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Changes Coming to Illinois Classrooms

Story by WBGZ Radio

With Illinois' plan to comply with new federal education standards accepted, changes are already in the works in classrooms across the state. 

The Every Student Succeeds Act was signed into law in 2015 to replace the education standards of the old No Child Left Behind laws. Illinois' plan to comply was accepted last week. In it is an ambitious plan to have at least 90 percent of the state's third graders reading at or above grade level, 9 out of 10 fifth graders at or above grade level in math, as well as graduation and career or college readiness standards. 

Education Secretary Beth Purvis said Illinois' plan went above and beyond other state's proposals.

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"It's been hailed by professionals across the country as having one of the most rigorous accountability plans across the state and having input from students, teachers and community members in a way that no other plan has done," she said.

Advocates say Illinois' new plan puts more emphasis on individual child growth, not test scores. 

"It realizes students don't all grow at the same rate," said Mike Chamness, communications director with the Illinois Association of School Administrators. "The whole child becomes the focus and the school experience becomes the focus in terms of accountability for schools." 

He referred to the new "school climate" score, which gives students the chance to give feedback about their experience that will be a part of the school's overall rating.

The new changes will partly take effect this school year and be fully implemented over the next two school years.

"We want every child to feel well known and well cared for in our schools and to receive the individual support they need for academic excellence and post-secondary success," Illinois State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith said. "The Illinois ESSA Plan gives us the opportunity to foster collaboration and partnerships to build educators' and leaders' capacity for improved student outcomes."

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