UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION OFFICE OF INSPECTOR GENERAL Chicago/Kansas City Audit Region 111 N. Canal St. Ste. 940 8930 Ward Parkway, Ste 2401 Chicago, IL 60606-7297 Kansas City, MO 64114-3302 Phone (312) 886-6503 Phone (816) 268-0500 Fax (312) 353-0244 Fax (816) 823-1398 August 23, 2005 Control Number ED-OIG/A07F0003 Dr. Randy J. Dunn Interim State Superintendent Illinois State Board of Education 100 N. 1st Street Springfield, IL 62777 Dear Dr. Dunn: This Final Audit Report, titled Illinois State Board of Education’s Compliance with the Public School Choice and Supplemental Educational Services Provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act, presents the results of our audit. The objectives of our audit were to determine if, for the 2004-2005 school year, (1) the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) had an adequate process in place to review local educational agency (LEA) and school compliance with the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), Public School Choice, and Supplemental Educational Services (SES) provisions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (Act), and the implementing regulations; (2) LEAs provided to students attending schools identified for improvement (failed AYP two consecutive years), corrective action, or restructuring the option of attending another public school; and (3) LEAs provided SES to students attending schools that failed to make AYP while identified for improvement, corrective action, or restructuring. To achieve these objectives, we reviewed policies and procedures at ISBE and six judgmentally selected LEAs – City of Chicago School District 299 (Chicago), Joliet Public School District 86 (Joliet), Madison Community Unit School District 12 (Madison), Rockford School District 205 (Rockford), Rock Island School District 41 (Rock Island), and Waukegan Community Unit School District 60 (Waukegan). BACKGROUND Title I, Part A of the Act (P.L. 107-110) significantly increased the choices available to the parents of students attending Title I schools that fail to meet state standards. Beginning with the 2002-2003 school year, the Act provided immediate relief for students in schools that were previously identified for improvement or corrective action under the 1994 reauthorization of the ESEA. LEAs must offer all students attending schools identified for improvement, corrective action, or restructuring the choice to attend a public school (including public charter schools) not Our mission is promote the efficiency, effectiveness, and integrity of the Department’s programs and operations Final Report ED-OIG/A07F0003 Page 2 of 11 identified for improvement, corrective action, or restructuring.1 Schools that fail to make AYP while identified for improvement, corrective action, or restructuring are required to offer SES to low-income students. SES providers must be approved by the state and offer services tailored to help participating students meet state academic standards. To help ensure that LEAs offer meaningful choices, the Act requires an LEA to spend at least an amount equal to 20 percent of its Title I allocation to provide transportation to the school of choice and SES to eligible students, unless a lesser amount is needed to satisfy all demand. The LEA must spend a minimum of an amount equal to five percent of its Title I allocation on transportation and five percent of its allocation on SES, if the amount is needed. The U.S. Department of Education allocated $493,745,204 in Title I funds to ISBE for the 2004-2005 school year. ISBE allocated Title I funds during this period to 805 of its 881 LEAs. ISBE utilized five state assessments, administered in Spring 2004, to determine each school’s AYP status for the 2004-2005 school year– Illinois Standards Achievement Test, Prairie State Achievement Examination, Illinois Alternate Assessment, Illinois Measure of Annual Growth in English, and the Terra Nova (administered only to second grade students in Title I schools). Based on the results of these assessments, ISBE provided preliminary and final AYP determinations to the LEAs in letters dated August 13, 2004, and December 10, 2004, respectively. For the 2004-2005 school year, 655 schools in 138 LEAs were identified as needing improvement, corrective action, or restructuring – 151 schools were in the first year of improvement, 72 schools were in the second year, 14 schools were in the third year, 394 schools were in the fourth year, and 24 schools were in the fifth year. For the six LEAs we reviewed as part of our audit, 6,145 of the 284,527 (2 percent) eligible students at 392 schools exercised their right to school choice. In addition, five of the six LEAs enrolled 1,369 of the 11,583 (12 percent) eligible students at 31 schools required to offer SES.2 AUDIT RESULTS While implementing the Public School Choice and SES provisions of the Act and the implementing regulations for the 2004-2005 school year, ISBE (1) had a clear definition of persistently dangerous schools and a system for identifying persistently dangerous schools; (2) ensured its SES provider application process provided adequate assurance that each SES provider met the State’s requirements; (3) identified, approved, and timely disseminated a list of SES providers to LEAs; (4) developed and implemented an electronic monitoring process for 1 A school is identified for improvement after failing to make AYP for two consecutive years. A school in its first year of improvement must provide parents with the school choice option. If the school identified for improvement again fails to make AYP (second year of improvement), it must also offer SES to low-income students. If the school identified for improvement fails to make AYP in subsequent years, the school must implement corrective action (third year of improvement) and undergo restructuring (fourth year of improvement). 2 Chicago offered SES to all students; therefore, the percentage of eligible students that requested SES was not available. As of January 24, 2005, Chicago had 86,795 students enrolled in SES programs. This number includes both eligible and ineligible students at 336 schools (including 2,164 students from eight schools not identified for improvement). Final Report ED-OIG/A07F0003 Page 3 of 11 monitoring the quality and effectiveness of SES providers and withdrawing approval from providers that failed to contribute to increasing the academic proficiency of students; and (5) had a system in place for receiving Title I LEA applications to review school choice transportation and SES budgets. However, ISBE did not have an adequate process in place to determine whether all LEAs actually offered, timely and properly, school choice and SES to all students at all schools who were eligible for these services. Specifically, ISBE did not adequately review LEAs to determine whether (1) school choice and SES parental notification letters were provided to parents, provided timely, and included all required information; and (2) LEAs used SES funds to provide services to eligible students. In addition, ISBE did not provide final AYP results to the LEAs before the start of the 2004-2005 school year. In part, as a result of ISBE’s inadequate process, all six LEAs we reviewed did not comply fully with the Public School Choice and SES provisions of the Act and the implementing regulations. In response to the draft of this