Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Indiana Is A National Leader For Tracking Remediation

Here at StateImpact, we hear (and write about) the phrase “college and career ready” on a regular basis.

Preparing students for life after high school is a common priority across the states, and remediation is a big part of those efforts. However, according to a new report by the Education Commission of the States, there is not much consistency in how states track college preparedness and subsequent progress through remedial coursework.

One in three students at Indiana's public universities requires remedial help in math or English.

SIUE (Flickr)

One in three students at Indiana's public universities requires remedial help in math or English.

Upon reviewing state-level practices, the policy think tank identified 30 states that consistently identify, track and report the numbers of students needing remedial instruction.

Don’t worry, folks, we bear good news: Indiana is one of those states.

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Online Teacher Communities Could Ease Standards Transition

The Indiana Department of Education recently launched dozens of new online communities to help teachers adjust to Indiana’s new academic standards.

The state’s Department of Education Office of e-Learning created 49 new virtual “communities of practice” intended to connect educators from around the state and beyond. Groups are grade- and subject-based, and are operated through Google+.

New online communities allow Indiana teachers to share resources and discuss common questions.

Wild Zontar (Flickr)

New online communities allow Indiana teachers to share resources and discuss common questions.

The communities offer teachers the ability to discuss questions, share links, request resources or suggest additional categories for sharing within the group.

The initiative could prove especially helpful as teachers begin the transition to new state standards. Indiana became the first state to scrap the nationally-crafted Common Core State Standards in March, replacing them with what will be known as the Indiana Academic Standards.

A statewide needs assessment conducted in April found many teachers were concerned with how to find and curate digital instructional content tied to the new standards.

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Department of Education Reaches Deadline For NCLB Waiver Response

Updated, 4:50 p.m.:

The Indiana Department of Education submitted its application for a waiver from aspects of the No Child Left Behind Law this afternoon. If granted, the Department says the waiver will allow greater flexibility for how Hoosier schools use federal education funds.

State Supt. Glenda Ritz is expected to submit documents to the U.S. Department of Education to prove Indiana is meeting expectations for its No Child Left Behind waiver.

Valparaiso University (Flickr)

State Supt. Glenda Ritz is expected to submit documents to the U.S. Department of Education to prove Indiana is meeting expectations for its No Child Left Behind waiver.

State Superintendent Glenda Ritz said she was “proud” to submit the waiver request.

“I want to thank my staff, as well as the staffs of Governor Pence, our legislative leadership, CCSSO [Council of Chief State School Officers] and the United States Department of Education for their exceptional efforts during these last couple of months,” Ritz said in a statement. “Because of their work, I believe that Hoosier schools will have much needed flexibility over how they use some of their federal funding.  Most importantly, this flexibility will improve education for our students.”

Ritz’s office said a decision is expected on the waiver by the end of July.

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Indiana’s New Handwriting Standards More Detailed Than Common Core

A four year old in Eve Cusack's class at Bloomington Montessori School practices his letter sounds by tracing over the sandpaper letter blocks.

Claire McInerny / StateImpact Indiana

A 4-year-old in Eve Cusack's class at Bloomington Montessori School practices his letter sounds by tracing over the sandpaper letter blocks.

The ability to write by hand is a skill we use our entire lives. Making a grocery list, writing a reminder on a Post-It or adding a tip to a restaurant receipt all require the fine motor skills and the understanding of language involved in writing.

Learning these skills start early, and as researchers are finding out, learning them helps a child develop cognitively if started early on.

When Indiana ditched the Common Core in April and wrote its own academic measures, authors of the new standards created detailed handwriting standards. Compared to the previously used Common Core standards, Indiana’s standards provide specific skills a child should meet every year of elementary school. Continue Reading

First ‘Innovation Fellows’ Chosen To Help IPS Turnaround Efforts

How many educators does it take to help turn around low-performing public schools?

Indianapolis awarded three fellowships to educators who brainstormed the best ideas to turnaround low-performing district schools.

Crispin Blackall (Flickr)

Indianapolis awarded three fellowships to educators who brainstormed the best ideas to turnaround low-performing district schools.

Indianapolis Public Schools hopes four: two IPS administrators, a local charter school entrepreneur and a former senior analyst with the U.S. Department of State. The district selected these educators for a fellowship program to help IPS design new models for three failing city schools.

IPS and The Mind Trust selected the winners from more than 60 entries in its Innovative School Contest. The competition aims to solicit ideas for creating a new crop of charter-like schools in the IPS system, which has seen a growing number of students opt for charters over their local schools in recent years.  Continue Reading

Teachers Say Curriculum Guidelines Are Being Released Too Late

The State Board of Education voted to release resource guides for the new standards at a meeting Monday.

