April 16, 2014

State Superintendent Glenda Ritz visits Peru, discusses new standards

IDOE releases finaldraft of academic standards; state board to take action April 28

By Lauren Fitch Correspondent

---- — PERU — State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz said Tuesday she is comfortable with the quick pace at which new academic standards are moving from concept to classroom.

The Indiana Department of Education released a final draft of new K-12 math and English language arts standards on Tuesday, the same day Ritz paid a visit to Peru Community School Corp. The State Board of Education plans to take action on the proposed standards at a meeting on April 28, with the goal of having schools implement the new standards for the 2014-15 school year.

“I feel comfortable in where we are right now and moving forward,” Ritz told the Peru Rotary Club. “We’re moving at a pretty fast pace, and I like that. I’m used to education policy and making sure we find ways to get things done.”

Gov. Mike Pence signed a bill on March 24 that ended Indiana’s implementation of the Common Core State Standards, which had been adopted in 2010. Panels of educators, higher education experts and industry representatives began last fall to review the Common Core standards, evaluate other sets of standards and combine the best components into a draft for Indiana’s new academic standards.

After gathering more than 2,000 public comments on the proposed standards through three public hearings held in February, the Indiana Education Roundtable will decide Monday whether to endorse the new standards before the State Board of Education votes on the draft.

Some skeptics worry the new standards are too similar to the Common Core, which drew concern about loss of local control and too much influence from the federal government. Ritz told the Peru Rotary Club that whatever the standards are called, quality is what matters.

“Common Core or no Common Core is about politics,” she said. “I’m about ‘what are the right standards at the right grade level so that our kids are college and career ready?’ That’s what the Indiana standards are.”

The IDOE gave an example of how the proposed academic standards differ from the Common Core. In math, the Common Core reflects algebra 1, parts of algebra II and geometry. By contrast, Indiana’s new academic standards would include math components for students who choose to take trigonometry, finite math, probability and statistics, pre-calculus and calculus.

Students will again take the ISTEP in 2015. Work is underway on a new assessment aligned with the new academic standards, with the goal to have an updated test approved for 2016.

Ritz said it’s time to move away from the pass/fail measure of the ISTEP and begin monitoring students’ individual progress.

“What we need to have is an assessment to show us where our kids are performing,” she said. “We have no way of the data following the child in Indiana. [Students] fall through the cracks when they go from place to place to place. We should pull up their information, know where their reading level is, know what their math is and get busy.”

The standards are posted online at Public comments, national evaluator reports and supportive fact sheets also can be found online.

Ritz also discussed literacy, early learning and career and technical education with members of the Rotary Club. She fielded questions about the state’s preschool pilot, teacher evaluations and how parents can be involved in school turnaround.

She then took a tour of Peru High School, starting with the Peru Community Schools Art Gallery. School administrators also showed Ritz the library, career development center and several classrooms.

“I wanted her to see how proud we are of our kids at Peru,” said Superintendent Chuck Brimbury. “Superintendent Ritz coming up to see first-hand what’s going on at Peru High School is a big boost to morale.”