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Public education in Illinois

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K-12 Education in Illinois
State Superintendent: Christopher Koch
Number of students: 2,083,097[1]
Number of teachers: 131,777
Teacher/pupil ratio: 1:15.8
Number of school districts: 1,075
Number of schools: 4,336
Graduation rate: 82%[2]
Per-pupil spending: $10,774[3]
See also
Public education in Illinois
Illinois State Board of Education
Illinois school districts
List of school districts in Illinois
Illinois State Board of Education
Agency Profile
Superintendent:Christopher Koch
FY 2014 Budget:$9.31 billion[4]
Year founded:1970
Website:Department Home Page
The Illinois public school system (prekindergarten-grade 12) operates within districts governed by locally elected school boards members and superintendents.

The Illinois state constitution requires that the state offer "an efficient system of high quality public educational institutions and services." Additionally, the state has the primary responsibility for financing the system of public education.[5]


A new bill has been presented to the Illinois Legislature, which would allow school districts to dismiss ineffective teachers, base layoffs on performance instead of seniority, and toughen tenure rules.[6] The bill passed unanimously in the Senate but may not pass the house due to a last minute addition to the bill. The latest version of the bill would allow the Chicago Mayor to increase the length of the school day at anytime. School unions and the Illinois State Board of Education are protested the change and withdrew their support of the bill. Despite this, the bill still passed in the House.[7]

School revenues, expenditures and budget

See also: Illinois state budget
Illinois' education costs are 27% of the state budget

The state of Illinois has an approximately $52.9 billion budget for FY 2010, of that education is approximately 27.3%, $14.5 billion, of the total budget.[8] On July 22, 2009 the Illinois State Board of Education cut the FY 2010 education budget by a grand total of $400 million but increased state aid reduced the cut to $180 million.[9] Since the start of 2010, the state has approved 6 new school bonds and 2 new taxes to help fund public schools.

The cost per pupil is $10,246, ranking 18th highest the nation according the Census Bureau 2007-2008 report.[10]

Personnel salaries

In 2007, the American Federation of Teachers ranked the state of Illinois 6th for its average teacher salary of $58,275, a 2.8% increase from the previous year, $56,685. There were a total of 131,927 teacher positions in the state for the 2006-07 school year. The state ranked 11th for the average beginning teacher salary in the 2006-07 school year. The average beginning teacher salary was $38,363, a 4.4% decrease from 2005-06 - $40,130.[11]

School year Average annual teacher salary Average beginning teacher salary
2006-07 $58,275[11] $38,363[11]
2005-06 $56,685[11] $40,130[11]
2004-05 $55,558[11] $37,500[11]
2003-04 $53,820[12] $35,114[12]
2002-03 $51,398[12] $34,517[12]

Highest teacher salaries

Below is a chart of the top 10 paid teachers in Illinois.[13] See the top 100 salaries.

Salary Subject Name School
$191,124 Physical Ed William Mitz Adlai E Stevenson High School
$189,219 English (9-12) James Liesz East Leyden High School
$187,278 Physical Ed Steven Heuerman Niles West High School
$184,449 Physical Ed Paul Parpet Addison Trail High School
$179,253 Graphic Design Archibald Loch Adlai E Stevenson High School
$177,263 Guidance Counselor David Bene Highland Park High School
$174,656 French Carolyn Dunoon East Leyden High School
$172,164 Physics Michael Wietlispach Hoffman Estates High School
$171,595 Drama Susan Rothchild Lake Park High School

Role of unions

  • In reaction to recent state budget conversations the Illinois Education Association said on July 17, 2009 that they are not content with House members' preference to make cuts and borrow necessary funds. Illinois Education Association union president Ken Swanson said that the organization favors raising taxes to not only reduce the state's debt but also continue to provide services.[14]
  • On July 13, 2009 a variety of organizations including the Illinois Education Association and the Illinois Federation of Teachers released a statement in support of HB 174, a measure in support of "increasing the state income tax while reducing local property taxes." HB 174 passed the Senate on June 30.[15]

Role of school boards

The State Board of Education consists of nine members, all appointed by the governor and approved by the state senate. Board members have a term limit of four years and are limited to two consecutive terms.[16] The board may establish goals, determine policies, provide for planning and evaluating education programs and recommend financing.[17] Specifically the board sets the educational policies for public, private and vocational schools for grades preschool through 12th grade.[16]

Taxpayer-funded lobbying

See also: Illinois government sector lobbying

The main education government sector lobbying organization is the Illinois School Boards Association.



