Education

Dr. Byron Ernest is the secretary of the Indiana State Board of Education. (Eric Weddle/WFYI News)
Jeanie Lindsay

Changes to education in Indiana are coming over the next two years with new standardized tests and federal education law, but members of the State Board of Education plan to postpone another shift around school accountability.

The 2018 legislative session ended a bit more chaotically than expected, but lawmakers managed to work on and pass a variety of education legislation this year. But, some bills didn’t find the same levels of success as others. Here’s a recap of some legislation lawmakers proposed, passed, and denied around education policy. 

The bills that failed 

School Financial Management/Gary-Muncie Takeover Bill: HB 1315

General Assembly Approves Single Diploma Bill

Mar 14, 2018
(Alisha Referda/Flickr)
Lauren Chapman

The General Assembly passed legislation to create a single high school diploma structure in Indiana.

It still allows for students to add distinctions for academic or technical honors to their diplomas.

School Funding Measure Nears Finish Line

Mar 7, 2018

As lawmakers close in on the end of the legislative session, they’re working to finalize a bill that would address the state’s school funding gap. The school funding shortfall for this fiscal year is estimated at more than $22 million.

The bill to address that shortfall would make up to $25 million from the state’s reserve funds available to bridge the gap.

Senate Approves School Financial Management Bill

Mar 6, 2018

Lawmakers in the Senate approved a controversial school financial management bill Tuesday.

Parts of the bill would heavily impact the function and oversight of Muncie and Gary schools and have stirred heated debate in recent weeks.

The state’s top education official plans to push for more policy and funding to improve school safety.

State officials and lawmakers say Indiana has strong school safety programs in place, but Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick says there are still gaps.

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Barbara Anguiano / WVPE

 

The Indiana State Board of Education hosted a hearing Thursday seeking public comment on proposed revisions to school accountability grades.

 

The majority of those present at the hearing were school teachers and administrators.
 

They raised concerns about the timeline for the changes, and how they could affect their students standardized tests and graduation pathways.
 

Bill Aims To Improve DCS Communication With Schools

Feb 22, 2018

A bill passed through committee this week that aims to improve communications between schools, courts and the Department of Child Services.

The first part of the bill would require DCS to outline efforts to coordinate with a foster child’s school system. Sen. Andy Zay (R-Huntington) authored the bill and says a case from his county highlights the problem.

“This child was 7-years-old and weighed 20 pounds and the only communication they had with the school was, here is the child,” says Zay.

Lawmakers are giving mixed input on a bill about teacher licensing waivers, and members of a House committee shared concerns about the proposal during a meeting Thursday.

The Indiana State Board of Education will host a public forum Thursday at Ivy Tech Community College in South Bend - seeking public input on proposed revisions to school accountability grades.

 

This is one of four public forums throughout the state that gives Indiana residents the opportunity to weigh-in on proposed changes to school accountability grades.
 

Proposed changes include a higher significance on student standardized test performance and school graduation rates.
 

Lawmakers Weigh New School Coalition Pilot Program

Feb 19, 2018

School coalitions could become a new feature of the state’s education system, as lawmakers consider another pilot program to better prepare students for life after high school.

Gary Emergency Manager Plan: Close High School, Reconfigure Grade Levels

Feb 16, 2018

The state-appointed manager of the Gary Community School Corporation told state officials Friday the district faces an $18 million annual deficit and a proposal to close two buildings is only the start of cutting costs.

Gary Schools emergency manager Peggy Hinckley asked the state’s Distressed Unit Appeal Board Friday to let her close the Wirt-Emerson Visual and Performing Arts Academy and the district’s central office, formerly the Lincoln School, this summer.

Senate Education Committee Delays School Finance Bill Vote

Feb 15, 2018

An Indiana Senate committee has decided to postpone voting on a controversial school financials bill because of its effect on Muncie and Gary schools. Some committee members say the bill too radically changes plans lawmakers approved last session.

Last year, Rep. Tim Brown (R-Crawfordsville) singled out Gary and Muncie schools for their financial debts, putting emergency management processes in place.

READ MORE: Can Gary Schools Be Saved By A State Takeover?

House Committee Hears Testimony On Sex Education Bill

Feb 15, 2018

The House Education Committee heard testimony Thursday on a bill that would require schools to make sex education instructional materials available to parents and require parents to opt-in to instruction.

Researcher Pushes Back on Cursive Writing Op-Ed From Senator

Feb 8, 2018

An Indiana University researcher says the lawmaker behind a cursive writing bill approved by the Senate misused her work to support the cause.

Efforts For Lower School Age Fail In 2018 Session

Feb 8, 2018

Legislation to lower the age at which Hoosier children must attend school failed in the General Assembly again this year, but the conversation isn’t likely to end any time soon.

A for-profit nursing school’s central Indiana campus is trying to get more students interested in the field, which faces a shortage of qualified practitioners.