report, ISBE concurred with our findings and recommendations with the exception of recommendation 1.3. ISBE outlined various corrective actions already implemented and planned. In response to recommendation 1.3, ISBE provided the comments from Chicago that did not concur with the recommendation. We summarized the comments from Chicago after the recommendation and included ISBE’s comments on the draft report in their entirety as an Attachment. FINDING NO. 1 – ISBE Did Not Have an Adequate Process in Place to Review LEAs for Compliance with the School Choice and SES Provisions Section 1116 (c)(1)(A) of the Act requires a state to annually review the progress of each LEA receiving Title I funds to determine if each LEA is carrying out its responsibilities under Section 1116 of the Act. For the 2004-2005 school year, ISBE did not have an adequate process in place to determine whether each LEA carried out its responsibilities under the Act and the implementing regulations. Specifically, ISBE did not sufficiently review each LEA to determine whether (1) LEAs offered school choice and SES to all eligible students and only to eligible students, (2) school choice and SES parental notification letters were timely and adequate, and (3) LEAs made all state-approved SES providers serving the geographic area available to parents. ISBE Needs to Strengthen its Compliance Review Procedures For the 2004-2005 school year, ISBE relied primarily on site visits to review LEA compliance with the Public School Choice and SES provisions of the Act and the implementing regulations. ISBE reviews LEAs on a 3-year cycle and, for the 2004-2005 school year, limited its site visits to 60 LEAs with schools identified for improvement, corrective action, or restructuring. During its site visits, ISBE reviews school choice and SES parental notification letters, evidence that priority was given to low-income/low-achieving students, and SES provider agreements. Upon completing a site visit, ISBE issues monitoring reports to the LEAs, requires the LEAs to respond to the findings in the reports within 30 days, and reviews the LEA responses. ISBE closes the review process when a corrective action agreement is reached with the LEA. Final Report ED-OIG/A07F0003 Page 4 of 11 For the 2004-2005 school year, ISBE did not have additional review processes in place to strengthen or broaden the impact of its site visits to ensure all LEAs complied with the Act and the implementing regulations. For example, ISBE did not require the LEAs to submit school choice and SES parental notification letters to ISBE prior to the LEA sending the letters to the parents. In addition, ISBE does not provide the results of its reviews to all LEAs. By reviewing the LEAs’ parental notification letters and sharing the results of its reviews with all LEAs, ISBE could help other LEAs avoid the types of non-compliance disclosed by its reviews. At the time of our fieldwork (Fall 2004), ISBE had reviewed five3 of the six LEAs we reviewed. ISBE’s reviews identified issues at four4 of the five LEAs. ISBE’s reviews disclosed one issue that our review disclosed (untimely parental notification letters by Rockford and Madison). However, our reviews disclosed additional issues that ISBE did not identify. We identified deficiencies in the school choice parental notification letters that ISBE’s reviews did not identify (Joliet, Rock Island, and Waukegan). Had ISBE’s review process been adequate, it could have reduced the risk of the following: Six LEAs Had School Choice Notification Letter Deficiencies or Untimely Letters • Two LEAs (Chicago, Rockford) did not notify all parents of eligible students that their children were eligible for school choice and, therefore, did not offer school choice to parents who did not receive the notification. Chicago did not notify parents of students entering kindergarten, 8th graders moving into 9th grade, and high school students. Rockford did not notify parents of students in 6th through 8th grade at two schools. • None of the six LEAs (Chicago, Joliet, Madison, Rockford, Rock Island, Waukegan) provided information on the academic achievement of the schools to which a student may transfer or a comparison to the student’s current school. • Two LEAs (Madison and Rockford) did not offer school choice in a timely manner. • One LEA (Madison) did not provide school choice information directly to parents through such means as regular mail. By not including the required information in their school choice parental notification letters, the LEAs did not comply with Section 1116 (b)(6) and (b)(1)(E) of the Act and 34 C.F.R. §§ 200.37(b) and 200.36(c).5 LEAs must promptly notify the parents of each student enrolled when a school is identified for improvement, corrective action, or restructuring. The notice, among other requirements, must include (1) an explanation of how the school compares in terms of academic achievement to other schools served by the LEA and state educational agency; (2) an explanation of the parents’ option to transfer their child to another public school; (3) identification of the schools to which a child may transfer and information on the academic achievement of those schools; and (4) an offer to provide or pay for transportation for the student to another public school. In addition, for a school identified for improvement, corrective action, or restructuring, the LEA must provide school choice no later than the first day of the school year following identification. Finally, the LEA must provide the information to parents directly through such means as regular mail. 3 ISBE officials stated they planned to visit Chicago in January 2005. 4 ISBE had findings at Joliet, Madison, Rockford, and Waukegan. 5 All regulatory citations are as of July 1, 2004. Final Report ED-OIG/A07F0003 Page 5 of 11 Because the LEAs provided deficient parental notification letters, parents were not fully informed about the status of their child’s schools and could not make fully informed decisions regarding whether to transfer their child from schools identified for improvement, corrective action, or restructuring. The LEAs provided deficient parental notification letters for various reasons. Rockford officials decided not to offer school choice until final AYP results were released (December 2004) because they did not want to make a mistake on reporting a school’s status. In addition, Rockford did not have any eligible school choice options for middle school students so Rockford officials thought offering those students SES was sufficient. Officials for three LEAs (Rockford, Rock Island, and Joliet) stated that not including academic information in the parental notification letters was an oversight, while Chicago officials believed that providing the academic information via a website included in the notification was sufficient. A Waukegan official informed us that Waukegan did not include academic information because it sent notifications based on preliminary data and did not want to report information that could be inaccurate. Conversely, Madison officials were unaware of the requirement to include academic information in the notification. They also made a decision to provide school choice parental notification letters after the beginning of the school year so that parents could attend open houses at its schools prior to the choice notification distribution. Madison officials informed us that principals