Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Dugger Receives $50,000 Donation For New Community Charter School

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.

The new Dugger Union Community Schools, which will occupy old school corporation buildings, will open August 25.

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.

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Indianapolis Charter Closes Amid ISTEP+ Cheating Allegations

Updated 12:58 p.m.: 

A charter sponsored by Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard’s office is closing after allegations of cheating on ISTEP+ tests.

The Indiana Department of Education found a number of issues with ISTEP+ scores and testing practices at Flanner House Elementary School in Indianapolis.

Eric Zelenka / Flickr

The Indiana Department of Education found a number of issues with ISTEP+ scores and testing practices at Flanner House Elementary School in Indianapolis.

Ballard on Thursday morning accepted the decision by Flanner House Elementary Charter School’s Board of Directors to surrender its charter and close the school, effective September 11.

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.

According to a press release from Ballard’s office, state officials found:

  • An unusually high number of changes from wrong to right answers on the school’s 2013 ISTEP+ tests.
  • Adult handwriting in student answers on the 2013 test.
  • Students were given test questions prior to test administration in 2014.
  • Teachers revised and edited student responses to real ISTEP questions prior to administering the 2014 test.
  • Flanner House failed to follow several testing security procedures, in particular forging testing integrity agreements in 2013.

The City and State are also referring information from their investigation to the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office to determine whether criminal charges may be warranted.

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Non-Teaching Personnel Now Account For Half Of District Staffs

With few exceptions, the number of staff in schools is growing, but most of them are not teachers.

According to a report published last week by the Fordham Institute, the number of non-teaching personnel in schools has increased over the last half century at a rate that outpaces even the growth of teachers and students.

The number of teachers' aides on public school staffs has increased by 130 percent since the year 1970.

Rachel Morello / StateImpact Indiana

The number of teachers' aides on public school staffs has increased by 130 percent since the year 1970.

Since 1970, the total number of employees in the nation’s schools grew from 3.4 million to 6.2 million, an 84 percent increase. During that same period, the student population grew only by about 8 percent. In other words, for every four children added to American schools, districts hired three adults.

The number of teachers added has steadily increased, but what comes as a surprise to many is that non-teaching personnel have accounted for the majority of the growth on staffs. This group increased in size by more than 130 percent, and they now make up close to half of the average public school district’s workforce, counting about 3 million nationwide.

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New Federal Money Could Help Indiana’s Early Education Initiatives

Claire McInerny / StateImpact Indiana State superintendent Glenda Ritz speaks to early educators Tuesday at Ivy Tech in Bloomington.

Claire McInerny / StateImpact Indiana

State superintendent Glenda Ritz speaks to early educators Tuesday at Ivy Tech in Bloomington.

State superintendent Glenda Ritz says Indiana will apply for a federal grant that would help establish infrastructure to create high quality preschool for all children throughout the state. Ritz spoke about the grant opportunity Tuesday during her opening remarks at the Indiana Department of Education sponsored Early Learning Summit, which gathered early educators and IDOE staff to look at the major issues facing those who teach children from birth to third grade.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education announced the grant Ritz is talking about, which would provide $250 million to selected states. In a statement released last week, the USED describes how this grant is for states like Indiana with no universal preschool infrastructure in place:

The goal of Preschool Development Grants is to support states – including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico – in building, developing and expanding voluntary, high-quality preschool programs in high-need communities for children from low- and moderate-income families. The new grant program will be jointly administered by the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services.

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IDOE Appoints Staffer To Help Low-Performing Schools In Gary

A turnaround operator has run Theodore Roosevelt College & Career Academy in Gary since the state intervened in 2012. Many schools in Gary are at risk of this.

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

A turnaround operator has run Theodore Roosevelt College & Career Academy in Gary since the state intervened in 2012. Many schools in Gary are at risk of this.

A member of the Indiana Department of Education staff will spend the year in Gary working with Gary Community Schools, which is labeled as “high risk” because of consistently low ISTEP+ scores the last few years.

Daniel Brundidge, a member of the IDOE’s Outreach Division of School Improvement staff, will serve as the liasion between the Gary Community School Corp. and the IDOE.

The IDOE said in a statement released last week that Brundidge “will be based on site and work alongside Gary Community Schools staff to oversee the implementation of federally funded programs while also serving as the chief liaison between the Department and Gary.” The statement went on to say the department hopes the partnership “will improve collaboration between the Department and Gary, while also focusing on the turnaround principles of effective leadership, school climate and culture, and effective instruction.”

Brundidge will work full time with the school corporation over the next school year.

