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Hoosier Education Wire


Scores dip on 'rigorous' ISTEP+

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.

Teacher's focus on history pays off

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.”

SBOE To Legislature: Expand Pre-K For ‘High Needs’ Children

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.


Consensus is building around the timing of the new exam in a review of proposals submitted by school leaders tasked with recommending ISTEP’s replacement. The ideas follow school superintendents across the state blasting the panel for its slow progress and anticipated delays in rolling out the new exam. But panel members told IndyStar this week they expect to forward a detailed proposal to lawmakers by the December deadline.
The Center for Education Statistics ranked Indiana 42nd in the nation for having one counselor for every 541 students in 2013. The American School Counselor Association recommends a 250:1 student-to-counselor ratio. But Indiana Dept. of Education data shows that for every 619 students, Indiana has just one licensed counselor.
With two failed general fund referendums behind it, the Gary Community School Corp.'s survival is at stake. Several Gary leaders, including retired Sen. Earline Rogers, Sen.-elect Eddie Melton, D-Gary, and Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, met with Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, and Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Portage, Thursday to talk about the district's future and how it can survive. The Gary Community School Corp. was unable to make payroll Friday. Gary schools Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt said payroll is delayed until Tuesday when the district gets its monthly allocation from the state. The school's biweekly payroll is about $1.6 million.
The Indiana University School of Education’s Center for Research on Learning and Technology has received a $1.23 million grant from the National Science Foundation. The grant will fund use of a specially designed video game to help students working in small groups learn to create solutions collaboratively. The game’s artificial intelligence technologies will use big data generated by student group users to help teachers provide adaptable support and to foster collaboration.
All IN 4 Pre-K, a group of advocates, business leaders and families, is working to expand opportunities for youngsters throughout Indiana. A program called On My Way Pre-K already exists in Allen, Jackson, Lake, Marion and Vanderburgh counties. The program provides scholarships to children at or below 127 percent of poverty. There are also early education matching grants that allow facilities to offer tuition-free attendance for children at or below 100 percent of poverty. Indianapolis offers its own preschool scholarship program, but there are still thousands of children that are not being reached.


The Department of Education announced Monday the number of new teachers receiving licenses from the state saw a huge increase this school year. Last school year, the Department issued 3,843 licenses to new teachers, the lowest of the last six years. This school year, 4,552 licenses were issued — an 18 percent increase. The number of licenses issued to new teachers in Indiana dropped every year since 2012, and this is the first year since that there’s been an increase.
As Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction, Ritz is familiar with the disappointing numbers. Last school year the department of education issued around 3,800 licenses. She says that’s the lowest it’s been in the last six years. “The teacher shortage is actually real in the state of Indiana.” New numbers reveal a sharp turnaround. The state is reporting a more than 18 percent increase in the number of license recipients from 2015 to 2016. “We’re starting the healing process of what happened with legislation back in 2012, but we have a lot of work to do, and I look forward to bringing several things to the legislature in this session,” said Ritz.
Superintendents from seven southern Indiana school corporations came together Monday morning to urge legislators to think about the education of students in the Hoosier state.
"What upsets me is the Indiana Department of Education had put a plan together to replace ISTEP, but they can't even get that plan heard," said Madison, who said the committee has met multiple times but has not really made any progress. "At least they have something to look at, but the committee won't even give them a seat at the table."
The Indiana Commission for Higher Education recently announced the official launch of the Next Generation Hoosier Educators Scholarship for students pursuing a career in education. These $7,500-per-year scholarships will be available to high school students who either graduate in the top 20 percent of their class or earn a score in the top 20th percentile on the SAT or ACT. Participating students must maintain a 3.0 cumulative grade-point average and complete at least 15 credit hours per semester to continue earning the scholarship throughout their college careers.
Indiana school students will get to participate in a mock election on Election Day. It’s a lesson in civics. Many students in southeast Indiana will be among those casting ballots for real-life candidates for president, governor, and U.S. senator in the Indiana Kids’ Election on Tuesday, November 8. The Indiana Kids Election is sponsored by the Indiana State Bar Association, the Indiana Secretary of State’s Office and the Indiana Department of Education.
If you stop by Jamie Wolverton’s introduction to engineering class at Roosevelt College and Career Academy, you might find students on the floor building a roller coaster, or at their desk calculating the materials, labor cost, profit and overhead for a bridge project. The high school seniors are getting a taste of what it would take to be an engineer. The class gives high school seniors an opportunity to explore careers in engineering, and they earn a couple of credits because it’s a dual credit class through Ivy Tech Community College.



NAEP Report Card: IN Students Boost Science Scores, Gaps Remain

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.

Report: Indiana’s Voucher Program One Of Most Expansive In Country

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.”

Elkhart Schools Move Closer to Reorganization

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."

Early learning for all? Equal access to preschool a nationwide discussion

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.


A recent national study by the Learning Policy Institute  titled "A Coming Crisis in Teaching?" ranked Indiana among the worst in the country when it comes to retaining teachers and keeping them happy in the classroom. The state’s average retention rate for educators, which includes teachers and administrators, is around 82 percent, meaning they keep 82 percent of their educators from school year to school year. Teachers in Indiana are concerned more than any other state that their job security is impacted significantly by student test scores, according to the study.
Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz announced the renewed commitment to expanding college and career pathways for Hoosier students Oct. 21. As part of this commitment, the Department is applying for a grant of up to $1.8 million to support My Path My Choice, a college and career readiness plan, according to a department press release. “Every student should graduate high school understanding the relevance of their learning, with the skills and credentials to be successful in college or career,” Ritz said.
Valparaiso High School students Dawson Brown, Madilyn “Madi” Mayernick and Jasmine Willis are among 28 students who are in the construction trades technology program at the Porter County Career Center. The two-year program focuses on teaching students the basics of the construction business. Students in the program are refurbishing the 1912 train depot, which was moved from Calumet Avenue to the career center campus in 2014 after Canadian National outgrew the building. The project has the support of the state, the community of Valparaiso and the Valparaiso Community School Corp.
Students were introduced to Batesville Tool & Die, given a history of the company and given an explanation about what the company makes and how they make it. Another highlight presented was the Co-op program offered at Batesville High School during students’ junior and senior years. This unique program gives students the opportunity to take college courses at Ivy Tech at no additional cost to the student, saving a considerable amount on college expenses.
For Ross Roberts, it was a lack of resources that drove him from the classroom. For Danielle Painton, it was too much emphasis on testing. For Sergio Gonzalez, it was a nasty political environment. The teaching force is "a leaky bucket, losing hundreds of thousands of teachers each year — the majority of them before retirement age," says a recent report from the Learning Policy Institute. There are, of course, many reasons both personal and professional. Let's start with money. While teachers don't get into the profession for the dough, money is a factor. Beginning teachers make about 20 percent less than college graduates in other fields.


Ritz Awards $16M in School Improvement Grants

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;

Dual Language doubly impressive

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.

Area leaders take turn as guest principals

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.

Feagans receives ICE Teacher of the Year Award

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.

Marion High School student gets 'elite' AP score

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.


Children in this mobile lifestyle can face interrupted schooling, cultural and language barriers, and social isolation — factors that inhibit a child’s ability to do well in school. A public preschool for migrant children in Vincennes, the IN Region 4 Migrant Preschool Center, works to combat that. The preschool teaches migrant children, ages 2 to 5, in English and Spanish. It aims to prepare them for future instruction, wherever they may go.
East Chicago school Superintendent Paige McNulty believes she’s making headway in her conversations with legislators across the state regarding the issues surrounding the Carrie Gosch Elementary School building. Carrie Gosch Elementary, 455 E. 148th St., sits on lead-contaminated soil, and was closed a week before school was scheduled to start this year as a result of the lead problems in the West Calumet Housing Complex. Indiana education leader Glenda Ritz visited the new building and toured the old building a couple of weeks ago, where U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials were busy working on their plan of action. “Since my visit to Carrie Gosch a few weeks ago, I have continued to work closely with the local schools and community during this transition,” Ritz said. “My outreach team is providing ongoing support and resources to the community, and we continue to evaluate what flexibility may be available to free up additional resources and federal funding for East Chicago Schools. I look forward to working with the General Assembly during the upcoming legislative session to address any financial concerns.”
Schools are required to report their enrollment to the state twice a year, in the fall and spring. The state distributes money to the district per student, each person typically worth more than $4,000. Enrollment on count day immediately affects how much the district will receive in December. In February, most of the 22 districts in East Central Indiana had lost students, which was becoming a familiar narrative. But this fall, most local districts saw enrollment stay steady, or increase slightly.
It’s almost mid-October, but Indiana still has not publicly released state ISTEP test scores or A-F accountability grades for schools. So why are scores and grades so slow to come out these days? And is there any hope the state could get them out earlier? Not with the current process, state Superintendent Glenda Ritz said last week. There are three big reasons why: 1. Results today require more verification. Test scores today go through a more rigorous vetting process than they did in the past. 2. Getting test scores back to teachers is top priority. Ritz proudly pointed out that teachers and schools received student test scores shortly after the start of the new school year. 3. Changes in state law now require Ritz’s team to deliver state aggregate ISTEP results to the Indiana State Board of Education by July 1, Ritz said.


State Superintendent Glenda Ritz and the Department of Education issued a proposal for Indiana’s new testing system. The plan is just one design the ISTEP committee could consider sugesting to the 2017 General Assembly next legislative session. The 2016 General Assembly passed a law getting rid of ISTEP last spring, and it also created the ISTEP committee to recommendation a new plan by Dec. 1. At this point, the panel doesn’t look likely to independently meet this goal.
The “repeal ISTEP” bill that was signed by Gov. Mike Pence in May lays out an ambitious timeline with the ISTEP advisory panel making recommendations by Dec. 1 so that the legislature can formally enact the new test next spring. But after months of indecision, members of the panel now say the ISTEP may be sticking around a little longer than expected. “I don’t see any alternative,” Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, chairman of the Senate Education Committee said at the panel meeting Tuesday. “That’ll probably be a bill that’s in the legislature this next session.” He joins Rep. Bob Behning, who heads the House Education Committee and initially championed the “repeal ISTEP” bill, who said earlier this summer that ISTEP might continue longer than expected.
The Indiana Department of Education and myON first partnered in 2014 to offer all migrant students access to a literacy-based program. The goal was to provide students a unique learning experience including high-quality text at their individual reading levels, writing tools, and measurable performance outcomes. During the summer of 2016, Indiana’s migrant students spent approximately 2,700 hours reading more than 12,091 books. Within the first two summers, 85% of participating students experienced reading growth or maintained their reading level. During the 2016 summer programs, students averaged a growth of seven Lexile® points in only 4 to 8 weeks.


The educator exodus

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.

Clarksville sees spike in teacher turnover

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.

Lilly Endowment Launches $30M Counseling Initiative

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.

Schools enhance students’ experience at lunchtime

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.

Merrillville Intermediate principal implements new strategies

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.

Principal goes to new heights to encourage students to read

"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!"


Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz announced fourteen Promising Practices today.  Identified programs highlight high-quality education practices or wrap-around services that foster equity and high-quality systems within Indiana’s schools.
Indiana’s teacher shortage is continuing to make it difficult for most schools in south central Indiana to attract many candidates for open teaching positions, school leaders said. With classes now in full swing, many schools aren’t just seeing new students – but also new teachers, including recent college grads, transfers from other schools and people who’ve switched careers from the private sector into public school instruction. Leaders from the two Decatur County school corporations said they had significantly different experiences this summer in trying to fill vacant teaching jobs.
Tiny, blue paper ribbons adorn doors throughout Weston Elementary School, placed there by staff members celebrating students’ and educators’ most recent accomplishment. The Greenfield-Central elementary school was named a National Blue Ribbon school, joining just eight other Hoosier schools to earn the award this year from the U.S. Department of Education. Weston is the first Greenfield-Central school to earn the honor, said principal Shane Bryant.
Two Brown County Junior High School teachers recently were recognized for outstanding service to students. Michael Potts, a social studies teacher who coaches the “We the People” team, was named the Caleb Mills Indiana History Teacher of the Year for 2015-16. And Dan Lewellen was named the Indiana Engineering & Technology Middle School Teacher of the Year for 2015-16.
Cumberland Elementary School students have created a petition they hope will create more momentum in their quest to name the Say's firefly Indiana's state insect. A student-driven project first started in the 2014-2015 school year, the petition aims to garner support across the state, according to Maggie Samudio, a second-grade teacher at Cumberland who's helped lead the project.


State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz and several Indiana Teachers of the Year from past years drove up to the Berry Bowl on Thursday and minutes later found themselves grouped around a podium and banner set up in the front of the cafeteria. Principal Matt Jones and other administrators had hatched a plan to make sure Nelson's fellow English teachers and all her students were there to see her make the school proud. It sounds simple. But Nelson's students aren't your typical high-schoolers. Each one is learning English as a foreign language, as Nelson herself did years ago. Nelson, 49, is an immigrant from the Czech Republic, a graduate of the University of Southern Bohemia with a bachelor's degree in pedagogy and a dual master's degree in Russian as a foreign language and music. She's been an instructional assistant and classroom teacher in three countries, including the Czech Republic and Canada in addition to the U.S.
Indiana’s education leader Glenda Ritz said East Chicago school officials have done a remarkable job in a short time period transforming the West Side Middle School building into the new Carrie Gosch Elementary School. Carrie Gosch Elementary School was closed a week before school was scheduled to start this fall as a result of lead problems in the West Calumet area. School City of East Chicago Superintendent Paige McNulty said it has created havoc with finances and enrollment.
A pre-K advocacy group made up of Indiana businesses and philanthropic organizations asked a group of legislators on Wednesday to give more funding to pre-K scholarships for low-income families, and legislators pushed back. The advocacy group, which includes representatives from United Way, Eli Lilly and PNC Bank, among others, testified before the interim study committee on fiscal policy.  The committee will have influence over what is included in the state budget when the General Assembly convenes in January.
Nine schools in Indiana have been named 2016 National Blue Ribbon Schools. The honor from the U.S. Department of Education recognizes academic excellence or progress in closing achievement gaps. In all, 329 schools throughout the country received the award this year. The program is in its 34th year and fewer than 8,500 schools have received the honor over that time.


Indiana Superintendent Glenda Ritz Releases Updated Outreach Data

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.

E. Chicago School, Families Face Challenges After Lead Discovery

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.

Teacher shortages persist in Indiana

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.

“It’s disappointing.” Teacher shortage continues to challenge Wabash Valley schools

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.

Celebrate Science Combines Education and Fun for Indiana Families

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.

Superintendent of Year goes to NACS' Himsel

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.


The Indiana Department of Education has identified eight new Promising Practices throughout the state. The department is seeking to name 200 high-quality education programs that have a positive influence on students in celebration of the state's bicentennial.
Ritz Names 'Family Friendly Schools'
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.
How often have you participated in an African drum circle? At Fairview Elementary School, some students get to do just that every other day. Musical director Kathy Heise says providing a variety of options to students, especially at a young age, is crucial to a well-rounded education.
Indiana will receive more than $250,000 to help low-income students take advanced placement tests. The U.S. Department of Education announced today that it has awarded the grants as part of efforts to boost college- and career-readiness for underserved students. The tests let students obtain college credit for high school courses, reducing the time and cost required to complete a postsecondary degree.
Students across the state participated in Digital Citizenship Week this week, learning about ways to be responsible with technology. The Indiana Department of Education celebrated the week in collaboration with Common Sense Media, which provides teaching material for parents and educators. The week focuses on making smart, safe choices with technology. Voorhif talked with her students about making good choices online and how the things they do on the internet leave a digital footprint — one that never goes away. She also talked with them about being safe online and the dangers of cyberbullying. 
Governor Mike Pence has appointed Maryanne McMahon to the State Board of Education. McMahon, who most recently served as assistant superintendent for the Avon Community School Corp., succeeds Sarah O'Brien, who resigned from the board last month.
A national study ranks Indiana among the lowest states for teacher recruitment and retention, with many worried about the impact of standardized testing. The report from the Learning Policy Institute says Indiana teachers earn starting salaries lower than the national average but face among the largest class sizes.


Indiana Department of Education Celebrates First Indiana Digital Citizenship Week

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. 

Indiana Department of Education Receives Federal Grant to Support State Nutrition Programs

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 Department of Education announces additional efforts to ensure safety services to students

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.

As More Deaf Students Use Cochlear Implants, Indiana Schools Work To Adapt

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.

Local church says it was 'blindsided' by charter school proposal

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 schools want debt elimination plan

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.


Glenda Ritz, Indiana’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, is proposing her plan to prevent child abuse in schools. The plan includes additional training for school employees and streamlining the license revocation process. The Indiana Department of Education wants to work with background check providers to get background checks offered to schools at a reduced rate. The department hopes a discount would encourage background checks for regular school and coach volunteers in addition to school employees.
For local officials, safety has become an increasingly important issue and one that schools are spending more time on. Following the lockdown at Loogootee, School Superintendent Chip Mehaffey pointed out that school personnel and students did exactly what they had learned during safety drills. "We have drills," said Mehaffey. "It is a credit to the principals, staff and students that they reacted appropriately." The threat that led to the lockdown led to an 8-year-old student. It turned out to be a hoax, but even hoaxes make police nervous these days.
Homework’s not going anywhere in Southern Indiana for now. Ideas on homework, though — how much to give and how its administered — are concepts seeing shifts in education. Sometimes, that’s through a flipped classroom. Students watch an instructional video produced by a teacher at home, then come to class the next day ready to work on the lesson they learned.
The William A. Crawford Minority Teacher Scholarship and Earline S. Rogers Student Teaching Stipend for Minorities offer financial aid for minority students who meet academic requirements and commit to teaching at least three years after earning a college degree.
The mayor, superintendent and state schools chief had already addressed the audience but it was Arael, a fifth grader, belting out the opening line from a song, that put a charge into all the kids in the room. Even before Edison’s official debut this year as an arts-themed magnet school, the elementary arts school last year at School 70 organized students ranging in age from 9 to 11 to put together a more-than-credible version of the children’s favorite.


Indiana Department of Education Announces Efforts to Ensure Student Safety

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.

See also: Department of Education outlines plan to prevent child abuse; Ind. Dept. of Education to work with state lawmakers to keep students safe; Ritz Announces Efforts To Ensure Student Safety

Indiana superintendent reports quarterly message

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.

Schools in central Indiana cope with teacher shortage

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.

Wildkats, Huskies pitch in to help tornado cleanup

Football players, students, administrators and parents from Kokomo High School and Hamilton Heights got up close and personal with the damage Friday night. In lieu of playing their scheduled football game, the Kokomo Wildkats and Hamilton Heights Huskies opted to help in tornado cleanup. Heights loaded up buses with players and administrators. Kokomo’s contingent included players, cheerleaders, students and parents.


The state's chief education officer is asking Hoosier lawmakers to approve another funding increase for Indiana schools. Glenda Ritz, the Democratic state superintendent of public instruction, last week submitted a budget request seeking a 2 percent across-the-board school funding boost and reallocation of $147 million in existing funds to begin providing pre-kindergarten classes to all 4-year-olds. A 2 percent funding increase would give schools approximately $455 million in new money during the two-year budget period that begins July 1, 2017.
State Superintendent Glenda Ritz today held the first of what will be a series of meetings with a  group of 19 educators she tapped to help examine how the state rates schools. Indiana must submit a plan to the U.S. Department of Education by March 6, 2017, detailing how its accountability system will work. The committee will advise Ritz and the Indiana Department of Education before the (ESSA) plan is due to federal education officials in March. Then, the recommendations will be shared with the Indiana State Board of Education, which can choose to vote on possible changes to state accountability rules sometime next year.
In April, Republican Gov. Mike Pence signed a bill to establish a scholarship fund for college students who commit to teaching in Indiana for at least five years after graduation. That was the primary bill related to teacher recruitment last legislative session, despite the recommendations of a blue-ribbon commission made up of 49 state officeholders and educators who studied the shortage. The commission had advised establishing a state-funded mentoring program, setting local compensation scales, and reducing the number of standardized tests in favor of teacher-constructed assessments.
It’s been five years since Indiana launched its school voucher program, which gives state money to to qualified students to cover private education. It was controversial when passed, and five years later, enrollment has grown exponentially, continuing the criticism.


Indiana Department of Education Submits Budget Request on Behalf of Indiana Schools, Taxpayers

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.

Glenda Ritz seeks $1,000 tax break for public school families

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.

State Legislature To Explore Heightened Background Checks For Teachers

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.

Indy business leaders promise to fight for preschool for more kids

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.

Musk's brother plans to plant 100 gardens at Indy schools

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.


Education Department Seeks $4 Million In Damages After ISTEP Debacle

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.

ISTEP+ Panel Explores Options For New High School Standardized Test

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+.

Huntington teacher elected Ind. Board of Education vice-chair

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.

Group will push Indiana lawmakers for pre-K funding

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.

Panel considers end to linking test results, teacher pay

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.


Teacher Shortage Being Felt In Southeast Indiana Schools

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.

Great teachers, transformative moments

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.

Teachers Warehouse 'a haven' for teachers preparing for new school year

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.

SPHS officials showcase newly-integrated technology for Ritz

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.

Many Children Use Summer Food Programs

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


ISTEP’s next steps still in limbo

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.

Clark, Floyd schools trying to fill jobs

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.

Education Department Releases Updated School Lunch Eligibility Guidelines

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.

40-year-old pre-K faces newer standards

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.

Back to school: Still no guarantee for Union's future

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.


Glenda Ritz: Let's get rid of ISTEP

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.

Beyond ‘Mad Men’: More Public Schools Advertise To Survive

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.

Many southern Indiana schools preparing to welcome students back to class

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.

Zionsville Community School prepares for school year by hiring wellness teachers

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.

RCS enhances technology for new school year

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.


A panel in charge of recommending a new state standardized test for students remains divided on a replacement for the ISTEP exam. State Superintendent Glenda Ritz wants Indiana to use computer-based tests with questions that adapt to students' skill levels in order to give teachers a better understanding of what individuals know, the Indianapolis Star reported. But some panelists, appointed by Gov. Mike Pence, say Indiana should keep a single pass/fail exam and potentially offer additional tests that measure students' progress.
This summer, Greenfield-Central Schools food service employees expect to serve more than double the number of meals they dished up in 2015 under the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Summer Food Service Program, which is open to any child younger than 18 but targets disadvantaged youth. So far, the program has served more than 7,700 meals to Hancock County youngsters through the three sites in Greenfield. Before school starts Aug. 1, organizers anticipate serving 10,000 — more than double the 4,000 meals served in 2015.
Use of the state's Choice scholarship program increased about 14.2 percent last school year among students living within the boundaries of Allen County's four public school districts, revised figures from the Indiana Department of Education show. The department issued a preliminary Choice report in April. Officials announced the revised results Monday.
When the school year ends, some kids go to camp, summer school or daycare. But a lot of these options are expensive for families who have to come up with creative, cheaper alternatives, whether that means sending kids off to the city's rec center, or to stay with grandparents.