were instructed to mail the notifications to parents. However, only one of the three schools in our sample mailed the parental notification letters. Six LEAs Had SES Notification Letter Deficiencies • One LEA (Joliet) did not provide parental notification of SES to the parents of all eligible students and therefore did not offer SES to all eligible students. In addition, Joliet provided a list of students eligible for SES to its one provider without obtaining prior written permission of the parents. • Two LEAs (Chicago and Madison) did not provide SES information directly to parents through such means as regular mail, which would allow parents to make their SES provider selection via mail. • Three LEAs (Joliet, Rock Island, Madison) did not identify all state-approved SES providers within or near the LEA. • All six LEAs (Chicago, Joliet, Madison, Rockford, Rock Island, Waukegan) did not provide a description of each provider’s qualifications and demonstrated effectiveness. For one LEA (Chicago), which delegated sending the SES letters to the individual schools, we could not determine whether one of three schools reviewed sent the letter to eligible parents. The other two Chicago schools did not list the services of each available provider. By not offering SES to all eligible students, Joliet did not comply with Section 1116 (e)(1) or (e)(2)(D) of the Act. An LEA serving schools identified for improvement, corrective action, or restructuring is required to arrange SES for eligible students in the school and cannot disclose to the public the identity of any student who is eligible for SES without the written permission of the parents of the student. By not including the required information in their SES parental notification letters, the six LEAs did not comply with Section 1116 (e)(2)(A) of the Act and 34 C.F.R. §§ 200.37 and 200.36(c). LEAs are required to provide, at a minimum, annual notice to parents of (1) the availability of services and how parents can obtain the services for their children; (2) the identity of approved providers within or near the LEA; and (3) a brief description of the services, qualifications, and Final Report ED-OIG/A07F0003 Page 6 of 11 demonstrated effectiveness of each provider. LEAs are required to provide the information to parents directly through such means as regular mail. By denying SES to eligible students, Joliet did not allow these students to take advantage of SES, which could have improved their academic achievement. Joliet did not provide SES to all eligible kindergarten, first, and second grade students at two of its schools because officials thought the district offered plenty of tutorial type programs for students in those grades. Joliet officials were not fully aware of the requirement to obtain parent permission before releasing the names of students eligible for SES to providers. Because the LEAs provided deficient SES parental notification letters, parents did not have all the information needed to make fully informed decisions regarding SES. The LEAs did not identify all state-approved SES providers within or near the LEA for various reasons. One LEA (Joliet) determined that a provider was located too far from the LEA to be a viable option for parents. Another LEA (Rock Island) determined that providers that did not submit satisfactory LEA-generated provider profile information for its review would not be included. A third LEA (Madison) was not fully aware of the SES provider identification requirement. Five LEAs (Chicago, Joliet, Madison, Rockford, and Waukegan) omitted information regarding the descriptions of each provider’s qualifications and evidence of effectiveness because they were not fully aware of all the information required in the parental notification letters. A sixth LEA (Rock Island) contacted each provider and requested information on the qualifications and evidence of effectiveness but not all providers responded to the request for information. Rock Island officials informed us they also requested the information from ISBE but ISBE denied the request, deeming it the district’s responsibility. Two LEAs (Chicago and Madison) did not provide SES information directly to parents through regular mail because officials at one LEA (Chicago) believed that sending information through the mail was an ineffective method for communicating with parents. Officials at the other LEA (Madison) informed us that some school principals did not follow their instructions to send the information through the mail. Our follow up with school principals at the three Madison schools in our sample disclosed that only one of the three school principals mailed parental notification letters directly to parents. Had ISBE provided sufficient guidance to the LEAs before the start of the 2004-2005 school year, the LEAs might have provided adequate SES parental notification letters. When we brought the above instances of non-compliance to their attention, ISBE officials stated that they would provide the LEAs with guidance and monitor them to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Act. ISBE officials also stated that they are looking at the possibility of placing the SES provider applications on the ISBE web site, which would indicate the providers’ qualifications and evidence of effectiveness. One LEA Did Not Ensure Proper Use of SES Funds Chicago did not ensure that funds set aside for SES were used only to provide services to eligible students. Chicago offered SES to all students, including students at eight schools that were not identified for improvement. Final Report ED-OIG/A07F0003 Page 7 of 11 Pursuant to Section 1116 (e)(12)(A) of the Act, only low-income students who are attending a school required to provide SES are eligible for those services. Chicago officials were aware that ineligible students were offered SES and stated they have “built in audit mechanisms” to prevent charging services provided to ineligible students against Title I funds set aside for SES. Chicago provided a description of the process it follows to ensure proper usage of SES funds, but did not provide documentation confirming that the process had actually been implemented for the 2004- 2005 school year. Using SES funds to serve ineligible students could have an effect on Chicago’s ability to provide SES to eligible students in the future. Recommendations We recommend that the Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education, in collaboration with the Assistant Deputy Secretary for Innovation and Improvement — 1.1 Require ISBE to improve its process for reviewing LEAs’ compliance with the Public School Choice and SES provisions of the Act and the implementing regulations. Specifically, ISBE should implement a process to review LEAs for compliance with the requirements to (1) offer school choice and SES to eligible students and only to eligible students, (2) provide timely and adequate parental notifications of school choice and SES, and (3) allow parents to choose from all state-approved SES providers in the LEAs geographic area. 1.2 Require ISBE to implement additional procedures to provide adequate and timely guidance to LEAs. These additional procedures could include (a) requiring LEAs to submit parental notification letters for review before sending them to parents and (b) disseminating the results of monitoring site visits to all LEAs, not just the LEA ISBE reviewed. 