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Archive for September 10th, 2013

Illinois Department of Insurance announces a multi-million dollar settlement with Transamerica

Posted by Admin On September - 10 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Illinois leads multi-state effort to examine payment of Life Insurance Benefits

CHICAGO, IL – Illinois Department of Insurance (DOI) Director Andrew Boron announced an agreement with Transamerica as part of a multi-million dollar settlement with several states regarding its use of the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File (DMF). Under the settlement, Transamerica will pay $11.2 million dollars to states that are a party to the settlement.

This settlement with Transamerica stems from multi-state market conduct examinations of the forty largest life insurers regarding the timely payment of proceeds to beneficiaries of life insurance policies and annuities. Illinois led the examination, along with California, Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Vermont.

Under the agreement, Transamerica will implement business reforms to promote a timely and efficient search for the beneficiaries of both its in-force life insurance policies and annuities using the DMF. The company will regularly match all of its insureds and annuitants against the DMF to help promptly identify when an insured has died, to locate and make payment to beneficiaries.

“With this settlement, life insurers writing almost half of all such insurance in the country have stepped forward to use the DMF in the same fair way for all their business in order to locate beneficiaries and to pay claims rightly owed, not just to terminate the payment of benefits” said DOI Director Boron. “Illinois will continue to aggressively investigate insurance companies’ failure to timely make payments to beneficiaries.”

More than 30 market conduct examinations remain ongoing to investigate companies’ use of the DMF. For many years, some life insurers have used the DMF to search for and stop payments to annuity holders, but did not make use of the knowledge of deaths they gained from the DMF to identify their own deceased life insurance policyholders whose beneficiaries were owed life insurance proceeds. It is estimated that through this practice, those insurers avoided paying billions of dollars in life insurance proceeds to beneficiaries.

Market conduct examinations of seven of the ten largest insurers in the United States have been resolved. These life insurers, and the other smaller insurers who have settled, represent more than 45% of the market and the resolutions demonstrate that there is a sea change in the industry to properly and fairly use the DMF.

A copy of the Transamerica settlement agreement is available on the DOI website at http://insurance.illinois.gov/Home/ImpLinks.asp. Consumers who have any questions regarding this settlement, or who have any questions or concerns about their insurance, should contact the Department’s Consumer Division at http://insurance.illinois.gov or call 866-445-5364.

ISBE announces finalists for Illinois Teacher of the Year

Posted by Admin On September - 10 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

2013-14 Illinois Teacher of the Year to be announced Oct. 19

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Eleven teachers from across the state have been selected as finalists in the Illinois State Board of Education’s annual “Those Who Excel,” educator recognition program. The winner will be announced during an October banquet in Normal that celebrates the contributions and accomplishments of nearly 200 educators and school personnel from throughout the Prairie State.

“These eleven teachers are excellent representatives of Illinois’ many enthusiastic and passionate educators who are leading our children and schools,” said Illinois State Board of Education Chairman Gery J. Chico. “They consistently create new strategies that keep students engaged and excited about learning and achieving. We are pleased to have this opportunity to publicly recognize their efforts and thank them for their commitment to Illinois’ students.”

A selection committee comprised of administrators, teachers and representatives from educational service personnel, student support personnel and past Illinois Teacher of the Year winners reviewed approximately 200 nominations this year.

Each nomination is individually reviewed and scored three times. Nominations are scored based on personal background information, the nominating recommendation and letters of support from colleagues, parents and students. In addition, nominees must respond to questions focusing on student success, collaboration, continuous learning and leadership. Scores are compiled and averaged to determine one of three levels of recognition: Excellence, Merit or Recognition.

Teachers earning an Award of Excellence are finalists for Illinois Teacher of the Year. Illinois has named a state Teacher of the Year since the mid 1950’s. In 1970, the Illinois State Board of Education became involved in the Teacher of the Year selection, and the first banquet was held in 1974. During the 1980’s, ISBE began adding other categories so that educators in a variety of positions could be publicly acknowledged for their efforts. The Early Career Educator became the most recent addition in 2006.

Brian Curtin is the 2013-2014 Illinois Teacher of the Year. Brian teaches English at Schaumburg High School in Township High School District 211.

