Claire McInerny is a reporter/producer for WFIU/WTIU news. She comes to WFIU/WTIU from KCUR in Kansas City. She graduated with a journalism degree from the University of Kansas where she discovered her passion for public media and the stories it tells. You can follow her on Twitter @ClaireMcInerny.
President Obama wants to make community college free for all students, an idea he briefly outlined during his State of the Union speech this week. We’ve reported on what this would look like in Indiana and the challenges students already face when trying to navigate the cost and logistics of higher education.
StateImpact Indiana’s Claire McInerny co-hosted Noon Edition, a public affairs program at WFIU Public Radio, and continued this discussion with Ivy Tech Community College Bloomington chancellor Jennie Vaughan and Bloomington High School North guidance counselor Sarah Franklin.
State senator Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville) chairs the senate appropriations committee and says funding the 21st Century Scholarship Program is a major goal of his this session. photo credit: Gretchen Frazee/WTIU News
As the 2015 legislative session begins, the “education session” as the governor has called it, there is an influx of bills regarding all levels of education.
There’s one bill regarding K-12 testing, though, that seems to be confusing legislators. Senate Bill 566, authored by Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, seeks to replace “ISTEP program testing with BEST testing program for school years beginning after June 30, 2016.”
BEST is an acronym for Benchmarking Excellence Student Testing and will be the name of whatever test the State Board of Education chooses to replace the ISTEP+.
The bill doesn’t specify what test the SBOE should choose, but Kenley wants to use an off-the-shelf test being used by other states (such as PARCC or Smarter Balanced).
Kenley’s desire to use a nationally-crafted test began in December when state superintendent Glenda Ritz, representing the Department of Education, presented her budget to Kenley and other members of the committee. The DOE’s proposed budget requests $65 million for creating a new state assessment to replace the ISTEP+, an increase of $45 million from last year.
Kenley’s concerns are over the large price tag of hiring a company to write a new test, and at that budget meeting in December he suggested Indiana uses an already existing national test. He asked Ritz at that December meeting, “are we making it too hard on ourselves?”
Using one of these tests would be cheaper and simpler, but not possible for Indiana’s current education landscape. Continue Reading →
The state’s pre-k pilot program for low-income students is underway in four of the five counties selected to host the program. The fifth county will launch in June.
Before the legislature even approved a pilot program last year, early education advocates touted the benefits of preschool, saying classroom time before kindergarten can improve test scores years down the road.
Indiana officials plan to follow students enrolled in the pre-k pilot for the next several years to determine whether those benefits outweigh the cost to the state.
Just a few days in, some families say they’re already seeing improvements in their children’s learning.
‘Where Learning And Social Interaction Meet’
Four-year-old Datayvian Jackson has only been in the pre-k classroom at Day Early Learning Center in Indianapolis for two weeks now, but he’s already practicing writing his name on a white board.
His letters are still a little shaky, which one of his friends points out.
Datayvian is unphased by the criticism, and he keeps working.
Four-year-old Datayvian Jackson (left) began attending pre-k just two weeks ago.
This moment, where learning and social interaction meet, is what Day Early Learning administrator Marsha Hearn-Lindsey says is crucial for kids this age.
“One of the things that I think is very important that we often miss in these opportunities is building the social and emotional competencies of children,” she says. “Really helping children know who they are and be able to work in an environment with other children and I think that’s often the piece we miss when children don’t have these opportunities at an early age.”
Before he enrolled in his pre-k class a few weeks ago, Datayvian was at home with his mom, Sarah Jackson. Continue Reading →
The idea of providing community college for everyone seems a little lofty to some, but advocates say it’s a good opportunity for a national conversation. (photo credit: Ivy Tech Community College)
Leading up to his State of Union address later this month, President Obama announced last week he wants to make community college tuition free to encourage more people to get education beyond high school.
It’s a goal many people can get behind, but advocates in Indiana are more excited about the national platform for the conversation than the president’s proposal.
High School Education Is ‘Not Enough’
President Obama said his new plan to bring down the cost of community college tuition in America is the most important proposal of his State of the Union address he’ll give Jan. 20.
“I want to bring it down to zero,” he said in his announcement.
The plan says if a student maintains a 2.5 GPA while attending community college at least halftime, they wont pay any tuition.
And while the logistics of how to pay for this plan — and whether Congress will even pass it — are still unknown, higher education advocates are thrilled the White House recognizes something they’ve know for a long time.
“An education that stops at high school is not enough for today’s world,” Ivy Tech Community College President Tom Snyder says. Continue Reading →
President Obama will advocate for free tuition at community colleges during his State of the Union speech later this month. In a visit to Tennessee yesterday, Obama praised the state for already doing this.
“Free” is a word with a powerful appeal. And right now it’s being tossed around a lot, followed by another word: “college.” A new nonprofit, Redeeming America’s Promise, announced this week that it will seek federal support to make public colleges tuition-free.
