Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

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

State Education Officials Outline Key Dates For New 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.

Indiana education officials are on track to approve new math and English language arts standards in April, albeit a little later than intended.

Proposed academic expectations were originally scheduled to go to the State Board April 9. But that meeting has been pushed back to give subject matter experts and outside reviewers more time to revise the standards.

A timeline posted to the Department of Education’s website Monday shows the draft standards are now on track to be approved sometime after the April 21 Education Roundtable meeting. That panel, which is co-chaired by Gov. Mike Pence and Supt. Glenda Ritz, must approve the final draft before it goes to the State Board.

The proposed standards draw heavily on the Common Core, as critics of the nationally-crafted standards are quick to point out. Continue Reading

Indiana Will Tap Into Existing Funds To Pay For Pre-K Pilot

Students work on art projects at Busy Bees Academy, a public preschool in Columbus.

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

Students work on art projects at Busy Bees Academy, a public preschool in Columbus.

Funding for Indiana’s newly-minted preschool program will come from existing appropriations and federal funds.

The approved legislation uses existing Family and Social Services Administration money and private contributions to fund a pilot program in five counties that could provide up to 4,500 low-income children with money to attend a high quality preschool.

Indiana already gets two pots of federal money for very young students: Head Start dollars, and the Child Care Development Block Grant. And the former won’t change as a result of the pre-K legislation, says Indiana Head Start Association Executive Director Cheryl Miller.

“Our funding is actually not connected to the state funding at all,” says Miller. “We are a program that for almost 50 years has retained that structure that is federal to local.” Continue Reading

‘Substantially Similar’ Social Studies Standards Get State Board Approval

State Board members Cari Whicker, left, and Brad Oliver listen during a presentation on new social studies standards.

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

State Board members Cari Whicker, left, and Brad Oliver listen during a presentation on new social studies standards.

State Board member Cari Whicker wanted to know what the proposed changes to Indiana’s social standards would mean in her sixth grade history class.

“So I took the 2007 standards and the new standards, and I took my green highlighter, and highlighted everything that was word-for-word exactly the same,” says Whicker. “Then I went back through and any words I hadn’t highlighted I highlighted in orange so they would stand out.”

Whicker only found about 20 changes for sixth grade — the new social studies expectations are substantially the same as the top-ranked 2007 standards.

But Whicker says she’s worried the routine social studies review has been conflated with a much larger effort to rewrite Indiana’s math and English language arts standards. State lawmakers sent the nationally-crafted Common Core standards back for a rewrite, mandating an extensive review and public comment sessions. Continue Reading

State Education Officials Sign Off On Local Improvement Plan For Glenwood

Glenwood Leadership Academy fourth grade teacher Amber Santana leads her students in multiplication drills while pacing across her their desktops. Santana is in her second year at the school.

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

Glenwood Leadership Academy fourth grade teacher Amber Santana leads her students in multiplication drills while pacing across her their desktops.

UPDATED, 5:25 p.m. EST: State education officials will step up oversight of an underperforming school in Evansville, but the efforts will stop short of state takeover.

Glenwood Leadership Academy has received an F from the state for six straight years but is now working with an outside consultant to improve test scores.

B.J. Watts sits on the State Board of Education and teaches in Evansville Vanderburgh schools. He called the district’s approach “proactive.”

“We want schools to own their successes and own their failures,” Watts tells StateImpact. “That’s what the EVSC has done. They kind of got out way in front of the ball here and said, ‘We have an issue. We’re not going to wait until year six to start addressing it when someone else makes us. We’re going to address it now.’” Continue Reading

Five Things To Know About The Proposed Social Studies Standards

State Board of Education member Andrea Neal, center, helps her students prepare for the state's 'We the People' competition. Neal, who teaches middle school history, says she's not satisfied with proposed social studies standards.

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

State Board of Education member Andrea Neal, center, helps her students prepare for the state's 'We the People' competition. Neal, who teaches middle school history, says she's not satisfied with proposed social studies standards.

Lost in the furor over Common Core has been the routine review of Indiana’s social studies standards, which are up for a vote at Wednesday’s State Board meeting.

State education officials typically revise academic expectations in six year cycles.

“This would have been the year for social studies,” says Lou Ann Baker, spokeswoman for the Center for Education and Career Innovation.

But Baker says a legislative mandate to review nationally-crafted math and English language arts standards has overshadowed the regular adoption of new social studies standards.

The State Board is now updating those standards.

Here are four things to know about the proposed expectations for Indiana history classes: Continue Reading

What The Indiana Chamber Is Saying About Proposed Education Standards

K-12 educators and subject matter experts are reviewing the state's academic standards.

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

K-12 educators and subject matter experts reviewed the state's academic standards and released a draft of new expectations last month.

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce wants to see more rigorous high school math standards and a recommended reading list added to the proposed expectations for schools the State Board will consider next month.

