Pharos-Tribune

State News

October 30, 2013

Schools head plans to go ahead with lawsuit

Ritz hopes to push early learning, lower mandatory age.

(Continued)

During her address to the Downtown Terre Haute Rotary Club, she focused on several themes: the importance of literacy and early learning; the need for more flexibility in Core 40 and a balanced curriculum; and her belief that students spend too much time undergoing unnecessary assessments.

Teachers today "are teaching to the test most of the time," she said. Commenting on ISTEP, she said, "Any fifth-grade teacher that knows their curriculum and knows their students could tell you before we ever spend $25 million on ISTEP which kids are not going to pass. We know that already."

Assessments are necessary to see where kids are performing and where they need to improve — but there's too much of it, she said.

Also, she hopes there will be a push for more early learning in Indiana, including lowering the age for mandatory school attendance. In Indiana, it is age 7, "way far behind other states," she said.

When children enter first grade and they¹ve not attended kindergarten or a quality pre-school and have not had home support, "They are two years behind when they enter our doors," she said. "We spend all of our time trying to catch them up."

She also talked about the importance of reading — and more of it.

"Literacy in my personal opinion is the most important thing we can be doing," she said. It¹s not just about teaching kids to read, "It's about making sure kids are always reading. It can't stop."

Nowadays, young people don't do enough reading outside of school, she said. "They have to. It can't all happen within the time we have them in our classroom," she said.

It has to be ingrained in them and they need to be able to make choices about what they read so they will want to, she said.

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