HOOSIER EDUCATION WIRE 11-18-16
Student scores on the state ISTEP+ test dipped again in the second year of students being gauged on more rigorous academic standards. Overall, 66.1 percent of students in grades 3-8 passed English language arts – down from 67.3 percent last year. In math, 58.9 percent of students in those grades passed – down from 61 percent.
Congratulations to Michael Potts, a Brown County Junior High School teacher and Ellettsville resident, who has been named the 2016 Caleb Mills Indiana History Teacher of the Year. The schools in Brown County have done exemplary work in teaching history in recent years. That’s been showcased by the fact that Potts and his students have won two national titles and two runner-up titles in a program called “We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution.”
Preschool expansion will be a top priority for Indiana’s leading education policy body during the 2017 legislative session. Under a proposed version of expanded preschool in that style, families making up to twice the the federal poverty level, $48,600 for a family of four, would qualify. Other “high-needs” factors could include disability, homeless status, foster care status or incidence of child abuse or neglect. Families would be eligible for public services or pay for private services with state-funded vouchers.
HOOSIER EDUCATION WIRE 11-15-16
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HOOSIER EDUCATION WIRE 10-27-16
Indiana students are showing gains in fourth grade and eighth grade science scores, and continue to exceed the national average on a closely watched national test. Nationally, 37 percent of fourth graders and 33 percent of eighth graders were rated proficient or higher. In Indiana, 42 percent of fourth grade students and 36 percent of eighth grade students scored proficient or higher on the 2015 science test, outscoring national averages.
The Center for Evaluation and Education Policy at IU wanted to compare the school voucher programs in Indiana, the District of Columbia, Arizona, Louisiana, Ohio and Wisconsin — all places with a similar voucher program. CEEP researcher Molly Stewart says the report found that Indiana had by far the largest number of students attending private schools using state money that had never attended a public school in the first place. “More than 50 percent of current voucher recipients in Indiana have not attended a public school in the past,” Stewart says. “That is a huge number.”
The Elkhart Community Schools board of directors has approved a plan that includes unifying the district's two high schools. In a nearly-unanimous vote, the board has elected to move forward with the Elkhart Promise long-term strategic plan, which calls for combining Elkhart Memorial and Elkhart Central into one "top-tier stand alone grade 10-11-12 high school."
Preschool used to be mostly just for families who could afford it as a replacement for day care, said Debbie Harman, director of student learning for Brown County Schools. “Now we’re really looking at it as no longer a luxury, but really an opportunity that we want all kids to participate in,” she said. Yet, cost is still a barrier. Head Start, a federally funded program, also operates in Nashville, free to 3- to 5-year-olds from families below the federal poverty level. Seventeen seats are available and they’re all full with a waiting list, said center manager Aimee Nichalson of Human Services Inc. There’s an attendance cap based on state licensing and the size of the building, she said.
HOOSIER EDUCATION WIRE 10-25-16
HOOSIER EDUCATION WIRE 10-21-16
Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz has awarded more than $16 million in school improvement grants to 14 schools throughout the state. The Indiana Department of Education says the funding is awarded to schools that show a need and a commitment to use the funds to rise student achievement.
Related: Two Madison County Schools awarded federal improvement grants; SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT GRANTS; Glenda Ritz awards $16 million in school improvement grants; three Kokomo schools receive portions of the funds; State Awards $16 Million For School Improvement; Lena Dunn Elementary Receives $757,000 School Improvement Grant; Two area schools get grants;
The Dual Language Immersion Program (DLI) is underway at Parkview Elementary School. One of eight elementary schools in the Valparaiso School Corporation, Parkview is in its second year of DLI. The program began last year with native Spanish speaking, Kristin Nguyen, teaching Math in Spanish to Kindergarten students. Those students, now first graders, are continuing their Math in Spanish skills with Amelia Mota, also a native Spanish speaker. This year’s Kindergarten students are experiencing 50% of their day in Spanish.
Fort Wayne Community Schools welcomed 50 community members into schools to serve as guest principals for the annual Principal for a Day event. Guests representing local businesses, elected officials, service organizations and community groups, visited their assigned schools on Thursday. Guest principals welcomed students, dealt with concerned parents, and worked directly with teachers to improve academic achievement, according to a press release.
Rensselaer Middle School coach Mike Feagans recently received the 2016 Indiana Connected Educators Teacher of the Year Award at a special conference for the organization late last week. He was nominated for the award by Stephanie Davisson, choir teacher for several grades in the Rensselaer Central Schools Corporation.
Truman Bennet has always been good at math. Bennet is one of just 18 students in the world to achieve a perfect score — earning every point possible — on the Advanced Placement Calculus AB exam, putting him among 0.006 percent of students who took the exam, according to the College Board.
HOOSIER EDUCATION WIRE 10-18-16
HOOSIER EDUCATION WIRE 10-13-16
HOOSIER EDUCATION WIRE 10-11-16
Taylor’s education students may be surprised to learn that Indiana has one of the lowest teacher retention rates in the nation. Two main issues—working conditions and teacher compensation—resulted in Indiana’s score of only 2.17 out of a total of five possible points, according to a review of educator data conducted by the Learning Policy Institute. Only Arizona, Texas, Colorado and the District of Columbia received lower scores. As a result, the teacher shortage has become a hot topic.
After years of losing teachers to other districts, Clarksville Community Schools last year suffered a spike in turnovers, with more than one in five educators leaving. The problem was especially apparent at the district's lone middle school, where just under half of its teachers and counselors resigned or retired. High turnover is not unique to Clarksville, although the roughly 1,400-student district is losing teachers at higher rates than neighboring districts in Southern Indiana, according to state and district data.
Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment Inc. is launching a five-year effort that could provide up to $30 million to Indiana schools to help boost their counseling programs. The Comprehensive Counseling Initiative aims to help students in elementary through high school prepare for academic, career and personal success. The endowment issued a request for proposals from schools seeking grants today.
Meals served by schools serve an educational purpose. For instance, research has shown students who eat breakfast have improved attendance, behavior and test scores and decreased tardiness and discipline referrals. But Anderson Community Schools’ Highland Middle School has transformed mealtime from a passive influencer to an active incentive by creating the Highland Hangout, a special room off the main cafeteria.
Instructional math coach Mike Ewing moved around the room quickly from the board to students as he used a pizza pie to explain fractions to Merrillville Intermediate School fifth-graders. The Merrillville Intermediate School, made up of 917 fifth- and sixth-graders, has two instructional coaches who work with students. The other coach is Nikki Laird, the English/language arts instructional coach. The pair spend their days traveling from classroom to classroom working intensively with teachers and students to improve students’ understanding of the concepts, thus raising test scores.
"Well, we know how important early reading is, and how important it is for kids to hear quality literature," explained Susan Bryant, principal at Liberty Early Elementary. "So I made a challenge to my [500 pre-school and kindergarten] students that if they would read 5,000 books in 50 days, I would spend a day on the roof, and they more than exceeded the challenge! They read over 7,000 books! So, as promised, I'm up here for the whole day!"
HOOSIER EDUCATION WIRE 9-30-16
HOOSIER EDUCATION WIRE 9-27-16
Glenda Ritz, Indiana’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, released updated data from the Indiana Department of Education’s Outreach Division of School Improvement today. The data show that since the creation of the Outreach Division, 193 schools have exited focus or priority status, resulting in improving schools for more than 108,000 Hoosier students.
The old Carrie Gosch Elementary School building sits right next to the West Calumet housing complex, so it’s also on the Superfund site. One section of soil at the old building tested at dangerous lead levels. So superintendent Paige McNulty decided to move the hundreds of students to a former middle school located across town. In less than a week, contractors worked 18-hour days to lower water fountains and toilets, put the IT infrastructure back in the school and get the kitchen up to code. The district received a $3 million loan from the state this month to pay for these costs plus future construction to make the building an elementary school.
A serious teacher shortage in Indiana continues for 2016-17, according to an Indiana State University survey of school superintendents. Out of 176 superintendents responding, 162 reported shortages this year. The state has 290 school districts. The greatest shortage was in special education, followed by science, math and English, said Terry McDaniel, assistant professor of educational leadership in the Bayh College of Education, which conducted the survey. He said 106 districts reported shortages in special education; 82 districts reported shortages in math; and 67 in English.
A national study ranks Indiana among the lowest for teacher recruitment and retention. This as superintendents are having trouble finding and hiring educators. The shortage is already playing out in schools across the Wabash Valley. It’s a new year full of new opportunities for the Vigo County School Corporation, but one major problem remains the same. “There is definitely a teacher shortage not only in Vigo County but throughout the state of Indiana,” said Mick Newport, Director of Human Resources.
Rick Crosslin, Scientist at MSD Wayne Township Schools is here to talk about Celebrate Science Indiana 2016, Indiana’s premier science festival. Join them Saturday, October 1st from 9:30 am until 5:00 pm at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, Elements Financial Blue Ribbon Pavilion. This is a FREE event, and parking at the fairgrounds is $5.
Northwest Allen County Schools Superintendent Chris Himsel received a top honor Monday for his administrative abilities. Himsel was named Indiana Superintendent of the Year at the 67th annual Indiana School Boards Association/Indiana Association of Public Schools Superintendents Fall Conference.
HOOSIER EDUCATION WIRE 9-21-16
More than 40 schools from throughout the state have been named 2016-2017 Family Friendly Schools. The Indiana Department of Education says the schools were chosen "based on their commitment to addressing the needs of Hoosier students while fostering the active involvement of families and the community." The IDOE says in order to earn the recognition, schools must demonstrate a commitment to involving families and community members in student education and addressing the academic, physical, emotional and social needs of their students. Sixteen schools received the designation last year, the first year of the program.
HOOSIER EDUCATION WIRE 9-13-16
The Indiana Department of Education launched the first Indiana Digital Citizenship Week today. This week long celebration will focus on teaching students how to make safe, responsible and ethical decisions in the digital world.
Earlier this week, the United States Department of Agriculture awarded the Indiana Department of Education a $372,522 grant to expand and enhance professional development for school nutrition teams throughout the state. The Indiana Department of Education was named one of only fourteen state education agencies to receive this federal grant to support school nutrition programs.
Indiana is working to make schools even safer for all Hoosier children. Glenda Ritz, superintendent of public instruction, announced Aug. 29 at the Indiana School Safety Academy that additional efforts by the Indiana Department of Education to ensure all Hoosier students learn in an environment that is safe and welcoming are being made, according to an Indiana Department of Education press release. Ritz said the department will be expanding the services provided to local schools and law enforcement, as well as working with legislature to strengthen Indiana’s laws in the upcoming legislative session.
Public schools in Indiana serve about 2,400 students who are deaf or hard of hearing. Of those students a growing number now use cochlear implants, small medical devices that stimulate nerves in the inner ear and give a sense of hearing. As the number of students with cochlear implants grow, advocates like McCall say there’s often a disconnect between services schools offer and services these students need.
A local priest said members of his church were "blindsided" by the inclusion in an application for a charter school stating the school would be built on its property. According to its charter school application to Grace College, South Shore Classical Academy says it identified property at County Roads 700 North and 50 West, owned by St. Iakovos Greek Orthodox Church, with a plan to lease the land from the church to use for its modular classroom buildings.
Gary school officials are preparing to ask the General Assembly for tens of millions of dollars in debt relief. School Board members spoke of their hopes for debt elimination Monday night with outgoing state Sen. Earline Rogers, Eddie Melton, Democratic nominee for state Senate and Earl L. Harris Jr., the Democratic nominee for the Statehouse.
HOOSIER EDUCATION WIRE 9-1-16
HOOSIER EDUCATION WIRE 8-30-16
During opening remarks at the Indiana School Safety Academy this morning, Glenda Ritz, Indiana’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, announced additional efforts by the Indiana Department of Education aimed at ensuring that all Hoosier students learn in an environment that is safe and welcoming.
Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz released her quarterly message to Hoosier families Thursday. Ritz recently submitted her budget proposal for the upcoming biennium. This budget would provide additional funding to classrooms and specifically promotes more equitable funding and distribution of resources. Interested residents can view the department’s budget priorities online.
Some schools in parts of Indiana are having trouble finding enough teachers as the new school year begins. Muncie Community Schools officials say the district lost 53 teachers, about 11 percent of its staff, between May and Aug. 9. It hired back 13 but is still looking for three guidance counselors. Last summer, the Indiana Department of Education reported a nearly 63 percent drop in the number of licenses issued to first-time teachers, The Star Press reported.
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The Indiana Department of Education submitted its budget request for the upcoming biennium. Among other things, the budget request funds high quality, public and private pre-K throughout the state, increases funds for small schools and increases technology spending while providing a 2% increase each year in tuition support for all public schools throughout the biennium. In addition, to eliminate the textbook tax, the Department will be seeking a $1,000 tax deduction for families to help offset the costs of textbooks.
Ritz announced her spending priorities Tuesday, months before lawmakers begin negotiating the two-year state budget that the General Assembly will pass in 2017. She renewed her call for the state to provide textbook assistance for public school families — an idea the Republican-controlled legislature has declined to support. The tax deduction is estimated to cost $30 million per year. Ritz has pushed for the assistance, saying Indiana is one of a handful of states where parents cover the cost of textbook rentals and instructional materials. “The parents of children in private schools have received this tax deduction for years. It is time for middle-class Hoosiers to get a tax break as well,” Ritz said in a statement.
Currently, Indiana law only requires background checks at time of employment and only for fully licensed educators. Local districts determine how to check the histories of non-licensed staff, including coaches, custodial workers and volunteers. Education department officials said sexual misconduct could also be reduced if judges get the right to revoke teachers’ licenses when they’re involved in criminal matters. Kelly Bauder, staff attorney with the Indiana Department of Education, said there’s another loophole to address. She said prosecutors often neglect to let the department know when teachers are involved in sexual misconduct cases. That notification is required by law.
