Legislation will increase transparency of school testing, teacher development

7/25/2016, 9:55 a.m.
Bills aim to prevent “over-testing” of students and give teachers more flexibility with professional development hours.

Governor Bruce Rauner recently signed House Bill 5901 to increase transparency surrounding school district testing information, and House Bill 6181 to provide teachers more flexibility in earning and keeping professional development hours.

“I’ve long said that teachers are our state’s most important resource as they are the ones entrusted with educating the next generation of leaders,” said Governor Rauner. “These bills will help teachers with that awesome responsibility by removing bureaucratic red tape and encouraging them to continue to seek training and professional development and by addressing concerns that students are being ‘over-tested’ by requiring school districts to be more transparent about testing information.”

House Bill 5901 responds to the increased attention from teachers and parents on standardized tests and potential "over-testing" of students. While experts agree that assessment is an important part of instruction, there are also concerns about excessive testing taking away from instructional time. The bill increases transparency by requiring school districts to report information about many of the assessments used within the district to the Illinois State Board of Education.

Information that will be reported for each test includes: its administration window, which is the time in which the test has to be administered; who requires the test; which grade levels take the test; which subsets of students take the test; the estimated average time to take the test; and how the results of the test will be used.

House Bill 6181 allows educators to earn credit for professional development hours exceeding the required number during the last 3 months of their professional educator license (PEL) renewal cycle. Instead of being lost, these professional development hours can now be rolled over toward the next license renewal cycle. This provision respects and encourages teachers’ choice to seek out professional development beyond their licensure renewal requirements.

“These bills, which had clear bipartisan agreement, will give teachers the flexibility they deserve to schedule high quality, individualized professional development,” said Secretary of Education Beth Purvis. “They will also provide transparency surrounding assessment and the data required to better address the issue of ‘over-testing’.”

House Bills 5901 and 6181 are effective immediately.