Attorney General Rules on A-F Grades for 2015

In July, we discussed Superintendent Glenda Ritz and the Department of Education’s (DOE) position on suspending A-F grades for 2014-2015, or potentially utilizing a “hold harmless” proposal that would assign the better A-F grade between the 2013-2014 year and the 2014-2015 year due to the potential for lower scores as a result of the newly enacted educational standards. State Board of Education members, however, had significant concerns over Ritz’s proposal and made a recommendation that Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s office review the potential options and give a legal opinion as to which option, if any, would be best for Indiana.

In early September, Zoeller’s office released an informal opinion that advised that the “hold harmless” option would not be supported by current statute and rules. In order for that provision to be legally sound, the General Assembly would have to change the law themselves.

As you may recall, this is not Ritz’s first time trying to pause accountability for students and schools. The Indianapolis Star recently quoted her stating, “Tests never teach you anything.” The Indiana Chamber wholeheartedly disagrees with her statement and finds that testing and accountability are critical for students and schools. Testing is imperative to understanding what a student knows and issues with which they may still struggle. Having strong, accurate and transparent accountability measures means that we can accurately predict Hoosier student progress, assist teachers in where students are struggling, as well as compare and contrast how schools are performing to their peers around the state.

A Recap of the Sept. 16 State Board of Education Meeting

The State Board of Education met September 16 with an extremely full agenda. Highlights include the announcement that despite ISTEP grading delays, school A-F scores will be released publicly in January. Despite pushback from the DOE, the State Board and legislators expressed concerns that the results need to come out as soon as possible. Indiana House Ways and Means Chairman Tim Brown (R-Crawfordsville) sent a letter stating that if grades were not released before January 31 – the deadline for when districts must give performance bonuses for teachers – that the bonus money could be reverted back to DOE and not to the teachers. This prompted the State Board to pass a resolution to have the grades released in January by a vote of 9-0, with Superintendent Ritz abstaining.

The State Board also discussed the new high school diploma proposals. Many parents and educators spoke publicly at the meeting to express their concerns that the current proposal for three diplomas would make graduating students with special needs much more difficult. The reasoning was that increasing math and science for the Workforce Ready diploma option would make it that much harder for these students to graduate. Parents and educators requested that the General Diploma option be kept in the proposal. As a reminder, the Commission for Higher Education has already approved the proposal and must also be voted on by the Indiana General Assembly in 2016.

Allied Tube and Conduit: Maximizing Its Chamber Membership Through Participation

alliedAt Allied Tube and Conduit, safety must come first.

Randy Pratt, a member of security and traffic control staff, checks drivers in and out, makes employees aware of safety rules and keeps an eye on operations such as tubing fabrication and laser machine usage. In a manufacturing environment, Pratt understands the importance of keeping his team safe.

Pratt is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business. Attending the Chamber’s 2015 Safety and Health Conference & Expo provided further training while exposing him to the opportunity to learn more about business.

“The safety conference was very engaging.” Pratt says. “I was grateful for the many leaders who taught and for the many ideas and learning experiences that I had.”

Pratt has been a part of his company for seven and a half years, with two years in his current position. Since attending the conference with the Chamber, Pratt has tried to implement a “safety culture” in his workplace where employees will be held accountable for being safe.

“After having the understanding of ‘watching everybody’s back’ when it comes to safety, I have tried to encourage my newly-learned word of safety ‘culture’ and encourage it to others,” Pratt described shortly after the spring event. “I recently brought it up in the safety committee asking for any ideas about how to make it more concrete among all.”

One tool he has used from the conference is “gamifying” safety, which makes the concept more inviting by presenting safety rules like a game. Pratt also enjoyed the legal briefings he received.

“This (conference) has been very informative and it actually gets you thinking on things that are not only pertinent to safety, but the legal ramifications,” he explains. “I was totally unaware of the necessity of legal issues for OSHA.”

Allied Tube and Conduit in Kokomo is part of Atkore International, which allows its employees to pursue continuing education. After his experience attending the safety conference, Pratt says, “I kind of hope they pick me again.”

Indiana INTERNnet’s IMPACT Awards Celebrates 10th Anniversary

impactThe tenth time’s a charm!

