Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

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Adult High School In Kokomo Gives New Meaning To ‘Back To School’

Mattie Grimes dropped out of high school. She’s now 31-years-old and a single mom, but she hasn’t lost sight of her career aspirations.

The Excel Center in Kokomo serves over 300 adult students seeking their high school diploma.

The Excel Center in Kokomo serves over 300 adult students seeking their high school diploma.

“I want to work in a factory,” Grimes says. “I don’t like working fast food.”

She’s also realistic about her goal.

“Factories will not hire you unless you have a high school diploma,” says Grimes. “So if that’s something that I want to do, I gotta have what I gotta have.”

Two-thirds of employers say a diploma is the least people like Grimes need to have, according to a recent survey by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. Nearly 40 percent of employers say they have left jobs unfilled because they could not find qualified applicants.

Many adults choose to expedite their move into the workforce by taking the General Educational Development, or GED test. But some experts argue earning a high school diploma might better prepare students for the challenges of college and the workforce.

So, some students, like Grimes, are going back to school. Continue Reading

Why Education Starts Not In The Classroom, But In The Womb

Máire Flood explains different cues babies give for different needs to new mom Jazmin Smith. The two work together as part of the Nurse Family Partnership, which pairs Medicaid eligible new moms with a nurse, to learn best practices for raising a child.

Máire Flood explains different cues babies give for different needs to new mom Jazmin Smith. The two work together as part of the Nurse Family Partnership, which pairs Medicaid eligible moms with a nurse to learn best practices for raising a child.

Every week, Máire Flood arrives at Jazmin Smith’s home armed with a scale, measuring tape and binders of information about child development. All of this is used to help Smith raise her three-month-old son, Amiri-Jayden.

Flood is a nurse home visitor with the Nurse Family Partnership, an entity of Goodwill Industries that partners Medicaid eligible mothers like Smith with a nurse who helps them through pregnancy up until their child turns two. They talk about everything from what to expect during labor to breastfeeding.

“We also do what are called PIPE lessons,” Flood said. “Which is Partners In Parenting Education, and a lot of those are about being your baby’s first teacher and reading to your baby and picking up on cues and all those kinds of things.”

Smith says the parenting skills like breastfeeding, reading daily to her son and knowing what developmental milestones to look for aren’t in line with her own upbringing.  Continue Reading

Indiana’s New Handwriting Standards More Detailed Than Common Core

A four year old in Eve Cusack's class at Bloomington Montessori School practices his letter sounds by tracing over the sandpaper letter blocks.

A 4-year-old in Eve Cusack's class at Bloomington Montessori School practices his letter sounds by tracing over the sandpaper letter blocks.

The ability to write by hand is a skill we use our entire lives. Making a grocery list, writing a reminder on a Post-It or adding a tip to a restaurant receipt all require the fine motor skills and the understanding of language involved in writing.

Learning these skills start early, and as researchers are finding out, learning them helps a child develop cognitively if started early on.

When Indiana ditched the Common Core in April and wrote its own academic measures, authors of the new standards created detailed handwriting standards. Compared to the previously used Common Core standards, Indiana’s standards provide specific skills a child should meet every year of elementary school. Continue Reading

IU Program Makes Real World Experience Valuable In The Classroom

The Transition to Teaching program at IU spends a year teaching career changers how to be successful teachers

The Transition to Teaching program at IU spends a year teaching career changers how to be successful teachers

Those who can’t do, teach.

It’s a phrase that seems to insult teachers and downplay the importance of the profession. But after the state board of education lessened requirements to get a certain type of teaching license last month, those who leave the world of “doing” to enter the world of “teaching” is getting a closer look from the education community.

The controversy around REPA III stems from the amount of experience a career specialist brings to the classroom. Opponents argue there is too much emphasis on content knowledge and not enough emphasis on effective teaching strategies.

But the Transition to Teaching program at Indiana University strives to find a middle ground between a four-year bachelor’s degree in education and starting someone in a classroom with no pedagogy training.

Those who complete the Transition to Teaching program don’t leave with a degree of any kind, but spend one year learning teaching theories, taking courses related to their content area and completing student teaching.  Continue Reading

New Indiana Standards Mean A New Test, So How Do We Get There?

Standardized Test

Indiana students will take a standardized test aligned with the state's new academic standards this spring.

For the last few years, third through eighth graders in Indiana took the ISTEP+ exam in the spring to measure student performance. But when Indiana chose to not use Common Core standards and develop its own set of standards, the assessment portion of the equation remained unsolved.

