Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Listen: Inside Indiana’s Academic Standards Rewrite

Manchester University professor Tim Brauch lectures his discrete math class. Brauch has been involved in the rewrite of Indiana's K-12 standards.

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

Manchester University professor Tim Brauch lectures his discrete math class. Brauch has been involved in the rewrite of Indiana's K-12 standards.

Manchester University professor Tim Brauch wasn’t always sold on the Common Core — at least not at first.

While working on his doctorate in industrial and applied mathematics at the University of Louisville five years ago, Brauch participated in a fellowship program teaching elementary math.

Though the program predated the Common Core, Brauch says he was expected to use many of the strategies and ideas in the nationally-crafted standards.

“My initial reaction when I saw what we were going to be doing in the classroom with these fourth, fifth and sixth graders was, ‘I don’t think this going to work,’” says Brauch. “But spending two years doing this in the classroom, I really saw that many of the ideas in Common Core were working.”

Today Brauch teaches all of the math education courses at Manchester University, as well as other courses such as discrete mathematics. His day job earned him a seat at the table during Indiana’s exhaustive standards rewrite last month.

The state used to set new expectations for what students should know and learn at each grade level every few years with little fanfare. But in recent months, academic standards have become a topic of fierce statehouse debate in Indiana. Now the State Board is on track to vote on new academic standards to replace the nationally-crafted Common Core expectations.

A Note On ‘Forced Consensus’

State education officials took feedback on the proposed expectations for Indiana schools at a series of public meetings last week.

Many Common Core opponents expressed dismay that so many of the proposed standards came from the nationally-crafted expectations for schools. But State Board of Education member Brad Oliver says that’s to be expected because any standard the K-12 educators and experts agreed met Indiana’s definition of “college- and career-ready” was included in the draft.

“You’re going to see a certain percentage of the standards come through,” Oliver told StateImpact. “That’s what forced consensus is about. It’s about a group of subject matter experts saying, ‘We agree. This meets that criteria.’”

Public comment on the proposed standards continues online through March 12.


  • Heather Crossin

    Tim Brauch should get back to us in 5-10 years, when those students being experimented on get to him in college. As was the case with the generation who suffered through the “new” math in the 60′s and 70′s, the will be woefully underprepared. Too bad an entire generation of American children will be sacrificed and suffer in the mean time. These fuzzy “approaches” are NOT what students in high performing nations are wasting their time on. They are practicing “performing procedures” and in the process they are whizzing by U.S. students!

  • Terry D

    There you go again, “Nationally-Crafted”. I still don’t see that term as correct. I worked on the State Standards, back in the day. I know the state standards had some state wide teacher input, but just some. Which teacher in our state helped write the Common Core?

    • Elle Moxley

      Hi Terry — the Common Core development teams included an elementary school teacher from Hammond and a former Purdue University professor. Hoosiers also had an opportunity to submit comments on the draft Common Core standards in March 2010 (Kentucky, as you noted, adopted before the drafts were public). More than 160 parents and K-12 educators offered their feedback at that time.

      The use of “nationally-crafted” to describe the Common Core is a stylistic decision. They are not national or federal standards because states do not have to adopt them.

      • Sdlb

        The federal government tied all kinds of funds and penalties to Common Core…so yeah, the states have to adopt them. The reason that our “new and improved” In standards are so close to CC is because the State of Indiana would lose federal monies if the standards differ by more than 15%!

      • Terry D

        Elle, Thanks for that response, would it be possible to give me the reference you used to get that information. That information would be interesting to me, in order to match that with other information about Common Core development.
        I do think 160 people for feedback would be an average of 3 people per state for feed back. Not quite crafted and a little bit national.

  • Terry D

    Your Story on Common Core has some of evidence to back up my concern. On the timeline, it says the state governors agreed to develop the Common Core Standards in 2009. In February, Kentucky adopts them. So how did all of our states get educators together and write K-12 standards and get agreement in that time period?

  • Terry D

    Elle, Thank you for the list. It is very informative. So one teacher in Indiana was involved? The 160+ is a better number. I still have no recollection of any public involvement invitation. Again thank you for the response.

About StateImpact

StateImpact seeks to inform and engage local communities with broadcast and online news focused on how state government decisions affect your lives.
Learn More »