“This has definitely been a life-changing and career-changing experience because of all the people that I’ve met, specifically teachers, students and community members,” Curtin said. “What I found really rejuvenating was the collective passion and desire to do what’s best for kids. It was really eye-opening for me and something I wish all teachers could see and experience.”

The 2013-14 Illinois Teacher of the Year will be announced during the Those Who Excel banquet Saturday, Oct. 19 at the Bloomington-Normal Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in Normal. The Teacher of the Year will represent Illinois at NASA Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala., and in the Council of Chief State School Officers’ National Teacher of the Year Program.

Here are this year’s finalists:

· John Bierbaum teaches U.S. History, World History and Psychology at Normal Community West High School in McLean County Unit School District 5.

· Mark Buesing is a science and physics teacher at Libertyville High School in Community High School District 128 in Vernon Hills.

· Amanda Dearmond teaches reading and Language Arts to 7th and 8th grade students at DuQuoin Middle School in DuQuoin Community Unit District 300.

· William Fritz is a Communication Arts teacher at Adlai E. Stevenson High School in Adlai E. Stevenson High School District 125 in Lincolnshire.

· DeLores Mannes teaches Language Arts to 6th grade students at Parker Junior High School in Flossmoor School District 161.

· Kerry (Fran) Meyers is a math, science and Ancient Civilizations teacher of 6th grade students at Brimfield Grade School in Brimfield Community Unit School District 309.

· Pam Reilly teaches second grade at Woodbury Elementary School in Sandwich Community Unit School District 430.

· Sina Rowe is a kindergarten to third grade Special Education teacher at Goshen Elementary School in Edwardsville Community Unit School District 7.

· Aaron Sitze teaches English at Oregon High School in Oregon Community Unit School District 220.

  • Amy Walsh is a fourth grade teacher at Tioga School in Bensenville Elementary School District 2.

  • Donna Whitaker teaches science to 7th graders at West Junior High School in Belleville District 118.

For the latest news from the Illinois State Board of Education, follow us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Illinois-State-Board-oEducation/136022251779 or Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/ISBEnews. Visit the official ISBE website at http://www.isbe.net.


2014 Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Internship Program now accepting applications

Posted by Admin On September - 10 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Deadline to apply is October 20, 2013

Nationwide (BlackNews.com) — The 2013-2014 Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s internship and fellowship programs prepare college students and young professionals to become principled leaders, skilled policy analysts, and informed advocates by exposing them to the processes by which national policies are developed and implemented on Capitol Hill and in the federal government. There are two: the CBCF Emerging Leaders Internship Program and the CBCF Communications Internship Program.

The goal of the Emerging Leaders Internship Program sponsored by Walmart is to create a corps of trained, young leaders with the skills, outlook and contacts necessary to generate and sustain positive change in Washington, D.C., and their local communities. Alumni will return to their communities knowing what it takes to pass legislation, form public policy and create coalitions. In short, they will leave the program better informed about how politics works and more aware of how they can influence the public policy-making process.

The CBCF Communications Internship Program sponsored by State Farm provides college undergraduates the opportunity to work directly with the press secretary or communications director on Capitol Hill in a CBC member office or congressional committee. This semester-long program seeks to increase minority participation in public relations, journalism, and other media-related fields.


To search hundreds of other 2013-14 internships, visit:
www.FindInternships.com

Chicago’s Merit School of Music taps Lincoln Trio as first-ever Artists in Residence

Posted by Admin On September - 10 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Celebrated trio’s debut performance as Merit’s new resident ensemble is Wednesday, September 11 at 8:30 p.m., part of the International Beethoven Festival

Lincoln Trio

CHICAGO, IL – Chicago’s Merit School of Music has signed an agreement with the internationally acclaimed Lincoln TrioMarta Aznavoorian (piano), David Cunliffe (cello) and Desirée Ruhstrat (violin) – to be the school’s first-ever Artists in Residence.

Through this new partnership, the Lincoln Trio will perform four public concerts in Merit’s showcase performance space, Gottlieb Hall, in 2013-2014. Lincoln Trio will also immerse themselves into Merit’s curriculum by providing an extensive series of concerts and master classes exclusively for Merit’s students.

