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Back to School 2018-19

Want to see photos from your district on ISBE’s webpage and social media pages? Email your Back to School photos and captions to BacktoSchool@isbe.net.   Please make sure that you have obtained the necessary media consent from the parent/guardian of each student shown in the photos.

Welcome Back!

We are excited for the start of another school year! We have made tremendous strides together toward a more fair and inclusive public education system. ISBE strives to support and empower districts with the leadership and resources they need to provide the highest-quality education to every child in every community. We have opportunities now like never before to collaborate and share effective practices. We at ISBE are here to be a partner for you and we encourage you to partner with each other. 

Your dedication, passion, and hard work are critical to creating the conditions in which all of Illinois’ children, families, and communities can thrive. Below are materials to support your transition back to school. Thank you and welcome back! 

We encourage and value your questions and feedback. Please email ​backtoschool@isbe.net​.

2018-19 Back to School Webinar for Administrators:

State Superintendent Tony Smith, Ph.D., led a webinar for district administrators on Aug. 7 in preparation for the 2018-19 school year. He spoke about the resources available to administrators as they launch into the new school year and shared details about exciting new tools. Three guest superintendents also presented alongside Dr. Smith as he welcomed administrators back to school.

For more Back to School updates:

If you would like to be added to the Superintendent’s Weekly Message email list, email​weeklymessage@isbe.net​.

New This Year! Deep-Dive webinars on key topics for back to school:

  • Summative Designations - Aug. 10
    This session is for all district or school administrators, and is designed to give a deep look at the process, data, and scoring of the indicators that contribute to a school's summative designation. This includes looking at where and how students are counted to arrive at a summative rating and how and when that differs from the Report Card. We will discuss the scoring of each individual indicator, how these indicator scores are combined into an index score, and how these index scores lead to a final summative designation. We will walk through "real" scoring examples and preview support resources to come.
  • IL-EMPOWER - Aug. 14
    The webinar will provide an overview of the IL-EMPOWER system for the 2018-19 school year. Participants will learn more about accessing Learning Partners, engaging with School Support Managers and steps for building work plans to improve learning for students.

  • Assessments Update - Aug. 24, 10-11 a.m.
    The Assessment and Accountability Division will be presenting on topics related to each of the state accountability assessments for the 2018-19 school year. The webinar will cover: 
    • State accountability assessment dates
    • Updating the Entity Profile System in IWAS
    • Completing student enrollments in the Student Information System in IWAS
    • Finalizing corrections
    • Accommodations​

  • 2018 Report Card and Beyond! - Aug. 29, 2-3 p.m.
    This webinar will provide an overview of the changes for this year’s Report Card, including new features and new information. We’ll discuss the justification behind those changes and where that information comes from. There will be an opportunity for questions and answers, and you will be able to provide feedback to ISBE staff. ​

#ILBacktoSchool photo c​ampaign

​What does Back to School look like in your school and district? Share your pictures on Twitter and Facebook with #ILBacktoSchool and we will highlight your stories on our social media pages!

Opt in to ed360!​

Ed360 is an innovative new component of the Illinois Data for Fiscal and Instructional Results, Study, and Transparency (Illinois Data FIRST) Project. Illinois Data FIRST synthesizes a series of connected efforts that enable state policymakers, educators, learners, and members of the public to access information from the Illinois Longitudinal Data System (ILDS) quickly and easily to support and improve state and local resource allocations, instruction, and learner outcomes. Ed360 was created with data synthesis in mind, and the goal of the dashboard is to provide administrators and teachers with active, live data on student performance to encourage data-driven instructional practices.

Get Ed360 for your District Today!


Check out the new Peer Finder!

The Peer Finder is a tool designed to help school administrators locate other schools and districts around the state similar to their own. You select specific characteristics and the Peer Finder narrows the search to locate schools and districts with the characteristics you have defined. Once similar schools/districts have been identified, you can use the links provided to access additional information via the Illinois Interactive Report Card (IIRC). The Compare Schools feature on the IIRC allows you to input any of the schools identified by the Peer Finder; you may view up to nine schools side by side. We are continually improving the tool to better serve user needs. Please send any feedback to backtoschool@isbe.net​.​

Quick Links

We have organized some quick links and facts below to help you navigate hot topics affecting districts and schools at the start of the 2018-19 school year.


 Support and Accountability

Summative Designations

Summative designations help families and communities understand how well schools are serving all students. Illinois has four summative designations for schools: Exemplary, Commendable, Underperforming, and Lowest Performing. Underperforming schools and Lowest-Performing schools receive additional funding and customizable supports to build local capacity and improve student outcomes. Multiple measures of school performance and growth determine a school’s designation. The federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires states to provide every school a summative designation, beginning in 2018. ISBE will include school designations on the 2018 Illinois Report Card at www.illinoisreportcard.com


IL-EMPOWER is the statewide system of accountability and support that empowers schools with greater choice and voice in the school improvement process. Schools, districts, partners, and ISBE are working collaboratively to promote shifts in practice and build capacity.

Site-Based Expenditure Reporting

ESSA contains a short but significant provision requiring Local Education Agencies (LEAs) to report not only district-level expenditure data but also, for the first time, site-based expenditure data.  This reporting will begin with fiscal year 2019 data and will be reported on the Illinois Report Card.  Working groups of practitioners and advocates have partnered with ISBE to support LEA implementation.  All published supports can be found at https://www.isbe.net/essa under the “Site-Based Expenditure Reporting” header.  Particularly helpful resources for starting the new school year include:


​ISBE continually strives to strengthen the quality and functionality of state assessments to support educators in tailoring instruction to serve the needs of students and ensure that they master the standards necessary to be prepared for college and career.​

 Educator Licensure

ISBE’s Division of Educator Effectiveness works to ensure highly prepared and effective teachers are in our classrooms. New legislation (Public Act 100-596) changed requirements to make it easier for qualified out-of-state, retired, and substitute teachers to obtain a license to teach in Illinois. The new law addresses the state’s need for more teachers in the Illinois education workforce. Resources and detailed information are available on our Education Licensure page . Additionally, ISBE’s year of study aimed at evaluating and improving the teacher workforce in Illinois is concluding. The State Board will receive a final report with recommendations in September.
Stay up to date on Licensure news with our L.I.N.K. Newsletters! 

 English Learners

The Division of English Learners reminds all districts and schools that parents of ALL new students enrolling in a public school (regardless of academic, linguistic, or cultural background) must complete a Home Language Survey (HLS) as part of the enrollment process. Based on the results of the HLS, potential English learners (ELs) are to be screened for English language proficiency using the state approved assessment for the student’s grade level. If a student is found to be an EL based on the screening results, student placement into EL services must happen immediately and the parents must be notified of the EL designation and services provided to their student within 30 days of the start of the school year. (Please note that the timeline for student screening and placement during the school year is 14 days.)
You may find additional information regarding EL screening, placement and sample notification letters on the English Learners webpage .

 Kindergarten Individual Development Survey (KIDS)

​The Kindergarten Individuals Development Survey (KIDS) is an observational tool designed to help teachers, administrators, families, and policymakers better understand the developmental readiness of children entering kindergarten. Statewide implementation of the KIDS tool began in fall 2017. Kindergarten teachers observe students on 14 measures in four domains within the first 40 days of school. ISBE will release will release the statewide data and aggregated district data soon.​ Kindergarten teachers have had access all year to their students’ data through the KIDStech platform.​
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