1.3 Require ISBE to confirm that Chicago quantified how many ineligible students were provided SES and restored the funds attributable to the ineligible students to its Title I program. Auditee Comments In response to recommendation 1.3, ISBE provided comments from Chicago that did not concur with the recommendation. Chicago stated that it ensured funds were set aside for SES and that these funds were used to provide services only to eligible students. Chicago indicated it has audit mechanisms in place to prevent charging services for ineligible students and outlined the protocol it used to ensure proper usage of SES funds. ISBE offered no comment as to corrective action taken or planned to address recommendation 1.3. OIG Response The comments provided by Chicago did not cause us to change recommendation 1.3. While Chicago may have audit mechanisms and a protocol to prevent charging services for ineligible students, it did not provide us with documentation to support that funds set aside for SES were used only to provide services to eligible students. Final Report ED-OIG/A07F0003 Page 8 of 11 FINDING NO. 2 – ISBE Did Not Provide Final State Academic Assessment Results to LEAs Before the Start of the 2004-2005 School Year Section 1116 (a)(2) of the Act requires ISBE to provide state academic assessment results to the LEAs before the start of the school year that follows the school year in which the assessments were administered. ISBE did not notify LEAs of their schools’ final AYP status until after the start of the 2004-2005 school year. State assessment tests were administered in March and April 2004. ISBE provided preliminary AYP determinations to LEAs in a letter dated August 13, 2004, and posted the determinations on its website. ISBE provided final AYP determinations to LEAs in letters dated December 10, 2004. Without final AYP determinations prior to the start of the school year, LEAs were unable to identify with certainty schools in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring before the start of the school year (Section 1116 (b)(1) of the Act). LEAs that used preliminary results risked reporting schools’ status inaccurately and offering school choice and SES to ineligible students. According to ISBE officials, numerous errors in participant numbers, demographic numbers, and status of students (e.g., low income, limited-English proficient) tested occurred. ISBE provided LEAs several opportunities to correct data errors between July 6, 2004 and December 13, 2004 by opening correction windows. For the 2005-2006 school year, ISBE officials stated that ISBE has initiated several corrective actions to address late notification to LEAs of schools and districts in need of improvement. ISBE’s corrective actions include: (1) three time periods during which districts have an opportunity to clean up data discrepancies; (2) on a daily basis during the first time period, ISBE provided updated discrepancy checks to districts through the Illinois Web Activation System to assist districts in correcting data errors; (3) beginning in the 2005-2006 school year, all districts will use the Student Information System (SIS). SIS is a system in which statewide ID numbers are created for every student and demographic information is included. ISBE officials believe that by merging assessment data with the SIS, most data discrepancies will eventually be eliminated. In addition, ISBE officials stated that ISBE is working to produce a TOOLKIT, which would include sample letters for schools and districts to send to parents for notification of school choice and SES. Officials did not indicate when TOOLKIT production would be completed and implemented. Recommendation We recommend that the Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education, in collaboration with the Assistant Deputy Secretary for Innovation and Improvement — 2.1 Confirm that ISBE (a) implements its corrective actions for the 2005-2006 school year and (b) provides final AYP assessment results to the LEAs before the beginning of each school year. Final Report ED-OIG/A07F0003 Page 9 of 11 OBJECTIVES, SCOPE, AND METHODOLOGY The objectives of our audit were to determine if, for the 2004-2005 school year, (1) ISBE had an adequate process in place to review LEA and school compliance with the AYP, Public School Choice, and SES provisions of the Act and the implementing regulations; (2) LEAs provided to students attending schools identified for improvement (failed AYP two consecutive years), corrective action, or restructuring the option of attending another public school; and (3) LEAs provided SES to students attending schools that failed to make AYP while identified for improvement, corrective action, or restructuring. Our review of ISBE’s AYP process focused solely on the timeliness of providing AYP determinations to LEAs. To achieve our objectives, we reviewed selected provisions of the Act and the implementing regulations. We also interviewed officials from ISBE and six LEAs. In addition, we reviewed documents provided by ISBE, including (1) the ISBE organization chart; (2) documents related to compliance with the Act’s provisions related to AYP, the identification of persistently dangerous schools, school choice, and SES; (3) Illinois State Board of Education Accountability Workbook, May 2004 Revision; and the (4) State of Illinois Single Audit Report For the Year Ended June 30, 2003. To assess compliance with the Public School Choice and SES provisions of the Act and the implementing regulations, we judgmentally selected 6 LEAs from a universe of 138 Illinois LEAs that had schools identified for improvement, corrective action, or restructuring for the 2004-2005 school year. We selected the six LEAs — 1 large (Chicago), 3 medium (Rockford, Joliet, and Waukegan), and 2 small (Rock Island and Madison) — based on total student enrollment. We defined a large LEA as one with a student enrollment of 10,000 or more, a medium LEA as one with a student enrollment of 1,000 through 9,999, and a small LEA as one with a student enrollment of 999 or less. For each of the six selected LEAs, we reviewed documentation related to the LEAs’ compliance with the Public School Choice and SES provisions of the Act and the implementing regulations. The documentation included (1) school choice and SES parental notification letters sent by the six LEAs;6 (2) documentation related to the number of students eligible for and participating in school choice and SES; and (3) documentation related to school choice transportation expenditures. Our review of school choice and SES parental notification letters focused on selected provisions of the Act and the implementing regulations. For the school choice parental notification letters, we determined (1) whether parents were notified in a timely manner; and (2) whether the notice, at a minimum, (a) informed parents that their children were eligible to attend another public school due to the identification of the current school as in need of improvement; (b) identified each public school, which could include charter schools, that the parent could select; (c) explained how the school compared in terms of 6 Because Chicago relied on its schools to develop and provide SES notification letters to parents, we selected a sample of schools to test the notification letters for compliance with the law and regulations. Madison relied on its schools to provide the school choice/SES letters to parents so we selected