Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Dual Language Pilot Program Available To Schools

The State Board of Education approved Wednesday a dual language immersion pilot program for schools.

The State Board of Education approved Wednesday a dual language immersion pilot program for schools. (photo credit: sylvar/flickr)

Legislation passed by the 2015 General Assembly allowed the State Board of Education Wednesday to approve a dual language immersion pilot program that will award grants to Indiana schools wishing to create or expand a dual language immersion program.

Currently, there are four such program available in Indiana.

This pilot program provides a maximum of $500,000 each for fiscal years 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 to help interested schools create capacity for such programs.

The maximum amount of money a school can receive each year is $100,000.

The languages taught under the program are specified, just need to be approved by the Department of Education, but they must start in kindergarten or first grade and classroom instruction should be divided evenly between English and the foreign language.

State superintendent Glenda Ritz says she hopes interested schools will apply to get a program off and running, since this type of language instruction is more difficult to administer than other courses.

“It’s not the same as having a teacher teach a course on another language,” Ritz says. “It is actually immersion within one language and having your instruction in that language 50 percent of the time so it takes quite a bit of planning, dedication, and conversation with consultants to make sure you get that right.”

Caterina Blitzer, the Global Learning and World Languages Specialist for the IDOE, says the grant money will likely be used on a salary for a qualified teacher and professional development for staff involved in the program.

Deadline for the program is July 24, and the grant application can be found here.

5 Years Later, State School Choice Looks Dramatically Different

Five years ago the General Assembly created a school choice program to help low-income students get out of failing schools. Today more middle class families and students who never attended public schools are using the vouchers.

Five years ago, the General Assembly created a school choice program to help low-income students get out of failing schools. Today, more middle class families and students who never attended public schools are using the vouchers. (Photo Credit: Claire McInerny/StateImpact Indiana)

Private schools are experiencing a surge in enrollment, in large part because of the state’s expanding voucher program. 

When the program first passed in 2011, supporters said funding private school tuition would give poor kids in failing schools options to get a better education.

But a new report shows that as the program enters its fifth year, the cost to taxpayers and students has changed dramatically.

Indiana’s School Choice Program, From The Beginning

To understand the state’s school voucher program, officially called the Choice Scholarship Program, you have to sift through a lot of numbers. A good place to start: enrollment.

“Well it’s grown quite a bit, the number of students using the choice scholarship program increased a lot year over year, there’s no question about that,” says Chad Timmerman, education policy adviser to Gov. Mike Pence.

During the 2011-12 school year – the first year for the Choice Scholarship program – around 4,000 students enrolled. Last year, it was almost 30,000.

“Obviously with the doubling of students or whatever magnitude we’re growing, you’re obviously going to spend more on vouchers,” Timmerman says.

On paper, it costs less for the state to partially fund a child’s private school tuition than fully fund their education at a public school. During the first two years of the program, Indiana actually saved money with the program.

Fast-forward to this year: according to the Department of Education’s updated school choice report released in June, $40 million from the school funding formula is going toward vouchers. That’s because the eligibility requirements have changed. Families that weren’t eligible at the launch of the program four years ago now qualify for substantial subsidies.

During a speech on C-SPAN after the voucher law passed the Indiana General Assembly in 2011, former Gov. Mitch Daniels explained the purpose of the program was to include public schools into the school choice program.

“The family will only be eligible if the child has spent at least two semesters in a public school,” Daniels said.

The original law mandated families try public schools before getting a voucher for private school.

“In other words, if the public school delivers and succeeds, no one will seek, will exercise this choice,” Daniels said.  Continue Reading

State Board Kicks Off Flexibility Discussions for A-F Grades

Doors have closed on the 2014-15 academic year – a year of great change – but state officials are just beginning to figure out what it all means for schools.

In a monthly meeting jam-packed with hefty agenda items, the State Board of Education spent time discussing how they’ll deal with school accountability for the past year.

State Board of Education members Byron Ernest (left) and Eddie Melton listen to presentations during the board's July meeting. (Photo Credit: Rachel Morello/StateImpact Indiana)

State Board of Education members Byron Ernest (left) and Eddie Melton listen to presentations during the board\’s July meeting. (Photo Credit: Rachel Morello/StateImpact Indiana)

When Indiana dropped Common Core in 2014, the state rolled out an entirely new set of academic standards and an updated ISTEP+ test to match. Student scores are often low the first year an exam is introduced, which has many Hoosier leaders concerned over how schools would be held accountable.

