Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Turnaround Officials: Defining Stakeholder Roles Is Key To Success

Updated, 1:40 p.m.:

The State Board of Education Committee on School Turnaround hosted a public meeting Friday in Gary to discuss improvement efforts at Roosevelt Career and College Academy, a public high school the state took over in 2011.

Roosevelt Career & Technical Academy in Gary has been run by turnaround operator EdisonLearning, Inc. since 2012.

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

Roosevelt Career & Technical Academy in Gary has been run by turnaround operator EdisonLearning, Inc. since 2012.

Roosevelt is currently operated by EdisonLearning, Inc., a private, for-profit education management company. According to the Post-Tribune, the company has “encountered several maintenance-related problems with the Gary Community School Corp., but in recent weeks both sides say they have ended the bickering and now have a ‘shared vision.’”

Perhaps due in part to that history, representatives from both Roosevelt and EdisonLearning told the committee that the most effective way to attack transitions and operational challenges is to clearly define the role of each stakeholder.

“You really have to have a collaboration,” says EdisonLearning CEO Tom Jackson. “If you don’t have that triad and clearly spell out what is the role of the state, the role of the turnaround partner, and the role of the district, you will delay and frustrate the turnaround effort.”

“Its important for both parties to sit down so everyone is clear about the roles and responsibilities of each party,” agrees Roosevelt Principal Donna Henry.

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Individual State Standards Don’t Bode Well For U.S. On World Stage

So many standards, so little time.

Wide variation in state academic standards makes comparison across the country - as well as internationally - difficult, according to new research.

Connor Bleakley / Flickr

Wide variation in state academic standards makes comparison across the country - as well as internationally - difficult, according to new research.

That’s essentially the takeaway from the most recent national report on academic guidelines.

A report released Thursday by the American Institutes for Research (AIR) finds that what’s considered “proficiency” in certain subjects varies widely – not only across states, but also between the U.S. as a whole and its international counterparts.

The study compares performance standards for reading, math and science in each state with international benchmarks used in two international assessments – the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) – to gauge difficulty and global competitiveness of each state’s standards.

The results generally showed the percentage of proficient students in most states declined when compared with international students – and Indiana was no exception.

For example, 77 percent of students in the Hoosier were considered proficient based on state performance standards for 8th grade math in 2011. When those same students had their score compared to TIMSS benchmarks, only half of them (35 percent) were still considered proficient.

That means in Indiana, students only required a C- in order to be considered proficient. The same rang true for students testing in fourth grade math and reading.

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Indiana Undecided On Linking Test Scores, Accountability

Last month, the U.S. Department of Education offered some states with waivers from the federal No Child Left Behind law the option to delay incorporating student test scores into teacher evaluations until the end of the current school year.

Indiana is currently in the camp of undecided on whether or not to pursue that option.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will offer flexibility to states in deciding whether to tie student test scores to teacher evaluations next year.

Center for American Progress / Flickr

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will offer flexibility to states in deciding whether to tie student test scores to teacher evaluations next year.

The feds extended Indiana’s NCLB waiver through the 2014-15 school year late last month. The subject of teacher and principal evaluations was one of four areas where the state wasn’t meeting federal expectations.

State Superintendent Glenda Ritz said her department will consult with other state officials prior to making a decision.

“It is in statute that teachers are evaluated in part by the state assessments and the growth component of that,” Ritz said at a press conference last month after receiving the waiver extension. “I plan on renewing that conversation with state leaders and having a conversation about that and seeing what Indiana might want to do regarding that topic.”

According to Alyson Klein at Education Week, sixteen states with waivers say they will pursue this option; at least eleven say they probably will not. States will apply for the flexibility when they reapply for waiver renewals in spring 2015:

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Extracurricular Rules May Exclude Some Homeschoolers

Whether you’re the starting quarterback or the benchwarmer on the basketball team, you learn lessons in athletics that you can’t learn anywhere else. But what if you’re not even given the chance to be on the team?

Kim Mountain addresses the members of his homeschool volleyball team, the Indy Silver Lightning.

Rachel Morello / StateImpact Indiana

Kim Mountain addresses the members of his homeschool volleyball team, the Indy Silver Lightning.

Last week we reported on academic regulations for homeschoolers in Indiana. In contrast to the state’s arguably lax rules for curriculum and testing, the guidelines for homeschooler participation in extracurricular activities is more restrictive than one might think.

Rules Of Play

Special subjects such as art, music or foreign language – and extracurricular activities such as sports or theater – are part of the regular school week for most students. Many homeschool families elect to supplement their everyday curriculum with courses like these in an attempt to make the school experience more “normal” for their students. But not every organization is 100 percent open to having homeschooled kids participate.

Bobby Cox is the Indiana High School Athletic Association, or IHSAA Commissioner. His organization spells out a number of minimum benchmarks homeschool students must meet in order to get involved with athletic teams at their local public high school.

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Back To School: How To Get Dropouts Back In College

The Commission for Higher Education wants to encourage more than 700,000 students with some college credit but no degree to return to school.

