Posts Tagged ‘Indiana’

Indiana: A Case Study in Taking Action

Since CTB/McGraw-Hill testing failed in April in both Oklahoma and Indiana, the responses have been very different. Oklahoma’s state superintendent vacillated blame between the testing company and the school districts it failed. Indiana unrelentingly blamed CTB. Oklahoma issued a penalty to the testing company that was really a sweetheart deal bringing them more revenue in the long run. Indiana continues to pursue a steep penalty that actually hurts CTB.

Oklahoma’s deal with CTB allows them to pay for their own study on the impact of the testing disruption. Indiana has already completed theirs. Indiana State Superintendent Glenda Ritz summarized the results:

“I have spent the last several months talking with Hoosiers about the impact these interruptions had in the classroom.  Although Dr. Hill’s report found that the statewide average score was not affected by the interruptions, there is no doubt that thousands of Hoosier students were affected.  As Dr. Hill stated in his report, ‘We cannot know definitively how students would have scored this spring if the interruptions had not happened.’ Because of this, I have given local schools the flexibility they need to minimize the effect these tests have on various matters, such as teacher evaluation and compensation.  I have also instructed CTB McGraw-Hill to conduct enhanced stress and load testing to ensure that their servers are fully prepared for next year’s test and ensure that this never happens again.”

Flexibility? Consideration of the students and teachers? That’s revolutionary talk. My guess is that the CTB report of the Oklahoma disruption will insist that the statewide impact lacks statistical significance, although the impact on individuals will be episodically concerning. With these findings, I expect the Oklahoma SDE to provide no such quarter to students or teachers.

Need an EOI to graduate? Sorry. You should have passed the other ones. Need that value added point in a couple of years (based on a baseline established in 2013) to ensure that you get to keep teaching? Sorry, the disruption wasn’t that big of a deal.

Going back a few months earlier, Indiana voters shocked Jeb Bush by defeating Tony Bennett, one of his Chiefs for Change cronies, in 2012. Do you think there’s a chance we’ll follow Indiana down that road?


(By the way, if you haven’t read about the latest Tony Bennett scandal, you need to. This is one of Barresi’s closest reformer friends.)

If you’d like read the entire 20 page report on Indiana’s testing disruption here.

For the Love of Reading

Indiana voters took their schools back from the Chiefs for Change group in November, ousting Tony Bennett and replacing him with an educator – Glenda Ritz. I mention this, not because of Oklahoma’s political landscape, but because we are very similar to Indiana in many ways. Both states have a couple of metropolitan areas and quite a bit of rural area and population. Until recently, both states were led by reformers with ties to Jeb Bush. And both states have had testing difficulties with CTB/McGraw-Hill over the last couple of weeks.

Now we have at least one more thing in common: summer reading initiatives.

Earlier this week, I highlighted Oklahoma’s summer reading program, which is being jointly promoted by Superintendent Barresi and Governor Fallin. Essentially, the state wants to encourage children to read at least five books this summer – provided that they are above the child’s Lexile level.

In contrast, here is how the Indiana press release describes their program:

Dear Parents and Community Supporters,

Welcome to our first-ever Hoosier Family of Readers summer reading opportunity! I strongly believe that a reader is not simply someone who can read; a reader is someone who does read. Therefore, I am very pleased to invite you, your children, and your community to join our statewide efforts to develop a culture of readers in Indiana. Hoosier Family of Readers establishes a unique, fun collaboration between our families, our schools, and many community partners. The goal for the initiative is for adults and children to identify their Hoosier Family of Readers and read each day throughout the summer. A reading family can be any combination of caring adults and children. IDOE is partnering with over 175 organizations including libraries, Boys & Girls Clubs, scout troops, schools, faith-based organizations, United Way and other non-profits state wide. Organizations are being empowered to include reading within their summer programs. Our USDA Summer Food Service Program sites will feature an “Eat & Read” opportunity in many locations.

We are encouraging all of our “reading families” to read anything that interests them –including graphic novels, non-fiction books, magazines, and newspapers – whether online or in print. We suggest that they:

  • Read with someone
  • Read to someone
  • Share with someone what he/she has read
  • Listen to someone read
  • Help others read
  • Read independently

We have some special partners who will be making appearances on our website, in posters and at media events throughout the summer. These include award-winning Young Adult novelist John Green, Indiana Fever player Briann January, and Clifford the Big Red Dog! We are also fortunate to partner with myON Books, a complete digital library with English and Spanish texts that is being made available to all participants. Follow our links to learn more, and let us know what you are reading this summer!
Glenda Ritz
Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction

The release even includes a link to a flyer that parents can print and on which children can fill in the names of people reading with them. That is but one of several key differences between the programs. Oklahoma’s program emphasizes the students’ Lexile scores – a measurement not commonly used by school districts. Indiana’s encourages students to read anything they can get their eyes on. And to read with people. And to hear people read.

Just read, read, read.

That’s how people become better readers: time spent reading. While we definitely want children challenging themselves, it is probably more important that they enjoy what they read – that they see themselves as readers. They need to see themselves as belonging to a community of readers. They need to discuss what they’ve read. They need to feel like it’s ok not to like something. And they need to be able to discuss that too.

One program promotes Lexiles. One promotes reading.

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