Monday, September 9, 2019

In Case You Missed It – Sep 9, 2019

Here are links to last week's articles receiving the most attention in NEIFPE's social media. Keep up with what's going on, what's being discussed, and what's happening with public education.

Be sure to enter your email address in the Follow Us By Email box in the right-hand column to be informed when our blog posts are published.


What students do after graduating could determine their high school’s rating

Indiana already misuses standardized tests, developed to measure student achievement, to rate teachers and school. Here we find an absurd proposal to grade schools based on the success or failure of students after graduation -- as if there are no out-of-school variables to success.

From Chalkbeat
High schools in Indiana may soon be rated on what their students do after graduation — not just how many of them pass state tests and earn a diploma.

A committee of educators and lawmakers is considering changing Indiana’s high school grading system to account for the percentage of students that are enlisted, employed, or enrolled in post-secondary education within a year of graduating.

This approach is meant to align with the creation of graduation pathways, which offer Indiana high schoolers multiple options for completing the requirements to graduate. Students choose their path based on their interests, such as going to college or earning a technical certification.


Alabama Only Had 4 Charter Schools, So Betsy DeVos Gave The State $25 Million to Get More

From Diane Ravitch
Betsy DeVos was sad to see that Alabama had only four charter schools. So she awarded $25 million to an organization tasked with generating more private charters to drain money away from the state’s underfunded public schools.

The state charter commission has been mired in controversy since giving its approval to a Gulen charter school in a rural district where it was not wanted.


The biggest news items from the past week were about the new Indiana test, ILEARN.

Harmless? Hardly: Hurt spread wide by new standardized test

Speak Up! Speak Out! for your children and grandchildren! They, and their teachers and schools, are so much more than this test!

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
Taxpayers: You're picking up the bill for the state's broken assessment system. Indiana paid $39.7 million to the American Institutes for Research for the new ILEARN test. The British-owned Pearson Education was paid $38 million for the last version of the ISTEP+ assessment. When legislators boast of the large proportion of tax dollars spent on K-12 education, the figure includes the money paid to test vendors.

Hold harmless? Too late. Let's hold someone responsible.

Superintendents: Make one-year pause on ILEARN scores, school grades permanent

From the Journal & Courier
Standardized test scores should only be used for diagnostic purposes and nothing more. Remember former state Rep. Ray Richardson? Thirty-five years ago he created the legislation that called for a standardized test specifically designed to help teachers figure out which of their students needed help. Thus, ISTEP was born. Now, 35 years later, he regrets getting that legislation passed. As reported by Matthew Tully in the Indianapolis Star on Jan. 28, 2016, Richardson says, “It’s being used exclusively to grade schools and teachers. … That was never the intent.”

Allen County superintendents urge community to look past low ILEARN results

Even with the lower scores, the superintendents said that they are not overly concerned with the low scores because they do not use the results in any way. The tests are administered at the end of one school year and the results do not come until the start of the next, so there is no way to follow up with students who may of been struggling.

Search for your school’s 2019 ILEARN results

This article has a link so you can look up your school’s ILEARN scores. Not happy with what you see? Call a legislator and tell them they need to listen to and value the input of actual educators over business leaders and politicians.

From Chalkbeat
The first year of ILEARN scores were released Wednesday. As many educators warned, results were low, with only 37.1% of students passing both math and English.

The new test is more rigorous than previous versions because it is computer adaptive, meaning questions get harder or easier as students get answers right or wrong, and focuses on different skills more closely linked to college and career readiness.

Indiana education officials delay release of A-F grades amid poor ILEARN scores

From Chalkbeat
Such a move undercuts the test’s role as an accountability metric for the state. It also has fueled debate over whether the test is a useful measure of student achievement.

This year’s test scores didn’t go down as significantly as they did in 2015, but did see the lowest statewide passing percentages in recent history. State officials said they were expecting to see a drop because of the tests new format and increased rigor.

Fewer than half of Hoosier students pass ILEARN

"When asked why Indiana finds itself here again, McCormick said, 'we are who we vote for.'"

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette

Fewer than half of Indiana's students passed the new ILEARN standardized test – a significant drop that state officials already are trying to combat.

In all, 47.9% of students in grades 3 through 8 were deemed proficient in English Language Arts and 47.8% in math. Just 37.1% passed both.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick acknowledged that implementation dips usually come with a new assessment. Compared to last year, scores dropped 16% in English and 11% in math.

But she defended the students – noting college entrance scores and those on the National Assessment of Educational Progress show improvement.

“Their performance is not backsliding,” McCormick said. “There are promising trends of student performance. This assessment and threshold was much more rigorous.”

ILEARN fails as effective student measuring stick

From Chris Himsel, Superintendent of Northwest Allen County Schools wrote this op-ed in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
To stop perpetuating the fallacy of state-mandated testing, we need your help.

We need your help in demanding that policymakers reduce and deemphasize state-mandated testing. We need your help in demanding that policymakers refocus on investing in the development of the many unique talents possessed by each child.


Monday, September 2, 2019

In Case You Missed It – Sept 2, 2019

Here are links to last week's articles receiving the most attention in NEIFPE's social media. Keep up with what's going on, what's being discussed, and what's happening with public education.

