Yesterday, we reviewed the biggest education surprises of the year. Today we want to review the biggest legislative decisions regarding education in Indiana.
Here are some of the key proposals the 2014 General Assembly and the governor put into law this year, as well as what we can expect for 2015.
Pre-K Pilot Program
Easily one of the biggest pieces of legislation passed, House Bill 1004 created the On My Way Pre-K pilot program. Since the governor signed it into law earlier this year, the program moved forward at full speed, with the Family and Social Services Administration selecting the five counties chosen to participate, issuing applications for providers and families, and preparing for a January launch in four of the counties.
Once scholarships are issued to the first group of students, the research portion of the pilot will begin. The legislation requires students participating in the program to be assessed using a kindergarten readiness assessment. A longitudinal study will also be conducted, but the format of that study has not been released.
New Academic Standards
After Governor Pence signed a bill removing Indiana from the Common Core, the General Assembly passed legislation mandating the state board of education create new standards by July 1. They did, and teachers throughout the state have spent the first semester of this school year implementing these standards and preparing kids for a new version of the ISTEP+ that will match them.
Executive Order Dissolving CECI
Only a year after creating the new education agency, Governor Pence signed an executive order a few weeks ago dissolving the Center for Education and Career Innovation. This will change the format of education decisions in the state, since CECI and the Department of Education worked together to pass education policies at state board of education meetings.
Now that there aren’t two separate agencies working together, it will be interesting to see if the conflicts on the SBOE subside or take a new form.
Looking ahead to 2015
The upcoming session will determine the budget for the next two years, and state superintendent Glenda Ritz is asking for a significant increase for the Department of Education, around $200 million. Ritz’s budget proposal seeks to eliminate textbook fees for all families as well as pay for a new assessment for the 2015-2016 school year.
Legislators have not released bills for the upcoming session yet, but the cost of a new assessment will be a crucial conversation for the state budget committee.