  • In a June 2009 report by the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago, a nonprofit business group that supports reform of Chicago public schools, revealed that contrary to state reports that Chicago public schools have improved drastically the group argues that in fact improvement has been slim. In the report the Civic Committee recommends the us of an independent auditor to review all of the published state reports. Additionally the group suggests publishing not only test scores but also information on the qualifications and evaluation of teachers and principals.[18]
  • A 2009 study, Leaders and Laggards, conducted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for a Competitive Workplace, Frederick M. Hess of the conservative American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, and the Center for American Progress, gave Illinois: "C" in academic achievement; "C" in truth in advertising about student proficiency; "C" in rigor of standards; "A" in post-secondary and workforce readiness; "A" in for its teacher workforce policies; "F" in data quality.[19]


  • On July 22, 2009, Chicago Public School officials announced that they began an internal investigation into how children were picked for admission to, what some call, "Chicago's most coveted public schools." According to school officials, an auditing firm has been called in review enrollment practices.[20][21]
  • July 2, 2009 - Cook County officials asked for state lawmakers to close the Cook County Regional Education Office after an audit revealed that Superintendent Charles Flowers used a government credit card for personal expenses. Additionally, the audit revealed that Flowers approved "questionable payments to relatives on his payroll."[22]
  • In early July 2009 the state released an audit report that revealed that former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's office incorrectly gave a $1 million grant to a private downtown Chicago school that was damaged in a 2006 fire.[23]

Academic performance


Since 2006, the state of Illinois has been decreasing the amount of points it takes to pass the ISAT test. In 2006, student had to earn 36 out of 56 points to pass the fifth grade reading test, about 64 percent, in order to grades as "proficient." In 2010, this was lowered to 31 points, or about 55 percent.[24]

The third and fourth grade reading tests were lowered from 61 to 54 percent. Overall 11 of the 12 standardized tests require less correct then they did in 2006.[24]

State Budget Solutions’ Education Study

State Budget Solutions’ study called “Throwing Money At Education Isn’t Working,” examined national trends in education from 2009-2011, including state-by-state analysis of education spending, graduation rates, and average ACT scores. The study shows that states that spend the most do not have the highest average ACT test scores, nor do they have the highest average graduation rates. A summary of the study is available here. Download the full report here: Throwing Money At Education Isn’t Working.

See National Chart to compare data from all 50 states.

State Spending on Education vs. Academic Performance 2012

State 2011 Total Spending[25] 2011 Education Spending[26] 2011 Percent Education Spending 2012 Total Spending[27] 2012 Education Spending[28] 2012 Percent Education Spending 2010 Avg. ACT score[29] 2011 Avg. ACT score[30] 2012 Avg. ACT score[31] 2010 Graduation Rate[32] 2011 Graduation Rate[33]
Illinois $127.7 billion $35.2 billion 27.5% $125.4 billion $35.6 billion 28.3% 20.7 20.9 20.9 79.5% 80.4%

Public schools

According to the Illinois Policy Institute, the State Board of Education reported that the Springfield School District had a graduation rate of about 90 percent in 2009. For 2006, however, Education Week magazine reported a 2006 graduation rate of 57.4%. The board of education reported a 87.1% rate for 2006.[34]

The Chicago Sun-Times compiles an annual report that includes student scores on the Illinois Standards Achievement, Prairie State Achievement tests, ACTs and demographic information. Individual school results for 2008 can be found here.

According to the 2008 report the top 10 high schools in Illinois are:[35]

  • Northside College Prep in Chicago
  • Payton College Prep in Chicago
  • New Trier Township High School in Winnetka
  • Young Magnet High School in Chicago
  • Hinsdale Central High School in Hinsdale
  • Adlai E. Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire
  • Deerfield High School in Deerfield
  • Jones College Prep in Chicago
  • William Fremd High School in Palatine
  • Lake Forest High School in Lake Forest

Charter schools

According to the Illinois Network of Charter Schools, Chicago charter schools reported higher attendance and graduation rates. In 2008 5 of Chicago's top 10 rated public schools were charter schools.[36]

A report by the Stanford University Center for Research on Education Outcomes revealed in June 2009 that Illinois charter schools may be falling behind the state's public schools. The four-year study analyzed standardized math and reading scores. According to the report, 17% of charter schools reported better academic gains than traditional public schools, 37% did worse than public schools and 46% showed no difference between public and charter schools.[36]

