Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Peter Balonon-Rosen

Reporter

Peter Balonon-Rosen is a multimedia reporter/producer for WFIU/WTIU news. Peter covers issues, innovations and reforms that affect Indiana education. He comes to WFIU/WTIU from WBUR in Boston, where he served as lead education reporter for WBUR's Learning Lab. Peter graduated from Tufts University with a bachelor's degree in American Studies and certificate in Film Studies. When he's not in the newsroom, Peter enjoys playing music, arguing about who's the best Ramone (Dee Dee, duh) and reading good fiction. You can follow him on Twitter @pbalonon_rosen. Email: pbalonon@indiana.edu

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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Indiana’s New Pre-K Plan Expands To 20 Counties, Ties To Vouchers

Indiana's preschool pilot program would expand to 15 new counties and include a controversial option for online preschool under legislation heading to the governor's desk. (Barnaby Wasson/Flickr)

Indiana\’s preschool pilot program would expand to 15 new counties and include a controversial option for online preschool under legislation heading to the governor\’s desk. (Barnaby Wasson/Flickr)

A new Indiana plan to expand state-funded preschool allows the program to extend to 15 new counties, ties it to the state’s private school voucher program and includes a controversial option for online preschool.

Currently, the $10 million state-funded On My Way Pre-K program serves around 1,500 low-income students in five counties. Expanding preschool access in Indiana has been a key goal of lawmakers this session, including Gov. Eric Holcomb.

The size of the expansion remains unclear, but under a budget proposal likely to remain intact, the state would double the program’s size. They’d dedicate $20 million to brick-and-mortar preschool annually – and allow it to grow in a limited fashion.

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Cursive Writing Finally Gets Its Day At The Statehouse, Kind Of

(Pixabay)

A stand-alone bill failed at the Statehouse earlier this year, but the penmanship issue got folded into another bill. (Pixabay)

“Should learning cursive be necessary?”

That’s the question Indiana lawmakers voted Thursday to require the Department of Education to ask school teachers, administrators, and school boards. A bill now heading for the Governor’s desk mandates the department to survey whether those groups are in favor or opposed to mandatory instruction of cursive writing.

Cursive writing, whether it’s crucial for schooling or a relic of the past, has been debated for years in Indiana.

For half a decade, Sen. Jean Leising (R-Oldenburg) has crusaded to ensure that Indiana law requires schools to teach cursive. The Indiana Department of Education made cursive lessons optional beginning in 2011. Leising proposed legislation each year since to require schools teach the penmanship style in which some characters are written joined together in a flowing manner.

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Indiana Lawmakers Eye Pulling Test Scores From Teacher Evaluations

As Indiana lawmakers work to create a new standardized test, many indicate they'd be open to removing student test scores from teacher evaluations. (Jessie/Flickr)

As Indiana lawmakers work to create a new standardized test, many indicate they’d be open to removing student test scores from teacher evaluations. (Jessie/Flickr)

In a potentially dramatic shift in Indiana education policy, lawmakers could opt to remove standardized test results from teacher evaluations.

At a Wednesday meeting, a bipartisan committee of lawmakers set out to craft the future of Indiana standardized testing and replace the state’s much-derided ISTEP+ exam.

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Study: Black Students More Likely To Graduate With Just One Black Teacher

A new study indicates a teacher's race  can influences whether black students are likely to graduate high school. (Pexels)

A new study indicates a teacher’s race can influences whether black students are likely to graduate high school. (Pexels)

There’s a new study out, and it’s findings are big: Black students who have just one black teacher in elementary school are less likely to drop out and are significantly more likely to graduate high school.

It’s been making the rounds in the education world – the Washington Post and NPR and others have written about – and caught our eye, too. Here we sit down with one of the study’s authors.