Be sure to enter your email address in the Follow Us By Email box in the right-hand column to be informed when our blog posts are published.


ILEARN fails as effective student measuring stick

From NACS Superintendent Chris Himsel in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
ILEARN represents the sixth time the state tests, the standards tested on the tests, or the company administering the tests has changed since 2009, and the third since 2015. Each change resulted in a new state-defined passing score. For this and many other reasons, the “passing” results are arbitrary.

Schools and districts have been informed that the percentage of students meeting or exceeding the newly defined “passing” scores is much lower than in previous years.

The lower scores do not reflect a lack of performance by our students, teachers or schools.

Instead, the scores highlight the misuse of standardized tests and the fallacy of one-size-fits-all testing and accountability systems. Indiana began implementing the fallacy with PL 221 more than 20 years ago after passage of the federal law, No Child Left Behind.

McCormick: It’s time to change school grading system

From School Matters
Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick is tapping into the alarm over results of Indiana’s new ILEARN standardized assessment to call for changes in how the state evaluates schools.

She said the test scores “once again show us the importance of developing a modernized, state-legislated accountability system that is fair, accurate and transparent.”

5 times problems derailed Indiana’s standardized tests

How much would you pay for something that has no real use or value to you and doesn’t even work a lot of the time? Asking for some Hoosier legislators.

From Chalkbeat
Standardized testing in Indiana has been called into question repeatedly over the past decade. ISTEP, which was given for 30 years through 2018 and is still being used in Indiana high schools, was plagued with technological issues. And now, following the transition to ILEARN, state test scores are said to be low in both English and math; those scores are set to be released publicly on Sept. 4, though schools received them earlier this month.

This time around, the decline isn’t the result of a technical glitch. School officials are attributing it in large part to ILEARN’s new computer-adaptive format and its introduction of some new content.

ILEARN results: déjà vu all over again

From School Matters
Here we go again. Indiana has a new standardized test, the results sound bad, and educators are calling on the state to hold off on imposing consequences on schools or teachers using new test scores.

Today, Gov. Eric Holcomb joined the call for a “pause” in accountability based on the tests. House and Senate leaders concurred, which means it’s almost certain to happen. Results from the new assessment, called ILEARN, are scheduled to be made public at the Sept. 4 State Board of Education meeting.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because we went through the same thing just four years ago. Then, Indiana adopted new, more stringent learning standards, and the state test, called ISTEP, was revised to incorporate them. Test scores plummeted, and lawmakers approved “hold harmless” legislation that prevented the new test from hurting schools’ letter grades.

ILEARN scores are expected to be low. Holcomb, McCormick don’t want that to hurt teacher pay, school grades.

Not only should we hold our teachers and schools harmless, we should also hold the students harmless.

From Chalkbeat
With the scores for Indiana’s new standardized test expected to be low, state officials fear that what was supposed to be a more reliable measure of student, teacher and school performance may prove meaningless.

ILEARN scores are said to be low across the state in both English and math. As a result, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb is asking legislators to pass a “hold harmless” exemption, which would protect schools and teachers from being negatively affected.

Such a move undercuts the test’s role as an accountability metric for the state. It could also fuel the debate over whether the test is a useful measure of student achievement, especially if it isn’t comparable year-over-year.


GEO charter network to get a second chance in Indianapolis

Why are the people in Indiana ok with this waste of money?

From Chalkbeat*
The GEO Academies is returning to Indianapolis eight years after the mayor’s office sought to close one of their schools for poor performance — a conflict that eventually pushed the charter operator out of the city.

The Indiana Charter School Board voted 6-2 Friday afternoon to authorize the new school, which hopes to open its doors in 2020.

Board members quit after two embattled Indiana virtual schools lose their charters

It seems that the people involved with these charters are not the kind of people who take responsibility for their actions on their own. It would be nice to have a legislature which wouldn’t give our tax dollars and free rein to these types of folks.

From Chalkbeat
After losing their charters Monday night, two embattled virtual charter schools were scheduled to hold board meetings Tuesday night to discuss finishing the process of shutting down.

But that discussion never happened because Indiana Virtual School and Indiana Virtual Pathways Academy no longer had any board members.

“There’s no one left,” said the schools’ attorney, Mary Jane Lapointe.

Two board members, Thomas A. Krudy and Sam Manghelli, resigned during an executive session held in the lobby of an Indianapolis office building because they were locked out of the virtual schools’ fourth-floor suite.


Teachers across northern Indiana speak out, demand increased pay: 'It's grim, very grim'

Teachers from across northern Indiana packed the cafeteria at Concord Junior High Tuesday night.

They were there to speak to a commission put together by Governor Eric Holcomb. It's tasked with finding ways to increase teacher pay in Indiana.

Indiana has a reputation as one of the worst states for teacher pay.

Our Operation Education team reported a couple of weeks ago that Indiana teachers rank last in the country for salary growth since 2002.

*Note: Chalkbeat sponsors include pro-charter foundations and individuals such as EdChoice, Gates Family Foundation, The Walton Family Foundation, and others.