Tag: Indiana Department of Education


Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type bool in /home/dropoutn/public_html/wp-content/themes/ralphkrause/ralphkrause/parts/mjr.php on line 47

Three Questions: Indiana Schools Superintendent Tony Bennett


Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type bool in /home/dropoutn/public_html/wp-content/themes/ralphkrause/ralphkrause/parts/mjr.php on line 47

Since taking office as Indiana’s Superintendent of Public Instruction two years ago, Tony Bennett has managed to make the kind of meaningful changes in reforming how the Hoosier State recruits…

Since taking office as Indiana’s Superintendent of Public Instruction two years ago, Tony Bennett has managed to make the kind of meaningful changes in reforming how the Hoosier State recruits and trains teachers — including requiring ed schools to screen out laggard aspiring teachers by using the Praxis I exam — that his predecessor, Suellen Reed, never deemed worth doing in her 16 years in office. This, along with his defense of the state’s charter schools from efforts to essentially abolish them, has certainly angered the state’s educational ancien regime. But it has also made him one of the more-fervent school reform-oriented state school chief executives — a role that will become more prominent as Indiana’s governor and state legislature consider a new round of reform initiatives in a state that dearly needs them.

In this Three Questions, Bennett — who will be coming to D.C. next week to speak  on an American Enterprise Institute book panel, offers a few thoughts on reforming American public education on the ground. Read and consider.

What is the one surprising thing you have learned during your tenure as Indiana’s superintendent from public instruction and how has it shaped your work and thinking?

It is surprising to me how infrequently children are the focus of conversations regarding education reform. Too often, the focus is on how change will affect adults in the system and not on how changes will benefit our students.  This inspired me, early on, to make putting kids first our top priority—and I look at everything through that lens.
What is the one thing school reform activists inside the Beltway don’t consider in their policy discussions and proposals and why?

Much of what we’re trying to do in Indiana aligns with federal policymakers’ vision for education reform. But specifically, I’d like it if the policymakers and leaders in D.C. removed as much of the bureaucratic red tape as possible.  I’d like to see them get rid of the superfluous reporting requirements that have nothing to do with educating children and instead pull educators away from focusing on their core mission to teach kids. In this regard, I think the feds have good intentions, but it’s difficult for them to envision how data and reporting requirements handcuff us at the state and local level.

What are the most-critical next steps that Indiana will need to take in order to improve the quality of teachers in classrooms? What are the challenges?

Our agenda is four-pronged: 1. Increase flexibility so that school corporations can meet the needs of their students. 2. Increase options for all students. 3. Increase accountability. 4. Recognize and reward great teachers.  Key in achieving these will be making sure teacher and leader evaluations are multi-faceted and fair—and can consider student achievement growth, which is currently prohibited by state law.   We must also work to ensure pay and promotion are based on factors other than seniority and degrees held. We need to make sure every parent has access to high-quality educational options for their child. Finally, we must act with fierce urgency to make all these changes now to benefit students—especially in our chronically underperforming school buildings.

The biggest challenges we face is opposing adult interests that seek to maintain the ineffective status quo.

How do you think charter schools will further reshape Indiana’s education landscape? What steps will you take to ensure that charters are of high-quality?

Charters are a powerful piece in our efforts to increase high-quality educational options for all students.  We have to provide a more hospitable environment for charters to develop.  And I believe charters should be held to the same high standards to which we hold traditional public schools.  If they aren’t demonstrating student growth and quality education, they should be closed.