a sample of schools to test for compliance with the law and regulations. Final Report ED-OIG/A07F0003 Page 10 of 11 academic achievement to other schools served by the LEA and ISBE; (d) included information on the academic achievement of the schools that the parent could select; and (e) clearly stated that the LEA would provide, or pay for, transportation for the student. For the SES parental notification letters, we determined (1) whether parents were notified of SES and given comprehensive, easy-to-understand information about SES; and (2) whether the notice, at a minimum, (a) identified each approved service provider within the LEA, in its general geographic location, or accessible through technology such as distance learning; (b) described the services, qualifications and evidence of effectiveness of each provider; (c) described the procedures and timelines that parents must follow in selecting a provider to serve their children; and (d) was easily understandable, in a uniform format, and, to the extent practicable, in a language the parents could understand. If the LEA had insufficient funds to serve all students eligible to receive services, we also determined whether the SES parental notification letter included information on how the LEA would set priorities to determine which eligible students would receive services. As part of our audit, we also gained an understanding of ISBE’s system of internal control over LEA compliance with the Public School Choice and SES provisions of the Act and the implementing regulations. Though we did not assess the adequacy of ISBE’s system of internal control, our compliance testing at six LEAs disclosed instances of non-compliance that might have been caused, in part, by weaknesses in ISBE’s system of internal control. These weaknesses are related to ISBE’s monitoring of LEAs to determine whether (1) school choice and SES parental notification letters were provided to parents, provided timely, and included all required information; and (2) LEAs used SES funds to provide services to eligible students. These weaknesses and instances of noncompliance are discussed in the AUDIT RESULTS section of this report. We performed our audit work at ISBE’s administrative offices in Springfield, Illinois, the administrative offices of the six LEAs reviewed, and our Kansas City office from October 2004 through May 2005. We discussed the results of our audit with ISBE officials on May 20, 2005. We performed our audit in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards appropriate to the scope described above. Final Report ED-OIGIA07F0003 Page 11 of 11 ADMINISTRATIVE MATTERS Statements that managerial practices need improvements, as well as other conclusions and recommendations in this report, represent the opinions of the Office of Inspector General. Determinations of corrective actions to be taken will be made by the appropriate Department of Education officials. If you have any additional comments or information that you believe may have a bearing on the resolution of this audit, you should send them directly to the following Education Department officials, who will consider them before taking final Departmental action on this audit: Dr. Henry L. Johnson, Assistant Secretary Office of Elementary and Secondary Education U.S. Department of Education Federal Building No.6, Room 3W315 400 Maryland Avenue, S.W. Washington, D.C. 20202 Nina S. Rees, Assistant Deputy Secretary Office of Innovation and Improvement U.S. Department of Education Federal Building No.6, Room 4W317 400 Maryland Avenue, S.W. Washington, D.C. 20202 It is the policy of the U.S. Department of Education to expedite the resolution of audits by initiating timely action on the findings and recommendations contained therein. Therefore, receipt of your comments within 30 days would be greatly appreciated. In accordance with the Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.c. § 552), reports issued by the Office of Inspector General are available to members of the press and general public to the extent information contained therein is not subject to exemptions in the Act. Sincerely, Regional Inspector General for Audit Attachment Page 1 of 12 Illinois State Board of Education 100 North Firs! $''''''1 • S prOnglield. lIIi","S 62777-0001 Jeue H. Rulz www.isbtl ,""t Cnajrman Rod BIIgo]evlcll Dr. Randy J. Dunn Governor SiaM SllpfIrintendem 01 EdOJC8rlan (Interim) July 19, 2005 Mr. Richard 1. Dowd Regionallnspector General for Audit U. S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General III N. Canal Street, Suite 940 Chicago, Illinois 60606-7297 Dear Mr. Dowd: r received the Office of Inspector General's Draft Audit Report, titled Illinois State Board of Education 's Compliance with the Public School Choice and Supplemental Education Service Provisions ofthe No Child Left Behind Act on June 27, 2005. Enclosed are the Illinois State Board ofEducalion responses to the findings and nx:ommendations made by your audit team. If yo u need more information or clarifying information, please contact Donna Lua llen. at 217- 782·2948. re1 13R,"d::d ,fcv- State Superintendem of Education (Interim) Enclosure cc: Peggy MOnlgomery, Office of lnspector General AruleUe Kncib, Office of Inspector General Priflled by AFL-CIO (A FSCM E Local .28 11 and IFSOE Local '3236) Employ" s Attachment Page 2 of 12 FINDING NO. I - ISBE Did Not Have a n Adequate Process in Place to Review LEAs fo r Compliance wit h t he P u blic Scbool C hoice a nd SES P rovisions Reco mmendations: We recommend that thc Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education, in collaboration with the Assistant Deputy Secretary for Innovation and Improvement -- 1.1 Require ISBE to improve its process for reviewing LEA compliance with the Public School Choice and SES provisions of the Act and the implementing regulations. Specifically, ISBE should implement a process to review LEAs for compliance with the requirements to (I) offer public school choice and SES to eligible students and only to eligible students, (2) provide timely and adequate parent notifications of public school choice and SES and (3) a1low parents to choose from all state-approved SES providers in the LEA's gcographic area. 1.2 Require ISBE to implement additional procedures to provide adequate and timely guidance to LEAs. These additional procedures could include (a) requiring LEAs to submit parental notification leners for review before sending them to parents and (b) disseminating the results of monitoring site visits to all LEAs, not just the LEAs ISBE reviewed. 1.3 Require ISBE to confirm that Chicago #299 quantified how many ineligible students were provided SES and restored the funds attributable to the ineligible students to its Title I program ISBE RES PONSE Illinois has taken a number of steps forward to ensure that subsequent SEA administrative actions, including notification letters, are in place for 2005-06. Illinois began helping districts with SES providers in fa11 2002. with the initial list of Board-approved providers available as of Deccmber 2002, and we have continued to evolve and improve the system. ISBE had a lengthy discussion of the entire system of SES at its June 2005 meeting. Rules were approved to move forward as proposed rules as well as emergency rules; a draft toolkit [Supplemental Educational Services TOOLKIT for fllinois Schools, Districts. Providers and Parents] was distributed for comments; a revised draft applicatio n was distributed. also for comments; and an evaluation and monitoring process was reviewed as well A. ISBE has already mailed a letter to all LEAs with schools in school improvement, identified in December 2004, and to 2005 schools in improvement which must offer choice andlor SES, as of July It , 2005. B. Each LEA must prepare a letter to be delivered to parents of students in Title I schools in school improvement status on or before the first day of school containing the following information. I. An explanation of what the school improvement identification means. Attachment Page 3 of 12 2. How the school's academic achievement compares to other schools served by the district and Slate. 