Education

Lauren Chapman/IPB News

Both chambers of the General Assembly approved legislation Monday to press pause on state school accountability as Hoosiers transition to a new state exam.

State and school officials have called for the “hold harmless” measure since last fall, after results from the new ILEARN test showed a significant drop in student achievement. 

WTIU

Several major pieces of legislation are already on the move as the General Assembly got the 2020 session underway. Here’s what you might have missed this week at the Statehouse.

Hold Harmless Legislation

Lawmakers wasted no time as the short session began – both House and Senate education committees almost immediately approved legislation to shield teachers and schools from penalties after a sharp drop in student test scores.

Lauren Chapman/IPB News

Indiana House Republicans rejected all of Democrats’ attempts Thursday to change how the state will use its extra state surplus money.

The state collected nearly $300 million more last year than expected. Republicans plan to use it to pay cash for higher education building projects that were approved in the last budget.

Jennifer Weingart / WVPE Public Radio

 

A group of people is working to set up a Montessori high school in South Bend.

South Bend already has several options for Montessori schools for younger children, including one that’s part of the city’s public district. This new school would be only the fifth Montessori high school in the state. 

South Bend Montessori High School co-founder Eileen Mariani said high schools are rarer in part because the Montessori method is less fleshed out for older kids. She said the approach is not for every student.

Lauren Chapman/IPB News

Indiana lawmakers are moving quickly with a measure to avoid penalizing schools for a drop in student scores on the state’s new ILEARN test, with both the House and Senate having moved the hold harmless bill through committee just days into this year’s legislative session. 

Indiana Governor Changes Stance On Teacher Pay Action

Jan 7, 2020
Brandon Smith/IPB News

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s governor has opened the door to potentially boosting school funding and teacher pay after weeks of refuting any plans on such action until next year.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb didn’t give any details Monday of what he would propose during his annual State of the State speech next week, while a top legislative Democrat promised his party would push for more school funding in the wake of a November rally that drew several thousand teachers to the Statehouse.

The Republican-dominated Legislature began its 2020 session on Monday.

Jeanie Lindsay/IPB News

Efforts to keep state funding out of schools that discriminate against staff and students are back at the statehouse. 

Indiana’s first openly gay state senator, J.D. Ford (D-Indianapolis), filed the bill for the second year in a row, this time with support from the state’s schools chief.

FILE PHOTO: WFIU/WTIU

The Indiana Department of Education released 2019 federal school ratings Friday, while state letter grades remain on hold. 

Districts and schools received two letter grades last year: one from the feds and one from the state. Now, after officials submitted a change to the state’s Every Student Succeeds Act or ESSA plan last year, schools are getting federal ratings instead. Schools can be rated from “does not meet” to “exceeds” expectations. 

Jeanie Lindsay/IPB News

The Indiana State Board of Education approved a proposal that will cut state funding from some family and consumer science (FCS) classes starting next school year, after board members held a procedural vote at a special meeting Friday.

School Spotlight: What’s A Sensory Path?

Dec 27, 2019
Jeanie Lindsay/IPB News

In the small town of Carlisle, south of Terre Haute, Carlisle Elementary School has a unique hallway that kids love to visit. If the timing’s right, you’ll see kids hopping, spinning, and waving their arms in the air. It’s called the sensory path hall. A series of stickers in various colors and shapes on the floor and walls leads kids from one end to another, and back again, in a big loop. 

Teacher Jennifer Simpson says it helps kids come back to their desks ready to learn.

Justin Hicks/IPB News

At Pike High School in Indianapolis, nutrition teacher Kam Bontrager is guiding students through their last lab of the semester. The task for the day? Making smoothies. 

His class is part of the Family and Consumer Sciences program. It has, among other things, classes in nutrition, child development, and interpersonal relationships. They teach skills an average adult uses daily – things like using a measuring cup, how to write a resume, or avoid sexually transmitted diseases.

Jeanie Lindsay/IPB News

The Indiana State Teachers Association is pressing forward on demands for lawmakers to send more funding to schools for better teacher pay despite most legislative leaders saying big budget asks have to wait until 2021.

Lauren Chapman/IPB News

With the legislative session weeks away, state lawmakers and the governor are talking more about their plans and priorities for 2020.

Education policy has been getting a lot of attention lately, but lawmakers say the upcoming legislative session should be a quiet one – for the most part. Senate Education and Career Development Committee Chair Jeff Raatz (R-Centerville) says, with a short session, there just isn’t time to get to everything.

“From an overall perspective I’d say this year would be less is best,” he says. 

Jeanie Lindsay/IPB News

A proposal from state workforce agencies would cut funding for classes that teach nutrition, personal finance, and other skills. It has many Family and Consumer Sciences teachers across the state worried.

Under the plan being considered by the Indiana State Board of Education, schools could still offer family and consumer science classes, but they’d no longer receive state funding for them. 

FILE PHOTO: Peter Balonon-Rosen/IPB News

Enrollment in teacher preparation programs has dropped significantly over the past decade. According to a new national report, Indiana has fewer than half of the candidates as it did in 2008.

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