The Indiana Department of Education announced twelve new Promising Practices today. The Promising Practices program identifies high-quality education practices and wrap-around services in communities throughout the state. “Across the state, Indiana’s schools and communities are implementing innovative education practices to meet the diverse needs of Hoosier students,” said Glenda Ritz, Indiana’s Superintendent of Public Instruction. “The high-quality instructional practices and support services we are recognizing today exemplify those innovative practices and are essential to providing every Hoosier students with a high-quality education.”
More than 32,000 students in Indiana received vouchers to attend private schools last school year, up 12 percent from the previous year, according to data released today by the Indiana Department of Education. And while local parochial schools are receiving money from the state to educate students who receive vouchers, area public schools are losing substantial funding, including South Bend Community School Corp., which lost $10.4 million last year, according to the new report.
The state says the cost for the 2015-16 school year is up from the $40 million deficit the previous year. The deficits reflect a reversal from the program’s first years when fewer students were eligible and the state recouped around $4 million to $5 million in annual savings. Overall, the state spent $131 million in taxpayer dollars to support sending children to private schools during the most recent school year. An overwhelming majority of those schools are religiously affiliated. The $53 million "deficit" represents the cost to educate students with no record of attending an Indiana public school, according to Samantha Hart, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education.
National debate about where students should go after they finish high school generally favors college as the path to success. Yet several states have ramped up vocational training in the past several years in an attempt to equip kids with enough skills to land decent-paying jobs right after they pick up their diplomas. While there’s fierce discussion about the benefits and drawbacks of promoting career training in high schools, largely overlooked is whether such training affects girls differently than boys. But according to a new study spearheaded by a sociologist at Cornell University and set to be published in the August issue of the American Sociological Review, high-school training in blue-collar communities disadvantages women.


Ritz: Indiana teacher shortage still a problem, needs to be addressed

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.

Summer Break Meal Program for IPS students winding down

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..

Kindergarten prep scores high marks, helps kids

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.


No Child Left Behind is gone. Here’s how new federal law could affect Indiana schools

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 bus drivers excel in competition

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.

Gary schools working to improve image

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.


After 35 years, Marion County desegregation order ends

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.

What Education Laws Go Into Effect July 1?

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.

The Road to High-Quality Early Learning: Lessons from the States

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.

AUDIO: As Enrollment Falls, Rural Indiana School District Searches For Funding

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.


Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz Hosts Statewide Summit to Prepare Schools for New Federal Education Law

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.

Many Children Still Hungry For Summer Food

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.

Girls Coding Club chosen as example of best in state by Indiana Dept. of Education

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.

Teaching technology to educators

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.

Butterflies helping students take flight

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.



Local teachers focus on eLearning

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.

Engaged Yet Entertained

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.”

State calls Battle Ground school promising

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.

As Inequalities Grow, Rich Parents Spend More On Children’s Education

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.

REPORT: The implementation of dual credit programs in six nonurban Kentucky school districts

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

Schools from Howard County and the surrounding area visited Northwestern this week to talk about technology. The Summer of eLearning conference Wednesday and Thursday highlighted some of the technology Northwestern has incorporated into its curriculum, such as Sphero robots, which can help students learn basic coding. The conference was funded partially by a grant from the Indiana Department of Education. The Summer of eLearning Grant is designed to help with professional development, according to the IDOE website.
Most of Indiana's incoming high school seniors who could qualify for the state's 21st Century Scholars program may miss out on the chance for college assistance if they don't meet requirements that include a campus visit, workplace experience and a service activity. Only about 22 percent of the 17,728 scholars statewide in the graduating Class of 2017 are current on the requirements to earn the scholarships, according to state data.
Indiana's kids are faring better in overall child well-being, but there's still work to be done. Indiana ranks 30th in the nation overall, according to the Kids Count report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. That's up two positions from last year. We are also 23rd for education, up from 25th; 24th for economic well-being, down one position from last year; 31st for child health - up four from last year; and 32nd for family and community, down one place.
Across Indiana, children are participating in the summer food program, which gives free access to nutritious meals during the off-school months. Ritz says the need for the summer feeding program is great. "Food insecurity in itself is a problem. We are at 22 percent poverty of our children in the state of Indiana. I travel two to three days a week around the state and I see the great need we have with nutrition. We need to feed the body to feed the mind," said Glenda Ritz, Superintendent of Public Instruction.



Could new plans to adapt a test teachers love work for Indiana?

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. 

Ritz stops by to encourage kids' summer nutrition

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.  

Related: “I see the poverty in our state” State officials pushing nutrition in summer food program

Indiana Department Of Education Announces Dual Language Immersion Pilot Program Grant Recipients

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.”

Future farmers visit Purdue for FFA State Convention

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.”

Charter advocates acknowledge ‘disturbingly low performance’ of virtual schools

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.


All Indiana families will have access to high-quality, state-funded preschool education by 2020, if State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz gets her way. The Democratic schools chief said Tuesday that providing every 4-year-old the opportunity to attend pre-kindergarten classes is necessary to start the next generation of Hoosiers on the right track. "Indiana should invest in a public/private/community pre-K coalition approach that provides a high-quality option within the geographic boundaries of all traditional public school districts," Ritz said.
The Indiana Department of Education has named nine new STEM Certified Schools and one STEM Certified Program. The designation means schools, or programs within schools, "demonstrate a commitment to providing high-quality STEM programs." The STEM Certification Program has only been in existence for two years. So far, 19 schools or programs have received the certification, which lasts for five years, at which point the school or program has the chance to renew.
The meals have been offered to low-income families since 1975, said state Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz, who was at the library to oversee the first day of the Summer Food Service Program. The program serves about 3 million meals statewide each summer and about 70,000 a day, Ritz said. With 22 percent of Hoosier children living in poverty, the program is a necessity to keep children healthy and ready to learn, she added. Julie Sutton, the Indiana Department of Education’s director of school and community nutrition, estimated the program has grown by about 10 percent each of the past three years, a goal set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the federal department in charge of the program.
A recent study found that people looking for jobs in Indiana’s advanced manufacturing industry now commonly need at least a two-year associate degree, as jobs are increasingly moving off the production floor. A high school diploma no longer carries the weight it once did in the field, which is relying less on blue-collar production workers and more on college graduates with technical training.
The U.S. Education Department on Tuesday released a trove of data drawn from surveys of nearly every single one of the nation’s 95,000 public schools. This latest installment of the Civil Rights Data Collection, from the 2013-2014 school year, offers a sobering look at the wide disparities in experience and opportunity that divide the nation’s 50 million students.



Agency News

Indiana Department of Education Recognizes 38 Promising Practices

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.


SBOE approves Trine authorizing Bowman

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.

Congressman Says Restricting School Lunch Would Save Feds Money

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.

Schools could begin seeing ISTEP results this month

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.


How I answer my students’ tough questions about military service

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.

To cut costs and strengthen public schools, Vermont plans massive consolidation

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.

Why the US Education Department’s New Equity Rule Might Not Be So Equal

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.


Where children can eat free this summer

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. 

Community Kitchen to provide summer meals for kids

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.

At Least 1 Full-Time Nurse Per School, Pediatric Group Recommends

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.

Education Department proposes rules for judging schools

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.


Indiana Department of Education announces Four Star Schools

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.

Frankfort’s English Learning Teachers Scramble For Resources

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.

Trine agrees to sponsor Thea Bowman charter

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.

Second Graders Blast Lightning Bug Research to Space

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.

The Challenge of Educational Inequality

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.


Ritz: Indiana needs to keep top teachers

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.

Student Achievement Center earns recognition

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.

Why Free School Lunches Might Be Harder To Get Soon

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.

How Kids Learn Resilience

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.

The problem with teaching ‘grit’ to poor kids? They already have it.

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 announces new strategies to recruit teachers and keep them in the classroom

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.

Hammond losing most students to private schools

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.

What it's like to be a school nurse

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.

Should An Anonymous Donor Be Able To Save A Public School?

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?