3. The reasons that the school is identified for school improvement. 4. An explanation of what the school identified for school improvement is doing to address the problems of low achievement. 5. An explanation of what the district or Slate is doing to help the school address the achievement problem. 6. An explanation of how the parents can become involved in addressing the academic issues that caused the school to be identified for school improvement. 7. An explanation of the parents' option to transfer their child to another public school with transportation provided by the district when required. or to obtain SES for eligible children. C. A copy of this local letter in draft fonn must be submitted to ISBE for review prior to August 19, 2005. ISBE will read, review, correct. and approve letters from the districts and require additional comments where necessary and appropriate. Each letter being sent to parents will be approved if the seven parts listed in B above are included. D. ISBE is preparing and will be disseminating the aforementioned toolkit in July 2005. It will be posted on the agency web site. E. ISBE has also modified and will be posting the Application for Supplemental Educational &rvices Providers, pursuant to the proposed state rules for SES. That too will be available for use in the next round of applications for providers. F. lSBE will have a plan in place and commence monitoring both the provision of public school choice and the provision of SES at the beginning of the 2005-06 school year. Active follow-up will occur on a quarterly basis thereafter. O. ISBE has enclosed the sample Choice and SES Letters sent to districts with schools in improvement status. H. ISBE has enclosed the responses from the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) sent to the 010. Attachment Page 4 of 12 Letter to Diltrielt with Schools In School Improvement Status July II, 2005 District Name Superintendent -~. City, State, Zip Code Dear Superintendent (name): Section 1116(b)(I)(E) of the No Child Left Behi"ld law requires that each Title I school thai does not make Adequate Yea!ly Progress (AYP) lor a thi'(! consecutive tine must ptep8(e a letter b be deil'efed to parents on or before the first day 01 school contaning the following information. • All explanation 01 ¥.tIat the school MnproYement Identification means. • How the school compares in lerms of academic achievement to other schools served by the LEA and State. • The reasons lor the school being tdefl~fied for school improvement • All explanation of what the school identffied for school improvement is doing to address the problems of low achievement • AA explanation of what the LEA or SEA is dOOg b help the school address the achievement problem. • All OJ:pIanalion 01 how the parents can become r.vo/ved in addressing the academic issues that caused the school kl be identified lor school Improvement. • All explanation 01 the parents' options to transief tlleir dJjd to aooltief school with transportation provided by the LEA when requi"ed or to obtain supplemental education services for eligible dJild"en. In sman school districts or if the district lias only one school per grade span, the school is required to seild the notice and state that no viable public school choice option is available. Where no viable public school choice option is available. the school may move directly to SES lilring the first year of Sc:hoot Improvemenllor eligible students. A copy of the letter the school is sending 10 parents must also be sent to the lI~nois State 8oa'd of EdliCation (ISSE). The letter must be reviewed and approved by ISSE. If changes are required 10 conW with the statute the district and school wi~ be notified. A copy of the letter b parents must be returned \0 ISBE, Attn: Donna Luallen, .Accountability DMsion, by August 19, 2005 Approval wilt be given if the requW"ed information above is induded r. the letter. Slw"np!e ie"ers are enclosed. For additional r.formation please contact Donna Luden at 21mS2-2948 «&-mail dluaJlen@isbe.net. SllCe(ely, Donna LuaOen, Division Administrator .Accountabiily Oivision Enclosures: Sample Letter. Public School CIloice Sample Letter: Supplementary Educational Selvices Attachment Page 5 of 12 Sample Letter: Public ScIKloI Choice Sclloolsln Years 1-4of School lmprovem.nt Status D.. '''''' ""'~, City, State, Zip Code "'. As a result 01 tile federal No Child Let! Behind Act, your child may have tile option to transfer to anoIIIer school within tlledistrict. This has become an option as your childs school is in year (I, 2, 3, Of4) oI ' sd\ooi Improvemen~' Your child's school being in school improvement means that tile school has not made adequate yearly progress on tile State measures 01 academic achievement for alleast two Yea'S. Our district's report card (endosed with this letter) shows how your child's school compares to other schools in oor district and state. Your child's school lias been idenlitied because (list reasons for lde.101ication). The sdlooI is \IIOfking to improve tile, school's acadeITj(; program by (lsi what is being done). The district and tile state Soard 01 Education are working with your child's school to help inlprove tile academic standards of the school. This is being accornpI!shed by providing technical assistanoe to the teachers and administrators within your chid's school. However, this may not be enough and we wanllo request your help as the school add-esses its ecademic problems. . The school would like to invfle parents to serve on the oommitlee that will need to d$veiop a school improvement plan. We would also ~ke 10 inYOlve p;w-ents In addressing tile academic issues that caused the school 10 be Ide.1fified for school improvement. As a pcYent you have the option to msfer your dlild to another public school withIn tile distrid with Iralsportation provided by the district. A list of these options is enclosed. (If district has a choice agreement with another disbicl, Of W no viable option is available, please stale here.) Please cal (name and number) If you have any questions about these services, You may also join us to ta!k about your options on (date and place) 10 help you decide what 15 best for your dlikl. Thank you, Oistrict Official Enclosures: SchocJj Report card, Ust 01 schools available for student transfefs Attachment Page 6 of 12 Sample Letter: Supplementary Educational Services Sent only to parents olltudlflts receivi ng free Of reduced lunch Schools In Years 2-4 of School Improvement Status Date N_ ,,",,~ City, State, Zip Code Dear ....... , Help your child succeed in sdlooI-sign up !of free Moringl As a resuH oIlhe fedetal No Child Lan Behind /od. your child can receive extra help