A group of companies and community organizations announced a campaign, “All IN 4 Pre-K” aimed at raising awareness of the need for quality preschool and urging lawmakers to back their plan for a bigger state program. The group gathered today at a Early Learning Indiana-run preschool just north of downtown promised a big push to make it happen this time when the Indiana General Assembly returns for the 2017 session in January.
Boulder-based The Kitchen Community was co-founded in 2011 by Kimbal Musk, younger brother to high-tech entrepreneur Elon Musk. Musk said The Kitchen Community has been working for the past year or so to lay the groundwork to launch in Indianapolis. The goal is to connect with areas that are receptive to The Kitchen Community’s vision.
HOOSIER EDUCATION WIRE 8-11-16
The Indiana Department of Education is seeking $4 million in damages from the company that created last year’s problem-filled ISTEP+ test. The state accuses CTB, now Data Recognition Corporation, of not living up to contractual duties after the company substantially delayed releasing 2015 ISTEP+ scores. Ritz said the a request of $4 million dollars is “appropriate” because of damages the state sustained during last school year. Since ISTEP+ scores play heavily into formulas that calculate student grades, school ratings, teacher evaluation and teacher pay, the delays set off a chain reaction throughout the state, prompting the General Assembly to take action to minimize the damage.
High school students in Indiana schools will soon face a new standardized test, but it’s exact characteristics are still undetermined. This new version of the high school test was the focal point during Tuesday’s meeting by the panel that will recommend how to replace the state’s current assessment, known as ISTEP+.
Cari Whicker, a 6th grade teacher at Riverview Middle School in Huntington, was elected vice-chair of the Indiana State Board of Education. Whicker succeeds Sarah O’Brien who announced her resignation from the board in July to take care of her ill daughter. Whicker teaches language arts and social studies. She was appointed to the SBOE in 2012 by former Gov. Mitch Daniels. Gov. Mike Pence re-appointed Whicker in 2015.
Advocates for a state-funded prekindergarten program, working to build grass-roots support for a lobbying blitz in next year’s Indiana General Assembly, outlined their plans Wednesday in South Bend. The advocacy campaign “All IN 4 Pre-K,” led by Early Learning Indiana, hosted a community presentation at El Campito Child Development Center. The event’s goal was to educate the public about the benefits of high-quality pre-K programs and the need to seek support from the state legislature now.
Some members of a state panel charged with recommending a replacement for Indiana's unpopular ISTEP student exam want to stop tying test results to teacher pay. The 23-member committee, which includes educators, state officials and academics, met Tuesday for its fourth monthly session. It faces a December deadline for suggestions to be considered during next year's legislative session.
HOOSIER EDUCATION WIRE 8-9-16
As students return from summer break, southeast Indiana schools are among those experiencing the effects of a teacher shortage. Between 2009 and 2015, there has been a 33 percent decline in the number of first-time teacher licenses being awarded by the Indiana Department of Education. Licenses issued to first-time teachers was down 21 percent in just one year, 2015 compared to 2014. “There is indeed a teacher shortage. Anyone who is close to the situation can verify it,” Jac-Cen-Del Community Schools superintendent Tim Taylor tells Eagle Country 99.3. “Good people simply are choosing not to enter in to the profession as reflected in the drastic enrollment decline in education majors at most Indiana universities,” adds South Dearborn Community Schools superintendent John Mehrle.
Teachers are creating these transformative moments all the time. As Bruni told it, you have to pay attention to pick up on them. So, I asked around town, including the guy sitting on stage that night with Bruni. Tell me about a transformative educational experience you’ve had and the teacher who provided it.
As summer comes to a close within the next week or two for nearly every nearby district, the shop was buzzing late last week with teachers scrambling to get ready for another year. Founded in 2004, Teachers Warehouse is organized by the Bloomington Rotary Club and receives monetary and supply donations from anyone and everyone, including area retired teacher groups. The warehouse's mission is to serve the educational and creative needs of the children of south-central Indiana by providing their teachers with whatever materials they might need free of charge.
A former librarian and media specialist, Ritz spent much of her career thinking about how new technology fit into the larger learning environment. "Infusion of technology has always been my thing, It is ever-changing," Ritz said, adding that adults have to adjust to the changing conditions, so it is good for students to be introduced to new innovations. It was a way for Ritz to see the good that Department of Education is doing at the local level, as the 1:1 rollout was made possible by an Innovation Planning Grant and a Digital Learning Grant, both through the DOE Office of eLearning.
Officials estimate they've served 3,000 meals to children. They'll continue serving food to hungry kids in Vigo County until school starts next week. "There are many, many children in the Terre Haute area and Vigo County that, if it were not for the schools and programs like Ryves, would not receive any meals to eat," says Jim Edwards with Ryves Youth Center. While these local programs can always use donations, they're reimbursed by the Indiana Department of Education for the children they serve
HOOSIER EDUCATION WIRE 8-2-16
The 2016-17 school year was supposed to be the last year for ISTEP testing, but a panel tasked with picking a replacement has doubts about how possible that is. The panel, established by the Indiana General Assembly to create a new statewide test, has held three meetings, and members still aren't sure what kind of test they want to consider. Testing experts have told the committee building a test can take up to two years, which has some members wondering if they need to push back the ISTEP's demise.
School districts in Clark and Floyd counties are looking for warm bodies to fill some seats as the school year kicks off, but they’re not necessarily looking for students. In the four school districts, about 130 jobs are posted. But she said as far as teaching positions go, it’s still difficult to find qualified candidates to fill those jobs. School districts often work to get emergency teaching licenses through the state Department of Education to make sure they’ve got the staff they need.
Schools across Indiana are gearing up to welcome students back for a new academic year, with some already in session. As students return to school, it also means it’s time for school meals to begin again. Just in time, the Indiana Department of Education has released new statewide guidelines for free and reduced price school meals.
A lot has changed in the world of early childhood education since the Friends of Preschool Academy opened in 1976. Schools are jumping on board now and trying to offer more for 3-5 year old children, but Friends Preschool was "ahead of our time, so to speak," said voluntary director Joan Eikenberry. The basic mission -- to give children a "good start" -- hasn't changed, she said.
On Monday, 240 K-12 students showed up. That's an increase from last fall, when there were only 219, said superintendent Alan Hayne. And he expects more to trickle in as other area districts return to school. But Hayne has previously said the district needs about 400 students to avoid deficit spending in the future. Luckily, until now Union had a healthy cash balance saved up, but it's quickly being spent as the district receives less money from the state.
HOOSIER EDUCATION WIRE 7-26-16
As a member of this panel, I approached this work with excitement over how it could bring meaningful change to our classrooms for both our students and our teachers. As the state superintendent, I met with the committee’s chairman prior to the panel’s first meeting and promised that the Indiana Department of Education would provide any and all necessary resources to this panel as it finds a way beyond ISTEP. Personally, I prepared to bring much-needed ideas about a streamlined, student-centered testing system that can actually inform teaching and learning.
Schools will start soon, but where you live doesn’t necessarily determine where you go to school anymore. Families can choose where to go to school — private, charter or public school. The aim behind providing this choice? Proponents say it will force all schools to better themselves. Whether it has done that remains controversial. But it has given birth to a new reality for public schools: with education competition, comes the need for education marketing.
July's not even over, but some students already head back to school this week. Some southern Indiana schools with shorter summer breaks are preparing to welcome students and parents. About 10,500 students head back to Greater Clark County Schools Thursday. They will see 21 new teachers and 7 new principals this year who have moved up.
In November, Zionsville voters passed a six-year school-funding referendum, which maintained a tax rate of 24 cents per $100 of net-assessed value. As part of that, the district was able to hire a physical-education/wellness teacher for each of the five elementary schools. Since the 2011-12 school year, the classroom teachers had to pick up the slack by instructing physical education and wellness.
As schools across the country to continue to invest in 21st Century technology, Rush County Schools is no exception and continues to enhance its technology offerings for staff, students, and the surrounding community funded in part with the competitive 2016 Indiana Department of Education Digital Learning Grant.
HOOSIER EDUCATION WIRE 7-21-16
HOOSIER EDUCATION WIRE 7-19-16
HOOSIER EDUCATION WIRE 7-14-16
State Superintendent Glenda Ritz said addressing teacher shortages will be a priority during next year’s legislative session. “We’re developing a legislative agenda,” Ritz said Tuesday at an event for teacher leaders in Indianapolis. “We are going to be getting groups together to make sure we are always on the next steps: What it is we need to do and where it is that we’re headed.” Ritz’s effort continues a conversation that began last year when some Indiana districts reported problems finding teachers and keeping them in the classroom, but despite many debates and a 49-member panel dedicated to finding solutions, legislators took little action, passing just two laws that aligned with the panel’s recommendations.
For some students of the Indianapolis Public School system, their summer has been a bit more enjoyable and stress free knowing that they can enjoy a breakfast and lunch each weekday provided by IPS. Since mid-June, Indianapolis Public Schools has been providing breakfast and lunch to district students at 29 locations (including schools) throughout the city during summer break. Currently, thousands of students have participated in the program, with weekly meal totals averaging 2,526 for breakfast and 3,555 for lunch..
Over the past few weeks, incoming kindergartners have been spending time at Green Valley Elementary learning lessons that will help them when school starts in two weeks: how to open their own cartons of milk, how to share on the playground, how to identify letters and numbers. Those may seem like basic skills, but the extra four weeks of practice during the school’s Begindergarten program will help students without preschool experience prepare for the “huge adjustment when you go from nothing to a full-day kindergarten program,” said Brian Kehrer, principal of the New Albany, Ind., school.
HOOSIER EDUCATION WIRE 7-12-16
As Indiana tries to decide the future of testing in classrooms across the state, it’s also dealing with complicated new federal rules. After years of adapting its testing program to meet the stringent requirements of the Bush-era No Child Left Behind Act, Indiana officials are figuring out how to take advantage of the new flexibility allowed under the new Every Student Succeeds Act. The new education law doesn’t take full effect until next year, but state officials are starting to get ready. Here’s what you need to know about the new law and how it could affect schools in the state.
Brownsburg East Middle School hosted bus drivers from around the state at the annual School Transportation Association of Indiana’s (STAI) School Bus Safety Competition in June. This competition was designed to recognize excellence in school bus drivers as well as afford them the opportunity to demonstrate the skills and responsible performance of their demanding jobs. The general education competition was broken into three segments including a pre-trip inspection, a written test and a skills test. The pre-trip event was scored as one event. The written and skills test was combined. The top winner of the written and skills tests is afforded the opportunity to represent Indiana at the International Safety Competition. This year, the International Safety Competition will be July 17 in Greensboro, N.C.
With mounting pressure from local charter schools and voucher schools, the district partnered with Gary-based Social Media Development Group, a social media and marketing company, in March to develop strategies to better communicate positive school news with the public, Gary school Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt said. Thousands of Gary students are enrolled in charter schools, which are public schools but operate with different rules. And 688 Gary students have left the district to use a voucher, called a choice scholarship, and enroll in a private school, according to the Choice Scholarship Program Annual Report: Participation and Payment Data prepared by the Indiana Department of Education and released in April. That alone caused the Gary School Corp. to lose nearly $3.5 million. The Indiana Choice Scholarship allows students to use public school tax dollars to attend a private school.
HOOSIER EDUCATION WIRE 7-1-16
Indianapolis Public Schools elementary buildings are more segregated today than they were when the busing program began in 1981. Back then, just 4 percent of elementary schools had at least 75 percent of students of one race — white or black. Today, after decades of departures by middle-class families to the suburbs, the percentage of segregated schools in IPS is now up to 20 percent — five times more than when busing began.
Most of the legislation passed by the General Assembly last session goes into effect July 1. Following is a list of this year’s new laws. HEA 1002- Next Generation Hoosier Educators Scholarship Program and Fund, HEA 1395- ISTEP Panel and HEA 1219 High School Diplomas.
Although there’s considerable research on the elements of high-quality preschool and its many benefits, particularly for low-income children and English learners, there’s little information available to policymakers about how to convert their visions of good early education into on-the-ground reality. This report and brief fill that gap by describing and analyzing how four states - Michigan, West Virginia, Washington and North Carolina—have built high-quality early education systems.
As enrollment drops in the state’s rural schools, educators are left with a big challenge – find money to teach the kids who remain. Indiana Public Broadcasting’s Peter Balonon-Rosen takes us back to a small northern Indiana school district where administrators spent the final day of the academic year scrambling to figure out how they will manage when classes resume in the fall.
HOOSIER EDUCATION WIRE 6-28-16
Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz hosted a statewide summit on the Every Student Succeeds Act to prepare schools for the implementation of the federal education law. The summit is a key part of the Indiana Department of Education’s stakeholder engagement initiative under the Every Student Succeeds Act. With more than 250 school leaders in attendance, the summit featured expert presentations on assessments, accountability, and federal funding from the Council of Chief State School Officers.
Summer food programs kicked off across the state this month. Many low-income children rely on these USDA food programs when school’s not in session, but an estimated 80 percent of Indiana’s children in need of the federal program may not be able to access it. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz says one challenge is letting people know where these distribution centers are. "We have to make sure we get the word out to as many families as possible to be sure they continue to have that kind of food during the summer months, as I’ve said before ‘you feed the body, you feed the mind,’" Ritz said. The DOE is running more ads this year, and it has a new text message campaign. But Ritz says, even if they reach more people, they still have a another problem: transportation.
