Indiana Sets Own Destiny in Establishing New Academic Standards for Math/English


INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA (NEWS) - The Indiana State Board of Education (SBOE) today adopted new academic standards for Math and English/Language Arts in Indiana public schools by a vote of 10-1. The adoption followed a months-long process that began last fall and included the inputs from Indiana educators, higher education faculty, content experts and community members.  Originally ordered by the General Assembly in 2013, the comprehensive evaluation was to be completed by July 1, 2014, in sync with the 2014’s General Assembly directive to end Indiana’s current Math/English standards by the same date.

Staff from the Department of Education (DOE) and SBOE worked collaboratively to guide the board’s evaluation and crafting of the new learning outcomes, including more than 6,000 hours invested by Hoosier educators towards the development of new college and career ready standards. Evaluation teams, composed of Hoosier educators, crafted draft standards informed by more than 2,000 public comments and input from independent evaluators. The work of the evaluation teams was then vetted, refined and ultimately endorsed by the College and Career Ready Panel.  The Indiana Education Roundtable recommended support for the final drafts last week. 

After hearing more than an hour of public comment today, the motions to approve the new math and English standards were made by Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz. The Board voted 10-1 for each of their adoptions, with 5th District member Andrea Neal dissenting. 

Dan Elsener, representing the 7th District, encouraged everyone who has been engaged in the standards process and public discussions to remain involved in the education dialogue.  “We do want the energy to stay with education, especially at the local level on curriculum and materials--so please stay involved on issues that will be equally or more important,” Elsener added. 

Dr. Brad Oliver, 6th District member, again expressed his gratitude to the Hoosier educators and community members who committed to the nationally unique and intensive detail-oriented process, with a reminder that the outcomes remain focused on Hoosier students.  Members Troy Albert, B.J. Watts, Cari Whicker and Sarah O’Brien, all public school educators, further emphasized the importance of moving forward with a smooth transition and allowing teachers to do what they do best. 

The DOE has already coordinated 19 summer sessions across the state to assist teachers with the transition to the new standards.  Additionally, DOE and SBOE staff will create resource guides, reading lists, and crosswalk examples (side-by-side comparisons of the new to old standards) that local school corporations may consider utilizing to assist in the new standards roll-out.  Local textbooks, curriculum and worksheet choices all remain the responsibility of local schools. 

The Board expressed confidence in the rigor and strength of the new standards, is grateful for the truly Hoosier engagement in their formation, and now looks forward to turning its attention to a new state assessment aligned with the new Indiana college and career ready standards.  Several State Board of Education members issued statements regarding the new standards, as attached below.

Dr. David Freitas:  2nd District

“Today, we adopted rigorous career and college ready standards that were developed through a transparent and comprehensive standards development process. These standards will empower Indiana teachers to develop targeted lesson plans that will enable Indiana’s students to thrive and prosper in our global economy.

“Indiana’s standards set high expectations of what Hoosier students need to know and be able to do in each grade. They are built on a solid foundation of research-based best practices. They thwart unnecessary and unwanted intrusion in our schools by the Federal government. And they rightly cede curriculum authority to local school leaders and communities in selecting their own instructional materials. They are clearly relevant 21st century standards for 21st century learners.”

Cari Whicker:  3rd District

“The process followed to create these standards was the most collaborative Indiana has ever seen.  I appreciate everyone's support and input – from Governor Pence, the Superintendent, the Board, the DOE, hundreds of educators, and thousands of concerned parents and citizens.  Never have so many Hoosiers worked to create the best standards possible for Hoosier children.

“While the process itself included many people, as an educator, I appreciate that the process was done in a timely manner.  This allows my colleagues across the state time to study the standards and create amazing lessons for our kids.”  

Sarah O’Brien:  4th District

“As an Indiana educator and a parent of school-age children, I am proud to support the Indiana College and Career Ready Standards.  I would like to publicly thank the Evaluation Teams and the College and Career Readiness Panel for their countless hours analyzing and preparing academic indicators that are rigorous, linear, and concise to best meet the needs of all Hoosier learners.  These new Indiana standards started with the best parts of Common Core and our own previous Indiana Standards, and grew with updates and additions incorporating current requirements of our students to create a unique set of Hoosier-owned, exemplar standards designed to meet the challenges of everyday life in the twenty-first century.  On an unparalleled level, the process of academic standard development utilized local experts in the field, Indiana educators who live and breathe these standards as they work tirelessly to prepare their students for lifelong success and achievement.  The process was transparent and fair and allowed for input on a variety of levels from across the state.  The new alignment allows Indiana educators to fully understand grade level expectations while also fully comprehending their students’ former experiences and future endeavors.  