Last week, state superintendent Glenda Ritz said after talking with the U.S. Department of Education regarding the state’s condition on its No Child Left Behind waiver, some sort of assessment that matches the new standards must be administered this spring.

To some, this was a surprise announcement. But looking at the issue as a whole, this has been a long time coming. Continue Reading

The Great Gender Debate: Should Boys And Girls Learn Separately?

Students read together in an all-male class at Riverview Middle School. Administrators started single-sex courses to address gender disparities on standardized tests.

Students read together in an all-male class at Riverview Middle School. Administrators started single-sex courses to address gender disparities on standardized tests.

The interest in public single-sex education has increased in recent years, as more pressure is placed on schools to graduate students, improve test scores and keep teaching methods fresh.

More than 200 public schools across the country offer single-sex classrooms, according to the National Association for Single Sex Public Education. Indiana even has a couple of schools that are specifically all-boys or all-girls.

But not everyone is a fan of this system. As our counterparts at StateImpact Florida have reported, the American Civil Liberties Union recently came out against single-sex schooling in parts of their state. Indiana is one of 15 states the ACLU has sought documentation from related to implementation of single-sex programs in the state.

Continue Reading

Teacher Licensing Rules Hang In The Balance, Causing Controversy

Ritz is one of the board members who voted against the REPA III changes at a board meeting earlier this month.

Ritz is one of the board members who voted against the REPA III changes at a board meeting earlier this month.

Earlier this month, the State Board of Education approved the final pieces of a new set of teacher certification requirements.

In addition to requiring increased levels of education for principals and superintendents, the board approved the requirements around a new teacher certification called a career specialist (previously known as the adjunct permit).

The requirements to get a career specialist license are:

  • Bachelor’s degree in a related field
  • 6,000 hours of professional experience in a related field
  • 3.0 GPA
  • Pass a content test
  • Begin a teacher training program within first month of starting a teaching job

Continue Reading

Referenda Allow Indiana’s Public Schools To Rely On Home Community

When lawmakers implemented property tax caps back in 2008, it cut down the amount of tax money that could be distributed to school districts and fundamentally changed the way public schools in Indiana are financed.

One of the referenda passed for Elkhart Community Schools will fund transportation costs to put more school buses on the road.

One of the referenda passed for Elkhart Community Schools will fund transportation costs to put more school buses on the road.

Shortfalls in revenue for some school corporations have led to an increase in the pursuit for funding through referenda. Just last week, voters in nine separate districts saw referenda on their primary election ballots – and all but one said “yes” to the proposed changes.

Nine out of 10 referenda passing in one election cycle is a better rate than the state has been seeing in recent years. Since November of 2008, Indiana has tried 102 school-related referenda and about half have passed.

Continue Reading

Indiana Schools Say Timeline To Implement Newly Adopted Standards Is Too Tight

Eastern Howard Schools and others across the state have spent time and money rolling out the Common Core. Now they'll have to switch to similar — but state-specific — academic standards.

Eastern Howard Schools and others across the state have spent time and money rolling out the Common Core. Now they'll have to switch to similar — but state-specific — academic standards.

Teachers are facing a quick turnaround as they work to align their classes to the new academic standards the State Board approved Monday.

Though the standards aren’t dramatically different from the Common Core, educators say implementing them in just four months will be a challenge.

“Well, we’re fortunate we have 30 minutes of professional development every day before school starts,” says Eastern Howard Superintendent Tracy Caddell. “So we’ll be able to adapt, but there will be quite a few schools out there who don’t have the luxury of daily professional development, so I think it’s gonna be a struggle to implement them for the next school year.” Continue Reading

Can Community Involvement Help Turn Around A Struggling School?

Elizabeth Huffman reads with her tutor at Fairview Elementary. The Bloomington school has brought in Indiana University students to tutor struggling readers.

Elizabeth Huffman reads with her tutor at Fairview Elementary in Bloomington.

The Monroe County Community School Corporation hopes it has found a new solution to low standardized test scores at Fairview Elementary in Bloomington.

The school is partnering with an Indiana University student group in hopes strong community ties can help struggling readers improve.

Fifth grader Elizabeth Huffman likes to read, but her mom Autumn Huffman says she could use some help with reading comprehension.

“I hope that she not necessarily has a newfound love of reading but is able to delve into it a little bit more as I saw her do today,” says Huffman. Continue Reading

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