“The opponents of Common Core have talked a lot about the so-called ‘common algorithm’ in elementary math,” says Education and Workforce Development Vice President Derek Redelman. “That has been part of our old standards and we’ve suggested those ought to be part of it.”

State education officials released drafts of new academic standards to replace Common Core last month. The pro-Common Core Chamber commissioned its own review to compare the proposed standards to those in other states.

The review looked at standards in three states: Massachusetts, which has adopted the Common Core, and Virginia and Texas, which have not. Redelman says the point of the review was to make sure that there’s nothing missing in Indiana’s next set of student expectations. Continue Reading

Indiana Schools Taking Advantage Of Snow Day Make-Up Flexibility Plan

Inclement weather has canceled class more often than usual in Indiana schools this winter.

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

Indiana schools have racked up twice as many snow days this winter as they did last year — and many are considering alternate ways to make them up.

Schools are getting creative with how they’ll make up for lost time due to inclement weather, reports Kim Kilbride for the South Bend Tribune:

Today, a spokeswoman from Penn-Harris-Madison schools announced that administrators will use a similarly creative tactic to make up for the multitude of weather-related cancellations this winter.

An “eLearning” plan will be implemented in P-H-M schools from March 17 to May 12, Teresa Carroll said.

Teachers will provide students with a variety of online assignments to do outside the school day. And schools will make accommodations for students who don’t have a home computer or Internet access. Continue Reading

In Indiana, Biggest SAT Question Remains Common Core Alignment

On average, students in Indiana scored lower than their peers in other states on the SAT college entrance exam.

Newton Free Library / Flickr

The SAT is getting an overhaul in 2016. The test will also align with the Common Core academic standards.

High school students will take a very different college entrance exam in two years when the company that administers the SAT rolls out a new test, reports Tamar Lewin for The New York Times:

The changes coming to the exam are extensive: The SAT’s rarefied vocabulary words will be replaced by words that are common in college courses, such as “empirical” and “synthesis.” The math questions, now scattered widely across many topics, will focus more narrowly on linear equations, functions and proportional thinking. The use of a calculator will no longer be allowed on some of the math sections. The new exam will be available on paper and computer, and the scoring will revert to the old 1600 scale, with a top score of 800 on math and what will now be called “Evidence-Based Reading and Writing.” The optional essay will have a separate score.

Once the pre-eminent college admissions exam, the SAT has recently lost ground to the ACT, which is based more directly on high school curriculums and is now taken by a slightly higher number of students. Continue Reading

Core Question, Revisited: Will Indiana Still Get Common Core-Aligned Textbooks?

Many Indiana schools are using Everyday Mathematics, curriculum that is aligned to the Common Core State Standards.

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

Publishers are marketing textbooks as aligned to Common Core, but new research suggests the material may not match up closely with the nationally-crafted expectations for what students should know and learn at each grade level.

Around this time last year, a reader asked if Indiana would still get Common Core-aligned textbooks if state lawmakers voted to exit the initiative.

Indiana and 44 other states agreed to use the common expectations in 2010. But as it’s now likely the state will become the first to withdraw from an agreement to share standards, we felt it was time to revisit the question.

According to a report from the Office of Management and Budget, a majority of Indiana school districts have already shelled out for new textbooks and curriculum. And while the proposed expectations state education officials will consider next month overlap with Common Core, they also include Indiana-specific content.

But whether Indiana will remain a large enough market to get its own textbooks is anyone’s guess. Last month, two researchers announced textbooks boasting alignment to the nationally-crafted Common Core standards may not conform to the new expectations after all. From Education Week:

But in a Feb. 21 presentation of his research at a seminar in Los Angeles hosted by the Education Writers Association, William Schmidt, a professor of statistics and education at Michigan State University in East Lansing, dismissed most purveyors of such claims as “snake oil salesmen” who have done little more than slap shiny new stickers on the same books they’ve been selling for years. Continue Reading

Listen: Inside Indiana’s Academic Standards Rewrite

Manchester University professor Tim Brauch lectures his discrete math class. Brauch has been involved in the rewrite of Indiana's K-12 standards.

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

Manchester University professor Tim Brauch lectures his discrete math class. Brauch has been involved in the rewrite of Indiana's K-12 standards.

Manchester University professor Tim Brauch wasn’t always sold on the Common Core — at least not at first.

While working on his doctorate in industrial and applied mathematics at the University of Louisville five years ago, Brauch participated in a fellowship program teaching elementary math.

Though the program predated the Common Core, Brauch says he was expected to use many of the strategies and ideas in the nationally-crafted standards.

“My initial reaction when I saw what we were going to be doing in the classroom with these fourth, fifth and sixth graders was, ‘I don’t think this going to work,’” says Brauch. “But spending two years doing this in the classroom, I really saw that many of the ideas in Common Core were working.” Continue Reading

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