Luckily, the state has options. The U.S. Department of Education has offered all states the option for some flexibility in using accountability during transition periods for standards and assessments. In response, a Senate committee asked Indiana’s Department of Ed this session to create a list of ideas for determining A-F grades that would fit within federal restrictions, so as not to jeopardize the state’s No Child Left Behind waiver.

IDOE staff released a list of 12 options for calculating school accountability grades for the 2014-15 school year, which State Board members began discussing at their meeting Wednesday.

The board eventually needs to approve whatever option the state decides to pursue, since the group has final approval of all school grades.

Continue Reading

Arlington Returns To IPS But Students Fear Too Much Change

This is the first in a series of stories about Arlington Community High School’s transition back to the Indianapolis Public School district in the 2015-16 academic year.

Today Arlington Community High School officially becomes an Indianapolis Public School — again — three years since the state took control of it due to chronic failure and hired a charter school company to run it.

The company, Tindley Accelerated Schools, has faced criticism for its hard discipline and high dropout rates — but changed the school’s culture from one of chaos to safety and instruction. In 2012, the school had been graded an F by the state for six years because of low test scores. It remains an F today.

Now, the question for many in the community is: can IPS remake Arlington into a new, succesfull 7-12th grade school despite its past?

Arlington Community High School has returned to Indianapolis Public Schools Corp. after three years being run under a state contract by charter school company Tindley Accelerated Schools. (Photo Credit: Eric Weddle/WFYI Public Media)

Arlington Community High School has returned to Indianapolis Public Schools Corp. after three years being run under a state contract by charter school company Tindley Accelerated Schools. (Photo Credit: Eric Weddle/WFYI Public Media)

That’s what student Christian Smith worries about. But he’ chosen to stay at the Northeastside campus for his senior year and become an IPS student again.

The Arlington basketball player hopes other classmates who follow suit, can influence IPS staff and new students in the Tindley-way — that means: no violence, no shenanigans and a serious focus on learning with an eye toward college.

“Probably be like a little shift but I am pretty sure it is going to be pretty much the same people that have been going here the past four years, so we are accustomed to how Tindley ran,” Smith said about his expectations for next school year. “So we are just going to keep it same, I feel like. So that is why I am staying.”

But IPS officials don’t yet know how many current Tindley students will stay at Arlington for the 2015-16 school year. They hope to double Arlington’s enrollment to 600 students, including adding around 300 new seventh graders from feeder schools.

And it remains to be seen how students will gel with new principal Stan Law, former principal of Shortridge Magnet and Broad Ripple high schools.

That’s because some students worry Tindley’s culture of “no excuse” discipline and academic expectations will vanish when IPS takes over again at Arlington.

Continue Reading

Ivy Tech Under Pressure To Prove Student Progress, Keep Funding

In order to hold onto funding for its various workforce training programs across the state, Ivy Tech Community College has until August 1 to show improvement in student success rates. State officials say the system is not meeting the thresholds for some programs, and they want to see progress before committing the money. This comes on the heels of additional pressure from lawmakers, who previously ordered a state review of Ivy Tech’s programs due to concerns over low graduation rates and declining enrollment.


The state funnels millions in federal Workforce Investment Act dollars to residents looking to improve their skills in the job market. Some take the money and go for two-year degrees, such as for a licensed practical nurse, while others attend short-term programs for industry certifications.

Read more at: www.southbendtribune.com

New Legislation Will Keep State Board Busy This Month

State Board of Education member Vince Bertram and state superintendent Glenda Ritz listen during the a meeting in June 2015. (Photo Credit: Rachel Morello/StateImpact Indiana)

State Board of Education member Vince Bertram and state superintendent Glenda Ritz listen during the a meeting in June 2015. (Photo Credit: Rachel Morello/StateImpact Indiana)

Summer may be in full swing, but school issues are still front and center following the conclusion of the Indiana legislature’s 2015 “education session.”

