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

State Education Officials Continue To Tweak Proposed Academic Standards

Indiana Department of Education staff worked with teachers and professors from across the state to create new expectations for Indiana schools.

Indiana Department of Education staff worked with teachers and professors from across the state to create new expectations for Indiana schools.

Officials with the Indiana Department of Education “expected the backlash” against proposed academic standards to replace the Common Core, writes Carmen McCollum for the Times of Northwest Indiana:

Danielle Shockey told local educators dozens of educators from across the state, including Hammond teacher Lori Jones, have put in thousands of hours working on the standards that will prepare students for college and careers. Shockey said there have been many levels of evaluation to ensure the standards are the best they can be.

Shockey was the guest speaker at the Northwest Indiana Writing Project breakfast Thursday at Purdue University Calumet. She filled in for Superintendent Glenda Ritz, who was scheduled to speak but had a family emergency and did not attend.

Shockey focused on the standards, new assessments and accountability. She said on some of the standards, there were more than 1,000 comments submitted and on other standards, several hundred comments. Continue Reading

Indiana Repeals Common Core, But Debate On Academic Standards Continues

Students in Fatonia Shank's fourth grade class at Indianapolis' Liberty Park Elementary solve a multi-step math problem.

Students in Fatonia Shank's fourth grade class at Indianapolis' Liberty Park Elementary solve a multi-step math problem.

The clock is ticking for Indiana education officials to approve new academic standards.

As we wrote earlier this week, Gov. Mike Pence  signed legislation that withdraws Indiana from the Common Core and requires state education officials write their own expectations for what students should know and learn at each grade level.

“I’ve pledged consistently that we’re going to write standards in Indiana that are written by Hoosiers, for Hoosiers, and are uncommonly high,” says Pence. “And we are deep into a completely transparent process and public process to do that.”

But that process is ongoing — schools won’t get new standards until later this spring.

“Children that are a finishing this year will finish under the existing Indiana standards, so teachers and students as well as, obviously, their families should not anticipate any changes moving towards the end of this calendar year,” says Lou Ann Baker, spokesman for Pence’s Center for Education and Career Innovation.

So for now, not much changes in Indiana classrooms. But as the first state to leave the Common Core, all eyes are now on Indiana. Continue Reading

Indiana Exits Common Core, But Teachers Are Still Waiting On Next Standards

Warren Township fourth grade teacher Fatonia Shank and her students crow around a laptop to look at a document. Students were working on stories after a peer-writing exercise.

Warren Township fourth grade teacher Fatonia Shank and her students crow around a laptop to look at a document. Students were working on stories after a peer-writing exercise.

Gov. Mike Pence signed legislation today withdrawing Indiana from the Common Core, the nationally-crafted academic standards adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia.

Education policy watchers have been expecting this for months, ever since Pence announced the Indiana would write its own education standards during his State of the State address.

“I believe education is a state and local function,” Pence told reporters Monday after affixing his signature to Senate Bill 91.

Indiana is the first state to exit the national initiative to share academic standards — and that has many teachers worried.

“I hope we’re not the island in the middle of the country,” says Fatonia Shank, fourth grade teacher in Indianapolis’ Warren Township who wanted to keep the Common Core in Indiana. Continue Reading

Anti-Common Core Academic Won’t Offer Feedback On Proposed Indiana Standards

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

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

State education officials have asked a half-dozen subject matter experts to weigh in on proposed academic standards to replace the Common Core in Indiana.

But one of those experts now says she won’t participate, writes Eric Weddle for the Indianapolis Star:

Sandra Stotsky, a retired University of Arkansas professor and well-known Common Core opponent, has told Pence she won’t take part in the state’s drafting process unless a new version of the standards relies little on Common Core.

State education officials overseeing the process say revisions are ongoing and the final proposal will be unique and rigorous.

The opinion of Stotsky, who helped review Indiana’s earlier academic standards, has been considered essential by some lawmakers and others to ensure Indiana’s new math and English standards are high-quality and considerably different from Common Core. Continue Reading

Why Indiana Students Should Prepare For Two Rounds Of Standardized Testing

Laptops set up with pencils and scratch paper at the ready in a temporary testing lab at Tecumseh Junior High in Lafayette. School principal Brett Gruetzmacher says his school needs to set up temporary testing spaces to accomodate the number of test-takers they have this year.

Laptops are set up to administer the spring 2013 ISTEP+ test. For the next two years, students will take two rounds of tests to satisfy state and federal requirements.

Remember when we wrote Indiana students might have to take two standardized tests as a result of the ongoing Common Core boondoggle?

Yeah, that’s happening.

Students will take both the state’s current test, the ISTEP+, and a new test called the College- and Career-Readiness Transition Assessment, or CCRTA, in spring 2015.

“It is two tests,” says Indiana Department of Education Director of Assessment Michele Walker. “It’s two separate sets of standards that are being assessed there.”

Two tests are necessary because of the ongoing dispute over the Common Core. Eager to exit the national initiative to share academic standards, Indiana lawmakers have directed education officials to administer the ISTEP+ next year. But Indiana also promised the U.S. Department of Education it would give a test assessing college- and career-readiness at the end of the 2014-15 school year. Continue Reading

Map: Which Counties Should Indiana Select For Pre-K Pilot?

Map by StateImpact Indiana

This map shows how many Indiana child care providers had achieved a Paths to Quality Level 3 or 4 rating, the bar state lawmakers have set for participation in pilot pre-K program for low-income 4-year-olds, on Jan. 1, 2014.

State lawmakers have approved roughly $10 million in funding for a small-scale pilot program for low-income 4-year-olds. Eligible students will be awarded vouchers to enroll at preschools that have earned top rankings from the Family and Social Services Administration, which will oversee the program.

The pilot could launch in five Indiana counties as soon as this fall. But which counties?

You know how much we like maps here at StateImpact Indiana. So we decided to map how many child care providers have received a 3 or 4 on the state’s Paths to Quality ranking system.

The results weren’t surprising: Access to high-quality preschool depends on where you live. Continue Reading

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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