“Our Artists in Residence program will be an exciting new core offering here at Merit,” said Thomas Bracy, Executive Director, Merit School of Music, which provides high-quality music education to nearly 5,000 Chicago-area students, from newborns to age 18, with a focus on underserved communities. “Everyone here – students, faculty, staff and parents – are thrilled to welcome Lincoln Trio to our community and curriculum, and we can’t wait to see the positive impact these incredibly talented chamber music artists will have on our students.”

“We are thrilled to be a part of the Merit family. Merit provides a nurturing environment that fosters creativity and achievement. We are looking forward to working with the students to fulfill their full potential and develop a lifelong love of music,” said Lincoln Trio’s Desirée Ruhstrat.

To launch their residency, Lincoln Trio will perform their debut concert at Merit on Wednesday, September 11 at 8:30 pm. Titled “Whirlwinds,” the concert is part of Beethoven Festival 2013: Love, and includes Piano Trio, Opus 11 by Ludwig van Beethoven, Grand Tango for Piano and Viola by Astor Piazzolla, Piano Sextet by Joaquin Turina and Piano Quartet in C Minor by Gabriel Faure. Special guests are David Aaron Carpenter (viola), Aurelien Pederzoli (violin) and Doyle Armbrust (viola).

Admission is $30 as part of a General Day Pass that includes four more festival events before and after Lincoln Trio on September 8. Admission is free for up to two children under 18 if accompanied by a paying adult. Merit School of Music, located at 38 S. Peoria in Chicago’s West Loop, is the new home venue for the International Beethoven Project’s third annual Beethoven Festival, September 7-15, 2013. For information and to purchase tickets, visit internationalbeethovenproject.com/festival/tickets.

More about Lincoln Trio
In 2012 FANFARE Magazine hailed the celebrated Chicago-based Lincoln Trio as “one of the hottest young trios in the business.”
Formed in 2003, the Lincoln Trio takes its name from their home, the heartland of the United States, the land of Lincoln. The trio has been praised for its polished presentations of well-known chamber works and its ability to forge new paths with contemporary repertoire. The group’s reputation as a first-rate ensemble draws an eclectic audience of sophisticated music lovers, young admirers of contemporary programs and students discovering chamber music for the first time.
Bringing together performing experience spanning the globe, each member is an artist of international renown. Violinist Desirée Ruhstrat has performed throughout the U.S. and Europe, appearing at the White House and performing on a live radio broadcast heard around the world with the Berlin Radio Orchestra; cellist David Cunliffe has performed with the BBC and Royal Scottish orchestras as well as touring as a member of the Balanescu Quartet; pianist Marta Aznavoorianhas performed throughout the U.S. and abroad appearing at Chicago Symphony Center, the Kennedy Center in D.C. and the Sydney Opera House.
The trio has performed throughout the U.S., including at Carnegie’s Weil Hall, Ravinia Festival, Poisson Rouge, the Indianapolis Symphony Beethoven Chamber Music Series, Lane Concert Series, University of Chicago, Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series, Music in the Loft, and in Springfield, Illinois, where the trio was chosen to celebrate the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial celebration with President Barack Obama. The trio’s debut solo CD “Notable Women” received numerous accolades in the U.S. and abroad including NAXOS CD of the Month, Baker and Taylor CD Hotlist, Byzantion Recording of the Month, TPR Classical Spotlighted album, WQXR/Q2 Music Album of the week, UK Observer Hidden Gems of 2011 and was listed on Alex Ross of

New Yorker Magazine “Nightafternight playlist for summer’s end.” For more information visit lincolntrio.com.

More about Merit School of Music

Celebrating its 35th anniversary in 2013-2014, Merit School of Music is nationally recognized for providing accessible, high-quality music education to nearly 5,000 Chicago-area students. Founded in 1979, Merit’s primary goals are to help young people achieve their full musical potential, to remove economic barriers to participation and to stimulate personal and educational growth through music.

