Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Eric Weddle, WFYI

State Cancels 2 Schools Planned By Charter Schools USA

Charter Schools USA CEO Jonathan Hage, center, celebrates an academic recognition for Bonita Springs Charter School in Bonita Springs, Fla. in February 2017. (Credit: Charter Schools USA)

Charter Schools USA CEO Jonathan Hage, center, celebrates an academic recognition for Bonita Springs Charter School in Bonita Springs, Fla. in February 2017. (Credit: Charter Schools USA)

A state board that authorizes charter schools voted Monday to cancel plans for a group of Indianapolis business professionals to open schools in Marion and Clark counties.

The reason?

Florida-based Charter Schools USA, the would-be manager, had ceased communicating with the Indiana Charter School Board for nearly a year and missed a required deadline to identify a facility for one of the schools, according to board staff.

“Because of the inability to either meet the deadline and/or even give a reason for not meeting the deadline or trying to postpone the deadline we recommend the charters be revoked,” said James Betley, the board’s executive director, during a public meeting.

The board agreed and voted 5-0 to cancel the charters.

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K-12 Funding Inches Up In 2-Year Indiana Budget

Funding for education, which is more than half of the state’s $32 billion biennium spending plan, includes $345 million in new dollars for English-language learners, private school vouchers and a 1.6 percent increase in per-student funding in 2018 fiscal year.  (WFIU/WTIU)

Funding for education, which is more than half of the state’s $32 billion biennium spending plan, includes $345 million in new dollars for English-language learners, private school vouchers and a 1.6 percent increase in per-student funding in 2018 fiscal year. (WFIU/WTIU)

Indiana schools will receive more money per student as part of a two-year state budget compromise hashed out between House and Senate lawmakers in the past few days.

Funding for education, which is more than half of the state’s $32 billion biennium spending plan, includes $345 million in new dollars for English-language learners, private school vouchers and a 1.6 percent increase in per-student funding in 2018 fiscal year. That will increase to 1.7 percent in 2019 fiscal year.

The budget also rewrites the process for allocating top teachers bonuses, so educators in low-performing districts are not shortchanged.

House Bill 1001 was approved by the House 68-30 and Senate 42-8. Gov. Eric Holcomb is expected to sign it. Continue Reading

Legislation Sent To Gov. For New Indiana Test, Graduation Pathways

The legislature sent the governor a bill that changes the future of the state assessment system. (James Martin/Flickr)

The legislature sent the governor a bill that changes the future of the state assessment system. (James Martin/Flickr)” credit=”

It’s (almost) official. ISTEP+ is out. ILEARN is in.

Lawmakers pushed through legislation Friday to develop new statewide testing program known as Indiana’s Learning Evaluation Assessment Readiness Network or ILEARN. The legislation also creates multiple pathways to meet high school graduation requirements.

Students would be able to meet state graduation requirements under a number of options. Those include passing end of course assessments, achieving a certain score a college entrance exam like the SAT or ACT, passing international baccalaureate or advanced placement exams or receiving industry certifications.

The state board of education would determine how each pathway operates.

The new test and graduation requirements are set to take effect during the 2018-2019 school year, barring any unforeseen moves by Gov. Eric Holcomb.

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Indianapolis Public Schools Seek Input On Closing 3 High Schools

Jim Scheurich, a professor of urban education studies in the IU School of Education at IUPUI, makes a comment during the IPS School Board work session at School 15 on Tuesday, April 18, 2019. Scheurich is worried that the closure of schools will have unequal impact by race. (Eric Weddle/WFYI)

Jim Scheurich, a professor of urban education studies in the IU School of Education at IUPUI, makes a comment during the IPS School Board work session at School 15 on Tuesday, April 18, 2019. Scheurich is worried that the closure of schools will have unequal impact by race. (Eric Weddle/WFYI)” credit=”

An Indianapolis Public Schools task force says over the next 10 years so few students are expected to be enrolled, that only four out of seven district high schools will be needed.

At a meeting Tuesday evening, members of the task force urged the board of commissioners to consider shuttering three high schools next year, while community members voiced opposition to the proposal and one commissioner advocated for closing even more high schools.

Board president Mary Ann Sullivan agreed that schools needed to be closed and promised that community input would be gathered at a series of meetings to help shape the final decisions. The first such meeting is 6-8 p.m. April 26 at the Glendale Library

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College Financial Aid Deadline Is April 15 In Indiana

FAFSA reminder from the U.S. Department of Education. (Department of Education)

FAFSA reminder from the U.S. Department of Education. (Department of Education)

This Saturday is the deadline for Indiana students to fill out their application for college financial aid, including the federal Pell Grant.

To receive financial aid for college, students must complete the FAFSA — that’s the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

“Every prospective college student—whether they’re a high school senior or a returning adult—should complete the FAFSA,” Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education Teresa Lubbers said.

Students in Indiana’s 21st Century Scholars program will lose their scholarship if they don’t submit it on-time.