in ltIe 8(eas of maih, reacmg, and language arts. You can receive ihis free tutoring because your child's schoo! is in ils second yeiY or later 01 schoo! i~ment and you family meels the Income li"nits underltle law, Your chid's school has been identified !of improvement because it has not made adequate yearty progress on state measo.xes of academic achievement for at least three yean. OUr district's report card (enclosed with this letter) shows how your child's school COOlpares 10 other schools in our district and stale, YCl'.Ir child's schoot has been ldentifi9d because (ist reasons for identification), We v.;u be ser.ding you more information in a lew weeks about how you can help us improve the school in these ...eas. For now, you can choose a free tutoring program that is best for your chid. Ant 01 approved tutoring progrllllS in your area is enclosed. These programs have been approved by h Illinois Stale Board of Education 8Ild wiI prtMde your d\tI with tutoring that is cooranated with what is being taught in school. When deckling which tutoring program is best for your chld, you may want to ask these questions: • 'MIen ood where will the tutorng take pace (at school, home, COOlmunity center)? • How often and for how many hours In total Mol your child be tutored? • VYhat programs, by grade levels and subject areas, ...e available for your child? • VVhat type of instruction wUlltIe tutor use (smaa group, one-oo-ooe, or the COOlputer)? • VVhat are ltIe tutor's qualifications? • Can the tutor help il your cIlild has disabilities or is leamtng Engtish? • Is transportation available 10 and ffom where the tutoring wi n take place? If more students request tutoring than can be SCfYed through available funding, priority wiU be given to low ptffornWIg students as determined by the district Please call (name ood number) if you have any questions about these services. You also may join us to talk to ltIe tutors on (dates and times 01 parent fairs) 10 help you decide which program is best for your cIlid. If you would tike to setect a tutor now, you can fiU Cl'.It the enclosed provider selection form !lid mal Hback 10 (name and address) illtle stamped envelope we pro'oide. Applications are due by (date). You wil receive a letter from (school district) by (date) tenf1g you when the free tutoring wil start Flr\8l1y, if you do noI wish 10 sign up lor these services, you may also choose to transfer your cIlKd 10 another scflooI in the district. The enclosed public school choice letter gives more informatial about pIIbtic sdloot choice in our district Th ....kyou, District Official E_ Approved Provider listlProvider tnformation, Provider Selection Form, and SiYnple Letter. PlJbtic Sc:hoot Choice, District Report Carol Attachment Page 7 of 12 FlNDING NO.2 - ISBE Did Not Provide Final State Academic Assessment Results to LEAs Before the Start of the 2004-2005 School Year. Recommendation We recommend that the Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Scx:ondary Education in collaboration with the Assistant Deputy Secretary for Innovation and Improvement- 2.1 Confirm that ISBE (a) implements its corrective actions for 2005-06 school year and (b) provides final A YP assessment resul ts to the LEAs before the beginning of each school year. ISBE RESPONSE Staff bas closely examined the obstacles which have impeded ISBE's ability to inform districts of adequate yearly progress (A VP) status prior to the beginning of the school year. Though the release of status is depending upon school and district review and verification of participation data, attendance data, graduation data and assessment data, ISBE's projcx:tion for the release of2005-06 status is much earlier than in previous years. Many scbools and districts have already verified their participation, attendance and graduation data as of mid-June. They have already verifi ed their assessment data. The window of opportunity to do that for elementary and middle schools and elementary districts began on June 20d>. For high schools, high school districts and unit districts, that window opens mid-July 2005 . Now that the process of approval by USDE of the requested changes in the lllinois Accountability Workbook is final, Illinois will post final AYP status information on the £WAS web site for individual school access. We were ready to do so as of June 20d> but had to await final USDE action on the workbook proposals. Final A yP determinations were posted on the 2004 report card in November of 2004. The School Report Cards contains the A YP status of each school. The District Report Card contains a listing of the schools within the district that are in school improvement status. For school year 2004-05, ISBE has initiated several actions that will allow for schooVdistricts to make corrections to tbeir data and also to have earlier access to the A VP Status Report via an online system. ISBE's corrective actions include: (I) three time periods during which districts have an opportunity to correct data discrepancies; (2) on a daily basis during the first lime period, ISBE provided updated discrepancy checks to districts through the Illinois Web Activation System to assist districts in correcting data errors; (3) for those schools wbo bad submitted their School Report Card data and also approved their data on Schoolhouse, A yP Status Reports were generated on a daily basis beginning with July 6th • As of July 15, 1,384 A VP Status Reports have been generated for elementary schools and those scbools that have grade 2 as the highest grade. (4) Beginning with the 2005· 2006 school year, all districts will be required to use tbe Student Information System (SIS). The SIS assigns a unique student identifier to each student in the state. Attachment Page 8 of 12 Demographic information is provided on each student. ISBE officials believe that once the SIS is fully implemented that it will be possible to provide the information for the Pre-ill labels for the testing documents. This will eliminate most data discrepancies. Attachment Page 9 of 12 < • CHICAGO PUBU C SCHOOLS, 125 S. CLARK STREET, II'" floor ' CHICAGO, IU .lHOiS 60603 tICL8 ACcoo.o<T"'""", ~ "'R _ cII . E~..w_tIiIt)' Tn.'SS3-2013O Fll<: 773155:J.-2431 TO: Margaret Monlgollla')', United State! Department of Education Ct! G~il LiebcmulII, Federsl Relations, ISBE Ginger Reynolds, Teaching and Lemting ServK:c$, ISSE Pedro MartinC2., Office of Management and Bud~, CPS Walter Th iel, Offie<: of Managetnenl and Budget, CPS Kayle<!11 Jriuny, FlUldcd Proerams. CPS FROM: Xavier Solana ~ DATE: May 25, 2005 RY.: Rf;SPOI"St: TO NeLS AUDIT EXCEPTIONS Enclosed is Chicago Public Schools' re$p(lll$e 10 lhe [kpartmcnt of Education Audit Exce:pliQn Report. Our reliJlOIISC indicalCllhc following: • The PaRDts of al l appropriaIC children wen: notified lb. , their sehools were identified for improvement. • To prevent the parenllll choice letter from beeoming undecipherable, ;1 contained the required informatHllI god information on how to Ieee» comparirom online or through OIl' hotline. We re<:cived BpprovallO begin the SES process bef~!em r«ults were fmal in order to begin !he programs near Ib<:: beginning of the school yel)'. In instances in wbicb students ~ame inelillible .fier the $Iart of the pl1)graJD, we will adjust fut>dins: for the d er scllool program 10 that Title I funds pay for allowable services. • We ~upplie-d pl1)vider informalian directly \0 parents as well as held open houses to allow parents l"IlCl:\ with \he providers.. Attachment Page 10 of 12 · .