A few dozen students from Indianapolis’ Warren Central High School took part in Chamberlain University College of Nursing’s simulation lab, including disaster response.

Junior Stephan Gaither says he has family members pursing healthcare related jobs.

“They kind of inspired me to go into the medical field and be an EMT or something,” says Gaither.

Single Diploma Measure Moves Through House

Feb 5, 2018

Monday marks the last day for Indiana lawmakers to move legislation out of the House of Representatives, and a handful of education measures received approval.

One of those bills, House Bill 1426, would address a change in federal graduation rate calculations. It would create a single high school diploma structure to meet those federal rules, and is a welcome solution to a problem many state and school officials have shared concern over in recent months.

The state’s goal to prepare Hoosiers for life after high school is a major theme for education changes this year. And this week lawmakers will vote on legislation to make more students ready for the workforce.

One bill up for discussion would require schools to implement “soft skill” standards in their curriculum. Those include things like how a person works with others, or shows up dressed for their job. Lawmakers want schools to help more kids develop those, largely due to a push from employers who say workers lack those skillsets.

House Approves Controversial School Management Bill

Feb 1, 2018

House lawmakers are moving forward with a controversial school financial management bill. Lawmakers debated HB 1315 for nearly two hours Thursday before passing it, and some members, including Rep. Earl Harris (D-East Chicago), say they’re concerned the legislation takes too much power away from the locally elected school boards of struggling schools.

“I’m very much uncomfortable with us taking away the will of the voters in terms of the school board. The school board is voted in,” Harris says.

Lawmakers Move Bill To Get More Teachers Into Schools

Jan 31, 2018

With a teacher shortage in the state, lawmakers want to help license more teachers by waiving some testing requirements some educators see as a barrier to getting into the classroom.

Shon Harris says he’s had trouble passing the math requirement for his elementary school teacher license. In part, because it includes material he won’t even teach his fourth grade students.

“It goes all the way up to high school geometry, despite the fact that most of the skills on the test won’t be taught in the elementary classroom,” Harris says.

Legislation Update: Sex Ed, Computer Science

Jan 30, 2018

The State Senate approved a bill Tuesday requiring parents to opt-in to sex education.

Some senators pushed back on the proposal before the vote. Sen. Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis) called it dangerous, and asked if parents should be allowed to keep their children from learning other subjects they don’t morally agree with.

Senate Education Committee Chair Dennis Kruse, says it gives parents rights they should have.

The bill passed, 37-12.

House School Discipline Bill Met With Concerns

Jan 30, 2018

Some educators and teachers are pushing for changes in school discipline practices, but a bill considered in the House Education Committee Tuesday was not received well by all members.

HB 1421 aims to reduce things like expulsion or suspension in all Hoosier schools. Supporters of the legislation, like Darreyel Laster, from pilotED Schools, says positive discipline is more effective, and should be used everywhere.

Student Press Freedom Bill Advances Out Of Committee

Jan 25, 2018

Indiana public school students would have freedom of the press protections under legislation approved by a House committee Thursday.

But the bill is still on shaky ground as principals, superintendents, and school boards oppose it.

Plainfield High School student journalist Anu Nattam’s publication was censored by school officials after a school board member’s family complained about its content – none of which violated traditional media decency guidelines.

A greater push for STEM education is setting the tone for many of this year’s legislative agendas, and part of that push is a bill in the House that would make it possible for elementary school teachers to earn a special license in math.

Ball State University professor Sheryl Stump says it’s an incentive for educators to learn more about and better teach the subject.

“According to the needs and plans of their school districts, they could continue to work primarily with students, or they could work as mathematics coaches or teacher leaders,” she says.

Senate Committee Moves Dyslexia Bill Forward

Jan 24, 2018

A senate committee wrapped up a two-day discussion Wednesday, on a bill that would provide additional dyslexia screening for students and training for teachers.

Many parents who support SB 217 say dyslexia can cause students to fall years behind in reading. Patricia Truelove from Mooresville is a mom of three, and she says this type of legislation could have helped her daughter.

School Financial Management Bill Sent To House Floor

Jan 24, 2018

The state’s House Ways and Means committee approved a bill Wednesday that would have a major impact on financially struggling schools. But, some key provisions of the bill are causing concern.

Diploma, Grad Pathways Focus Of New House Bill

Jan 23, 2018

A heated debate broke out during a House committee’s discussion of a new graduation pathways bill Tuesday, as one lawmaker tried to make a big change to the legislation.

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Charlotte Tuggle / WBAA

Both universities’ female CS student percentage is a few points higher than today’s national average of 16-percent. 

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Charlotte Tuggle / WBAA

“There’s this image that that stuff’s for boys,” Berry says. “Boys program, boys are good at math, boys are good at science – girls shouldn’t do that stuff. So once they get that stigma in their mind, it’s kind of really hard to get them back.”

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