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.
Indiana Governor Mike Pence and Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin both exited the Common Core this year, but only Indiana received an extension on its No Child Left Behind waiver. (House GOP via Flickr)
Earlier this year, Governor Pence signed legislation making Indiana the first state to exit the Common Core. A few months later, Oklahoma joined the ranks, but on Thursday the two got very different news from the U.S. Department of Education: The USED granted Indiana an extension on its No Child Left Behind waiver, which exempts the state from federal requirements and gives it flexibility with federal money, whereas the USED revoked Oklahoma’s waiver.
Oklahoma is the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come in this tale of NCLB waivers and the Common Core. Both Indiana and Oklahoma dropped the Common Core after adopting it, but Indiana almost immediately released its own academic standards.
In a letter to Oklahoma state superintendent Janet Barresi, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education Deborah Delisle explained standards were the reason Oklahoma didn’t get an extension: Continue Reading →
The U.S. Department of Education extended Indiana's waiver Thursday.
The U.S. Department of Education announced Thursday it will extend Indiana’s No Child Left Behind waiver, exempting the state from requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind law.
A loss could have meant less flexibility in how federal education dollars are spent in local schools and requirements for all students to pass reading and math exams.
State superintendent Glenda Ritz said in a statement, “During my time as Superintendent, we have adopted the highest standards in Indiana history, modernized ISTEP and begun the process to strengthen our accountability system. Additionally, we have put in place a strong and positive grassroots system of outreach and support for Indiana schools. Today’s decision by the United States Department of Education validates the work that we have done.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said his department will allow states flexibility in tying student performance to teacher evaluations.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced last week his department will allow states flexibility with factoring student test scores on assessments into teacher evaluations. In response, the Indiana State Teachers Association sent a letter to Governor Pence Tuesday requesting he seek this flexibility.
I have heard from many teachers that they have not received all the support they’d want during this transition. Yet America’s teachers are making this change work – and I want to recognize and thank them for that and encourage their leadership in this time of change.
Duncan said to help teachers transition better and ensure students are still learning and not just preparing for assessments, the USED will provide flexibility options for states that request it: Continue Reading →
More than 19,000 students in Indiana use vouchers to attend private school. This inclusion makes Indiana's program the best in the country.
Indiana’s school voucher program is the best in the country according to a report released Wednesday by the Center For Education Reform. In the report, Indiana ranked highest among the 15 states that have voucher programs.
Although Indiana’s voucher program is only three years old, enrollment has increased each year with more than 19,000 students currently receiving state money for private school tuition.
Kara Kerwin, President of the Center for Education Reform, says Indiana’s program is the most inclusive because it accepts any student who meets the financial requirement and not just those who come from failing schools.
Indiana Department of Education
Indiana's requirements for eligibility in the voucher program are some of the most inclusive in the country.
The report did criticize the state’s requirement to teach certain content if the school accepts vouchers.
“One size doesn’t fit all and so dictating the content is something we look at and say ‘hey maybe that’s just a little too much overreach into the private school sector,’” Kerwin said.
State superintendent Glenda Ritz opposes the voucher program, and earlier this year the Indiana Department of Education released a report saying the program cost the state $16 million, rather than saving it $4 million as in the previous two years.
School corporations around the state are going back to school earlier, which hurts seasonal businesses like Holiday World Theme Park.
Increasingly around the state and country, the first day of school is getting earlier with some districts starting the first week of August. Research supports earlier start dates, saying it increases student retention by giving them less time over the summer to forget important information. Outside of the education community though, seasonal businesses feel the effects of the absence of free time for students during traditional summer months.
It’s not year-round school, it’s a balanced calendar
The shorter summer is because of the balanced calendar some school districts are trying. Instead of summer being about two and a half months long, the days off are spread throughout the school year. This usually means summer break is only a month and a half, but Christmas, Thanksgiving and Spring break are significantly longer.
School districts are not adopting this calendar to take summer away from kids or punish seasonal businesses; many say it’s the best thing for students.
Steve Phillips is the superintendent of Mitchell Community Schools near Bedford and says his district switched to the balanced calendar two years ago.
“I heard consistently that once students get back from a long summer, they had to take a week, two weeks, three weeks just to catch them back up to the level that they were when they left so I think there’s some merit to that concept,” Phillips says.
Good news for teenagers: doctors want you to sleep in during the week.
duhe / Flickr
A new recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests middle and high schools delay the start of their day so students get the right amount of sleep.
A new recommendation released Monday by the American Academy of Pediatrics encourages middle and high schools to push start times back, in order to align students’ academic schedules with their biological sleep rhythms.
The organization says schools should start classes no earlier than 8:30 a.m. Nationally, only 15 percent of high schools currently follow that guideline. 40 percent start classes before 8:00 a.m.
Ideally, researchers say, teenagers should get between 8.5 and 9.5 hours of sleep each night. Recent polls indicate that only 41 percent of middle school students and 13 percent of high schoolers do.
“Chronic sleep loss in children and adolescents is one of the most common and easily fixable public health issues in the U.S. today,” said pediatrician Judith Owens, who wrote the policy statement. “Studies have shown that delaying early school start times is one key factor that can help adolescents get the sleep they need to grow and learn.”
Two more Indianapolis charter schools have decided to give up their charters at the end of the 2014-15 school year.
Max Klingensmith / Flickr
Two more mayor's charters in Indianapolis will close after the end of this school year.
ADI Schools Incorporated announced Friday plans to toss out charters at Padua Academy and Andrew Academy. Both K-8 schools, authorized by Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard’s office since 2010, saw significant drops in ISTEP+ test scores this year. Padua Academy saw 39.7 percent of students pass the ISTEP+ this year, down from 52.2 percent in 2013. Andrew Academy saw a sharper decline in scores, with 31.7 percent passing this year, compared to 53.5 percent in 2013.
Come 2015-16, Padua will reopen as a Catholic school run by the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, which also plans to help the mayor’s office find another operator to run Andrew. The mayor’s staff and leaders at other local schools will help families decide whether their student should transfer or remain at the school after transition.
Is it just us, or does it seem like charters are having a rough go of it lately?
This announcement comes on the heels of another closing in Indianapolis – Flanner House Elementary, also one of the mayor’s charters. School board members voted last week to close Flanner House on September 11, after two separate state investigations found school officials cheated on 2013 and 2014 ISTEP+ exams.
Residents in Dugger continue to gain support for their new community school, as the Indiana Rail Road pledged a $50,000 donation earlier this week.
Bill Shaw / WTIU
The new Dugger Union Community Schools, which will occupy old school corporation buildings, will open August 25.
INRD’s donation is contingent upon the school’s ability to raise a sum-total in matching grants, or find a donor willing to fully match the $50,000 pledge. The money will help cover operational expenses and extracurricular activities.
INRD President and CEO Tom Hoback says Dugger is an important anchor for the company and its customers.
“Many of our employees and families live there, many generations have attended Union High School,” Hoback says. “I know it hasn’t been an easy year for Dugger parents and volunteers, but I’m proud and happy to see their efforts come through.”
Hoback says INRD is also pursuing options, along with partner Peabody Energy, the local carpenters union and other local employers to provide in-class training for Dugger-Union students who wish to pursue a career in vocational trade industries.
The Mayor’s Office of Education Innovation began investigating the school after it showed “extraordinarily high gains” on ISTEP+ tests in 2013 and 2014. OEI notified the Indiana Department of Education, requesting they conduct a follow-up investigation. IDOE has since invalidated Flanner House’s ISTEP+ results, as well as stripped the school of its “A” grade and four-star school award, received for high passing rates.