The Department of Education will release 2016 ISTEP data in the coming weeks, according to district officials. (David Hartman /Flickr)
The Department of Education will release 2016 ISTEP data in the coming weeks before calculating A-F grades for schools, according to district officials.
Schools and parents received individual student ISTEP scores back in August, but they were embargoed. Now, the Department of Education is putting together the scores to show data at the school, district and state level.
State superintendent Glenda Ritz says statewide data will be made public in the next month.
Until recently, ISTEP grades would be released in the summer. Ritz says new changes to the test and who scores it is the reason for the current delay.
“So all the processes are still the same, but they get expanded because of quality checks that are put in place because of new test, and new vendors,” Ritz says.
Preliminary A-F grades for schools will be released at the end of October.
This year’s school rankings will not consider achievement gaps for economically disadvantaged students, students of color, students with disabilities or students with limited English.
The Indiana State Board of Education voted Wednesday to suspend part of Indiana law that requires schools to show progress in closing these gaps to receive an “A” ranking in the state’s A-F system. It’s the only reference to achievement gaps in the law, which governs how the state assesses schools and districts.
This year, Indiana doesn’t need to provide progress in closing achievement gaps — differences in student learning between certain groups and their peers — to the federal government. So, the state won’t ask local schools to provide any of this information for 2015-16 school rankings. Continue Reading →
Purdue University President Mitch Daniels discusses the Purdue Polytechnic High School at its future home in the PR Mallory Building, 3029 E. Washington St., on the east side of Indianapolis as Indianapolis Public Schools Superintendent Lewis Ferebee listens on Monday, Oct. 3, 2016. The charter school will be part of the IPS district under a contract that makes IPS accountable for student’s state funding and their academic outcomes. (Eric Weddle/WFYI)
Purdue University is launching a STEM-focused charter high school in Indianapolis with the goal of getting more inner-city graduates ready for college or head directly into a career, said President Mitch Daniels.
The 9-12 school is scheduled to open next year on the city’s Eastside and will offer project-based learning in the STEM-fields: science, technology, engineering and math. Graduates who meet Purdue’s admission requirements will be a top choice for enrollment.
Applications are now being accepted. The freshman class will be 150 students for 2017-18 with a new class added each year. Enrollment eventually will reach 600.
Daniels said too few Indianapolis graduates college bound. This year only 26 Indianapolis Public Schools students were admitted to Purdue — and of those only 12 made it to campus.
“We can not be the university we aspire to be or determine to be if we don’t do better than that in the single largest concentration of low-income and first generation students in our state,” Daniels said Monday during an event to unviel the schools future home.
IPS Superintendent Lewis Ferebee said the district shoulders some responsibility for not preparing more students to be admitted to the Big 10 school. Continue Reading →
District officials say wide boundary zones for Indianapolis’ popular and high performing magnet schools have barred minority students from attending. They hope changes can boost enrollment of minority students who often get stuck on waitlists. (Indiana Public Schools)
The boundary zones for some of Indianapolis’ most popular and high
performing magnet schools will be narrowed starting next year in an
attempt by Indianapolis Public Schools leaders to offer poor and
minority students a better chance to be picked in an enrollment
The district has been under fire by some in the community and a board
commissioner who have charged the current system gives an edge to
white, higher-income families because the current priority zones for
enrollment cover large areas of the neighborhoods where these families
Critics also say that an insufficient number of in-demand magnet
programs for elementary age students has caused families who live
outside the priority zones to be stuck on enrollment waitlists.
IPS magnet schools use weighted lotteries for enrollment. That means
students who have a sibling in a school or live within a boundary zone
near a school are given a higher chance of being picked in the lottery
than a student from somewhere else in the city.
District officials believe, in part, the boundary zones has caused
disparities like at Center for Inquiry at School 84 where just 5
percent of students are black and 83 percent are white. Other magnet
schools have lower levels of race disparity, including different CFI
schools, when comparing a school’s enrollment to the district’s entire
student body where whites make up just 20 percent. Continue Reading →
A preschool student in Columbus works in her classroom. (Photo Credit: Rachel Morello/StateImpact Indiana)
At a legislative study committee Wednesday, a group of preschool advocates asked members to propose an increase in state funded, high quality pre-K opportunities for low-income families. The group of advocates includes members from large Indiana businesses, including Eli Lilly, PNC Bank and the United Way.
Indiana is one of eight states without a publicly funded pre-K program. It is currently piloting a program, On My Way Pre-K, which gives scholarships to a few hundred students in five counties.
