Lakeshore Report

New State Academic Standards an Adjustment for Area Schools

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By: Hilary Powell

May 9, 2014 — The State Board of Education is set to hold a special meeting Tuesday to talk about the federal government’s warning that Indiana could lose a wavier for no child left behind guidelines. Losing that waiver means risking the state’s flexibility to spend millions in federal funds.

Superintendent of Instruction Glenda Ritz was in East Chicago, Ind. this week to talk to parents in one of her first public forums since the waiver meeting was announced.

At the Echo Community PTA meeting at Central High School in East Chicago, Ind., parent Sheila Coles came seeking answers.

“My experience with the past common core standards were supposed to have been the top, in a national, international comparison,” she says. “The new standards, I’m not sure where they’re standing.”

Changes in academic standards for public education approved in April mean a quick turnaround of three months for common core standards to be phased out of the classroom.

“The new standards, they’re in place already,” says Ritz. “Teachers are starting to see them and review them. We’ll be putting out resource guides and information and transition on how to make sure they go smoothly and the standards that they were working on, to the new college and career standards for Indiana.”

Coles says she came to hear state superintendent Glenda Ritz speak at the PTA meeting to get details from Indiana’s top education leader.

“It is the first time that Indiana actually has involved higher education and career experts in looking at our standards k12, to be sure that they really are going to prepare students for college and career,” Ritz says.

Coles contends, “but the new standards, she didn’t really specify too much about what is the English and Language Arts standards. What are the Math standards specifically?”

A draft of the new Indiana Academic Standards available on the Department of Education’s website say the standards ensure college-preparedness quote “as defined in Indiana’s processes” end quote.

Last week, this letter from the U.S. Department of Education sent to Ritz’s office said Indiana’s waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind Law is contingent upon showing new state standards are as challenging as common core.”

“Standards, assessments and accountability; This is student-centered accountability,” says Ritz.

Coles says she’s concerned the state-created standards won’t make the federal cut.

“The United States federal waiver; that was not addressed thoroughly,” she says. “With the standards being pulled out, what recommendations do they have to follow from the federal government? It wasn’t clarified to as [when] we’re waiting for approval for the new standards now.”

In a statement, Ritz says her department is prepared to fully comply with the federal waiver. The office has been given 60 days to respond to the letter.

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