Noblesville Schools announced June 8 the Indiana Dept. of Education has selected the Girls Coding Club at the school for recognition as part of a program aimed at highlighting high-quality education practices throughout the state. The Girls Coding Club is part of a larger computer coding initiative at Noble Crossing and was developed by Media Specialist Jessica Homan in an effort to better engage girls in computer coding.
Approximately 650 educators interrupted their summer vacations to attend Madison County's second eLearning conference at Anderson University on Tuesday and Wednesday. Keynote speakers talked about the ways technology is changing how teachers interact with students and the importance of fostering curiosity to achieve better engagement and understanding of complex — and historically dreary subjects — from science and mathematics, to languages and social studies.
The Butterfly Project took flight when East Allen Alternative School science teacher Jan Hipskind read a newspaper article about the plight of monarch butterflies. Then the idea came to her like a “little flutter of butterfly wings. Students learned to plant, build, take photos, paint and nurture. They went on field trips to the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory and purchased larvae through the conservatory. They visited Fox Island where naturalist Jeff Ormiston passed on his enthusiasm for preserving the monarchs, along with some native plants.
HOOSIER EDUCATION WIRE 6-23-16
Teachers learned the A to Z of internet safety, cyberbullying and teaching about digital literacy during the third annual eLearning Conference at Lowell High School this week. The two-day conference, held Tuesday and Wednesday, was sponsored in part by the Indiana Department of Education and included national and local speakers and workshops highlighting local educators. Experts say eLearning is simply learning to utilize electronic technologies to access education curriculum outside the traditional classroom — learning delivered online, via the internet. Kate Bieker, a reading teacher at Willowcreek Middle School in Portage, said the session on digital citizenship is especially important, because so many students don’t understand the consequences of putting comments on social media.
There is one slide that no one gets excited about. No, it’s not the metal ones that burnt the skin to the touch. It’s called the “summer slide.” Hoover Principal Marci Galinowski and South Montgomery Superintendent Shawn Greiner are big advocates of a free online book rental program through the Indiana Department of Education. “Reading daily throughout the summer is a great way to continue and develop reading skills and develop the passion of reading while acquiring new information,” Greiner said. “Through the Indiana Department of Education, students can access thousands of free digital books.”
The project created by Sturgeon and Businger — "Rollin' With Our Readers" — focuses on bringing the first-graders of Battle Ground and their parents together to encourage reading comprehension at home. The Lafayette Breakfast Optimist Club chose the project as a recipient of one of its many community grants. The series of books — "We Both Read" — features fiction and nonfiction stories at a level the children can read while alternating pages at a higher level for parents to read aloud. Each week, the teachers send the books home with students along with a large foam dice with comprehension questions on its faces that relate to story plots.
In the past four decades, spending on “education extras” has rocketed from wealthy families yet remained level in other income groups. According to new research published in a journal from the American Educational Research Association, spending on childcare and learning enrichment goods for children younger than 6 years old has grown significantly among the wealthiest U.S. households since the 1970s. At the same time, it’s remained stagnant for all other income groups.
Implementation of dual credit programs varies widely across and within districts in the number and type of courses available and in costs to students. Each district partners with two or more postsecondary institutions to offer the desired dual credit programs and courses. The most common configuration involves dual credit courses offered at a high school and taught by high school teachers with the credentials to teach such courses. Barriers to expanding dual credit programs in the six districts include the limited availability of high school teachers with appropriate credentials, limited access to courses and instructors in isolated rural districts, financial burden for students and families, and lack of dedicated staff to manage dual credit programs. Dual credit programs enable high school students to earn college credit at reduced cost, but the financial burden on students varies across school districts and program configurations
HOOSIER EDUCATION WIRE 6-16-16
Indiana educators who want the state to consider replacing ISTEP with an exam that would give teachers immediate feedback about their students might have new reason to be optimistic. State Superintendent Glenda Ritz said she thinks new flexibility under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act would allow Indiana to move away from a pass/fail test and toward a MAP-like exam.
Glenda Ritz leaned over and chatted with Nadia Hayes as the young girl ate a dinner of mashed potatoes, roast beef, green beans, fresh fruit salad and milk at Ryves Youth Center. “We talked about our love of potatoes,” said Ritz, the state superintendent of public instruction, after Hayes had eaten every last bite of her mashed potatoes — first thing. Ritz visited the youth center late Wednesday afternoon to promote the Summer Food Service Program, which provides Hoosier children with access to nutritious meals; Ritz has been visiting sites around the state.
The Indiana Dual Language Immersion Pilot Program provides grants to school corporations that establish or expand dual language immersion programs in Mandarin, Spanish, French, or other languages approved by the Department. “Programs like these expand opportunities for our students and allow them to learn in an environment that few Hoosiers get to experience. Today’s grant recipients have created innovative and sustainable plans that focus on providing high-quality instruction while following a student-centered approach to learning.”
Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz made a special appearance. She told members of the National FFA Organization that agricultural education is a key part to the state’s economy. “Kids are so involved in their agricultural studies and innovations involved with that. I’ve seen a lot of exciting work with technology just within the last few years,” Ritz said. “The agriculture of today is not the agriculture of the past.” She said agriculture education is now more than just the study of plants. “The kids who want to go into agriculture today want to utilize any kind of technology or any kind of innovation at their fingertips,” said Ritz. “As we always should.”
Full-time virtual charter schools have become increasingly popular during the past decade, now enrolling 180,000 students nationwide, students who learn by logging on to laptops from home instead of going to brick-and-mortar schoolhouses. But these schools’ growing enrollment has been accompanied by intense scrutiny: Journalists, activists and scholars have reported on virtual schools’ poor performance and raised questions about whether the schools are designed to effectively teach kids — or to effectively make a profit.
HOOSIER EDUCATION WIRE 6-8-16
HOOSIER EDUCATION WIRE 6-2-16
The Indiana Department of Education recognized thirty-eight Promising Practices programs across the state today. The Promising Practices program identifies high-quality education practices and wrap-around services in schools and communities throughout Indiana. Each month the Department will announce selected programs based on a review of the schools’ program and input from experts who work directly with the schools. To date, 116 Promising Practices have been identified throughout the state.
The State Board of Education approved Trine University becoming the new authorizer for Thea Bowman Leadership Academy in Gary. The board met Wednesday morning at Indiana University Southeast in New Albany. Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz recused herself from the vote. While some have accused Bowman leaders of "charter shopping," SBOE member Gordon Hendry said he thought this process was an example of how the increased accountability under the law was actually working. SBOE member Vince Bertram said he has some reservations about the three-year timeline that Trine University gave Bowman.
U.S. Congressman Todd Rokita, R-Indiana, argued the government should cut back on free school lunch programs when he attended Wednesday’s State Board of Education Meeting. He says funds saved from reducing the number of federal school-wide lunch programs could be used for breakfast or summer meal programs instead. A 2010 law allows a school to serve free lunches to all students if at least 40 percent of students qualify for free- or reduced-lunch. Supporters of the law say it cuts overhead costs, with the idea that it costs more to determine who qualifies for the program than it does to make lunch free for all students, regardless of income.
Indiana school districts should begin receiving initial 2016 ISTEP results for Grades 3-8 by the end of this month, according to a proposed timeline released Wednesday by the Department of Education. Under the department's timeline, schools will start seeing data June 30, with more to follow in July. Schools are expected to begin seeing preliminary scores in August. State education officials have yet to announce a timeline for releasing 2016 ISTEP results to the public.
My students are already out of school by Memorial Day, and like most Americans, they look forward to cookouts and family outings and have a pretty cheerful outlook about one of our country’s most somber holidays. My goal is to show my students the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day, without taking the joy away from the holiday. I want them to remember we can honor those who have given their lives for our country and appreciate what they have done while also cherishing the fact that we get to spend the day with friends and family.
In Vermont, voters will decide next week whether to okay the largest public school reorganization in 125 years. A new ballot measure would merge smaller schools and do away with perks that let parents use tax dollars to send their kids to private schools, even in Canada. Opposition is fierce, but advocates say it’ll cut costs and strengthen public schools.
When Congress reauthorized the United States’s federal education law last year, few observers were interested in changes to a technical part of the legislation known as “supplement not supplant.” A wonky fiscal rule that has been around for decades, it’s intended to make sure schools with high numbers of poor children don’t get less state and local money because of their participation in Title I, a federal program that provides extra money to help academically struggling students from high-poverty areas.
HOOSIER EDUCATION WIRE 5-31-16
This school year, thousands of students in Delaware County relied on their schools for a free or reduced-price lunch. At Muncie Community Schools alone, 4,017 were eating for free, according to Indiana Department of Education data. That leaves a big problem when school isn't in session, especially for students who aren't in summer camps or day care programs.
While school is out for summer break, Community Kitchen will again provide free meals to children living in 10 low-income neighborhoods in Bloomington and Ellettsville. Last summer, between 200 and 250 children received a daily breakfast or lunch through the Community Kitchen program, said Tim Clougher, assistant director of the nonprofit. “I could see that climbing by 100,” Clougher said.
Every school should have at least one full-time registered nurse, a new American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) policy statement says. "School nursing is one of the most effective ways to keep children healthy and in school and to prevent chronic absenteeism," Dr. Breena Welch Holmes, a lead author of the policy statement and chair of the AAP Council on School Health, said in an AAP news release.
The Education Department on Thursday released draft regulations outlining how states should judge which schools are succeeding and which are in need of intervention, a key point of contention, with civil rights activists on the one side and teachers unions and Republican lawmakers on the other. The law requires states to continue administering standardized math and reading tests to students in Grades 3 through 8 and once in high school. But it also gave states a new opportunity to include other non-test measures, such as access to advanced coursework and rates of chronic absenteeism, in judging schools. Under the regulations released Thursday, states would be required to wrap all of those various indicators into one simple rating, such as a letter grade, to provide parents with clear, easy-to-understand information about school performance.
The Indiana Department of Education announced the 2014-15 Four Star Schools today. In order to achieve this designation, a school must be in the top 25th percentile of schools in two ISTEP-based categories. Additionally, a qualifying school must have earned the highest designation in the state’s accountability system and be accredited by the Indiana Department of Education. A total of 287 schools received the award throughout the state.
The English learner population is growing across the Midwest, as more immigrants settle in smaller towns, and Indiana is currently seeing an increase of students needing to learn English at a higher rate than the rest of the country. While most schools struggle to meet the needs of students who don’t speak English, this challenge is especially obvious in rural school districts, where enrollment is decreasing and resources are tight. In Indiana, the rural district Community Schools of Frankfort is also the district with the highest percentage of English learners in the state. Its need for English learner resources is also one of the highest in the state, and it is an example of how many schools are struggling to keep up with the growth of English learners.
Pending a State Board of Education vote next week, Gary's Thea Bowman Leadership Academy will be able to keep its doors open next year. On Monday, officials on the Education One board at Angola-based Trine University unanimously agreed to sponsor the charter of the Drexel Foundation, which operates Thea Bowman, one of the city's oldest charters.
Can fireflies light up in outer space? It’s a question that likely only a child would think to ask. The answer would require a rocket ship—and that’s exactly what a class of second grade students in West Lafayette will be using. Because they can’t send real fireflies to space, the second graders had to learn about the chemistry that makes a firefly light up: the chemicals luciferin and luciferase combine with oxygen to trigger the glow. With Purdue University undergraduates as co-pilots, Cumberland Elementary School will be among the first schools in the U.S. to conduct science in space.
Two years into a demanding new era for the American education system, its defining 21st century challenge is coming into sharper focus. That new era began in September 2014, when for the first time, kids of color constituted a majority of America’s K-12 public school students nationwide. That tilt will only deepen: The National Center for Education Statistics projects that by 2025, whites will shrink to 46 percent of public school students. This demographic transformation frames the education system’s key coming test: extending the opportunity it already provides to kids from the best neighborhoods to those trying to climb from the most troubled communities.
HOOSIER EDUCATION WIRE 5-17-16
Throughout Indiana, our teachers do incredible work every single day. Their day starts early and they often work late to prepare lesson plans, grade assignments and communicate with families. We should all make sure that we are regularly sharing our appreciation for our education professionals. If you missed saying, “Thanks,” during Teacher Appreciation Week, it is never too late to show that you care and support their dedication to our students.
Two months after a Shelbyville Central school was recognized for a promising practice by the Indiana Department of Indiana, another SCS school was given the same honor. Shelbyville High School has been recognized as a school of promising practice, one of 200 this school year as part of the state’s Bicentennial celebration in 2016. The high school received the honor for the Student Achievement Center, an alternative education program that helps students earn a high school diploma by individualizing their education.
A new bill in Congress aims to make it harder for students across the country to get free lunches. If the bill is passed, 120 Indiana schools with about 60,000 students would no longer be eligible to participate in the federal school lunch program. It comes at a time when low-income students make up the majority in public schools nationwide. Almost half of Indiana’s students are considered low-income, with one in five Indiana children living below the poverty line.
The truth, as many American teachers know firsthand, is that low-income children can be harder to educate than children from more-comfortable backgrounds. Educators often struggle to motivate them, to calm them down, to connect with them. This doesn’t mean they’re impossible to teach, of course; plenty of kids who grow up in poverty are thriving in the classroom. But two decades of national attention have done little or nothing to close the achievement gap between poor students and their better-off peers. In recent years, in response to this growing crisis, a new idea (or perhaps a very old one) has arisen in the education world: Character matters.
Surely you’ve heard of the “grit” phenomenon. Teaching, measuring and testing grit in students — especially students who live in poverty — has become part of the broad education reform debate. Here is a post that questions the whole concept and traces its history, showing that it started out of concern for spoiled well-off kids. This was written by Ethan Ris, a doctoral candidate in education at Stanford University. His research is on the history and practice of reform in both K-12 and higher education.