Governor Pence unveiled his budget recommendations for this session, with education as the main priority. “I can’t tell you how excited I am about what I sense is a real common purpose that has developed in the months leading up to this session,” Pence says. (Photo Credit: House GOP)
But, Statehouse Democrats say the governor’s budget proposal doesn’t tell a true story when it comes to increasing education funding.
Pence wants to increase K-12 funding by two percent in 2016 and one percent in 2017, which adds up to a $200 million increase over the two years. Pence’s plan would fund charter schools more than in the past, allocating an additional $1,500 per pupil for students in charter schools. Right now, each Indiana district receives a minimum of $4,280 per pupil, regardless of school type.
“In the category of funding, the first priority of this budget will be expanding opportunities for our youth in Indiana, from pre-k education to higher education,” Pence said Tuesday.
State senator Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville) chairs the senate appropriations committee and says funding the 21st Century Scholarship Program is a major goal of his this session. (photo credit: Gretchen Frazee/Indiana Public Broadcasting)
The General Assembly reconvened Tuesday, with many legislators saying education is their main focus for the 2015 session. While much of the attention will be on K-12 policies, the 21st Century Scholarship program will dominate the discussion around higher education.
The 27,000 students enrolled in the program is more than double previous groups, meaning there will not be enough money for every student’s scholarship needs.
The 21st Century Scholarship program is a promise scholarship of sorts, enrolling low-income students during seventh and eighth grade and guaranteeing them money for college if they maintain a 2.5 GPA and stay out of legal trouble while in high school, among other requirements.
The program’s been around for more than 20 years and worked with more 54,000 students, but in the last year it has outgrown its current budget. The Commission for Higher Education presented its budget in late December, asking for an almost $90 million increase for the next two years. Continue Reading →
Looking down Market Street from the Soldiers & Sailors Monument at the Indiana Statehouse.
Governor Mike Pence said it, and Republican and Democratic leaders said it, so it seems the main focus of this year’s legislative agenda will be education. The 2015 session, which begins Tuesday afternoon, is a budget session that will allocate funds to state agencies for the next few years. Legislators will start filing and writing bills soon, but until then, let’s take a look at what leaders have said are their priorities so far.
For the first time since Governor Pence signed an executive order dissolving the Center for Education and Career Innovation, state superintendent Glenda Ritz, CECI employees and the State Board of Education will meet together for January’s regularly scheduled SBOE meeting.
State Board of Education members Gordon Hendry, left, Brad Oliver, David Freitas and Andrea Neal listen to presentations during a previous meeting. (Photo Credit: Elle Moxley/StateImpact Indiana)
With this being only one of two meetings left before the agency is permanently dissolved Feb. 20, Wednesday’s meeting will begin to shed light on the future of SBOE meetings without CECI.
Looking at Wednesday’s agenda, the new business isn’t particularly controversial, including summer school funding, quality review processes and some recognitions. But with CECI employees departing, one spokesperson says the board will look to complete the A-F school grade rewrite (headed up by Claire Fiddian-Green) before Feb. 20.
The other big project facing a tight deadline: assessments. There will be an update on the progress of the new version of the ISTEP+, which currently is still looking for a vendor.
Charity Child Care, a provider in Indianapolis, is a Level 4 on the Paths To Quality system. Charity teachers worked with Tikila Welch, a PTQ coach, to get their national accreditation. (Photo credit: Claire McInerny/StateImpact Indiana)
If you are a parent, you know the battle with childcare: cost, quality and availability, to name a few. The state tries to make navigating that process simpler with its Paths to QUALITY ranking system for childcare and preschool providers.
It’s voluntary, but the number of providers seeking a ranking is increasing. Part of that is tied to an increase in federal funding and some of it has to do with the state’s preschool pilot program, which requires providers who accept the scholarships to be at a Level 3 or 4 on the Paths to QUALITY system.
What High Quality Preschool Looks Like
It’s music class at Wayne Township Preschool in Indianapolis, and a group of three- and four-year-olds are sitting on a carpet facing their teacher, copying her hand motions as they sing along. It resembles playtime, but principal Kathryn Raasch is quick to point out the children are learning skills that are important for their education.
“It’s all language skills, everything they do in here,” Raasch says. “Plus it’s math, repetition, repeating it’s all part of that. Music is so inclusive with all of that, plus in here we work on social-emotional skills.”
A focus on skill development is what makes Wayne Township Preschool a Level 3 on the Paths to QUALITY scale.
Every activity the children do throughout their day is part of the school’s curriculum: children share things they wish for as a teacher writes it down, they describe the items to practice color recognition and the rest of the children sit silently listening to their classmates. All of these cognitive and social skills are part of the required curriculum for a Level 3 and 4 provider, which participants in On My Way Pre-K will experience starting in January. Continue Reading →
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