The State Board of Education gathers Wednesday in Indianapolis for its monthly meeting, with a long list of discussion items stemming from recently passed legislation. This is only the second time the group has convened with five new board members.

The newbies had a pretty light agenda for their first go-around – this time the to-do list looks a bit more substantive:

  • Board “elections:” As we explained last week, one of the provisions in the new law restructuring the board calls for members to appoint a vice chair and secretary. These people will work alongside the current chair, state superintendent Glenda Ritz, to facilitate board business. Many state education experts – and some board members – have their money on Avon schoolteacher Sarah O’Brien for the vice chair post, but in reality any of the 10 appointed members could end up in either position.
  • Accountability options: This one’s a doozy. Following a year that saw the rollout of entirely new academic standards and the first in a series of corresponding updated standardized tests, many Hoosier leaders expressed concern over how schools would be held accountable, given all the change. Luckily, the state has options. Last August, the U.S. Department of Education offered some states with waivers from the federal No Child Left Behind law –
    Along with their fellow board members, David Freitas and Lee Ann Kwiatkowski will be selecting a vice chair and secretary from among their ranks. (Photo Credit: Rachel Morello/StateImpact Indiana)

    Along with their fellow board members, David Freitas and Lee Ann Kwiatkowski will be selecting a vice chair and secretary from among their ranks. (Photo Credit: Rachel Morello/StateImpact Indiana)

    including Indiana – the option to delay incorporating student test scores into teacher evaluations until the end of the current school year. In response, a Senate committee asked the IDOE to create a list of options regarding how schools would receive A-F grades for the 2014-15 school year. After consulting with a number of stakeholders, the department has come up with a list of 12 options. The IDOE is recommending option five from its list, “Hold Harmless,” which would assign each school the better A-F grade received between the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years. This option is aligned to both state statutory requirements as well as USED flexibility standards, and would not require legislative action. Since the state board has final approval of all school grades, the group needs to approve whatever option the state decides to pursue.

  • Focus on dual language learning: The board will talk about a few dual language initiatives this month, thanks to new legislation passed this session. Senate Enrolled Act 267 tasks the board and the Department of Education with establishing both a state certificate of biliteracy and a dual language immersion pilot program. The board will initiate rule making to establish criteria for the certificate this month, and discuss the program outline and corresponding grant application crafted by IDOE staff. The department is encouraging interested public school district and charter school administrators to submit grant applications by Friday, July 24.

Continue Reading

Purdue To Offer New Degree Based on Skills, Not Credits

Starting next fall, Purdue University will become the first public institution in the state to offer a degree program based on competency and not credit hours.

The Indiana Commission for Higher Education last week approved Purdue’s Bachelor of Science in Transdisciplinary Studies degree, which will be offered through the school’s Polytechnic Institute.

The Indiana Commission for Higher Education last week approved Purdue’s Bachelor of Science in Transdisciplinary Studies degree, which will be offered through the school’s Polytechnic Institute. (Photo Credit: Rick Payette/Flickr)

The Indiana Commission for Higher Education last week approved Purdue’s Bachelor of Science in Transdisciplinary Studies degree, which will be offered through the school’s Polytechnic Institute. (Photo Credit: Rick Payette/Flickr)

The degree is one of the state’s first examples of competency-based education, or “direct assessment”— a form of learning that awards students for skills they display rather than the credit hours they receive.

“[Competency-based] programs can look different from college to college and state to state, but what they all have in common is a move away from a typical seat-time credit measurement of what students know to really a project-based demonstration of student knowledge,” says commission spokesperson Stephanie Wilson. “Instead of progressing according to the hours you spend in the classroom or the credit you earn, you progress based on the knowledge you can demonstrate and the skills you bring to the table.”

Polytechnic Institute Dean Gary Bertoline says the program can be compared to earning merit badges.

“You get a badge for lighting a fire with sticks, you can either do it or you can’t,” he says. “You can’t earn a badge until you can actually light a fire with sticks. The same idea goes with competencies.”

Students will create e-portfolios to demonstrate their competence in multiple categories, such as ethical reasoning and systems thinking.

However, a hundred years of educational institutions is difficult to unseat completely.