School choice

School choice options include:

  • Charter schools: the state of Illinois has a total of 39 charters and serves approximately 30,000 students in 74 campuses.[36]
  • Public school open enrollment: in Illinois, the state has one mandatory policy: intra-district enrollment.Intra-district allows for students to apply for a transfer to another school within the same school district in which they reside.[37]
  • Tax credits: in 2000, Illinois began offering tax credits for up to 25% of education-related expenses. A maximum of $500 will be granted per family.[38]
  • Online learning: the state has both a state-led program, Illinois Virtual High School, and virtual charter schools. In the 2007-08 school year the state-led program had a total of 4,031 registrations.[38]

External links

Additional reading


  1. National Center for Education Statistics, "Table 2. Number of operating public schools and districts, state enrollment, teacher and pupil/teacher ratio by state: School year 2011–12," accessed March 18, 2014
  2. ED Data Express, "State Tables Report," accessed March 17, 2014 The site includes this disclaimer: "States converted to an adjusted cohort graduation rate [starting in the 2010-2011 school year], which may or may not be the same as the calculation they used in prior years. Due to the potential differences, caution should be used when comparing graduation rates across states."
  3. United States Census Bureau, "Public Education Finances: 2011," accessed March 18, 2014
  4. State Board of Illinois, "FY 14 Budget," accessed January 21, 2014
  5. Illinois Constitution,"Article X, Section 1," accessed July 21, 2009
  6. Wall Street Journal, Illinois Education Overhaul at Risk , May 10, 2011
  7. Wall Street Journal, Illinois Education Bill Passes Over Union Objections, May 16, 2011
  8. State of Illinois,"FY 2010 Operating Budget," accessed July 22, 2009
  9. The Chicago Tribune,"Illinois State Board of Education cuts budget by $180 million," July 22, 2009
  10. Maine Watchdog, Education Spending Per Child, July 6, 2010
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 11.6 American Federation of Teachers,"Survey and Analysis of Teacher Salary Trends 2007," accessed July 23, 2009
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 American Federation of Teachers,"Illinois Ranks 6th in the Nation for Teacher Pay," October 6, 2005
  13. Champion News, 2010 Top 100 Teacher Salaries, Dec, 2010
  14. Chicago Tribune,"Illinois budget not adequate," July 17, 2009
  15. Illinois Education Association,"House Urged to End Crisis by Passing HB 174," July 13, 2009
  16. 16.0 16.1 Illinois State Board of Education,"About," accessed July 23, 2009
  17. Illinois Constitution,"Article X, Section 2," accessed July 21, 2009
  18. Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago,"New Civic Committee Report shows that Chicago schoolchildren are still left behind," June 30, 2009
  19. U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute,"Illinois Education Report Card," retrieved November 16, 2009
  20. Chicago Sun-Times,"Investigation of CPS admissions requested," July 23, 2009
  21. Chicago Tribune,"Chicago schools: District officials probe admissions at top public schools," July 23, 2009
  22. Chicago Sun-Times,"County Board asks state to close education office," July 3, 2009
  23. Chicago Tribune,"State to get little back from Loop Lab School grant, audit says," July 9, 2009
  24. 24.0 24.1 Chicago Tribune, New ISAT lets kids pass with more wrong answers, Oct. 18, 2010
  25. "Alabama Government Spending Chart - Total Spending" Aug. 4, 2012
  26. "Alabama Government Spending Chart - Education Spending"Aug. 4, 2012
  27. "Alabama Government Spending Chart - Total Spending" Aug. 4, 2012
  28. "Alabama Government Spending Chart - Education Spending"Aug. 4, 2012
  29. 2010 ACT National and State Scores "Average Scores by State"
  30. [ 2011 ACT National and State Scores " Average Scores by State"]
  31. [ 2011 ACT National and State Scores " Average Scores by State"]
  32. National Center for Education Statistics
  33. National Center for Education Statistics
  34. The State Journal-Register,"Collin Hitt: Expand charter school efforts in Springfield," July 21, 2009
  35. Chicago Sun-Times,"Top 50 High Schools in Illinois," 2008
  36. 36.0 36.1 36.2 Peoria Journal Star,"Grading charter schools at a glance," July 7, 2009
  37. Education Commission of the States,"Open Enrollment: 50-State Report," accessed July 22, 2009
  38. 38.0 38.1 The Heritage Foundation,"School Choice in Illinois," accessed July 22, 2009