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So-Called ‘Prayer In Schools’ Bill Sent To Indiana Gov. Holcomb

The Indiana Statehouse. (Brandon Smith/Indiana Public Broadcasting)

The Indiana Statehouse. (Brandon Smith/Indiana Public Broadcasting)” credit=”

Bipartisan legislation that seeks to protect religious freedom for students has been sent to Gov. Eric Holcomb.

The bill by Indianapolis Democratic Rep. John Bartlett says traditional public and charter schools can not discriminate against students or parents because of their religious beliefs. It also asserts students’ right to wear religious clothing and express their beliefs in class writings.

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Indy School For Immigrants, Refugees Grows Bigger By The Day

Students in Andy Slater’s science class start the morning by playing a word game. Students jump up to move to an open seat if they agree with what the standing student says – sort of like musical chairs. (Eric Weddle/WFYI)

Students in Andy Slater’s science class start the morning by playing a word game. Students jump up to move to an open seat if they agree with what the standing student says – sort of like musical chairs. (Eric Weddle/WFYI)

It’s just after 7:30 a.m in Andy Slater’s ninth grade science class. Students sit on chairs in a circle — they play a few quick word games and ask each other basic questions.

But there’s one catch.

“Come on, in English,” Slater says. “In Inglés.”

Slowly the chatter in Spanish, Swahili and other languages dies down.  A student standing in the middle of the circle slowly says: “Big wind blows … if you like school.”

It’s a game. Students jump up and move to an open seat if they agree with what the standing student says – sort of like musical chairs.

This is how every day begins at the Newcomer Program – a Far Westside Indianapolis school for refugees and new immigrants, those here legally or illegally — about 10 minutes to build relationships and English skills with different word games.

Like any school, students here try to find themselves and fit in. But unlike other Indiana schools, all of these seventh through ninth graders are adjusting to a sudden immersion in American culture.

Some students enroll with little formal education, unfamiliar with computers or even know how to hold a pencil. Others don’t understand hallways lockers.

There are other adjustments, like the cafeteria. Stomachaches can be common when new students eat sausage for the first time.

And students can bring scars of trauma from experiences in their home country or anxiety about their future here.

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ILEARN Set To Replace ISTEP As Indiana’s New Standardized Test

The legislature is considering legislation that changes the standardized assessment students take, replacing the current ISTEP+.

The legislature is considering legislation that changes the standardized assessment students take, replacing the current ISTEP+. (photo credit: David Hartman/Flickr)

The Indiana Senate approved a bill Tuesday setting guidelines for ILEARN, a new standardized test that will replace the troubled ISTEP+ exam in 2019.

The proposal would require the test, for students in grades 3-8, be given on a computer and allow Indiana scores to be compared with scores nationally.

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Senate Moves Ahead Bill To Make Superintendent Political Appointee

Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) attempted to kill House Bill 1005 but narrowly lost when a vote was taken on the issue in the full Senate. (Brandon Smith/IPB News)

Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) attempted to kill House Bill 1005 but narrowly lost when a vote was taken on the issue in the full Senate. (Brandon Smith/Indiana Public Broadcasting)

A bill that would make the state school superintendent a political appointee of the governor, passed the full Senate Tuesday despite attempts by Democrats to kill the proposal.

Sen. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, led the charge to have House Bill 1005 pulled from consideration, arguing its intent was the same as Senate Bill 179. But his effort failed 26-24.

In February, the Senate voted down its own bill to make the state’s elected schools chief an appointed position. Around the same time, House lawmakers approved their version.

But Democrats say a chamber rule should have ended the issue this session. The rule says a bill similar in language to a defeated bill may not be heard again in the Senate.

Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R- Ft. Wayne, has said the bill was altered enough so the issue could be revived. Senate lawmakers amended HB1005 to add a state residency requirement for candidates and push back the year it would go into effect to 2024.

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This Week At The Statehouse: Budget, Superintendent, ISTEP+

The Indiana Statehouse. (Jimmy Emerson/Flickr)

The Indiana Statehouse. (Jimmy Emerson/Flickr)

As the legislative session enters its last three weeks, lawmakers begin to wrap up, and many of the major education bills we’ve been following moved forward.

State Superintendent Change Revived In The Senate

In the first half of the session, a Senate committee voted against changing the state superintendent position from an elected to an appointed one. But that idea found new life this week. An amendment approved in the Senate Rules and Legislative Procedure Committee Monday altered the House bill enough to revive it.

Senate Releases Its Education Budget, Increasing Funds For K-12

The Senate released its proposed budget for the next two years, and it included more money for K-12, English Language Learners and students living in poverty.

The Senate budget also reverses the House move to eliminate the teacher bonus program.

For state-funded pre-K, it expands the program from 5 to all 92 counties. In other way it is similar to the House plan and proposes investing the same $16 million per year for high quality pre-K programs and money for homeschool programs.

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