“After reviewing the specific standards, the public comment, written and oral testimony, and reviews of experts both nationally and within the state of Indiana, I am confident that we have a strong foundation through which our schools will now be enabled to develop curricular opportunities best supporting all Hoosier students in their chosen college or career pathway.  I look forward to continuing the conversation with the Indiana Department of Education as we now advance our efforts towards implementation guidance for schools as well as a common sense approach to assessment.”

Andrea Neal:  5th District (dissenting vote)

“The standards we adopted today do a disservice to Indiana children.  Leading mathematicians have described the math standards as poorly written, disorganized, and erroneous.  The language arts standards are less rigorous than both the common core and our previous 2006 English/language arts standards.  They will diminish the role of literature in the English classroom, and it is the reading of good literature that will turn our children into critical thinkers and critical writers.” 

Dr. Brad Oliver:   6th District

“Today I voted to adopt Indiana College and Career Ready Standards that establish essential knowledge and skills in Math and English/Language Arts at every grade level. These standards reflect the collective expertise of Hoosier educators, University subject matter experts, and business leaders who are best qualified to determine the required knowledge and skills Indiana high school graduates need to obtain a postsecondary education without requiring costly remediation or to secure a sustainable career.  

“Over the last several months, I have closely followed the work of Technical Review Teams and the College and Career Ready evaluation panels who analyzed current and previous Indiana academic standards, who considered the academic standards of other states, who evaluated the collective input of invited external reviewers, and who considered the public testimony and comments of thousands Hoosier educators and citizens. Today’s standards reflect the collective wisdom of our State’s finest educational experts, whose leadership and dedication to our children’s well-being, has already resulted in the second largest national achievement gains in the areas of Math and Reading.

“In the weeks and months ahead, it is critical that parents and constituents work collaboratively with local school leaders to insure that curriculum and instruction is closely aligned to these new standards, reflective of research-based best practices, and representative of the values and priorities of local communities. Moreover, the State Board of Education must now work to provide a valid and reliable statewide assessment, also aligned to new college and career ready standards, and capable of providing parents and educational leaders with meaningful information about student achievement, as well as, teacher and school effectiveness.

“Today is a proud moment for the state of Indiana. Indiana has reasserted its right to govern education through the adoption of its own college and career ready standards. We have modeled a process for standards adoption that insures our students have access to knowledge and skills that will allow our state to remain academically and economically competitive at the national and international level, while insuring that curriculum and instructional decisions remain with our parents, business, community, and school leaders at the local level.”

Dan Elsener:  7th District

“I am thankful for the generous and passionate efforts of so many Hoosier parents, educators, community leaders, and my colleagues on the SBOE invested in fulfilling our Governor's request that we create uncommonly high academic standards for the children of Indiana. It was inevitable that such a thorough and robust process of developing these standards would result in some differing opinions as to what exactly Indiana’s k- 12 graduates should know and be able to do to be truly college and career ready. I have read the standards and reviewed the thoughtful input of the many committed Hoosiers and outside experts involved. Through this review and in listening to hours of testimony and discussion, I am confident that our professional educators created standards that are a sound basis on which to advance the social, cultural, and economic future of Indiana. It is now time to unite on the even larger challenge of insuring each child not only make continuous improvement toward achieving these standards, but ultimately they master these standards at a level that prepares them take their place as responsible citizens and be highly successful in their college and career choices."

B.J. Watts:  8th District

“As an educator of 13 years, ETA member, ISTA member, and member of the State Board of Education, I was proud to support the new ELA/Math Standards for the State of Indiana.  These world class standards maintain Indiana’s position as an innovator and leader of education across the United States.   Our newly adopted standards ensure each student across our great state will have to opportunity to be college or career ready upon graduation.  With hundreds of conversations during this process with Indiana’s top educators, I have witnessed the pride and professionalism of our Educators.  Since the release of the final draft of the ELA/Math standards, I have once again had the opportunity to discuss the finished product with those teachers I respect and admire.  The reaction has been the same from Kindergarten to Calculus and Evansville to South Bend.  These standards are precise and appropriate.  I am more confident than ever we have done right by Indiana’s students and Teachers.  Indiana’s new ELA/Math Standards will provide the framework for curriculum in our classrooms and allow our educators to do what they do best, enhance the lives of our students and strengthen our communities.  

