Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

228

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

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

AP: Tony Bennett Ethics Hearing Now Set For August

Former state superintendent Tony Bennett delivers his concession speech after losing his reelection bid to Glenda   Ritz.

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

Former state superintendent Tony Bennett delivers his concession speech after losing his reelection bid..

An ethics hearing for former state superintendent Tony Bennett has been pushed back from May to August, reports Tom LoBianco for the Associated Press:

Bennett is accused of using state resources, including staff and state computers, in his failed 2012 re-election bid. The inspector general filed the charges last November, shortly after The Associated Press reported Bennett had kept Republican Party fundraising lists on his state computers and top staff had been campaigning on state time.

Bennett issued a statement in November saying he had done nothing wrong and would cooperate with the investigation. He hired a pair of high-profile defense attorneys — Larry Mackey and Jason Barclay, with the Indianapolis firm Barnes and Thornburg.

Barclay said Monday that the defense team received 10 binders worth of documents from the inspector general’s office last month in response to their discovery request and is reviewing their contents. Continue Reading

Five Takeaways From The 2012-13 Educator Effectiveness Ratings

Ben Davis Ninth Grade Center Assistant Principal Steve Samuel observes a lesson in Wes Upton's social studies class.

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

Ben Davis Ninth Grade Center Assistant Principal Steve Samuel observes a lesson in Wes Upton's social studies class.

The vast majority of Indiana educators received “effective” or “highly effective” ratings during the first year of state-mandated teacher evaluations.

Indiana schools reported evaluating more than 55,000 teachers, counselors and administrators during the 2012-13 academic year, according to figures released Monday by the Department of Education. Of those licensed educators who were rated, more than 97 percent received the top two scores.

(You can look up the results for your school or corporation in our sortable tables.)

Indiana lawmakers voted in 2011 to overhaul how teachers are evaluated and paid. But the legislature stopped short of mandating what evaluation system each school corporation should use.

“This is not designed to compare one school corporation to another,” says Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn. “This is designed for a principal to do a vigorous evaluation of their teachers in their building.” Continue Reading

Nine Indiana School Districts Will Pursue Referenda In May Election

Indiana schools have to seek voter approval for large construction projects and levy increases outside the property tax cap.

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

Indiana schools have to seek voter approval for large construction projects and levy increases outside the property tax cap.

What are the odds your school corporation’s referendum will pass? It’s a coin toss — since 2008, half of the 92 districts who’ve tried to convince voters to raise their own property taxes have been successful.

Nine Indiana school districts will ask for 10 tax levy increases on the May ballot. Elkhart Community Schools is asking voters to approve two questions. And two school corporations — the Metropolitan School District of Boone Township and Mount Vernon Community Schools — are returning to the polls for the second and third time, respectively.

We’ve compiled a list of referenda after the jump. Or, check out our referenda scorecard to see how voters in other districts have weighed in on similar questions since 2008. Continue Reading

School Matters: High-Poverty Public Schools Have Higher ISTEP+ Pass Rates Than Charters

A student plays with Legos at Christel House Academy, a charter school on Indianapolis' south side.

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

A student plays with Legos at Christel House Academy, a charter school on Indianapolis' south side.

Conventional wisdom, writes blogger Steve Hinnefeld over at School Matters, says charter schools are outperforming public schools.

But his analysis of 2013 ISTEP+ pass rates at high poverty schools shows traditional public school students passing more frequently than their peers at charters:

I merged Department of Education spreadsheets with data on free and reduced-price lunch counts and ISTEP-Plus passing rates. Then I sorted by free-and-reduced-lunch rates and focused on schools where 80 percent or more students qualified for lunch assistance. Results include:

For charter schools: Average passing rate for both E/LA and math, 48 percent; passing rate for E/LA, 62.3 percent; passing rate for math, 62.5 percent.

For conventional public schools: Average passing rate for both E/LA and math, 57.2 percent; passing rate for E/LA, 64.1 percent; passing rate for math, 68.1 percent.

The data set includes only schools that enroll students in grades 3-8, who take ISTEP exams; it excludes high schools and many primary-grade schools. I also tried to screen out nonstandard schools such as juvenile detention centers and dropout recovery schools. Continue Reading

Utah Governor Says Indiana Standards Too Similar To Common Core

Rep. Rhonda Rhoads shakes Gov. Mike Pence's hand as he takes the podium for a speech in Corydon.

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

Rep. Rhonda Rhoads shakes Gov. Mike Pence's hand as he takes the podium for a speech in Corydon.

Other states watching Indiana’s Common Core exit aren’t convinced the new academic standards written “by Hoosiers, for Hoosiers” will be a significant departure from the nationally-crafted expectations they replace, writes Stephanie Wang for the Indianapolis Star:

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, a Republican, told journalists last week that new Hoosier educational standards still are almost mirroring exactly the national standards that Pence eschewed.

As Herbert talked about Utah controlling its decisions over academic standards, he was asked whether the state would legislate a split from Common Core, as Indiana did.

“I’ve talked to Gov.Pence about what they’re doing there,” Herbert said. “In essence, they’re saying they’re creating what’s called the Indiana Core. It’s not the Common Core … but their standards are almost mirroring exactly what is commonly referred to as the Common Core standards.” Continue Reading

Join Us For Noon Edition: What’s Next For Indiana After Common Core Departure

What questions do you have about Indiana's Common Core exit?

What questions do you have about Indiana's Common Core exit?

This week Indiana became the first state to officially exit the Common Core initiative, an agreement 45 states and the District of Columbia made in 2010 to share academic standards.

The move comes as no surprise to policy-watchers here: For months, Indiana education officials have been reviewing academic standards and writing expectations to replace the Common Core. But that work won’t be complete until the State Board formally adopts the state’s next standards next month.

We hope you’ll tune into WFIU today at 12:06 p.m. EST for Noon Edition, our weekly public affairs program. I’ll be on discussing the Common Core’s rise and fall in Indiana, as well as what’s next for schools. Other guests include:

  • State Senator Jim Banks
  • Amy Marsh of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce
  • Indiana Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction Danielle Shockey

You can listen live on 103.7 FM in south central Indiana, or tune into wfiu.org for the live stream.

If you can’t listen live, send us your questions: Tweet @ellemoxley or @StateImpactIN, and we’ll try to get to as many as possible on air.

About StateImpact

StateImpact seeks to inform and engage local communities with broadcast and online news focused on how state government decisions affect your lives.
Learn More »

Economy
Education