Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Indiana And Oklahoma: A Tale Of Two Common Core Deserters

Indiana Governor Mike Pence and Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin both exited the Common Core this year, but only Indiana received an extension on its No Child Left Behind waiver.

Indiana Governor Mike Pence and Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin both exited the Common Core this year, but only Indiana received an extension on its No Child Left Behind waiver. (House GOP via Flickr)

Earlier this year, Governor Pence signed legislation making Indiana the first state to exit the Common Core. A few months later, Oklahoma joined the ranks, but on Thursday the two got very different news from the U.S. Department of Education: The USED granted Indiana an extension on its No Child Left Behind waiver, which exempts the state from federal requirements and gives it flexibility with federal money, whereas the USED revoked Oklahoma’s waiver.

Oklahoma is the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come in this tale of NCLB waivers and the Common Core. Both Indiana and Oklahoma dropped the Common Core after adopting it, but Indiana almost immediately released its own academic standards.

In a letter to Oklahoma state superintendent Janet Barresi, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education Deborah Delisle explained standards were the reason Oklahoma didn’t get an extension:  Continue Reading

U.S. Department of Education Grants Indiana NCLB Waiver Extension

The U.S. Department of Education extended Indiana's waiver Thursday.

Kyle Stokes

The U.S. Department of Education extended Indiana's waiver Thursday.

The U.S. Department of Education announced Thursday it will extend Indiana’s No Child Left Behind waiver, exempting the state from requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind law.

A loss could have meant less flexibility in how federal education dollars are spent in local schools and requirements for all students to pass reading and math exams.

State superintendent Glenda Ritz said in a statement, “During my time as Superintendent, we have adopted the highest standards in Indiana history, modernized ISTEP and begun the process to strengthen our accountability system. Additionally, we have put in place a strong and positive grassroots system of outreach and support for Indiana schools. Today’s decision by the United States Department of Education validates the work that we have done.

Continue Reading

ISTA Asks Pence For Flexibility On Teacher Accountability

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said his department will allow states flexibility in tying student performance to teacher evaluations.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said his department will allow states flexibility in tying student performance to teacher evaluations.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced last week his department will allow states flexibility with factoring student test scores on assessments into teacher evaluations. In response, the Indiana State Teachers Association sent a letter to Governor Pence Tuesday requesting he seek this flexibility.

In a blog post on the U.S. Department of Education’s website, Duncan wrote about his experience speaking with teachers and principals around the country, and how many have concerns about the coming year in terms of transitioning to new standards and assessments:

I have heard from many teachers that they have not received all the support they’d want during this transition. Yet America’s teachers are making this change work – and I want to recognize and thank them for that and encourage their leadership in this time of change.

Duncan said to help teachers transition better and ensure students are still learning and not just preparing for assessments, the USED will provide flexibility options for states that request it:  Continue Reading

Indiana’s Voucher Program Best In The Country

More than 19,000 students in Indiana use vouchers to attend private school. This inclusion makes Indiana's program the best in the country.

More than 19,000 students in Indiana use vouchers to attend private school. This inclusion makes Indiana's program the best in the country.

Indiana’s school voucher program is the best in the country according to a report released Wednesday by the Center For Education Reform. In the report, Indiana ranked highest among the 15 states that have voucher programs.

Although Indiana’s voucher program is only three years old, enrollment has increased each year with more than 19,000 students currently receiving state money for private school tuition.

Kara Kerwin, President of the Center for Education Reform, says Indiana’s program is the most inclusive because it accepts any student who meets the financial requirement and not just those who come from failing schools.

Indiana's requirements for eligibility in the voucher program are some of the most inclusive in the country.

Indiana Department of Education

Indiana's requirements for eligibility in the voucher program are some of the most inclusive in the country.

The report did criticize the state’s requirement to teach certain content if the school accepts vouchers.