Merit’s esteemed faculty teaches a continuum of music programs to students ranging in age from six months to 18 years old. Its Alice S. Pfaelzer Tuition-Free Conservatory enrolls the Chicago-area’s most advanced and motivated young musicians. Merit also provides in-school and community center music instruction throughout the city to thousands of children each year through its Bridges: Partners in Music program.

Merit’s student body reflects Chicago’s diversity. Nearly 70 percent of students receive scholarships and financial aid. To learn more about Merit’s music education programs, visit meritmusic.org or call 312.786.9428.

Photo Caption: Lincoln Trio From left: Desirée Ruhstrat, David Cunliffe and Marta Aznavoorian

NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous to step down from Association at Year’s End

Posted by Admin On September - 10 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Jealous will remain in role through December 31, 2013

BALTIMORE, MD – NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous  announced plans to transition out of his role as President and CEO on December 31, 2013. Roslyn M. Brock, Chairman of the NAACP Board of Directors, accepted his formal letter of notice this week.

“We thank President Jealous for his time leading the Association,” stated Brock. “Under his leadership, the NAACP has built a highly competent staff that will carry our mission forward and meet the civil rights challenges of the 21st century. Our board, staff and volunteer leaders throughout the country deeply appreciate his sacrifice, and will continue to implement our game-changing goals for the next half century that include the restoration of Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, implementing Trayvon’s Law, bolstering civic engagement efforts and ensuring our community is enrolled in the Affordable Care Act exchanges.”

“The NAACP has always been the largest civil rights organization in the streets, and today it is also the largest civil rights organization online, on mobile and at the ballot box too,” stated Jealous.  “I am proud to leave the Association financially sound, sustainable, focused, and more powerful than ever. Beginning next year, I look forward to pursuing opportunities in academia to train the next generation of leaders and, of course, spending a lot more time with my young family.”

In recent years the NAACP has won state and local battles to abolish the death penalty, shrink prison systems, outlaw racial profiling, expand voting rights protections, reform gun laws, close dangerous power plants, expand early childhood education, secure health care coverage for the uninsured, and more.

The Association will continue its work as an ally in the fights for workers’ rights, women’s rights, immigrants’ rights, and marriage equality, as well as in the struggle to end the HIV epidemic.
Jealous will remain with the Association through December 31, 2013.

Photo Caption: Benjamin Todd Jealous

Rev. Al Sharpton and the National Action Network respond to NAACP’s Ben Jealous’ resignation

Posted by Admin On September - 10 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

“…Ben Jealous has operated with integrity and a real sense of hands-on activism…”

Statement from Rev. Al Sharpton & National Action Network regarding the resignation of Ben Jealous from the NAACP

New York, NY) -  “I met the news of the resignation of Ben Jealous as President and CEO of the NAACP with mixed emotions. I am happy that he has done so well and leaves his post with no scandal, shame, or physical challenges, and young enough to have a bright future. There is sadness, however, because for the last several years he has joined Marc Morial, (National Urban League) Melanie Campbell (National Coalition on Black Civic Participation), and me as we tried to broaden the civil rights leadership of the 21st century movement. I have known him since he was a student leader at Columbia University and his first arrest was in the Diallo civil disobedience movement that National Action Network (NAN) and I led in New York to protest the police killing of Amadou Diallo. We worked with him until recently as he joined me and NAN in the fight for justice for Trayvon Martin and helped us as Martin Luther King, III, and I spearheaded the March on Washington 50th Anniversary March to Continue the Dream.

“Ben Jealous has operated with integrity and a real sense of hands-on activism. Not only was he able to revive the NAACP and raise its budget to higher heights, he joined us in the streets in real civil rights activity on the ground. From the “suites to the streets” he will be missed as head of the NAACP but I am sure he will not leave us in his contribution to the struggle.”

Reverend Al Sharpton & National Action Network

Lt. Gov. Simon to give keynote address at 128th Annual Illinois Licensed Beverage Association Convention

Posted by Admin On September - 10 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

KANKAKEE, IL – Illinois Lt. Governor Sheila Simon will be the keynote speaker at the 128th Annual Convention of the Illinois Licensed Beverage Association (ILBA) today, continuing her work to increase government transparency and improve business opportunities in rural Illinois.

