Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Eric Weddle, WFYI

A-Rated School Corporations More Than Double In 2017

(Rachel Morello/StateImpact Indiana)

(Rachel Morello/StateImpact Indiana)

The State Board of Education approved school corporation A-F letter grades Wednesday for the 2016-2017 school year.

Of the state 289 school corporations 48 earned an A on for 2017. That’s more than double the number of districts that earned the top grade last year – 23 corporations.

Of the districts assigned 2017 grades: 149 assigned B; 63 assigned C; Six assigned; One assigned F.

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High-Speed Internet For Indiana Schools Is Goal Of New Partnership

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, EducationSuperHighway CEO Evan Marwell and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick annouce a partnership to improve high-speed broadband access to Indiana schools on Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017 at Metropolitan School District of Decatur Township's Blue Academy. (Eric Weddle/WFYI News)

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, EducationSuperHighway CEO Evan Marwell and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick annouce a partnership to improve high-speed broadband access to Indiana schools on Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017 at Metropolitan School District of Decatur Township\’s Blue Academy. (Eric Weddle/WFYI News)

A national nonprofit is partnering with Indiana to improve high-speed internet access for schools across Indiana during the next two years.

The focus will be on 30 schools that lack high-speed fiber connections. There will also be assistance for school districts to apply for federal grants to improve broadband infrastructure or increase classroom Wi-Fi access.

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Survey: 94% Of Indiana Schools Can’t Fill Teaching Jobs

Since 2015, elected officials, lawmakers, and education leaders have tried to address the teaching force in Indiana.

Since 2015, elected officials, lawmakers, and education leaders have tried to address the teaching force in Indiana. (FILE PHOTO: Rachel Morello/StateImpact Indiana)

A new report finds the state’s public school districts still struggle to hire teachers despite efforts by the state to address the problem.

Of school districts that responded to Indiana State University’s survey, 94 percent say they’re experiencing a teacher shortage.

This year’s results are a slight uptick from last year when 92 percent of districts reported shortages. In 2015, the first year of the survey, 95 percent of superintendents reported the problem.

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Proposed Graduation Requirements Begin To Take Shape

State Board of Education member Byron Ernest, chairman of the board's graduation pathways committee, explains possible pathways during a meeting Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017 at the  Indiana State Library. (Eric Weddle/WFYI News)

State Board of Education member Byron Ernest, chairman of the board’s graduation pathways committee, explains possible pathways during a meeting Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017 at the Indiana State Library. (Eric Weddle/WFYI News)

Members of a State Board of Education committee tasked with proposing new ways for students to qualify for graduation began sketching their plan Tuesday.

There’s still a lot for the dozen-plus members to sort out before their last meeting next month.

But a list of nine alternative ways students could become eligible for a diploma has begun to take shape. It includes: earning industry-recognized credentials; passing the military entrance exam plus enlisting; and work-based learning with job experience.

“We came a long way today, I hope you agree,” says state board member Byron Ernest, who is leading the committee. “But we’ve got a long way to go.”

Students are currently required to pass math and English end of course exam to graduate with a Core 40 or Honors diploma.

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Most A-Rated IPS Schools Are Independent Of District Policies

PLA @ Francis Scott Key School 103 is on the city's Far Eastside. The schools earned an A from the state for 2017. (Indianapolis Public Schools)

PLA @ Francis Scott Key School 103 is on the city\’s Far Eastside. The schools earned an A from the state for 2017. (Indianapolis Public Schools)

Three years ago School 103 on the Far Eastside was struggling, more than most city schools. Few students were learning at grade level and the state would soon consider intervention.

In response, Indianapolis Public Schools Board used a new law that allows struggling schools to contract with a charter school company and run independently of district policies.  The board has ultimate oversight of the schools.

School 103’s new manager, Phalen Leadership Academies, was given freedom to remake the school’s curriculum and set staff expectations without a union-negotiated contract.

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Lawmakers Want Options To Aid Financially Struggling School Corps

Indiana's Legislative Services Agency, a bipartisan legal analysis group, created a possible dashboard-style system that could use various financial indicators to weigh a school corporation's fiscal health. (Photo courtesy of Legislative Services Agency)

Indiana\’s Legislative Services Agency, a bipartisan legal analysis group, created a possible dashboard-style system that could use various financial indicators to weigh a school corporation\’s fiscal health. (Photo courtesy of Legislative Services Agency)

State lawmakers want to figure out how to identify and help school corporations before they fall into financial distress.

Monday a study committee heard about possible ways to evaluate a district’s income and debt.

The state’s Legislative Services Agency, a bipartisan legal analysis group, offered different indicators and methods to analyze those indicators, such as outstanding bond debt and income, to figure out if a district is fiscally sound or trending into trouble.

The analysis, the LSA report says, could be used as an early warning system for school corporations that may be heading toward financial distress.

The report found that 40 percent of public school corporations operate with deficits. The largest deficit found is 34 percent of the district’s total expenditures.

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2017 Indiana School Grades: More As, Fewer Bs

A teacher and students work at Indianapolis Public Schools' Meredith Nicholson School 96. (Photo courtesy of IPS)

A teacher and students work at Indianapolis Public Schools’ Meredith Nicholson School 96. (Photo courtesy of IPS)

The State Board of Education approved school A-F grades for the 2016-2017 school year Wednesday. It reports an increase in the number of schools receiving As and fewer receiving Bs.

Yet the overall percent of schools that received As and Bs is the nearly the same as last year.

State Superintendent Jeniffer McCormick warned that “celebrating” the continued high number of top tier schools would be premature. Next year Indiana schools will face a change in accountability due to new federal education policy.

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Betsy DeVos Awards Indiana $60M To Expand Charter Schools

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and husband Dick eat at the Eastern Hancock High School cafeteria for the annual FFA hog roast fundraiser on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017 during the last stop on the “Rethink School” tour. (Eric Weddle/WFYI News)

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and husband Dick eat at the Eastern Hancock High School cafeteria for the annual FFA hog roast fundraiser on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017 during the last stop on the “Rethink School” tour. (Eric Weddle/WFYI News)

Indiana will receive $59.9 million in federal funds to expand charter schools over the next five years.

Federal Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced the award Thursday as part of a total package of approximately $514.9 million in recommended grants for eight other states, charter management organizations, non-profit organizations and state agencies.

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Hoosier Academies Virtual Charter School To Close In June

The front door of the Hoosier Academy administrative offices and school on Far Eastside of Indianapolis at 2855 North Franklin Road. The building houses the K-12 Hoosier Academy blended learning school, Hoosier Virtual Academy, and the new Insight School of Indiana middle school. (Eric Weddle/WFYI News)

The front door of the Hoosier Academy administrative offices and school on Far Eastside of Indianapolis at 2855 North Franklin Road. The building houses the K-12 Hoosier Academy blended learning school, Hoosier Virtual Academy, and the new Insight School of Indiana middle school. (Eric Weddle/WFYI News)

The board of the chronically failing Hoosier Academies Virtual School voted Tuesday not to seek renewal of their charter, a decision that will cause the school of 2,000 students to close in June.

John Marske, Hoosier Academies board president, told WFYI News in an email Wednesday that the school had until Oct. 1 to submit a renewal application.

“Although the Board has seen evidence of significant improvement at Hoosier Virtual,” he wrote in an email, “We did not feel the academic data, available as of October 1, 2017, was sufficient to pass the rigors of a charter application process.”

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