The State Board of Education voted to release resource guides for the new standards at a meeting Monday.

At the State Board of Education meeting Monday, members voted unanimously to release the new resource guides to help teachers transition to Indiana’s new academic standards.

In a presentation to the board, assistant state superintendent Daniel Shockey showcased the resource guides, which provide sample math problems for every math standard and sample reading lists for every grade level.

They also include comparisons between Indiana’s new academic standards and the previously used Common Core standards.

Shockey said the resources will be available online and presented during teacher workshops and conferences this summer.

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Education Roundtable Recommends Major Changes To Future Testing

Governor Mike Pence and state superintendent Glenda Ritz co-chaired the Education Roundtable meeting Monday, presenting the new assessment plan.

Claire McInerny / StateImpact Indiana

Governor Mike Pence and state superintendent Glenda Ritz co-chair the Education Roundtable meeting Monday. CECI presented the new assessment plan to the roundtable at the meeting.

The Education Roundtable on Monday recommended major changes to next year’s ISTEP+ exam as part of a plan to maintain the state’s No Child Left Behind waiver, as well as major changes to a brand new test starting in 2015-2016.

Before the federal government can renew the waiver flexibility, the Indiana Department of Education needs to provide an assessment plan proving the state will test students around the state’s newly adopted academic standards.

The IDOE has until June 30 to submit those plans.

The IDOE is already soliciting vendors for a brand new test beginning the 2015-2016 school year, but the state still has to provide a test aligned with the new academic standards to students this coming spring.

So an updated version of the ISTEP+ will serve that purpose, and the Roundtable’s recommendation allows the state’s current vendor CTB/McGraw-Hill to make necessary changes to the test.  Continue Reading

NCLB Waiver And Assessments Center Of Special State Board Meeting

State Board of Education members Gordon Hendry, left, Brad Oliver, David Freitas and Andrea Neal listen during a previous meeting.

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

State Board of Education members Gordon Hendry, left, Brad Oliver, David Freitas and Andrea Neal listen during a previous meeting.

The State Board of Education will meet this afternoon for a special meeting to hear from the Indiana Department of Education plans for meeting the June 30 deadline to keep the state’s No Child Left Behind waiver.

The State Board of Education will convene at 4:30 p.m. to hear the waiver plan, discuss an assessment for this spring that matches the state’s new standards and a new one starting the 2015-2016 school year, and resources for teachers to adjust to these changes.

The Education Roundtable, chaired by Governor Mike Pence, will meet prior at 3 p.m., to make recommendations for the content and form of this spring’s assessment. As we’ve reported, this assessment will only function for the 2014-2015 school year, so the state can meet the requirements to keep its No Child Left Behind waiver.

The Department of Education is in the process of choosing a vendor for a more permanent assessment tailored to the state’s new academic standards.

IU Program Makes Real World Experience Valuable In The Classroom

The Transition to Teaching program at IU spends a year teaching career changers how to be successful teachers

jpellgen (flickr)

The Transition to Teaching program at IU spends a year teaching career changers how to be successful teachers

Those who can’t do, teach.

It’s a phrase that seems to insult teachers and downplay the importance of the profession. But after the state board of education lessened requirements to get a certain type of teaching license last month, those who leave the world of “doing” to enter the world of “teaching” is getting a closer look from the education community.

The controversy around REPA III stems from the amount of experience a career specialist brings to the classroom. Opponents argue there is too much emphasis on content knowledge and not enough emphasis on effective teaching strategies.

But the Transition to Teaching program at Indiana University strives to find a middle ground between a four-year bachelor’s degree in education and starting someone in a classroom with no pedagogy training.

Those who complete the Transition to Teaching program don’t leave with a degree of any kind, but spend one year learning teaching theories, taking courses related to their content area and completing student teaching.  Continue Reading

IDOE Report Shows Voucher System Costs State $16 Million

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evmaiden (flickr)

Indiana's private school voucher program is expanding, costing the state millions of dollars.

The private school voucher system is costing the state around $16 million, according to a report the Department of Education released this week that detailed the financial impact of the voucher system.

The AP reports that the report indicates the voucher system saved the state more than $4 million in both the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 school years.

The AP writes that a change during the last school year broke the saving streak:

But changes that allowed some students already attending private schools to begin receiving state aid ended up costing the state $15.8 million for the school year that just ended.

Daniel Altman, a Department of Education spokesman, delivered a limited explanation for the sudden change between school years.

“The Department is committed to a transparent accounting of how taxpayer dollars are spent. The update (in) today’s report reflects recent growth in the Choice program,” Altman said in an emailed statement.

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