Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Here’s How Hoosiers Are Crafting The Standards That Will Replace Common Core

K-12 educators and subject matter experts are reviewing the state's academic standards.

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

K-12 educators and subject matter experts are reviewing the state's academic standards.

“The last thing we want,” says Amy Horton, Superintendent of Student Achievement and Improvement for the Indiana Department of Education, “is to have too many standards the teachers can’t teach.”

Horton is among the three or so dozen state education officials, K-12 teachers and professors who spent Thursday hammering out the details of Indiana’s next academic standards.

Their job is to whittle down several sets of student expectations into the best possible academic standards — all before next week.

It’s a tight timeline for new standards to replace the Common Core, nationally-crafted student expectations Indiana adopted in 2010. Amid backlash from Indiana lawmakers and angry parents who see them as inferior to Indiana’s old expectations, state education officials agreed to a full-scale review of the Common Core.

Teams of subject-matter experts have spent the past several weeks evaluating various sets of standards based on Indiana’s definition of college- and career-readiness:

An individual has the knowledge, skills and abilities to succeed in post-secondary education and economically viable career opportunities.

Participants reviewed several sets of standards, including both the Common Core and Indiana’s previous expectations for students. They could mark each individual standard as “aligned” with the college- and career-readiness definition, “nearly aligned” or “not aligned.”

Then, this week, teams of evaluators looked at similar standards to pick the best ones for Indiana students. For example:

A slide shows how members of the standards evaluation panel rated four similar math standards.

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

A slide shows how members of the standards evaluation panel rated four similar math standards.

“These people have done a yeoman’s amount of work in a short amount of time,” says Indiana Department of Education deputy superintendent Danielle Shockey.

The standards panels are looking for a couple of things at this point, says Shockey. They need to ensure each standard is in the appropriate grade. They’re also looking for “vertical alignment” — standards that build on each other and progress logically year over year. And they also want to ensure that there’s nothing in the standard that would dictate how it’s taught.

State education officials brought in Sujie Shin, assistant director of the Center on Standards and Assessment Implementation, to help facilitate the process.

“I think you should feel really strong and confident that this process is driving forward a set of standards for Indiana students that really reflects your definition of success and college- and career-readiness while remaining pedagogically and ideologically free,” Shin told the panels.

A Neutral Process?

Hoosiers Against Common Core, the group that led the statehouse charge against the nationally-crafted academic standards, is skeptical of the work the panels are doing. In a blog post, parent Heather Crossin writes that too many participants are on the record supporting the Common Core:

Nevertheless, as anyone who has ever followed committee work knows, the “who” is usually a far more determining factor in predicting the outcome than the “how.”  When examining the “who” of the standards review panels, it is glaringly apparent that the “new” draft standards for Indiana will most likely be a repackaged version of Common Core, or something equally as mediocre.  While they may end up being “for Hoosiers, by Hoosiers,” it’s hard to be optimistic that they will be “uncommonly high” or “among the best in the nation.”

State Board member Brad Oliver, however, says he believe the education department and the Center for Education and Career Innovation did a good job of selecting panelists who will provide an objective analysis of the standards.

“I think criticism of the process is to be expected,” Oliver told StateImpact Thursday. “I don’t think we have a perfect process; we have a useful process.”

Hoosiers Against Common Core members also questioned the credentials of several panelists during the February State Board meeting. Crossin and co-founder Erin Tuttle want more professors of mathematics and fewer professors of math education involved. But Oliver says the panelists all achieved bachelor’s and master’s degrees in math sciences before pursuing their doctorate research in teacher education.

“Why would I disqualify someone who chairs a math department, someone who is well-versed in not just the math sciences behind the standards, but how to teach the standards?” he says.

Oliver says if the draft standards aren’t satisfactory, parents and teachers will have a chance to offer feedback at public hearings. But he says he believes the process should address some of the most cited criticisms of the Common Core.

