This spring, Indiana students will take a new version of the ISTEP.
There’s an old phrase, nothing’s sure in life except for death and taxes. We could probably make an argument for standardized tests as well (even Harry Potter took an annual exam in his mythical, made up school year).
These tests carry important consequences for teachers, schools and students, and in Indiana this year, students will take a new version of the state’s standardized test, the ISTEP+.
Simply put, the test will be harder. The content of the questions is the same, but the format will look different. For one, there won’t be as many multiple choice questions. Another change is that students will have to explain how they got to their answer.
Why are we changing the test?
When Indiana passed its own academic standards this spring, Michele Walker, Director of Assessment for the Indiana Department of Education, and her team were charged with creating a test to match the new standards.
An assessment matching the new standards was also a requirement to receive a No Child Left Behind waiver extension.
Walker says another change the IDOE wanted to make to the test, is adding a more focused writing prompt. Rather than asking students to write about something inconsequential like whether the cafeteria should add cake to the menu, students will be asked to read a passage and write a paragraph or essay on a related prompt, using the passage for evidence. Continue Reading →
CTB/McGraw-Hill president Ellen Haley confers before a meeting of the Indiana Commission on Education on Friday.
From left, CTB/McGraw-Hill president Ellen Haley, chief digital officer Stephen Laster and vice president Richard Patz stand before an Indiana Commission on Education hearing on June 21.
Indiana House Education Committee Chair Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis, leads the meeting of the Commission on Education as Senate Education Committee Chair Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn — the commission’s co-chair — sits in the background.
CTB/McGraw-Hill president Ellen Haley addresses the Indiana Commission on Education. The testing company executive answered lawmakers’ questions about what went wrong with the exam and apologized for the disruptions.
Apologetic executives from the testing company whose servers overloaded twice — interrupting April’s online ISTEP+ exams twice — told the combined membership of the Indiana House and Senate Education Committees that they took responsibility for the errors.
“I have family here in Indiana,” said Ellen Haley, president of CTB/McGraw-Hill. “It was very disappointing to have this happen and have this impact schoolchildren in Indiana. Please accept my sincere apologies and regret that anything at all happened.”
The eight students in Ben Davis High School’s AP Statistics class didn’t have time for senioritis. On Tuesday, their last day of high school ever, the eight college-bound seniors dressed up for a final presentation.
For the next step of their assignment — making formal recommendations for how to re-write the A-F model — Butts invited three state lawmakers, including House Education Committee Chair Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis, and a representative for state superintendent Glenda Ritz to the Indianapolis high school to hear their proposals.
Facilities Manager Darren Hess and Snider High School Principal Deborah Watson explain Fort Wayne Community Schools' plan to renovate 36 buildings.
As a rule of thumb, for every ten cents a school corporation asks for when proposing a tax levy increase, it knocks a percentage point off the number of voters supporting the referendum.
“In a close election, that could make the difference,” says Purdue agricultural economist Larry DeBoer. “Though most of these elections haven’t been that close.”
Before 2008, Indiana school corporations could levy up to $2 million without asking for taxpayer approval. But changes to how schools are funded have sent an increasing number of districts to the ballot box in the last five years. Only 16 of the 40 districts that have pursued major construction projects have succeeded.
That has DeBoer and others who study school finance curious about the future of facilities maintenance in Indiana schools.
“Will it be the case that some school corporations find that they can pass the referendum and therefore they can keep their facilities up to date and have new buildings and better facilities,” he says, “while other school corporations perhaps cannot?” Continue Reading →
Matthew Brooks points down the hallway of an old school building in Indianapolis in which he and other Project Libertas leaders are considering renting space next year. Project Libertas, a private, non-accredited school formed by charter school the Indianapolis Mayor's Office shut down last summer, is currently renting space in a church-owned gymnasium just northeast of downtown.
And about 20 defiant families have done just that.
The school they’ve opened, called “Project Libertas,” has very little money. But with about 35 students in Grades K-8 and a small staff of former Project School hands, the parents are now seeking a more permanent home.
“I don’t know there’s even a word to describe us,” says parent Matthew Brooks, sitting in a small room in the school’s current location — a church-run gymnasium on Indianapolis’ east side. “We’d need a few hyphenations. We’re an independent, hyphen… communal, hyphen… startup school.” Continue Reading →
Younger students walk through the halls of Rockville Elementary School as fifth graders portray famous historical figures. The students can't talk or interact with their parents or peers while part of the Tableau Museum.
You’re in fifth grade. It’s the day before school lets out for winter break. You’re excited about the holidays, the forecasted winter storm and no homework for two weeks.
But before you can go, your teacher makes you stand in the hallway — perfectly still, perfectly silent — while your peers file past. Sound like a tall order? Welcome to the annual Rockville Elementary School Tableau Museum.
We spent a lot of time covering policy here at StateImpact. I was in Rockville Thursday looking at the state’s A-F letter grade system. But when Principal Jeff Eslinger asked if I’d stay another hour “to see something special,” well, you can’t say no to that.
So for a bit of light-hearted fun, I’ll let fifth grader Kennett Taylor explain his class’ history project. Continue Reading →
That’s because dollars underwrite services for special education students — and by law, local districts must still fund those services even if those dollars fall victim to the automatic spending cuts coming at year’s-end.
The proposal, known in shorthand as REPA II, has been controversial, as we’ve written. Supporters say the provision offers more flexibility in who gets licensed while still allowing schools to decide what teachers get hired. Opponents say REPA II “de-professionalizes” teaching by de-emphasizing training prospective educators receive in colleges of education.
Students in the C4 Columbus Area Career Connection building trades program dig a foundation for a out building on Aug. 30, 2012. Students work on one large-scale construction project each year — usually a house — but this year theyâre building a new baseball complex for the Bartholomew School Corporation.
It’s just after 2 o’clock on a Thursday afternoon. The sun is high in the sky, and the construction workers digging the foundation of a storage building at Columbus North High School’s new baseball field are about to call it a day.
But once they’re done, they’ll board a yellow bus and go back to school. That’s because the workers at this construction site are high school students.
Both major party gubernatorial candidates are calling for Indiana high schools to bring back vocational training. Yet most Indiana school districts already have robust career and technical education programs — and they’re not just for students preparing for college.