Indiana’s youngest students are getting a lot of attention these days, perhaps most notably because of the state’s pre-k pilot program. The initiative will target kids from low-income families in five counties during the 2014-15 school year.
Legislators approved more than $10 million dollars for the pre-k pilot, and many say they hope to expand the program statewide. But that will depend on how successful the pilot is in improving student outcomes – and in order to determine success, the state needs data.
StateImpact sat down with ELAC member Dr. Megan Purcell, who is also a clinical assistant professor at Purdue University. She explains what the assessment will look like, and how it might differ from what is typically used to determine kindergarten readiness.
The grant, aimed at states that have a great need for pre-K infrastructure, could provide up to $80 million in federal investment for early childhood education.
Indiana is one of only 16 states eligible to apply.
The original deadline to submit the grant application was Oct. 15. The U.S. Education Department, along with the Department of Health and Human Services, announced today that they have extended that deadline to Oct. 22.
“It should be the duty of the General Assembly to encourage, by all suitable means, moral, intellectual scientific, and agricultural improvement; and provide, by law, for a general and uniform system of Common Schools, wherein tuition shall without charge, and equally open to all.” Continue Reading →
Elkhart Community Schools got more involved with students to improve the graduation rate among Latino students.
If you want to understand the high school dropout rate among Latinos in Indiana, Elkhart, Ind. is a good place to start.
Nationwide, the graduation rate for Latinos improved over the last five years, and Elkhart Community Schools is no exception. A few years ago, they saw one third of students dropping out, that number higher among Latino students. FiveThirtyEight’s Ben Casselman highlighted the district in a piece about the economics of improved Latino graduation rates. Casselman says students typically drop out when there is an opportunity to work a well-paying job, but that is changing lately: Continue Reading →
Gov. Mike Pence pulled the state's application for millions of dollars in federal funding for pre-k.
Gov. Mike Pence released a statement this afternoon defending his decision to not apply for a federal grant that could have given the state $80 million to develop preschool infrastructure for low-income three- and four-year-olds.
We reported yesterday that the governor stopped the application process, despite the work the Indiana Department of Education and other state agencies had already done to apply for the money.
The grant was only available to states with little or no state funded preschool for low-income children, making Indiana one of 16 eligible states.
In his statement, Pence said the state can meet Indiana’s pre-k needs without federal assistance.
It is important not to allow the lure of federal grant dollars to define our state’s mission and programs. More federal dollars do not necessarily equal success, especially when those dollars come with requirements and conditions that will not help—and may even hinder—running a successful program of our own making.
An important part of our pre-K pilot is the requirement that we study the program so we understand what works and what doesn’t. I do not believe it is wise policy to expand our pre-K pilot before we have a chance to study and learn from the program.
While accepting federal grant dollars can at times be justified to advance our state’s objectives, when it comes to early childhood education, I believe Indiana must develop our own pre-K program without federal intrusion. Continue Reading →
Gov. Mike Pence signs legislation creating a state-funded preschool pilot program.
Governor Mike Pence has halted the application for a federal preschool grant that could have provided the state with up to $80 million in early childhood education funding.
The Indianapolis Star is reporting that an email sent from Pence’s office to the Early Learning Advisory Committee explains his reasoning for pulling the application:
In Wednesday’s email, Early Learning Advisory Committee Chairman Kevin Bain, a Pence appointee, announced that the “administration has decided not to submit the federal pre-K grant application.”
He then posted a statement from the administration. “While accepting federal grant dollars can at times be justified to advance our state’s objectives,” it reads in part, “when it comes to early childhood education, I believe Indiana must develop our own pre-K program for disadvantaged children without federal intrusion.”
The deadline for the grant was October 14. A spokesperson for the Indiana Department of Education declined official comment but said the IDOE spent a lot of time on the grant application.
Senator Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, issued a statement expressing disappointment in the decision. “The Governor owes those of us who have labored hard to get our state on board and see the benefits of early childhood education more than just a statement,” Lanane said. “It seems imprudent that we reject $80 million because of fear of some speculative ‘pitfalls’ and ‘unproven objectives’ perceived attached to them. I fear this is a setback for the advancement of the welfare of the children of our state that we know will be improved by Indiana moving swiftly to implement early childhood education.”
The developmental grant, issued through the U.S. Department of Education, is available to states lacking pre-k infrastructure to serve more than 10 percent of the state’s preschool-aged population.
Only 16 states are eligible for this specific grant, including Indiana.
Pence has not publicly announced the state’s removal from the application process and calls to his office went unanswered. Earlier this year, the General Assembly approved a new, state-run pre-k pilot program, which is only available in five counties and will begin in most places January.
The Gary Community School Corporation owes its busing company more than $2 million to keep services running. The company gave the school district until Nov. 10 to provide payment.
The bus company that provides transportation services for students in the Gary Community School Corporation gave the district a Nov. 10 deadline to start payments on its almost $3 million debt.
Illinois Central Bus Co. CEO Steve Hemmerlein released a statement earlier this week saying the company told Gary Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt if the district didn’t provide a payment plan the company will discontinue service Nov. 10.
“ICSB cannot continue to pay for salaries, fuel and bus maintenance with no payment plan in place,” Hemmerlein said. “If bus service is discontinued, families of the 4,000-plus students will undergo significant hardship to transport their children to and from school, and the jobs of 100 drivers and staff will be eliminated.”
The Indiana State Board of Education voted Wednesday to hold off on releasing 2014 A-F school accountability grades until their November 5 meeting.
The scores were sent out on an embargo Tuesday, but will now not be released for a few weeks.
Multiple board members expressed concern that data calculation errors for a handful of schools would compromise the integrity of the board.
“We’re being told that the comparative analysis is not done, we’re not ready,” said board member Brad Oliver. “I would rather have accurate data on November 5th than to just do this knowing we don’t have key pieces. These grades are going to be scrutinized by everybody. We’re trying to get it right.”
“It’s so important to them that we need to ensure that the data is accurate,” added board member David Freitas.
Prior to discussion of the timeline, the board heard appeals from three schools with atypical configurations. Those schools included Christel House Academy, Indiana Math and Science Academy and Carpe Diem.
This spring, Indiana students will take a new version of the ISTEP.
There’s an old phrase, nothing’s sure in life except for death and taxes. We could probably make an argument for standardized tests as well (even Harry Potter took an annual exam in his mythical, made up school year).
These tests carry important consequences for teachers, schools and students, and in Indiana this year, students will take a new version of the state’s standardized test, the ISTEP+.
Simply put, the test will be harder. The content of the questions is the same, but the format will look different. For one, there won’t be as many multiple choice questions. Another change is that students will have to explain how they got to their answer.
Why are we changing the test?
When Indiana passed its own academic standards this spring, Michele Walker, Director of Assessment for the Indiana Department of Education, and her team were charged with creating a test to match the new standards.
An assessment matching the new standards was also a requirement to receive a No Child Left Behind waiver extension.
Walker says another change the IDOE wanted to make to the test, is adding a more focused writing prompt. Rather than asking students to write about something inconsequential like whether the cafeteria should add cake to the menu, students will be asked to read a passage and write a paragraph or essay on a related prompt, using the passage for evidence. Continue Reading →
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