“Having practiced at a small-town law firm, I’ve seen firsthand the important role small businesses play in our communities,” said Simon. “I am looking forward to working with the ILBA to create business opportunities in Illinois, increase transparency and expand government accountability.”

Simon will speak with ILBA members, discuss the need for increased transparency in government, encourage efforts to support Illinois businesses and launch a program in partnership with Illinois Wineries aimed at reducing teen alcohol abuse.

The Illinois Licensed Beverage Association (ILBA) boasts that it is the oldest business trade association in the country dedicated to promoting and protecting the retail businesses that sell or serve beverage alcohol. Over 2,500 Illinois retail liquor businesses (on and off-premise) belong to the ILBA, a not-for-profit corporation. Members include: taverns, restaurants, fraternal clubs, package stores, bowling centers, golf courses, hotels, gas stations, convenience stores & grocery stores.

As chair of the 25-member Governor’s Rural Affairs Council, Simon is working to increase opportunities for rural residents to enhance their quality of life and support business opportunities in the state.

Date: Sept. 10

Time: 1:30 p.m.

Place: Hilton Garden Inn & Riverstone Conference Center, 455 Riverstone Parkway, Kankakee, IL.

Alright TV announces launch of dFree® to Be Free, a new financial web series featuring Dr. DeForest B. Soaries

Posted by Admin On September - 10 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

The New Series Highlights Financial Planning and Education to Help Consumers Achieve Financial Freedom

Los Angeles, CA (BlackNews.com) – Robert L. Johnson, Founder and Chairman of The RLJ Companies and Tracey E. Edmonds, President and CEO of Alright TV, announced the debut of a new financial planning web series, DFree® To Be Free, created by Dr. DeForest B. Soaries, Jr., former New Jersey Secretary of State and senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, New Jersey.

Debuting Sunday, September 8th, DFree® To Be Free follows the financial advice put forth by Dr. Soaries through his DFree® curriculum. DFree® To Be Free takes an insightful look into the emotional and cultural impediments that hinder many individuals from achieving financial freedom. The series will air new webisodes every Sunday evening and on Mondays, Dr. Soaries will hold an interactive Google Hangout, #UsedToBeBroke, as a supplement to the week’s financial topic during which audience members can join in the discussion.

“Dr. Soaries has been highly successful with his DFree® program and its mission to help consumers gain financial literacy and save for their financial future,” said Johnson. “I was delighted that Dr. Soaries agreed to work collaboratively on my campaign to bring about an end to payday lending as we know it today. He has been a national advocate in consumer education and financial planning and speaks directly to the challenges that many individuals face daily. The DFree® To Be Free webisodes offer a fresh and accessible way to help consumers, particularly minorities, pay down debt, increase their savings, and overcome a cycle of short term and emergency borrowing,” he concluded.

“Dr. DeForest Soaries has such a compelling story which started with his own personal journey to turn his life around and eliminate debt,” said Tracey E. Edmonds. “He has gained national attention for his 12-point DFree® strategy that has helped many individuals achieve financial freedom and become independent from a vicious and often devastating cycle of debt and borrowing. We are delighted to bring his new series, DFree® To Be Free and the accompanying #UsedToBeBroke Google Hangout to Alright TV. The show will inspire and provide viewers with successful strategies on how they too can become debt free and find financial prosperity,” she concluded.

“I am thrilled to join Bob Johnson and Tracey Edmonds to bring DFree® To Be Free to Alright TV,” said Dr. Soaries. “Our mission is to help all consumers achieve debt free living, economic capacity, and to rely less on borrowing, particularly from high interest payday lending institutions.” He continues, “Our web series will identify the barriers that most often hinder individuals from achieving financial freedom. By discussing spending habits, long-term unemployment, personal illness, student loans, divorce, family, friends, gambling and excessive debt, DFree® To Be Free will address a range of financial needs and help consumers better understand and manage their finances to ultimately achieve financial freedom,” he concluded.

