ESSA Update: Illinois Focus


This update is meant to assist member districts with information about ESSA and key information about its impact on schools and districts in Illinois. The following is a state overview from CEC.

To further the effort, CEC will host a live chat session regarding ESSA from 10 a.m.-11 a.m. on May 9. This session is free to CEC member districts. Sign up today and more detailed information will be provided in the coming weeks.

On April 3, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) submitted its state plan outlining the vision for accountability and support systems to the U.S. Department of Education (USED) under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). After nearly 15 months of work, the plan was approved by State Board on March 15 and signed by Governor Bruce Rauner, after a series of three public drafts, approximately 100 listening forums throughout the state, and over 3,500 comments from parents, teachers, administrators, citizens, and other stakeholder groups. Now, the USED has 120 days to review the plan and either approve it and/or provide feedback.

The plan consists of three major components:

  • A new school accountability system with summative designations for schools
  • IL-EMPOWER, a multi-tiered system of support for schools
  • Opportunities for educators

ACCOUNTABILITY: Starting in 2017-18, the new accountability system, in accordance with ESSA, will include academic and school quality/student success indicators. Academic indicators account for 75% of the summative designation, or rating a school receives, while school quality/student success represents the remaining 25%.

For elementary (Pre-Kindergarten through 8th grade) schools, the following measures are used to determine school quality:

Academic Indicators (75%)

  • PARCC and DLM-AA (ELA 10% and Math 10% in 2018-19; thereafter ELA 7.5% and Math 7.5%)
  • Growth using a Linear Regression formula (50%)
  • English Learner Proficiency using ACCESS (5%)
  • Science (5% beginning in 2019-20)

School Quality/Student Success Indicators (25%)

  • Chronic Absenteeism (10%)
  • Climate Survey (5%)
  • Fine Arts (TBD, by 2021-22)
  • [P-2 Indicator (5%)]*
  • [Elementary/Middle Indicator (5%)]*

For high schools, the following measures are used to determine school quality:

Academic Indicators (75%)

  • SAT (ELA 10% and Math 10% in 2018-19; thereafter ELA 7.5% and Math 7.5%)
  • Graduation (4-, 5-, and 6-year rates; 50%)
  • English Learner Proficiency using ACCESS (5%)
  • Science (5% beginning in 2019-20)

School Quality/Student Success Indicators (25%)

  • Chronic Absenteeism (7.5%)
  • 9th Grade on Track (6.25%)
  • Career and College Ready (6.25%)**
  • Climate Survey (5%)
  • Fine Arts (TBD, by 2021-22)

*P-2 and Elementary/Middle Grade Indicators: The P-2 indicator indicates a shift from previous accountability systems that narrowly focused on students in grades 3 through 12. The Elementary/Middle Grade Indicator is modeled on the college and career readiness indicator at the high school level and would represent a “range of experience that children undergo in their school and that contribute to success in later grades.” The P-2 and Elementary/Middle Grade indicators will be developed by two separate workgroups that will comment in Spring 2017 and submit recommendations to ISBE by December 31, 2017.

**College and Career Readiness Indicator: The following criteria will be used to determine college and career readiness:

  1. GPA: 2.8/4.0
  2. 95% Attendance in high school junior and senior year
  3. College and Career Pathway Endorsement under Postsecondary Workforce Readiness Act


All of the following:

  1. One Academic Indicator in each of ELA and Math during the Junior/Senior Year (or Algebra II at any time)
  2. Identify a Career Area of Interest by the end of the Sophomore Year
  3. Three Career Ready Indicators during the Junior/Senior Year

The Career Ready indicators are: AP ELA and Math exam scores of 3 or higher, AP ELA and Math course grades of C or higher, IB ELA and Math scores of 4+, dual credit ELA and Math credits, a grade of C or higher in Algebra II, minimum ACT Subject scores of 18 on English, 22 on Reading, 22 in Math and Math in Senior Year, minimum SAT subject scores of 480 on Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and 530 on Math and Math in Senior year.

Growth: Growth represents 50% of the accountability framework, indicating Illinois’ recognition that growth is a primary driver in closing achievement gaps. Each school will receive an A-F grade specifically for growth as compared to similar contexts statewide, which will be available on the school report card. Growth will be determined using a simple linear regression model in which current test scores are regressed on last year’s test scores. This means that an advanced statistic model is used and can account for local school context, such as previous achievement data. Multiple growth models will be explored, as data becomes more stable, to determine if another model is more valid and reliable, and ISBE may consider to use those models in the future.