\ . Response to NelS Audit Exceptions Exception 1 - Notification of all parents of students at all schools identified for improvement ResD90se: In April 2004, Chicago Public Schools sent letters to parents of students al all schools identified for school improvement informing parents as required by law. Parents of children Who were in pre-kindergarten, kindergarten or eighth grade were not sent the letters. This explains the discrepancy between the number of eligible students and the number of letters sent. This was explained to the audit team during the audit visit. Exception 2 - Funds set aside for SES were used only for services to eligible students Response: !lIs our position that Chicago Public Sd100ls ensured thai funds were set aside for supplemental educational services (SES) and that these funds were used 10 provide services only to students who were identified as eligible tot these servICes. CPS was aware and Informed schools that only low income students (free and reduced price lunch eligible) students who are eligible for supplemental educational services. However, since free/reduced lunch status could change at different points In lime, and in an effort 10 not discourage anyone from applying and receiving supplemental educational services, CPS built In audit mechanisms to prevent charging services from enrolled students who do not meet the FRL criteria to the required 20% set aside. We used the following protocol 10 ensure the proper usage of the funds: Confirm the enrollment for each Provider including those schools that have CPS as a Provider Identify the "income status' of children receiving SES services that are included In the verified student enrollment rosters at each school Use TIlle I set asJde funds 10 pay for only those children qualified for SES as noted .""". Keep records In a format thai Will allow us to Identify that we have allocated funding for SES progrems in the manner identified above Exception 3 - SES to Ineligible students at schools not In their second year of school Improvement, In corrective action, or in restructuring Response: CPS projected which schools would be eligible for supplemental educational services based on the data available as of April 2004. ISSE and USDE approved the CPS plan to Implement SES with these projections. However, updates by the state as a result of various data dean up processes and Spring 04 test scores, resulted In some schools being removed from the list CPS made the decision to not revoke supplemental services at those schools except in schools where the principal was no longer required to provide SES and chose to not provide SES. Attachment Page 11 of 12 CPS built in audit mechanisms to not charge seMceS at Ineligible schools to the required 20% set aside. We used the following protOCOl to ensure the proper usagE! of the funds: Identify the Providers al each school Confirm the enrollmeot for eadl Provider i1duding those schools that have CPS as a """"'" Determine the schools that were nOl eligible to provide SES based on final designations from ISBE Use funds from the Title I set aside fot only those schools that qualify for SES under NClB Keep records In a format that 'Hi" allow us to klentify that we have allocated fLWldlng for SES programs in the manllEtr klentifled aboYe II should be noted thallwo of the schools cited by GAO have subsequently been added to the school Improvement lIsl as ISBE reviewed the school's TrtIe I eligibility history. This issue points to the difficulty facing dIStricts with the fluidity of the deslgnaUon process ClJrrently in place. We stand 10 be penalized for not offering services when a schoot becomes eligible In mid-stream and we stand to be penalized when a school Is no longer eligible due to data corrections. Exception 4 Inclusion of the minimum required information in notification letters and prcwialon of the InfOl'lTl8tionto parents directly Respoose: Chicago Public Schools sent notification letters dl"ectly to parents of all students at schools that were klantified to offer dloice. In thai letter we also explained that parents that opted to remain at the sdlool would be eligible for supplemental educational s&Mces. (See copy of the parent notification letter attached.) The letter did not contain spedflc Infotmation on the SES provider options or enrollment process, because our past experience sending this Iype of detailed SES Information through the mail proved that It was an Ineffective method of oorrvnunlcating 'Hith parents. We opted Instead to hand out information at school by teachefslschool staff during "report card pick up" (dislrictwide an overwhelming majority of parents attend school report card p/d(-up dales). School staff were able to field questions on site. Follow up queslions coukl be directed to the school as well as through our telephone hotIine. In addiUon, indMdual schools coordinated open houses for parents, and CPS held regional open houses at various community locations, to allow parents and providers to meet directly. Our position is that lhe ovefWhelmlng response evidenced by the unprecedented (In CPS) and unmatChed (nationally) enrollment n our SES program (60,000 students) more than Justifies CPS' decision path. At report card pick up, CPS provided eaCh parent of children In kindergarten tlYough grade seven with a booklet that described the Moring programs (Including tocaUon), the qualifications of the program's tutors, the number of students in each class, the amount of lime to be spent in tutoring sessions, and the materials 10 be used during the sessions. The schools were instructed to assisl parents in making their selections [If requeslBd) and to collect the completed registration forms. Given that the district Is n the early stages of ImplemenUng SES and the Slate qualifies the providers, CPS is not at a point yet to determlne the quality and effectiveness of services. As a result, this information was not iodlJded In the 2004-05 SES booklet. Attachment Page 12 of 12 '. Exception 5 - Comparison of school's academic achievement to other schools or inclusion of mformation on receiving schools' academic achievement in parsntal choice notification letter C~::;::l."t:~~;:,;':~~~~t:';;rlOlif1cation letters directly to parents of students in grades K-7 al $( were ' jI offer choice. The letters contained the following jnformation: • The school's school improvement status • How the school's status was determined • The repercussions of not meeting standards • Their child's eligibility to transfer to a school that has not been identified for improvement by the state. • How to apply for a transfer • The schools to which the child could transfer • Transportation options for children who transfer • Deadline for applying for transfers • How to access comparlsons of t he 600 schools in the district Induding actual data comparisons in a single letter would result In the letter being undecipherable. Therefore, CPS opted to have the infconation for parents to make informed decisions accessible online or through our holline.
Illinois State Board of Education's Compliance with the Public School Choice and Supplemental Educational Services Provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act.
Published by the Department of Education, Office of Inspector General on 2005-08-23.
Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)