Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Higher Education Commission Joins Discussion On Sexual Assault

The Indiana Commission for Higher Education is taking steps to address sexual assault on college campuses, and held a special meeting Thursday to discuss the issue.

One in five females on Indiana's college campuses is raped or sexually assaulted by the time she graduates, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

SIUE / Flickr

One in five females on Indiana's college campuses is raped or sexually assaulted by the time she graduates, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Higher Education Commissioner Teresa Lubbers pointed out that the group spends a lot of time talking about academic quality at the state’s public and private universities, and that discussion has expanded to include quality of life for students.

Lubbers says if the goal is for students to be successful, a lack of safety could be a barrier to achieving that goal.

“We think this [needs] an all-hands-on-deck approach, and as the coordinating body for higher education in the state, the commission has an obligation to do that,” Lubbers says.

A report by Southern Indiana’s News and Tribune pinpoints why the Commission decided to call the meeting:

Prompting the commission’s interest are increasing numbers of sexual assaults reported on the state’s campuses. That includes IU-Bloomington, which has been under review by the U.S. Department of Education for possible violations of federal law in how it handles sexual violence.

Adding impetus, Indiana University-Bloomington police charged three men in connection with an off-campus attack last Sunday.

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Indiana Student Debt 16th Highest In The Country

Indiana's 2013 college graduates have an average debt of $28,466, the 16th highest in the country.

Christopher Penn (flickr)

Indiana's 2013 college graduates have an average debt of $28,466, the 16th highest in the country.

Indiana’s 2013 college graduates left school with an average of $28,466, according to a report released Thursday by the Project on Student Debt at The Institute for College Access & Success.

That makes Indiana the state with the 16th highest amount of average student debt, the same ranking from the graduating class of 2012.

The annual report looks at cumulative debt of college graduates from four year universities. The report looked at graduates of both public and private universities and found 69 percent of graduates nationwide have some amount of student debt.

One thing to note about Indiana’s student debt statistics is the 2013 average amount, $28,466, is slightly higher than 2012 graduates who left school with an average of $27,866. While the amount of debt is higher, the percent of students carrying the debt is down to 62 percent from 64 percent in 2012. Meaning less students are leaving college with debt, but those who do have more of it.

Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute was singled out in the report as one of the private non-profit universities with some of the highest debt. The report did not cite specific numbers but it ranked Rose-Hulman in a category of schools with average student debts between $41,750 and $71,350.

FSSA Accepting Provider Applications For “On My Way Pre-K” Pilot

Indiana’s Family and Social Services Administration announced Wednesday it is accepting applications from preschool providers that want to participate in the state’s pre-k pilot program.

Only providers located in the five selected counties are eligible to apply.

The Family and Social Services Administration has announced a new, official name for the state's pre-k pilot program: "On My Way Pre-K."

Rachel Morello / StateImpact Indiana

The Family and Social Services Administration has announced a new, official name for the state's pre-k pilot program: "On My Way Pre-K."

The FSSA also announced a new name for Indiana’s first state-funded pre-kindergarten program: “On My Way Pre-K.”

In order to participate, providers must qualify as a level 3 or 4 institution on the state’s Paths to QUALITY ranking system, as well as sign an agreement requiring them to follow minimum attendance guidelines and administer required kindergarten readiness assessments at least twice throughout the year.   

A full list of requirements, as well as application materials and other forms are now posted to the official On My Way Pre-K website.

FSSA Director of Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning Melanie Brizzi says her department is excited to begin this stage of the operation.

“Beginning to enroll early learning providers in On My Way Pre-K marks a significant milestone in our mission to provide high-quality early education for lower-income students in Indiana,” Brizzi said in a statement. “We look forward to engaging as many programs as possible to help us open the doors to new learning opportunities for Hoosier children.”

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Anderson Pulls Contract With Bus Company After Failed Inspections

The saga of school busing fees continues, this time in Anderson.

Anderson Community Schools’ Board of Trustees voted unanimously Tuesday night to cut ties with Webber Transportation, provider of Anderson’s bus service for the past 27 years.

Anderson Community Schools is the latest Indiana district to experience issues with its transportation provider.

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

Anderson Community Schools is the latest Indiana district to experience issues with its transportation provider.

Late last month, Indiana State Police pulled 29 of the company’s 30 buses being used in Anderson off the road, after a number of maintenance issues put school officials on alert for “potential safety concerns.” According to district records, brake and kingpin inspections had expired on 27 vehicles, and 18 out of 29 inspected had other violations including exhaust problems, fluid leaks or brake issues. The buses taken out of service represented between 15-20% of Webber’s total fleet.

ACS students have been going to and from school on re-routed buses for the past month. According to a WISH-TV report, district officials say they will continue with this backup plan, substituting independent contractors in for Webber drivers.

Tuesday night board members terminated the contract effective immediately, citing Webber’s failure to explain its maintenance problems and offer a plan of action for future maintenance and inspections to ensure the safety of students.

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What One County’s Experience Might Mean For Statewide Pre-K

It’s been more than a week since election results came in, but one of the big ballot items this cycle will have repercussions well past November 4.

