012, staff faced two competing priorities when they contemplated the way in which performance would be measured: the age of the data to be used and the amount of time school districts would need to develop high-quality performance evaluation systems. At that time, staff reasoned that if the data used was too old, then districts that have shown improvement in subsequent years risked being ranked in the lowest performing group, a ranking they may no longer hold. At the same time, staff agreed that the rules had to provide adequate time to design effective evaluation systems. For these reasons, staff supported the use of preliminary assessment data released in summer 2014 as a way to ensure that the data would be the most accurate representation available of a district’s performance and still afford joint committees in those school districts identified as the lowest performing with a full school year to debate and design effective evaluation systems.

This spring, however, the State Board began to pilot-test new assessments, which align to the recently revised Illinois Learning Standards (ILS) for English Language Arts and Mathematics. These assessments, developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, will be administered to about 125,000 students in nearly 1,800 Illinois schools and 650 districts. The field test, or “test of the test”, is intended to help students and staff in the participating schools to become familiar with PARCC. They also will provide the agency with valuable feedback before the tests are finalized for administration in all school districts in the 2014-15 school year. Students being administered the PARCC pilot test will not be required to take the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) and Prairie State Achievement Examination (PSAE) and their results from PARCC will not be used for state or federal accountability purposes. This presents a dilemma for State Board staff in identifying school districts whose performance ranks in the lowest 20 percent of districts statewide, since it would be inappropriate to use results from two different assessments to construct a single list for PERA implementation purposes.

For these reasons, staff are proposing that Section 50.20(e) be modified to allow for the use of the composite results from the 2011, 2012 and 2013 administrations of the state assessments (i.e., Illinois Alternative Assessment (IAA), ISAT or PSAE). The composite ISAT scores for each of the three years have been recalibrated to reflect the new cut-scores that better align to the revised ILS for English Language Arts and Mathematics. Additionally, the ISAT scores reflect performance levels more closely matched to the PSAE; therefore, it will no longer be necessary to group districts by type (i.e., elementary, unit, high school) when establishing the rank order of performance.

Finally, staff was encouraged to use a methodology for determining the lowest performing districts for PERA implementation purposes that closely matched or was identical to that used for identifying priority school districts for system of support purposes. Section 24A-2.5 of the School Code, however, requires that districts be identified as lowest performing based on their overall performance. By contrast, school districts may be identified as "priority" if only one school in the district is so identified, even if its overall would not have resulted in their placement among the lowest 20 percent. For PERA purposes, the performance of one or more schools in the district should not be the trigger for their having to implement performance evaluation systems earlier than the majority of the school districts in the state are required to do so. It is likely that school districts will scrutinize the method proposed closely to determine whether it appropriately places them in the lowest 20 percent, so it is critical that the process include all of the schools in a district when determining districtwide performance.

Specifically, the proposed changes are intended to communicate that:

Additionally, other changes being proposed in Part 50 align terminology used in the rules with the educator licensure system implemented July 1, 2013.

Initial Review by State Board of Education: April 2014

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