Jahana Hayes always knew she wanted to be a teacher, but she didn’t always believe she could be one. She grew up surrounded by poverty, drugs and violence in the fading industrial city of Waterbury, Conn. But she loved school, and her teachers told her she could someday go to college. Even when she became pregnant at 17, her teachers refused to give up on her. They showed her how she could continue her education. She graduated from high school and seven years later enrolled in a community college. She went on to earn a four-year degree, and then she realized her dream: She became a high school history teacher in the same town where she grew up. For the past decade, she has worked to give her students at Waterbury’s John F. Kennedy High School the same hope and passion and confidence that her teachers once gave her. She has pushed them to think beyond the classroom, contributing to their communities through volunteer and service projects. And she has been so successful that on Thursday she was named the 2016 National Teacher of the Year.
I have a confession to make: I think America's public schools are not so bad. I'd go so far as to say that they're actually pretty good. Every day in schools across our country, students, teachers and principals are doing amazing things. Kids are using technology in their classrooms to communicate with people around the globe. They are more accepting of human differences in race, religion, physical ability, gender-identity and sexual orientation. They are way more talented athletically and musically than my generation. Now that I've taken the first step, let me say we do have a problem in education. Our problem is how we speak about America's schools, like they are systemically failing our children. We espouse a narrative of crisis because it's effective for garnering attention; unfortunately, the incessant negative tone of our national dialogue has a corrosive effect on the teachers and administrators who are trying to make a difference. And it deters good people from entering our profession. If we want to help public schools change, it's time to focus on the positive and reduce the hyperbole of wholesale failure.
For weeks, teachers and other volunteers from the Genesee Intermediate School District have been knocking on doors in Flint, trying to recruit kids for early childhood education programs that are critical for the youngest victims of Flint's lead-tainted tap water. For children younger than age 6, exposure to lead can have profound effects, ranging from behavioral problems to a lower IQ. But early education can mitigate these effects, she says, by stimulating young children's minds and helping them learn to focus.
Two high school seniors from Indiana are among 160 U.S. Presidential Scholars. Cynthia Yue from Carmel High School and Paul Dawley from Crown Point High School will be honored next month for their academic accomplishments. The students chosen for the honor were selected by the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars. The U.S. Department of Education says they were chosen "based on their academic success, artistic excellence, essays, school evaluations and transcripts, as well as evidence of community service, leadership, and demonstrated commitment to high ideals." The students will be honored at a ceremony on June 19. Each honoree will receive a Presidential Scholar Medallion.
Taxpayers in eight Indiana school districts have voted to pay higher taxes to help pay salaries and classroom expenses in local schools. On Tuesday’s primary ballot, 10 school districts appealed to voters to help fund public education in their districts. All but two passed. Schools in Fort Wayne, New Prairie, Brown County, Hamilton Southeastern, Southwest Allen County, Noblesville, Speedway and Southern Wells had successful ballot referenda. Voters in Argos and Wabash voted not to raise taxes for extra funds to support their school districts.
Lake Hills was among Indiana’s first nine STEM-certified schools to be named following a rigorous review process. The Indiana Department of Education said those selected exemplify “a highly non-traditional approach to education by employing a great deal of inquiry, project-based learning, community engagement, entrepreneurship, student-centered classrooms, and out-of-school STEM activities. STEM-certified schools have been able to accomplish this feat while following educational policies set by the state and excelling under the system of accountability.” It helps that Lake Hills is only a 10-minute walk from Lake Michigan.
Students throughout Indiana will get a chance to make their choices for president, governor and senator through a mock election this November. The students will vote Nov. 8, the same day adults go to the polls for the general election. Organizers say the Indiana Kids' Election is based on the premise that voting is occasionally done by inspiration, but more often by habit. The program seeks to emulate the election process. Students participate in voting milestones such as registering to vote on or before Oct. 11. Under Indiana law, schools are required to give instruction on the election process two weeks preceding a general election for all students in grades 6-12. The Indiana State Bar Association, Indiana Secretary of State and the Indiana Department of Education are sponsoring the program.
Six Indiana educators, a former education policymaker and a teachers union representative are the first appointees to a panel that will decide the future of standardized testing in Indiana. The 23-person panel – created by a law that calls for the elimination of the Indiana’s current standardized test known as ISTEP+ – will be made up of lawmakers, state agency heads, educators, business leaders, parents and teachers union representatives. The panel members will decide how Indiana’s state test will change, and importantly, how the state can use test grades to rate schools and evaluate teachers. “I have said for years that Indiana needs to get away from the expensive, high-stakes, pass-fail mindset of ISTEP+ and instead, use an assessment that actually works for students, parents and teachers,” said Indiana Superintendent Glenda Ritz, in a statement. Here’s a breakdown of the known appointees from Ritz:
·        Ayana Wilson-Coles, a third grade teacher at Eagle Creek Elementary School
·        Julie Kemp, Principal at Chrisney Elementary School
·        Wendy Robinson, Superintendent of Fort Wayne Community Schools
·        Callie Marksbary, Indiana State Teachers Association
Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz made a stop at Barr-Reeve on Wednesday afternoon to meet with students and staff and answer the question on nearly everyone's mind - what will replace ISTEP testing? "I made one promise that's going to come true very soon," said Ritz, as she met students in Mike DeCoursey's eighth grade current events class where the students had been talking about campaign promises. "I have said for year that Indiana needs to get away from the expensive, high-stakes, pass-fail mindset of ISTEP and instead, use an assessment that actually works for students, parents and teachers. Thanks to the federal passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act or ESSA, Indiana has the opportunity to design an assessment system that better meets the need of Hoosiers," said Ritz, a long-time educator who has taught nearly every grade.
A new pilot program at Indiana University has high school teachers working alongside college professors in an effort to fend off a looming crisis that could shut down hundreds of popular dual-credit classes in Indiana. Indiana University hopes to help change that with a pilot program now operating in about a dozen schools around the state. The program pairs college professors with high school teachers, allowing schools to keep the classes running while giving high school teachers more time to meet new requirements. The new requirements behind the crisis come from the Higher Learning Commission, which accredits Indiana colleges. The Commission released new guidelines last year requiring teachers of classes that offer college credit to have either a master’s degree or 18 credit hours in their subject area. When the new rules go into effect — as early as September 2017 — more than 1,200 Indiana teachers currently teaching dual credit classes could become ineligible.
After months of fundraising, 74 Kehoe Kids and chaperones traveled to Indianapolis Friday to hand-deliver more than 80 boxes of books to Riley Children’s Hospital in memory of former teacher and community member Diane Kehoe. Kehoe, a longtime teacher at West Noble Elementary School, retired in June 2014 and donated several boxes of children’s books to Emily Worrell who was starting her new job as a fourth-grade teacher at Milford School. A short time after her retirement, Kehoe was diagnosed with espohageal cancer, a type of throat cancer. She died six months later. The project gained statewide recognition after being awarded the Indiana Department of Education’s Promising Practice Award. The project has also been deemed a “Miracle Project” by Riley Children’s Hospital. In addition to donating thousands of books for children in the hospital to take home with them, the Kehoe Kids project will also include a mobile library cart called “Kehoe Kart” with a license plate that says “In memory of Diane Kehoe.”
Why do smart people enjoy saying that they are bad at math? Few people would consider proudly announcing that they are bad at writing or reading. Our country’s communal math hatred may seem rather innocuous, but a more critical factor is at stake: we are passing on from generation to generation the phobia for mathematics and with that are priming our children for mathematical anxiety. As a result, too many of us have lost the ability to examine a real-world problem, translate it into numbers, solve the problem and interpret the solution. Often adults are well-meaning when telling children about their own math phobia: after all, won’t it make the children feel better if they know that others feel that way as well? Research shows the answer is a resounding “no.” Anxiety over mathematics has been recognized as a grade killer. The National Mathematics Advisory Panel of the U.S. Department of Education has found that anxious students perform lower than their abilities. What’s more, there is growing evidence that mathematical anxiety can be passed on like a virus from teachers to students as well as from parents to children.




Muncie debates replacement for ISTEP

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.


Can More Money Fix America's Schools?

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?"


South Central students to receive electronic devices

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.”


Elkhart's Mary Beck Elementary earns kudos from Indiana Department of Education, student teachers

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.


Agency News
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.
In Schools
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.



Agency News

Hoosier Leaders Weigh In On New Federal Education Law

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.


Indiana Department of Education Releases 2016 Choice Scholarship Report

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.


In Schools

Ritz: Valley Grove Elementary an 'awesome' school

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

New Indiana science standards would stress skills over memorizing facts

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.





IPS aims to fix troubled high schools by flooding ‘transformation zones’ with support

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.


Is Indiana’s state ISTEP exam too easy?
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.”


Changing makeup of school districts

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, lawmakers divided on supplemental teacher pay

 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.


Rescuing untouched school food 

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?"


How Could the Presidential Transition Affect ESSA Implementation?

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.



Pence has 'confidence' in ISTEP report despite alterations

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.


Senate panel nixes pricey ISTEP rescore

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.


Report: Pre-K Is Growing In Some Areas Of State

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.”


ISTEP vendor Pearson plans Indianapolis layoffs

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 district gets federal STEM honor

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.”


State police launch education program to combat Internet crimes against children

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.


Kindergarten Today: Less Play, More Academics

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.



Black teachers show importance of diversity

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.


Tindley’s woes, and CEO’s departure, raise tough questions for charter schools

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?


New Report Shows Pre-K Is Growing In Some Areas Of State

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.”


New, Reading-Heavy SAT Has Students Worried

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.


Should Computer Education Cover More Than Just Coding?

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."


Obama announces his intent to nominate John B. King Jr. to officially take the role of education secretary

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.




Ritz Calls For Pause On School Voucher Expansion

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.”


Junking Indiana’s ISTEP test: What might come next and at what cost?

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.


Charter school approval fuels new questions

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.


Teacher Shortages Put Pressure on Governors, Legislators

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.


Obama wants to propel K-12 schools into digital age

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.

The Indiana State Board of Education approved the 2014-15 school accountability grades Wednesday. From 2014 to 2015, schools receiving A’s remained unchanged at 46 percent, B’s went down 33 percent to 32 percent, C’s unchanged at 19 percent, D’s dropped from 3 percent to 2 percent, and F’s unchanged at 0 percent. Grades approved by the board reflect changes signed into law last month. The law ensures lower ISTEP scores do not negatively impact schools during the state’s transition to more rigorous college and career ready academic standards. “I am pleased to release school corporation accountability grades today which do not penalize schools and communities for this challenging transition,” Glenda Ritz, superintendent for public instruction said in a statement. “Hoosier students, educators and families have my gratitude for their dedication and hard work over the past year.” The board also voted to establish quality review teams to visit schools that received a fourth consecutive “F” accountability grade for the 2014-15 school year and hold public hearings at schools receiving a fifth “F” grade, as required by law.
A move to replace ISTEP with a shorter test is on legislators' radar for a second straight year -- but the House and Senate have traded places. Both chambers have passed  bills calling for a study of what should replace ISTEP. But the House bill abolishes ISTEP when the current contract runs out next year, with a new test making its debut in 2018. Last year, it was the Senate which voted to eliminate ISTEP -- the House wanted to review the issue. Bosma says testmakers told him creating a new test would take two years. This year, Bosma says ISTEP is a "broken brand," after a year which saw emergency action to lop six hours off the testing time, long delays in delivering scores, and charges that a computer glitch interfered with the scoring of essay questions. He says having a deadline to replace the test will make legislators less likely to try to put off doing anything, and predicts the House and Senate will find common ground before the session's end next month.
A bill moving to the Senate could force more transparency around how Indiana doles out federal aid for the state’s most vulnerable students. House Bill 1330, authored by Rep. Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis, would require, among other things, that the Indiana Department of Education make available to schools and districts the formula and data they use to calculate federal poverty aid. It passed the full House 83-11 today and moves next to the Senate. The question of how aid is calculated surfaced when the U.S. Department of Education said it would reveal how funds were allocated to charter schools, some of which reported in 2015 receiving much less than in prior years. “I do believe, in terms of that distribution … the parents are taxpayers, these children deserve services,” Behning said. “(Funding) should flow fairly through as the federal government allows it.”
A bill that would create a path for teachers to try to negotiate extra pay and manage their own pension funds passed the Indiana House today despite passionate opposition from Democrats and others. House Bill 1004, which is strongly opposed by teachers unions, passed 57-42, one of the closer margins for education bills backed by the Republican leadership this year. It even attracted a number of no votes from Republicans. Bill author Robert Behning, R-Indianapolis, said the bill would give school districts flexibility to attract good teachers to hard-to-fill jobs such as teaching foreign language and high-level math. Some superintendents in Indiana had been given flexibility to negotiate where teachers are placed on the pay scale in specific cases, sometimes with permission from their unions, but that practice was ruled illegal by a court in November, Behning said. The court ruled that decisions about pay can only be made as part of negotiations with unions to set a district’s pay scale. This bill, which now moves on to the Senate, would allow districts to negotiate directly with teachers that have high-demand expertise without union involvement in those talks.
With schools across the country struggling to find enough teachers and diversify their staffs, some communities are looking more seriously at the idea of "growing your own." If you can't find the teachers you need, the thinking goes, develop them. That's essentially the idea behind a newly relaunched program associated with the professional association PDK International. Educators Rising, formerly known as Future Educators Association, is a national network working to help school systems guide young people on the path to teaching starting in high school. Launched last August, the free service connects teachers and school leaders with expertise and resources to support them in preparing students interested in teaching—and ultimately in building stronger local pipelines of future educators. Grow-your-own programs are not a new idea in K-12 education. They have a long history in some communities, particularly as a vehicle to prepare racial- and ethnic-minority educators and those for hard-to-staff fields. But they've often been fragmented in approach, small in scale, and reliant on uncertain support. Whether Educators Rising can change that dynamic remains to be seen, since its current cadre of student participants has yet to enter college. But the organization believes that bringing cohesion and stronger resource support to local efforts can help create a new—and currently much-needed—"front end" in teacher development, according to Dan Brown, a former teacher who is a co-director of Educators Rising.



‘Talking about a legend': Heroic Indiana school principal dies saving children from bus

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.


State releases 2015 A-F grades for schools, but lawmakers mute their impact

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.


Panel OKs 2017 end for ISTEP+

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.


Va. transgender student’s case could have national implications

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.




It’s over: Pence signs bills pausing ISTEP consequences for one year

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.


Scholarship Bill Would Pay Future Teachers' College Tuition

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.


Starting early and helping late prepares students for life

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.


