Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Why Indiana Students Should Prepare For Two Rounds Of Standardized Testing

Laptops set up with pencils and scratch paper at the ready in a temporary testing lab at Tecumseh Junior High in Lafayette. School principal Brett Gruetzmacher says his school needs to set up temporary testing spaces to accomodate the number of test-takers they have this year.

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

Laptops are set up to administer the spring 2013 ISTEP+ test. For the next two years, students will take two rounds of tests to satisfy state and federal requirements.

Remember when we wrote Indiana students might have to take two standardized tests as a result of the ongoing Common Core boondoggle?

Yeah, that’s happening.

Students will take both the state’s current test, the ISTEP+, and a new test called the College- and Career-Readiness Transition Assessment, or CCRTA, in spring 2015.

“It is two tests,” says Indiana Department of Education Director of Assessment Michele Walker. “It’s two separate sets of standards that are being assessed there.”

Two tests are necessary because of the ongoing dispute over the Common Core. Eager to exit the national initiative to share academic standards, Indiana lawmakers have directed education officials to administer the ISTEP+ next year. But Indiana also promised the U.S. Department of Education it would give a test assessing college- and career-readiness at the end of the 2014-15 school year. Continue Reading

Map: Which Counties Should Indiana Select For Pre-K Pilot?

Map by StateImpact Indiana

This map shows how many Indiana child care providers had achieved a Paths to Quality Level 3 or 4 rating, the bar state lawmakers have set for participation in pilot pre-K program for low-income 4-year-olds, on Jan. 1, 2014.

State lawmakers have approved roughly $10 million in funding for a small-scale pilot program for low-income 4-year-olds. Eligible students will be awarded vouchers to enroll at preschools that have earned top rankings from the Family and Social Services Administration, which will oversee the program.

The pilot could launch in five Indiana counties as soon as this fall. But which counties?

You know how much we like maps here at StateImpact Indiana. So we decided to map how many child care providers have received a 3 or 4 on the state’s Paths to Quality ranking system.

The results weren’t surprising: Access to high-quality preschool depends on where you live. Continue Reading

Indiana Will Pay For Pre-K, But Questions About Cost & Quality Remain

A student looks through a book about fruit and flowers at Busy Bees Academy, a public preschool in Columbus, Ind.

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

A student looks through a book about fruit and flowers at Busy Bees Academy, a publicly-funded preschool in Columbus.

Walk through the halls of Busy Bees Academy, a publicly-funded preschool in Columbus, and director Cathne Holliday says you’ll notice something different

“Everyone has a stake in each child’s education,” she says.

Teachers here are charged with preparing each of the school’s 115 4-year-olds for kindergarten.

“We’re also just giving them a foundation for learning,” says Holliday.

Indiana used to be one of 10 states that didn’t provide any state dollars for preschool — and public programs like Busy Bees were the exception, not the rule. But that’s about to change as Gov. Mike Pence is expected to sign legislation that creates a small-scale voucher-style pre-K program for low-income Hoosier kids. Continue Reading

State Education Officials Outline Key Dates For New Standards

State Board members Brad Oliver, left, Troy Albert and Supt. Glenda Ritz listen to testimony on proposed standards during a public meeting in Sellersburg Feb. 24.

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

State Board members Brad Oliver, left, Troy Albert and Supt. Glenda Ritz listen to testimony on proposed standards during a public meeting in Sellersburg Feb. 24.

Indiana education officials are on track to approve new math and English language arts standards in April, albeit a little later than intended.

Proposed academic expectations were originally scheduled to go to the State Board April 9. But that meeting has been pushed back to give subject matter experts and outside reviewers more time to revise the standards.

A timeline posted to the Department of Education’s website Monday shows the draft standards are now on track to be approved sometime after the April 21 Education Roundtable meeting. That panel, which is co-chaired by Gov. Mike Pence and Supt. Glenda Ritz, must approve the final draft before it goes to the State Board.

The proposed standards draw heavily on the Common Core, as critics of the nationally-crafted standards are quick to point out. Continue Reading

Indiana Will Tap Into Existing Funds To Pay For Pre-K Pilot

Students work on art projects at Busy Bees Academy, a public preschool in Columbus.

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

Students work on art projects at Busy Bees Academy, a public preschool in Columbus.

Funding for Indiana’s newly-minted preschool program will come from existing appropriations and federal funds.

The approved legislation uses existing Family and Social Services Administration money and private contributions to fund a pilot program in five counties that could provide up to 4,500 low-income children with money to attend a high quality preschool.

Indiana already gets two pots of federal money for very young students: Head Start dollars, and the Child Care Development Block Grant. And the former won’t change as a result of the pre-K legislation, says Indiana Head Start Association Executive Director Cheryl Miller.