Ballots in Bartholomew County tasked voters with deciding whether to voluntarily raise their property taxes to fund pre-k scholarships for low-income children. Their decision was no.

This isn’t the first time the district has asked residents to help the area’s youngest students – a similar referendum also failed in 2012.

The outcome of this vote could influence the larger discussion on how to fund pre-k programs statewide. Other communities were looking to Bartholomew County’s model to fund their own preschools, and Governor Pence and his advisers plan to use a similar public-private partnership model as they kick off the state’s first pre-k pilot program.

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WISH-TV/Ball State Survey Shows Support For Pre-k And Textbooks

Policymakers and educators around the state have embraced the push for more high quality pre-k programs.

Rachel Morello / StateImpact Indiana

Policymakers and educators around the state have embraced the push for more high quality pre-k programs.

A statewide survey conducted by WISH-TV and Ball State University shows the majority of Hoosiers want the state to pay for textbooks and pre-k programs.

WISH-TV reports this majority is high, and the support pleases Indianapolis mayor Greg Ballard:

82 percent of the people surveyed said such programs should be available to all children in Indiana. Four out of five said the state should pay for them.

That will come as no surprise to the people in Mayor Ballard’s Office.

“Support for pre-K is overwhelming in the city. We polled it. It’s overwhelming. Polled higher than anything we’ve ever done,” Ballard told 24-Hour News 8.

Another topic the survey polled is who should cover the cost of textbooks for students. As we’ve reported, Indiana is one of a handful of states to charge parents for their child’s textbooks. According to the survey, 68 percent of those polled would like to see the General Assembly approve a 3 percent increase in the Department of Education’s budget to pay for textbooks.

The full report, which surveys the state’s residents on relevant topics the legislature could consider, will be released Wednesday.

What A-F Grades Mean For Focus And Priority Schools

Generally speaking, the release of A-F grades this year brought good news; the amount of schools receiving A’s went up while the number of F’s handed out was the lowest in the last few years. This good news continues for schools on the Department of Education’s focus and priority schools list.

(Search our sortable table of 2014 A-F grades for all Indiana schools.)

First, a primer on how a school gets on the priority list and how they can be removed from it:

Priority Schools

The 2013 list of priority schools contained 174 schools. Following the criteria above, 16 schools will be removed from the priority list this year, and 34 schools could be removed from the list next year if they earn a C or B. Continue Reading

2014 A-F Grades Compared To Previous Years

First, the good news.

More As, fewer Fs. That’s the biggest takeaway from the release of school A-F grades, and a trend we’ve seen the last few years. More than half (51 percent) of the state’s schools are now A schools, the highest number in the last few years.

(Search your schools 2014 A-F scores on our sortable table.)

A-F Grade Distribution

Information from Indiana Department of Education

With a new assessment and a new way to calculate A-F grades on the way, next years scores are expected to drop across the board. Right now, the State Board of Education and Department of Education have not established either entity.

Indianapolis City-County Council Approves Funds For Pre-K Plan

The Indianapolis City County Council and Mayor Greg Ballard reached an agreement to fund the mayor’s citywide pre-k plan, the group announced Wednesday.

After some initial dispute, the Indianapolis City-County Council has approved a funding plan for Mayor Greg Ballard's pre-k initiative.

itia4u (Flickr)

After some initial dispute, the Indianapolis City-County Council has approved a funding plan for Mayor Greg Ballard's pre-k initiative.

Ballard introduced his early childhood education initiative back in July, as part of a larger plan to reduce crime in the city. He proposes that making preschool affordable to families in financial need will be a key approach in addressing the root causes of crime and poverty.

Matthew Tully of the Indianapolis Star calls this funding deal “the most ambitious preschool effort the city has ever seen”:

…the proposal would invest roughly $40 million in preschool over five years. The money will first provide scholarships to the families squeezed most by poverty’s grip. Democratic council leaders Maggie Lewis and John Barth, along with the Republican mayor’s office, have agreed to free up $15 million in city funds and dedicate them to preschool, and they have committed to find up to $5 million more from the existing budget. Meanwhile, led by the advocacy and contributions of Eli Lilly and Co., the business and nonprofit communities are expected to pump another $20 million into the program.

Tully also reports that the deal includes three major changes from Ballard’s initial proposal. Both the income eligibility rules and the minimum age of children who can participate have been lowered – to 127 percent of the poverty level and 3 years old, respectively – to target the most at-risk children. Additionally, money will not come out of the property tax credit, as the mayor proposed. Instead funds will come from three sources: money left over from the sale of city utilities in recent years, Homestead Tax credit money set aside for homes that don’t qualify for it, and a potential charter school authorization fee.

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Sortable Table: 2014 A-F Letter Grades For Every Ind. School

Use the table below to search 2014 school letter grades for all Indiana schools — traditional public, charter, and private.

Click on the arrows to sort the table by corporation name, school name or score.

Type in the “Filter” box to search by county, corporation name, school name or score.

PLEASE NOTE: We’ve included 2011, 2012 and 2013 school ratings as a reference. These were all calculated using a different model. The State Board of Education is working with the Accountability Panel to create a new model for next year.

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