Monday, February 8, 2016

In this file photo, State Superintendent of Public Education Glenda Ritz gestures as she addresses Matt Furfaro’s U.S. government class at Concord High School on Thursday, Oct 3, 2013. (J. Tyler Klassen/The Elkhart Truth)
Indiana needs to get its education act together

Posted on June 5, 2014 at 8:35 p.m.

Indiana’s education system is a mess.

If you don’t agree, take a look at what happened just over the past year in education at the state level:

  1. Kids taking the ISTEP test in spring 2013 had problems with “glitches” in the computerized test. Scores were delayed. Later, A-F grades for schools were also delayed by several months.
  2. Tony Bennett, former State Superintendent of Public Instruction, was accused of tampering with one school’s grade for political gain when he was in office. He later resigned from his position as head of Florida schools because of those allegations.
  3. The state’s education department announced they will come up with a new grading system for schools.
  4. Glenda Ritz, current State Superintendent of Public Instruction, sued the board of education, saying she was left out of important decisions. She continually butts heads with board members, memorably ending a meeting by simply walking out in November 2013.
  5. Indiana dropped the Common Core standards and developed its own standards to measure how much kids are learning. But critics say the new standards are just the Common Core repackaged.
  6. Partly because of Indiana’s decision to drop Common Core, the federal government threatened to take away Indiana’s No Child Left Behind waiver, risking millions of dollars of federal funding.
  7. Ritz announced Indiana students will need to take a brand-new ISTEP in spring 2015 so the state can keep the NCLB waiver.She added that the new test will be much more difficult than the test students are used to, and also that students will need to write out their answers instead of using a multiple choice format, StateImpact Indiana reported.

What are local school administrators, teachers and students to think with all this going on?

It seems like the requirements for what teachers are supposed to be teaching and what students should be learning are changing over and over, too quickly for anyone to keep up.

Good teachers want their kids to pass the test. Teachers don’t want to work at an “F” school any more than parents want their kids attending an “F” school.

Schools are trying to hit the target put in place by the state, but the target keeps getting moved.

I’m not surprised when I look for local reaction to these state changes and I’m met with thinly veiled frustration from educators.

My question is pretty similar to what I imagine local educators are wondering: when will the constant back-and-forth on standards, grades, waivers and tests stop?

Schools need to be free to do what they were actually meant to do: turn kids who don’t know much into adults ready to take on the world with a great education.

Indiana schools don’t need more micromanaging. They need space to do the job they already know how to do.

Follow reporter Lydia Sheaks on Twitter at @LydiaSheaks