Mixed Reaction to Indiana’s Proposed Education Standards

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February 25th – The Indiana Chamber of Commerce is weighing in on Indiana’s new draft education standards. According to Derek Redelman, the Chamber’s vice president of education and workforce development policy, the standards are consistent with what the organization expected, but they also believe some areas of change warrant “a second look to make sure they represent the best approach.”

The standards, released last week by the Department of Education and State Board of Education, would replace the current Common Core standards for curriculum in K-12 classrooms across the state. The proposed guidelines are open for public review and comment until March 12th.

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce commissioned Dr. Schauna Findlay, president of the Indiana Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, to examine the draft standards. “The entire mathematics section simply isn’t in as good of shape overall as the English/Language Arts section is,” says Dr. Findlay. “Because standards’ statements were pulled together from various sources, there are places where terminology is inconsistent and where standards are near duplicates. Also, until these high school standards are divided into courses, it is incredibly difficult to properly assess them because it’s impossible to determine which draft statement might be a foundational skill taught in Algebra I that goes deeper in Algebra II, for example, or if they are two closely related/redundant standards,” noted Dr. Findlay.

Another area of concern involves moving standards from higher to lower grade levels. Amy Marsh is a former educator and the Indiana Chamber’s director of college and career readiness initiatives. “There are a few additions or changes that make it seem like rigor is being increased because it’s happening at an earlier grade level,” Marsh says. “But, in actuality, moving that standard up in a child’s education is just inappropriate and too early – and even may have negative consequences on student learning.” An example of this is the concept of probability, which the new standards would move from middle school to grade three. “Probability is an abstract concept and students in third grade are concrete thinkers. It teaches them that it’s OK to guess and that math doesn’t always make sense. Some kids will get it, but some kids won’t,” asserts Dr. Findlay. “That really should not be a goal of our math instruction. Our recommendation is to move this to middle school, where it is taught in the majority of other state standards.”

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce also commissioned Dr. Findlay to compare Indiana’s current and previous standards to those of other states. The full results of that study are expected to be released later this week or early next week.

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