Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Home Work: Homeschool Families Don’t Have Many State Guidelines

Trends indicate homeschooling is on the rise across the country and in the Hoosier state.

The most recent federal stats come from the 2011-2012 school year, when according to the National Center for Education Statistics, 1.8 million children were homeschooled. That’s about three percent of the school-age population.

Emily (left) and Holli Burnfield work on language arts lessons together. The girls are homeschooled, along with their younger sister Layla, in Bloomfield.

Rachel Morello / StateImpact Indiana

Emily (left) and Holli Burnfield work on language arts lessons together. The girls are homeschooled, along with their younger sister Layla, in Bloomfield.

In a recent report by the The Republic newspaper in Columbus, homeschool groups in Indiana have also seen an influx of members in recent years.

But there’s no way to be sure. Many states don’t keep a tally. Indiana’s Department of Education tries to keep track – parents who want to homeschool are encouraged to report their enrollment – but since it’s not mandatory, state officials say there’s no way to know if their data is accurate.

“Indiana has had a fairly long tradition of hands off in terms of regulation and oversight,” says Rob Kunzman, who heads the International Center for Home Education Research at Indiana University. “It just goes back to the setup for education oversight in our country more generally that it’s a state decision in terms of regulation of their educational system.”

More parents nowadays see homeschooling as a way to circumvent the frustrations that come with traditional schooling. But the state provides little regulation and oversight, so they’re largely left to their own devices.

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Difference Between Kids Who Ask For Help & Those Who Don’t: Money

A new stud from and IU sociology professor found students from middle class families are more likely to ask for help from teachers than students from working class families.

www.audio-luci-store.it (flickr)

A new study from an IU sociology professor found students from middle class families are more likely to ask for help from teachers than students from working class families.

Imagine you’re a fourth grade student, sitting in class, and your teacher is introducing a lesson on multiplying a set of two digit numbers. You’re having trouble following along and know you won’t be able to do the homework on your own. Yet, you don’t consider raising your hand to ask for help or consider asking the teacher after to school to explain it to you. Why?

a) You’re a shy kid and don’t want to admit you’re confused in front of your peers.
b) You raised your hand a lot during the previous lesson and don’t want to seem dumb.
c) Your single mom works at the local Target.

Although option c doesn’t seem logical in this context, it’s the very reason Indiana University sociologist Jessica Calarco says this student won’t ask for him. In a study released this month, Calarco presents findings that students of a middle class family are more willing to ask for help compared to kids from working class families. Continue Reading

Purdue Introduces New Competency-Based Degree Program

The Purdue Bell Tower on the West Lafayette campus.

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

The Purdue Bell Tower on the West Lafayette campus.

The College of Technology at Purdue University introduced a new program last week that allows students to decide the progress of their education outside of the traditional academic calendar.

Students can work on their own timelines to master specific skills at their own pace.

School officials says this approach is better than letter grades at indicating when a student is competent in a subject area.

Haley Dover of the Journal & Courier reports the new program is an initiative to get more people into skilled technology jobs.  Continue Reading

Ritz’s Budget Proposal Seeks To End Textbook Fees For Students

Indiana is one of eight states in the country that charges students for textbook rentals. The Indiana Department of Education wants more money from the legislature to cover that cost.

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

Indiana is one of eight states in the country that charges students for textbook rentals. The Indiana Department of Education wants more money from the legislature to cover that cost.

In its budget proposal submitted this week, the Indiana Department of Education requested a $70 million dollar increase to the state’s textbook reimbursement fund.

Currently, Indiana is one of eight states to charge families for the cost of textbook rentals, and state superintendent Glenda Ritz says the state should pay for it.

Noel Koontz is an English teacher at the Academy of Science and Entrepreneurship in Bloomington. He says the cost of renting textbooks each year is often hundreds of dollars per student, which is a financial strain on most families.

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Ritz Asks For $200 Million Increase In Education Budget

The Indiana Department of Education requests a three percent increase to the state's education budget. The state legislature will vote on the budget next year.

Valparaiso University (Flickr)

The Indiana Department of Education requests a three percent increase to the state's education budget. The state legislature will vote on the budget next year.

The Indiana Department of Education submitted its budget request for the next legislative session this week, asking for a three percent increase in school funding for the upcoming biennial budget cycle.

State Superintendent Glenda Ritz says her department will use the increased funding to help offset the cost of textbooks and instructional materials for parents. Currently, Indiana is only one of eight states that puts the financial burden of textbook rentals on the student.

“I am very concerned with the costs that parents pay associated with the education of their children,” Ritz said in a statement. “Our constitution provides for a general and uniform school system that is equally open to all. That is why we have requested funding for textbook rentals and instructional materials for all students. By funding these at the state level, we can guarantee that all districts have equitable resources for texts while also giving parents a much needed financial break.”  Continue Reading

State Board Of Education Reaches Settlement In Open Door Law

The lawsuit has been ongoing for almost a year. Today's decision grants a group of private citizen more than $15,000.

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

The lawsuit has been ongoing for almost a year. Today's decision grants a group of private citizen more than $15,000.

The Indiana State Board of Education reached a settlement Wednesday with a group of private citizens who sued regarding the state’s Open Door Law. As we’ve reported, a judge dismissed a similar suit filed by State Superintendent Glenda Ritz, so a group of Ritz supporters filed another.

