The Indiana Department of Education is the executive agency charged with implementing policies adopted by the legislature and the governor in the state’s primary and secondary schools.
Known by the acronym “IDOE,” the department is responsible for the following:
- Assigning letter grades to the state’s schools and “turning around” those whose ratings are chronically poor.
- Coordinating Indiana’s private school voucher program.
- Administering state-mandated standardized tests.
- Overseeing compliance with federal education laws — like No Child Left Behind.
Beyond these high-profile duties, the IDOE is also charged with a number of education-related tasks, from overseeing curriculum and textbook selection, to maintaining teacher licensing records.
The department’s head, the superintendent of public instruction, is elected every four years. Under the leadership of former schools chief Tony Bennett, the IDOE pushed for an array of “market-based reforms,” including proactive interventions and outside takeovers of struggling schools, private school vouchers to increased charter school options and statewide teacher evaluations.
That led to public tussles with the Indiana State Teachers Association, the state’s largest teachers association, over collective bargaining and the private school voucher program. The ISTA backed Democrat Glenda Ritz in the 2012 election. Ritz won with 52 percent of the vote.