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

Cash-Strapped Muncie Schools In Need Of Massive Building Repairs

District officials say Muncie Central High School will need $1.9 million in repairs over the next several years.

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

District officials say Muncie Central High School will need $1.9 million in repairs over the next several years.

School officials in Muncie say the cash-strapped district will need to take out a $10 million bond to pay for repairs now and in the future.

Among the most pressing upgrades is the $1.9 million earmarked for Muncie Central, which will open next year as the district’s only high school, writes Michelle Kinsey for the Muncie Star Press:

[Muncie Superintendent Tim] Heller said that in response to the many community members who voiced concern that if that amount was needed to open this fall, why didn’t they just use Southside as the main high school?

“The Southside building is not big enough to put the two student bodies in,” he said. “And we only need some of those things on the list to be able to open in August and that’s the (wall) dividers, lockers, some painting and the water fountains.” Continue Reading

Governor Pence Still Advocating For Pre-K Pilot Amid Legislative Setbacks

Gov. Mike Pence signs an executive order creating the Center for Education & Career Innovation, an office to oversee his education goals.

Brandon Smith / IPBS

Gov. Mike Pence signs an executive order creating the Center for Education & Career Innovation, an office to oversee his education goals.

Gov. Mike Pence is still pushing for Indiana lawmakers to approve a preschool voucher program even after Senate Republicans scrapped the proposal.

Pence is headed to the Shepherd Community Center in Indianapolis this morning to visit pre-K classrooms and renew his appeal. The governor already made a rare appearance before the General Assembly earlier this month to back a pre-K bill from Rep. Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis.

But his support wasn’t enough to convince fiscal conservatives worried about how to pay for the program, and it’s unclear whether his continued backing will sway state lawmakers. Earlier this week state senators rejected a Democratic attempt to revive the pilot program.

It hasn’t been an easy session for the governor, who has had trouble advancing many of his legislative priorities. Tuesday, lawmakers sent a Pence-backed plan to pay teachers to relocate to struggling schools to summer study committee. Continue Reading

Are Proposed Academic Standards Back To ‘Mile-Wide And Inch-Deep’ Instruction?

State Board of Education members Cari Whicker and Sarah O'Brien listen during the Indianapolis public meeting on academic standards.

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

State Board of Education members Cari Whicker and Sarah O'Brien listen during the Indianapolis public meeting on academic standards.

It’s not often proponents and opponents of Common Core agree.

But speakers on both sides of the aisle told state education officials Tuesday at a public hearing in Indianapolis there are just too many proposed academic standards to teach.

Schauna Findlay is president of the Indiana Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development and reviewed the standards for the state’s pro-Common Core Chamber of Commerce. Findlay says the educator teams who developed the drafts have included more standards than teachers can get through in a year.

“Everything they said ‘this is a good standard’ was included in the draft standards without paying attention to have we now completely overloaded a particular grade level with additional content?” she says.

Findlay says in elementary math, Indiana has added a number of probability and measurement standards without subtracting anything. Continue Reading

Q&A: Five Questions For State Board’s Brad Oliver On Proposed Academic Standards

State Board of Education member Brad Oliver and state superintendent Glenda Ritz listen during a January 2014 meeting.

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

State Board of Education member Brad Oliver and state superintendent Glenda Ritz listen during the board's January 2014 meeting.

StateImpact Indiana caught up with State Board of Education member Brad Oliver in Sellersburg Monday night during a public meeting to discuss proposed academic standards. Oliver has been active in the ongoing standards evaluation process and answered a few questions about the draft standards likely to replace Common Core in Indiana.

We’ve included a transcript of our conversation with Oliver below.

StateImpact Indiana: Tell me a little more about the kind of feedback you’re looking for at this point. I know you’ve said you want comments on specific standards, feedback that helps shape the draft process. Is that what you feel you’re getting?

Right now I’m still hearing a lot of folks talking about the process. Not that I’m not concerned with that, but I really believe — and I’m on the record saying this — in the process we’re using. I want to hear more about concerns about the actual language of the standards, particularly from folks who are concerned about use of the Common Core. They’re noticing a lot of standards that are similar or the same. … What I’m still waiting to hear is actual specifics on particular standards at grades K-1 in math and other areas where I keep hearing concerns about how the standards are worded or structured. I’d like to hear more about that from folks who are concerned. Continue Reading

Critics Say Proposed Academic Standards Overlap Too Much With Common Core

Teacher Dylan Purlee tells state education officials Indiana should continue to share standards with the states that have adopted Common Core.

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

Teacher Dylan Purlee tells state education officials Indiana should continue to share standards with the states that have adopted Common Core.

At a public meeting in Sellersburg Monday, critics of Common Core told state education officials the draft standards Hoosier educators have proposed are too similar to satisfy their concerns with the nationally-crafted expectations.

“We feel cheated. We feel lied to,” says parent Emily Camenisch, adding that she thinks the process to rewrite standards was rushed.

Other parents pointed to standards in the draft taken word-for-word from the Common Core.

But State Board of Education member Brad Oliver says some overlap is to be expected.

“If again you go back and start from the premise that college- and career-readiness is about making sure students have requisite skills and knowledge prior to being able to go to college without being remediated or go into a career, you apply that uniformly to whatever standards they looked at, you’re going to see a certain percentage of the standards come through,” says Oliver. Continue Reading

How To Give Indiana Education Officials Feedback On New Academic Standards

State education officials have released drafts of math and English language arts standards for public comment.

