Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

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Elle Moxley

Elle Moxley came to WFIU in 2012 from The Examiner, a community newspaper in suburban Kansas City. She previously worked for KBIA-FM in Columbia, Mo.; The State Journal-Register in Springfield, Ill.; and the Associated Press in London. She is a graduate of the University of Missouri, where she studied multimedia journalism and broadcasting.

  • Email: emoxley@stateimpact.org

Many Factors Influence Voucher Parents’ Decisions, But Not Neccesarily A-F Grades

Students at Providence Cristo Rey High School don safety googles to watch an experiment.

Elle Moxley

Students at Providence Cristo Rey High School don safety googles to watch an experiment.

Nearly 20,000 Hoosier kids are using state-funded tuition vouchers at Indiana private schools — more than double the number who did last year.

Indiana’s 3-year-old voucher program is growing quickly because it doesn’t limit participation to kids assigned to struggling schools.

Private schools can’t accept new students if they get a D or an F from the state for two consecutive years, though they can keep the ones they already have.

But so far, there’s not a lot of research about how school letter grades impact parental choice.

“We don’t know a whole lot about kids using vouchers to attend schools that have been assigned grades in large part because a lot of the schools that offer vouchers do not have an A-F accountability system in place,” says Indiana University researcher Ashlyn Nelson. Continue Reading

Education Roundtable Gives First-Round Approval To Proposed Academic Standards

Gov. Mike Pence, left, and state superintendent Glenda Ritz co-chair the April Education Roundtable meeting. The panel has recommended the State Board adopt proposed math and English language arts standards.

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

Gov. Mike Pence, left, and state superintendent Glenda Ritz co-chair the April Education Roundtable meeting. The panel has recommended the State Board adopt proposed math and English language arts standards.

The Education Roundtable has recommended the State Board adopt proposed education standards to replace the Common Core in Indiana schools.

Gov. Mike Pence and state superintendent Glenda Ritz both thanked the Hoosier educators and experts who have been working to craft the new standards for the past several months.

“As the first state to withdraw from Common Core, I believe Indiana had a unique responsibility to create new standards in an open and serious process,” Pence said.

But Pence drew jeers and laughter from the crowd when he praised efforts to write standards “by Hoosiers, for Hoosiers.” About 200 people affiliated with Hoosiers Against Common Core rallied at the statehouse before the Education Roundtable meeting and marched in with signs panning the state’s efforts to write new standards. Continue Reading

Education Roundtable To Vet Proposed Academic Standards Monday

Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz, left, and Gov. Mike Pence co-chair the Education Roundtable. The group must sign off on proposed standards before a State Board vote.

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz, left, and Gov. Mike Pence co-chair the Education Roundtable. The group must sign off on proposed standards before a State Board vote.

The Education Roundtable will vote Monday on proposed academic standards to replace the Common Core in Indiana.

It will be the last chance to change the standards before an up-down vote at the State Board of Education meeting April 28.

Gov. Mike Pence and state superintendent Glenda Ritz co-chair the panel of education, community and business leaders who must sign off on the proposed standards. If they suggest any changes, the standards will have to go back to the teams of Hoosier educators who have been working on the rewrite for the past six months.

“Those changes would then need to go back to the college- and career-ready panel to determine any changes that are college and career ready,” says Center for Education and Career Innovation spokeswoman Lou Ann Baker. “And from then, that final product would go straight to the Board of Education.” Continue Reading

Can Community Involvement Help Turn Around A Struggling School?

Elizabeth Huffman reads with her tutor at Fairview Elementary. The Bloomington school has brought in Indiana University students to tutor struggling readers.

Gretchen Frazee / WTIU News

Elizabeth Huffman reads with her tutor at Fairview Elementary in Bloomington.

The Monroe County Community School Corporation hopes it has found a new solution to low standardized test scores at Fairview Elementary in Bloomington.

The school is partnering with an Indiana University student group in hopes strong community ties can help struggling readers improve.

Fifth grader Elizabeth Huffman likes to read, but her mom Autumn Huffman says she could use some help with reading comprehension.

“I hope that she not necessarily has a newfound love of reading but is able to delve into it a little bit more as I saw her do today,” says Huffman. Continue Reading

More Indiana Students Graduating High School Without Waivers

Indiana's graduation rate has ticked up 10 points in the past five years.

Chris Moncus / Wikimedia

Indiana's graduation rate has ticked up 10 points in the past five years.

UPDATED, 3:56 p.m. EST: More Indiana students are meeting the state’s exit requirements before graduating high school, according to data the Department of Education released Wednesday.

Though the state’s overall graduation rate was virtually unchanged between 2012 and 2013, the non-waiver graduation rate increased about a point — up to 81.7 percent from 80.5 percent.

(Click here to find your school’s 2013 graduation rate.)

“While the overall graduation rate is largely the same as it was in 2012, when you dig into the data it becomes clear that more of our students are graduating without a waiver and passing their end of course assessments,” says state superintendent Glenda Ritz. “This is a crucial step in ensuring that our students graduate from high school both college- and career-ready.” Continue Reading

Indiana Education Officials Release Final Draft Of Proposed Academic Standards

State Board members Brad Oliver, left, Troy Albert and Supt. Glenda Ritz listen to testimony on proposed standards during a public meeting in Sellersburg Feb. 24.

