When Ritz takes office next month, we’ll finally get some answers to the questions we’ve been asking since the election: Can Ritz work with a Pence-appointed state board? With so many of Bennett’s policies built into law, will she be able to effect change?
But Glenda Ritz is just one of the many stories we’ll be following next year. Here’s your 2013 StateImpact guide to education in Indiana.
- Common Core — Indiana is on track to adopt new academic standards by the 2014-15 school year. That’s when a new test called PARCC will replace ISTEP+ as the state’s assessment tool. But as we’ve reported before, there’s substantial disagreement about whether Indiana should stay the course or break with the 44 other states implementing the Common Core. (Superintendent-elect Ritz doesn’t like the new standards.) Then there are questions about implementation, especially the new nonfiction requirement.
- No Child Left Behind — “We’re going to have to take a serious look at that waiver,” Ritz, a vocal critic of the state’s A-F accountability system, told StateImpact before the election. But it’s possible Ritz could tinker with the metrics of the school letter grade system without undoing the NCLB waiver, predicts Indiana University Professor Ashlyn Nelson.
- Teacher evaluations — State-mandated teacher evaluations began this school year. All Indiana schools now have to rank teachers as effective, highly effective, needs improvement or ineffective. But many districts are still hammering out the details of how these evaluations will influence merit pay, a key component of the new law.
- REPA II — Outgoing superintendent Bennett pushed for controversial changes to the state’s teacher licensing rules at the December Board of Education meeting, even after Ritz asked they be tabled until she takes office. But Bennett says he stands by the changes she’ll have to implement. “I took an oath of office to execute the duties of my office until the end of my term, which is January 11,” he said after the meeting.
- School vouchers — Now in its second year, the state’s school voucher program is at the center of a legal challenge. If the Indiana Supreme Court upholds the law, there would be no limit to the number of students who could apply for vouchers next year. (In 2012-13, 9,324 students attended private school with state voucher dollars.) The question now is how many Indiana students will take advantage of the program after the cap is lifted.
- Mitch Daniels — He’s headed to Purdue University. But it’s hard to say what kind of impact Daniel will have as the school’s tenth president. He’s been panned by academics who feel the school needs a tenured professor at the helm. Yet there is also enthusiasm for the popular Indiana governor’s next move. “I think in today’s world that the president of a university number one has to be a great fundraiser,” says Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, who chairs the Senate Education Committee. “I think Mitch Daniels has proven he’s a good fundraiser.”
- Tony Bennett — After losing his re-election bid, Bennett applied for Florida’s top schools job. He’s headed for the Sunshine State next month after Ritz takes over at the Department of Education. “Florida’s education commissioner might be the nation’s most high-profile state post,” writes our colleague John O’Connor for StateImpact Florida. “The state is known as the laboratory for a suite of policies many states have adopted the last few years.” Here in Indiana, we’ll mostly be following how Ritz reacts to the policies of her predecessor, many of which are built into law.
What education stories do you plan to follow in 2013? If there’s anything missing from our list, let us know.