Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Adult Education Centers Now Giving New, Harder High School Equivalency Exam

Plainfield Prison GED classroom

Julie Rawe / WFIU News

Students in Dawn Grage's GED classroom are trying to pass the high school equivalency test before it changes on Jan. 1, 2014.

Last year Indiana’s adult education centers raced to get students through the GED curriculum before the state officially switched to a new high school equivalency test.

Indiana is now using the Test Assessing Secondary Completion, which aligns more closely with the state’s goals for preparing students for college and jobs.

Brown County Career Resource Center Career Facilitator Charity Robertson says the transition has been smooth for the teachers. It’s a different story, however, for some students.

“It’s been a struggle with the new students we had,” says Robertson. “The new test is harder. It is more thorough in investigation of what students know from the high school realm. So we have had trouble with the level of material and the things we have to teach them that is new and higher.”  Continue Reading

Nine Indiana School Districts Will Pursue Referenda In May Election

Indiana schools have to seek voter approval for large construction projects and levy increases outside the property tax cap.

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

Indiana schools have to seek voter approval for large construction projects and levy increases outside the property tax cap.

What are the odds your school corporation’s referendum will pass? It’s a coin toss — since 2008, half of the 92 districts who’ve tried to convince voters to raise their own property taxes have been successful.

Nine Indiana school districts will ask for 10 tax levy increases on the May ballot. Elkhart Community Schools is asking voters to approve two questions. And two school corporations — the Metropolitan School District of Boone Township and Mount Vernon Community Schools — are returning to the polls for the second and third time, respectively.

We’ve compiled a list of referenda after the jump. Or, check out our referenda scorecard to see how voters in other districts have weighed in on similar questions since 2008. Continue Reading

School Matters: High-Poverty Public Schools Have Higher ISTEP+ Pass Rates Than Charters

A student plays with Legos at Christel House Academy, a charter school on Indianapolis' south side.

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

A student plays with Legos at Christel House Academy, a charter school on Indianapolis' south side.

Conventional wisdom, writes blogger Steve Hinnefeld over at School Matters, says charter schools are outperforming public schools.

But his analysis of 2013 ISTEP+ pass rates at high poverty schools shows traditional public school students passing more frequently than their peers at charters:

I merged Department of Education spreadsheets with data on free and reduced-price lunch counts and ISTEP-Plus passing rates. Then I sorted by free-and-reduced-lunch rates and focused on schools where 80 percent or more students qualified for lunch assistance. Results include:

For charter schools: Average passing rate for both E/LA and math, 48 percent; passing rate for E/LA, 62.3 percent; passing rate for math, 62.5 percent.

For conventional public schools: Average passing rate for both E/LA and math, 57.2 percent; passing rate for E/LA, 64.1 percent; passing rate for math, 68.1 percent.

The data set includes only schools that enroll students in grades 3-8, who take ISTEP exams; it excludes high schools and many primary-grade schools. I also tried to screen out nonstandard schools such as juvenile detention centers and dropout recovery schools. Continue Reading

Utah Governor Says Indiana Standards Too Similar To Common Core

Rep. Rhonda Rhoads shakes Gov. Mike Pence's hand as he takes the podium for a speech in Corydon.

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

Rep. Rhonda Rhoads shakes Gov. Mike Pence's hand as he takes the podium for a speech in Corydon.

Other states watching Indiana’s Common Core exit aren’t convinced the new academic standards written “by Hoosiers, for Hoosiers” will be a significant departure from the nationally-crafted expectations they replace, writes Stephanie Wang for the Indianapolis Star:

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, a Republican, told journalists last week that new Hoosier educational standards still are almost mirroring exactly the national standards that Pence eschewed.

As Herbert talked about Utah controlling its decisions over academic standards, he was asked whether the state would legislate a split from Common Core, as Indiana did.

“I’ve talked to Gov.Pence about what they’re doing there,” Herbert said. “In essence, they’re saying they’re creating what’s called the Indiana Core. It’s not the Common Core … but their standards are almost mirroring exactly what is commonly referred to as the Common Core standards.” Continue Reading

Join Us For Noon Edition: What’s Next For Indiana After Common Core Departure

What questions do you have about Indiana's Common Core exit?

What questions do you have about Indiana's Common Core exit?

This week Indiana became the first state to officially exit the Common Core initiative, an agreement 45 states and the District of Columbia made in 2010 to share academic standards.

The move comes as no surprise to policy-watchers here: For months, Indiana education officials have been reviewing academic standards and writing expectations to replace the Common Core. But that work won’t be complete until the State Board formally adopts the state’s next standards next month.