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

State Board members Brad Oliver, left, Troy Albert and Supt. Glenda Ritz listen to testimony on proposed standards during a public meeting in Sellersburg Feb. 24.

UPDATED, 4:30 p.m. EST: State education officials have released a final draft of the academic standards likely to replace Common Core in Indiana.

They asked nine experts in the fields of math and English language arts to weigh in on an earlier draft of the standards.

One expert, former University of Arkansas professor and vocal Common Core critic Sandra Stotsky, refused to participate because she says the proposed standards are too similar to the ones they replace.

Other reviewers also noted the proposed standards’ similarity. Michael Cohen is president of Achieve, the non-profit that helped develop the Common Core. He says Indiana’s efforts to rewrite standards could discourage other states from doing the same thing.

“But to go through that process for a year and end up pretty close to where they started, I think most states will look at that and say probably not a great idea if your primary concern is about making sure you have the right expectations for students,” Cohen tells StateImpact. Continue Reading

Schools Triple-Checking Online System Before Spring ISTEP+ Test

CTB/McGraw-Hill president Ellen Haley addresses the Indiana Commission on Education. The testing company executive answered lawmakers' questions about what went wrong with the exam and apologized for the disruptions.

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

CTB/McGraw-Hill president Ellen Haley addresses the Indiana Commission on Education. The testing company executive answered lawmakers' questions about what went wrong during the 2013 exam and apologized for the disruptions.

Indiana schools gearing up to administer the spring ISTEP+ test are worried computer problems could again disrupt students’ exams, reports Rich Van Wyk for WTHR:

Last year, widespread computer glitches disrupted the exam taken by almost half a million students. One in three couldn’t sign on, were kicked off or had to retake portions of the exam.

Test provider CTB/McGraw Hill took responsibility for the vast majority of the problems. Since then the company and schools have upgraded and tested their systems.

In Franklin Township, information technology workers with the school district worked with their counterparts at McGraw Hill to run test after test. The superintendent says only one went completely right.

“Everything we’ve turned into them shows there is nothing wrong with our servers, our bandwidth or firewall,” [Superintendent Flora] Reichanadter said. Continue Reading

Indiana Charter School Board Considering Dugger Schools’ Application

Supporters of keeping Union Junior-Senior High School and Dugger Elementary open listen during a Northeast School Corporation Board of Trustees meeting.

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

Supporters of keeping Union Junior-Senior High School and Dugger Elementary open listen during a Northeast School Corporation Board of Trustees meeting.

Residents of Dugger, Ind., made an appeal to the Indiana Charter School Board Tuesday to allow the schools in their tiny town remain open. From the Associated Press:

Tom Peeler, superintendent of the newly formed Dugger-Union Community School Corp., said enrollment in the first year for the K-12 charter school next fall is projected at 260 students. Intent-to-enroll forms have been submitted so far for about 140 students, he told the Tribune-Star.

Peeler said it’s important to the 900-person town that the schools remain open.

“This is a powerful community. It’s a vibrant community, and it deserves an opportunity to continue, and that’s what the school will do,” he said.

The Northeast Sullivan School Board voted 3-2 in November to close its two schools in Dugger: Dugger Elementary and Union Junior-Senior High School, which has 172 students. The district’s four other schools will remain open, including North Central Junior-Senior High School, which is near Farmersburg and has about 500 students. Continue Reading

Ritz: Teachers Who ‘Need Improvement’ Should Still Be Eligible For Raises

State superintendent Glenda Ritz listens to comments from the public during a hearing at Glenwood Leadership Academy in Evansville.

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

State superintendent Glenda Ritz says teachers who are marked 'needs improvement' on their evaluations should be eligible for raises. Otherwise, she says inexperienced teachers could leave the profession before they improve.

State Board members say Indiana’s teacher evaluation law needs an overhaul after the vast majority of educators received “effective” or “highly effective” ratings.

“Clearly the system failed,” says board member Gordon Hendry. “We have to find a new way to get accurate, fair results for our teachers so we can continue to improve our schools and our students’ experiences in the classroom.”

The Indiana Department of Education release data this week showing 97 percent of educators who received ratings were placed in the top two categories. Less than one half of one percent of teachers were scored as ineffective.

“I don’t feel we’re going to be able to capture that in a true form,” state superintendent Glenda Ritz says. “Many teachers that leave the profession — either retirement or resignation — before they get that final rating.” Continue Reading

Indiana Education Officials Drop Plan To Give Two State Tests Next Month

IDOE Director of Assessment Michele Walker, right, explains Indiana's testing timeline to the State Board.

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

IDOE Director of Assessment Michele Walker, right, explains Indiana's testing timeline to the State Board.

Indiana students will not have to take two rounds of standardized tests this year after all.

The State Board of Education agreed Wednesday to drop a plan to administer a second test next month after schools give ISTEP+. The exam draws questions from CoreLink, a bank of technology-enhanced questions likely to appear on new standardized tests next year. It takes about an hour to complete.

But the platform required to run CoreLink questions will not run on iPads, which many schools use for online tests. And State Board members questioned the need to administer the test at all, as Indiana is moving away from the nationally-crafted Common Core expectations.

“It can’t possibly be based on standards because we haven’t passed them yet,” said State Board member Brad Oliver. Continue Reading

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