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

Report: Financial Aid Students Completing College At Higher Rates

College students receiving state financial aid are enrolling and completing more credit hours per semester, which puts them on track to graduate in four years, according to a report the Commission for Higher Education released Wednesday.

 

Commissioner for Higher Education Teresa Lubbers launched a marketing campaign to encourage college students to take 15 credit hours a semester to graduate in four years. A report released Wednesday shows more students are doing just that.

Commissioner for Higher Education Teresa Lubbers launched a marketing campaign to encourage college students to take 15 credit hours a semester to graduate in four years. A report released Wednesday shows more students are doing just that. photo credit: Gretchen Frazee/WTIU News

Legislation passed in 2014 requires college students receiving financial aid through the states two major scholarship programs to complete 15 credit hours a semester and 30 hours a year so they can graduate in four years.

State funding for the 21st Century Scholar program and Frank O’Bannon scholarship stop after four years, so to encourage students to complete their degree while they still have funding, the Commission created an aggressive marketing campaign to make students aware of the requirements.

The report only shows results for one year, but in that time 21st Century Scholars saw a 56 percent increase in students completing 30 hours per year, and Frank O’Bannon students improved their completion rate by 21 percent. Continue Reading

Revisiting IDOE Duties At The Education Committee Meeting

SBOE member Brad Oliver testified before the House Education Committee Tuesday regarding changes to the responsibilities of the SBOE and DOE.

SBOE member Brad Oliver testified before the House Education Committee Tuesday regarding changes to the responsibilities of the SBOE and IDOE. (Photo Credit: Kyle Stokes/StateImpact Indiana)

Gov. Mike Pence may have dissolved the Center for Education and Career Innovation – the education agency he himself described as having duplicate duties to the state Department of Education – but the conversation about power between State Superintendent Glenda Ritz and Pence appointees is alive and well.

During the House Education Committee Tuesday, Rep. Jeffrey Thompson, R-Lizton, introduced his bill covering a variety of education issues. Most of the bill changes language in existing education statute to shift authority or oversight from the IDOE to the State Board of Education.

Thompson told the committee he authored the bill at the request of the SBOE.

The most notable changes included in the bill:

  • Establish an executive director for the board, separate from the board chair (the state superintendent currently fills this position).
  • The SBOE would oversee turnaround school progress, a duty currently assigned to the IDOE.
  • The SBOE would elect a secretary to manage communications and minutes between the SBOE and outside entities. Currently Ritz’s staff assumes most of these responsibilities.
  • The IDOE would be in charge of collecting data for audits requested by other state agencies.
  • The SBOE, not the IDOE, will establish teacher evaluation plans that school districts can adopt.
  • SBOE would assume responsibility over creating new standards and setting up a schedule to update current standards.

Continue Reading

Charter School Performances The Last Three Years

When Ball State announced last week it will not reauthorize the charters for two Indianapolis charter schools, they cited “chronic underperformance” as the reason for the closures.

Along with financial reasons, this is the reason most-cited for closing the doors at charter schools throughout the state, and looking at the A-F grades the last few years, there are more Ds and Fs than anything. The charts below show the frequency of A-F grades in charter schools around the state for the last three years (when available).

2012 2013 2014

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indiana is in an interesting time for charter schools and their successes, with Governor Pence saying he wants to expand funding for charter schools during this session while the legislature takes a look at the school funding formula. But as the General Assembly discusses that issue this session the idea of the performance of charter schools is sure to come up.

A Discussion On Free Community College And The Need In Indiana

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.

Indiana Can’t Use National Assessment, Like Some Lawmakers Want

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.

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

Amid Overwhelming Demand, State Ponders Growing Pre-K Pilot

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.

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

Can Free Tuition Change Students’ Attitudes About College?

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.

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

“Obama To Promote Free Community College”

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.

Read more at: www.npr.org

Pence’s Budget Asks For More Funding To Public And Charter Schools

Governor Pence unveiled his budget recommendations for this session, with education being 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 said.

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)

Updated 2:57 p.m.: 

Governor Mike Pence revealed his recommended budget for fiscal years 2016 and 2017 Thursday, with education priorities demanding most of the funds.

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.

Continue Reading

State Scholarship Program Needs More Money This Budget Session

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.

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

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