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Pence Pens Letter To U.S. Education Secretary On NCLB Waiver Status

Posted On June 16, 2014

By Mike Perleberg

Indiana Governor Mike Pence

Indiana Governor Mike Pence

(Indianapolis, Ind.) – Indiana Governor Mike Pence says if he has his way, there won’t be a one-year freeze on accountability testing for the state’s teachers and schools.

Indiana must devise and implement a new standardized test for K-12 students if it wants to maintain a waiver from the No Child Left Behind Law by the U.S. Department of Education. The waiver allows Indiana to decide how about $200 million in annual federal funds are used.

The USDOE wants the state to implement a new ISTEP+ standardized test for the 2015-2016 school year. Indiana had planned on doing so, but not until a year later.

Pence spoke with and sent a two-page letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on June 12 saying he will not freeze the accountability measures next school year.

“As I indicated in our call, my administration is fully committed to retaining this waiver and the state and local flexibility it affords to our students, teachers and schools,” Pence said in a statement Friday.

Democrat State Superintendent Glenda Ritz has asked the State Board of Education to suspend the school rating system and use of test scores in teacher evaluations for a year. Ritz and the state board are currently preparing a response to the USDOE that must be submitted by June 30.

The view of Pence, who has often differed on key education issues with Ritz, is to remain committed to maintain student assessment and teacher and school accountability without interruption.

“Testing gives us an accurate picture of how our students are doing and what help they need in the classroom. Indiana will not go backwards when it comes to measuring performance in our schools on my watch,” the governor said.

Pence signed a new law earlier this year removing Indiana’s adoption of national Common Core education standards in favor of the state crafting its own standards for K-12 curriculum. Since approving the state standards in April, Pence said, the Indiana DOE has been working to align the ISTEP+ test with the new standards.

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