The program would essentially be a teacher innovation fund, giving the State Board of Education authority to grant schools waivers from some requirements in state regulations that guide teacher compensation. To qualify, school districts would be required to submit proposals showing how they plan to “innovate and refocus resources on the classroom.”
A group of Republican senators in Congress – specifically the leaders of the Senate and House education committees – want to spearhead an overhaul of the country’s main K-12 education law, No Child Left Behind. The effort will undoubtedly spark conversations about a number of politically contentious issues, including standardized testing and federal oversight in education.
Republicans are hatching an ambitious plan to rewrite No Child Left Behind next year – one that could end up dramatically rolling back the federal role in education and trigger national blowouts over standardized tests and teacher training. NCLB cleared Congress in 2002 with massive bipartisan support but has since become a political catastrophe:…
As we’ve mentioned, the Indiana General Assembly has promised to try to balance the budget in the upcoming 2015 legislative session without increasing taxes. But even after they ring in the new year, the subject of money will be impossible to ignore.
Funding is an issue at the heart of many of the programs and projects Indiana will see in place in 2015. (Photo Credit: Teddy James/Flickr)
We’ve already outlined a few education initiatives that the General Assembly hopes to fund this session. Now let’s take a look at exactly what it would take to move forward with those proposals, plus a few others.
Charity Child Care, a provider in Indianapolis, is a Level 4 on the Paths To Quality system. Charity teachers worked with Tikila Welch, a PTQ coach, to get their national accreditation. (Photo credit: Claire McInerny/StateImpact Indiana)
If you are a parent, you know the battle with childcare: cost, quality and availability, to name a few. The state tries to make navigating that process simpler with its Paths to QUALITY ranking system for childcare and preschool providers.
It’s voluntary, but the number of providers seeking a ranking is increasing. Part of that is tied to an increase in federal funding and some of it has to do with the state’s preschool pilot program, which requires providers who accept the scholarships to be at a Level 3 or 4 on the Paths to QUALITY system.
What High Quality Preschool Looks Like
It’s music class at Wayne Township Preschool in Indianapolis, and a group of three- and four-year-olds are sitting on a carpet facing their teacher, copying her hand motions as they sing along. It resembles playtime, but principal Kathryn Raasch is quick to point out the children are learning skills that are important for their education.
“It’s all language skills, everything they do in here,” Raasch says. “Plus it’s math, repetition, repeating it’s all part of that. Music is so inclusive with all of that, plus in here we work on social-emotional skills.”
A focus on skill development is what makes Wayne Township Preschool a Level 3 on the Paths to QUALITY scale.
Every activity the children do throughout their day is part of the school’s curriculum: children share things they wish for as a teacher writes it down, they describe the items to practice color recognition and the rest of the children sit silently listening to their classmates. All of these cognitive and social skills are part of the required curriculum for a Level 3 and 4 provider, which participants in On My Way Pre-K will experience starting in January. Continue Reading →
Earlier this month, we told you about 80 private schools planning to return money to the state, following unintentional errors in calculating voucher costs. In a follow-up to that story, Stephanie Wang of The Indianapolis Star reports on who’s in charge of voucher funds – and concerns about mistakes as the program expands.
When private and parochial schools recently returned nearly $4 million in public money overcharged in state vouchers, school choice advocates lauded the self-policing efforts. But who is actually responsible for making sure such mistakes are caught? Who makes sure such errors won’t happen again?
This isn’t an unusual move – plenty of other states do it this way. In fact, the majority do.
Board members in thirty-six states plus Guam and the Northern Marianas elect their own chairs. Governors in eight other states appoint the board chair, and in Alabama the governor him- or herself serves as chair, according to the National Association of State Boards of Education.
State Board of Education members Gordon Hendry, left, Brad Oliver, David Freitas and Andrea Neal listen during a previous meeting. (photo credit: Claire McInerny)
If you’ve followed education policy in Indiana the last few years, you’ve no doubt come across news about the State Board of Education. The 11 person panel, including state superintendent Glenda Ritz, creates education policy for the state that is recommended to the legislature and the governor.
Board meeting started to become dramatic when Ritz, a democrat, was elected in 2012 and became chair of the board which is comprised of Republican governor Mike Pence and former governor Mitch Daniels’ appointees.
So how did that saga play out in 2014? Here are the highlights:
One of the board’s biggest decisions of this year was approving updated language to REPA III, the state’s alternative teacher licensing requirements. REPA III exists to put teachers with subject specific knowledge in the classroom, rather than students with education degrees. It was a controversial move to approve, with many in the public speaking out against it, saying it would put inexperienced teachers into the schools.
Pence announced in early December he wants the General Assembly to vote to remove the state superintendent as chair of the board, and let the board elect its own chair. This is also a move to get rid of disagreements between the board and Ritz, but Ritz supporters say this is not a solution, because Ritz was elected in part to serve as the chair of the board.
“Racial disparities are not easy for Americans to confront, in large part because of a long-standing reluctance to talk about issues of race and ethnicity frankly and openly,” researchers write. “But if we are to undo the racial inequities that continue to plague us, we must find constructive ways to talk about them and intervene constructively and consciously to end them.”
Federal evidence supports the idea that disparities in school discipline are only getting worse.
Forty others, plus the District of Columbia, already have state-funded pre-k. Indiana will become the 41st. President Obama has been pushing for more states to adopt preschool programs, and in doing so he’s been dropping names of states he sees as national examples, including Oklahoma, which was one of the first to offer free voluntary pre-k in 1998.
Approximately 46 percent of children across the country – approximately 3.7 million – attend preschool, according to data from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
In the early stages of planning Indiana’s program, Melanie Brizzi of Indiana’s Family and Social Services Administration gave StateImpact a list of states she considered as models for the Hoosier state’s program.
“Minnesota, Florida, Ohio, Illinois – there’s an abundance of research material we can go to,” Brizzi said.
Let’s take a look at some of those states and see how Indiana compares.