Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Office of Assessment, CTB/McGraw-Hill On The Future of ISTEP+

We heard earlier this week how the state standardized ISTEP+ test went for students in 2014, and now we know a little bit more about what that test will look like in the next few years.

IDOE Director of Assessment Michelle Walker addressed the State Board of Education Wednesday.

Rachel Morello / StateImpact Indiana

IDOE Director of Assessment Michelle Walker addressed the State Board of Education Wednesday.

Representatives from Indiana’s testing vendor, CTB/McGraw-Hill, updated the State Board of Education Wednesday on the process of designing the new state assessment, which will be first administered in spring 2015.

CTB president Ellen Haley says the test’s design has been selected, and development is currently underway.

The assessment will be aligned with – and only with – Indiana’s new state-specific academic standards, adopted in April after Governor Pence signed legislation voiding the Common Core. CTB will not bring in content items being used in other states, nor will they permit use of Indiana’s test items by other states.

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CTB/McGraw Hill Will Pay State $3 Million For 2013 ISTEP+ Glitches

The Indiana Department of Education has reached a $3 million settlement with test vendor CTB/McGraw-Hill, after technological glitches interrupted state standardized tests in the 2012-13 school year.

State Board of Education members Dan Elsener (left), Cari Whicker and Brad Oliver listen to updates on the state's settlement with CTB/McGraw-Hill.

Rachel Morello / StateImpact Indiana

State Board of Education members Dan Elsener (left), Cari Whicker and Brad Oliver listen to updates on the state's settlement with CTB/McGraw-Hill.

State Superintendent Glenda Ritz announced the terms of the settlement at Wednesday’s State Board of Education meeting. CTB officials told board members they had reached the agreement with Ritz’s agency in October.

Under the terms of the settlement, CTB will credit Indiana around $450,000 toward developing a new contract. In addition, the state will get $2.9 million in credit for in-kind products and services from CTB.

Board members voiced their surprise at the information. Brad Oliver said this was the first he had heard of the settlement, and that he didn’t remember discussing the topic as a group. He likened the situation to a moment at last month’s meeting, when the board questioned Ritz’s transparency regarding submission of amendments for the state’s No Child Left Behind waiver.

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It’s Time For An ISTEP+ Math Lesson

More than 1,800 schools in 290 school districts took the statewide ISTEP+ exam this year. You can find your school’s scores here.

Yesterday we published the annual ISTEP+ results, with data courtesy of the Indiana Department of Education…but what does it all mean?

Here at StateImpact Indiana, we deal with numbers so you don’t have to. But in the case of the statewide test – which has implications for things like school accountability grades and teacher pay – it’s probably pretty important you understand what’s going on. So take a seat, put on your thinking cap and get ready to take notes, because class is in session:

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Interactive Map: 2014 ISTEP+ Results By Individual School

It’s that time of year again: the Indiana Department of Education released scores this week for the 2014 ISTEP+, Indiana’s benchmark statewide assessment for third through eighth graders.

Overall, scores went up for both English/Language Arts and Math. 80.7 percent of students passed the ELA test, up from 79.5 percent last year. 83.5 percent of students passed the math test, up from 83.0 percent in 2013. The number of students who passed both tests also increased, with 74.7 percent passing this year compared to 73.7 percent last year.

Here is a map of results for the 2014 ISTEP+ exams, including data for private schools, traditional public schools and charter schools:

You can also click here to search our easily-sortable table. 

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Little People, Big Plans: Pre-K Preparations In Jackson County

Last week, Governor Mike Pence announced the five counties chosen to participate in the state’s first pre-k pilot program, which is scheduled for a full launch next July.

Students at a Jump Start program in Seymour work with their teacher on learning the alphabet.

Rachel Morello / StateImpact Indiana

Students at a Jump Start program in Seymour work with their teacher on learning the alphabet.

Schools in Allen, Jackson, Lake, Marion and Vanderburgh counties plan to have the program up and running for the 2015-16 school year. That means they have exactly 12 months to prepare – and already the clock seems to be ticking rather quickly.

Of the counties selected, only Jackson is considered a rural area. With a population of more than 43,000 people, the southeastern Indiana county consists of four distinct towns, the largest of which is Seymour. Pre-k has recently become a topic of interest there, as well as in each of the outer lying towns – Brownstown, Crothersville and Medora.

“There’s a push to really see if we can move that needle up,” says Dan Hodge, executive director of the Jackson County Education Coalition. “I think everybody understands why it’s important, it’s just the logistics of getting it done.”

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Indianapolis Mayor Introduces Plan For Preschool Aid

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard unveiled a new initiative Wednesday that will fund preschool for children from low-income families, as well as boost the quality of local providers.