Earlier this year, Johnson announced his financial awareness campaign to “end payday lending as we know it today” through his company, RLJ Financial, and designated Dr. Soaries and his DFree® program as the financial literacy arm to change the lending climate and help minority consumers overcome recurring debt and achieve financial stability. DFree® to Be Free will tackle a number of financial issues and help consumers take control of their finances by setting debt reduction goals, paying off debt, increasing awareness and changing behavior as it relates to money and borrowing – putting them on a path to make better and more informed financial decisions.

DFree® To Be Free debuts on Alright TV this Sunday, September 8th! New webisodes will air every Sunday night and will be followed by an interactive Google Hangout, #UsedToBeBroke, on Mondays.

Watch exclusively online at www.youtube.com/alrighttv.


About The RLJ Companies:
The RLJ Companies, founded by Robert L. Johnson, is an innovative business network that provides strategic investments in a diverse portfolio of companies. Within The RLJ Companies portfolio, Johnson owns or holds interests in businesses operating in a publicly traded hotel real estate investment trust; private equity; financial services; asset management; insurance services; automobile dealerships; sports and entertainment; and video lottery terminal (VLT) gaming. The RLJ Companies is headquartered in Bethesda, MD, with affiliate operations in Charlotte, NC; Little Rock, AR; Los Angeles, CA; San Juan, PR; and Monrovia, Liberia. Prior to founding The RLJ Companies, Johnson was founder and chairman of Black Entertainment Television (BET). For more information visit: www.rljcompanies.com.


About Alright TV:
Alright TV is a groundbreaking digital channel that revolutionizes faith friendly content viewing. Featuring premiere talent along with rising stars, Alright TV offers the best in feel-good, value based entertainment that inspires and motivates. Alright TV brings buzz-worthy comedies, talk, reality, music, and the streaming of national Sunday church services. Developed by Robert L. Johnson, founder and chairman of The RLJ Companies and Tracey E. Edmonds, President and COO of Our Stories Films, Alright TV is a digital collaboration with YouTube that includes an array of online productions and entertainment. For more information visit: www.alrighttv.com.


About Dr. DeForest B. Soaries, Jr.:
Dr. DeForest B. Soaries, Jr. is the senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in New Jersey and author of DFree®: Breaking Free from Financial Slavery. His DFree®: strategy is designed to lead people out of debt to attain financial independence. His DFree® strategy was the focus of CNN’s Almighty Debt documentary. Dr. Soaries is former New Jersey Secretary of State and a current independent director on the Home Loan Bank of New York board. For more information visit: www.mydfree.org.


Elementary students show growth on state tests under new performance levels; number of students meeting standards drops as expected

Posted by Admin On September - 10 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Higher cut scores part of move toward more rigor in standards and assessments to better prepare students for college and careers

SPRINGFIELD, IL – The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) today  released 2013 state average test scores that showed Illinois elementary school students are  demonstrating growth in learning over the 5-year trend under new performance levels. However, as expected following the Board’s move to raise performance levels on the 2013 Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT), the number of students meeting and exceeding state standards dropped.

These higher performance levels provide a more accurate and earlier indication of college and career readiness and better align with the expectations for 11th graders who take the Prairie State Achievement Exam (PSAE), which includes the ACT. The ACT is considered the gold standard for measuring college and career readiness.

“By raising the ISAT cut scores in Reading and Math, we’ve seen the expected drop in student performance, but this drop does not reflect on students as a group or individuals – we raised the bar on performance levels,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch.  “We needed to raise our expectations at the elementary level so that students are on track for high school and eventually prepared to succeed in college, career and daily life. As we map student performance over time on the new performance levels we’re seeing steady growth.”

Students in third through eighth grades last March took the ISAT in reading and mathematics, which were subject to the raised performance levels, while fourth and seventh graders were also tested in science, which did not see a change in performance expectations as new science standards have not yet been approved.  Students in 11th grade last April took the PSAE, which tests students in math, reading and science.

The statewide composite score for students meeting and exceeding standards on the ISAT dropped, going from 82.1 in 2012 to 61.9 in 2013. This decline is very similar to the projections Superintendent Koch and Board members made in January when they announced the higher cut scores.