Indiana education officials aren’t waiting for the legislature to ramp up efforts to keep teachers in the classroom and attract more to the profession. Today, state Superintendent Glenda Ritz and the Indiana Department of Education announced new initiatives focused on curbing teacher shortages that have affected districts across the state, particularly those in struggling urban and rural areas. The ideas came out of a state panel that met several times over the summer. “While the state legislature and Governor Pence failed to move forward meaningful legislation to address Indiana’s teacher shortage, I am expanding our efforts at the Department of Education to ensure that all Hoosier students receive a high-quality education – and that begins with high-quality teachers,” Ritz said.
The School City of Hammond continues a trend of being the top school with the most students who have withdrawn from the district and opted to attend a private school. That’s according to the Choice Scholarship Program Annual Report: Participation and Payment Data, prepared by the Indiana Department of Education’s Office of School Finance, released in April. A Choice Scholarship, also called vouchers, uses public taxpayer dollars to help parents send their children to private, nonpublic and religious schools. The report said the number of Indiana students overall who used private school vouchers grew by 12 percent this school year to nearly 33,000 students. According to the report, Hammond public schools had 795 students withdraw and attend a private school. That represents a loss of $3.5 million to the school corporation.
Wednesday was National School Nurses Day, part of National Nurses Week. But for Hosking, it's just like any other day. In one hour she's given out a bandage, sent one student home with possible strep throat, had a mother call and helped one student with his asthma. At Grissom Elementary, where 85 percent of students qualify for free lunch, many families may not have access to medical care. That's where Hosking can help. While she can't diagnose a student, she can look at the symptoms and tell parents when the situation is serious.
The Traverse City Area Public Schools in northern Michigan have a saying: "Great Community, Great Schools." But the district of about 9,500 is losing enough students — 12 percent in the last 10 years — that last fall superintendent Paul Soma recommended closing three elementary schools. Then came a surprise. At a school board meeting in March, when members had just voted to close two of the schools, Soma made an announcement about the third. "We are in the receipt of new information regarding a donor offering over $800,000 to keep Old Mission open." But even if Old Mission does stay open, the question still stands: Should private money have a place in public education? And if it does, who decides which schools and children get the benefits?
HOOSIER EDUCATION WIRE 4-25-16
While legislators put together a 23-person committee to recommend replacement tests for ISTEP, about 125 community members in Muncie started their own conversation Saturday. Their goal is to collect the community’s opinions and turn them into a proposal to present to the committee in August. The panel didn't really discuss options for replacements, but did spend time rehashing the problems with ISTEP, which should be considered when choosing a replacement.
This winter, Jameria Miller would often run to her high school Spanish class, though not to get a good seat. She wanted a good blanket. "The cold is definitely a distraction," Jameria says of her classroom's uninsulated, metal walls. Her teacher provided the blankets. First come, first served. Such is life in the William Penn School District in an inner-ring suburb of Philadelphia. The hardest part for Jameria, though, isn't the cold. It's knowing that other schools aren't like this. Last week, we explored the question, "How do we pay for our public schools?" This week, we ask: "What difference can a dollar make in our schools?"
Within a year, South Central Elementary and High School will become an entire 1:1 program, equipping each student with an electronic Chromebook. The grant, called the 2016 Digital Learning Grant, was for $75,000 and funded by the Office of eLearning at the Indiana Department of Education. Anderson said out of more than 100 Indiana schools who applied, South Central was one of the 21 who received the money. “The money received will be used to implement the 1:1 program and devices,” Wood said, adding some money has already been collected by the school through textbook rental fees. “The grant money will mainly help provide everything else that needs to happen, such as building the technological infrastructure and there will be technology coach, a new position for next year.”
As the principal of Mary Beck Elementary read personal essays from student teachers who had spent time in her school this year, tears welled in her eyes. The students from Indiana University South Bend described how they walked into Beck with an idea that Beck was a rough school, but when they actually spent time in the classrooms they discovered a different school. In those essays, they wrote about how they observed a safe and structured school. They witnessed teachers who were helping their students academically and personally. The state’s flawed A-F Accountability system is partly to blame for Beck’s reputation. But even as the state has named Beck a “priority school,” the Indiana Department of Education is praising the school for some of its innovative teaching practices. In fact, Beck is the only school in the state to be recognized twice for a “Promising Practice.” First the state commended Mary Beck’s Tools of the Mind kindergarten program. The program emphasizes play and imagination to build a strong foundation for future success in the classroom. Then the school was applauded for using a co-teaching model. Two certified teachers are assigned to each fifth-grade classroom, and it already seems to be making a difference. While one teacher is leading a lesson, another can be answering questions or providing individual instruction. Sometimes one teacher focuses on the visual aspects to a lesson while the other focuses on the auditory side.
HOOSIER EDUCATION WIRE 4-14-16
Last week, state superintendent Glenda Ritz and State Board of Education member Byron Ernest went to D.C. for separate national conferences to learn what the new education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (the re-write of No Child Left Behind) could meant here at home. The national conferences align with ongoing federal negotiations that aim to translate ESSA’s broader mandates to the more specific changes that will be applied in each state. Even though these national negotiations are still happening, Ritz and Ernest say they can already identify a few changes coming to Indiana’s education system.
The Indiana Department of Education released its third annual Choice Scholarship Report today. This report is traditionally released in the spring or winter and then updated in the summer when numbers for the school year are finalized.
The staff and students at Valley Grove Elementary have received banners, certificates, and an official resolution from the Indiana General Assembly since being named a National Title I Distinguished School late last year. But State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz used just four words to sum up that achievement during a visit to Valley Grove on Wednesday. "This school is awesome!" Despite these economic and social challenges, however, Valley Grove has earned an "A" or "B" School since 2012. And its math and English ISTEP scores in grades three, four and five have steadily improved over the past two years. It is because of that academic success in closing the achievement gap, that Valley Grove was honored. Title I is a federal grant program designed to give educational assistance to students in areas of high poverty. It originated in 1965 when Congress passed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
State Board of Education
The new science standards that the Indiana State Board of Education is set to vote on tomorrow stress the investigative and research skills that kids need to learn at every grade level as they explore physical science, earth and space science, life science and engineering. The idea of setting standards for schools is politically delicate in the wake of the heated controversy over the Common Core State Standards, which many states, including Indiana, adopted for reading and math several years ago.
HOOSIER EDUCATION WIRE 3-3-16
After years of clashing with state officials over state takeovers of public schools, Indianapolis Public Schools are now taking a new approach — they are working with the state. With the state’s blessing, the district has assigned seven of its lowest-scoring schools — among those most at risk for takeovers — to new “transformation zones” where they get extra support from the district. The idea is to turn them around without the state taking charge. But just establishing the zones was a radical shift for IPS and the Indiana State Board of Education. While Indianapolis has, in recent years, seen contentious state-led efforts to improve struggling schools, IPS is taking the lead with this new approach. With the support of the state board, it is initiating its own efforts to fix failing schools. Less than a year into the new initiative, the jury is still out on how successful the zones will be at transforming schools.
Indiana’s standardized tests might have gotten so much harder last year that test scores plunged across the state, but two national testing experts say the exam might technically still be too easy according to an earlier study. The 2015 ISTEP exam might have seemed tougher to students and teachers. The state saw a 20 percentage point drop in students passing both English and math last year. But when Roeber and another testing expert, Derek Briggs, were asked by the Indiana State Board of Education to conduct a review of that exam in January, they discovered that exam questions were not as rigorous as they should have been. The Indiana Department of Education, which administers the test, declined to make its testing director available for an interview to discuss Roeber and Briggs’ analysis, but Department spokeswoman Samantha Hart issued a statement saying the test was hard enough. “As with any assessment, there are going to be questions that are more and less rigorous than others — The new ISTEP+ exam is no different,” Hart wrote. “Anyone who thinks that last year’s ISTEP wasn’t hard enough should go talk to a student or a teacher or a parent. This test was clearly more rigorous, just like our standards.”
It’s been one year since legislators created a new school funding formula. The new formula gives equal funding to all schools, but critics say that’s unfair, because schools with a lot of low incomes kids or students learning English need more money. Goshen’s a small town in northern Indiana. Over the last few decades, manufacturing jobs brought more families that speak Spanish. As a result, Goshen schools are now made up over 50 percent Latino students. As this group grows, so does the district’s English Language program– which is not just an EL teacher in a classroom. There are resources for Spanish-speaking parents and one on one attention for kids. Jerry Hawkins is the Director of Finance for the district, and recently got a report from the state outlining Goshen’s state funding under the new formula- it shows the district lost about 3 million dollars. That 3 million lost is a third of the money Goshen uses for the EL program, special education classes and other things like counselors and nurses. The old funding formula staggered money based on a school’s needs. But the re-write to the formula means suburban schools with low poverty are getting similar funds as somewhere like Goshen.
Local educators worry a bill intended to help schools fill hard-to-hire positions would actually lead to more teacher turnover and undermine teacher unions’ collective bargaining rights. The state House of Representatives has yet to vote on Senate Bill 10, which would allow school administrators to offer supplemental pay to certain teachers, adding up to 50 percent of the boost to their base salary. The bill passed the House education committee Monday, after the Senate had previously rejected it. Area teachers traveled to the statehouse Tuesday as part of an Indiana State Teachers Association lobby day to let the General Assembly know they oppose the bill that they say would open the door for unequal pay and promote unproductive competition among teachers. Rep. Mike Karickhoff and Sen. Jim Buck, both Republicans who represent Howard County, see supplemental pay as another tool school corporations could use – if they choose – to attract and retain teachers in high demand.
John Williamson doesn't quite cut the figure that brings the word "activist" to mind. Nonetheless, through Williamson's efforts, Indiana leads the nation when it comes to reducing school food waste — and sending that nutrition to the needy. The concept's simple: untouched, unopened and unpeeled food that school kids don't eat goes into a bin. Then, that bin is refrigerated and then picked up by what's called a "caring agency" — often a food pantry or a shelter or some other charitable organization. The concept that became K-12 Food Rescue started with a conversation Williamson had with his wife in 2007: "My wife read to me an article about freegans ... [people] who get food out of trashcans, but they're not homeless. I'm like, "Are you kidding me? Why would that food not be going to families and children in need rather than people who are just trying to make a political statement to bring attention to the issue?"
When a new administration comes in, especially if it's of a different party, ESSA implementation could hit a few speed bumps—or maybe even go off the rails, depending on who the new occupant of the White House is, said Michael Petrilli, who served in the U.S. Department of Education under President George W. Bush and is now president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. Here's why: The department is still mulling the timeline for ESSA implementation and hasn't yet said what it will regulate on, when regulations will be finalized, and when state plans will be due and approved. But the education wonks we spoke to this for this post don't expect that the Obama Team will get to draft and finalize all of the regulations, appoint peer reviewers, and approve state accountability plans. They'll get to do some of that work, but probably not all of it. That means critical steps—including approving state plans and maybe finalizing key regulations— could be up to the next president and the incoming team. And, no matter what, the next administration will be key to enforcement.
HOOSIER EDUCATION WIRE 2-18-16
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence said Wednesday he has “confidence in the integrity” of his State Board of Education despite an Associated Press review of documents that showed a top education official made significant alterations to a report that detailed a so-called independent investigation into the troubled and unpopular standardized ISTEP+ exam for students. “I haven’t seen the memorandum. I didn’t see the recommended changes,” the Republican governor said, before adding that he has “every confidence in the integrity of our team, the integrity of the members and the staff of the State Board of Education.” A Microsoft Word file obtained through a public records request shows that the report included edits and suggested changes made by State Board of Education executive director John Snethen, who was hired his $107,000-a-year post by the Pence-controlled board. The changes, which two outside consultants who were paid to conduct the investigation agreed to, altered language that had reflected poorly on Republicans’ decision to adopt the exam after lawmakers dropped national Common Core academic standards.
A bill that was initially introduced to force a rescore of the problem-plagued test was quietly amended today to remove language that would have made a rescore possible. The bill itself — House Bill 1395, which would trigger an ISTEP review that could lead to the state scrapping the test completely by July 2017 — moved forward with an 8-3 vote in the Senate Education Committee today. Some legislators remain concerned about the 2015 test, which was beset with scoring delays and technical glitches, but the $8 million to $10 million price tag on the rescore made that a tougher sell. The [state] board [of education] announced at its last meeting that the results of a review by independent test experts showed no major problems with the accuracy of test scores.
More kids in Indiana are enrolling in preschool programs and more are attending a program accredited through the state’s Paths To Quality ranking system. The annual Kids Count report from the Indiana Youth Institute released these figures Monday. The report compiles data about Indiana’s children across various subject areas, including economics, health, education, safety and communities. Monday’s report stated the demand for preschool programs currently outpaces the supply. Indiana’s available early childhood programs only serve about 11 percent of the children in need of care. “There are not enough child care slots in formal care to accommodate the number of low-income children who have all parents in the labor force,” the report states. “In Indiana, there are 19.9 slots in licensed child care per 100 children ages 0-5, a rate that has remained consistent for at least the past decade.”
The new vendor behind Indiana's standardized test is planning to lay off a portion of its Indianapolis workforce. ISTEP contractor Pearson Education Inc. will eliminate local jobs as part of a national plan to lay off 4,000 workers, or 10 percent of its workforce. The company confirmed the local cuts in an email to IndyStar, but did not specify the number of jobs that will be lost or when the layoffs will take effect. "Out of respect for all of our employees, it wouldn’t be appropriate to discuss the number of job cuts in a specific location before we inform our employees across the rest of our workforce," Pearson spokeswoman Laura Howe said in a statement. "Our employees in Indiana have a long, proud history of serving students, parents and educators across the state and around the nation. We are committed to supporting those affected employees during this difficult transition period." Pearson has not submitted a WARN notice to the state, according to the Department of Workforce Development. WARN notices are required when companies lay off 500 or more workers, or at least one-third of their local employees.
