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

What I Learned At StateImpact Indiana

I once covered a nine hour hearing on academic standards while crouching on this step at the statehouse.

I once covered a nine hour hearing on academic standards while crouching on this step at the statehouse.

Dan Elsener said something at the State Board meeting Monday that really resonated with me.

The board was about to vote on new academic standards — standards the parents who testified at the meeting bitterly opposed.

“The folks that are concerned about this are not the problem,” Elsener said, urging them to remain actively engaged in their children’s schools, education and futures. “They’re part of the solution.”

And it’s true. When I moved to Indiana in 2012, I couldn’t have picked a more contentious time to be covering education policy. The state was just starting to roll out many controversial education initiatives passed under former Gov. Mitch Daniels and then-superintendent Tony Bennett. I spent my first six months here covering the run-up to the election. Of course, Bennett lost to now-state superintendent Glenda Ritz. Continue Reading

Indiana Schools Say Timeline To Implement Newly Adopted Standards Is Too Tight

Eastern Howard Schools and others across the state have spent time and money rolling out the Common Core. Now they'll have to switch to similar — but state-specific — academic standards.

Eastern Howard Schools and others across the state have spent time and money rolling out the Common Core. Now they'll have to switch to similar — but state-specific — academic standards.

Teachers are facing a quick turnaround as they work to align their classes to the new academic standards the State Board approved Monday.

Though the standards aren’t dramatically different from the Common Core, educators say implementing them in just four months will be a challenge.

“Well, we’re fortunate we have 30 minutes of professional development every day before school starts,” says Eastern Howard Superintendent Tracy Caddell. “So we’ll be able to adapt, but there will be quite a few schools out there who don’t have the luxury of daily professional development, so I think it’s gonna be a struggle to implement them for the next school year.” Continue Reading

Vocal Opponents Don’t Deter State Board Members From Approving New Standards

Board members Cari Whicker, left, Brad Oliver, Troy Albert and state superintendent Glenda Ritz listen to a presentation before the standards vote.

Board members Cari Whicker, left, Brad Oliver, Troy Albert and state superintendent Glenda Ritz listen to a presentation before the standards vote.

UPDATED, 12:45 p.m. EST: State superintendent Glenda Ritz says she’s confident the new education standards the State Board approved Monday are rigorous and right for Indiana schools.

The new math and English language arts standards replace the Common Core in Indiana after months of debate about what students should know and learn at each grade level.

Ritz says the next step is making sure teachers are ready to roll out new expectations in the fall.

“So we’ll begin getting information out to them early this summer, and they’ve already got the standards, they’re already looking at things,” says Ritz. “Teachers will go home and start to think about lessons that will align with them.”

But after Monday’s meeting, it seems unlikely the new standards will quell all opposition to the nationally-crafted Common Core standards. Continue Reading

Pro-Common Core Board Member To Vote For New Standards — With Reservations

At the January meeting, board members Sarah O'Brien, left, and Tony Walker expressed their support for the Common Core standards.

Board members Sarah O'Brien, left, and Tony Walker review a presentation at the January meeting.

Indiana State Board of Education member Tony Walker says he plans to vote in favor of proposed academic standards to replace the Common Core in Indiana.

But Walker says while he believes the new expectations meet the state’s definition of college and career readiness, the new standards aren’t rigorous enough to ensure Indiana students will be able to compete internationally.

“On one level, it seems to be sufficient that students make it into college without needing remediation,” Walker tells StateImpact. “That’s a very different standard than I think what is going to be necessary for students to be successful in the long term.”

Walker, who voted to adopt Common Core in 2010 and has expressed his continued support for the nationally-crafted standards, thinks the entire process has gotten too wrapped up in politics. He says people are more worried about where the new standards came from than whether they will ensure good outcomes in Indiana classrooms. Continue Reading

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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