Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom


Sortable Table: Who’s Funding Your Representative?

In a mid-term election with no big races, education could prove to be the most important issue to voters.

StateImpact Indiana

In a mid-term election with no big races, education could prove to be the most important issue to voters.

A few days ago, we told you education could be the biggest issue facing voters at the polls Tuesday in an otherwise lackluster mid-term. Today, we’ve gathered some evidence to prove that point.

Below is a sortable table of campaign donations to both state Senate and House candidates from education focused organizations: PACs, unions and individuals who are key stakeholders in Indiana education.

As you look through the tables, you’ll see there are significant donations from these organizations, and in the case of many candidates, education related donations funded most of the campaign.

There are two donors the fueled the most money into Republican and Democratic candidates: IPACE and HQE (how they’re represented in the table). Indiana Political Action Committee for Education, IPACE, is the political action committee affiliated with the Indiana State Teachers Association and are mostly funding Democratic candidates. On the other side, Hoosiers for Quality Education, a PAC affiliated with the Institute for Quality Education, is funding Republicans who advocate for school choice. Continue Reading

More Indiana Students Graduating High School Without Waivers

Indiana's graduation rate has ticked up 10 points in the past five years.

Chris Moncus / Wikimedia

Indiana's graduation rate has ticked up 10 points in the past five years.

UPDATED, 3:56 p.m. EST: More Indiana students are meeting the state’s exit requirements before graduating high school, according to data the Department of Education released Wednesday.

Though the state’s overall graduation rate was virtually unchanged between 2012 and 2013, the non-waiver graduation rate increased about a point — up to 81.7 percent from 80.5 percent.

(Click here to find your school’s 2013 graduation rate.)

“While the overall graduation rate is largely the same as it was in 2012, when you dig into the data it becomes clear that more of our students are graduating without a waiver and passing their end of course assessments,” says state superintendent Glenda Ritz. “This is a crucial step in ensuring that our students graduate from high school both college- and career-ready.” Continue Reading

Five Takeaways From The 2012-13 Educator Effectiveness Ratings

Ben Davis Ninth Grade Center Assistant Principal Steve Samuel observes a lesson in Wes Upton's social studies class.

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

Ben Davis Ninth Grade Center Assistant Principal Steve Samuel observes a lesson in Wes Upton's social studies class.

The vast majority of Indiana educators received “effective” or “highly effective” ratings during the first year of state-mandated teacher evaluations.

Indiana schools reported evaluating more than 55,000 teachers, counselors and administrators during the 2012-13 academic year, according to figures released Monday by the Department of Education. Of those licensed educators who were rated, more than 97 percent received the top two scores.

(You can look up the results for your school or corporation in our sortable tables.)

Indiana lawmakers voted in 2011 to overhaul how teachers are evaluated and paid. But the legislature stopped short of mandating what evaluation system each school corporation should use.

“This is not designed to compare one school corporation to another,” says Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn. “This is designed for a principal to do a vigorous evaluation of their teachers in their building.” Continue Reading

What A-F Letter Grades Can Tell Us About Voucher Schools

A 'Holy Hall Monitor' near the front entrance of Our Lady of Hungary Catholic school in South Bend.

Kyle Stokes/StateImpact Indiana

A 'Holy Hall Monitor' near the front entrance of Our Lady of Hungary Catholic school in South Bend.

The majority of Indiana students using state-funded tuition vouchers are using them at private schools that received an A or a B in Indiana’s school ratings system for 2012-13.

But D or F rated private schools had, on average, twice as many voucher-recipient students as the A schools. And the private school with the most voucher students — Ambassador Christian Academy in Lake County — received an F from the state.

2012-13 Letter Grade
Number of Schools
Number of Students
Average # of Students

Source: Indiana Department of Education

(We’ve also updated our list of voucher-recipient schools to include letter grades where a rating was available for last school year.)

Private schools with A ratings enrolled an average of 57 voucher recipients. Private schools with D or F ratings enrolled more than 100 voucher recipients on average, according to a StateImpact analysis of the data. Continue Reading

Which Indiana Schools Received State Money For Officers & Security Equipment

A school metal detector in Dallas, Texas.

Flickr / BBC World Service

A school metal detector in Dallas, Texas.

More than 240 Indiana charter schools and public school districts won state grant money Friday aimed at bolstering school security.

That’s more than two-thirds of all the charter schools and school districts in the state.

