Thursday, October 22, 2015

ISBE News

PARCC information
ISBE has made available a number of resources to help school districts explain and answer questions about the new Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC). The board recently approved PARCC performance-level threshold scores and the release of preliminary results of assessments completed online. Districts are sure to receive a great deal of inquiries on this subject as additional findings are released. For that reason ISBE has launched PARCC Place, a website that includes a toolkit of materials to assist districts with PARCC communication. The resources include FAQs, sample letters, fact sheets, and more.

Changes to first goal of strategic plan
During ISBE’s recent strategic planning session, State Superintendent Tony Smith and the board unanimously agreed to make changes to Goal 1 of its strategic plan. The previous version stated that “every student will demonstrate academic achievement and be prepared for success after high school.” Superintendent Smith suggested that the updated vision include more specific goals, and thus he presented the board with what was termed the “90 percent goal.” The new language sets benchmarks, including: 90 percent of all students will meet and exceed standards; 90 percent of all students in third grade will be reading at grade level; 90 percent of all eighth graders will be proficient in math; and 90 percent of all students will graduate from high school ready for college or a career. PARCC assessments were suggested as the measuring tool for these standards. For more information, see the strategic plan item in the most recent board packet.

Budget update
 Districts should expect to receive a 92 percent proration of General State Aid funding this year. Calculations for individual districts have been finalized and can be viewed on the ISBE website. This year an additional $85 million in grant awards will be available to districts that are most impacted by proration of General State Aid. Losses are limited to no more than $228.40 per student with these funds. The added payments will occur twice per month on the same schedule as General State Aid payments are received. To view calculations of these funds view ISBE’s General State Aid page, and click the link titled “FY 16 Loss Limit Calculations.”

State Superintendent on Twitter
For districts that monitor news and updates via social media, State Superintendent Tony Smith now has his own Twitter account, @ISBEsupt. Superintendent Smith provides regular updates from his many visits and speaking engagements throughout the state, as well as links to newly released ISBE material.