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Website explains assessments, standards, and other key education initiatives for the 2015-16 school year

Text Box: Superintendent’s Key Areas of FocusState Superintendent of Education Tony Smith, Ph.D., has identified five key areas of focus to guide the agency’s initiatives. These are:•	Establish an adequate and equitable education finance system (Money)•	Common definition of, and fair access to, quality education (Quality)•	Maximize district autonomy to provide quality education to all families (Autonomy)•	Encourage competency-based learning (Competency)•	Districts and schools as centers of healthy communities (Community) To learn more, click here.SPRINGFIELD, IL — The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has created a comprehensive online resource to keep parents and community members up to date on the latest initiatives shaping learning, instruction, and achievement in the classroom during the upcoming school year.

“Sharing information is key to schools building strong, positive relationships with parents and their communities as a whole,” said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith, Ph.D. “The resources on our Hot Topics webpage were developed to help start productive conversations among educators, families, and the public about our ongoing education initiatives.”

ISBE’s Hot Topics page at http://isbe.net/hot-topics.htm provides fact sheets, talking points, and other materials to explain the latest news and information about state assessments, updated learning standards, educator evaluations, and supports available to school districts to improve student achievement. Specific topics on the site include:

  • The Kindergarten Individual Development Survey (KIDS) – KIDS is a tool for measuring school readiness across various developmental domains. ISBE has modified the KIDS implementation plan to collect and report school readiness data for all kindergartners over the next three school years.
  • 2015-16 State Assessments – The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exam will return for the second year in spring 2016 with a shorter, easier-to-administer format. ISBE is also developing a new assessment aligned to the new Illinois Learning Standards in science to be administered to students during the 2015-16 school year. A college entrance exam for students is also planned for spring 2016.
  • Progress and Supports – Illinois now has a deeper, more descriptive process to report on the progress that our schools and districts are making toward all students graduating college and career ready. Foundational and other support services, from general to more intensive, are available to school districts to improve student achievement and implement turnaround principles and practices.

  • Teacher Evaluations — Districts continue to implement, or plan to implement, a new comprehensive educator evaluation system that incorporates multiple measures of student growth and professional practice.

  • Illinois Learning Standards – Illinois continues to make progress on a complete review and update of all learning standards, including science, physical education and health, arts, and social studies. Illinois is also a national leader in social and emotional learning and provides technical assistance and professional development to help schools address the individual needs of students.

The 2015-16 Hot Topics site went live on Aug. 5 following a Back-to-School Webinar for administrators on these topics led by Dr. Smith. More than 450 administrators participated. The webinar was recorded and is posted on the Hot Topics site.

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