Draft standards will be posted on the Indiana Department of Education’s website on Feb. 19. They’ll be open for public comment for about three weeks. The State Board will take feedback on the draft standards at a series of public meetings later this month:

  • 3 to 7 p.m. EST, Feb. 24: Ivy Tech Community College-Southern Indiana, Horseshoe Foundation Assembly Center, Ogle Hall, Community Room, 8204 Highway 311, Sellersburg.
  • 3 to 7 p.m. EST Feb. 25: Indiana State Library, History Reference Room, 315 W. Ohio St. Indianapolis.
  •  3 to 7 p.m. EST Feb. 26: Plymouth High School, Weidner School of Inquiry Room NT 201, 810 Randolph Dr., Plymouth. Park in lot 7 and enter through door 7.

The department will be looking for feedback on specific standards, not necessarily comments on the Common Core or the standards review process.

After public comment closes, the draft standards will go back to the standards evaluation panels and to the Indiana Education Roundtable before the State Board votes April 9.


  • Victoria Z

    I pray Indiana is able to rectify federal government’s manipulation on all levels, can put differences in beliefs of CC aside and truly pen AMAZING STATE STANDARDS for our children’s sake.

    In my mind…the only reason our babies will be okay after the exposure to CC the last few years is because of the TEACHERS!!!

    TEACHERS LOVE TEACHING and knowing their students are actually learning!!!
    (Obviously, they do not get paid crap!)
    TEACHERS devote their time, energy, strength, love, compassion and inspiration!!!
    TEACHERS are working around CC, making sure their students understand the nonsense!!!


    Our school has received “A” grades for years, we received our first “B”…
    Do you really wonder why?


  • Jackie Rhoton

    I attended the
    February SBOE meeting Ms. Moxley refers to in her article as well as the
    orientation of the standards panel on February 3 and the review process
    February 13 and 14, 2014. The quote from Ms. Moxley, “Teams of subject-matter
    experts have spent the past several weeks evaluating” is
    not completely accurate. The panel was given the information in
    binders on February 3 and was instructed to have their individual results
    submitted no later than February 12, 2014 for group review February 13 and14,
    2014. I am not an educator but 10 days is not enough time to sort through
    4 different sets of standards in my opinion…unless… they only used one
    set of standards? The public was allowed to sit in on the
    meetings but were not allowed to have any contact with anyone or anything
    in the room. I understand not bothering the panel as they were trying
    to get work done but no one was allowed to even see the information that the
    panel had to go though to create the “new” standards. Everything
    was very secretive until one group (K-5 Math panel) decided they were all done
    at approx. 2:30pm Feb 14, 2014. Everyone
    started cleaning up and putting their items in bags to leave and I noticed one
    lady was not using a binder to hide her information. She put all her loose papers in a book she
    had open on the table. I was able to see
    the book title when she lifted it up to put it in her bag. Can anyone guess the name of the book??? Using Common Core Standards. I could not believe what I was seeing after I
    had thought things had actually been going good by just what I could hear from
    the shadows.

    • Karynb9

      I’m pretty sure that it actually would have been more accurate to state that the panel members have spent several years or months evaluating the standards. Do you think that these subject matter experts have never seen academic standards from Indiana, Common Core, or other states until February 3rd when they were given binders? I would frankly be quite concerned if these “experts” didn’t already have prior knowledge of the standards that they were evaluating. And, since I actually AM an educator, I can reassure you that the evaluation of four different sets of standards could certainly take less than ten days for people who are subject matter experts.

      I guess I’m confused by your last observation. You knew that Common Core standards were one of the four sets of standards being evaluated by the panels, so why are you apparently disgusted by the fact that one of the books being looked at was a Common Core standards book? Are you insinuating that the DOE/SBOE lied when they said that four different standards were looked at by the panels? Are you making the faulty generalization that since the ONE book you saw happened to be a Common Core standards book, every book at the table that was “hidden” also had to be a Common Core standards book? Really?

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