“One size doesn’t fit all and so dictating the content is something we look at and say ‘hey maybe that’s just a little too much overreach into the private school sector,’” Kerwin said.

State superintendent Glenda Ritz opposes the voucher program, and earlier this year the Indiana Department of Education released a report saying the program cost the state $16 million, rather than saving it $4 million as in the previous two years.

Shortened Summers Help Students But Hurt Seasonal Businesses

School corporations around the state are going back to school earlier, which hurts seasonal businesses like Holiday World Theme Park.

Bill Shaw / WTIU News

School corporations around the state are going back to school earlier, which hurts seasonal businesses like Holiday World Theme Park.

Increasingly around the state and country, the first day of school is getting earlier with some districts starting the first week of August. Research supports earlier start dates, saying it increases student retention by giving them less time over the summer to forget important information. Outside of the education community though, seasonal businesses feel the effects of the absence of free time for students during traditional summer months.

It’s not year-round school, it’s a balanced calendar

The shorter summer is because of the balanced calendar some school districts are trying. Instead of summer being about two and a half months long, the days off are spread throughout the school year. This usually means summer break is only a month and a half, but Christmas, Thanksgiving and Spring break are significantly longer.

School districts are not adopting this calendar to take summer away from kids or punish seasonal businesses; many say it’s the best thing for students.

Steve Phillips is the superintendent of Mitchell Community Schools near Bedford and says his district switched to the balanced calendar two years ago.

“I heard consistently that once students get back from a long summer, they had to take a week, two weeks, three weeks just to catch them back up to the level that they were when they left so I think there’s some merit to that concept,” Phillips says.

Continue Reading

Doctors: Let Students Sleep To See Better Performance

Good news for teenagers: doctors want you to sleep in during the week.

A new recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests middle and high schools delay the start of their day so students get the right amount of sleep.

duhe / Flickr

A new recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests middle and high schools delay the start of their day so students get the right amount of sleep.

A new recommendation released Monday by the American Academy of Pediatrics encourages middle and high schools to push start times back, in order to align students’ academic schedules with their biological sleep rhythms.

The organization says schools should start classes no earlier than 8:30 a.m. Nationally, only 15 percent of high schools currently follow that guideline. 40 percent start classes before 8:00 a.m.

Ideally, researchers say, teenagers should get between 8.5 and 9.5 hours of sleep each night. Recent polls indicate that only 41 percent of middle school students and 13 percent of high schoolers do.

“Chronic sleep loss in children and adolescents is one of the most common and easily fixable public health issues in the U.S. today,” said pediatrician Judith Owens, who wrote the policy statement. “Studies have shown that delaying early school start times is one key factor that can help adolescents get the sleep they need to grow and learn.”

Continue Reading

Why Are So Many Charter Schools Closing?

Two more Indianapolis charter schools have decided to give up their charters at the end of the 2014-15 school year.

Two more mayor's charters in Indianapolis will close after the end of this school year.

Max Klingensmith / Flickr

Two more mayor's charters in Indianapolis will close after the end of this school year.

ADI Schools Incorporated announced Friday plans to toss out charters at Padua Academy and Andrew Academy. Both K-8 schools, authorized by Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard’s office since 2010, saw significant drops in ISTEP+ test scores this year. Padua Academy saw 39.7 percent of students pass the ISTEP+ this year, down from 52.2 percent in 2013. Andrew Academy saw a sharper decline in scores, with 31.7 percent passing this year, compared to 53.5 percent in 2013.

Come 2015-16, Padua will reopen as a Catholic school run by the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, which also plans to help the mayor’s office find another operator to run Andrew. The mayor’s staff and leaders at other local schools will help families decide whether their student should transfer or remain at the school after transition.

Is it just us, or does it seem like charters are having a rough go of it lately?

This announcement comes on the heels of another closing in Indianapolis – Flanner House Elementary, also one of the mayor’s charters. School board members voted last week to close Flanner House on September 11, after two separate state investigations found school officials cheated on 2013 and 2014 ISTEP+ exams.