2 Comments on Three Questions: Indiana Schools Superintendent Tony Bennett

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type bool in /home/dropoutn/public_html/wp-content/themes/ralphkrause/ralphkrause/parts/mjr.php on line 47

Watch: A State Superintendent Challenges One State’s Slow-Down Culture


Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type bool in /home/dropoutn/public_html/wp-content/themes/ralphkrause/ralphkrause/parts/mjr.php on line 47

As Indiana’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Bennett wrangles with a state that has both swiftly addressed some issues (the need for charter schools, for example), but is otherwise comfortable…

As Indiana’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Bennett wrangles with a state that has both swiftly addressed some issues (the need for charter schools, for example), but is otherwise comfortable with a status quo that tolerates low graduation rates and woeful academic achievement. Below is a video (courtesy of the Hoosier State’s Department of Education) of him explaining why he’s going full-bore on reforming teacher training and academic performance. You may also check out Dropout Nation’s Series and Projects page to learn more about how Indiana is an epicenter of the nation’s dropout crisis.


Comments Off on Watch: A State Superintendent Challenges One State’s Slow-Down Culture

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type bool in /home/dropoutn/public_html/wp-content/themes/ralphkrause/ralphkrause/parts/mjr.php on line 47

Read: Happy Holidays Edition


Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type bool in /home/dropoutn/public_html/wp-content/themes/ralphkrause/ralphkrause/parts/mjr.php on line 47

Merry Christmas to each and every one of you and your families. And to those celebrating other holidays: Happy holidays to you and the ones you love. Here is what’s…

Christmas at the Waldorf-Astoria by RiShawn Biddle

Scenes of the Season: New York's Waldorf-Astoria at Christmastime

Merry Christmas to each and every one of you and your families. And to those celebrating other holidays: Happy holidays to you and the ones you love.

Here is what’s going on in the dropout nation:

  1. The NEA’s Los Angeles local is suing L.A. Unified over its school reform plans. John Fensterwald’s response? The suit is merely “an attempt to preserve dues-paying members.”
  2. By the way: Check out my latest report, this on the pressures forcing the American Federation of Teachers to make some (small) moves towards embracing school reform, in The American Spectator.
  3. Tom Vander Ark offers on the role of entrepreneurism in education and how it can improve education for all students. He also discusses some of the changes that need to come to education philanthropy.
  4. While some parents and teachers in the New York City borough of Queens are battling the closure of Jamaica High School, schools Chancellor Joel Klein isn’t backing down. Says he: “I would like to know — who would send their kid to a school that has a lower than 50 percent graduation rate. Well, if your kids wouldn’t go there, whose kids should go there?” He’s got a point.
  5. The Merced Sun-Star isn’t too thrilled with the California legislature’s struggle to pass a second round of Race to the Top-related legislation. Meanwhile, in Maryland, a former state board of education member accuses Gov. Martin O’Malley of being more-interested in teachers union votes than in take advantage of the federal money to improve academic achievement.
  6. And in Indiana, the state Department of Education has unveiled its plan for competing for Race to the Top dollars. It admits that it doesn’t meet many of the data system requirements. It will also require school districts to fully embrace reform in order to receive whatever RttT money the Hoosier State can muster. At least the state’s making some progress on the teacher quality front.
  7. For those looking for American Recovery and Reinvestment Act data on education stimulus spending, here is the state and program data for this month (in Excel spreadsheets).
  8. In Rochester, the mayor there wants to take over the city’s atrocious school district. He’ll likely have more success than his colleague in Milwaukee has had this year.
  9. At EducationNews, teacher Marion Brady accuses Arne Duncan, the charter school movement and education philanthropists of attempting to “hasten the destruction of… universal, free, public schooling.” But then, Brady offers suggested reforms that would fully alter traditional public education as we know it. Enjoy.
  10. Heritage Foundation’s Dan Lips reads Walter Williams’ discontent with graduation rates for blacks, then offers examples of how to improve educational achievement.
  11. The Economist discusses how technology disrupted the media business — in 1845. The interesting question for education policy types and teachers should be: What technologies will disrupt education policy as we know it today.
  12. U.S News & World Report looks at the role of post-Katrina New Orleans as the epicenter of the charter school movement and education reform. Slowly, the city’s education model is starting to resemble the Hollywood Model for education I touted some years ago.
  13. Edurati Review offers up its best posts of 2009. One of them: A well-thought explanation of why American public education must be reformed.