“I am proud and honored to have been a part of this process.  I would like to give a special thanks to Governor Pence for his unwavering commitment to Indiana’s students and teachers.  I would also like to thank the entire Department of Education, theCenter for Education and Career Innovation, the Standards Review Committee, the Standards Evaluation Teams, and the College and Career Ready Panel for their tireless work on the ELA/Math standards.  These dedicated professionals along with the over 2,000 parents and teachers that took the time to make public comment ensure we have done what is best for Indiana’s students.        

“I am proud and excited by the fact that Indiana continues to be a leader in Education and I am grateful to have been a small part of our continued success.” 

Troy Albert: 9th District

“As a principal of a junior high and senior high school, my views on the standards indicate that all school administrators and all teachers must be prepared for the upcoming school year.  The teachers and curriculum must be reviewed over the summer.  The challenge will be for the short turnaround with our schools on the balanced schedule.  The implementation of the new standards must begin immediately with the fewest amount of changes.  I truly appreciate the Mathematics Standards including each of the subjects in High School as the prior Mathematics Standards stopped at the Algebra 1 level.

“Time has been the greatest barrier placed in the hands of the Standards Review Committee having to review the standards.  I applaud the transparency and process that the Standards Review Committee has endured in a very short time along with the leadership provided by the Department of Education staff and Superintendent Ritz.  I think the process was very difficult work and I find it difficult not to support the work of the committee and the recommendation of the Educational Round Table.  If there were more time allowed to review the standards, I still do not believe that every patron, teacher or administrator would be 100% satisfied.  The work will have the critics; however, I realize the importance on setting the table for the upcoming critical conversations.

“In 2006 (LA) and 2009 (Math) and 2010 (Common Core - LA/Math), when standards were presented, the amount on input from the educational players allowed seemed to be minimal in my opinion.  The current committee listened to a variety of points of view from all patrons, school employees and higher educational experts.  With all of the concerns shared about the standards, I would find it difficult to eliminate all the Common Core standards based upon the two or three years in which schools have invested the time, budget and professional development of reviewing and implementing the Common Core Standards as expected from the 2010 adoption of the standards.  The schools have tried to understand the new variety of assessments types while striving to understand the parameters involved of a truly moving educational target in our goals for accountability in all schools.  Our goal must be to educate the students decreasing the struggles with the assessments (not the standards) and we must continue to triangulate the standards, curriculum and assessments for the betterment for Indiana students and local school districts.

“I truly believe that the teachers and principals are ready to get to work on the new standards as we prepare the students for their next step.  At Henryville, I pride our staff in helping students to maximize the potential and maximize the student opportunities in their future.  I relish the opportunity to work with our staff putting a local stamp on the new standards. This will be the challenge of each school district in the State of Indiana.  I truly hope that each school will take the standards and be allowed to control the curriculum that best represents their student population in the preparation for success in the future. 

“I have valued the input of the patrons that support the standards and oppose the standards.  I truly believe that if we would take another year of standards development that you wouldn't be any closer to a solution that satisfies the entire teaching field or all interested parties.  I hope that you realize that we continue to make significant changes in education in Indiana each year.  New programs will take multiple years to grade the effectiveness.  The schools are ready to get to work. 

“Please allow the students to learn, the teachers to teach and the administrators to work together to make a difference.”

Gordon Hendry:  At-Large Member

“First, let me say that I am a proud parent of a six year old daughter who attends kindergarten at the Indianapolis Public Schools here in downtown Indianapolis, and an almost two year old son who will soon follow.  I have a vested interest in the success of Hoosier public education. I want them to be prepared for success in the real world, whether that be in Indiana, in another state, or across the globe.

“I am pleased that we can finally bring this debate to a close and adopt a set of standards that I believe will prepare Hoosier students for success beyond graduation. It's important to note, however, that the standards alone will not prepare our students. We must continue the hard work of making sure all of our schools are performing at high levels and that our parents and students, the consumers of the policies we set here, have all of the information they need to find a school that meets their needs.

“Finally, I hope that with this conversation behind us, we can stick with these standards and make sure we're not continually moving the goal posts on our students and educators. The reasons academic standards have been successful in places like Massachusetts is because legislators and policymakers picked a direction and stayed with it.”

Tony Walker:  District 1

Released his statement late last week.

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