Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom


What The New Indiana Academic Standards Mean For Schools


House Bill 1427 — the omnibus education bill that Indiana lawmakers passed in the eleventh hour of the 2013 session — called for a thorough review of nationally-crafted academic standards known as the Common Core.

The result? New, Indiana-specific standards touted by state superintendent Glenda Ritz and Gov. Mike Pence. But opponents of the nationally-crafted standards they replaced aren’t satisfied enough has changed.

But the end result was probably to be expected — the State Board of Education adopted the Common Core standards in 2010 under the guidance of former state superintendent Tony Bennett. At the time of the pause, teachers in kindergarten and first grade were already teaching the new standards. And an agreement with the federal government to implement new standards and administer new tests meant Indiana’s next standards weren’t likely to be a dramatic departure from Common Core.

What new standards will mean for Indiana schools isn’t clear yet. Many districts have spent significant time and money aligning textbooks and curriculum to the new standards. And it doesn’t settle the question of what standardized test Indiana will use next. If the state sticks with the ISTEP+, it will need to be revised to align with the Common Core or whatever college- and career-ready standards replace it. Both the statewide accountability system and Indiana’s teacher evaluation law draw on data collected from standardized tests.

HB 1427 also makes changes to Indiana’s A-F rating system for schools. And it requires schools give Indiana’s current standardized test, the ISTEP+, through spring 2015.

That last point is key — under Bennett, Indiana agreed to take a new, nationally-developed test known as the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC. The plan was to take all-new standardized tests in 2014-15. But in July, Pence signaled his intent to withdraw from PARCC entirely.

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