Continue Reading

Dugger Receives $50,000 Donation For New Community Charter School

Residents in Dugger continue to gain support for their new community school, as the Indiana Rail Road pledged a $50,000 donation earlier this week.

The new Dugger Union Community Schools, which will occupy old school corporation buildings, will open August 25.

Bill Shaw / WTIU

The new Dugger Union Community Schools, which will occupy old school corporation buildings, will open August 25.

INRD’s donation is contingent upon the school’s ability to raise a sum-total in matching grants, or find a donor willing to fully match the $50,000 pledge. The money will help cover operational expenses and extracurricular activities.

INRD President and CEO Tom Hoback says Dugger is an important anchor for the company and its customers.

“Many of our employees and families live there, many generations have attended Union High School,” Hoback says. “I know it hasn’t been an easy year for Dugger parents and volunteers, but I’m proud and happy to see their efforts come through.”

Hoback says INRD is also pursuing options, along with partner Peabody Energy, the local carpenters union and other local employers to provide in-class training for Dugger-Union students who wish to pursue a career in vocational trade industries.

Continue Reading

Indianapolis Charter Closes Amid ISTEP+ Cheating Allegations

Updated 12:58 p.m.: 

A charter sponsored by Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard’s office is closing after allegations of cheating on ISTEP+ tests.

The Indiana Department of Education found a number of issues with ISTEP+ scores and testing practices at Flanner House Elementary School in Indianapolis.

Eric Zelenka / Flickr

The Indiana Department of Education found a number of issues with ISTEP+ scores and testing practices at Flanner House Elementary School in Indianapolis.

Ballard on Thursday morning accepted the decision by Flanner House Elementary Charter School’s Board of Directors to surrender its charter and close the school, effective September 11.

The Mayor’s Office of Education Innovation began investigating the school after it showed “extraordinarily high gains” on ISTEP+ tests in 2013 and 2014. OEI notified the Indiana Department of Education, requesting they conduct a follow-up investigation. IDOE has since invalidated Flanner House’s ISTEP+ results, as well as stripped the school of its “A” grade and four-star school award, received for high passing rates.

According to a press release from Ballard’s office, state officials found:

  • An unusually high number of changes from right to wrong answers on the school’s 2013 ISTEP+ tests.
  • Adult handwriting in student answers on the 2013 test.
  • Students were given test questions prior to test administration in 2014.
  • Teachers revised and edited student responses to real ISTEP questions prior to administering the 2014 test.
  • Flanner House failed to follow several testing security procedures, in particular forging testing integrity agreements in 2013.

The City and State are also referring information from their investigation to the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office to determine whether criminal charges may be warranted.

Continue Reading

Non-Teaching Personnel Now Account For Half Of District Staffs

With few exceptions, the number of staff in schools is growing, but most of them are not teachers.

According to a report published last week by the Fordham Institute, the number of non-teaching personnel in schools has increased over the last half century at a rate that outpaces even the growth of teachers and students.

The number of teachers' aides on public school staffs has increased by 130 percent since the year 1970.

Rachel Morello / StateImpact Indiana

The number of teachers' aides on public school staffs has increased by 130 percent since the year 1970.

Since 1970, the total number of employees in the nation’s schools grew from 3.4 million to 6.2 million, an 84 percent increase. During that same period, the student population grew only by about 8 percent. In other words, for every four children added to American schools, districts hired three adults.

The number of teachers added has steadily increased, but what comes as a surprise to many is that non-teaching personnel have accounted for the majority of the growth on staffs. This group increased in size by more than 130 percent, and they now make up close to half of the average public school district’s workforce, counting about 3 million nationwide.

Continue Reading

About StateImpact

StateImpact seeks to inform and engage local communities with broadcast and online news focused on how state government decisions affect your lives.
Learn More »

Economy
Education