Tag Archives: Indiana

Holcomb Proposes to Build on Pence’s Ed Reforms in Indiana

(Photo: AP)

(Photo: AP)

Indiana Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb, now also the Republican candidate for governor of the state, explained his education plan that continues many of the initiatives of Gov. Mike Pence and will broaden others, writes Tony Cook for USA Today.

When Pence left to become Donald Trump’s running mate, Holcomb announced his plan for expanded state-funded pre-K education for children from low-income families, providing incentives to quality educators, and guarding Republican plans to expand Indiana’s private school voucher program and increase charter schools.

In a speech before the Indiana School Board Association conference at the Indiana Convention Center, Holcomb said he wants to shorten the state’s K-12 standardized testing system, align schools’ curricula with the needs of the state’s employers, and continue the A-F school assessment ratings while making them more transparent.

“This plan is meant to be much more than words on paper,” he said. “This plan is my to-do list. It’s a list of action items that will guide me and that I will personally work with the General Assembly on to make sure these ideas become more than just talking points, that they in fact become reality.”

Holcomb added that he would be working with the General Assembly to ensure that the actions he is touting will come to fruition. The governor and lawmakers will roll out a two-year budget when the session begins in January.

Pence paved the way by establishing the state’s first publicly funded preschool pilot program costing $ 10 million per year. Currently, approximately 2,300 low-income young people from five counties are being served.

More places are needed in the pre-K program, and Pence upset many early childhood education supporters when he failed to apply for an $ 80 million federal grant that would have expanded the program considerably. In June, Pence had a change of heart and announced that his administration would seek the funding.

John Gregg, the Democratic candidate for governor, wants to make universal 4-year-old preschool available, abandon the A-F ratings for schools, and add a more accurate and comprehensive performance assessment. He also is planning to lessen the private school voucher program and stop charter school expansion.

According to WFYI Public Radio’s Eric Weddle, Gregg has used his relationship with State Superintendent Glenda Ritz as a campaign tool.

Holcomb is proposing an increase in funding for special education and English language learners. He also promised to solve some of the issues that caused the state’s education oversight to be part of political arguments and have resulted in educators’ anger and unease.

Holcomb’s “Excellence in Education & Workforce Development” plan includes school choice via an “education eco-system” involving home, public, charter, and private schooling options. He also wants to see good teachers stay in the classroom and the state, but has not revealed the incentives he will use to do so.

The lieutenant governor is pushing for shorter standardized assessments and quicker reporting of results. Holcomb also wants to see school districts partner with state colleges and businesses, high schools joining with public-private STEM education, and more vocational and career training.

Currently, Indiana has the seventh-highest rate of high school graduation in the US at 87.9%, according to a 2015 government report.

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Grace Smith

Grace Smith

The post Holcomb Proposes to Build on Pence’s Ed Reforms in Indiana appeared first on Education News.

Education News

Indiana May Screen Teachers, Employees, More Stringently

(Photo: Flickr, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Flickr, Creative Commons)

Indiana lawmakers are expected to review a requirement for state school employees to be given more frequent and thorough background checks. An investigation directed by the USA Today Network and the IndyStar found weaknesses in the state’s system of screening applicants.

A legislative panel approved recommendations this week that were targeted at fortifying the examination model for educators and modernized the process used for revoking teachers’ licenses.

The proposal would order school employees to submit to background checks every five years. The current method is to screen potential employees only when they are hired. The suggested periodic checks would involve any employee who has contact with students, such as teachers, coaches, and substitute teachers.

Additionally, the first screening would take place before the candidate begins the first day in the classroom. The current law requires a background check within the first three months of a person’s employment. But the law may soon expect education officials to check an employee’s references, including the opinion of the individual’s most recent supervisor, before they begin work.

But the suggestions of the Interim Study Committee on Education do not include a complete overhaul of the state’s employee screening model. The control on vetting new hires would remain the duty of the local school districts, reports Chelsea Schneider for the IndyStar.

However, one of the reasons for Indiana’s USA Today Network’s F rating was the state’s delegation of background checks to local school districts instead of having the state screen employees, which would likely be more consistent. Indiana was one of 12 states that received the lowest rating.

Rep. Robert Behning (R-Indianapolis), the chairperson of the study committee, said letting district officials do the background checks would help them be completed more quickly, and local administrators would not be left out of the loop, as sometimes occurs with school employees who commit offenses. The recommendations now travel to the Indiana General Assembly to be further considered.

According to the Associated Press, the new suggestions would place more checks on the judicial process so that teachers who commit criminal misconduct will not be able to jump from school to school without being detected.

Behning added:

“You get to a larger community and someone doesn’t live in the community, the district might not always be aware.”

Another added requirement is that the Indiana Department of Child Services reports more information to schools, especially in cases that include child abuse claims against an employee of a school that have occurred outside the school.

Indiana got another “black eye”due to a lack of screening after several high profile teacher sexual misconduct cases transpired in the state. Legislators want tougher consequences and actions to protect Indiana’s young ones from “predatory school employees.”

In July, USA Today’s investigation found that several state school districts had hired a man to substitute who had lost his teaching license in Texas after he was “caught” on NBC’s To Catch a Predator. The television camera ensnared him in an alleged solicitation of sex from a child. When someone saw a rerun of the show, that person recognized the man and shared the information with the state schools where he had substituted.

