Education

FILE PHOTO: WFIU/WTIU

Indiana teachers and schools will be shielded from penalties from last year’s poor statewide standardized test scores.

"Hold harmless” legislation was sent to the governor’s desk Monday.

Zach Herndon/WTIU

A proposal to separate student test scores from teacher evaluations at the state level is making progress through the legislature, and the state’s largest teachers union says it could draw more young people to the profession. 

Indiana teachers have long pressed for the state to remove requirements that student test scores be used in their evaluations and this year, it seems like lawmakers are on board. A bill to nix the requirement already passed the House – and won unanimous approval. 

Lauren Chapman/IPB News

Gov. Eric Holcomb signed legislation Wednesday that spends $291 million to pay cash for higher education building projects.

It’s the first bill signed into law this year.

Indiana finished the last budget cycle with nearly $300 million more than it expected. Republicans this session decided to spend that money paying cash for higher ed capital projects they had already approved.

Lauren Chapman/IPB News

After proposing more than 100 education bills, lawmakers face a key legislative deadline next week. House lawmakers proposed fewer education-focused bills than the Senate, but only about a dozen made it through to the session’s next half. 

Lauren Chapman/IPB News

Legislation reached the governor’s desk for the first time this session. Hands-free driving easily cleared committee. And a controversial coal bill moved forward.

Here’s what you might have missed this week at the Statehouse.

Surplus Spending To Governor

Jeanie Lindsay/IPB News

More districts are hiring law enforcement to increase security in schools and can use state funding to do so, but lawmakers are debating what sort of training officers need before working around students. 

Indiana requires school resource officers (SROs), to have 40 hours of specific training, but director of the Indiana School Resource Officers Association, Chase Lyday, says not every law enforcement officer in schools has had it. 

Study: Michigan In Bottom 5 For Equitable School Funding

Jan 23, 2020
Carlos Osorio/AP Photo/File

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A new study says Michigan is among 16 states where the lowest-poverty school districts receive less state and local funding than the highest-poverty districts do — a 5-percentage points disparity that ranks fifth-worst nationally.

The report from Education Trust-Midwest, a Royal Oak-based advocacy group, is the latest to urge the state to provide K-12 funding based on student need and significantly boost spending on low-income students, English language learners and those with disabilities.

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.

Tyler Lake/WTIU

As the weather gets colder and tougher to navigate with ice and snow, many schools will likely use scheduled make-up days when kids can’t get to class. But more are using what’s called eLearning instead of cancelling school, and the state has made it easier for them to do so.

Kids do school work online on eLearning days, and they have become a popular option for school districts to avoid make-up days or extending the school year. 

The Statewide View - Red For Ed Action Day

Nov 19, 2019

Thousands of educators gathered outside the Indiana statehouse for the “Red for Ed” rally Tuesday to support public education. The Indiana State Teacher Association says its focus is three-pronged: ILEARN hold harmless, repeal career awareness licensure requirement, and use surplus money for public schools.

All IN: Red For Ed

Nov 19, 2019
Lauren Chapman/IPB News

More than 60 school districts across Indiana cancelled classes today, as thousands of teachers signed up to rally at the Statehouse ahead of the upcoming legislative session.

Red for Ed Action Day is organized by the Indiana State Teachers Association, and the group says it’s focused on three things: repealing new career awareness licensing rules for educators, avoiding penalties for schools and teachers because of low ILEARN scores, and using state surplus money to better fund schools.

Indiana Governor Won’t See Big Statehouse Teacher Rally

Nov 17, 2019
Michael Conroy/AP Photo/File

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb isn’t expected to be around the Statehouse when thousands of teachers will be attending a rally there calling for better pay.

Holcomb’s office says he will be in Florida on Tuesday for a Republican Governors Association conference that was scheduled months ago.

His trip comes as teacher unions say more than 100 school districts around the state will be closed while their teachers head to the Indianapolis protest.

WFIU/WTIU

Scores from the so-called nation’s report card – also known as the National Assessment of Educational Progress – were released this week, and test performance from Hoosier students dropped slightly in reading.

Jeanie Lindsay/IPB News

School counseling services, teacher training, and the governance of education in Indiana could all be changing in 2020. A group of lawmakers studying key education questions have finalized their recommendations for the General Assembly to consider next year.

APM

Monday, Oct. 14, 2019 at 9 PM

There’s an idea about how people read words that’s deeply embedded in teaching practices and curriculum materials widely used in elementary school classrooms.

Jeanie Lindsay/IPB News

Millions of dollars will make its way to teachers across Indiana through a federal grant award announced Tuesday, as part of efforts to help schools expand teacher professional development opportunities and supports.

Confetti cannons and applause exploded as National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET) CEO Candice McQueen announced the grant award totaling $47 million. 

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