Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Data

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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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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ISTEP Scores Stabilize But Nearly Half Of Students Still Fail

scantron test

David Hartman (Flickr)

Results from the 2017 ISTEP exam remain nearly unchanged compared to last year after an overhaul of the standardized test caused pass rates to plummet two years ago.

Only about half of Hoosier students in grades three through eight passed both parts of the required math and English assessment. The state Department of Education released results today.

For the Spring 2017 test, 51.5 percent of students passed both parts. That’s a fraction of a percent less from the previous year.

State Superintendent Jennifer McCormick described the results as flatlined.

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With Over 200 Ways To Measure Teachers, Indiana’s Evaluation System Can Get Messy

When it comes to measuring and rating teachers, Indiana school districts vary widely in their practices. Yet, for the past three years almost all Indiana educators have been rated effective. (Alex McCall/WFIU News)

When it comes to measuring and rating teachers, Indiana school districts vary widely in their practices. Yet, for the past three years almost all Indiana educators have been rated effective. (Alex McCall/WFIU News)

What makes a good teacher? Indiana schools have over 200 different answers.

Indiana school districts, in fact, use 242 separate methods to evaluate their teachers, according to a StateImpact Indiana analysis of state data. It’s a messy process that’s led to concerns about erratic practices, inconsistent implementations and incomparable results.

“Teacher evaluation is the very core of improving student outcomes,” says Sandi Cole, co-director of Indiana Teacher Appraisal and Support System (INTASS), a research group studying Indiana’s teacher evaluation systems. “When it’s done well, that’s how teachers improve, how instruction improves and, ultimately, how students improve.”

Data show that almost all Indiana teachers consistently score highly on evaluations year after year after year. But INTASS directors have concerns.

Many districts can demonstrate effective structures. But, on a statewide basis, districts have wide-ranging interpretations of law, varied evaluation models and a monitoring system that experts say gives districts little incentive to improve evaluation. Continue Reading

Numbers Show Experience Gaps Across Demographics

As part of our reporting on education equality, we used the the US Department of Education’s Civil Rights Data and state data to chart some education experience for four demographic groups: black students, students with disabilities, Latino students and white students.

For example, while black students make up about one in eight students enrolled, they disproportionately account for more than one in three suspensions and one in four school-related arrests or referrals to officers.

Explore some of these experiences:

The US Department of Education’s Civil Rights Data counts student experiences and opportunities by demographic because schools are required to provide equal opportunities to students regardless of race, color, religion, sex or ability.

 

 

 

 

Eight Of Ten School Referenda Pass On Indiana Primary Ballot

Taxpayers in eight Indiana school districts have voted to pay higher taxes to help pay salaries and classroom expenses in local schools.

On Tuesday’s primary ballot, 10 school districts appealed to voters to help fund public education in their districts. All but two passed.

Schools in Fort Wayne, New Prairie, Brown County, Hamilton Southeastern, Southwest Allen County, Noblesville, Speedway and Southern Wells had successful ballot referenda. Voters in Argos and Wabash voted not to raise taxes for extra funds to support their school districts.

(Check out the full list of referenda that passed and didn’t, and the trends since 2008)

Referenda have become increasingly more common as a method to fund public schools since 2008, when lawmakers implemented property tax caps. Since then, the portion of tax money that could be distributed to school corporations has shrunk.

Purdue professor of Agricultural Economics Larry DeBoer said he loves studying public policy, so he loves seeing what happens when schools ask voters to raise their own taxes to fund schools.

“Eight out of ten won,” said DeBoer. “And that’s above the percentage that we’ve seen even for May elections.”

School districts can present ballot referenda on May or November ballots. He says this year’s high scuccess rate, even with a contested presidential primary, will make future May school referenda more likely.

Since November 2008, 65 percent of school referenda on the ballot have passed. This year 80 percent did.

But it wasn’t good news for all.

As we’ve reported, Argos County Schools has lost over $1 million in funding since 2008. School officials hoped to raise $750,000 with their ballot item — but 59 percent of voters said no.

Argos County superintendent Michele Riise says student learning will be affected since the referendum did not pass.

“We’ll be looking hard at the budget. Inevitably we’re going to have to make some cuts,” said Riise. “It’s going to be hurting our programs and students now. We were hoping we would not have to get that far.”

Riise says that funding problems in the district stretch beyond Tuesday’s ballot. Instead she points toward a school funding formula that she says hurts districts across Indiana.

“We have seen it firsthand that the funding formula is not equitable, it is not in favor of public schools let alone, rural schools such as Argos,” said Riise.

DeBoer, the referenda enthusiast, says one thing is clear about the referenda: it pays to go before.

“Two of the three that had never tried a referendum before lost,” said DeBoer. “Everybody else had gone at least once before.”

There’s been an uptick in schools turning to ballots for funding since the late 2000s, when property tax caps and a new school funding formula when into effect.

Since referenda last for seven years, we can expect to see more referenda renewals on the ballot in coming years.

Legislative Tracker: Education in the 2016 Session

Following up on last year’s “education session,” 2016 looks to be another busy term for lawmakers in Indiana’s General Assembly.

Legislative meetings aside, there’s a lot going on in education right now – some proposed bills even overlap one another. So, to keep things neat and organized we’re compiling an up-to-date, easy-to-read list of the school-related bills we’re following at StateImpact. 

