The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) released its annual school report card last week. There is one significant change to the report card this year as more of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) goes into effect: site-specific expenditure reporting. That means that the school report card now shows the federal and state/local funding for each school in your school district. Illinois PTA worked closely with ISBE and other stakeholders over the past 18 months to ensure that the data were presented in an as easy to understand format as possible. Here’s what you need to know.
- Site-specific expenditure reporting shows how your district is spending its money at each school on a per student basis. Prior to this data becoming available on the report card, only a district’s total spending per pupil was available. With this data, administrators, school boards, families, and community members can see how a school district is allocating their funds among their schools.
- Not all of a district’s spending is included. The per pupil amounts being reported are regular and ongoing PreK-12 education expenses and are broken down further between federal funding and state/local funding. The latter does include items like donations from PTAs or grants from a school foundation. Also included are each school’s share of central district expenses (e.g., staff at the administrative building). Among the items not included are spending for capital projects (e.g., building/renovating school buildings), debt service, fire prevention and safety spending, adult education services, and other spending not directly tied to educating students from age 3 to 12th grade.
- The data are presented in several different ways. The primary visual you will see on the school finances page (under the “District Environment” menu bar) of the report card is a bar chart with each school in the district represented by a vertical bar of per student spending ranked from lowest to highest. Below that bar chart is a data table with the information for each school in numerical form. Finally, a clickable link just above the bar chart will take you to a scatterplot where you can see per student expenditures graphed against several different variables such as the school’s summative designation, enrollment, English language learners, low-income students, or students with Individual education plans (IEPs).
- The data are a starting point for conversations. The fact that your child’s school is low or high in per pupil spending relative to the other schools in your district does not tell the entire story. Your district had the opportunity to add a narrative section to explain why the data look the way they do, so check to see if that information is included on the school report card page. Note that this being the first year with this data, many school districts may not have done this. Also consider what things could explain some of the differences, such as school population, high school vs. elementary school, a bilingual education program at a specific school, or a concentration of students from low-income families or with special needs. Also consider how students are performing (see the scatterplot chart with schools’ summative designations)—a school with low cost per student but high student achievement is a cause for celebrating their success, not complaining that the district isn’t spending enough there. ISBE has some information sheets that can help you dig into the data on site-based expenditure reporting (Overview and Exploring the Visualizations, which has some questions to consider as you explore the data). Use the data to have conversations at your PTA meetings or with your school’s principal or district’s superintendent and school board.
The new site-based expenditure reporting data has the potential to spark some powerful conversations in your school district about student success, equity, and overall school funding. PTA does its best work when we advocate for all children, and this year’s school report card provides your PTA with the opportunity to have deep, meaningful conversations with your school district that can have a more profound effect on your child’s education than almost any other activity your PTA could pursue.
There are a few other changes to the state report card:
- Test results for the elementary and middle school grades are now from the Illinois Assessment of Readiness (IAR), and data from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessment have been moved to the “Retired Tests” section.
- A growth measurement determined from the IAR has been added for elementary and middle schools. This data illustrates how students have improved year over year compared to their peers who had the same IAR score in math or English. It is a measure of how much students have improved, regardless of whether they are meeting the Illinois Learning Standard or not. You can find out more from this ISBE information sheet.
- New subgroups have been added:
- Students with disabilities
- Students categorized as Migrant
- Students from Military Families
- Students categorized as Youth in Care
- Students categorized as Homeless (High school graduation rate only)
- The “5 Essentials Survey” has been replaced with the “School Climate Survey” and displays information from the one of three ISBE-approved climate surveys the school has used.
- Data from the Illinois Science Assessment has been added for grades 5 and 8 and high school biology.
One of the workshops at the 2019 National PTA Convention focused on the Opioid Epidemic. Misuse of prescription pain medication is one of the fastest growing health issues in the United States today, and the problem is on the rise at an alarming rate not just among the general population but among youth as well. National PTA has partnered with the AMA Allianceto provide resources for state and local PTAs to spread awareness of this issue among parents.
Every year, there are approximately 50 million surgeries in the United States, 2.5 million of which result in the prescribing of opiate pain medications. In many cases, these prescriptions are for 30 days, even though patients may only need the opiate pain medication for the first few days. The result is a significant number of unused opiates available in homes across the country. 53% of those who abuse prescription opioids get their supply from a family member, and approximately 440,000 people become addicted to opioids each year.
National PTA’s partnership with the AMA Alliance is creating a toolkit of resources for state and local PTAs on the issue. Currently, the toolkit consists of a 12-minute recorded webinarand a co-branded fact sheet. Coming soon to the toolkit on National PTA’s websiteare:
- Door hangers for an awareness campaign
- A presentation packet that will include both the recorded webinar mentioned above and the slideshow itself so PTAs can deliver the presentation instead of the recording if they wish to do so
- Handouts to go along with the presentation/webinar
- A 5-question survey for presenters to fill out on how a presentation went so National PTA and the AMA Alliance can track how the toolkit is being used
Additional resources on the topic can be found at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)website.
At the 2019 National PTA Convention last week in Columbus, OH, delegates adopted one new resolution and amended two other existing resolutions. The first, dealing with financial literacy, came from Illinois PTA. The other two dealt with energy drinks and lead. The financial literacy and lead resolutions both had minor amendments approved by the delegates, and the amended language is included below. The links to the resolutions in this post are to the proposed language, and the amended language should be up on theNational PTA resolutions pagein the next few weeks.