Gov. Mike Pence announced the recipients of the total of nearly $9.1 million in matching grants schools can now use to hire school resource officers, conduct “threat assessments” or purchase security equipment. State lawmakers created the grant program last session.

Search below to see if your school received a grant: Continue Reading

How Tony Bennett's Last-Minute A-F Changes Lifted 165 Indiana School Grades

Click here to view a map of 165 schools whose grades improved because of a last-minute change former state superintendent Tony Bennett's staff made to Indiana's A-F grading system.

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

Click here to view a map of 165 schools whose grades improved because of a change former state superintendent Tony Bennett's staff made to Indiana's A-F grading system.

Though it’s received the most media attention in the controversy that led to ex-Indiana schools chief Tony Bennett’s resignation, Christel House Academy was not the only school to benefit from state officials’ changes to Indiana’s fledgling school grading system in 2012.

After studying last year’s A-F rating data, a StateImpact analysis has identified 165 schools across the state — including Christel House — that saw higher final grades than they would have if Bennett’s staff hadn’t tweaked the formula roughly six weeks before releasing 2012′s results.

Take a look at this map and search this table to see if your school is one of those 165.

Bennett’s staff does not directly mention the change in emails the Associated Press published this month. From those messages, it’s not apparent state officials made the change with Christel House alone in mind.

The finding does, however, show how a relatively minor alteration to the A-F grading scale can have statewide implications. Continue Reading

Referenda Scorecard: School Districts That Have Pursued Tax Levy Increases Since 2008

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

Superintendent Jon Willman, right, and members of the Hamilton Community School Board take questions about a proposed tax levy increase during a public meeting ahead of the November 2012 election. The referendum passed with 74 percent of the vote.

Less than a quarter of Indiana school corporations have pursued a referendum in the five years since the state legislature changed the way districts can levy taxes for construction and operating expenses.

Fourteen of the 67 districts have made two or more appeals, including two school corporations that passed construction referenda Tuesday — Hamilton Southeastern and Noblesville. The seven questions that appeared on the ballot in this week’s special election bring the total number of school referenda in Indiana to 88 since 2008.

(Scroll down to find StateImpact‘s scorecard on five years of school referenda is after the jump.)

Districts asking for a tax levy increase to bolster the general fund have fared slightly better than school corporations asking voters to approve building projects, though only 45.7 percent of referenda have passed so far. Continue Reading

Vouchers: How Many Students From Your District Have Left For Private School

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

Gov. Mitch Daniels talks to students at Our Lady of Hungary in South Bend last fall. The school benefited from a boost in enrollment last year from the state's voucher program.

The number of Indiana students participating in the state’s voucher program more than doubled in the program’s second year.

Some 9,324 students are attending private schools using state-funded vouchers this year. That’s up from 3,919 in 2011-12, making Indiana’s program the fastest growing in the country. Next year there’s no limit on the number of vouchers the state can award.

Forty-eight schools who didn’t participate in the program last year are now included on the list of institutions that accept vouchers, bringing the total to 289.

(You can find out how many students from your school corporation are participating in the voucher program after the jump.) Continue Reading

Indiana's 2012 A-F School Ratings Released: Find Your School's Grade Here

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett chats with State Board of Education member Tony Walker before the panel's meeting Wednesday.

Scroll down to find what grade your school received — we included results for all traditional public, charter and private schools.

Fewer Indiana schools received the state’s highest performance rating this year compared to last year, according to letter grades Indiana Department of Education officials released Wednesday.

Forty percent of Indiana schools received an A, down from 47 percent in 2011. But one in five schools received B’s this year, up more than 10 percentage points from last year.

“This is a very positive day overall, very positive news,” Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett said during the State Board of Education meeting in Indianapolis Wednesday. Members of the executive panel approved the grades unanimously shortly thereafter.

Continue Reading

The Indiana Districts 'Racing' For A $400M Federal Prize

Gary Perkin / Gallo Images / Getty Images

Get it? He's racing to the top...

23 Indiana school corporations have formally expressed interest in applying for a share in a $400 million pot of federal money at stake in a nationwide competition for school districts called Race To The Top.

Obama administration officials will dole out the cash to districts who most impress them by “demonstrat[ing] how they can personalize education for all students in their schools.”

Fort Wayne Community Schools is the largest Indiana district to tell the U.S. Department of Education they intend to apply. (We’ve posted a full list below the jump.)

Few of the nearly 900 districts nationwide who said they’ll apply will actually receive a share of the $400 million — the feds are only giving awards to between 15 and 25 districts.  Continue Reading

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