NCLB Waiver Argument, New ISTEP+ Test Recommended At Education Meetings
By Mike Perleberg
(Indianapolis, Ind.) – Indiana’s Department of Education is ready to send a response to the federal government so that the state might maintain a waiver from the No Child Left Behind law.
Indiana’s waiver from NCLB was put on conditional status by the U.S. Department of Education because the state had not met a number of parameters in outlining its overall education plan. The questions from the feds have largely stemmed from a new law opting Indiana out of national Common Core Education Standards.
Indiana’s response to the U.S. DOE’s notice is required by June 30. Unless it maintains the waiver, the state stands to lose control of $200 million in federal education funding.
On Monday, State Superintendent Glenda Ritz, a Democrat, and the largely Republican State Board of Education sparred over certain points of the response during back-to-back meetings of the Indiana Education Roundtable and the state board.
SBOE 6th district member Brad Oliver’s attempt to add a resolution to the SBOE meeting agenda was denied by Ritz, who chairs the board. The motion came as several board members expressed frustration with incomplete information provided by Ritz regarding the waiver submission.
“While I appreciate the Superintendent calling this special meeting to inform the Board regarding the waiver submission, the SBOE cannot in good faith formally make recommendations on the entirety of the submission due to incomplete information and lack of timely submission of information for our review,” Oliver said in a statement. “This waiver is critically important to our kids and the flexibility of our schools, and the clock is running out.”
State Senator Earline Rogers (D-Gary) said enough is enough with the disagreements.
“The State of Indiana, parents, and teachers are all looking for us to work together. For us to be faced with a situation in which we have to take sides, I think is unforgivable and there’s certainly no place for it,” Rogers said.
Also at Monday’s meetings, the Education Roundtable – co-chaired by Ritz and Governor Mike Pence – voted to recommend a one-time update to the ISTEP+ test for Spring 2015 testing. Current ISTEP+ contractor CTB/McGraw-Hill’s test will be used so that the state can maintain its No Child Left Behind waiver.
At the same time, the state could seek a second contractor to design an entirely new test for the 2015-2016 school year when 9th and 10th graders will join 3rd through 8th graders in testing.
The recommendations will be considered by the SBOE at a future meeting.
“We have taken an important step forward by adopting rigorous new standards, and we are continuing this journey by developing new, more rigorous state tests,” Pence said in a statement afterwards. “On behalf of Hoosier students, we must work together to oversee a smooth transition that will ultimately contribute to the economic vitality and well-being of our state.”