Warsaw Community Schools was one of three school systems recognized nationwide for being innovative while pushing high school students to hands-on STEM-based learning and earning dual credits. The Excellence and Innovation in Secondary Schools award from the Alliance for Excellent Education was announced Wednesday in Washington, D.C. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math. Warsaw Community Schools shared the spotlight with Cleveland’s MC2 STEM High School and Santa Ana Unified School District in California. More than five dozen schools and districts were considered. WCS Superintendent David Hoffert said the Alliance is a partner of the U.S. Department of Education. His district applied for the award, which does not come with a prize, he added. “It’s a federal department distinction and award,” Hoffert said. “We’re just so proud our high school and career (center) were able to accomplish this.”
Indiana State Police announced a new statewide education program to help children avoid becoming victims of Internet crime. Captain Dave Bursten said members of Indiana’s Internet Crimes Against Children task force were training three civilian youth educators to make presentations in Indiana schools, churches and other organizations. “The goal is for each one of these youth educators to provide 100 programs between now and the end of the year,” Bursten said. “So we’re looking at 300 presentations with the expectation of reaching at least 10,000 between the ages of 8 and 18.” The educators are being trained by some of the same people who investigated recent high profile cases involving former Subway spokesman Jared Fogle, and former Park Tudor basketball coach Kyle Cox. Bursten said requests for school presentations were beginning to take investigators away from active cases. The newly-hired full time educators will now make presentations, allowing investigators to devote all their time to active investigations.
Researchers at the University of Virginia compared the views and experiences of kindergarten teachers in 1998 with those of their counterparts in 2010, and found dramatic differences in what teachers now expect of pupils and how they have structured their classrooms. Generally, teachers now expect children to come in knowing much more, spend more of the day in literacy and math instruction, and devote less time to nonacademic subjects such as music and art.
HOOSIER EDUCATION WIRE 2-10-16
When Kendrick York walks into Longfellow Elementary School, there aren’t many other teachers who look like him. He’s one of seven black teachers out of 27 in the building, according to the Indiana Department of Education. He’s also one of three male classroom teachers. Nationally, teaching is a female-dominated profession, especially at the elementary level. There are, however, many students who look like him. According to IDOE data, about half of the students at Longfellow are black. “I think it’s important for kids to see people from the same ethnic group being professional,” York said. It helps him be a mentor, and relate to his fifth-grade students. Muncie Community Schools seems to agree. The district has launched a diversity hiring effort this year, aimed at having the staff be more reflective of the student population.
Marcus Robinson has long had his critics, but in many ways, his name has been synonymous with the best successes of Indiana’s charter school movement. Robinson was the driving force behind Tindley Accelerated Schools, the top-scoring charter school network in The Meadows neighborhood of Indianapolis. Tindley post some of the highest test scores in the city despite enrolling many children who must overcome poverty-related barriers to learning. So revelations over the past two months of financial troubles at Tindley, including questionable travel expenses incurred by Robinson, have rippled far beyond the school. Robinson said last week he would step down by the end of the school year and leave Tindley, but the controversy raises broader questions for charter schools in Indiana’s school choice epicenter. Among them: Will the departure of a key leader from one of Indiana’s strongest charter school groups weaken the movement?
More kids in Indiana are enrolling in preschool programs and more are attending a program accredited through the state’s Paths To Quality ranking system. The annual Kids Count report from the Indiana Youth Institute released these figures Monday. The report compiles data about Indiana’s children across various subject areas, including economics, health, education, safety and communities. Monday’s report stated the demand for preschool programs currently outpaces the supply. Indiana’s available early childhood programs only serve about 11 percent of the children in need of care. “There are not enough child care slots in formal care to accommodate the number of low-income children who have all parents in the labor force,” the report states. “In Indiana, there are 19.9 slots in licensed child care per 100 children ages 0-5, a rate that has remained consistent for at least the past decade.”
For thousands of college hopefuls, the stressful college admissions season is about to become even more fraught. The College Board, which makes the SAT, is rolling out a new test — its biggest redesign in a decade, and one of the most substantial ever. Chief among the changes, experts say: longer and harder reading passages and more words in math problems. The shift is leading some educators and college admissions officers to fear that the revised test will penalize students who have not been exposed to a lot of reading, or who speak a different language at home — like immigrants and the poor. It has also led to a general sense that the new test is uncharted territory, leaving many students wondering whether they should take the SAT or its rival, the ACT. College admissions officers say they are waiting to see how the scores turn out before deciding how to weight the new test.
President Obama wants kids to learn to code. So much so, he's pledged billions of dollars to teach them. And adults are looking to learn, too. Coding academies, or "boot camps," are cropping up across the country, promising to teach students to code in a few months or even a few weeks. But computers are not just about coding. There's also a lot of theory — and science — behind technology. And those theoretical concepts form the basis of much of computer science education in colleges and universities. Lisa Singh, an associate professor at Georgetown University, stands behind that theoretical approach. "We now need to train everybody to understand the basics of computer science," she says, "and I don't equate it to just coding. I equate it to principles of thinking."
President Obama has nominated John B. King Jr. to officially lead the Department of Education, where he has served as acting secretary since the start of the year. Officials at the White House had said before the announcement that the president was encouraged by the bipartisan support King has received in Congress, especially the commitment Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) has made for a speedy consideration of his nomination. King, who took office when Arne Duncan stepped down in December, was originally going to remain the acting head of the department for the rest of Obama’s time in office. The administration wants to have King firmly in place as Congress embarks on the reauthorization of higher education legislation, said officials who asked not to be named because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
HOOSIER EDUCATION WIRE 2-10-16
State superintendent Glenda Ritz is asking state lawmakers to study the state’s voucher program in the second half of this 2016 General Assembly. As the legislature began the week, Ritz praised efforts made during the first half and explained her goals for the next. She says she is happy the legislature expedited two education bills into law in the first five weeks. Both bills help hold teachers and schools harmless from the low ISTEP+ scores issued this year. Ritz also expressed gratitude for legislation that would create a committee to study the ISTEP+ and evaluate its effectiveness. “Since my campaign in 2012, I have called for an end to the costly, lengthy, pass/fail ISTEP+ assessment system currently in place in Indiana,” she said. “Instead we should create a new, student-centered assessment that provides students, families and educators with very quick feedback about student growth and performance. I am pleased to see momentum toward the creation of a committee I called for to study the design of a new state assessment.”
Indiana lawmakers officially have it out for ISTEP. Decades after kids started taking the statewide standardized exam, calls to eliminate it have gained traction among legislators and policymakers. After a disastrous year that saw the ISTEP plagued by technical glitches, scoring delays and questions about its accuracy, the Indiana House voted overwhelmingly last week to support a bill that would force the state to dump the test by the summer of 2017. Democrats, Republicans, reformers and traditionalists all seem united around the idea that the test needs at least a dramatic overhaul. But what would replace the traditional exam — and whether it would be any different — remains unclear. That state can’t unilaterally decide to abolish standardized tests altogether, so a replacement must be found. The next steps will be fraught with partisan politics, tough decisions about the high cost of state tests and confusion around new federal testing rules.
When the private, evangelical Grace College & Seminary decided to authorize a public charter school 150 miles from its campus, it did so behind closed doors. When Seven Oaks Classical School opens later this year in Bloomington, it will be funded with taxpayer money, like all charters. But officials at Grace in Kosciusko County, just south of South Bend, won’t say anything about the vote that approved it or release the recommendation its staff made to the executive committee of the Grace board of trustees. Critics, including a bipartisan pair of lawmakers at the Indiana General Assembly, say that’s a problem, particularly because the Indiana Charter School Board had already denied Seven Oaks’ application over concerns the school lacked educational leadership capacity and the ability to adequately serve poor children. “[We] need to know why Grace College decided to do it when the Indiana Charter School Board said no—twice,” said Rep. Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis, who is a supporter of charter schools. “We need to make sure there’s transparency.” The approval process appears to be an example of charter authorizer “shopping” in Indiana. That’s the term used when charter schools seek out authorizers who are more likely to approve their application.
There's heated debate nationally over whether K-12 teachers really are in short supply and—if so—what's caused the shortage and how widespread it is. But in a number of states with dwindling supplies of new teachers, overcrowded classrooms, months-long substitute assignments, and droves of teachers quitting midyear, activists on both sides of the issue are seizing the opportunity to push their policy agendas. Those divisions are on stark display in places like Indiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Washington, where policymakers, including governors and legislators, are floating a variety of approaches to address the challenge of recruiting and retaining teachers. The slate of legislation aimed at fixing teacher shortages, constructed by blue-ribbon panels and outlined in governors' annual addresses last month, comes shortly after President Barack Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act, which hands much of the power over to state governments to shape the way they hold teachers accountable.
President Obama’s proposed 2017 budget gives a big boost to computer science education, calling for a $4 billion investment in coding courses in K-8 and an effort to make sure every high school in the country offers computer classes. “This is a very strong commitment on the part of the president that computer science should be part of what we think about as a well-rounded education for students,” acting education secretary John B. King Jr. said at a briefing Tuesday. The president is also looking for $1 billion for a new program to attract and retain quality teachers in high-needs schools, by offering them bonuses, paths for advancement and additional training. And Obama wants to increase the federal dollars spent on early-childhood education as well as college for low-income students, reviving his proposal to create a partnership with states to make community college free to eligible students.
HOOSIER EDUCATION WIRE 1-27-16
When the school bus lurched forward, Susan Jordan followed her instincts. They were the same instincts that had guided her for 22 years as the principal of Indianapolis’s Amy Beverland Elementary. The same ones that helped the school receive a four-star, “A” rating from the Indiana Department of Education. The ones that compelled her students and staff to describe her as the “definition of wonderful” — along with virtually every positive adjective in the dictionary — in a tribute video last year. Everyone who knew Jordan knew that she put children first. And so she did this Tuesday afternoon, after a stationary school bus inexplicably accelerated, jumping a curb toward a group of students. As the hulking vehicle approached, the principal pushed several students out of the way. But she was fatally hit in doing so. Two 10-year-old students who were struck alongside Jordan are in the hospital with serious but non-life-threatening juries, authorities told the Associated Press.
The state released new A-F accountability grades for Hoosier schools Tuesday, but for many, the high-stakes ratings didn’t change. That’s because the grades for the 2014-15 school year reflect an unprecedented step by Indiana lawmakers to erase what would have been a sharp drop in the designations as schools transitioned to a more rigorous ISTEP test. Schools either kept their grade from the previous year or saw a rise. Preliminary data obtained by IndyStar showed 17.6 percent of schools, or four times as many as the previous school year, would have been marked as failing. But with the protections, only 2.6 percent received an F grade in 2015. Comparatively, 56.7 percent of schools earned an A grade, up from the 22.8 percent that would have earned the highest mark if lawmakers had failed to act. School leaders sought the relief, arguing the 2015 grades would inaccurately reflect the academic progress of their schools if they were linked to student scores on last year's ISTEP. In the end, final grades actually show an improvement from the 2014 school year. Overall, more schools earned A grades and fewer schools received failing marks because consequences tied to the ISTEP were removed.
The House Education Committee on Tuesday voted 12-0 to approve a bill that would officially bring to an end the 29-year history of the state’s primary assessment for Indiana students. House Bill 1395 – which now moves to the full House – creates a 24-person committee to establish Indiana’s new system for measuring K-12 performance and to make recommendations for the future. Those recommendations will go to the Indiana State Board of Education, which will ultimately approve a new standardized test and performance system for the 2017-18 year. The Indiana Department of Education has a current two-year contract with Pearson to finish out the ISTEP+ system. The state’s first standardized test, ISTEP was passed as part of an education reform program in 1987. The test was tweaked throughout the years, becoming ISTEP+ in 1995. In recent years, the test has come under attack due to a host of problems. These include technical glitches that frustrated kids trying to take it online to a growing test length, open-ended items that make it more difficult to grade and questionable cut scores.
A transgender teen’s fight to use the boy’s bathroom at his high school in a rural corner of Virginia could shape how schools across the country deal with the question of whether transgender teens have the right to use bathrooms in accordance with their gender identities. Fights over whether transgender students should be allowed to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity have sprouted up all over the country. But this is the first time a federal court of appeals has taken up the question over whether bathroom restrictions for transgender students violates Title IX — the federal law barring discrimination based on gender in schools — and the case is being closely watched by activists on both sides of the issue. If judges rule in [the student’s] favor, it could clear the way for other transgender students to assert their rights to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity and for supporters of transgender students to argue for greater protections in the nation’s schools. If they rule against [the student], it could give those fighting for bathroom restrictions more ammunition.
HOOSIER EDUCATION WIRE 1-22-16
After nearly two years of debate, Pence and lawmakers bowed to Ritz’s solution to a big test score drop. Two of this year’s biggest education bills dealing with the fallout from last year’s ISTEP test were signed into law today by Gov. Mike Pence less than three weeks into the 2016 legislative session. Almost two years of debates are over. There will be a “pause” in sanctions for teachers and schools with students that had poor ISTEP scores last year. Both Senate Bill 200, authored by Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, and House Bill 1003, authored by Rep. Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis, have a shared goal of relieving teachers and schools from the potentially harsh effects of scores that could have been widespread after the passing rate for both English and math for students statewide sank by about 22 percentage points to 53.5 percent. Senate President David Long, R-Fort Wayne, said since he was first elected in 1996 he’s never seen two bills travel so quickly through the legislature. Long said the bills were the product of months of collaboration among members of the Indiana House and Senate, the Indiana State Board of Education and state Superintendent Glenda Ritz.