Indiana INTERNnet, the statewide organization focusing on talent retention through increased work-and-learn experiences, began the tradition of celebrating internship excellence nearly a decade ago by launching the annual IMPACT Awards program. (This year’s event will be on February 3, and you can register online.)

Three winners were honored the first year: Intern of the Year Julie Ann Lesniak, Career Development Professional of the Year Libby Davis of the University of Indianapolis, and Employer of the Year Tucker Publishing Group in Evansville.

Today, the IMPACT Awards is an annual luncheon honoring Interns of the Year in the high school, college and non-traditional categories, Employers of the Year in the for-profit and not-for-profit categories and a Career Development Professional of the Year. Indiana INTERNnet will honor its tenth group of award nominees and winners in 2016. Co-founder and CMO Angie Hicks of Angie’s List will be the keynote speaker.

All honorees come from nominations submitted by the public, and winners are chosen by a panel of impartial judges. Use the online form to submit your nomination(s) in any or all of the categories by October 23.

That first group of honorees set the standard for years of inspiring stories of accomplishment by interns and on behalf of interns. Here is a sampling of some of the great work of Hoosier colleges/universities, interns and employers:

From 2012: In more than 20 years at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, Susan Gresham has proven to be a “high-energy, positive-thinking, driven and motivated leader.” As director of the Career Development Center (CDC), she leads a staff that thrives on student success. Among the initiatives led by Gresham:

  • A learning contract completed by both the student and intern employer
  • Site visits to every internship location within the state with site supervisors, through an evaluation, assigning a letter grade that accounts for 40% of the intern’s grade
  • Actively recruiting employers to campus for class presentations, panel discussions and special events
  • Establishment of an orientation program, providing interns with a name badge, business cards and leather portfolio to ease their transition into the business world

From 2013: One measuring stick of internship success is whether or not the opportunity leads to permanent employment. After serving as the 2012 governor’s public service summer intern, Casey Spivey began working as a full-time benefits specialist at the Indiana State Personnel Department (SPD). Today, she is the facility human resources director.

Spivey made an impact by assisting in the development of sourcing and recruitment plans for “hard-to-fill” positions. One organization she aided was the Hoosier Youth Challenge Academy (HYCA). She equipped the academy with a career fair plan – including advertising contacts, a detailed timeline, session speakers, newspaper ads and flyers.

“Casey basically went through a 12-week job interview with our organization with outstanding results,” states Nicole Russell, division director of talent acquisition for the Indiana SPD. “To go from student to governor’s intern to state employee is a feat to be acknowledged.”

From 2015: “2014 has been a year of excellence for our internship program,” says Valerie Wilson, chief of staff, Baldwin & Lyons (B+L). And it’s easy to see why.

  • 96% of interns reported their job responsibilities were challenging but attainable
  • 63% of interns with at least junior standing were converted to either full-time or part-time employment or another internship
  • 100% of interns expressed interest in working for B+L upon graduation

The employer-intern connection doesn’t end with the internship at B+L. This fall, employees assembled care packages with encouraging notes to send their former interns during final exams. Staff also makes an effort to visit when they are on college campuses for career fairs.

View the list of past winners online.

Chamber Participates in Free Community College Discussions in D.C. and Tennessee

The Indiana Chamber was recently asked to attend a meeting with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in Washington, D.C. to discuss the Obama administration’s plan for free community college, modeled after Tennessee Promise. Secretary Duncan reached out to seven states and Indiana was the first to participate in this forum.

Thirty leaders from Indiana – from the business community, higher education and community foundations – came to the White House to discuss the plan as well as the environment for such a plan being brought to Indiana. At this point in time, the Indiana Chamber has no position on the President’s proposal, but we would like to ensure that students have some sort of “skin in the game” and have significant questions on how this program would be funded.

The Chamber was then invited to a follow-up meeting in Chattanooga, Tennessee this past week to learn more about Tennessee’s successful program – Tennessee Promise – which provides two free years of community college to all Tennessee high school graduates. This program involves a significant mentoring and service program with substantial buy-in from the employer community across the state. The group visited Chattanooga State Community College, the Volkswagen Training Academy, the Walker Institute, as well as met with faculty and administration representatives from Tennessee community colleges, legislators and agency heads to discuss higher education issues in their state.