Climate: School climate will be measured using the 5Essentials survey. The measure will be related to participation – not the data – related the 5Es survey.

Summative designations: While ISBE will report multiple data points in the school report card, such as subgroup performance, each school will receive a single summative designation to indicate school quality. Four tiers will be used to differentiate schools:

Tier 1 – Exemplary School: A school that has no underperforming subgroups, a graduation rate of greater than 67%, and whose performance is in the top 10% of schools statewide.

Tier 2 – Commendable School: A school that has no underperforming subgroups, a graduation rate above 67%, and whose performance is not in the top 10% of schools statewide.

Tier 3 – Underperforming School: A school in which one or more subgroup(s) is performing at or below the level of the “all students’ group in the lowest-performing 5 percent of Title I schools. Schools in Tier 3 will receive targeted services.

Tier 4 – Lowest-Performing School: A school that is in the lowest-performing 5% Title I schools in Illinois and those high schools that have a graduation rate of 67% or less. Schools in Tier 4 will receive comprehensive services.

The summative designation is used both to identify schools in need of support and meaningfully differentiate schools using a single, easy-to-understand, rating. This rating will appear on the school report card. Tier 3 and 4 schools have been identified for additional supports due to either 1) large achievement gaps, in the case of Tier 3 schools, or 2) under-achievement, for Tier 4 schools.  A Tier 3 school that has implemented targeted supports for more than three years, but has not improved the performance of the same student subgroup compared to the “all students” group will be classified as Tier 4 and qualify for comprehensive supports. Said another way, Tier 3 schools that do not improve the student subgroup performance after 3 years will be moved to the Tier 4 rating.

IL-EMPOWER: As indicated in the summative designation definitions above, Tier 3 and 4 schools qualify for support services due to low performance, which will provided using a system called IL-EMPOWER. All schools may access services through IL-EMPOWER, but to do so, the school must first complete a needs assessment/equity audit to identify areas for opportunity.

All Tier 3 and 4 schools will conduct the needs assessment/equity audit and identify partners for support. The partners will be reviewed by ISBE to ensure that the partner has the capacity to assist the school. Finally, the school and partner will develop a four year work plan, with quarterly reports submitted to ISBE to monitor progress.

IL-EMPOWER will ensure that both schools and partners are held accountable to improving student results since partners will be pre-approved to offer services at a specific cost, and partners must demonstrate evidence of success in delivery and sustainability of services to be pre-approved.

More is available on IL-EMPOWER.

OPPORTUNITIES FOR EDUCATORS: To support educators under ESSA, ISBE has proposed multiple innovative funding projects.

First, ISBE will develop a competitive grant program for districts to propose 30-60-90 day research projects to support teacher leadership. The district, school, or portion of faculty will propose a problem of practice important to teacher leadership at the school or district, develop a plan to investigate the problem, and report findings.

Additionally, ISBE will develop a Request for Proposal for an Innovative Fieldwork competitive grant program to support teacher residency programs. The program will provide funding to districts and institutions of higher learning with approved teacher preparation programs to develop innovative approaches to fieldwork requirements and enhance the pool of teacher candidates.

Next, ISBE will continue to support an educator leader network (ELN) to connect leaders between districts, using Title II and state funding.

Finally, ISBE plans to create resources for supporting the whole child, from early education and through college and career and develop professional development opportunities for educators on Universal Design for Learning, differentiated instruction, balanced assessment, and data and assessment literacy.

NEXT STEPS: For schools, districts and ISBE, 2017-18 represents a transition year for schools and districts. ISBE plans to continue to communicate and receive feedback from stakeholders, as necessary, and more information will be coming out regarding IL-EMPOWER, P-2, Elementary/Middle Grade, College and Career, and Fine Arts indicators, as well as the growth indicator and grading scale. CEC will work to keep member districts informed about this important information as it can be difficult to sift through the information and understand the impact.

CEC looks forward to the opportunity support schools and districts to develop plan required under ESSA and to support schools and districts to take advantage of the opportunities that will emerge from ESSA. Contact David Osta at for more information.

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