A Marion County judge approved a settlement of more than $15,000 to cover the plaintiffs’ legal fees.

The alleged violation in the lawsuit occurred last year, when Ritz said the state board held a meeting in private when they communicated about A-F grades via email.

The state’s Open Door Law is not clear about whether an email conversation counts as a meeting.

Controversial Teacher Licensure Requirements Will Move Forward

State superintendent Glenda Ritz voted to remove the "career specialist" license from REPA III, while state board member David Freitas voted to keep it.

Claire McInerny / StateImpact Indiana

State superintendent Glenda Ritz voted to remove the "career specialist" license from REPA III, while state board member David Freitas voted to keep it.

The State Board of Education voted 7-3 Wednesday in favor of Rules for Educator Preparation and Accountability (REPA III), a controversial set of teacher licensure requirements.

Since 2010, teachers, principals, and university educators have protested the different versions of REPA, saying it puts inexperienced teachers into classrooms and undermines a traditional education degree with pedagogy training.

Most of those opposing REPA III asked that the “career specialist” license be removed. This license, formerly known as the adjunct permit, would allow anyone with a bachelor’s degree to teach in a related field if they pass a content test and begin a program to improve their teaching skills within the first month of teaching. Continue Reading

Hoosier Schools Could Plan Better For Emergencies

Indiana could do more when it comes to emergency preparedness.

A new national report places Indiana among the states considered the least prepared in the event of an emergency.

Scott Olson / Getty Images

A new national report places Indiana among the states considered the least prepared in the event of an emergency.

According to a report released Tuesday by international charity Save the Children, the Hoosier state is one of 15 states that lacks a number of elements the organization deems “standard” for addressing natural and manmade emergencies.

Save the Children’s annual National Report Card on Protecting Children in Disasters cites four minimum emergency preparedness standards states must meet: an evacuation/relocation plan, a plan for children with special needs, a family-child reunification plan, and a K-12 multiple disaster plan.

Indiana only meets the latter two criteria, putting it ahead of only 10 other states.

The Indiana Department of Education requires each of the state’s school corporations to develop a written emergency preparedness plan, in consultation with local public safety agencies. State Board of Education rules require that plan to include the following, at minimum:

  • Appropriate warning systems
  • Procedures for notifying other agencies and organizations
  • Posting of evacuation routes
  • Emergency preparedness instruction for staff and students
  • Public information procedures
  • Steps to be taken prior to a decision to evacuate buildings or dismiss classes
  • Provisions to protect the safety and well being of staff, students and the public in case of fire, natural disaster, adverse weather conditions, nuclear contamination, exposure to chemicals, or manmade occurrences (i.e. student disturbances, weapons, or kidnapping incidents)

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Sound The Alarm: Research Forces Schools To Contemplate Start Time

Sleep more and sleep in – that’s the advice doctors are giving teenagers.

Students at Noblesville High School will start their school day a bit later next year, after administrators examined research showing sleep can positively impact teenage students' performance.

Rachel Morello / StateImpact Indiana

Students at Noblesville High School will start their school day a bit later next year, after administrators examined research showing sleep can positively impact teenage students' performance.

As we reported last week, a new recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics encourages middle and high schools to push back their start times to align students’ academic schedules with their biological sleep rhythms.

AAP research as well as a number of other studies shows that adolescents should ideally get between 8.5 and 9.5 hours of sleep each night. Recent polls show only 41 percent of middle schoolers and 13 percent of high school students do.

Even the U.S. Secretary for Education, Arne Duncan, has acknowledged older students’ need for more zzz’s, in an interview on The Diane Rehm Show:

“Mornings are very difficult. You know, they’re not awake. They’re groggy. They’re not able to pay attention in class. If we were able to start later and if they were able to be more focused, if they were able to concentrate in class, that’s a really good thing. So often education, we design school systems that work for adults and not for kids. I think this is just another example of that.”

Some schools in Indiana are moving to adhere to these later start times; for others, it’s a distant dream.

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IDOE Asks State Board To Change Flanner House A-F Grade

The Indiana Department of Education found a number of issues with ISTEP+ scores and testing practices at Flanner House Elementary School in Indianapolis.

Eric Zelenka / Flickr

The Indiana Department of Education found a number of issues with ISTEP+ scores and testing practices at Flanner House Elementary School in Indianapolis.

The Indiana Department of Education is requesting the State Board of Education change Flanner House Elementary School’s accountability score from an A to “No Grade.” The request comes after an IDOE and Office of Education Innovation investigation showed Flanner House teachers cheated on last year’s ISTEP+ tests, raising the Indianapolis charter schools passing rate from 42 percent in 2011-2012 to 95 percent last year. The school’s passing rate for this year was 56.5 percent.

This dramatic, one year increase prompted the investigation, and Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard’s office, which sponsors the charter, says teachers changed incorrect answers and gave students test items before the testing window, among other testing violations.

In its memo to the State Board, the IDOE’s said its argument is, “Due to the recent invalidation of 2013 ISTEP+ data for Flanner House Elementary School the Department of Education deems the current category placement for the school an inaccurate reflection of school performance.”

The school board voted to close the school Sept. 11, and Marion County Prosecutor’s office is investigating criminal charges.

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