Illinois Science Assessment Determination Approval Letter

April 20, 2015

The Honorable Christopher A. Koch
State Superintendent of Education
Illinois State Board of Education
100 North First Street
Springfield, IL 62777

Dear Superintendent Koch:

This letter is in response to the Illinois State Board of Education’s (ISBE) request to amend the State’s approved flexibility request under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended, regarding the science assessments that are required to be administered at least once in grades 3-5, 6-9, and 10-12. For the 2014–2015 school year (SY), the ISBE requested to pilot test new science assessments aligned with its new science content standards to some, but not all, students in the State. This is in lieu of administering statewide assessments, the previous science assessments which are not aligned with its new science content standard.

After reviewing the information provided by ISBE, I am declining to approve the ISBE’s amendment request because it violates section 1111(b)(3)(A) of the ESEA and 34 C.F.R. § 200.2(a)(1), which requires a State to implement high-quality, yearly student academic assessments in science to measure student achievement and to inform instruction, and report the results of those assessments to parents, schools, local educational agencies (LEAs), and the public. Due to the significance of its non-compliance and the fact that the pilot assessments administered in 2014–2015 will not result in information about student performance that can be shared with parents and teachers to inform instruction, I am placing ISBE on high-risk status under 34 C.F.R. § 80.12.

ISBE must fully implement its new science assessments in SY 2015−16 to come into compliance with section 1111(b)(3)(A) of the ESEA and 34 C.F.R. § 200.2(a)(1). As a condition of its high-risk status, the ISBE must provide a detailed plan and timeline to the U.S. Department of Education (the Department) by June 30, 2015, in order to address this non-compliance issue for SY 2015–2016.

The ISBE may request reconsideration of its high-risk designation by submitting in writing to me, by no later than 10 business days from the date of this letter, a detailed discussion setting forth the basis for its belief that this designation is improper, including the specific facts that support its position. If the ISBE chooses to request such reconsideration, that request must be submitted via email to me at:, with a copy to David Yi at: Additionally, please send a physical hard copy to the Department at the address below by U.S. mail or commercial delivery. If I do not receive a timely request for reconsideration from the ISBE, its high-risk status will be considered final and will be lifted only upon completion of the actions set forth above.

I am confident that the ISBE will continue to implement the reforms described in its approved ESEA flexibility request and advance its efforts to hold schools and school districts accountable for the achievement of all students. If you need additional assistance in implementing your ESEA flexibility request, please do not hesitate to contact me, or have your staff contact David Yi at (202) 453-5674 or by email to Thank you for your continued commitment to ensuring that all students have access to a high quality education.


Deborah S. Delisle
Assistant Secretary

Illinois Science Assessment Determination Approval Letter