A&M-Commerce (flickr)

The Commission for Higher Education wants to encourage more than 700,000 students with some college credit but no degree to return to school.

The Commission for Higher Education this week is planning a communication campaign to convince Hoosiers with some college credit but no college degree to go back to school. That description applies to more than seven hundred thousand people across the state.

The campaign is launching now because of the Commission’s goal is to have 60 percent of Hoosiers earn a college degree by 2025 – a lofty goal that can’t happen with only the current population of college students. So the Commission is launching a campaign that encourages students who left college with completing their degree to return.

Sarah Ancel is in charge of legislation and policy priorities for the Commission. She says the new initiative will benefit the entire state’s economy. Continue Reading

Ritz: My Biggest Concern Is Pence Solidifying CECI’s Power

Ritz was elected in 2012, and shortly after Pence created the Center for Education and Career Innovation.

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

Ritz was elected in 2012, and shortly after Pence created the Center for Education and Career Innovation.

Since taking office in 2012, state superintendent Glenda Ritz has faced political backlash from other education leaders in the state. With summer study committees underway and legislative issues brought back to the surface, Ritz says her biggest concern for the next legislative session is having her department pushed out for the governor’s newly created Center for Education and Career Innovation (CECI).

Ritz spoke to the Bloomington Press Club Monday outlining where education policy in the state is heading over the next year and what has happened the last two. Ritz says she knew going from educator to politician would be difficult, but didn’t anticipate the governor created a new education state agency.

“I knew I was in a political situation to get some things done but I didn’t expect that to happen,” she said. Continue Reading

Education Panel: To Improve Education State Must Address Poverty

The panel touted Indiana's policy on school choice and what the state needs to do to improve.

www.audio-luci-store.it (flickr)

The panel touted Indiana's policy on school choice and what the state needs to do to improve.

A panel of national and local education leaders met in Indianapolis on Friday to discuss the future of school choice in the state and how other cities and states can replicate its success.

The University of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education hosted the discussion at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum. Indiana education representatives attending included Indianapolis Public Schools, The Mind Trust, Carpe Diem Schools, The Archdiocese of Indianapolis and Mayor Greg Ballard’s Office.

One of the things the Indiana education panel discussed was the success Indianapolis has with pushing forward education reform with vouchers, charter schools and expanded programs. Continue Reading

Fort Wayne Schools Receive $400,000 To Hire More Counselors

The U.S. Department of Education awarded Fort Wayne Community schools almost $400,000 to improve its counseling program.

MyTudut (flickr)

The U.S. Department of Education awarded Fort Wayne Community schools almost $400,000 to improve its counseling program.

The U.S. Department of Education awarded Fort Wayne Community Schools more than $400,000 Thursday as part of a grant to improve school counseling programs.

The grant was given to 40 school districts across the country, and Fort Wayne was the only Indiana district to receive one.

Fort Wayne Community Schools spokesperson Krista Stockman says the district will use the money to hire three new counselors that will serve at elementary schools in the district. Currently, counselors are only available in middle and high schools, and Stockman says putting counselors in elementary schools could dramatically help students.

“We know that if we can help them at a young age, the sooner we can get them the support and the assistance that they need the more impact we’ll have on long term academic success,” Stockman says. Continue Reading

Today Is Last Day Of School At Flanner House Elementary

Flanner House Elementary School in Indianpolis closed for good today after an investigation found teachers cheated on 2013 ISTEP+ tests.

Sam Klemet / WFYI

Flanner House Elementary School in Indianpolis closed for good today after an investigation found teachers cheated on 2013 ISTEP+ tests.

Flanner House Elementary—the Indianapolis charter school at the center of a cheating scandal—closes its doors for good Thursday.

Most of the school’s 176 students transferred after the board voted August 20th to close the school. Indianapolis Charter School Director Brandon Brown says there are fewer than ten students still enrolled as of today.

“It’s our understanding that all of them have already enrolled in a new school and are just choosing to actually wait and attend the school until tomorrow,” Brown said.

Brown says his office has been in regular contact with affected families and will continue to lend support as students move to new schools.

“We’re providing complete assistance with uniform costs and then any school supply cost as well,” Brown says. “Then we’re working with receiving schools to make the transition process as smooth as possible.”  Continue Reading

State Receives Mostly B’s In U.S. Chamber Of Commerce Report Card

The "Leaders and Laggards" report is written by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

ludwg (flickr)

The "Leaders and Laggards" report is written by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

Indiana earned top grades in school choice and data quality in its education system, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s 2014 “Leaders and Laggards: A State-by-State Report Card on K-12 Educational Effectiveness” report released Thursday.

The report looks at the state of education and its effectiveness on students, communities and the country as a whole. Each state was given an A-F grade for 11 areas of a state’s education system, including academic achievement, postsecondary and workforce readiness, parental options and fiscal responsibility to name a few. (All of the grades are listed below and descriptions of each category and how the grades were calculated are outlined here.) Continue Reading

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