Education chief stresses need for diversity in visit

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.
ISTEP problems bring new test in town
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.
Hogsett [recently] made clear how his education agenda would differ from his predecessors’—the last two of which prioritized and fast-tracked charter expansion. “I think the emphasis needs to be on quality over and against quantity,” Hogsett said. “The emphasis will not be on adding more charter schools just to add more, but rather, holding the current charters appropriately accountable and making sure they have the resources they need to be successful.” The Mayor’s Office now oversees 39 charter schools, with six more approved schools expected to come online in the next few years. Ballard said during his 2011 re-election campaign that he wanted to “make Indianapolis the national headquarters” for the education reform movement. Hogsett has kept familiar faces from Ballard’s administration in the charter school office. Kristin Hines, who joined Ballard’s administration as an academic and policy analyst, is now supervising charter schools. Hines previously worked for the Indiana Department of Education and was a teacher through Teach for America. The new mayor also tapped Ahmed Young as director of the Office of Education Innovation. Young taught for seven years in Indianapolis and New York City before becoming deputy prosecutor at the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office. He also previously served on the board for KIPP Indy, a local charter school network.
Gary's Thea Bowman loses charter; four others retained
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.
America’s traditional teacher preparation programs are under siege; enrollment is dwindling, as prospective teachers turn to increasingly popular alternative programs. There are calls for regulators to step in to shut down the worst institutions and help many others improve. But where should experts look for best practices? A panel of education experts, assembled to discuss two reports released by the National Center on Education and the Economy, suggested looking abroad to four educational systems that perform best on international student achievement tests. The reports focus mainly on how these four systems – British Columbia, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore – improve the craft of their current teachers. All four of the systems highlighted have set up structures where the best teachers formally train new teachers. The panelists used the findings to discuss how America’s education schools should improve: have future teachers spend significantly more time in classrooms, focus more on deepening a teacher’s knowledge of a subject-area – particularly math for elementary school teachers – and give teachers the research tools they need to examine whether what they’re doing in the classroom is working.
State Senator wants to expand TAP education program
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.
K-12 Still Struggling for Traction as Campaign Issue
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 ...
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 for consideration after the chamber's education committee approved it Thursday. The measure passed without opposition and was previously passed by the full Senate. The bill is widely supported by lawmakers as well as both Republican Gov. Mike Pence and Democratic state schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz. Under the bill, schools and school districts cannot receive a lower A-F grade this year than what they received last year. If this year's grade is lower, the school or school district would receive last year's grade instead.
The top Republican on education issues in the Indiana House has filed legislation to require the state to rescore the 2015 ISTEP amid concerns about possible scoring errors on the test.  The 2015 test will serve as a baseline to measure student academic performance in future years. It marked the first time students were tested on the state’s more rigorous academic standards. Under [the] proposal, the Indiana Department of Education would enter into an agreement with a third party to rescore the test results. The Department of Education “does not have a problem with scrutiny of ISTEP to ensure that all students receive full credit for their work,” Ritz spokeswoman Samantha Hart said. But Hart said it’s “hard to gauge (lawmakers') commitment to this proposal” until the effort is funded. A rescore of the “entire test” could cost the state $8 million to $10 million, according to a fiscal analysis of the bill.
Glenda Ritz's Blue Ribbon Commission on teacher retention and recruitment revealed its strategies to help the state get more teachers into classrooms and keep them there. The commission, chaired by Ritz, the state superintendent of public instruction, is comprised of more than 40 education experts from around the state. They were tasked with trying to solve Indiana's worsening teacher shortage. After meeting for several months, the commission arrived at eight strategies moving forward. The commission wants to establish a statewide mentoring program; start a marketing campaign; recruit diverse teachers; allow for locally established pay models; reduce teacher assessment's over-reliance on test scores; allow for more clinical experiences; allow more opportunities for growth; and re-fund job embedded professional development.
A bill reflecting ideas to recruit and retain more Hoosier educators became public Tuesday, with establishing a mentoring program for beginning teachers its key goal. The ideas emerged from a commissioned created by state Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz. However, the bill offered by state Rep. Randy Truitt, a Lafayette Republican, likely won’t lead to major changes in how state standardized testing data factors into annual teacher evaluations. The bill currently requests $12.2 million in spending, with the majority of it going toward the mentoring program. Another bill going through the Senate supports the creation of a mentoring program but stops short of providing new funding for schools to enact those programs. Truitt said he plans to push for new funding as long as he can. “I feel pretty strongly in order to turn the dial in this area, we got to invest in it,” Truitt said.
While lawmakers are sprinting ahead with two major education bills they hope Gov. Mike Pence will sign into law this month, a total of 75 bills filed by lawmakers were assigned to House and Senate education committees by yesterday’s deadline. That’s a lot, especially for a “short” session of the legislature, with no biennial budget to debate, in 2016. Two bills have quickly jumped ahead to full approval by the House or Senate: Senate Bill 200 and House Bill 1003 both aim to hold schools and teachers “harmless” for lower 2015 ISTEP scores. Both are scheduled for votes in the opposite houses next week with a goal of arriving on Pence’s desk by Jan. 19. What will be the other big issues? Probably the next most high-profile move will be an effort to attract more teachers to the profession.
Within the past month, numerous school districts and high schools nationwide have received threats of violence that have forced school administrators to take action. The nation's second-largest school system, Los Angeles Unified School District, closed all 900 schools due to a threat less than two weeks after two Islamic radicals opened fire at a workplace party in San Bernardino, California, killing 14. Closer to home, Plainfield High School received a school threat via the Internet, which prompted the school to shut down. Earlier this week, police made an arrest in relation to social media threats directed toward Perry Meridian High School. With so much concern centered on the safety of students and staff, what are key education leaders doing to keep their students safe? The Indianapolis Recorder Newspaper spoke with representatives of the Indiana Department of Education, Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township (MSDLT) and Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) to learn what precautions are being taken to keep students safe.
In his final State of the Union address, President Barack Obama said that "helping students learn to write computer code" is among his goals for the year ahead. The shout-out to computer science is not unexpected from the president, who has touted his commitment to K-12 coding initiatives, and to expanding the science, technology, engineering, and math teaching force, over the last several years. Obama said this evening that the United States should continue the education reform efforts begun with the recent bipartisan passing of the Every Student Succeeds Act by "offering every student the hands-on computer science and math classes that make them job-ready on day one, and we should recruit and support more great teachers for our kids." The year he took office, the president launched a campaign aimed at improving U.S. students' performance in science and math called Educate to Innovate. That initiative has raised more than $1 billion in support for STEM programs from both public and private organizations.



Indiana lawmakers worked swiftly Wednesday to solve a problem they had a strong hand in creating: the hastily rolled-out 2015 ISTEP exam, a more difficult test than its predecessor that an education committee chairman said has proven to be a "disaster." GOP-controlled education committees in the House and Senate both approved fast-tracked bills offering educators a reprieve from last year's test - an unusual action on just the second day of the session. The measures, which are supported by leaders in both chambers as well as Republican Gov. Mike Pence, would retroactively spare teachers and schools from being penalized for low student scores, which are used to help determine merit pay and schools' A-F grades.  The two bills, which will now be considered by the full House and Senate, represent an about-face for Republicans, including Pence. The GOP for months has resisted easing school accountability standards despite warnings from Democratic state schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz.
Marion County Superintendents: ISTEP Is Not the 'Marker Of Our Students'
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.
Law Adds to Pre-K's Stature as Federal-State Priority
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.
Turns Out Monkey Bars And Kickball Might Be Good For The Brain
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.




Pre-k funding meets sliver of Marion County demand

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.


Diverse Teachers Critical For Indiana’s Ever-Evolving Population

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.”


Superintendent Ritz, ISTA president visit West Noble

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.


Final No Child Left Behind rewrite is public at last — all 1,059 pages — just days before Congress may vote

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.



More Indiana school districts joining online learning trend

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.


Plan for Indiana charter school loans program moving ahead despite questions about cap

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.


Feds Will Work To Reduce Time Spent on Standardized Testing

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.


Teacher Shortage…

Indiana’s Teacher Shortage Will Take More Than Just A Quick Fix

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].


Educators blame teacher shortage on low salaries, lack of respect

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.


Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz on Thursday named the members of her commission targeting teacher retention and recruitment. The commission, which Ritz announced last month, is called the Blue Ribbon Commission on the Recruitment and Retention of Excellent Educators. Ritz will co-chair the panel, a mix of educators, legislators and other stakeholders, with Maryann Santos de Barona, dean of Purdue University’s College of Education.
Indiana lawmakers and Gov. Mike Pence funneled $20 million into school safety grants statewide in 2013. But in the new state budget, the governor and General Assembly quietly slashed funding for the program to less than half that amount. State Budget Director Brian Bailey said the state launched the program to address a need, but no one knew what to expect. After two years of experience, he and his staff are comfortable that one-time equipment needs have been taken care of, and the focus going forward will be for the school resource officers. The 65 percent cut to $7 million likely means less money for equipment – from surveillance cameras and fortified doors to radios and fencing. And it could leave some schools looking for ways to continue paying police working as school resource officers.
Nearly all Indiana school superintendents who responded to a statewide survey said that they are affected by the state’s teacher shortage. The survey also showed that schools are struggling to find teachers especially for science, math and special education — but also for areas that have not traditionally experienced shortages; a quarter of the respondents said that they were struggling to find applicants for elementary school and social studies positions.
For the last few decades, dual language immersion programs in Indiana’s schools have been rare. A handful are sprinkled throughout the state, but after this year’s legislature allocated $500,000 to start a dual language immersion pilot program, five more schools will join the pool of available programs. This type of language initiative provides a unique learning opportunity for students and has been shown to increase test scores. This is how dual-language immersion programs work: during half of the subjects taught, the teacher only speaks to students in the target language. The same classes are taught in the same language every day – Language Arts is always in English, math is always in Spanish. Research shows this strategy is working. At Theodore Potter, almost 90 percent of kids are passing the ISTEP+, compared to the rest of the district which has a 50 percent passage rate.
There was a time when a teacher showing up on a student's doorstep meant something bad. But increasingly, home visits have become a tool to spark parental involvement. The National Education Association has encouraged more schools to try it out, and there's this national effort. In Tennessee, Murfreesboro principal Garrett sees the brief visits as mutually beneficial. Parents get to meet their kids' teachers. And teachers get a clearer sense of the challenges many of their students struggle with on a daily basis.
Scores on the SAT have sunk to the lowest level since the college admission test was overhauled in 2005, adding to worries about student performance in the nation’s high schools. The steady decline in SAT scores and generally stagnant results from high schools on federal tests and other measures reflect a troubling shortcoming of education-reform efforts. The test results show that gains in reading and math in elementary grades haven’t led to broad improvement in high schools, experts say. That means several hundred thousand teenagers, especially those who grew up poor, are leaving school every year unready for college. It is difficult to pinpoint a reason for the decline in SAT scores, but educators cite a host of enduring challenges in the quest to lift high school achievement. Among them are poverty, language barriers, low levels of parental education and social ills that plague many urban neighborhoods.
The Indiana Commission for Higher Education approved proposed changes to Indiana’s high school diploma requirements last week. The approval clears the way for further consideration by the State Board of Education this fall and the Indiana General Assembly in the 2016 legislative session. The changes are a culmination of more than a year of discussion and work comprised of K-12, business and higher education stakeholders as well as input gathered from the public. Lubbers and Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz co-chair the Core 40 Subcommittee that examines Indiana’s current diplomas and proposes updated high school diploma requirements.
Despite an 83 percent poverty rate, open enrollment is driving up the student population in the School City of Hammond. Like other districts, Hammond is facing continued competition as a result of the growth of school choice. Opening enrollment to a student who lives outside a school district's borders is one of the few ways a district can grow and reduce a potential budget shortfall. Hammond schools Superintendent Walter Watkins said the Indiana General Assembly has not been kind to traditional public schools for several years. He said urban schools have been hit pretty hard by the changes in the budget formula. Hammond schools expects to lose about $2 million as a result of the new funding formula.
The interim study committee on education met recently for the first of four scheduled meetings following up on the 2015 “education session.” This time around they focused on special education, specifically how services are delivered to the state’s youngest learners and how those services are funded. As students move up from preschool to kindergarten and beyond, they are funded differently. K-12 schools receive funding for special education based on divisions of these groups into three categories. There is no “developmental delay” category [as there is in preschool] in Indiana once a child reaches kindergarten – therefore, no corresponding funding exists for kids who may not have reached a point in their maturity where experts can assess their specific disability.
The importance of recruiting and retaining more teachers of color for students of color is well-reported and deeply researched. Most teachers—over 80 percent—are white, and surveys suggest that won’t change anytime soon. Yet nonwhite children are now believed to make up a majority of the country’s public-school population. Studies show that, academically, nonwhite teachers produce more favorable outcomes for students of similar backgrounds; emotionally and socially, these educators serve as role models who share students’ racial and ethnic identity. Anecdotal and empirical evidence suggests that teachers of color can help disrupt what are often one-sided portrayals of the world and offer invaluable insight to students from different backgrounds.
The parents, teachers, families and community members who gathered in support of Caze Elementary School and Washington Middle School all had a common plea — for the state to allow continued local control of the schools to improve student achievement. Public hearings to gather ideas for the two Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp. facilities — both of which have received five consecutive “F” accountability grades from the state — took place last week. The meetings are an opportunity to collect input for how to best help each school serve its students and improve educational performances. A sixth consecutive “F” grade triggers a state law giving the state board authority to choose an intervention for the school. No decisions on the fate of either school were made. Officials will report comments back to the full State Board of Education.
Across the country, districts are struggling with shortages of teachers, particularly in math, science and special education — a result of the layoffs of the recession years combined with an improving economy in which fewer people are training to be teachers. At the same time, a growing number of English-language learners are entering public schools, yet it is increasingly difficult to find bilingual teachers. So schools are looking for applicants everywhere they can — whether out of state or out of country — and wooing candidates earlier and quicker. Some are even asking prospective teachers to train on the job, hiring novices still studying for their teaching credentials, with little, if any, classroom experience.
Declaring that state lawmakers have failed to fix the state's unconstitutional system for funding public schools, the Washington State Supreme Court imposed a daily $100,000 penalty on the legislature until it makes firmer commitments to increasing teacher salaries and reducing class sizes. This year, following both regular and special legislative sessions, lawmakers approved a $1.3 billion boost to education for the 2015-17 biennial budget, and lawmakers told the court in a subsequent report that the extra funding would go to the policies such as reduced class size. However, in its Aug. 13 ruling, the court zeroed in on what it called the state's inadequate plan to "attract and retain the educators necessary to actually deliver a quality education." The justices said that the 2015-17 budget contained cost-of-living increases that had previously been delayed, along a pay raise that was given to other state government workers. But they said such measures were inadequate.
Long Read:
The ballooning demand for misplaced and misunderstood metrics, benchmarks, and performance indicators is costing us big.
Indiana’s new A-to-F school letter grade model was given final approval by state officials last week for use during the 2015-16 school year. The new A-to-F rules, which were passed by the Indiana State Board of Education in an 8-1 vote in May, change how grades will be calculated next spring. They then had to be approved by Gov. Mike Pence, the Attorney General’s office and the Legislative Services Agency. Now, the model equally weighs test passing rates and student test score improvement — the previous one didn’t significantly consider student growth.
Indiana has been recently identified in national studies as a state that suspends and expels students at high rates. Among the concerns about that reality is whether it leads to higher incidences of crime and lower graduation rates. Black students and students with special needs especially, the research says, are removed from school for discipline incidents at a much higher rate than other students. But new legislation passed this year by the Indiana General Assembly aims to better understand those trends and encourage schools to use more effective discipline strategies — at least in Marion County. The bill also provides grants for schools across the state that want to train staff in discipline practices that don’t rely on suspension and expulsion, but instead focus on creating more positive school environments and better relationships between students, teachers and administrators.
South Bend Community School Corp. is the latest public school system in north central Indiana to use radio ads to attempt to recruit nonresident students. The city school district, which has lost more than 1,000 students since 2011 and expects to lose more than 300 more this fall, is just one of many area school corporations — which receive state tuition support on a per-pupil basis — that have undertaken marketing campaigns this summer using some form of billboard, television and/or radio advertising. Under the school funding plan recently passed by the Indiana General Assembly, adding students would boost the corporation’s revenues. Mishawaka schools also is in the midst of a radio advertising campaign with some of the same radio stations South Bend’s ads are airing on.
A new national snapshot of child well-being finds Indiana continuing to struggle with high rates of child poverty. According to the Anne E. Casey Foundation's 2015 KIDS COUNT Data Book, one in five children in the Hoosier State lives in poverty, and 12 percent live in 'high poverty' areas.  "Wages in Indiana have not kept pace with the rest of the nation, so even people who have gotten back into the workforce after the recession are maybe not earning as much as they did before," [Glenn Augustine, interim CEO and vice president for advancement with the Indiana Youth Institute, said.] “It makes it challenging for them to provide adequately for their children." Indiana now ranks 25th for education – its best ranking to date. The state is also seeing improvements in the math performance of all students, and a shrinking gap in performance between white and Hispanic students.
Twenty-eight communities will launch new programs to provide low-income students with home Internet access, as well as mobile devices and educational software – but it’s not clear how many children will benefit. Efforts by schools to provide children with Internet connections at home have proven to be challenging, with difficulties in enrolling families, in keeping up maintenance of the connections and in making sure Internet speeds are fast enough to be useful. A pilot program announced Wednesday by the federal housing authority is described as a “proof of concept” program, to test the effectiveness of the initiative. The program is expected to reach about 275,000 households and nearly 200,000 children, according to the announcement from H.U.D. About $70 million in investments from nonprofit organizations and businesses are expected to help make it work. These partners signed on to provide resources such as tablet computers, Internet connections and on-site staff to facilitate use of these digital tools for educational purposes.
School districts were watching the legislative session very carefully this year, looking for help with funding problems. There was nothing. Statewide, the lack of legislative action made the threat of having to cancel transportation for students suddenly become all the more real. In Indiana, 67 districts are using a state waiver to help manage their budgets. At least half of them are relying on it to keep transportation going. Without the waiver, corporations statewide will be forced to cut down routes, extend the walking distance around schools, try to pass a referendum, or just cancel busing altogether. A handful of districts have enough money saved up to keep it going for a few years, but when the reserves run out, that's it. There is no state or federal requirement for a district to provide transportation, but in Indiana districts must give the three years notice to end the service.
Thousands of kids across central Indiana go back to school in just three weeks. It can be a time of excitement and anxiety – anxiety for those who don’t speak English fluently. One district has come up with a new program to get those kids prepared, and some believe the plan needs to go statewide. It’s a camp focused on the students struggling with our language the most, getting them ready for the start of school. This new week-long effort from Avon Community School Corporation, is being called “C.O.O.L. Camp,” with that “COOL” standing for “Community Outings for Oral Language.”  To make the week even more special, the kids (who speak seven different languages among them) have each been paired with the teacher they’re assigned for this coming school year.
According to the most recent data available from the Indiana Department of Education, the state issued about 5,599 teachers in 2009-10, and in ’13-14 that number sat closer to 4,500. Gerardo Gonzalez, outgoing dean at Indiana University-Bloomington’s School of Education, attributes the declining number of applicants for teaching jobs to a lack of good pay and “wrong-headed, ill-informed” practices such as incorporating student test scores heavily into teacher evaluations, as well as the General Assembly’s decision to untie pay raises for teachers who work toward their masters degree or other higher-level academic training. Gonzalez adds that he also thinks the societal perception of teaching needs to change in order to get people to stick with the profession long-term. Enrollments in various teacher preparation programs around the state have fallen in recent years, according to numbers obtained by the Associated Press. Ball State University has seen a 45 percent decline in participation in its elementary and kindergarten programs, and Indiana State University sees 13 percent fewer graduates from its College of Education.
Indiana has an early answer to a heated two-year-old debate about whether it needed a special teaching permit for teachers changing careers to get them into the classroom more quickly. Just two teachers have requested the credential. The Indiana State Board of Education passed new teacher preparation rules allowing the permit — known as the Rules for Educator Preparation and Accountability, or REPA III — in September. The new permit was strongly opposed by many educators, mainly because they believe it skirts a part of teacher training that Pat Rogan, the executive associate dean of the School of Education at IUPUI, said is one of the most important — understanding the how teaching works so that kids learn.
This summer there's been an intense debate surrounding the Confederate flag and the legacy of slavery in this country. In Texas that debate revolves around new textbooks that 5 million students will use when the school year begins next month. In 2010 the Texas State Board of Education adopted new, more conservative learning standards. Among the changes — how to teach the cause of the Civil War. Ultimately the state voted to soften slavery's role, among other controversial decisions, and these standards became the outline for publishers to sell books to the Texas market.


About 1 percent of Indiana students receive certificates of completion instead of a diploma. Typically, they are granted to students with severe cognitive disabilities. Students who want that option [to receive a general diploma] but go to schools that don’t offer it can be stuck — they end up with a certificate, not a diploma. They are left unqualified for the jobs that might best fit them and are unable to show they’ve achieved a measure of academic success. Indiana legislators this year passed House Bill 1194, which requires schools to inform families of students with special needs of all the state’s diploma options — not just the ones the school itself might offer. But the bill didn’t include any fix for the loophole that allows schools to simply not offer one of Indiana’s four diploma types. 
Private schools are experiencing a surge in enrollment, in large part because of the state’s expanding voucher program.  When the program first passed in 2011, supporters said funding private school tuition would give poor kids in failing schools options to get a better education.  But a new report shows that as the program enters its fifth year, the cost to taxpayers and students has changed dramatically. Expanding how a student gets a voucher means more middle income families are joining the program.  According to the IDOE’s report, half of the students receiving vouchers never attended a public school.  That means the state isn’t saving money because these students would have never used state money for education. Chad Timmerman says the governor’s office plans to continue funding the voucher program even if the rapid enrollment growth doesn’t stop.
More Hoosier students than ever are taking career and technical education courses. In the 2012-13 school year, there were 155,021 CTE participants, which means students took at least one course. Of those, about 29,700 were concentrators – which means they are taking more than one course in a particular area of study. A report from the Indiana Department of Education showed that those concentrating on CTE courses have a higher graduation rate – 95 percent – compared with 89.8 percent for all graduates in general. And when the kids go to college, they have a lower rate of needing remedial math and English courses – 9.3 percent in 2013-14 compared with 23 percent for other graduates.
Legislation passed by the 2015 General Assembly allowed the State Board of Education to approve a dual language immersion pilot program that will award grants to Indiana schools wishing to create or expand a dual language immersion program. Currently, there are four such program available in Indiana. The languages taught under the program are specified, just need to be approved by the Department of Education, but they must start in kindergarten or first grade and classroom instruction should be divided evenly between English and the foreign language.
Full-day kindergarten may be a gateway to higher academic achievement and improved health for Nevada’s youth, according to a recent study from UNLV’s School of Community Health Sciences. The research team found that students in full-day kindergarten score better on tests than their half-day counterparts. It added that this could lead to improvement in Nevada’s high school graduation rate. The study also indicated that being in kindergarten promotes early detection of hearing and vision problems through school-provided screenings. Catching these issues can lead to “improved academic achievement.”
Experts say that such high levels of student transfers create disruptions and distractions at a time when students are at the greatest risk of dropping out of school. They make schooling more difficult for children and teens, interrupting routines, learning, and formative relationships with friends and teachers. The flux is also hard on schools, as teachers and counselors must constantly adjust to changing classrooms. Often, transient students bring complex challenges that can take schools time to identify and begin to address. According to a 2010 Government Accountability Office report, about 13 percent of students nationally changed schools four or more times by the eighth grade. The most mobile students were disproportionately poor, black and came from families that did not own a home. The report found that about 12 percent of the nation’s schools had high rates of mobility, with more than 10 percent of students leaving their school during a single year.