More pre-K opportunities for low-income families have been funded by Indiana-based corporations, which have donated millions of dollars over the last few years.
As we reported Wednesday, legislators are not embracing the requests for an additional state investment. And some lawmakers say the price is high, and they aren’t confident the expansion is sustainable.
But those advocating for pre-K scholarships for low-income children say, if you get a four-year-old into a good preschool program, the state won’t have to spend as much money on other educational needs down the road.
“The elected officials have to sometimes step outside the normal boundaries of the normal government financial decision making and say what are were going to spend money on, make a decision on, what are we going to invest in,” says Michael O’Connor, Director of State Government Affairs for Eli Lilly.
To underline this point for legislators, the group commissioned an economic impact report that outlines the longterm savings of preschool.
A group of researchers from Indiana University compiled the report, and here are some of the findings:
For every dollar spent on pre-K, the state will receive up to four dollars in return.
If the state funded pre-K for low-income children, it would see an estimated 12 percent reduction in kids needing special education services.
If there was state funded pre-K for low-income children, the state would see an estimated 18 percent reduction in students who repeat grades and need remediation services.
The reduction in special education, remediation and grade repetition would save the state between $19 and $48 million dollars.
Research also shows that students who attend high quality pre-K are less likely to be involved in crime later in life. In Indiana, this could be a state savings of $63 to $162 million dollars.
A group of business and philanthropy leaders want the legislature to expand scholarships for low-income children to attend high quality pre-k. (photo credit: Rachel Morello/Indiana Public Broadcasting).
A pre-K advocacy group made up of Indiana businesses and philanthropic organizations asked a group of legislators on Wednesday to give more funding to pre-K scholarships for low-income families, and legislators pushed back.
The advocacy group, which includes representatives from United Way, Eli Lilly and PNC Bank, among others, testified before the interim study committee on fiscal policy. This is the committee that will have influence over what is included in the state budget when the General Assembly convenes in January.
Those who testified mentioned how Indiana businesses and philanthropic groups have invested millions of dollars into pre-K scholarships in Marion County, and want the legislature to step up and help fund this effort long term.
“We need a great education system to develop the workforce we need,” Connie Bond Stuart, PNC Regional President, told the committee.
Currently, Indiana is piloting a pre-K program, On My Way Pre-K, which serves a few hundred low-income kids in five counties. The speakers advocating for expansion asked the study committee on fiscal policy to consider expanding these scholarships to more places in the state.
Bond Stuart says local businesses like PNC Bank and other companies want to continue funding this effort, but feel they need more support from the state to make it sustainable.
Tim Brown, R- Crawfordsville and chair of the House Ways and Means committee, said that if philanthropic groups feel so strongly about the cause, they shouldn’t expect tax payers to foot most of the bill.
“That just rubs me the wrong way,” Brown says.
One reason Bond Stuart and others who testified say this is a worthwhile use of taxpayer money, is that the state would receive a return on this investment.
An economic impact report the group commissioned shows if Indiana helped fund more four-year-olds to attend high quality pre-K, they’d save many in other areas. For example, the report says special education needs would drop 12 percent and remediation and grade repetition would drop 18 percent. This would allow for that money to be reallocated to scholarships.
But Brown and other Republicans on the committee pushed the various speakers on the sustainability of such a program.
“It’s pretty easy to say to us ‘you need to do this,’” says Doug Eckerty, R-Yorktown. “The hard part is to sustain. That’s a message we’re going to have to deliver this year.”
Michael O’Connor of Eli Lilly says his group didn’t put a specific price tag on the program because they want it to slowly grow and expand throughout the state. And legislators pushing back on his proposal is because they are used to viewing financial requests as single line items, rather than long term goals.
“The elected officials have to sometimes step outside the normal boundaries of the normal government financial decision making and say what are were going to spend money on make a decision on what are we going to invest in,” O’Connor says.
Both gubernatorial candidates John Gregg and Eric Holcomb are advocating for expanded pre-K, and the General Assembly will have the chance to address it when the session begins in January.
Democrat John Gregg, left, responds to a question during a debate for Indiana Governor, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016, in Indianapolis. Libertarian Rex Bell and Republican Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb also participated in the debate. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, Pool)
The Monday’s town hall-style gubernatorial debate focused on education, and took place at Indianapolis’ Lawrence North High School, in front of an audience of students, teachers and administrators.
It featured questions from Indianapolis high school students and moderator Laura Merrifield Albright, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Indianapolis.
Republican candidate Eric Holcomb, Democratic candidate John Gregg and Libertarian candidate Rex Bell faced questions on standardized testing, Indiana’s teacher shortage, youth job availability and higher education. They laid out similar policy positions on almost all issues.