We hope you’ll tune into WFIU today at 12:06 p.m. EST for Noon Edition, our weekly public affairs program. I’ll be on discussing the Common Core’s rise and fall in Indiana, as well as what’s next for schools. Other guests include:

  • State Senator Jim Banks
  • Amy Marsh of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce
  • Indiana Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction Danielle Shockey

You can listen live on 103.7 FM in south central Indiana, or tune into wfiu.org for the live stream.

If you can’t listen live, send us your questions: Tweet @ellemoxley or @StateImpactIN, and we’ll try to get to as many as possible on air.

State Education Officials Continue To Tweak Proposed Academic Standards

Indiana Department of Education staff worked with teachers and professors from across the state to create new expectations for Indiana schools.

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

Indiana Department of Education staff worked with teachers and professors from across the state to create new expectations for Indiana schools.

Officials with the Indiana Department of Education “expected the backlash” against proposed academic standards to replace the Common Core, writes Carmen McCollum for the Times of Northwest Indiana:

Danielle Shockey told local educators dozens of educators from across the state, including Hammond teacher Lori Jones, have put in thousands of hours working on the standards that will prepare students for college and careers. Shockey said there have been many levels of evaluation to ensure the standards are the best they can be.

Shockey was the guest speaker at the Northwest Indiana Writing Project breakfast Thursday at Purdue University Calumet. She filled in for Superintendent Glenda Ritz, who was scheduled to speak but had a family emergency and did not attend.

Shockey focused on the standards, new assessments and accountability. She said on some of the standards, there were more than 1,000 comments submitted and on other standards, several hundred comments. Continue Reading

Pence Signs Pre-K Legislation, Committing State Funds To Early Childhood Education

Gov. Mike Pence signs legislation creating a state-funded preschool pilot program.

Brandon Smith / StateImpact Indiana

Gov. Mike Pence signs legislation creating a state-funded preschool pilot program.

Gov. Mike Pence says legislation to create a preschool pilot program is the beginning of a new chapter of hope and opportunity for Indiana’s disadvantaged children.

The pilot program will provide anywhere between $2,500 and $6,800 per child so low-income Hoosier kids in five counties can attend a high quality preschool program. Pence signed the bill Thursday at DayStar Childcare Ministries in Indianapolis, which is run by Englewood Christian Church.

“In a neighborhood like this one that has some economic challenges, it means that children won’t be sitting in front of the television set; they won’t be playing unattended out in yards,” says pastor Mike Bowling. “They’re going to be with other children and they’re going to be learning and they’re going to ready for kindergarten when the time comes.”

Pence says his administration is already working to get the program up and running as soon as possible. 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

Indiana Exits Common Core, But Teachers Are Still Waiting On Next Standards

Warren Township fourth grade teacher Fatonia Shank and her students crow around a laptop to look at a document. Students were working on stories after a peer-writing exercise.

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

Warren Township fourth grade teacher Fatonia Shank and her students crow around a laptop to look at a document. Students were working on stories after a peer-writing exercise.

Gov. Mike Pence signed legislation today withdrawing Indiana from the Common Core, the nationally-crafted academic standards adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia.

Education policy watchers have been expecting this for months, ever since Pence announced the Indiana would write its own education standards during his State of the State address.

“I believe education is a state and local function,” Pence told reporters Monday after affixing his signature to Senate Bill 91.

Indiana is the first state to exit the national initiative to share academic standards — and that has many teachers worried.

“I hope we’re not the island in the middle of the country,” says Fatonia Shank, fourth grade teacher in Indianapolis’ Warren Township who wanted to keep the Common Core in Indiana. Continue Reading

Anti-Common Core Academic Won’t Offer Feedback On Proposed Indiana Standards

K-12 educators and subject matter experts review the state's academic standards.

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

K-12 educators and subject matter experts are reviewing Indiana's academic standards.

State education officials have asked a half-dozen subject matter experts to weigh in on proposed academic standards to replace the Common Core in Indiana.

But one of those experts now says she won’t participate, writes Eric Weddle for the Indianapolis Star:

Sandra Stotsky, a retired University of Arkansas professor and well-known Common Core opponent, has told Pence she won’t take part in the state’s drafting process unless a new version of the standards relies little on Common Core.

State education officials overseeing the process say revisions are ongoing and the final proposal will be unique and rigorous.

The opinion of Stotsky, who helped review Indiana’s earlier academic standards, has been considered essential by some lawmakers and others to ensure Indiana’s new math and English standards are high-quality and considerably different from Common Core. Continue Reading

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