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

State education officials have released drafts of math and English language arts standards for public comment.

Maybe you spent your weekend the same way I spent mine — shifting through the 98-page draft of proposed academic standards.

And maybe you noticed that calculating the volume of a rectangular prism is again a fifth grade standard, not a sixth grade standard as it is in Common Core.

“There was one topic that our group spent probably 30 minutes debating,” says Manchester University professor Tim Brauch, who sat on the standards evaluation panel earlier this month. “In fifth grade science, under the current science standards, students are expected to use volume.”

And under the Indiana academic standards adopted in 2000, volume was also a fifth grade math standard. The panel of K-5 math educators and subject matter experts reviewing student expectations thought the two sets of standards should be internally consistent. And that meant getting volume back into fifth grade.

But if kids are going to calculate volume, says Brauch, they also need to be able to multiply three numbers — the formula is length times width times height. Continue Reading

After Lawmakers Gut Pre-K Pilot, What’s Next For Indiana’s Kindergarten Test?

A student looks through a book about fruit and flowers at Busy Bees Academy, a public preschool in Columbus, Ind.

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

A student looks through a book about fruit and flowers at Busy Bees Academy, a public preschool in Columbus.

A panel of state lawmakers voted Wednesday to scale back Gov. Mike Pence’s preferred pre-K proposal. Instead, they’ll send it to summer study committee for more debate.

Gone, too, is a provision to bolster the state’s kindergarten readiness assessment, the ISTAR-KR. The state provides the qualitative test for free to Indiana preschools, public and private. But even kids who attended quality pre-K programs are arriving at kindergarten without any documentation of what they know already.

But Indiana isn’t the only state that falls short when it comes to linking preschool with the state’s K-12 system. According to a report the Early Childhood Data Collaborative released Wednesday, only Pennsylvania has a comprehensive system to track kids across pre-K programs before they start school. From the report:

To understand which policies and investments lead to effective early childhood education (ECE) services, policymakers need timely and accurate data about how children are developing over time, the quality of services available, characteristics of successful programs, and workforce education and training needs.  Continue Reading

‘It May Be A Little Quicker Than In The Past,’ But Proposed Standards Are Ready

Audrey Fetters, a kindergarten teacher at Flint Springs Elementary in Huntington, flips through notes she took during a meeting on Common Core implementation.

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

Audrey Fetters, a kindergarten teacher at Flint Springs Elementary in Huntington, flips through notes she took on Common Core implementation. She doesn't think the standards are developmentally appropriate for kids.

State education officials released drafts of new academic standards to the public late Wednesday night, kicking off a three-week period for parents and educators to offer feedback on the next set of expectations for Indiana schools.

The 98-page document outlines what K-12 students should know and learn in English language arts and math at each grade level.

Educators who worked on the drafts consider them a hybrid of the nationally-crafted Common Core expectations and Indiana’s prior academic standards.

StateImpact is working with experts to analyze the new standards. We’ll be posting their feedback in the coming days. But first, a timeline of dates to keep in mind as Indiana reviews its academic standards over the next six weeks:

Why 2014 Might Not Be The Year For Pre-K After All

A student works on an art project at Busy Bees Academy, a public preschool in Columbus.

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

A student works on an art project at Busy Bees Academy, a public preschool in Columbus.

State senators will likely gut the modest pre-K plan that has the backing of Gov. Mike Pence, writes Matthew Tully for the Indianapolis Star:

But the forces of opposition are strong in the Statehouse. And they reside most notably in the Indiana Senate, where powerhouse Appropriations Chairman Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, has been skeptical about the idea. He has questioned the estimated $10 million per-year cost of the program and the governor’s idea of crafting the preschool policy this year and then addressing funding for it during next year’s budget-writing session.

Pence and House Republicans aren’t giving up, but the Senate opposition presents a daunting, perhaps game-ending obstacle this session.

The governor’s plan seems reasonable, as it would allow the state to perfect the mechanics of the policy so that the program can take off shortly after the funding is secured. But it goes against tradition at the Statehouse. Sadly, sometimes that’s all that matters. … Continue Reading

State Lawmakers Want Common Core Exit In Indiana Code

Sen. Scott Schneider, R-Indianapolis, talks with Sen. Tim Skinner, D-Terre Haute, during a summer legislative hearing on the Common Core academic standards.

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

Sen. Scott Schneider, R-Indianapolis, talks with Sen. Tim Skinner, D-Terre Haute, during a summer legislative hearing on the Common Core academic standards.

State education officials will release drafts of new academic standards Wednesday — but will they be the best in the country?

Literally, will they be “the highest standards in the United States?”

A Senate proposal to void adoption of the nationally-crafted Common Core standards includes language that would require Indiana’s next expectations for students to meet this mark. The House Education Committee heard testimony on the bill Tuesday morning.

“That would be determined by the State Board of Education and the panels the superintendent and Department of Education have put together,” says Sen. Scott Schneider, R-Indianapolis, the bill’s author. “This is the concept we want to shoot for.”

But Rep. Vernon Smith, D-Gary, expressed concern Indiana would need to bring in an outside entity to make that determination.

“You have to compare apples to other apples out there,” says Smith. Continue Reading

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