Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Indiana Education Officials Release Final Draft Of Proposed Academic Standards

State Board members Brad Oliver, left, Troy Albert and Supt. Glenda Ritz listen to testimony on proposed standards during a public meeting in Sellersburg Feb. 24.

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

State Board members Brad Oliver, left, Troy Albert and Supt. Glenda Ritz listen to testimony on proposed standards during a public meeting in Sellersburg Feb. 24.

UPDATED, 4:30 p.m. EST: State education officials have released a final draft of the academic standards likely to replace Common Core in Indiana.

They asked nine experts in the fields of math and English language arts to weigh in on an earlier draft of the standards.

One expert, former University of Arkansas professor and vocal Common Core critic Sandra Stotsky, refused to participate because she says the proposed standards are too similar to the ones they replace.

Other reviewers also noted the proposed standards’ similarity. Michael Cohen is president of Achieve, the non-profit that helped develop the Common Core. He says Indiana’s efforts to rewrite standards could discourage other states from doing the same thing.

“But to go through that process for a year and end up pretty close to where they started, I think most states will look at that and say probably not a great idea if your primary concern is about making sure you have the right expectations for students,” Cohen tells StateImpact.

The proposed standards add additional expectations for upper level math. And Cohen says that’s a good thing, but he says he’s worried too many of those standards are now in elective classes, not the ones everyone takes.

On the other hand, the proposed English language arts standards are so close to the Common Core Cohen says Indiana could likely test students using the national Common Core exams.

Original post:

The new expectations for what students should know and learn at each grade level still have to pass muster with the Education Roundtable and the State Board of Education later this month.

More than 800 Indiana teachers submitted feedback on the new standards during an online public comment period in April. But the public won’t have a chance to weigh in again on the draft standards before the State Board considers them.

“Having another whole process of public review is an issue,” state superintendent Glenda Ritz said after agreeing at last week’s State Board meeting to release the drafts.

If adopted, teachers will be expected to start using the new standards in their classrooms during the 2014-15 school year. A new, statewide standardized test to replace the ISTEP+ and assess the new standards will be used in 2016.

At least one State Board member is expected to vote against the new standards. Andrea Neal has criticized the state’s tight timeline and says the process has been rushed.

“The errors they pointed out are not the kind that can be cleaned up overnight. In fact, the corrections themselves deserve careful scrutiny to make sure they are done as intended,” Neal wrote in a statement. “How can this occur in the mere five days between release of the next draft and the scheduled vote of the Education Roundtable?”


  • indyscott

    There are over 60,000 teachers in the state of Indiana yet only about 1% of them made comments during an online public comment period in April. It is kind of sad that more teachers didn’t participate.

    • Jorfer88

      So the fact that more teachers didn’t drop what they were doing to contribute to a draft they were likely not even aware of when history would indicate it would have minimal if any effect on the outcome is the sad part?

      • indyscott

        The fact is teachers had an opportunity
        to express their comments/concerns but didn’t which is sad. The
        information about public comments was published on multiple news outlets
        and considering Ritz is supposed to be for the teachers this should
        have been pushed throughout the schools so that teachers could take time
        to comment since one of the big complaints from teachers is that they
        are always left out of the process. Whether those comments would have
        any effect or not can’t be determined if you don’t make your opinion

        • Karynb9

          The primary attitude that I’m hearing overwhelmingly from teachers is “Just tell me what to teach already!” The specifics of the standards and indicators mean less than the timeline of implementation and methods of testing for most teachers. We will do our very best to teach what the board of education tells us to teach — just TELL US already!

          • Bob Eckert

            Good teachers never need to be told what to teach, because they are good teachers and together they figure out what needs to be taught at what age level. That’s how my elementary, middle and high schools did it in Bloomington when I was a student many years ago.

          • Jorfer88

            You speak of good teachers like they are all the same teacher. Even good teachers will disagree on the best style and timing for student learning (and given the differences in teachers, there isn’t set one; people ignore the art of teaching and treat it like an exact science). There needs to be a certain amount of consistency from grade to grade, however. Teachers need standards to know what the community values them teaching, and they know the reality is that administration is going to berate them (and evaluate them on) on standardized test scores and how they are meeting standards, so they have to be ready.

          • Karynb9

            I’m guessing that your teachers also got to decide whether or not you mastered the content that they decided to teach. Indiana teachers don’t have that luxury in 2014.

        • Jorfer88

          Well, many teachers did make there opinion known; 800 of them in fact (and it is probably safe to assume that this group is the ones with the strongest views on the matter). And again, what they are seeing is their opinions don’t seem to make much of a difference at all. The ones without strong views at this point probably feel (and polls with amount of “tentative support” and anecdotes indicate it is many) that whatever speeds up the process is the best way (and having less comments seem to help do that). I think a lot of teachers feel that you could throw a dart at a standards dartboard at this point and it would be a better outcome, since it would mean that whatever they are teaching they teach well as they get more prep time for it and would free the state board, districts, and schools to make decisions on something that effects them more like, oh, say, school letter grades.

    • Bob Eckert

      We should have made responding part of getting their paycheck, then they would participate.

      • Karynb9

        Yes, those crazy money-grubbing teachers who haven’t had a raise in five years in some districts…

  • Jme

    If we were being honest about the cost vs benefit of these standards, we would get rid of the tests altogether and keep the standards only as a good but evolving guideline for the teachers and schools.

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