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July 12, 1999

Ryan Signs Legislation To Strengthen Teacher Certification

CHICAGO -- Governor George H. Ryan today signed legislation that requires teachers every five years to formulate a professional development plan to expand their knowledge and keep them current in their education as part of the renewal of their teaching certificate.

"The education of our children remains my number one priority," Ryan said. "This legislation will ensure that the teachers in our classrooms continue to learn and grow professionally throughout their careers. The children of Illinois deserve nothing less than the finest instructors."

There are currently about 120,000 teachers in Illinois.

Senate Bill 556 amends the Teacher Certification Article of the School Code to require teachers with a standard or master teaching certificate to write a professional development plan based on state standards and professional practices as part of their certificate renewal. The professional development plan must be designed to advance the teacher's knowledge and skills, address state priorities for education as well as the improvement plan of their local school district. The plan's activities may also assist the teacher in obtaining additional teaching certificates or endorsements.

"Our knowledge base changes so quickly that teachers must continually update their skills in order to help students reach the Illinois Learning Standards," said State Superintendent of Education Glenn W. McGee. "This legislation ensures that all Illinois' classroom will have teachers prepared to help students meet the challenges of the future."

The implementation date for the new certificate renewal requirements is February 15, 2000.

In addition to traditional coursework and seminars, teachers will be able to get credit for learning activities that are closely linked to and have an impact on their teaching. For example, Kindergarten through grade three teachers in a school or district could form a study group to analyze behavior research and use that knowledge to modify their curriculum and teaching practices. A high school teacher could retrace the Lewis and Clark expedition, keep a journal and develop a unit of study on US exploration and expansion.

The legislation also requires school districts, in conjunction with their exclusive bargaining representative, to establish a local professional development committee to review, revise and/or approve each teacher's professional development plan and review documentation of plan completion and recommend certificate renewal or non-renewal.

The state currently has no certification standards. However, teachers must pay $4 per to receive their certificates.

Senate Bill 556 provides for the payment of up to $1 million annually statewide to cover the administrative costs of local school districts conducting meetings of their professional development committee. The legislation also provides $2,000 annually to each Regional Office of Education to reimburse local districts for staff attendance at regional professional development review committee meetings and training seminars.


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