Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

State Board Requests Changes To Meeting Procedures

State Board of Education member Brad Oliver and state superintendent Glenda Ritz listen during a January 2014 meeting.

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

State Board of Education member Brad Oliver and state superintendent Glenda Ritz listen during a January 2014 meeting.

State Board of Education members drafted a resolution they will present at Wednesday’s regularly scheduled meeting that requests the creation of an Ad Hoc committee to make amendments to state meeting procedures.

This comes after months of disagreement between the State Board of Education and state superintendent Glenda Ritz who chairs the board, including fights over agenda items, delays in delivering information from the Department of Education to the board, and of course Ritz’s lawsuit against the board regarding Indiana’s Open Door Law.

The amendments look to address the issues at the center of these past disputes. One suggested amendment would give board members, alongside the Chair, control over designating meeting dates, times and locations. Another would extend appeals by board members to the Chair’s ruling to all actions and decision.

Another even addresses the issue of these disputes head on, laying out new procedures for when board members argue with one another or the state superintendent. The amendment says if a dispute happens, rather than the Chair having final word on what is right or wrong, the issue will go to the entire board for a vote.

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Ex-Superintendent Bennett Reaches Settlement In Ethics Complaint

A settlement regarding Tony Bennett's ethics violation will be released Thursday.

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

A settlement regarding Tony Bennett's ethics violation will be released Thursday.

Indiana Inspector General David Thomas reached a settlement with ex-state superintendent Tony Bennett, regarding the ethics complaint the IG filed against Bennett in November.

Bennett was accused of using state resources during his re-election campaign in 2012, when he lost to current superintendent Glenda Ritz.

The State Ethics Commission announced today they will consider the the settlement at a public meeting Thursday at 10 a.m.

Eric Weddle of the Indianapolis Star reports Bennett’s lawyer said the details of the settlement and a report of the allegations will be available after the public meeting Thursday.

Bennett served one term as state superintendent before losing to Ritz in the 2012 election. He then served as the Florida Commissioner of Education but resigned Aug.1, 2013 after allegations that he and his team changed the school letter grades in Indiana while he was still in office.

Preschool Pilot Program Gains Traction As Planning Begins

Teacher Janet Craig helps students identify colors during at pre-kindergarten camp at Maple Elementary in Avon, Ind.

Kyle Stokes

Teacher Janet Craig helps students identify colors during at pre-kindergarten camp at Maple Elementary in Avon, Ind.

The major planning stages of the state’s preschool pilot program are getting underway this month.

The program the General Assembly passed into law this past session does not go into affect until next summer, but this month the Family and Social Services Administration is announcing participating counties, a legislative summer study committee focusing on the program is holding its first meeting, and fundraising efforts are beginning.

The FSSA plans to select in mid-July the five counties selected to participate in the program, after 18 eligible counties submitted applications. Within the counties chosen, money will go straight to families with income at or below 127 percent of the federal poverty level (around $30,000 for a family of four). They then enroll their child in an already existing preschool program, whether its at public schools, charter schools, or child care facilities ranked a Level 3 or 4 on the Paths to Quality scale.

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$3 Million Granted For Technical Career Education Statewide

$3 million in grants will help expand technical education program in Indiana.

United States Marine Corps

$3 million in grants will help expand technical education program in Indiana.

Governor Mike Pence announced today that $3 million in grant funding, the first of $4.3 million, is available for the new Innovative Career and Technical Education (CTE) curricula.

The purpose of the grants is to provide more opportunities for technical training.

The money is going directly to local organizations around the state to provide more scholarship, internship and certification opportunities in these fields. State businesses provide $4 million in matching grants as well.  Continue Reading

Why Education Starts Not In The Classroom, But In The Womb

Máire Flood explains different cues babies give for different needs to new mom Jazmin Smith. The two work together as part of the Nurse Family Partnership, which pairs Medicaid eligible new moms with a nurse, to learn best practices for raising a child.

Claire McInerny / StateImpact Indiana

Máire Flood explains different cues babies give for different needs to new mom Jazmin Smith. The two work together as part of the Nurse Family Partnership, which pairs Medicaid eligible moms with a nurse to learn best practices for raising a child.

Every week, Máire Flood arrives at Jazmin Smith’s home armed with a scale, measuring tape and binders of information about child development. All of this is used to help Smith raise her three-month-old son, Amiri-Jayden.

Flood is a nurse home visitor with the Nurse Family Partnership, an entity of Goodwill Industries that partners Medicaid eligible mothers like Smith with a nurse who helps them through pregnancy up until their child turns two. They talk about everything from what to expect during labor to breastfeeding.

“We also do what are called PIPE lessons,” Flood said. “Which is Partners In Parenting Education, and a lot of those are about being your baby’s first teacher and reading to your baby and picking up on cues and all those kinds of things.”

Smith says the parenting skills like breastfeeding, reading daily to her son and knowing what developmental milestones to look for aren’t in line with her own upbringing.  Continue Reading

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

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