Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

More Indiana Students Graduating High School Without Waivers

Indiana's graduation rate has ticked up 10 points in the past five years.

Chris Moncus / Wikimedia

Indiana's graduation rate has ticked up 10 points in the past five years.

UPDATED, 3:56 p.m. EST: More Indiana students are meeting the state’s exit requirements before graduating high school, according to data the Department of Education released Wednesday.

Though the state’s overall graduation rate was virtually unchanged between 2012 and 2013, the non-waiver graduation rate increased about a point — up to 81.7 percent from 80.5 percent.

(Click here to find your school’s 2013 graduation rate.)

“While the overall graduation rate is largely the same as it was in 2012, when you dig into the data it becomes clear that more of our students are graduating without a waiver and passing their end of course assessments,” says state superintendent Glenda Ritz. “This is a crucial step in ensuring that our students graduate from high school both college- and career-ready.” Continue Reading

Indiana Education Officials Release Final Draft Of Proposed Academic Standards

State Board members Brad Oliver, left, Troy Albert and Supt. Glenda Ritz listen to testimony on proposed standards during a public meeting in Sellersburg Feb. 24.

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

State Board members Brad Oliver, left, Troy Albert and Supt. Glenda Ritz listen to testimony on proposed standards during a public meeting in Sellersburg Feb. 24.

UPDATED, 4:30 p.m. EST: State education officials have released a final draft of the academic standards likely to replace Common Core in Indiana.

They asked nine experts in the fields of math and English language arts to weigh in on an earlier draft of the standards.

One expert, former University of Arkansas professor and vocal Common Core critic Sandra Stotsky, refused to participate because she says the proposed standards are too similar to the ones they replace.

Other reviewers also noted the proposed standards’ similarity. Michael Cohen is president of Achieve, the non-profit that helped develop the Common Core. He says Indiana’s efforts to rewrite standards could discourage other states from doing the same thing.

“But to go through that process for a year and end up pretty close to where they started, I think most states will look at that and say probably not a great idea if your primary concern is about making sure you have the right expectations for students,” Cohen tells StateImpact. Continue Reading

Schools Triple-Checking Online System Before Spring ISTEP+ Test

CTB/McGraw-Hill president Ellen Haley addresses the Indiana Commission on Education. The testing company executive answered lawmakers' questions about what went wrong with the exam and apologized for the disruptions.

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

CTB/McGraw-Hill president Ellen Haley addresses the Indiana Commission on Education. The testing company executive answered lawmakers' questions about what went wrong during the 2013 exam and apologized for the disruptions.

Indiana schools gearing up to administer the spring ISTEP+ test are worried computer problems could again disrupt students’ exams, reports Rich Van Wyk for WTHR:

Last year, widespread computer glitches disrupted the exam taken by almost half a million students. One in three couldn’t sign on, were kicked off or had to retake portions of the exam.

Test provider CTB/McGraw Hill took responsibility for the vast majority of the problems. Since then the company and schools have upgraded and tested their systems.

In Franklin Township, information technology workers with the school district worked with their counterparts at McGraw Hill to run test after test. The superintendent says only one went completely right.

“Everything we’ve turned into them shows there is nothing wrong with our servers, our bandwidth or firewall,” [Superintendent Flora] Reichanadter said. Continue Reading

Indiana Charter School Board Considering Dugger Schools’ Application

Supporters of keeping Union Junior-Senior High School and Dugger Elementary open listen during a Northeast School Corporation Board of Trustees meeting.

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

Supporters of keeping Union Junior-Senior High School and Dugger Elementary open listen during a Northeast School Corporation Board of Trustees meeting.

Residents of Dugger, Ind., made an appeal to the Indiana Charter School Board Tuesday to allow the schools in their tiny town remain open. From the Associated Press:

Tom Peeler, superintendent of the newly formed Dugger-Union Community School Corp., said enrollment in the first year for the K-12 charter school next fall is projected at 260 students. Intent-to-enroll forms have been submitted so far for about 140 students, he told the Tribune-Star.

Peeler said it’s important to the 900-person town that the schools remain open.

“This is a powerful community. It’s a vibrant community, and it deserves an opportunity to continue, and that’s what the school will do,” he said.

The Northeast Sullivan School Board voted 3-2 in November to close its two schools in Dugger: Dugger Elementary and Union Junior-Senior High School, which has 172 students. The district’s four other schools will remain open, including North Central Junior-Senior High School, which is near Farmersburg and has about 500 students. Continue Reading

Ritz: Teachers Who ‘Need Improvement’ Should Still Be Eligible For Raises

State superintendent Glenda Ritz listens to comments from the public during a hearing at Glenwood Leadership Academy in Evansville.

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

State superintendent Glenda Ritz says teachers who are marked 'needs improvement' on their evaluations should be eligible for raises. Otherwise, she says inexperienced teachers could leave the profession before they improve.

State Board members say Indiana’s teacher evaluation law needs an overhaul after the vast majority of educators received “effective” or “highly effective” ratings.