Groups which often disagree on education are uniting behind a proposed scholarship to coax more top students into teaching careers. House Republicans have made the scholarship bill a priority this session. It would offer students in the top 20-percent of their high school class as much as $30,000 for college, in exchange for a commitment to teach for five years afterward. The scholarship proposal drew support from teachers' unions, education reform groups, State Board of Education members and state school superintendent Glenda Ritz. Indiana Department of Education spokesman John Barnes says while the scholarship plan wasn’t part of state school superintendent Glenda Ritz’s legislative agenda, the superintendent supports it as a way to attract more teachers. “The teachers are not in it for the money, but teachers do end up being affected by the same economic pressures that many of us are affected by today and to try to make sure that that’s not a barrier for the best and brightest to get into the profession,” Barnes says.
He was quite a talker, but Nina Miller didn't let that get in the way of his reading. In fact, one thing led to another and it led to his writing. Miller, 69, has volunteered with a mentoring program called 321 Read for the last six years. She started off reading to one child a week for about half an hour, then giving them a new book to take home. Now, she's mentored at least 10 children at Wilson Elementary School in Jeffersonville. She keeps going back because it's fun, but also because she sees a difference in the kids. “They like to read, they enjoy it,” Miller said. “I don't try to teach them anything, I try to teach them how much fun it is to read. Some of the kids have gotten their parents involved — one little boy's dad started reading with him. It just seems like when they're enthusiastic, more people get involved.” That program is tied to Communities in Schools of Southern Indiana, which is part of a bigger group called the Southern Indiana Mentoring Partnership.
More than 200 people gathered in an auditorium at the city’s High School of the Future on Thursday for a town hall meeting with the new Acting U.S. Secretary of Education John King Jr. King called for more leadership and partnership with educators to do more to achieve equity in America’s public schools and elevate the teaching profession. He urged more must be done to help Black and Latino students in addition to students from low-income households who fall into the bottom of most measures of student achievement. He said a generation ago, U.S. schools were performing higher. “We need a more diverse and racially and linguistically diverse population of teachers,” King told the crowd. He said the majority of students in public schools are students of color, with one of 10 students speaking languages other than English. In contrast, Black and Latino teachers account for 15 percent of the U.S. teaching workforce, and 2 percent are Black males. King has parents who are Black and Latino. The country’s top education chief said there should be less reliance on standardized tests, saying a single assessment is not a reliable indicator for career and college readiness. King dismissed standardized tests as “exercises in compliance.”
House Education Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Behning said a vote is expected on the bill Thursday.
Republican lawmakers have scaled back their ambitious plans to rescore the 2015 ISTEP test. Although legislation introduced earlier this month originally suggested a full rescore of the controversial exam — meaning hundreds of thousands of tests would be re-opened and millions of student answers would be re-examined — the bill’s author now says that proposal would be too expensive, coming in at roughly $8 million to $10 million. The author, Rep. Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis, announced during a House Education Committee meeting today that his bill — House Bill 1395 — now calls for just a partial rescore of a smaller sample of exams. The smaller effort could boost public trust in the exam without breaking the budget, he said.
It took seven months for teachers to see how students did on ISTEP this year. It was a slow process that still isn't over. There could still be another rescore. Test scores are important to many teachers, and not just because ISTEP scores factor into their evaluations. The scores allow them assess where student are, and what they need to progress. So a seven-month wait wasn't helpful. The more typical three- or four-month wait for ISTEP scores isn't ideal. While waiting, a few local districts have leaned on a different, national test, Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) by the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA). And they aren't the only ones. According to NWEA spokesperson Jean Fleming, 144 public school districts in Indiana use NWEA. It's one of the replacements the state would consider should legislators decide to scrap ISTEP. Students take the hour-long test three times a year on a computer. As they test, the questions adjust to find their level. If they are getting answers wrong, the questions will get easier until the student gets some right, and if they are getting answers right, the questions will get harder until they get some wrong.
Ball State University announced Friday it won't renew the charter of Gary's Thea Bowman Leadership Academy, one of the oldest charters in Indiana. Thea Bowman maintains two campuses, a junior-senior-high school for grades 7-12 at 3401 W. 5th Ave. and an elementary at 975 W. 6th Ave. Thea Bowman is holding a town hall meeting for parents at 10 a.m. Saturday at the junior-senior high school. School board president Keisha White said the school will explore its options. "Thea Bowman is not going away," she said. It could seek another authorizer for its charter, like Charter School of the Dunes did two years ago. "They have a right to appeal," said Bob Marra, director of Ball State's Office of Charter Schools. "I don't know what they're going to do." Marra said the school has 10 days to file an appeal that would be heard by a hearing officer with a recommendation forwarded to Ball State President Paul W. Ferguson. Thea Bowman's academic performance has declined in recent years. It received a grade of D in 2013 and 2014, but it appears Ball State had more concerns about the school's operations.
A professional development program praised by Goshen Community Schools leaders has earned the support of a state senator who hopes to expand it to more Hoosier school corporations. Last month, Goshen school administrators, staff members and board members met with Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, to discuss ways in which the school corporation has benefited from the System for Teacher and Student Achievement, — commonly called TAP — program and to advocate for additional state-level support for the initiative. The TAP system hinges on providing support for teachers, regular classroom observations by certified evaluators and providing additional compensation as teachers meet certain performance standards or take on additional responsibilities. Goshen is one of 14 Hoosier school corporations that are using the TAP model and has led the state in implementation, according to Indiana TAP Director Jen Oliver, who works for the Center of Excellence in Leadership and Learning, or CELL.
School policy—already an underdog topic in the 2016 presidential campaign—could be further marginalized as an issue by recent developments in Washington, not the least of which is the newly minted Every Student Succeeds Act, which is expected to scale back the direct federal role in K-12 education. None of the 15 current candidates in either major party can claim personal credit for helping the No Child Left Behind Act's successor over the finish line late last year. And the new law resolves, at least for the next several years, some big questions about federal power over such issues as testing and teacher evaluations. "If education was going to get any traction in presidential politics, it was going to be over reconsideration of what we had to do about NCLB," said William Howell, a professor of political science at the University of Chicago who has studied federal education policy. "But that horse has left the barn." Also, unlike eight years ago, there's no "ED in '08" in the works. That campaign was an 18-month, $25 million effort financed jointly by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation and designed to make education issues front and center during the 2008 presidential campaign. The ED in '08 effort didn't lead to a huge wave of K-12 policy discussion that year, but may have had an impact on subsequent school advocacy.
INDIANAPOLIS — A bill sparing Indiana schools from a drop in A-F grades resulting from this year's sharp decline in student ISTEP scores now goes to the full House ...
HOOSIER EDUCATION WIRE 1-7-16
Only four out of 11 Marion County public school corporations saw half or more of their students pass both the English and math portions of the ISTEP exam. The 301 Indiana public school districts had a 22.5 percent average drop in their pass rates compared to the 2014 test results, according to data released today. Superintendents and state education officials had warned parents and teachers to brace for drastic drop in scores. New York saw a 21 percentage point in drop in the English pass rate and a 30 percentage point decrease in the math pass rate when their new version of a state-wide test was given in 2013. Washington Township Superintendent Niki Woodson said Marion County public schools can not rely on one annual test to grade progress for students and schools. Instead, she said, multiple types of testing and other benchmarking are given to students throughout the year to gauge academic growth.
The newly updated federal K-12 statute revamps and locks into place a $250 million grant program to support states as they develop preschool programs and directs a stream of federal grant money to state early-childhood-literacy efforts. Those are just a couple of the ways that the Every Student Succeeds Act strengthens the ties between federal education policy and early-childhood programs carried out at the state and local levels. Throughout the reauthorized law—the latest version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act—Congress added language that makes explicit that schools can and should collaborate with preschool programs on issues such as teacher training and transitioning children into kindergarten. Stephen Parker, the legislative director for the National Governors Association's education and workforce committee, said that kind of collaboration is something the nation's governors had been seeking. The organization's endorsement of ESSA was its first for a piece of legislation in 20 years.
Recess at Eagle Mountain Elementary School in Fort Worth, Texas, looks much like recess anyplace else. But in one sense, recess at Eagle Mountain is different. [Students] get more opportunities to role-play than many peers, because recess happens a lot here — four times a day, 15 minutes a pop for kindergartners and first-graders. That's much more time on the playground than most public school kids get in the U.S. Over the past couple of decades, schools have cut recess time to make room for tests and test prep. Ask [one student], Journey, why she and her friends get so much more recess time, and she giggles. "Lucky," she says. But ask the adults, and they'll tell you it's because Eagle Mountain is part of a project in which the school day is modeled after the Finnish school system, which consistently scores at or near the top in international education rankings.
HOOSIER EDUCATION WIRE 12-1-15
Of the more than 5,000 applicants for early childhood education scholarships in Marion County this fall, funding met just 30 percent of the demand. Turned away were more than 3,000 of the county's youngest and lowest-income residents. The numbers illustrate the limitations of the state's first-ever prekindergarten pilot program and other funding sources aimed at sending low-income 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds to preschool in Marion County. The current state budget provides $10 million per year to support a pilot program that doesn't have statewide reach. Depending on the outcomes of the pilot, House Speaker Brian Bosma said "we will be prepared to advocate for more investment down the road." Any realistic push for those funds won’t occur until 2017 when lawmakers write a new state budget.
Having teachers who can work with a wide range of student experiences is especially crucial to ensure success for children who come from diverse backgrounds. But it can also be difficult to find those teachers – especially in Indiana’s current educational environment. State policymakers are working to figure out a way to fill in the gaps left in Indiana’s teaching force. State Superintendent Glenda Ritz’s Blue Ribbon Commission, a group organized to respond to Indiana’s teacher shortage, says the state needs to “recruit and retain teacher candidates from underrepresented populations.”
The state’s education leader on Monday joined forces with a local superintendent and the president of the Indiana State Teachers Association to encourage educators and discuss the challenges plaguing Hoosier classrooms. Monday’s event included a short time for comments from the speakers followed by an hour-long question-and-answer session with the three-member panel that included such topics as ISTEP, accountability, teacher evaluation and school funding.
The final rewrite of the federal No Child Left Behind education law is now available to the public online — just a few days before the House may vote on it, with the Senate following soon after. The NCLB rewrite drastically cuts the power of the U.S. education secretary and gives more education decision-making back to the states. The bill maintains the current federal mandate on public school districts to give standardized tests to students in the third through eighth grades and once in high school for accountability purposes, but it leaves it to the states to decide how to deal with the lowest-performing schools.
HOOSIER EDUCATION WIRE 10-26-2015
A growing number of Indiana schools are introducing their students to online learning technologies intended to keep youngsters engaged even if inclement winter weather maroons them at home. The last two Indiana winters have been harsh, and many districts extended their school years to make up for days lost to ice, snow or frigid temperatures. Online technology allows students to access their assignments virtually, complete them at their own pace and communicate with their teachers electronically. [Tipton Community School Corporation] hopes to call eLearning days to replace actual classroom time if bad weather keeps kids at home this winter.
The Indiana State Board of Education is moving ahead with a plan to distribute up to $40 million in loans to charter schools despite questions about a per-student funding cap included in the program. At least a dozen charter schools have requested $25 million through the loan program approved by legislators this spring. More could apply before the deadline at the end of October. The board on Wednesday approved guidelines that include a $1,836-per-student cap on loans if requests exceed the $40 million level. The program was added to the state budget in the final days of this year's legislative session and has drawn questions from Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, over the debt loads charter schools already carry. Two years ago, the state forgave and paid off more than $90 million in charter school loans.
President Barack Obama announced Saturday that his administration will work to limit the amount of standardized testing in schools – specifically, the president says no child should spend more than two percent of classroom instruction time taking those tests. The U.S. Department of Education plans to take action on both the federal and state levels to reduce over-testing. The feds will offer expertise and financial support for states to develop and use “less burdensome” assessments, as well as flexibility from federal mandates and greater support to innovate. The administration will also create or fix rules to reduce the reliance on student test scores, including requirements for teacher preparation programs and educator evaluations.
The data is clear: Indiana is indeed experiencing a teacher shortage. Since the issue came to lawmakers’ attention this summer, the Department of Education confirmed that the Hoosier state has seen more than a 30 percent drop in the number of people licensed as first-time teachers. Nearly everyone involved in education has their opinion about why Indiana is seeing fewer people enter and remain in the teaching profession – whether that’s barriers to entry, opportunities for advancement, pay or other working conditions. And along with these countless identified issues come countless recommendations for ways to fix them. The Blue Ribbon Teacher Commission to begin drafting a legislative agenda on November 16, and again on December 7. The General Assembly’s study committee meets once more [this afternoon].
The Indiana General Assembly’s Interim Study Committee on Education listened to hours of testimony Monday to determine the extent of the state’s teacher shortage and to find possible solutions that legislators might propose during the next legislative session. Low salaries and an ever increasing focus on standardized testing have contributed to the state’s teacher shortage, teaching professionals told state legislators Monday. Among the multitude of reasons that teachers — and those who prepare students to become teachers — listed as causes of the shortage, one message repeatedly reverberated through the meeting hall: Treat teachers with more respect.