Sign up for the Twitter feed for up-to-the-minute news. Also, check out Dropout Nation’s featured reports:

  1. Making Families Consumers — and Kings — in Education
  2. Ability Tracking: Outmoded Idea in the New Education Paradigm
  3. Voices of the Dropout Nation: Walter Dozier on Education and Violence

2 Comments on Read: Happy Holidays Edition

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type bool in /home/dropoutn/public_html/wp-content/themes/ralphkrause/ralphkrause/parts/mjr.php on line 47

Meaningless Graduation Tests


Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type bool in /home/dropoutn/public_html/wp-content/themes/ralphkrause/ralphkrause/parts/mjr.php on line 47

THE CENTER FOR EDUCATION POLICY offers its latest evaluation of graduation exams. And for Indiana — whose Graduation Qualifying Exam is notorious for being a tad too easy (only tests…

Did she prove that she is ready for college and life? Did he? Depends on whether they passed the exit test.

Did she prove that she is ready for college and life? Did he? Depends on whether they passed the exit test.

THE CENTER FOR EDUCATION POLICY offers its latest evaluation of graduation exams. And for Indiana — whose Graduation Qualifying Exam is notorious for being a tad too easy (only tests 8th- and 9th-grade learning) and yet, so hard for some students to pass — the results are, well, underwhelming. This, unfortunately, is not only true for the Hoosier State, but for most of the other 25 states offering such exams.

Eight percent of the graduates in Indiana’s Class of 2007 garnered a sheepskin despite repeatedly failing the test. But, as I’ve reported last year, it’s actually worse than those numbers suggest when one looks at each district and high school. Indianapolis Public Schools, for example, 23.6 percent of the district’s Class of 2007 –281 students — graduated despite repeatedly flunking the graduation test. Sixteen percent of Greater Clark County School’s Class of 2007 repeatedly flunked the GQE, while 17 percent of South Bend Community Schools graduating class this year never passed the test (I’ll spare the Gary school district’s miserable numbers for all of us).

Thankfully, Indiana will replace the GQE by 2012 with a series of end-of-course tests in Algebra I and 10th-grade English. But the state isn’t eliminating the waiver process; students and parents will still have incentives for not passing the tests, while schools and districts will have no incentive to improve curriculum and instruction. This is also true for other states, which also refuse to hold students — and schools — accountable for lagging performance.

New York still allows students who passed a state Board of Regents-approved course to submit a “department-approved” test such as the SAT II — none of which are aligned with state standards — if they don’t pass that state’s end-of-course Regent’s exams. Across the Hudson River in New Jersey, 12 percent of students — 11,747 students — avoided passing the state’s High School Proficiency Assessment in order to grab their sheepskins.

And it’s even more laughable in Washington State, where the legislature approved a series of alternatives to passing the state exit exam there. A student who fails the exam can either compare his work to another student with a similar profile who actually passed the test, assemble a portfolio of work or get the slightly more rigorous total cut score of 1200 — way below the average SAT score of 1500 on the 2007 edition of the collegiate entrance exam — to get out of passing.

The results of these faulty regimes can be seen in the high numbers of students, both in major universities and community colleges, in the low levels of graduation and the high numbers of those students ending up in remedial education course. The fact that these students aren’t even being tested for the knowledge they need to even get into apprenticeship programs means that schools are poorly preparing them for the challenges of the global economy, in which math skills are so highly prized. And state policymakers, in turn, merely weaken the very standards they declare they want all students to learn. Education as both tragedy and farce at once.

The good news — if you can call it that — is that states are moving more toward end-of-course exams, which will force students to show that they have mastered the math, science, history and English knowledge they need in order to get into higher education of any kind, be it college, techinical school or trade apprenticeships. But high-stakes testing, contrary to the arguments of FairTest and other opponents of standardized testing regimes, remains more mythology than reality.

Comments Off on Meaningless Graduation Tests

Type on the field below and hit Enter/Return to search