“Our funding is actually not connected to the state funding at all,” says Miller. “We are a program that for almost 50 years has retained that structure that is federal to local.” Continue Reading

Legislative Leaders Tout Pre-K Pilot, But Say Issue Needs Study Before Expanding

Students play an alligator game with their teacher at Busy Bees Academy, a public preschool in Columbus, Ind.

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

Students play an alligator game with their teacher at Busy Bees Academy, a public preschool in Columbus.

Legislative leaders on both sides of the aisle are praising creation of a preschool pilot program as an historic achievement for Indiana.

The approved legislation uses existing Family and Social Services Administration money and private contributions to fund a pilot program in five counties that could provide up to 4,500 low-income children with money to attend a high quality preschool.

House Minority Leader Scott Pelath says that’s a fine first step, but it needs to be kept in perspective.

“That is planting a sapling when the state of Indiana needs an entirely new landscape,” says Pelath. “And while it’s a positive thing, it’s not something that we can say is going to transform Indiana’s children yet.” Continue Reading

Preschool Pilot Revived, Now Heads To Governor’s Desk

An aide helps a student count at Busy Bees Academy, a public preschool in Columbus.

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

An aide helps a student count at Busy Bees Academy, a public preschool in Columbus.

State lawmakers have approved a preschool pilot program today after it was seemingly left for dead just two weeks ago. It now heads to Gov. Mike Pence’s desk.

House Speaker Brian Bosma says creation of the pre-K pilot wouldn’t have been possible without a funding mechanism crafted by the Senate.

The program can use up to $10 million in existing funds from the Family and Social Services Administration. At least 10 percent — and up to 50 percent — of that in matching funds must come from private sources or the federal government.

Rep. Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis, says that could provide high quality preschool opportunities for anywhere from 2,000 to 4,500 low-income children. Continue Reading

‘Substantially Similar’ Social Studies Standards Get State Board Approval

State Board members Cari Whicker, left, and Brad Oliver listen during a presentation on new social studies standards.

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

State Board members Cari Whicker, left, and Brad Oliver listen during a presentation on new social studies standards.

State Board member Cari Whicker wanted to know what the proposed changes to Indiana’s social standards would mean in her sixth grade history class.

“So I took the 2007 standards and the new standards, and I took my green highlighter, and highlighted everything that was word-for-word exactly the same,” says Whicker. “Then I went back through and any words I hadn’t highlighted I highlighted in orange so they would stand out.”

Whicker only found about 20 changes for sixth grade — the new social studies expectations are substantially the same as the top-ranked 2007 standards.

But Whicker says she’s worried the routine social studies review has been conflated with a much larger effort to rewrite Indiana’s math and English language arts standards. State lawmakers sent the nationally-crafted Common Core standards back for a rewrite, mandating an extensive review and public comment sessions. Continue Reading

State Education Officials Sign Off On Local Improvement Plan For Glenwood

Glenwood Leadership Academy fourth grade teacher Amber Santana leads her students in multiplication drills while pacing across her their desktops. Santana is in her second year at the school.

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

Glenwood Leadership Academy fourth grade teacher Amber Santana leads her students in multiplication drills while pacing across her their desktops.

UPDATED, 5:25 p.m. EST: State education officials will step up oversight of an underperforming school in Evansville, but the efforts will stop short of state takeover.

Glenwood Leadership Academy has received an F from the state for six straight years but is now working with an outside consultant to improve test scores.

B.J. Watts sits on the State Board of Education and teaches in Evansville Vanderburgh schools. He called the district’s approach “proactive.”

“We want schools to own their successes and own their failures,” Watts tells StateImpact. “That’s what the EVSC has done. They kind of got out way in front of the ball here and said, ‘We have an issue. We’re not going to wait until year six to start addressing it when someone else makes us. We’re going to address it now.’” Continue Reading

Five Things To Know About The Proposed Social Studies Standards

State Board of Education member Andrea Neal, center, helps her students prepare for the state's 'We the People' competition. Neal, who teaches middle school history, says she's not satisfied with proposed social studies standards.

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

State Board of Education member Andrea Neal, center, helps her students prepare for the state's 'We the People' competition. Neal, who teaches middle school history, says she's not satisfied with proposed social studies standards.

Lost in the furor over Common Core has been the routine review of Indiana’s social studies standards, which are up for a vote at Wednesday’s State Board meeting.

State education officials typically revise academic expectations in six year cycles.

“This would have been the year for social studies,” says Lou Ann Baker, spokeswoman for the Center for Education and Career Innovation.

But Baker says a legislative mandate to review nationally-crafted math and English language arts standards has overshadowed the regular adoption of new social studies standards.

The State Board is now updating those standards.

Here are four things to know about the proposed expectations for Indiana history classes: Continue Reading

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