HOOSIER EDUCATION WIRE 6-30-15
Indiana is awaiting a decision from the U.S. Department of Education on whether the state will continue to receive a waiver from an education accountability law that’s tied to federal funding the state receives to help disadvantaged students. The exemption from parts of the federal No Child Left Behind Law stirred controversy among education policy makers last year. In the end, the state was granted a one-year-extension through the 2014-15 school year. Now the state is vying for a three-year extension. At stake is Indiana retaining flexibility in how it spends a portion of more than $230 million in federal “Title 1” funds. The federal education department said Tuesday it will release more waiver decisions in the coming weeks.
The number of students enrolled in the state-funded voucher program that allows them to attend private schools is growing exponentially, according to an updated report released from the Department of Education last week. One look at the data makes it seem as though students are leaving their public schools in droves to use state money to attend private school, but there’s more to the numbers than that. As more scholarships became available, the eligibility for students who get them also changed. The program’s original intention was to award vouchers to students attending failing schools, but data shows the number students using the vouchers who never attended a public school grew. Last year only 2 percent of students using a voucher came from a failing school. The update to the report found that the voucher program is costing the state $40 million.
The State Board of Education gathers Wednesday in Indianapolis for its monthly meeting, with a long list of discussion items stemming from recently passed legislation. This is only the second time the group has convened with five new board members. The new Board members had a pretty light agenda for their first go-around – this time the agenda looks a bit more substantive, including board elections, accountability options, dual language learning, remediation (formative assessments), testing windows, and high school diplomas.
Indianapolis Public Schools will roll out a new program at all of its schools in August that it hopes will nudge more parents to play an active role in their child’s education and the community around them. The goal of new “parental involvement educators” at every school will be to actively train parents to use learning strategies with their children that will help their schoolwork improve and organize community engagement events that will help not only parents, but the community play a bigger role in IPS schools, said Deb Black, the district’s parental involvement coordinator. The new jobs are a transition for IPS away from a similar job that’s been in place for decades: parent liaisons, Black said. But Black thinks the redefined job will show better results for families because everyone will be doing the same work.
Brimley Elementary serves two groups that often struggle academically. Of the 300 students, more than half are Native American. Many come from low-income families. At this school, American Indian students are outperforming other Natives in the state. The school as a whole performs above the statewide average for all schools, and on some tests, the low-income students are performing at the same level as kids from wealthier families. So what is Brimley Elementary is doing differently — nothing outlandish or tech-heavy. It hasn't reinvented the wheel. The school has more money in its general fund due to Impact Aid, and uses it to hire more people: more specialists and more teachers to keep the class sizes small. There's one more thing. The teachers are constantly assessing their students to make sure they're where they need to be. And based on the assessments, the bottom one-third of students get a lot of extra help and support.
HOOSIER EDUCATION WIRE 6-22-15
Indiana students would have to earn additional credits and take more math classes under proposed new diploma requirements. The standard would be the College & Career Ready diploma, which would replace the Core 40 diploma. It would require a minimum of 44 credits, up from 40. The second would be a Workforce Ready Diploma, which would replace the state’s general diploma and require a minimum of 40 credits. An Honors Diploma requiring 48 credits also would be available. Ultimately, the State Board of Education would have to approve the proposal this year, and the General Assembly would have to change the law next session. The new requirements would first take effect for the class of 2022, which is the students who enter high school in the 2018-19 school year.
Add Kentucky to the list of states asking the federal government for more leeway in how the scores of its English-language learners are counted. Officials with the Kentucky Department of Education confirmed they are working on a waiver request that would give schools and districts more time before they have to count the state test results of students just learning English into accountability scores. Kentucky's plan for a waiver follows a recent trend of states pushing back against a rule in the No Child Left Behind Act that requires the test scores of English-language learners be factored into schools' accountability ratings if the student has been in the country for a year or more. The idea of that federal rule was to ensure that all students be counted and included in accountability. But critics have said that asking students who barely read and write in English to take a complicated test is impractical.
The Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday to include broadband connections in a $1.8 billion federal program that subsidizes telephone services for low-income people. This program isn’t reserved for families with school-aged children, but supporters say the change will inevitably help the neediest students get online at home. Children from the lowest-income households are “four times more likely to be without broadband than their middle or upper-income counterparts,” according to a recent Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census survey data.
The two-year budget crafted by the General Assembly earlier this year makes room for a $100 tax credit for Hoosier teachers. The tax credit is way to give a little back to teachers for the classroom supplies they often provide using their own money. President of the Indiana State Teacher’s Association (ISTA), Teresa Meredith, calls the credit “a start.” The tax credit was originally a bill that stood on its own. House Bill 1005 was authored by Rep. Ben Smaltz, R-Auburn, and in its first draft gave a tax credit of $200 to teachers. HB 1005 passed the House but the bill was cut in the Senate and instead included in the state’s two-year budget at half the amount. Meredith said while the new tax credit is appreciated, teachers would like to see greater funding for education overall. She said the challenge to keep up with technology and training really ramped up with various cuts over the past several years.
HOOSIER EDUCATION WIRE 4-24-2015
Key lawmakers said Thursday they plan to move forward with a new ISTEP test – at least for the next two years – and then study whether an off-the-shelf exam could be used in the future to save money. Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, said he would back off his proposal to require the use of an already standardized test instead of ISTEP to measure student comprehension of the state’s new curriculum standards. The issue will now be sent to a legislative study committee for more review.
A panel of three high-profile Indiana superintendents Thursday criticized the state for not spending enough on traditional public schools and especially high-poverty schools. The three said that legislators should recognize the tougher job poor schools have to prepare their children to graduate ready for college or careers. With the state legislature heading into the last week of its annual session, the budget remains unsettled and an effort to overhaul school funding has left districts with many poor children — like Fort Wayne and IPS — in danger of losing millions of dollars in aid.
A growing number of students have immigrated to Indiana in recent years, posing new challenges for schools already under pressure to boost test scores. The schools must retrain their teachers, change their instructional programs and learn new ways of communicating with families — all with far less financial support from the state than in the past. That's because the state has slashed funding for English language learners by half over the past decade, while the number of those students has risen by 30 percent. The budget crunch and testing rules have advocates concerned about the way Indiana handles its growing immigrant population. A proposal to increase support for language learners to $200 per student was included in the Indiana Senate's budget released earlier this month but was not in the House budget, and its fate is uncertain.
Republican legislative leaders said Thursday they were still working out a final plan for changes to the Indiana State Board of Education. But the proposal could do more than effectively remove state Democratic schools chief, Glenda Ritz, from head of the state board — or change the size of the board and its appointment process. Lawmakers are discussing adding a requirement into state law that the Ritz-controlled Indiana Department of Education shares data with the state board. Earlier proposals to require the Department of Education to provide data to the state board died earlier in the legislative session. The reintroduction of the data requirement comes in the final days of the General Assembly, where lawmakers have yet to come to a consensus on the makeup of the state board.
New research suggests that letting children with ADHD move around may actually be a more effective way to help them learn. The study's findings suggest that traditional behavioral methods of treating kids with ADHD -- which emphasize reining in impulsivity and hyperactivity -- may be misguided. It appears that allowing children to move around (within reason) actually helps them maintain a certain level of alertness. The new study appears to show that physical movement not only occurs alongside these important brain functions, but seems to facilitate them.
Racial differences in school discipline are widely known, and black students across the United States are more than three times as likely as their white peers to be suspended or expelled, according to Stanford researchers. Across two studies, the researchers found that racial stereotypes shaped teachers' responses not after the first infraction but rather after the second. Teachers felt more troubled by a second infraction they believed was committed by a black student rather than by a white student. In fact, the stereotype of black students as "troublemakers" led teachers to want to discipline black students more harshly than white students after two infractions, the researchers said. They were more likely to see the misbehavior as part of a pattern, and to imagine themselves suspending that student in the future.
The NAMM Foundation has recognized 388 Districts, including nine in Indiana, for their outstanding commitment to music education with a Best Communities for Music Education (BCME) designation.
HOOSIER EDUCATION WIRE 4-14-15
Indiana teachers are looking for new and better ways to help students learn with computers. Some schools provide a computer to every student as notebooks and tablets are becoming as common and as important as textbooks. Hundreds of teachers became students over the weekend. They spent their weekend scouring computer screens, surfing, keyboarding... trying to catch up and get ahead of a tidal wave of classroom computing. Five hundred teachers from schools across the state - twice as many as last year - gave up their weekend for the Google Education Summit. Laptops and tablets have the potential to put a world of information on each child's desk, allow teachers to adapt lessons to individual students and monitor their progress.
Before- and after-school programs that serve nearly 45,000 Indiana children each day aren’t a funding priority in Indiana, but an influential state lawmaker said today that it’s time for that to change. State Sen. Dennis Kruse, who leads the Senate Education Committee, told more than 700 program leaders and community groups at the Indiana Afterschool Network‘s Summit on Out of School Learning that he’d be willing to sponsor a bill in the next legislative session to set aside more grant money for before- and after-school programs that he acknowledged are often overlooked. Ritz told Kruse she agreed that the state should do more to bolster programs that support kids outside of the traditional school day. But as before- and after-school programs evolve to be more strongly connected to the broad preschool-to-college education system, advocates said more funding will be needed to help families afford their services.
Fifty years ago President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also known as the ESEA. The legislation constituted a huge expansion in the role of the federal government in the classroom, an area of public policy that had traditionally been left to state and local governments. At the heart of the legislation was Title I, the section of the program that earmarked federal funding for poor children. However, the correlation between today’s shortcomings in federal education policy and efforts to reduce funding for people in poverty reveals that the country has moved too far away from Johnson’s original vision. To improve the current policy, Congress must move forward with the current bill in the Senate that revises the No Child Left Behind Act through a reauthorization of the ESEA. While the legislation leaves in place the testing standards and punitive measures for failing schools, it creates a better framework for evaluating what a "failing school" actually is. The legislation gives states more flexibility in determining how to handle schools that are struggling with test scores.
Changes in school transportation have brought the public to school board meetings, demanding explanations for cuts they see as arbitrary and sudden. At a recent East Allen County Schools board meeting, some people thought the board was favoring a proposed purchase of student iPads over providing transportation to non-public-school students. However, when it comes to funding school transportation, there is only one pool of money, generated by property taxes, and no leeway in how it’s spent, according to state rules. Notwithstanding federal and state grants and corporate donations, school funding in Indiana is taken care of by the general fund, allocated by the state, and several other funds, such as transportation, raised from local property taxes. Some of the bigger financial headaches have come about with the 2008 amendment to the Indiana Constitution that set caps on property taxes, often referred to as circuit breakers. The tax caps limit the amount of taxation on residential property to 1 percent, 2 percent on rental property and farmland and 3 percent on commercial and other property.
HOOSIER EDUCATION WIRE 4-8-15
A proposal to replace ISTEP with an off-the-shelf national test was derailed yesterday as a House committee sent the idea to a summer committee for further study. Unnerved by the growing cost for a proposed overhaul of ISTEP several legislators backed Senate Bill 566 with the idea that Indiana could save money by using a test other states use rather than creating its own exam. But state board members last week said the cost for ISTEP was reasonable and urged legislators to keep it. Unless the language that was removed from Senate Bill 566 today is revived in a different bill later, the state board will have prevailed. Additionally, the bill now would allow non-union organizations to pitch their services to represent teachers in contract negotiations. It would require unions to report how many members they have to the state and trigger an investigation and allow state officials to order an election in cases where unions report representing less than a majority of the teachers in a school district.
Proposed legislation this General Assembly sought to make kindergarten mandatory for Hoosier children by lowering the compulsory school age from seven to five. But two bills to do just that never even made it out of committee. House Education Committee Chairman Bob Behning (R-Indianapolis) says there is no need to lower the compulsory school age from seven to five because most children already attend classes at age five. And Behning says parents should have the choice whether to send them. However, using current Population Survey from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, an Ed Week report found less than 74-percent of eligible Hoosier children were enrolled in kindergarten programs in 2013 -- a rate that puts Indiana near the bottom of the country for kindergarten enrollment.
When education funds become less available, one of the first programs that many schools cut are music programs. However, there are several neurological studies that show that music does indeed add the equivalent of nutritional value to the brain. These are compelling reasons for schools to expand, rather than cut, their musical programs.
A growing body of research shows that nearly half of all children in the United States have experienced a traumatic event tied to poverty or family dysfunction, and repeated exposure to high stress can literally rewire the brain. This calls into question the so-called “zero-tolerance” school discipline systems that many states have adopted in the past decade in response to pressure to improve graduation rates and test scores. A small but growing number of schools nationally are turning the traditional approach to discipline on its head. Instead of trying to get students to leave their personal troubles at the door, these schools help kids cope with what often is a history of trauma. The idea is to catch problems before they become disciplinary issues resulting in suspensions or expulsions, and thus remove key barriers to academic success. At one school, the impact has been profound. Over the past three years, the number of suspensions has dropped by two-thirds. Incidents of physical fights in school have also plummeted, and the graduation rate rose to 90 percent in 2014 from 82 percent in 2012.
On the lighter side…
Kashka Johnson, a 16-year-old high school junior at West Side Leadership Academy in Gary has been working on his award winning science project "Helicopter Blades Design" since November. Design after design. Trial after trial. Repair after repair. His hearing disability has cost him valuable classroom time in his young life. It also has created educational challenges at his schools. He struggles to read and write. He lags behind other students in most classes. But not in science class. Kashka competed against dozens of other students from more than 20 Lake County schools at last month's Calumet Regional Science Fair at Indiana University Northwest. He left IUN with a gold medal, and other honors. At the regional competition, Kashka also earned an opportunity to compete at an international science fair next month in Houston, Texas.