18 States Get NCLB Waiver Extension, Indiana Continues To Wait

Indiana applied for an extension to its No Child Left Behind waiver at the end of June.

Frederick Florin / AFP / Getty Images

Indiana applied for an extension to its No Child Left Behind waiver at the end of June.

The U.S. Department of Education announced Thursday No Child Left Behind waiver renewals for five states, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi North Carolina and Wisconsin, but Indiana is still waiting to hear about the fate of its waiver.

The U.S. Department of Education wrote in a statement Thursday:

In order to receive an extension, states must demonstrate that they have resolved any state-specific issues and next steps as a result of the Department’s monitoring, as well as any other outstanding issues related to ESEA flexibility. States could also request additional amendments to support their continuous improvement efforts.

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Video: An Illustrated Guide For Teachers For This School Year

This school year holds a lot of changes for Indiana teachers: new standards, an unknown assessment, and uncertainty regarding the state’s No Child Left Behind waiver to name a few. StateImpact Indiana’s Claire McInerny talked with national standards consultant Schauna Findlay Relue to get some tips for teachers. Below is an illustrated version of those tips. Share your own tips you’ve discovered through professional development this summer or the first few weeks of the school year in the comments below.

 

 

As New School Year Begins, Teachers Cope With Education Changes

Teachers around the state are trying to adjust to new standards and anticipate the unknown assessment students will take this spring.

MyTudut (flickr)

Teachers around the state are trying to adjust to new standards and anticipate the unknown assessment students will take this spring.

The saga of education policy in Indiana has waged in both the statehouse and the classroom the last few years. Academic standards, the No Child Left Behind waiver, and the state assessment have all become points of contention, and this fall all of these changes are coming to a head for teachers and students.

Many Indiana teachers skipped summer vacation this year to re-evaluate lessons created for Common Core standards, and try to anticipate what the new assessment will ask of students.

Navigating The Unknown

Tami Geltmaker, an administrator in the Crawford County School Corporation, is one of those teachers and says she is facing more changes this year than any of her previous 31 years as an educator.

In July, Geltmaker joined dozens of school administrators from Southern Indiana for a professional development session in Huntingburg. She said she was looking for tips to help her prepare lessons around the state’s new academic standards and the new assessment students will take this spring.

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Indiana Releases First Statewide Report On School Bullying

Indiana’s first statewide report on bullying found more than 9,400 incidents at state public schools last year.

Indiana's state public schools reported more than 9,400 bullying incidents last year.

charamelody (Flickr)

Indiana's state public schools reported more than 9,400 bullying incidents last year.

Data collected by the Indiana Department of Education shows 44 percent of cases reported during the 2013-14 academic year were verbal and 21 percent physical. The rest involved written or electronic threats, as well as social relational issues.

Emma Donnan School, a takeover school operated by Charter Schools USA in Indianapolis, reported the most incidents at 128.

Eric Weddle of the Indianapolis Star reports that close to one-quarter of the 1,000 individual schools surveyed reported no bullying incidents:

Rep. Greg Porter, D-Indianapolis, author of the legislation, called the report a big step forward for Indiana’s anti-bullying initiatives.

“The whole point is to look at the education atmosphere of our children,” he said. “This is why we have the data, to give schools tools to address it.”

But Porter questioned why more than 240 schools, of the more than 1,000 individual schools in the data, reported no incidents.

When the legislation was debated, Porter said, there was concern some schools might not report to avoid “looking bad,” he said. That makes it difficult for meaningful comparisons among the schools.

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Old Dugger School Buildings To House New Community Charter School

As we mentioned yesterday, a new charter school will open in Dugger later this month, thanks to a partnership with the Indiana Cyber Charter School. And after a school board meeting last night, the new charter school has a home in two of the school district’s old school buildings.

The Northeast School Corporation School Board voted 5-0 for the sale of the former Union High School and Dugger Elementary properties at a meeting Monday night.

A new charter school in Dugger will now occupy the former Dugger Elementary school building, as well as the Union Junior/Senior High School.

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

A new charter school in Dugger will now occupy the former Dugger Elementary school building, as well as the Union Junior/Senior High School.

This is the same board that voted last December to close the Dugger Union Community Schools because of budget shortfalls.

The entire process began in February of this year, when the NESC school board signed a resolution to put both schoolhouses on the Indiana Department of Education’s vacant school building list. Board members finalized registration to that list on July 31, and the very next day Dugger Union Community School reps penned letters of interest in both buildings.

The transfer of the property actually took place last week – Monday’s action was simply a legal formality.

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