Check out where those measures are in the process – followed by links to the bills themselves and some of our continuing coverage:

Show rows.
Bill
Author
Description
Status
Next Step
SB 4Sen. Mark StoopsAllows state to assign schools the greater of its 2013-14 or 2014-15 A-F grade for the 2014-15 school year. Mandates ISTEP+ results be used in teacher evaluations for the 2015-16 school year.First readingCommittee on Education & Career Development hearing
SB 9Sen. Jeff RaatzRemoves requirement that charter schools report certain data to the IDOE. First readingCommittee on Education & Career Development hearing
SB 10Sen. Jeff RaatzTweaks factors used to determine increases or increments in teacher salary ranges.First readingCommittee on Education & Career Development hearing
SB 34Sen. Timothy LananeAllows school districts control over its property tax reductions & credits. First readingCommittee on Appropriations hearing
SB 73Sen. Jean LeisingRequires school districts to include reading & cursive writing in its curriculum. First readingCommittee on Education & Career Development hearing
SB 93Sen. Dennis KruseVarious education matters, including requiring ISTEP+ results are delivered in a timely manner and amending disability categories.First readingCommittee on Education & Career Development hearing
SB 147Sen. Phillip BootsRequires establishment of minimum standards and approval of best practices for a school emergency response system First readingCommittee on Homeland Security & Transporation hearing
SB 175Sen. Jean LeisingRequires state to establish appropriate academic standards and curricula concerning health education.First readingCommittee on Education & Career Development hearing
SB 200Sen. Dennis KruseRequires state to assign 2013-14 A-F grade for 2014-2015 school year, if 2014-15 grade is lower. First readingCommittee on Education & Career Development hearing

Source: Indiana General Assembly

 

Keep up with our tracker throughout the legislative session here

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Uncharacteristic For November, Most Referenda Pass

Four of seven school-related ballot measures passed during Tuesday’s municipal elections, a much larger proportion than Indiana normally sees in November polls.

Trends persisted as Hoosiers in only seven districts saw referenda on their local tickets.

But voters bucked the norm by approving more than half of those measures. Typically, researchers say, referenda have a better chance of passing in May, since pro-referenda voters aren’t the majority of those who turn out for fall ballots boasting big races such as mayoral contests or city council races.

Show rows.
School Corporation
Date
Type
Tax rate
Total amount
Outcome
Percent yes
Percent no
Greater Clark County Schools11/3/2015Construction$0.39$109,200,000Fail24.93%75.07%
East Noble School Corporation11/3/2015Construction$0.34$38,800,000Pass63.24%36.76%
Whitley County Consolidated Schools11/3/2015Construction$0.59$85,000,000Pass61.78%38.22%
Fremont Community Schools11/3/2015General Fund$0.19Pass55.57%44.43%
Lake Station Community Schools11/3/2015General Fund$0.61Fail27.90%72.10%
North Judson-San Pierre School Corporation11/3/2015General Fund$0.47Fail31.49%68.51%
Zionsville Community Schools11/3/2015General Fund$0.24Pass67.28%32.72%

Source: Indiana Department of Local Government Finance

Indiana lawmakers implemented property tax reform in 2008, which resulted in a smaller portion of tax revenue distribution to school corporations. That’s why local school corporations tend to turn more to voters now to help foot the bill for construction and other projects.

Including Tuesday night’s results, just over half of the 128 school-related measures brought forth in Indiana since 2008 have passed. Check out our referenda scorecard to see how voters weighed in on those measures.

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Trend Continues As 12 Of 17 School Referenda Pass

Trends in school-related voting held remained the same this election cycle, which saw education referenda that in some cases were the only items on local ballots.

Thirteen Indiana school districts appealed to voters for their support in 17 separate referenda this spring. In total, twelve measures passed and five failed. See the breakdown below:

Show rows.
School Corporation
Type
Tax rate
Outcome
Percent yes
Percent no
Brownsburg Community SchoolsGeneral Fund$0.05Fail48%52%
Brownsburg Community SchoolsConstruction$0.41Fail47%53%
Community Schools of FrankfortConstruction$0.42Pass64.90%35.10%
Gary Community SchoolsGeneral Fund$0.41Fail35.23%64.77%
Hanover Community School Corp.General Fund$0.29Pass51.71%48.29%
MSD of Wayne TownshipGeneral Fund$0.35Pass64.18%35.82%
New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated School Corp.Construction$0.20Fail44.69%55.31%
Perry Township SchoolsGeneral Fund$0.42Pass54.99%45.01%
Perry Township SchoolsConstruction$0.13Pass53.39%46.61%
Pike County School Corp.General Fund$0.29Fail31.89%68.11%
Rising Sun-Ohio County Comm. School Corp.General Fund$0.25Pass72.10%27.90%
River Forest Community School Corp.General Fund$0.42Pass65.75%34.25%
School City of Beech GroveGeneral Fund$0.35Pass75.84%24.16%
School City of Beech GroveConstruction$0.15Pass76.33%23.67%
Valparaiso Community SchoolsGeneral Fund$0.20Pass64%36%
Valparaiso Community SchoolsConstruction$0.65Pass63%37%
Warsaw Community SchoolsConstruction$0.14Pass62.31%37.69%

Source: Indiana Department of Local Government Finance

You can also check out our entire referenda scorecard, with district results dating back to 2008.

StateImpact’s favorite referenda expert, Larry DeBoer, says in general his theory is that referenda have a better chance of passing in May, since those elections don’t typically boast any big races and tend to draw a lot of pro-referendum support. Here was his reaction Tuesday night:

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Simplifying Legislation In This “Education Session”

The Indiana General Assembly is in the process of hearing a number of proposals for new education legislation. (Photo Credit: Brian Turner/Flickr)

Lawmakers are in the process of hearing a number of new education proposals. (Photo Credit: Brian Turner/Flickr)

Countless lawmakers have dubbed 2015 the year of the “education session” in the General Assembly.

It’s an apt nickname – there’s a ton of school-related issues to keep track of right now. So much so that even experts get confused about which bill is which, and where it is in the process of potentially becoming law.

So, let’s break it down.

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