Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

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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

jpellgen (flickr)

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

biologycorner / Flickr

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.

Rachel Morello / StateImpact Indiana

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.

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

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.

Jashin Lin / WTIU News

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.

Gretchen Frazee / WTIU News

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

Indiana Repeals Common Core, But Debate On Academic Standards Continues

Students in Fatonia Shank's fourth grade class at Indianapolis' Liberty Park Elementary solve a multi-step math problem.

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

Students in Fatonia Shank's fourth grade class at Indianapolis' Liberty Park Elementary solve a multi-step math problem.

The clock is ticking for Indiana education officials to approve new academic standards.

As we wrote earlier this week, Gov. Mike Pence  signed legislation that withdraws Indiana from the Common Core and requires state education officials write their own expectations for what students should know and learn at each grade level.

“I’ve pledged consistently that we’re going to write standards in Indiana that are written by Hoosiers, for Hoosiers, and are uncommonly high,” says Pence. “And we are deep into a completely transparent process and public process to do that.”

But that process is ongoing — schools won’t get new standards until later this spring.

“Children that are a finishing this year will finish under the existing Indiana standards, so teachers and students as well as, obviously, their families should not anticipate any changes moving towards the end of this calendar year,” says Lou Ann Baker, spokesman for Pence’s Center for Education and Career Innovation.

So for now, not much changes in Indiana classrooms. But as the first state to leave the Common Core, all eyes are now on Indiana. Continue Reading

Q&A: Why Indiana Lawmakers Aren’t Ready To Fund Preschool

Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, sits on the Indiana Senate Education Committee and chairs the Appropriations Committee.

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, sits on the Indiana Senate Education Committee and chairs the Appropriations Committee.

“This,” says Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, referring to a proposed preschool program, “is almost a potential budget buster.”

Gov. Mike Pence asked state lawmakers this year to approve a small-scale preschool pilot program for low-income 4-year-olds. But Kenley, who chairs the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, says he’s not ready to commit to state-funded pre-K.

That’s why the Senate Education Committee said the governor’s preferred proposal was too expensive and elected instead to study the issue this summer.

Though there’s a chance lawmakers could still approve some funding for a pilot program, budget hawks remain skeptical of the plan. Continue Reading

For Indiana’s Smallest Districts, Decision To Consolidate Is More Than Financial

Cannelton City Schools Supt. Al Sibbitt drives down the town's main drag.

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

Cannelton City Schools superintendent Al Sibbitt drives down the town's main drag, pointing out shuttered stores and businesses.

Over the past decade, academics and political leaders have delivered a consistent message to Indiana’s smallest school districts: If possible, consolidate with a nearby district.

Recent Ball State research says half of the state’s school districts could reduce costs through a merger. Yet only a handful of schools have actually done it — in part because pressing financial need sometimes isn’t enough to drive consolidation.

Halfway between Louisville and Evansville on the Ohio River are two small cities: Tiny Tell City, Ind., and the even tinier Cannelton. Cannelton’s only three miles upstream from Tell City — but it can seem like it’s worlds apart.

“Here’s some old buildings, just sitting here, empty,” says Cannelton City Schools superintendent Al Sibbitt as he drives down Washington Street. Continue Reading

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