Analysis of previous ISAT composite scores for reading and math alone under the new cut scores shows that students demonstrated significant growth over the past five years, increasing overall performance on ISAT reading from 54.8 in 2009 to 59 in 2013. Analysis on ISAT math scores during that same five-year timeline shows an increase from 55.3 in 2009 to 58.7 in 2013.  The overall composite math and reading score increased from 55.1 in 2009 to 58.8 in 2013.

The ISAT science composite score – not impacted by the raised cut scores – went from 79.8 in 2012 to 80.0 in 2013.

The composite score for the PSAE, given to 11th graders, increased from 51.3 in 2012 to 51.9 in 2013. Performance level cut scores for the PSAE were not raised as the test includes the ACT.

Prior to raising the cut scores, a disconnect existed  between the ISAT and the higher expectations of the PSAE with 82 percent of students meeting or exceeding standards on the ISAT statewide in 2012 while only 51 percent met or exceeded standards on the PSAE that same year. Educators have wanted to remedy that disconnect by raising expectations earlier to provide a more accurate indication of whether a student is on track for post-secondary success.

“We appreciate the coherence and clarity that the Illinois State Board of Education is bringing to the need for schools to focus on college and career readiness, and specifically the help and support that the Common Core State Standards provide as far as curricular direction and focus is concerned,’’ said Dr. Eric Twadell, Superintendent of Adlai Stevenson High School District 125.  “Clearly, education for the 21st Century is changing dramatically, and we’re grateful to the ISBE for providing us the resources to support our teachers and students in this important work.”

Jeff Mays, President of the Illinois Business Round Table, supports the state’s move to the Common Core Learning Standards and higher performance level cut scores, saying that both initiatives will promote a more serious and perhaps more urgent dialogue among schools within Illinois, and more importantly, between the school, parents and students about the level of achievement needed to meet the challenges before them.

“By realigning all ISAT scoring expectations to those of the high school test (Prairie State Achievement Exam-PSAE), the State Board of Education has signaled that all students and schools will be held to the same expectations,” Mays said.  “This means that a large number of students and schools that met standards in 2012 will no longer be told they met standards on the Spring 2013 ISATs.  If schools are truly about the kids, isn’t it better that kids know sooner rather than later where they truly stand on their education path?”

Student Demographics & Performance

· The number of districts declined from 891 in 2003 to 863 in 2013; there were 376 elementary districts, 100 high school districts, and 387 unit districts.

· In 2012-13, the total enrollment in Illinois public schools was 2,054,155, down more than 12,000 (12,537) students from 2012.

· Since 1999, the percentage of low-income students has increased from 36.1 percent to 49.8 percent in 2013.

· Minority enrollment increased from 38 percent in 1999 to 49.4 percent. The increase is attributed to the growth of the Hispanic student population, which increased from 13.9 percent in 1999 to 24.1 percent of all students in 2013.

· The number of Limited-English proficient (LEP) students increased from 6.3 percent in 2003 to 9.5 percent in 2013. LEP students include those who are eligible for bilingual education.

ISBE has produced the School Report Card since 1986 for every public school and district in Illinois. State report cards have been produced since 2002 and are required under No Child Left Behind.

