clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Indiana's proposed new standards enter critical phase

Notes from a committee during work to create new Indiana math standards in last year.
Notes from a committee during work to create new Indiana math standards in last year.
Scott Elliott

The final draft of Indiana’s academic standards were released last week and already the question is: do the new standards have any allies?

Dismayed by the similarity between the new standards and Common Core, groups that successfully persuaded lawmakers to void Common Core are planning a statehouse protest today.

But Common Core proponents are also railing against Indiana’s standards.

“In short, Indiana has inexplicably gutted the Common Core of its strongest elements, renamed what remains, and moved forward swiftly with a campaign to secure adoption of this pale, skills-heavy, content-light, text-neutral document,” Kathleen Porter-Magee wrote last week on behalf of the pro-Common Core Thomas B. Fordham Institute in a review of the new English standards. “It may be too late for this generation of Indiana schoolchildren.”

Even without allies in either camp, the new standards could still make it through a gauntlet over the next eight days that is expected to include votes by two government bodies. If both approve, the much-maligned standards will become the academic guidelines for Indiana educators beginning this summer despite all the backlash.

The first step is today’s Education Roundtable meeting.

The Roundtable, created by the legislature in 1999 to ensure the state has high academic standards and an effective testing system, makes recommendations the governor, state superintendent, Indiana General Assembly and Indiana State Board of Education. Co-chaired by Gov. Mike Pence and state Superintendent Glenda Ritz, it includes 32 members representing K-12 schools, colleges, business, labor, parents, the community and the legislature.

The large group, including many members who have not weighed in on the standards debate, and perhaps have not made up their minds, adds a bit of uncertainty today’s meeting.

For example, late last week WTLC radio host Amos Brown, a roundtable member, tweeted that he was struggling to quickly evaluate the wide-ranging, and at times difficult to decipher, standards with less than a week before he would be asked to vote on them.

His final tweet was:

If the standards make it through the roundtable, they’ll face a new challenge at their next stop, the April 28 state board meeting. Just over a year ago, the state board unanimously reaffirmed its support for Common Core. But five of the 11 board members have changed since then.

Among the new members is Andrea Neal, a private school teacher and former Indianapolis Star editorial writer, who opposes Common Core and has been deeply critical of the new standards. Neal has been in close contact with three college professors asked by the state to review the new standards and has trumpeted their criticisms.

But other new board members have expressed support for the standards creation process, including Cari Whicker, a Huntington middle school teacher and Brad Oliver, associate dean of Indiana Wesleyan University’s educational leadership school.

Board members also complained earlier this month when they discovered they couldn’t make changes to the standards on April 28 without knocking the process entirely off schedule. If the state board makes changes after the standards are approved by the roundtable, the changes would have to again go before the roundtable so both bodies would approve them.

But there is little room for error. State law requires new standards to be set by the state board no later than July 1.

The COVID-19 outbreak is changing our daily reality

Chalkbeat is a nonprofit newsroom dedicated to providing the information families and educators need, but this kind of work isn't possible without your help.

Connect with your community

Find upcoming Indiana events