Indiana still awaiting decision on ‘No Child' waiver

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.


State Voucher Program Growing Exponentially In Some Districts

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.


New Legislation Will Keep State Board Busy This Month

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.


New parent involvement role will debut in every IPS school

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.


A Recipe For Success With Two Student Groups That Often Struggle

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.




Rethinking high school diploma

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.


Ky. seeks waiver for English learners' scores

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.


Poor students often lack a home Internet connection. Is this FCC program a solution?

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.


New law: $100 tax credit for teachers

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.

The Fort Wayne Community Schools board voted unanimously Monday on a resolution asking that the state A-F accountability process be paused for a year and recommending that district and individual school grades remain in effect. The resolution is linked to the first of 12 options developed by the federal government allowing states leeway as they adjust to federal guidelines in standardized testing. At the national level, 26 states have now opted to pause accountability.
In the final days of this year's legislative session, Republican lawmakers dropped into the massive state budget bill a provision giving charter schools access to $50 million in low-interest state loans. The measure was a last-minute effort to appease Gov. Mike Pence, who had sought more funding for charter schools, and it received virtually no public scrutiny. Now some critics — including the Senate's chief budget writer — are sounding an alarm about the new program, given the significant debt of many charter schools. Pence dismissed the potential risk to taxpayers. He noted that the new law gives the state a security interest if charter schools use the loan money to build or purchase new facilities. But in 2013, the state forgave and paid off more than $90 million in charter school loans. The move drew protests from traditional public schools whose loans were not forgiven and consequently charter schools were no longer given access to the loan money.
A number of legislative study committees will meet over the summer break to discuss topics that lawmakers decided during session need further investigation. What’s on their plate this go-around? State testing requirements, preschool special education services, school corporations’ data reporting requirements and property taxes.
More Arizona educators are also taking on double duty: In the Miami Unified School District east of here, the superintendent is also a grant writer and the principal of the elementary school is also in charge of keeping the toilets running, as the district’s director of maintenance. The needs of the nation’s schools have grown since the recession began: There are now 458,000 more students enrolled in public schools than in the fall of 2007. But while total state revenues have mostly rebounded to pre-recession levels, state education funding per pupil is still down 3.6 percent across the country, according to an analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. At least 30 states spent less per student this school year than in the year before the economic downturn began, and 14 states, including Arizona, have cut per-pupil funding by more than 10 percent over that period.

Only 168 teachers in Indiana have earned National Board certification, ranking the state 43rd in the country. That’s a very small number for a program neighboring states have strongly embraced. There are 6,025 National Board certified teachers in Illinois, 3,338 in Ohio and 3,182 in Kentucky. Supt Ritz earned the credential as a Washington Township teacher in 2005 and has championed state support for more teachers to pursue National Board certification as the state’s top educator. But Indiana, so far, has stopped short of the big step other states have taken to get more teachers interested: offering extra pay to those who earn the credential. At the same time, Indiana policymakers and lawmakers are demanding educators step up the quality of their work, yet the state isn’t spending any money to persuade teachers to pursue National Board certification.
Five new people will join Indiana’s State Board of Education after Gov. Mike Pence, Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, and House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, announced appointments Wednesday. The new roster comes as a result of legislation the General Assembly passed this session permitting the governor and two legislative leaders to appoint or reappoint INSBOE members by June 1. The governor previously had authority to appoint all members of the board as spots became vacant, never all at once. New appointments: Eddie Melton, Vince Bertram, Lee Ann Kwiatkowski, Steve Yager, Byron Ernest. Re-appointed: David Freitas, Cari Whicker, Sarah O’Brien, Gordon Hendry, BJ Watts.
You don't need a comprehensive No Child Left Behind waiver to get a reprieve from some of the law's accountability requirements. Five non-waiver states, including California, Montana, North Dakota, Vermont, and Washington are all transitioning to new tests aligned to the Common Core standards. So all five states applied for, and will be allowed to, "pause" their school rating systems this school year. That theoretically means an 'A' school could bomb the new state tests without having to worry about getting bumped down to the 'C' level. Schools will still have to publish their assessment data, though, so everyone can see how they performed. The basic idea is to give teachers, administrators, and district leaders some breathing room as they get used to new assessments.
Facilitating student creation has been a largely overlooked but increasingly important role for school librarians, according to Leslie Preddy, the president-elect of the Chicago-based American Association of School Librarians. Along with new STEAM—science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics—and inquiry-based movements in education, this role has prompted more school librarians to push for maker spaces. The spaces can be high-tech, low-tech, part of the school curriculum, or part of an after-school program. Some aren't even called maker spaces. The only central theme is that of creation and innovation.
One of the toughest jobs in education is the substitute teacher. The pay is low, schedules are unpredictable and respect can be hard to come by. But because the average teacher missed 11 days of school in 2012-2013, a sub like Josephine Brewington ends up playing a crucial role. And this week — Brewington was rewarded for her efforts — winning the 2015 Substitute Teacher of the Year award. For the last six years, Brewington, 50, has taught inside every kind of classroom in the Beech Grove City Schools system outside Indianapolis.
The rate of violent incidents in the nation’s public schools fell between the 2009-2010 and 2013-2014 school years, a period in which security measures such as surveillance cameras became more widespread, according to new federal data released last week. Sixty-five percent of U.S. public schools reported at least one violent incident in 2013-2014, according to the new report issued by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). That’s down from 74 percent in 2009-2010. The rate of violent incidents also fell, from 25 for every 1,000 students to 15 per 1,000 students. The proportion of schools using surveillance cameras increased from 61 percent to 75 percent between 2009-2010 and 2013-2014, while the proportion using an electronic system to notify parents of school emergencies increased from 63 percent to 82 percent.
At the school board meeting Tuesday night, School City of Mishawaka board member Bill Pemberton advised business manager Randy Squadroni that allowing the corporation’s Textbook Rental Fund to carry a negative balance is a way to “make a statement” to the state. The message: Start fully reimbursing schools for providing free textbooks and materials to students whose households are income-eligible for free or reduced-price lunches. Schools are allowed to seek state reimbursement for 20 percent of what they spend on books used by low-income students. But the state can only afford to reimburse 79 percent of that 20 percent, Squadroni said. Altman, with the state education department, said Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz lobbied the General Assembly unsuccessfully this year to increase state spending on textbooks. Ritz advocated spending $109 million, an amount of money that would paid for textbooks used by students of all income levels. Indiana is one of only nine states that make parents pay for textbooks.
Over the next year, the Indiana Department of Education will work toward an update of the state’s science standards, which are expectations for what kids in each grade should learn. State Superintendent Glenda Ritz said the Next Generation standards are just one guide Indiana’s standards-setting committee will look at, just as was the case with the state’s new English and math standards, which replaced Common Core in 2014. Jeremy Eltz, a science specialist with the department who is working on the standards, said he hopes to have a draft up for public comment by the end of the month. He’s invited more than 150 teachers, professors and community organizations — like the NAACP, the local Catholic archdiocese and homeschooling groups — for input.
Kids will have access to free books this summer through the third annual Hoosier Family of Readers summer literacy initiative by the Indiana Department of Education. This is the third year that the Indiana Department of Education has partnered with MyON Reader to provide books to Hoosier students.  Students read more than 61,000 books with MyON Reader in 2013 and more than 78,000 books in 2014. In addition to offering free access to books through MyON Reader, the Indiana Department of Education created an online portal called WONDERful Destinations.  The new website created in partnership with the National Center for Families Learning, allows students to virtually visit 12 destinations throughout Indiana, such as the Indiana State Museum.  The WONDERful Destinations website will be accessible beginning in early June.
New data indicate the first significant decrease in school-based bullying since the federal government began collecting that data in 2005, suggesting that efforts at the federal, state and local levels to prevent bullying may be paying off. According to new data from the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the reported prevalence of bullying among students ages 12 to 18 dropped to 22 percent after remaining stubbornly around 28 percent for the past decade.
The greatest barriers to school success for K-12 students have little to do with anything that goes on in the classroom, according to the nation’s top teachers: It is family stress, followed by poverty, and learning and psychological problems. Those were the factors named in a survey of the 2015 state Teachers of the Year, top educators selected annually in every U.S. state and jurisdictions such as the District of Columbia and Guam. Asked to identify the greatest barriers to student academic success, the teachers ranked family stress highest, followed by poverty, and learning and psychological problems.
It is a question that keeps some parents awake at night. Should children be allowed to take mobile phones to school? Now economists claim to have an answer. For parents who want to boost their children’s academic prospects, it is no. The effect of banning mobile phones from school premises adds up to the equivalent of an extra week’s schooling over a pupil’s academic year, according to research by Louis-Philippe Beland and Richard Murphy, published by the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics.
An unprecedented federal class-action lawsuit in California charges that the Compton Unified School District’s failure to directly address the trauma that many students experience outside of class but that affects their academic performance violates the rights of staff and students — but the people behind the unique suit say that the issue is national, and the outcome could affect schools nationwide. The lawsuit — which is said to be the first of its kind in the country — speaks to a central problem with many federal and state school reform efforts: a focus on holding students, teacher and schools “accountable” through standardized test scores and less (if any at all) on the mental and physical conditions in which many students come to school every day. The suit asks that the district, in Los Angeles County, be required to provide better mental health support for students, better training for staff in dealing with student trauma and for shifting emphasis on treating troubled students as “bad children” but as “children to whom bad things happen.
The State Board of Education on Thursday approved a new model to award schools A-F accountability grades. The first time grades will be issued under the modified rule is fall of the 2016-17 school year, based on 2016 ISTEP scores. The new formula gives equal weight to student growth and performance. Previously the grades were largely based on performance on ISTEP+, with only bonus points for improvement. In grades 3 to 8, it is a 50-50 split between performance and growth. In grades 9 to 12, performance and growth count each for 20 percent. The remaining 60 percent comes from other factors such as graduation rate, performance on graduation qualifying exams and students passing AP tests.
With more than 50 percent of the state budget typically allocated to education, how the state funds schools remained at the center of most budget talks during this year’s session. The budget contains important changes to how much money public schools will receive from the state. While legislative leaders tout this as the most money ever allocated to education (a $464 million increase), how schools get that money dramatically changed. While the base amount given to each child went up, a separate pot of money for schools that serve low income students and students with special needs (called complexity) won’t be distributed as widely as before.
Gov. Mike Pence made it official: the Indiana State Board of Education is getting an overhaul. Pence announced he has signed Senate Bill 1, which passed over the objections of state Superintendent Glenda Ritz, Democrats and her other supporters. During debate on the bill, the legislature added a provision Pence did not ask for that reduced the number of board members he appoints from 10 to eight. The other two board members now will be appointed by the speaker of the House and president of the Senate. Because of the change in appointing powers, the bill also calls for an unusual change in protocol: all 10 board seats, besides Ritz’s, must be appointed by the end of this month. That means some current board members almost certainly will be replaced. How many will be reappointed and how many will go is yet to be revealed.
Two years after a high school with an enrollment of about 600 in upstate New York switched to a later start time, the number of student tardies declined by almost half. Students also passed about 200 more courses and missed a total of 3,000 fewer days each school year. South Bend Community School Corp. officials are exploring a similar plan to push up start times for intermediate center and high school students here to 9 a.m. The district hopes to improve tardiness rates by allowing students an extra hour of sleep, something experts say is necessary because adolescents’ brains are chemically wired in a way that generally doesn’t allow them to fall asleep until about 11 p.m., regardless of the time they have to get up the next morning for school.
After helping get more than 100 technology companies to voluntarily pledge to meet certain safeguards, Congressman Messer is pushing legislation to set enforceable, national rules for student data. The bill is modeled after one passed in California last year. It would prohibit companies from creating marketing profiles of students, or advertising to students based on the information collected from their online behavior. Companies could not sell data to a third party and would have to disclose the type of information being collected. Parents could ask for certain information to be deleted or corrected. The bill would also require security procedures to prevent data breaches.
This report provides an overview of the ELL population in the United States; explains why a two-generation approach is a valuable strategy to improve English proficiency and the economic well-being of families and communities; and presents case studies of promising approaches for educating ELL students and parents while providing critical wraparound services to enhance the learning process.



