Thursday, June 30, 2016

Policy brief data supports Vision 20/20

Updated data shows Illinois students still perform well.
The Vision 20/20 education coalition released an updated Vision 20/20 policy brief on June 27 referencing the latest key data supporting its long-term plan.

Vision 20/20 is a plan that challenges the state legislature and governor, along with all stakeholders, to take action to fulfill the promise of public education in Illinois by the year 2020.

Vision 20/20’s policy brief provides background information to support the policy vision of educators from across the state expressed in 2014 in Vision 20/20 documents that resulted from gathering school leaders’ views and ideas for the future. The objective of the initiative is to unite the Illinois education community around a vision to improve education in the state.

The updated policy brief includes new data on student achievement showing that despite Illinois being ranked nearly last nationally in state education funding, its public education system continues to perform well. For example, Illinois public education student scores on the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) exam are shown to be comparable to national averages.
Inequities in education exist, as low-income students struggle.

But figures also show that large and growing inequities prevail in Illinois public education, with over half of all students identified as low income, and with low-income students struggling more than their peers. Yet due to the financial condition of the state, the Illinois legislature has in some recent years decided instead of allocating adequate funds to support the General State Aid formula, to only provide school districts with a portion of those funds, disproportionately affecting districts with the least local wealth and the largest percentage of students living in poverty.

An analysis of the impact of such proration contained in the updated Vision 20/20 policy brief shows that for FY2014, when appropriations were prorated at 89 percent, reductions in general state aid were $108 per pupil in low-poverty school districts, compared with $528 per pupil in high-poverty districts.

The Vision 20/20 initiative prompted proposals to address such inequity, plans which have led to state legislation on Equitable and Adequate Funding, one of the long-range plan’s four pillars. The other pillars: Highly Effective Educators, 21st Century Learning, and Shared Accountability, have also prompted legislation. But some key provisions appear to be stalled in the General Assembly at present.

For example, House Bill 3190 passed in the Senate and is now in the House, where it is currently on third reading, with an extended deadline for action to June 30. Insiders say the prospects for passage of the bill, which aims to require evidence-based school funding, are uncertain given the volatile political environment in Springfield.

Two other Vision 20/20 bills have been adopted this year, however. HB 5729, for example, requires higher education boards and the ISBE to jointly adopt and publicize model post-secondary and career expectations for K-12 students. It establishes a pilot program of competency-based, high school graduation requirements.

Another adopted bill, HB 6044, would delay differentiated accountability for a year while schools await final federal rule-making on the topic. A bill that passed the General Assembly last year requires the state to adopt a differentiated accountability model to focus on continuous improvement, recognize the diversity of struggling schools and eliminate achievement gaps across the state. Vision 20/20 proponents said this model would allow local flexibility, promote shared accountability, and be sensitive to local improvements.

Since the Vision 20/20 campaign was launched in 2014, 522 school districts representing more than 810,000 students have pledged support. Information about the Vision 20/20 initiative, and access to additional resources, are available at the Vision 20/20 website.