Currently, says Peter Balonon-Rosen, reporting for Indiana Public Media, the law only elicits background checks from staff who are fully licensed, like principals and teachers.

Author information

Grace Smith

Grace Smith

The post Indiana May Screen Teachers, Employees, More Stringently appeared first on Education News.

Education News

Indiana Teacher Evaluations Call for State, Local Cooperation, Report Says

(Photo: Flickr, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Flickr, Creative Commons)

A new report from the INTASS Center on Education and Lifelong Learning at Indiana University has analyzed teacher evaluation systems in the state in an effort to influence the ongoing policy discussion concerning how to best ensure the development and implementation of evaluation plans that will support teacher evaluation and the needs of students.

The report, “An Analysis of Indiana District Evaluation Plans,” made use of information obtained from a review of teacher evaluation plans in the state for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years, which used the principles and practices of the Indiana Teacher Appraisal System of Supports (INTASS).  The audit is a continuation of the work conducted by the State Board of Education Design Committee, which was created after a TNTP review of the teacher evaluation model currently in use in the state.

The authors suggest that the development and implementation of high quality teacher evaluation plans are more likely to occur if everyone involved has a clear understanding of the purpose and expectations behind the plan, which they say is to offer teachers the support necessary to deliver instruction in an effective manner.  In order for this to happen, policy goals and means must be made clear in order to reduce fear and anxiety.  In addition, the authors say the policy change must be practical to implement and it must provide teachers with recognizable ways to put it into practice.

The report goes on to say that teachers have the right to fully understand the details surrounding the evaluation plan in their district, the confidence that the plan will be implemented correctly, and the expectation that the plan will offer the support they need to successfully help students learn.

Meanwhile, at the policy level, the report suggests that states need to be confident in the technical abilities of their educator evaluators, considering that the evaluation results may be used to make decisions concerning personnel and compensation.  The report says that there must be a balance between state and local control to offer a framework with certain aspects mandated by the state while others are handled on a local level.

The authors go on to say that one problem that a lack of standardization in plans can present is the inability to compare teachers effectively across districts.  They suggest that in order to handle this issue, states should ensure that evaluations compliment the accountability and effective teaching and learning through factors that will determine the effectiveness of the plan as well as how it is implemented.  They say that consistency and accuracy of evaluation data should be ensured throughout the state.

The report concludes by saying that assistance should be offered to districts that support the organizational culture and climate during the plan development and implementation processes.  They argue that doing so will result in improved implementation fidelity in the teacher evaluation process and more support for teachers and students that will help both groups to succeed.

Author information

Kristin Decarr

Kristin Decarr

The post Indiana Teacher Evaluations Call for State, Local Cooperation, Report Says appeared first on Education News.

Education News

Indiana Democrats Offer $150mil Universal Pre-K Proposal

(Photo: Flickr, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Flickr, Creative Commons)

Two top Democrats in Indiana have unveiled a plan for creating a state-funded preschool program that would be available to all Indiana children regardless of income.

Former House Speaker John Gregg, who is running for governor, and state schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz rolled out a proposal that would redirect $ 150 million to a universal pre-K program that would be would be paid for with existing money. The money would be reprioritized from already-existing state spending.

Indiana governor Mike Pence, a Republican, supports the state’s current “On My Way Pre-K” pilot program that was launched across five Indiana counties in 2015 and has since sent 23,000 low-income children to preschool at an annual cost of $ 10 million. According to the Chicago Tribune, in 2014 Governor Pence opted against taking $ 80 million in federal funding, arguing that he did not want the federal government intruding on Indiana’s education sector. Unsurprisingly, Democrats have criticized his stance.

“These aren’t mythical dollars that Washington, D.C. prints up and sends back to us — these are our tax dollars,” Gregg said. “The governor decided because of his differences on an ideology basis with the president, he didn’t want to take the dollars … I don’t know who the next president is gonna be, but Ol’ John is gonna get every one of our tax dollars back.”

Indiana is one of the few states that does not offer a robust pre-kindergarten program. The adoption of a statewide program has been difficult as Republicans, religious conservatives, and a network of homeschool families oppose object statewide education policies. And these groups are particularly repelled at the thought of state officials cooperating with federal authorities in the development of education policy.

Governor Pence, however, has begun showing interest in a universal pre-K system after recognizing that his state is lagging behind others in preparing students for higher education and future employment. Previously, he stated his opposition to a universal early education system, and his critics, as reported by Jim Shella of WishTV, have accused him of changing his opinion only ahead of an upcoming election rather than taking an unpopular stand on education that could cost him votes.

According to Alex Brown, a journalist for Inside Indiana, the first year of the program laid out by state Democrats would cost $ 150 million. The Indiana Department of Education estimates that 50% of the state would be participating in the program by 2020. If that target is reached, Indiana would rank eighth in the nation for preschool participation. The program would give immediate pre-K access to 21,000 children in its first year.

“We know the benefits of early learning, that’s why John Gregg and I are committed to ensuring that every Hoosier 4-year old has access to a high-quality pre-K program as soon as possible,” said Ritz. “My department has identified more than $ 200 million in existing state funds that could be used to expand capacity and opportunity right now. Our children and our communities deserve nothing less.”

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