Kenley backs off push for ‘off-the-shelf’ student test

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.


Indiana superintendents rail against proposed school funding changes

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.


Less funding, tougher testing for Indiana's immigrant students

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.


Lawmakers negotiating changes to State Board of Education

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.


Have We Taken The Wrong Approach To Treating Kids With ADHD?

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.


Teachers more likely to label black students as troublemakers, Stanford research shows

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.


2015 Best Communities for Music Education Districts

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.

A new study released Thursday suggests no measurable difference between students using school vouchers and their peers studying in public schools. According to a report from the bipartisan Center for Tax and Budget Accountability in Chicago, school choice in Indiana is “designed to funnel taxpayer money to private schools, with little evidence that demonstrates improved academic achievement for students who are most at risk.” The study found similar results in Milwaukee, Cleveland and Washington DC.
Bills are still moving that would allow the state to take over failing schools more quickly. The state’s accountability testing program is at stake. And the GOP is stepping in to referee a dysfunctional State Board of Education. Additionally, the General Assembly is on track to provide more than $460 million in new K-12 dollars. And the House and Senate promise to protect education in the final days when lawmakers are looking to trim at least $200 million from the proposed two-year budget. Both versions of the budget also remove a cap on the dollar value of an elementary voucher for private school.
Governor Mike Pence signed a new law that will allow local governments to lower the speed limit in school zones. In Indianapolis, and elsewhere around the state, school speed zones are set at 25 mph. The city already has the option to lower those speeds to 20 mph – and now rural districts will be able to do the same.
Schools have been feeding kids for decades. One Marion County school district decided it's time to start feeding entire families. Decatur Township Schools is setting out to help and nurture a hungry community. Three out of four receive free or reduced priced lunches, Everyone gets a free breakfast. Every Friday, dozens of kids take home backpacks stuffed with groceries, but it is not enough. From now on, every Tuesday night the school cafeteria will serve free dinner to anyone from the community. The school district figures it can feed these families for next to nothing. Teachers and other school workers are volunteering to serve meals that are being provided for free.
Although technology has flooded America’s schools, interest in computer science courses has not kept pace, especially among girls and underrepresented minorities. One of the biggest challenges for computer science advocates is that many kids simply don’t see why coding matters, in a world of preloaded software and the vast resources of the Internet. While states discuss if and how to make computer science a required course, many educators want to inject coding into all sorts of courses, from science to art to English. They’re not just out to prepare the next generation of technology workers. Their goal is far more expansive. They want to turn coding into a new kind of literacy — a fundamental applied skill, a mode of inquiry and expression — that everybody should know.
Focus on English Language Learners
Since 2006, two-thirds of Indiana schools saw an increase in the percentage of students learning English as a new language, according to demographic data for schools that reported. Marion County is the epicenter of that trend. Since 2001, the number of English language learners attending Marion County school districts has jumped by more than 200 percent to about 13,000. But at the same time schools have grappled with the fast-growing need to help children learn English, the state has cut the funding that supports those programs by more than half. That’s contributed to a difficult struggle for schools to effectively serve those children and raised questions about the fairness of an accountability system that penalizes some of them without consideration for the difficult challenge they face.
Schools pour resources into programs for English language learners. They hand out backpacks filled with school supplies. They train teachers to better instruct non-native speakers. They hire interpreters. But experts say something else — something that might ease the transition of immigrant students in America, something that might help tamp down prejudices and bridge hateful divides — is too often overlooked. That missing piece, they say, is teaching their U.S.-born and bred classmates to understand, empathize and welcome their immigrant classmates, to develop what is called “cultural competency.”
By 2013, a surge in the number of Nora Elementary students needing to learn to speak English had the school scrambling for solutions as its test scores dropped and its letter grade fell all the way to F just five years after consecutive A's. Once the shock of an F rating wore off, a lot of changes were made. The school corporation, for example, placed more teachers with language learning credentials to support the classroom teachers. The school now has a team of eight such specialists, almost twice as many as it had three years ago. They work in the classroom, helping small groups of students, and by pulling out those who need more help for extra tutoring. Those specialists also have helped train the classroom teachers in techniques that help English language learners.
Since 2001, more than 2,000 refugees have enrolled in Perry Township schools. Many emigrate from Burma, and most arrive with little knowledge of English. This year, almost 22 percent of Southport's students are still learning English. Most are Chin, a Burmese ethnic minority, who are increasingly drawn by the school district's reputation for serving them well. Over the past several years, Southport has overhauled everything, from orientation to the school to class schedules, to better serve English language learners. For example, immigrant students now often start in classes that are easier to manage without a strong grasp of English, such as gym, art and keyboarding. Classes that require lots of textbook reading, such as biology or history, can come later. Southport also developed "sheltered" English classes. They still incorporate all of Indiana's English standards, but they use different readings that are easier for English language learners to understand.




Teachers in a race with technology

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.


Senate education leader: More funding needed for after-school programs

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.


How Education Policy Went Astray

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.


For schools, spending isn't as simple as buses vs. iPads

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.




House committee saves ISTEP, calls for study of replacement options

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.


As State Pushes Early Education, Kindergarten Age Hangs In The Balance

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.


Top Reasons Our Public Schools Should Emphasize Music Education

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.


How schools can lower suspension rates and raise graduation rates

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…

Gary teen overcomes deafness to take flight as award-winning scientist

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.


Rossville librarian earns national recognition

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.


Ritz in town for local school celebration

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.”



Calculation Concerns Dominate Public A-F Talks

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.


Ritz in New Albany

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.


What Happens If Kids Opt Out of ISTEP+?

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.


Mandatory Kindergarten Falls Off This Year’s Legislative Docket

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.


Indiana's graduation rate report shows increase from previous school year

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 put off No Child Left Behind vote

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.


Tennessee Lawmaker wants to bill K-12 for college remediation

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.


Indiana schools superintendent seeks special board meeting on longer time needed for ISTEP+

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."


Public schools chiefs decry tighter budgets

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.


Gary schools seeks $51.8 million on May 5 primary ballot

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.


Senate Efforts to Rewrite NCLB Turn Bipartisan

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.






SBOE Will Look To Update Teacher Evaluations

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.


Outrage Over The ISTEP+: Why This Year’s Test Is Longer

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.


Experts worry suspensions create school-to-prison pipeline

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.


How 1,000 volunteers are helping one district's readers

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.


Citizenship test for students proposed

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.

Bill could spark more kindergarten funding

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.

Report Ranks Indiana 43rd For Early Education

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.

State lawmaker's education background check bill worries some

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.

Obama to propose new student privacy legislation

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.

More Students Are Being Served Dinner At School Nationwide

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.



U.S. Department of Education Calls For NCLB Rewrite

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.


Voucher overpayments might merit tougher rules

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.


Teacher quality changes among low profile education ideas advocates are pushing

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 nix separate charter school, voucher accounting

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.


Gov. Pence likely to tout school plans in State of State speech

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.


The State Board of Education on Tuesday moved forward on proposed rules for new guidelines setting A-F grades for Indiana schools. The rules will be released for public comment before final approval in a few months. Information on public hearings will be announced in the coming days. Under the new system, student growth on test scores will be measured by how much they have increased or decreased in a year. The goal is to move students up at least one level every year, even if they don’t actually pass the test.
George Washington and Northwest high schools and four elementary feeder schools could be grouped together in a wider turnaround effort that Indianapolis Public Schools is proposing as a way to avoid state takeover when schools get failing grades in the future. Superintendent Lewis Ferebee, told the Indiana State Board of Education a “transformation zone,” modeled after a strategy used by Evansville’s city school district, could work better and maybe even save money in the long run. The state board is expected to vote on his plan in February.
A State Board of Education member renewed his call Wednesday for lawmakers to define what constitutes an instructional day as schools move to replace snow days with online instruction, but he might not get his wish. Senate education committee Chairman Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, said he hoped the Legislature wouldn't need to get involved in the issue. The Department of Education requires Indiana schools that want to use the virtual option to have technology in every student's hand and ensure that teachers are available to answer questions. Districts also must provide accommodations for students who would normally have assistance in the classroom and provide appropriate learning activities for those with disabilities who don't use online learning platforms. Supporters say the practice will ensure students don't miss critical instructional time ahead of the high-stakes spring ISTEP+ test and will help districts avoid extending the school year to make up missed days.
The state’s teacher-evaluation system came under fire Wednesday, just a couple days after the Department of Education released data that showed roughly 89 percent of educators had been rated in the top two categories. State Board of Education member Gordon Hendry said the ratings are based on a “clearly flawed system” and that “there is no point in having” the rankings if all nearly all teachers are rated so highly. The number of teachers rated in the top categories inched up 1 percentage point from the previous year. But Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz took a different view of the results and sees them as positive. Ritz said Indiana’s ratings reflect Indiana educators. “We have highly trained teachers in all over our and I commend our teachers each and every day,” she said. State lawmakers are expected to work on changes to the system during the legislative session that began this week.
Gov. Mike Pence said the two-year budget he’ll present Thursday to the State Budget Committee will focus on education for Hoosiers of all ages. Pence said he will look to create “expanding opportunities” not only for youth and college students but also for adult through workforce education. He also said his two-year spending proposal – which will likely top $30 billion – will build on the current performance-based model that distributed $30 million in teacher bonuses throughout the state and will add additional funding for public charter schools in the state. Watch live here:
Reading aloud through elementary school seemed to be connected to a love of reading generally. According to a report from Scholastic, 41 percent of frequent readers ages 6 to 10 were read aloud to at home, while only 13 percent of infrequent readers were being read to. Although the Scholastic report found that teenagers were more likely to read frequently for fun if they had dedicated independent reading time in school, only 17 percent of all children surveyed reported having time to read a book of their choice at school daily. Just 10 percent of 12- to 14-year-olds and 4 percent of 15- to 17-year-olds reported having that time in class. Such reading time at school may be particularly important for low-income children, who reported that they were more likely to read for fun at school than at home.

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