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This Week At The Statehouse: Education Spending, Superintendent, ISTEP+

The Indiana Statehouse. (Peter Balonon-Rosen/Indiana Public Broadcasting)

The Indiana Statehouse. (Peter Balonon-Rosen/Indiana Public Broadcasting)

Amid uncertainty over the future of many education issues in Indiana, lawmakers were busy at the Statehouse this week.

Lawmakers in the House chambers dove into a controversy around “sanctuary campuses.” The Senate finished the week by placing its stamp on the House budget and two of the session’s most controversial proposals: an appointed superintendent and ISTEP replacement.

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What’s In A Word? Indiana Lawmakers Seek Ban On Sanctuary Campuses

The Indiana Statehouse. (Peter Balonon-Rosen/Indiana Public Broadcasting)

The Indiana Statehouse. (Peter Balonon-Rosen/Indiana Public Broadcasting)

Colleges and universities across the country are tackling a big issue: Whether to officially adopt certain policies intended to protect people who entered the U.S. illegally.

In Indiana, that conversation could soon end.

Under a bill moving through the Indiana Legislature, lawmakers would outlaw so-called sanctuary campuses. They’re colleges that pledge they will not share anyone’s immigration status with federal authorities.

It’s using that word – sanctuary – and making that pledge, that’s the big deal.

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Bill Would Track When Officers Restrain, Seclude Kids At School

The Indiana Statehouse. (Peter Balonon-Rosen/Indiana Public Broadcasting)

The Indiana Statehouse. (Peter Balonon-Rosen/Indiana Public Broadcasting)

Indiana lawmakers may require schools to provide more information about a controversial practice: secluding and restraining children.

Under state law, physical restraints and seclusion may only be used as a last resort to calm students and never to discipline. The state requires schools to report all uses of seclusion and restraint by school staff. The practices are generally used for students with severe disabilities who have violent outbursts.

A House Education panel voted unanimously Tuesday to add school resource officers to reporting requirements. These officers work in schools but may not be technically employed by the district.

Supporters of the bill say it’s a necessary step to get a true snapshot of the way restraint and seclusion are used.

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Indiana Lawmakers Want Schools To Publicize Union Involvement

Indiana lawmakers are considering a measure which would annually notify teachers of their right to change representation, if union membership drops below 50 percent at a school. (chancadoodle/Flickr)

Indiana lawmakers are considering a measure which would annually notify teachers of their right to change representation, if union membership drops below 50 percent at a school. (chancadoodle/Flickr)

Schools would be required to publicly display the percentage of teachers involved in a union under a Republican-backed measure moving through the Indiana Statehouse.

In cases where union participation falls below a certain amount, the measure would require the state to annually notify teachers they can dispense of or change representation. The bill was approved Monday in a 60-38 vote by the Indiana House of Representatives.

“It’s just information,” says Rep. Gerald Torr (R-Carmel), the bill’s sponsor. “Making it transparent and easy to find.”

Labor unions say it stokes anti-union sentiments in the state. At a hearing last week, representatives from the Indiana State Teachers Association called the measure a “poke in the eye” from Indiana lawmakers trying to clamp down on organized labor. The American Federation of Teachers have also come out against it.

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This Week At The Statehouse: School Prayer, Unions, Student News

Indiana lawmakers eyed bills around prayer in school, union involvement, student journalists and collective bargaining this week. (Peter Balonon-Rosen/Indiana Public Broadcasting)

Indiana lawmakers eyed bills around prayer in school, union involvement, student journalists and collective bargaining this week. (Peter Balonon-Rosen/Indiana Public Broadcasting)

We’re now firmly in the second half of the 2017 legislative session at the Indiana Statehouse. Indiana lawmakers are busy putting final touches on bills they hope will become law: on topics from preschool to prayer.

It’s a lengthy process (here’s our explainer on how a bill becomes law, making your voice heard and other useful tidbits). At this point, it’s not too late for major changes.

This week, lawmakers debated the merits of prayer in school, publicizing teacher involvement in unions, protections for student journalists and more.

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