ISAT Statewide Averages in Reading/Percentage Meet and Exceeds

2009-2013 Trend Data using New Cut Scores

Grade

Year

Percentage Meet and Exceeds

3

2009

54.8

2010

56.2

2011

54

2012

58.6

2013

58.8

……….4

2009

54.2

2010

55.9

2011

56.2

2012

58.4

2013

59.2

5

2009

53.6

2010

57.3

2011

57.5

2012

58

2013

58.9

6

2009

54.2

2010

58.1

2011

56.9

2012

57.2

2013

58.9

7

2009

58.7

2010

58.8

2011

60.1

2012

60.8

2013

58.4

8

2009

53.2

2010

54.4

2011

57.8

2012

60.0

2013

59.8

ISAT Statewide Averages in Math/Percentage Meet and Exceeds

Grade

Year

Percentage Meet and Exceeds

3

2009

52.8

2010

53.5

2011

55.4

2012

55.8

2013

54.9

4

2009

56.3

2010

57.2

2011

59.7

2012

62.2

2013

60.2

5

2009

55.5

2010

57.1

2011

58.5

2012

59.0

2013

59.4

6

2009

56.8

2010

58.7

2011

58.7

2012

60.6

2013

59.6

7

2009

55.1

2010

57.8

2011

60.3

2012

60.4

2013

59.0

8

2009

55.4

2010

57.6

2011

59.0

2012

59.0

2013

58.9

ISAT Statewide Averages Science/Percentage Meet and Exceeds

Grade

Year

Percentage Meet and Exceeds

4

2009

76.8

2010

76.7

2011

79.3

2012

79.8

2013

81.0

7

2009

79.5

2010

82.4

2011

81.9

2012

79.9

2013

79.0

PSAE Statewide Averages/Percentage Meet and Exceeds

Year

Reading

Math

Science

2009

56.9

51.6

50.5

2010

54.0

52.7

52.4

2011

51.0

51.3

49.2

2012

50.7

51.6

51.7

2013

54.8

51.8

49.3

Illinois’ NCLB waiver remains under review with the U.S. Department of Education. The federal education agency has indicated that the only barrier to approval of the Illinois waiver application remains the state’stimeline for when districts must use student growth in their new local teacher evaluation system. The U.S. Department of Education is calling for all districts to implement new evaluations in 2014-15, but Illinois law calls for a progressive phase-in from 2012-13 to 2016-17 when all districts must use the new evaluation system.

Reform Agenda

Some of the reforms implemented in the 2012-13 school year include:

  • Continued implementation of the more rigorous Common Core Standards in English Language Arts and math.

  • ISBE again made the ACT-aligned exam “EXPLORE” available to 9th graders in public schools and the corresponding exam “PLAN” to 10th graders as part of a testing system that includes the ACT, already part of the PSAE, in the 11th grade. EXPLORE and PLAN, produced by ACT, test students on English, Math, Reading and Science and help monitor college and career readiness. In the 2012-13 school year, there were 84,178 EXPLORE and 80,649 PLAN tests scored in the state-funded program.

  • ISBE also made available for 11th graders, ACT’s WorkKeys Locating Information test, completing the battery of three WorkKeys assessments required for students to be eligible to receive a National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC). In 2013, more than 117,000 students took the WorkKeys Locating Information test and nearly 99,000 students earned the NCRC in 2013.

  • A growth model based on value tables is being reported to measure progress for grades 4 through 8 this year. The new metric is being offered on an advisory basis this year.

  • Illinois schools administered the first statewide survey of learning conditions and school climate in 2012-13 with reports expected later this fall and a summary on the new School Report Card. Eighty-seven percent of all schools in the state met the 50-percent participation threshold to receive an Illinois 5Essentials report. More than seventy percent of all teachers and eligible students across Illinois took part in the 2012-2013 survey.

  • A more consumer-friendly school and district report card will debut in late October with more robust information to reflect the unique qualities of each school in the state.

Illinois is a member of the Partnership for Assessment for College and Careers (PARCC) that is developing a new generation of tests aligned to the new standards to better measure students’ knowledge, skills and growth. The new state tests are expected to be available by the 2014-15 school year.


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Welcome to CopyLine Magazine! The first issue of CopyLine Magazine was published in November, 1990, by Editor & Publisher Juanita Bratcher. CopyLine’s main focus is on the political arena – to inform our readers and analyze many of the pressing issues of the day - controversial or otherwise. Our objectives are clear – to keep you abreast of political happenings and maneuvering in the political arena, by reporting and providing provocative commentaries on various issues. For more about CopyLine Magazine, CopyLine Blog, and CopyLine Television/Video, please visit juanitabratcher.com, copylinemagazine.com, and oneononetelevision.com. Bratcher has been a News/Reporter, Author, Publisher, and Journalist for 33 years. She is the author of six books, including “Harold: The Making of a Big City Mayor” (Harold Washington), Chicago’s first African-American mayor; and “Beyond the Boardroom: Empowering a New Generation of Leaders,” about John Herman Stroger, Jr., the first African-American elected President of the Cook County Board. Bratcher is also a Poet/Songwriter, with 17 records – produced by HillTop Records of Hollywood, California. Juanita Bratcher Publisher

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