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Illinois Board of Ed. Sets the Record Straight

A comment from a reader prompted me to double-check with the Illinois state board of education whether I'd gotten the news right in Friday's blog post that the Illinois state board of education voted to require public preschools to provide transitional bilingual education. I was right about that, according to Matthew Vanover, a spokesman for the state board of education.

But Vanover did have a few corrections to my blog post.

He said that the new rules adopted by the board do not call for the state superintendent to identify the screening mechanism for preschool students. He wrote in an e-mail message: "In fact, we specifically sought to avoid the state identifying a screener for this group of students since the research is not clear on any particular screening procedures being better than others for such a population. School districts will have the latitude to select their own screening procedures, as long as they meet the qualifications set forth in the definition of 'screening procedures.' "

Second, Vanover said I chose the wrong verb to describe the action that the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules will take on the rules. I had said the joint committee would need to "approve" them to go into effect. Vanover explained that the joint committee can either issue an objection to the rules or not object. If the committee doesn't object, the state board of education will file the rules with the Illinois secretary of state and they go into effect.

Lastly, Vanover said that my post should have pointed out that the Illinois state legislature made a change in state law, effective Jan. 1, 2009, that extended the category of "children of limited-English-speaking ability," or ELLs, in regular public schools to include 3- and 4-year-olds. That's what prompted the state board of education to create rules that clarified how that change in the law should be implemented.

If you'd like to know more about the details of the new rules in Illinois, join the free Web chat that EdWeek is hosting tomorrow afternoon, June 29, from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., Eastern time, about the education of preschoolers who speak a language other than English at home. The chat will feature two guests from Illinois: Barbara Bowman, the chief early childhood education officer for Chicago Public Schools and a founder of the Erikson Institute, and Reyna P. Hernandez, the research and policy associate for the Chicago-based Latino Policy Forum. If you can't participate in the chat live, you can read a transcript of it afterward at the same link that I've posted above.

Earlier, I had said that one of the guests would be Margo Gottlieb, the lead developer for the World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment Consortium, housed at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Gottlieb had to bow out. Thus, Hernandez will be the second guest for the chat.

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