Resolution on Financial Literacy
This resolution is an updated version of the resolution passed at the 2017 Illinois PTA Convention. Financial literacy remains a critically underdeveloped skill for our children, and this resolution broadens the reach of the original Illinois PTA resolution to a national scope. The amendment from the delegates added that PTAs advocate for inclusion of financial literacy in state standards as well as in curriculum. The resolved clauses as adopted by the convention delegates are:
- That the National PTA and its constituent associations encourage dissemination of information, and training opportunities to families and students in financial planning and budget balancing techniques to foster financial literacy
- That the National PTA and its constituent associations advocate to address the need for financial literacy education and share concerns regarding financial literacy education provisions with appropriate decision-makers at the federal, state and local levels
- That the National PTA encourage its constituent associations to advocate at the state and local levels for financial literacy to be included in standards and curriculum
- That the National PTA work with the Financial Literacy and Education Commission and the United States Department of Education to ensure that all students are provided financial literacy education
Resolution on Dangers of Alcoholic and Non-Alcoholic Energy Drinks
Adopted at the 2009 National PTA Convention, the original resolution addressed only alcoholic energy drinks. The amendments adopted at this year’s convention expand that coverage to non-alcoholic energy drinks, as the high levels of caffeine and other stimulants in non-alcoholic energy drinks have also resulted in the deaths of children. This amendment also brings the National PTA resolution in line with the 2013 Illinois PTA Resolution on Energy Drinksby adding a resolved clause that supports a ban on selling all kinds of energy drinks at K-12 schools. The amended and new resolved clauses are:
- That National PTA and its constituent associations educate parents, students, administrators, teachers and community members about the dangers of consuming alcoholic and non-alcoholic energy drinks
- That National PTA and its constituent associations seek legislation requiring that alcoholic energy drink manufacturers provide prominent alcohol content percentage on the label, as well as health and safety warnings indicating the dangers of combining alcohol with caffeinated beverages
- That National PTA and its constituent associations urge decision makers to ban the sale of all kinds of energy drinks in all K-12 schools
Resolution on Lead Poisoning Prevention
While the resolution passed at this year’s convention on lead poisoning prevention was presented as an amendment, it is in fact a completely new resolution, since the entire text of the existing resolution was struck, new resolution text was inserted, and the title was amended to add “Prevention.” The original language passed at the 1976 National PTA Convention focused on increasing awareness of lead poisoning and supporting the recently passed legislation that eliminated lead from gasoline and limited its use in other products.
Today, the effects of lead poisoning are well known and the dangers for our children stem from lead sources that were not addressed in the previous federal legislation. These sources, such as lead pipes and solder that leach lead into drinking water are now among the most common ways that children are exposed lead. Concern over lead in school drinking water resulted in the passage of SB550 in 2017 here in Illinois. The National PTA Convention delegates amended the third resolved clause to include advocacy for lead testing as well as remediation. The resolved clauses as amended are:
- That the National PTA and its constituent associations support the removal of all sources of lead from use, including its complete removal of lead from all paints, building materials, and consumer products
- That the National PTA and its constituent associations encourage the safe and responsible removal of lead from existing uses, including lead in paints, plumbing, and in other building materials
- That the National PTA and its constituent associations advocate for lead testing and the remediation of lead contaminated soils and water
- That the National PTA and its constituent associations promote advocacy around policy changes to prevent lead poisoning
Illinois enacted a new school funding formulain August 2017. Known as the Evidence-Based Funding (EBF) model, it calculates what adequate funding for a district would be and directs the majority of additional state funds to those districts furthest from adequacy. The legislature has committed to providing an additional $350 million per year for the next ten years. The first year of additional funding began last year, and last month the Illinois Association of School Administrators (IASA) has released a special issue of their newsletter focused on how 50 districts from across the state are spending this new funding.
The report features stories from districts large and small located all over the state. The diversity of the districts still share one common theme—the additional funding has been a “godsend.” For too many years, Illinois has underfunded its schools (and continues to do so even with the EBF model), resulting in districts relying on property taxes to try and fill the gaps where they can, but in many cases having to cut funding for critical programs. With new funds coming to districts for the past two years, here’s a sampling of what’s been happening:
- Adding reading supports in elementary schools in East Moline SD #37
- Reducing the size of elementary classrooms, adding instructional coaches, and taking steps to address the teacher shortage in Galesburg CUSD #205
- Maintaining class sizes, updating instructional materials, and providing additional mental health resources for students in Belleville TWP HSD #201
- Addressing the social-emotional needs of students, especially those of at-risk students, in Quincy SD #172
- Creating “innovation zones” at the elementary level in collaboration with its teachers to improve student achievement and lengthen the elementary day by 45 minutes in Rockford Public Schools #205
- Hiring full-time art and music teachers and creating three STEM labs with smart boards, a 3-D printer, robotics, and computers for students to learn coding in Chicago Ridge SC #127.5
There are many more stories in the reportshowing how the new funding is making a difference for the students of Illinois. If the General Assembly stays committed to its promise to increase funding by $350 million years, all Illinois school districts will not reach 90% of their adequate funding level for another 30 years. It is essential that PTA advocates continue to ask legislators to increase the growth in education funding to bring our schools to adequate funding faster.