On almost all issues, Holcomb and Gregg walked similar lines: both called the ISTEP+ standardized test a broken test (the test is currently being replaced), both refrained from committing to in-state tuition at public universities for students living in the country illegally, and both were quick to say they honor the performing arts.
Bell stood out from the group by continually advocating for local control over issues — even suggesting that school districts would be better off if each had their own test. Parents, he says, not the state, should hold schools accountable for doing a good job.
The most substantive differences between candidates emerged when they spoke about education in the context of the larger economy.
Holcomb says education is improving in Indiana. He credits the economic recovery ushered in under the former Gov. Mitch Daniel’s administration, of which he was a part.
“We ushered in Indiana’s comeback,” Holcomb says. “We turned this state around.”
But Gregg challenged Holcomb’s economic claims, pushing the Republican candidate on the cost of the recovery. He says the middle and working class are still struggling.
“The reality is that Hoosiers are working harder and harder, and taking home less and less,” Gregg says, comparing Indiana’s economy to a broken house.
“When I have a leaky roof, I fix it,” Gregg says.
The candidates also clashed briefly over Indiana’s teacher shortage. Gregg says the state bears the blame for the shortage.
“It’s teaching to the test, it’s the flat salaries, it’s the total lack of respect — I mean blaming teachers, basically, for society today,” Gregg says. “I do think once we give them a seat at the table and a modicum of respect, that will help with retention.”
Holcomb acknowledged the shortage, but called it a national problem, not a local one.
“It is not just Indiana-centric, this is a national issue,” Holcomb says. “There are 60,000 positions that look to be unfilled across the entire country. So it’s not just an Indiana issue.”
Bell blamed state testing for driving teachers from the profession. He says local control and local tests would remedy the shortage.
Gregg and Holcomb have laid out separate education plans that call for differing expansions of state-funded preschool and have different views of school choice, like vouchers and charter schools. No questions were asked specifically on those topics, but both candidates weighed in.
Holcomb wants to expand the state’s existing preschool pilot program. It offers state-funded preschool to families within certain income limits. He also says he will continue to advocate for a school funding formula where state money follows students and many families are allowed to choose between public, charter and private schools.
Gregg supports state-funded preschool options for all families in the state, regardless of income. He says the state has funds that could be used to roll that out over the course of three years.
The Indiana GOP’s gubernatorial ticket — Eric Holcomb and running mate State Auditor Suzanne Crouch at an Indianapolis news conference on Aug. 1, 2016. – Brandon J. Smith / Indiana Public Broadcasting” credit=”
Republican gubernatorial candidate Eric Holcomb unveiled his education plan this morning during an annual meeting of Indiana school boards and local superintendents.
Hundreds of educators listened quietly to the lieutenant governor just minutes after they’d given a standing ovation to his Democratic challenger John Gregg who pledged to “end the war” on public eduction.
Gregg has made education and his relationship with Superintendent Glenda Ritz a centerpiece of his campaign.
But so far, education has been a low-profile issue for Republicans ahead of the November election. Just last week the GOP candidate for state schools chief released a detailed plan.
Holcomb proposed boosting funda for special education and English language learners during a short speech at the Indianapolis Convention Center. Deciding how to pay for any new programs would be hashed out in the upcoming legislative session when the next two-year budget is set, he said later.
Holcomb also pledged to find solutions to some of the issues that plunged the state’s education oversight into political fights and caused unease and anger from classroom teachers.
“Anyone can come up with a plan, but the difference is how you execute it,” he said during the Indiana School Board Association/Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents 67th annual conference. “So please know this plan is much more than words on a paper but a to do list.”
He described his approach as layered — from building on Pre-k to collaborations with state colleges and businesses to boost high school STEM learning and retrain out of work adults for new jobs.
Holcomb become lieutenant governor in March after Sue Ellspermann stepped down to be the president of Ivy Tech Community College. He was a top aide to former Gov. Mitch Daniels.
The Indiana State Board of Education will have a new member soon. (Alexander McCall/WFIU News)
When Maryanne McMahon began teaching in 1985, she loved it. When someone recommended she consider administrative roles, she balked.
“I looked them square in the face and said ‘I am never leaving the classroom,’” McMahon recalls. “But never say never, I guess.”
Now, she is the newest member of the Indiana State Board of Education. Gov. Mike Pence appointed McMahon to the position last week. She brings nine years experience as a classroom teacher and over 20 years experience in administrative roles in MSD Decatur Township and Avon Community School Corporation.