With a population of fewer than 1,700 people, the town of Rossville is so small that all the public schools share a single building. But that hasn't stopped teacher-librarian Sherry Gick from making a name for herself across the country. This spring, Library Journal named Gick a Mover & Shaker — a rare feat for a school librarian. Gick, who is the library and instructional technology specialist for Rossville Consolidated School District, is an early adopter. Although she's based in a rural town, she is constantly connecting with a national community of teachers and librarians online. Last year, Scholastic named Gick one of the top 10 school librarians to follow on Twitter.
Education in Indiana has been on the forefront of many debates across the state. And there’s a push to prepare for state exams and meeting requirements. Students at Ouabache Elementary in Terre Haute were celebrating reading this week. Many special guests were in attendance including State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz. Ritz says it’s important for her to attend events like this one. “My focus is always on the students,” Ritz said. “So the mission at the Department of Education is to build an education of equity and high quality focused on student centered accountability. So it’s all about the kids. Any time I get a chance to go out and do reading celebrations I do them.”
HOOSIER EDUCATION WIRE 3-3-15
Indiana’s State Board of Education approved initial rule language for a new A-F school accountability system during their January meeting. Last week, they traveled the state to gauge public reaction to the proposal. Turnout was fairly small at each of the three public meetings – at least relative to regular attendance at monthly state board meetings. But anyone may still submit comments about the topic on the State Board’s website. Board staff say they’ve received about nine or ten online comments since they opened the online form February 3. That will remain open until March 13.
Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz said Monday she’s putting her energy into bills that will positively affect education in the classroom rather than the General Assembly’s attempt to limit her power. “Well that’s the politics of things,” she said. “I’m not focused on the politics, I’m focused on the educational matters that are coming before the General Assembly.” Ritz discussed state educational issues yesterday after she had toured schools in Austin and Scottsburg.
Many parents are deciding to “opt out,” or withdraw their child from this year’s pool of test-takers. But that decision could have serious repercussions for teachers, schools and even the state. There’s no law on the books in Indiana about opting out. The Department of Education lets each district decide how to handle it individually. But, there are consequences if enough students don’t participate in each district. The current version of No Child Left Behind requires 95 percent participation statewide – or else Indiana could see a serious reduction in federal funding.
Legislation before the General Assembly this session sought to make kindergarten mandatory for Hoosier children by lowering the compulsory school age from seven to five. But two bills to do just that never even made it out of committee. House Education Committee Chairman Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis, says there is no need to lower the compulsory school age from seven to five, because most children already attend classes at age five – and parents should have the choice whether or not to send them. However, a recent report by Education Week found less than 74 percent of eligible Hoosier children were enrolled in kindergarten programs in 2013 – a rate that puts Indiana near the bottom of the country for kindergarten enrollment.
The annual graduation rate report was released Wednesday, showing an increase from the 2012-2013 school year. The data released by the Indiana Department of Education said Indiana's graduation rate for the 2013-2014 school year is 89.8%, up from the previous school year's 88.6%. Along with the overall graduation rate increase, Indiana's non-waiver graduation rate increased from 81.7% in 2012-2013 to 83.4% in the most recent school year.
House Republicans decided not to vote Friday on their proposed rewrite of the No Child Left Behind law, the Student Success Act, after House leadership struggled to lock down support for the bill and debate over Department of Homeland Security funding eclipsed education plans. NCLB expired in 2007. The current push to update the law is the first serious attempt at reauthorization since then, but there’s only a short window to rewrite it before the 2016 elections are fully underway and legislative work slows. Senate lawmakers are working on their own version of No Child Left Behind in a bipartisan fashion, with hopes of heading to conference later this year.
As the cost and challenge of preparing college-ready students escalates and puts new burdens on higher education – one lawmaker is proposing that districts should pay for remedial courses high school graduates must take in college. Community colleges in Tennessee spent an estimated $18.5 million last year on remedial courses such as reading, writing and math so students could catch up before taking college-level courses. SB 526, authored by Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, would require districts to reimburse colleges for the catch-up courses for students who graduated within 16 months of taking a remedial course. It excludes those who returned to college after taking time off. Some experts say it sounds reasonable but in the end it’s more a matter of robbing Peter to pay Paul.
HOOSIER EDUCATION WIRE 2-9-15
Indiana Schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz is asking the State Board of Education to hold a special meeting on concerns about the longer time needed to complete Indiana's new statewide test. Department of Education spokesman Daniel Altman says Ritz sent a letter Sunday to board members requesting a meeting within a week. He says Ritz wants the board to explore ways "to ease testing stress."
United we stand. That was the message from the four Allen County public school superintendents on school funding Thursday. The message was that public schools need to stay well funded and educationally up to date in order to help attract business in a city that is seeing continued growth and downtown investment. Wendy Robinson from Fort Wayne Community Schools; Kenneth Folks, East Allen County Schools; Chris Himsel, Northwest Allen County Schools; and Philip Downs, Southwest Allen County Schools, stood arm in arm to say tax caps enacted in 2009 and cuts to general funding have hurt their ability to educate the 54,000 public school students in Allen County. While property taxes pay for bus transportation, bus replacement, capital projects and debt, the general fund covers staffing – teachers, administration – besides utilities, insurance and supplies. State and federal grants help pay for special education, Title 1 and English Language Learners programs.
Mired in $81 million worth of debt, the Gary Community School Corp. hopes taxpayers will approve a $51.8 million referendum to keep its schools open. The school district has struggled with debt since property tax caps took hold and enrollment declined to about 7,000 students. The city has six charter schools that have siphoned off nearly half of its enrollment base. Recently, the district had to change its employee health insurance provider from Anthem to Cigna because of the premium cost. Interim chief executive financial officer Michael Washington said the district's most recent property tax collection rate was about 50 percent. The property taxes finance three funds — debt service, capital projects and transportation. Additionally, school officials met with state lawmakers Thursday in Indianapolis, Washington said, in an effort to seek relief. He said state Sen. Earline Rogers, D-Gary, was attempting to amend the rules to allow the district to borrow $25 million to $30 million in a state Common School Fund loan.
Party leaders on the Senate education committee began collaborating Friday morning to rewrite the No Child Left Behind Act. Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., respectively the chairman and ranking member of the panel, along with their staffs, plan to work over the next few weeks to produce a bipartisan bill. The two will need to work out a long list of policy differences that include, in no short order: (1) What to do about Title I portability; (2) Whether to add an early childhood education component to the law; (3) How much control over accountability to give to states; (4) What testing should look like under the new law; (4) How much money education programs should get; (5) What the federal role should be for school turnarounds; and, (6) Which programs to keep and which to consolidate.
HOOSIER EDUCATION WIRE 2-6-15
In an effort to improve Indiana’s teacher evaluation system, the State Board of Education voted Wednesday to move forward with a set of recommendations from a third party education group (TNTP). As a result of this research, TNTP recommended to the SBOE that a priority in improving the teacher evaluation system should be making sure everyone involved – including teachers, principals, district officials and state leaders – understand the goals of the evaluations and how the process works. Other recommendations include mandatory instruction for educators on how the process works and what it is evaluating, engaging teachers in the process of designing a corporation’s evaluation process, and the use of objective measures – the most controversial portion of TNTP’s report.
After the Department of Education sent out testing times this weeks, educators and parents were outraged by the almost tripling of time students will sit to take a test. A reason for the increased testing lengths is that since the test questions are new, and this test will be used in the future, a lot of the questions have to be piloted. The length of this test will only happen this year, but many said that’s one year too many for a student. After hearing from parents, teachers and community members about the negative effects on this many hours of testing, the board voted to extend the testing windows. It doesn’t eliminate hours of testing kids have to take, but it does give schools the flexibility to spread those testing sessions out over a few weeks.
An I-Team 8 investigation found there’s a growing concern among academia and legal experts that the high rate of suspensions in Indianapolis might be creating more criminals. Some worry that by kicking students out of class, school districts might be further exacerbating the so-called school-to-prison pipeline. New research by an Indiana University professor suggests schools that often suspend students create a punitive environment that results in lower test scores among all students.
The goal of HOSTS is to raise the instructional reading level of students to grade level or higher, along with improving comprehension and fluency. A HOSTS instructor and lead teacher at each school use data gathered on each student referred to the program to prepare individualized lesson plans that focus on reading, written response, vocabulary and skills reinforcement. Different groups of volunteers come in four days a week, spending 30 minutes each with two students, reading, doing lessons, playing games and problem-solving. Data for the 2013-14 school year indicate the program works. Of the 324 students who were enrolled in HOSTS for at least six months, 100 percent of the second-graders advanced two or more reading levels, and 99 percent of the third-graders recorded similar advances.
HOOSIER EDUCATION WIRE 1-21-15
Indiana students wanting to graduate might have to pass a US citizenship test under a bill heard by the House Education Committee this week. Arizona recently became the first state to implement such a requirement, and about a dozen others are considering similar bills. But House Education Chairman Robert Behning, R-Indianapolis, put House Bill 1296 on hold, because he does not want to add another test to a test-heavy curriculum for students. Two staffers from the Indiana Department of Education testified Tuesday that the information on the citizenship test is covered in various grades, including fifth, eighth, 11th and 12th.
Schools could receive more funding for early education in a bill introduced to the Indiana General Assembly this session. Senate Bill 40, authored by Sen. Karen Tallian D-Portage, provides that for the 2015-16 school year a kindergarten student is counted as one pupil for purposes of average daily membership and school funding if the student is enrolled in a full-day kindergarten program. Kindergarteners are currently counted as one-half of a student in Indiana when it comes to school funding because districts are required only to offer half-day programs. One obstacle for Senate Bill 40 could be funding. It would cost about $38.1 million a year to fund full-day kindergarten, according to the bill’s fiscal impact statement.
Indiana ranked 43rd on early education in Education Week’s national “Quality Counts” report. The state got a ‘D’, worse than the nation’s ‘D+’ average. Holly Yettick, Education Week’s Research Center director, says low enrollment numbers in programs like kindergarten and Head Start contributed to its ranking. The report found that 40 percent of Indiana’s 3 and 4-year-olds were in preschool last year, compared to the national average of 47 percent.
A bill moving through the Indiana General Assembly that would expand criminal background checks for school employees is in legislative limbo over concern that one of its provisions would be too intrusive. House Bill 1068 introduced by state Rep. Jeffrey Thompson, R-Danville, would authorize school districts to use private consumer reporting agencies to compile these checks, which would have to be updated every five years. As the measure was being debated on the house floor on Thursday, Rep. Austin introduced an amendment to limit the financial information collected to job applicants or employees responsible for the collection and distribution of money. House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, responded to Austin’s concerns by ordering more discussion about the measure, but didn’t send it back to the Education Committee for additional discussions.
President Obama is planning to propose new federal legislation to safeguard student privacy, a move that comes as new classroom technologies gather sensitive personal information about children in order to deliver personalized lessons.
The White House has not publicized details of the proposed legislation, called the Student Digital Privacy Act, saying only that it will be modeled on a California law that passed last year and is considered the toughest among a raft of new state laws that address the issue of securing student data. Under the California measure, companies may not target students with advertising based on data collected at school, nor may they sell student data for non-educational purposes. Both - houses of the state legislature voted unanimously to pass it.
Many of the students at Kingsley Elementary School in a low-income neighborhood of Los Angeles eat breakfast and lunch provided by the school. For the nearly 100 enrolled in the after-school program, another meal is served: supper.
The nation's second largest school district is doubling the number of students served dinner, with an eye toward eventually offering it at every school. It's a growing trend: Nationwide, the number of students served dinner or an after-school snack soared to nearly 1 million last year. In the 2014 fiscal year, 104 million suppers were served to students, up from about 19 million in 2009. Participation is still lower than in the nation's long-running breakfast and lunch programs, which serve more than 12 million and 31 million students, respectively.
HOOSIER EDUCATION WIRE 1-13-15
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is calling on Congress to repeal and replace No Child Left Behind, the cornerstone federal education law, while still maintaining what he considers to be key elements – including annual testing. Duncan says a rewrite needs to emphasize the following components: (1) Improved access to high-quality preschool, (2) An equal distribution of funds among schools to guarantee all students can access good teachers and resources like technology and safe facilities, (3) Fair teacher evaluation systems that include measures of student learning, (4) Improved preparation, support, resources and pay for teachers, and (5) More financial support for districts that “pursue bold innovations” in terms of testing.
Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said recently he is considering if Indiana’s private school voucher program needs a revamped audit trail to better document money flowing between the state and private schools in the wake of $3.9 million in over payments made the last three years. But Bosma said he’s “not prepared to say” whether voucher accountability should be a high priority in the just-underway legislative session. Gov. Mike Pence wants to add more funding to the voucher program this year by lifting the state’s $4,800 per-student funding cap for vouchers used to pay tuition at private elementary schools.
An idea pitched this week would aim to solve one of Indiana’s biggest education challenges — raising the quality of teaching across the state — by prodding more teachers to seek National Board Certification. Indiana is way behind its neighbors when it comes to National Board certification, and ranks just 43rd among the states with only 168 teachers who have earned the credential. One of them is Ritz, who also served on the NBPTS board for a time. ISTA proposed a 10-year, $2,000 salary annual stipend for teachers who complete the credential.
Republicans have rejected Democrats’ calls to specify in Indiana’s state budget how much money is going toward traditional public schools, charter schools and the private school voucher program. Democratic lawmakers say it is a question of transparency at a time when Republican Gov. Mike Pence is proposing increases in state funding for charter schools and vouchers that his administration estimates could reach nearly $50 million over the next two years.
Governor Mike Pence is expected to promote his proposals for boosting Indiana's charter schools and private school voucher program when he gives his State of the State speech. Pence's speech Tuesday evening to a joint session of the Indiana House and Senate will be televised around the state. Watch here at 7PM Eastern.