Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

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Claire McInerny

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.

  • Email: clmciner@indiana.edu

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

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.

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New Federal Money Could Help Indiana’s Early Education Initiatives

Claire McInerny / StateImpact Indiana State superintendent Glenda Ritz speaks to early educators Tuesday at Ivy Tech in Bloomington.

Claire McInerny / StateImpact Indiana

State superintendent Glenda Ritz speaks to early educators Tuesday at Ivy Tech in Bloomington.

State superintendent Glenda Ritz says Indiana will apply for a federal grant that would help establish infrastructure to create high quality preschool for all children throughout the state. Ritz spoke about the grant opportunity Tuesday during her opening remarks at the Indiana Department of Education sponsored Early Learning Summit, which gathered early educators and IDOE staff to look at the major issues facing those who teach children from birth to third grade.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education announced the grant Ritz is talking about, which would provide $250 million to selected states. In a statement released last week, the USED describes how this grant is for states like Indiana with no universal preschool infrastructure in place:

The goal of Preschool Development Grants is to support states – including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico – in building, developing and expanding voluntary, high-quality preschool programs in high-need communities for children from low- and moderate-income families. The new grant program will be jointly administered by the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services.

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IDOE Appoints Staffer To Help Low-Performing Schools In Gary

A turnaround operator has run Theodore Roosevelt College & Career Academy in Gary since the state intervened in 2012. Many schools in Gary are at risk of this.

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

A turnaround operator has run Theodore Roosevelt College & Career Academy in Gary since the state intervened in 2012. Many schools in Gary are at risk of this.

A member of the Indiana Department of Education staff will spend the year in Gary working with Gary Community Schools, which is labeled as “high risk” because of consistently low ISTEP+ scores the last few years.

Daniel Brundidge, a member of the IDOE’s Outreach Division of School Improvement staff, will serve as the liasion between the Gary Community School Corp. and the IDOE.

The IDOE said in a statement released last week that Brundidge “will be based on site and work alongside Gary Community Schools staff to oversee the implementation of federally funded programs while also serving as the chief liaison between the Department and Gary.” The statement went on to say the department hopes the partnership “will improve collaboration between the Department and Gary, while also focusing on the turnaround principles of effective leadership, school climate and culture, and effective instruction.”

Brundidge will work full time with the school corporation over the next school year.

18 States Get NCLB Waiver Extension, Indiana Continues To Wait

Indiana applied for an extension to its No Child Left Behind waiver at the end of June.

Frederick Florin / AFP / Getty Images

Indiana applied for an extension to its No Child Left Behind waiver at the end of June.

The U.S. Department of Education announced Thursday No Child Left Behind waiver renewals for five states, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi North Carolina and Wisconsin, but Indiana is still waiting to hear about the fate of its waiver.

The U.S. Department of Education wrote in a statement Thursday:

In order to receive an extension, states must demonstrate that they have resolved any state-specific issues and next steps as a result of the Department’s monitoring, as well as any other outstanding issues related to ESEA flexibility. States could also request additional amendments to support their continuous improvement efforts.

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Video: An Illustrated Guide For Teachers For This School Year

This school year holds a lot of changes for Indiana teachers: new standards, an unknown assessment, and uncertainty regarding the state’s No Child Left Behind waiver to name a few. StateImpact Indiana’s Claire McInerny talked with national standards consultant Schauna Findlay Relue to get some tips for teachers. Below is an illustrated version of those tips. Share your own tips you’ve discovered through professional development this summer or the first few weeks of the school year in the comments below.

 

 

As New School Year Begins, Teachers Cope With Education Changes

Teachers around the state are trying to adjust to new standards and anticipate the unknown assessment students will take this spring.

MyTudut (flickr)

Teachers around the state are trying to adjust to new standards and anticipate the unknown assessment students will take this spring.

The saga of education policy in Indiana has waged in both the statehouse and the classroom the last few years. Academic standards, the No Child Left Behind waiver, and the state assessment have all become points of contention, and this fall all of these changes are coming to a head for teachers and students.

Many Indiana teachers skipped summer vacation this year to re-evaluate lessons created for Common Core standards, and try to anticipate what the new assessment will ask of students.

Navigating The Unknown

Tami Geltmaker, an administrator in the Crawford County School Corporation, is one of those teachers and says she is facing more changes this year than any of her previous 31 years as an educator.

In July, Geltmaker joined dozens of school administrators from Southern Indiana for a professional development session in Huntingburg. She said she was looking for tips to help her prepare lessons around the state’s new academic standards and the new assessment students will take this spring.

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Wayne Township Uses Old School Bus To Deliver Summer Meals

The mobile café is a refurbished school bus that has all the amenities of a school cafeteria.

Jimmy Jenkins / WTIU News

The mobile café is a refurbished school bus that has all the amenities of a school cafeteria.

The scene in a school cafeteria is pretty common: lunch ladies organizing cartons of milk, the scent of ammonia and bleach used to sanitize table tops lingering in the air, and kids refusing to try their carrots.

It’s also the scene on MSD of Wayne Township’s new mobile bus café that launched this summer. The mobile cafe is housed on a refurbished school bus that has linoleum floors, fold down tables and benches and a built in cooler to store food.

“You walk in here and once you sit down you almost feel like you’re in a pretty traditional lunchroom,” Jeff Butts, MSD of Wayne Township superintendent said. ”It’s the same kind of a countertop and the same kind of a bus seat you would see in a cafeteria table.”

Butts says the district made the renovations to the two school buses to provide consistent and nutritious lunches to students who use free and reduced price lunches during the school year, so they wouldn’t go hungry when school is out.

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