Continue Reading

Check Out The Education Laws That Go Into Effect July 1

Lawmakers passed 25 school-related bills during the 2015 "education session." (Photo Credit: Jimmy Emerson/Flickr)

Lawmakers passed 25 school-related bills during the 2015 “education session.” (Photo Credit: Jimmy Emerson/Flickr)

The Indiana General Assembly passed 259 laws this year, most of which go into effect July 1 to correspond to the fiscal year.

Legislators took a special interest in school-related issues during what they dubbed the “education session” – 25 of the measures they passed dealt with the way districts operate.

Some of these laws are new. Others, such as State Board of Education reorganization, have been discussed in the past but never acted upon, and some laws, like failing school interventions, are updates to existing laws.

Explained in detail below are 10 of those laws we think are important. Don’t worry – we listed the others below. Did we miss any? If so, let us know in the comments section.

1. State Board of Education governance (SB 1)

Perhaps the most talked-about education item on lawmakers’ docket this session, Senate Bill 1 was the only one of countless bills introduced concerning reorganization of the State Board of Education to make it through to Gov. Mike Pence‘s desk.

Elements of several similar measures – most notably House Bill 1609Senate Bill 452 and Senate Bill 453 – made it into the final version of this one, overarching bill.

Only one element of the law – one of the most crucial and controversial parts – will not go into effect next week: the ability for the board to elect its own chairperson annually. After much back and forth, lawmakers decided to hold off on enacting this part of the law until January 2017, at the end of state superintendent Glenda Ritz‘s current term. The state superintendent has historically served as board chair.

Reappointed board member Sarah O'Brien and new board member Byron Ernest at the June State Board of Education meeting.

Reappointed board member Sarah O’Brien and new board member Byron Ernest at the June State Board of Education meeting. (Photo Credit: Rachel Morello/StateImpact Indiana)

The state board meets for its next meeting the day this law takes effect, July 1. The first items of new business on the agenda: electing a vice chair and secretary. According to a report from Chalkbeat Indiana, many board members have already voiced support for appointing Sarah O’Brien to the former slot:

[Board member Cari] Whicker said she believes a majority of the board will support O’Brien for vice chairwoman, based on conversations with others on the board. O’Brien’s father is state Rep. Bill Fine, R-Munster, who backed the bill to create the position of vice chairwoman.

“Certainly more than most are supportive of her,” Whicker said. “And so it would be nice to feel like that’s a consensus when we go into that meeting and not have any contention there in selecting somebody.”

2. School funding formula  (HB 1001)

The state’s new biennial budget includes numerous education-related pieces, most notably a major overhaul to the school funding formula.

We’ve already reported on several of the new items in the upcoming budget: check out our stories on specific student population benefits and charter school building funds.

3. Standardized testing study (SB 62)

Lawmakers will decide whether or not to keep the state's current ISTEP+ testing system. (Photo Credit: James Martin/Flickr)

Lawmakers will decide whether or not to keep the state\’s current ISTEP+ testing system. (Photo Credit: James Martin/Flickr)

The measure allows a summer study committee to discuss the possibility of replacing Indiana’s statewide ISTEP+ standardized testing program with an alternative assessment.

By federal mandate, every state needs a standardized test to match its academic standards. Hoosier lawmakers have generated multiple versions of ISTEP+ to pair with the new Indiana Academic Standards since Gov. Pence pulled out of the Common Core in 2014.

Advocates of replacing ISTEP+ say using a national assessment would save money and eliminate all the run-around involved in creating another new state-specific test.

Continue Reading

Indiana Waiting On Three-Year NCLB Waiver Extension

Its time once again for Hoosier education officials to play the waiting game.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. (Photo Credit: U.S. Department of Education)

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. (Photo Credit: U.S. Department of Education)

Indiana has requested a flexibility waiver from the federal government for No Child Left Behind, the national law issuing across-the-board requirements states have to follow in order to receive federal funding.

A waiver would exempt the state from some provisions of the law – for example, maintaining 100 percent student proficiency in math and language arts. In order to qualify, states must meet a specific set of requirements, including plans for measuring school performance and evaluating teachers.

Indiana’s Department of Education submitted its application for a three-year renewal this spring. The U.S. Department of Education announced Tuesday it will renew waivers for seven states and Washington, D.C. – but the Hoosier state was not on the list just yet.

Reports say state officials should hear back by late summer or early fall.

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