I spent last Wednesday down in Springfield where I met with other professional learning providers throughout the State as well as the guru’s from ISBE’s Educator Effectiveness Division.

Lane Kinkade // Noun Project

The Educator Effectiveness Division oversees three primary areas: Licensure, Higher Education, and Renewals. I apologize if you already knew about the Educator Effectiveness Division; but here is a little honesty from me, I knew very little about ISBE prior to my new role here at the ROE. ISBE always seemed like some mythical creature to me, that one speaks about but always questions what it is like in actuality. Well, there I sat learning first hand…

I had many observations and enlightening moments during my 6 hour sit and get at the State Board of Education. First, it is a real place with real people working in it! Second, they are there as a resource to all educators! And finally, there are so many changes to the “Code” and the rules can change at any time!

As they went through each revision to the law, I immediately started to sing the lyrics to David Bowie’s “Changes” (in my head of course). One of the participants raised their hand just as I was about to start on the second verse, “How are we supposed to know about these changes as they are happening to update the educators we service?” she asked.

Great question I thought; this is part of my job: update Kane County Educators regarding pertinent information about the requirements for professional learning and licensure. Deb Heckenkamp was the presenter from ISBE who then directed us to the following information; “The State Board’s rules cover a wide range of topics and are subject to change in response to legislation and other policymaking decisions. At any given time, several sets of the rules are likely to be undergoing revision. For this reason, we have set up this site to provide two separate sets of information.” (ISBE.net, 2017)

Well, that was encouraging wasn’t it? Oh David Bowie was really speaking to me now:
“Every time I thought I’d got it made
It seemed the taste was not so sweet”

I thought Deb was going to provide me with the resource I was in need of, I had it made; but when I went to the website she suggested “the taste was not so sweet.” There is no way that anyone could keep up with all these new rules, on a current, ongoing basis. So I had to come up with a plan….luckily I had a 3 hour drive to mull this over and come up with a plan while jamming out to a little Bowie!

Please remember I have not been out of the classroom or building that long (at all), so all I could think about was how would I acquire this information if I were still in the classroom or a building administrator? Well, as a teacher and often an administrator I always felt ill informed with legislation and modifications to State Code; but as I delve deeper into my role at the ROE I realize that not being informed was an immature act on my behalf and allowed me to be ignorant to parts of my profession.

So, here we go David Bowie…
(Turn and face the strange) Ch-ch-Changes Just gonna have to be a different man
Time may change me”.

I need to face it, this is a learning curve for me, I need to do different, be a different woman, acquire information that is unknown to me and disseminate it out so that educators are aware of these “changes” and can make adjustments to their profession as necessary.

As I said, there were a lot of changes and modifications that were communicated to me last week, below are the highlights that will/do affect the masses. Other adjustments to the law were pertaining primarily to us, the attendees, the professional learning providers, so I will not go into that aspect of the seminar.

Most know that effective February 1, 2018 there will be a significant transition from the current middle school endorsement structure to the new middle grades programs and endorsement requirements. Here is a very helpful reference guide that walks you through the changes. Candidates can no longer be issued a middle school endorsement by only completing 18 semester hours of middle school content and 6 semester hours of middle school professional education coursework.

The requirements to obtain a “Middle Grade Endorsement” is significantly more complex:

  • If you are working towards your first endorsement you need to complete an Illinois approved middle grade program.
  • If you are earning a subsequent middle grade endorsement you will need to complete 21 semester hours of content specific coursework; plus 3 semester hours of content-specific methodology coursework and pass an applicable content test.

As you can see the Illinois licensure structure adds quite a bit of rigor to the requirements. It is NOT too late to take the 6 semester hours of middle school professional education coursework so that you can obtain your middle school endorsement prior to legislation change. Again, this is where I am here to help; the ROE has partnered with Aurora University to provide the two required classes this fall and will be 100% online classes, here is the flyer if you are interested in adding to your license prior to the requirement changes.

  • Educators holding an ADMIN endorsement and not working under the endorsement no longer needs to do one Illinois Administrator Academy (IAA) per cycle.
  • If a licensee earns more than the required number of professional development hours during a renewal cycle, the additional hours earned between April 1 and June 30 of the last year of the renewal cycle may be carried over and applied to the next renewal cycle. Illinois Administrators’ Academy courses or hours earned in those courses may not be carried over.
  • When attending a professional learning experience you will be asked for your IEIN number as this is documentation your PL provider is required to obtain.
  • Career and Tech Ed (CTE & CTEP Renewal): a test of work proficiency may be completed in place of the basic skills. Information about this test will be forthcoming

David Bowie said it best, “Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes”…but change doesn’t always have to be bad or overwhelming. It is best to be informed of the changes so that you feel you are a part of the change as opposed to the changes happening to you against your will.

Please know that we are here at the ROE keeping you informed of the changes happening down state; however, you need to be an advocate for your own knowledge too. I encourage readers to sign up for the ROE’s newsletter, join us on Facebook and Twitter as well as subscribe to my weekly blog to receive the most updated information to help you succeed.

Katie Algrim – Director of Innovative Professional Learning

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