Maryanne McMahon. (courtesy)
Her biggest priority on the board, she says, is making sure the board follows the rules.
“Just staying focused on what the law requires the board to do, is of importance,” McMahon says.
Beyond that McMahon is less specific about what vision or priorities she will bring to the board.
“I have a steep learning curve ahead of me,” McMahon says. “My mode of operating is to get informed.”
The state board will be in charge of implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the nation’s new federal education law. The law transfers much power in creating, implementing and enforcing education policy from the federal government to state government. In Indiana’s case, that’s the State Board of Education.
“I need to get perspective on where the board is with that right now,” says McMahon, referring to ESSA.
Indiana policymakers and educators are currently developing a new standardized test to replace Indiana’s ISTEP+ exam. ESSA gives state education agencies more power to change the nature of their standardized test.
“I do believe that the assessment and testing piece — I see the ramifications of the decisions on our students locally,” McMahon says. “I just want to make sure that it’s a fair process for all and it’s giving us the information that we need to know.”
Most of McMahon’s professional career has taken place in Avon Community School Corporation. For 17 years McMahon has served in various administrative roles, currently as an assistant superintendent.
“Throughout her career as an educator, Maryanne McMahon has distinguished herself as an innovative leader who works hard advancing the best interests of students, families and teachers,” said Gov. Mike Pence, in a statement.
Pence credits her work as superintendent, where she secured math and science partnership grants worth more than $500,000 and led an efficiency task force that saved the district $350,000, as assets to the board.
McMahon says there are other subjects the board oversees that she’s looking forward to learning about.
The state board of education annually approves school letter grades, the state’s method of ranking schools. The system has come under controversy in recent years. Tests that inform those letter grades were deemed inaccurate, prompting the state to allow schools and school districts to retain former rankings, if their rating fell.
“I know that there are schools that are in different places with levels of accountability,” McMahon says. “I know that the ramifications of what the board decides and how they move forward has impact way beyond my current experience. So I want to understand that more deeply.”
McMahon replaces former state board of education member Sarah O’Brien. O’Brien, a first grade teacher, also works for Avon Community School Corporation.
McMahon will begin serving on the board at October’s State Board of Education meeting.
A seventh grader works on a laptop owned by her school in the classroom. (photo credit: Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana)
What do engineering and fitness have to do with each other? Sometimes, a lot. And a middle school program that brings those two topics together, created by researchers at Purdue University, just got a boost.
Alka Harriger, a researcher at Purdue University, received $2.5 million from the National Science Foundation to introduce a simple concept in schools: get young people, especially young women, to see possibilities in computing and engineering jobs.
She also wants them thinking about exercise. So she’s trying a fun approach.
“Building fitness games that are supported with technology,” Harriger says.
That means teaching middle schoolers how to build and wire sensors for games that see how far someone jumps. Or how fast someone runs. It teaches them the science and skills behind technology, but also gives the middle school students a fun reason to get active.
“[It's] computing and automation done within the context of fitness,” Harringer says.
In select Indiana schools, middle school students could see these concepts seep into elective classes, existing curricula and after school programs.
Using funds from the NSF grant, Harriger and fellow researchers hope to expand and build off an existing afterschool program. Students in that program learn engineering skills, create games and participate in fitness activities.
Harriger says the concepts students learn can actually introduce them to a new style of thought: computational thinking.
“The whole idea with computational thinking is to really get people to focus on how they go about solving problems,” Harriger says.
And, according to leading school technology and computer science organizations, computational thinking gets kids’ brains working in unique ways, including:
Formulating problems in a way that enables us to use a computer and other tools to help solve them.
Logically organizing and analyzing data
Representing data through abstractions such as models and simulations
Identifying, analyzing, and implementing possible solutions with the goal of achieving the most efficient and effective combination of steps and resources
Generalizing and transferring this problem solving process to a wide variety of problems
Over the next school year, Harriger and fellow researcher Brad Harriger, will train middle school teachers to teach classes that focus on these skills. It will introduce computer science to students early so they don’t rule it out as a career choice, Harriger says.
“We wanted to get to as young of an age group as we could,” Harriger says. “The reason that it’s not younger than middle school is that we actually have kids working with power, electricty, wiring and so on.”
A total of 165 teachers and around 2,800 students in grades six through eight will be involved. Two schools have already agreed to partner on the effort: Lafayette Sunnyside Intermediate School and Winamac Middle School in Winamac. The researchers are currently searching for middle schools to be involved.
Classes and curricula based on the concepts are expected to reach middle school students during the 2017-18 school year. The afterschool program will continue this year.
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