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Educators: New state standards good start


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Local educators are feeling optimistic about the final draft of new Indiana academic standards.

The draft, made public Tuesday, will be considered by the Indiana Education Roundtable on Monday. If approved, it will go before the State Board of Education for a final decision April 28.

The state adopted its own set of standards in 2006 then got on board with a national set of standards called the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

In March, Indiana became the first state to opt out of the Common Core standards and develop new guidelines.

Gov. Mike Pence said he wanted standards that are “written by Hoosiers, for Hoosiers” and that are uncommonly high.

The standards are not lesson plans, but they specify what students should know in each subject area and by each grade level.

Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. Superintendent John Quick said the new standards are a step in the right direction.

“I was not an advocate for the Common Core because I think we should make decisions closest to home,” he said. “The state level is not ideal, but it’s better than national decisions.”

Kathy Griffey, superintendent of Flat Rock-Hawcreek schools, said she did not see a need for the state to back out of the Common Core State Standards.

Since an earlier draft was released in February, more than 100 individuals testified at public hearings and 800 public comments were made online.

Local elementary teachers contributed seven comments, all saying certain standards were either too specific or grade-inappropriate.

Statewide, some educators criticized the new drafts as overlapping too much with the Common Core State Standards.

On the Web

Details of the final draft of Indiana’s proposed education standards can be found on the state Department of Education website: doe.in.gov

Timeline

Monday: Education Roundtable, led by Gov. Mike Pence and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz, will consider approval of standards.

April 28: If the Education Roundtable approves the standards, they will be sent to the State Board of Education for a vote.

Spring 2014 and spring 2015: Students continue to take the ISTEP+ exam, which tests for mastery of the Indiana Academic Standards adapted in 2006.

Spring 2016: Students will take a new standardized assessment yet to be determined.

Overall, one senior BCSC administrator said he was happy with how far the standards have come.

“Some of them are pretty darn good, which kind of surprises me,” Director of Secondary Education Bill Jensen said after the first draft was released.

Students will continue to take the ISTEP+ exam this year and next, so teachers have time to learn the standards before being evaluated on standardized test performance.

Jensen said because the standards encourage higher-level thinking, they could pave the way to a better standardized assessment. But instead of focusing on the standards, he hopes the district will continue to focus on the students.

“I am of the opinion that if, as a district, we continue to focus on deeper learning and developing our students as expert learners, that they should be able to cope with whatever standards are being required of them,” he said.

New standards at a glance

Indiana adopted the nationally developed Common Core State Standards in 2010 and later became the first state to drop them.

Gov. Mike Pence signed the bill to opt out in late March, saying the state will develop academic standards “written by Hoosiers, for Hoosiers” that are uncommonly high.

The new standards, which specify what students should know by content area and by grade level, are not lesson plans and they do not require the selection of any specific books.

The standards apply to the following areas:

  • K-2 Math
  • 3-5 Math
  • 6-8 Math
  • Algebra I
  • Algebra II
  • Calculus
  • Finite Math
  • Geometry
  • Pre-Calculus
  • Probability and Statistics
  • Trigonometry
  • K-5 English/Language Arts
  • 6-12 English/Language Arts
  • History/Social Studies Content Area Literacy
  • Science/Technical Studies Content Area Literacy

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