Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Update on Major Education Stories

July 30, 2013

Your ISTA wants to keep you updated on two major stories related to Indiana public education:


Emails obtained by the Associated Press were released showing directly and clearly that former Indiana schools chief Dr. Tony Bennett and his staff worked last year to change the letter grade of an Indianapolis charter school supported by a prominent donor to Bennett's political campaign and to others in his political party.

ISTA has made it clear that there is absolutely no excuse for the actions taken by Bennett and his staff. The emails in question show that the Christel House Academy charter school's letter grade was knowingly manipulated and retrofitted by the very people who have created and championed Indiana's new accountability systems for schools and educators - unfortunately, many of those officials continue to serve in important policy-making positions in state government.

"The revelation of these emails has created zero confidence among public school educators. This manipulation of data is wrong and needs to be addressed by state leaders to ensure that a system is put in place that is fair to all and above reproach," said ISTA President Teresa Meredith.

Bennett and his staff have created yet another situation for Superintendent Ritz and her staff to "clean up" - efforts that will take a great deal of taxpayer resources as well as time taken away from helping children.

ISTA will continue to monitor this story, assist Superintendent Ritz in any way we can and outreach to legislators from both parties to create and implement policies that will ensure that these kinds of abuses will not occur again.

LINK TO STORY: http://www.indystar.com/viewart/20130729/NEWS05/307290048/Report-Grade-changed-Republican-donor-Christel-DeHaan-s-charter-school


In response to the widespread problems associated with CTB McGraw Hill's administration of the spring ISTEP+, Glenda Ritz, Superintendent of Public Instruction, hired Dr. Richard Hill of the National Center for the Improvement of Education Assessment to review the results. He released that report yesterday.

The report showed that because of the efforts of teachers, administrators, students and parents, as well as the swift and decisive actions taken by Ritz, the average negative statewide impact on scores was not measurable. However, this does not mitigate the effect the interruptions had on students, parents and teachers throughout Indiana.

At this time, the exact impact of interruptions at the individual, classroom and teacher level cannot be ascertained.

"I want to acknowledge the extraordinary efforts of Indiana students, parents, teachers, administrators and the employees of the Department of Education," said Superintendent Ritz. Because of their dedication and hard work, the impact of these interruptions was limited. However, let me be clear, the problems with the ISTEP+ contractor were absolutely unacceptable," Ritz said. "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."

ISTA applauds the actions taken by Ritz and her staff to deal with this situation as quickly and effectively as possible.

Educators continue to be concerned. Despite the fact that the report concluded there was no impact on scores, the impact on students, educators and families has been far reaching. Test interruptions caused stress for students who had to stop and start throughout the test before completion or restart the entire test.
ISTA will also monitor Indiana's high-stakes testing because these interruptions diminish confidence in our state's expensive system and raise concerns as we look ahead.

LINK TO STORY: http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2013307290014
LINK TO FULL REPORT: http://www.doe.in.gov/sites/default/files/news/hill-report.pdf