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'Accountability gap'

Illinois administrators are grudgingly revising their testing schedules, after state officials recently informed them that they would have to give sophomores a state test that was supposed to be eliminated.

In an attempt to streamline testing at the high school level, the legislature voted last spring to replace the 10th and 11th grade Illinois Standards Achievement Tests with the Prairie State Achievement Exam, a high school completion test that will be given to 11th graders. Embarrassed state education officials now say they didn't realize that the plan would leave high schools without a formal state testing program this school year, as the Prairie State exam won't be fully implemented until the spring of 2001.

To fill the "accountability gap," state Superintendent Glenn W. "Max" McGee sent districts an apologetic letter this month informing them that the ISAT would be given to 10th graders for the last time in February.

"We should have noticed it up front, but didn't see the connection," Lee Milner, a spokesman for the state school board, said of the implications of the testing legislation. "Certainly, this does require the changing of schedules, and [Mr. McGee] certainly is very apologetic about that and regrets that it didn't happen sooner."

Michael Warner, the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for the 8,000-student Glenbard High School District in suburban Chicago, said the announcement caught administrators off-guard.

"It's an inconvenience," Mr. Warner said. "It does make sense to continue to collect the data, but now we've got to rethink what our schedule will look like."

Moving up?

Florida's state education commissioner, Tom Gallagher, has his eye on a new job.

He told state Republican Party officials this month that he plans to run for the U.S. Senate seat that GOP incumbent Connie Mack will vacate after the 2000 elections. Mr. Mack has served as in the Senate since 1989.

Mr. Gallagher, who made the announcement during a state party convention in Orlando on Oct. 9, was elected commissioner last November and formed an exploratory committee for the Senate seat in May. He is expected to face U.S. Rep. Bill McCollum in the the Republican primary next spring. State Insurance Commissioner Bill Nelson is considered the favorite for the Democratic nomination.

--Jessica L. Sandham

Vol. 19, Issue 9, Page 22

Published in Print: October 27, 1999, as State Journal

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