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard unveiled a new plan to reduce crime in the city which includes funding for quality preschool.

Michael Hickey / Getty Images

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard unveiled a new plan to reduce crime in the city which includes funding for quality preschool.

Ballard introduced the five-year program as part of a new plan to curb violence in the city. He said efforts to fight crime start with “prevention,” making sure at-risk kids have access to quality early childhood education programs.

“We, as society, can no longer keep doing the same things over and over again and expect different results,” Ballard said in a statement. “The institutions that support the family have not kept up with changes in family structure and the culture. And the crime that cities across America are experiencing today is a direct result of it.”

Ballard argues that high-quality early preschool not only makes the city safer, but also improves academic, socioeconomic, behavioral and health outcomes for children living in poverty.

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Pop Quiz: How Are Teachers Preparing For New Standards And Test

When it comes to education policy in Indiana, the last few years have been a bit of a soap opera. A few years ago we saw massive changes to teacher evaluations and school accountability. We adopted Common Core standards. We ditched Common Core standards. We saw an upset in the state superintendent election and the conflict between the State Board of Education. All of these changes came fast, and this school year it’s coming to a head.

StateImpact wants to know how these changes affect your job as an educator and how you’ve spent your summer preparing to teach to the new standards and prepare students for the new assessment. There’s also some questions for parents and how you’re guiding your student through these changes.

This ANONYMOUS questionnaire takes only a few minutes, and it helps us tailor our reporting to what is happening in classrooms.

Judge: Lawsuit Against SBOE Members Will Go Forward

State superintendent Glenda Ritz and the rest of the DOE are accepting public comment on their draft proposal to the keep the state's No Child Left Behind waiver.

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

State superintendent Glenda Ritz sued the State Board of Education last October, but the suit was thrown out. Now four private citizens who filed the same suit on her behalf are getting traction with the lawsuit.

A Marion County judge says a lawsuit against the State Board of Education from four private citizens will not be dismissed and will get a closer look in court.

Judge Cynthia Ayers ruled against the State Board’s request to dismiss the suit, saying proper discovery must be made before a ruling can be issued.

The Associated Press reports on the details of the suit:

At question is whether board members violated Indiana’s open meetings laws by circulating a letter seeking changes in who calculates the state’s “A-F” school grades.

The suit mirrors a challenge state Schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz filed last year against board members. A Marion County judge dismissed that challenge on the grounds that she could not file a challenge without the approval of the state attorney general’s office.

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Indiana Child Care Expensive, But Quality Is Improving

Children at Emerson Elementary School in Seymour participate in the Kindergarten prep program.

Rachel Morello / StateImpact Indiana

Children at Emerson Elementary School in Seymour participate in the Kindergarten prep program.

Lately, we’ve been writing a lot about little kids – how the new pre-k pilot will enroll more of them into a quality education early on, why encouraging their education from birth helps them down the road, and now, the high cost of putting a child in day care.

According to a report released this month by the Hamilton Project, single mothers in Indiana spend 27 percent of their earnings on childcare, the second highest in the country. And the first report from the state’s Early Learning Advisory Committee, a group of early education stakeholders appointed by Governor Pence according to legislation passed in 2013, echoes these sentiments. According to the report released June 30, 67 percent of children in the state require child care, yet for many families one-third of their income is used to pay for the care.

Helping low-income families and single parents pay for childcare is one of ELAC’s goals going into the next year, but the state of child care in Indiana is not all negative. Continue Reading

How Indiana’s A-F School Rating System Could Change

We mentioned last week what former state superintendent Tony Bennett had to say about Indiana’s A-F school accountability system, now that he’s been cleared of charges of unfairly changing the system back when he was schools chief.

A-F accountability panel co-chairman Steve Yager listens as Claire Fiddian-Green and Steve Baker discuss their ideas about measuring student growth.

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

A-F accountability panel co-chairman Steve Yager listens as Claire Fiddian-Green and Steve Baker discuss their ideas about measuring student growth.

Bennett called the system “confusing,” and he’s not the only one. Current policymakers think something should be done to correct that.

So, like many other things in Indiana’s education system these days, A-F policies are getting a makeover. A panel of policymakers from the state’s Department of Education and the governor’s Center for Education and Career Innovation is in talks to tweak those policies, to make them clearer for schools and families.

The group released a timeline in June about where the state plans to move with the new system. Emphasizing student growth is a priority, according to Claire Fiddian-Green, special assistant for education innovation to Governor Mike Pence.

“Let’s measure how close a student is to being on target, or whether they’re above target, and if they’re below target, just how below target are they,” Fiddian-Green says.

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