“Clearly the system failed,” says board member Gordon Hendry. “We have to find a new way to get accurate, fair results for our teachers so we can continue to improve our schools and our students’ experiences in the classroom.”

The Indiana Department of Education release data this week showing 97 percent of educators who received ratings were placed in the top two categories. Less than one half of one percent of teachers were scored as ineffective.

“I don’t feel we’re going to be able to capture that in a true form,” state superintendent Glenda Ritz says. “Many teachers that leave the profession — either retirement or resignation — before they get that final rating.” Continue Reading

Indiana Education Officials Drop Plan To Give Two State Tests Next Month

IDOE Director of Assessment Michele Walker, right, explains Indiana's testing timeline to the State Board.

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

IDOE Director of Assessment Michele Walker, right, explains Indiana's testing timeline to the State Board.

Indiana students will not have to take two rounds of standardized tests this year after all.

The State Board of Education agreed Wednesday to drop a plan to administer a second test next month after schools give ISTEP+. The exam draws questions from CoreLink, a bank of technology-enhanced questions likely to appear on new standardized tests next year. It takes about an hour to complete.

But the platform required to run CoreLink questions will not run on iPads, which many schools use for online tests. And State Board members questioned the need to administer the test at all, as Indiana is moving away from the nationally-crafted Common Core expectations.

“It can’t possibly be based on standards because we haven’t passed them yet,” said State Board member Brad Oliver. Continue Reading

AP: Tony Bennett Ethics Hearing Now Set For August

Former state superintendent Tony Bennett delivers his concession speech after losing his reelection bid to Glenda   Ritz.

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

Former state superintendent Tony Bennett delivers his concession speech after losing his reelection bid..

An ethics hearing for former state superintendent Tony Bennett has been pushed back from May to August, reports Tom LoBianco for the Associated Press:

Bennett is accused of using state resources, including staff and state computers, in his failed 2012 re-election bid. The inspector general filed the charges last November, shortly after The Associated Press reported Bennett had kept Republican Party fundraising lists on his state computers and top staff had been campaigning on state time.

Bennett issued a statement in November saying he had done nothing wrong and would cooperate with the investigation. He hired a pair of high-profile defense attorneys — Larry Mackey and Jason Barclay, with the Indianapolis firm Barnes and Thornburg.

Barclay said Monday that the defense team received 10 binders worth of documents from the inspector general’s office last month in response to their discovery request and is reviewing their contents. Continue Reading

Five Takeaways From The 2012-13 Educator Effectiveness Ratings

Ben Davis Ninth Grade Center Assistant Principal Steve Samuel observes a lesson in Wes Upton's social studies class.

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

Ben Davis Ninth Grade Center Assistant Principal Steve Samuel observes a lesson in Wes Upton's social studies class.

The vast majority of Indiana educators received “effective” or “highly effective” ratings during the first year of state-mandated teacher evaluations.

Indiana schools reported evaluating more than 55,000 teachers, counselors and administrators during the 2012-13 academic year, according to figures released Monday by the Department of Education. Of those licensed educators who were rated, more than 97 percent received the top two scores.

(You can look up the results for your school or corporation in our sortable tables.)

Indiana lawmakers voted in 2011 to overhaul how teachers are evaluated and paid. But the legislature stopped short of mandating what evaluation system each school corporation should use.

“This is not designed to compare one school corporation to another,” says Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn. “This is designed for a principal to do a vigorous evaluation of their teachers in their building.” Continue Reading

Adult Education Centers Now Giving New, Harder High School Equivalency Exam

Plainfield Prison GED classroom

Julie Rawe / WFIU News

Students in Dawn Grage's GED classroom are trying to pass the high school equivalency test before it changes on Jan. 1, 2014.

Last year Indiana’s adult education centers raced to get students through the GED curriculum before the state officially switched to a new high school equivalency test.

Indiana is now using the Test Assessing Secondary Completion, which aligns more closely with the state’s goals for preparing students for college and jobs.

Brown County Career Resource Center Career Facilitator Charity Robertson says the transition has been smooth for the teachers. It’s a different story, however, for some students.

“It’s been a struggle with the new students we had,” says Robertson. “The new test is harder. It is more thorough in investigation of what students know from the high school realm. So we have had trouble with the level of material and the things we have to teach them that is new and higher.”  Continue Reading

Nine Indiana School Districts Will Pursue Referenda In May Election

Indiana schools have to seek voter approval for large construction projects and levy increases outside the property tax cap.

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

Indiana schools have to seek voter approval for large construction projects and levy increases outside the property tax cap.

What are the odds your school corporation’s referendum will pass? It’s a coin toss — since 2008, half of the 92 districts who’ve tried to convince voters to raise their own property taxes have been successful.

Nine Indiana school districts will ask for 10 tax levy increases on the May ballot. Elkhart Community Schools is asking voters to approve two questions. And two school corporations — the Metropolitan School District of Boone Township and Mount Vernon Community Schools — are returning to the polls for the second and third time, respectively.

We’ve compiled a list of referenda after the jump. Or, check out our referenda scorecard to see how voters in other districts have weighed in on similar questions since 2008. Continue Reading

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