Chamber Members: Be Sure to Join Our Monthly Policy Calls; It’s a Free Benefit

Why should you participate in one or more of the upcoming Policy Issue Conference Calls?

  • It’s easy: Simply register, then dial in from your desk or while away from the office and listen in
  • It’s free: The monthly, one-hour sessions are another benefit of your Indiana Chamber membership
  • Great guests: The lineup is set for the final four months of 2015

From 9 – 10 a.m. (Eastern time) on the following Fridays, the following topics will be tackled. There will be plenty to discuss but, as always, your questions and comments are encouraged. You can register today for any or all of the upcoming calls.

  • September 11: Higher education with chancellors Vicky Carwein (IPFW) and Nasser Paydar (IUPUI)
  • October 16: Economic development with Indiana Secretary of Commerce Victor Smith
  • November 13: Workforce development with Indiana Department of Workforce Development Commissioner Steve Braun
  • December 11: Entrepreneurship with John Wechsler, Launch Indiana, and an entrepreneur to be determined

Yoder: From Software to Students

yoder picMax Yoder and are rightfully getting a lot of attention (see our BizVoice magazine story). But the budding entrepreneurial star has a second organization he is leading.

Here’s his explanation of The First Fund and what it means:

“We have a ton of work to do with The First Fund, and it is very much an experiment. The experiment revolves around the fact that there are these awesome first-grade teachers out there who have direct relationships with their kids and also direct relationships with the parents. Often those parents don’t come from the financial wherewithal they would like.

“We work with those teachers to identify those kids and parents. We set up a 529 (education savings account) plan for their children and then help the parents add money to those accounts.”

Yoder outlines the principles of mentorship, financial planning and scholarship that are so critical. Then, in a matter of 30 seconds, the 27-year-old showcases both his sense of humor and his passion for others.

“I met a bunch of first-grade kids during a failed relationship to a first-grade teacher. Now I’m madly in love with a second-grade teacher; I’ve upgraded. It’s the kids — the hope on their faces.”

Yoder goes on to talk about the recent serious heart attack and challenging recovery of his friend John (who helped start The First Fund).

“The First Fund has never been more important to me, to make that work. John’s going to pull through, and we’re going to make sure that The First Fund is in the best shape it can be.”

Yoder concludes by describing the difference between his growing software training firm and his non-profit.

“ is this big, high-growth engine. Bigger is better in our world. In The First Fund world, I have to put on a very different hat. It’s not let’s see how fast we can give scholarships to as many kids as possible. It’s let’s see how we can maximize the scholars we already have — making sure we can really, really drive value for the people who are here.”

Good luck, Max. And kudos for the work you are doing.

Internships are Critical to the Education to Employment Transition

boston1This column by Janet Boston, executive director of Indiana INTERNnet, first appeared in Inside INdiana Business

“The No. 1 priority for Indiana must be a re-evaluation and reinvestment in our people, their knowledge and skills.”

This statement from the Indiana Chamber of Commerce’s June 2015 Indiana Vision 2025 Report Card, along with the data, reinforces the urgency of the state’s workforce development goals. According to the Report Card, while there have been gains over the past several years, there are specific areas of concern in terms of Indiana’s talent pipeline:

  • Postsecondary attainment continues to lag with national ranks of 45th in associate degrees and 42nd in bachelor degrees
  • Nearly 12% of Indiana’s population has less than a high school diploma
  • Only 3.36% of Hoosier workers are employed in STEM-related (science, technology, engineering and math) occupations, confirming the qualitative and anecdotal insights of business leaders who are suffering through a “skills gap”

State workforce development initiatives focusing on college completion, career pathways and skills development are critical. The Indiana Career Council, led by Governor Mike Pence and Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann, released its strategic plan in 2014 to guide state workforce development efforts. The goal is that at least 60% of Indiana’s workforce will have post-secondary skills and credentials by 2025.

Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education Teresa Lubbers presented a plan to achieve the goal at the E2E Convergence in June, hosted by Indiana University in partnership with TechPoint and with support from the Lilly Endowment. To reach 60%, Lubbers told the group of state leaders and stakeholders that the full ecosystem of partners will need to work together. It will take statewide organizations convening the right people to identify problems and solutions. It will take industry sectors defining career pathways and skills demands. It will take regional groups implementing strategies tailored to their specific needs. Finally, it will take local and school partnerships to get students on the track to college and career success.

Objective 4 of the Indiana Career Council’s strategic plan specifically calls for the elevation of the importance of work-and-learn models. State leadership has also set the goal of increasing the number of internships available to Hoosiers by 10,000.

Work-and-learn opportunities serve as significant stepping stones in career paths and allow students to supplement their classroom knowledge with real-world work experience. Indiana INTERNnet is the catalyst for expanding the creation and use of experiential learning as a key strategy in retaining Indiana’s top talent. We are helping the state achieve the goal of 10,000 internships by hosting a web site that matches interns with Indiana employers and offering resources and personal assistance to employers who are building or strengthening their internship programs.

Indiana INTERNnet also works with the Indiana Commission for Higher Education on the Employment Aid Readiness Network (EARN) Indiana program. Employers with an approved internship may receive state matching funds by hiring students, eligible to receive state financial aid, for resume-building, experiential, paid opportunities. Internships are part of the solution for increasing Indiana’s ranks in these important workforce strength indicators and developing the talent demanded by local employers.

A timely industry example: by 2018 Indiana’s growing economy will have demand for 123,000 STEM-related jobs. Yet questions linger as to whether the state can produce enough qualified workers to fill these positions. As a result, an urgent need exists to bridge the gap between higher education experiences and employment opportunities for Indiana to remain competitive in the global marketplace.

Again, internships are a part of the equation.

“What’s great about an internship in the technology industry specifically is a student can develop their skills immensely over just a 12-week period from theories learned in school to application of those in a real-world job setting,” indicates Brittney Baxter, manager of Global Student Programs with Interactive Intelligence. “We see interns who grow so much from hands-on experience. It’s truly invaluable.”

Career-based experience is valued across all industries. Not only are these experiences a necessary component of each individual’s career pathway, but a more skilled workforce is critical for the success of Indiana.

To register for our free service, visit, or call (317) 264-6862 to speak with our staff about your internship program. We are now accepting nominations for the IMPACT Awards in the categories of Intern of the Year, Employer of the Year and Career Development Professional of the Year. Share your internship success story online.

Indiana Logistics Summit to Kick Off Sept. 22

2015 LOGISTICS SUMMIT LOGO JPEGThe Indiana Logistics Summit is fast approaching, and will convene in the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis on Sept. 22 (and a VIP Colts tailgate reception will be held at Crane Bay on Sept. 21). Visit or call (866) 515-0023 to register or receive more information. (Registration is $175 per person, or call Liz Folkerts at (317) 232-9205 for information on group rates.)

There is something for everyone at the 2015 Indiana Logistics Summit as top executives from Google, GE Aviation, Indianapolis Colts, Fair Oaks Farms, NCAA, Harvard Business School, IndyCar and others will be featured speakers at the 13th annual event on Tuesday, Sept. 22, in the Indiana Convention Center. The Summit will bring 300 leaders to Indianapolis to hear educational presentations about logistics from a variety of industries and to celebrate the Indianapolis Colts’ home opener on Monday Night Football.

In conjunction with a “Logistics in Sports” segment, the evening reception for Summit attendees will be held on Monday, Sept. 21, at The Crane Bay as part of the Colts VIP Tailgate leading up to the Colts game versus the New York Jets. Tickets to the reception are complimentary with Summit registration, and include a Morton Steakhouse buffet, cocktail bars hosted by Jim Beam, visits from Colts cheerleaders and former players, the live broadcast site for the Colts’ pregame show, an NFL memorabilia auction and much more.

The Indiana Logistics Summit is co-hosted by Purdue University, the Ports of Indiana and Conexus Indiana to promote the logistics industry and showcase the critical role this sector plays in the national economy. Some topics to be featured at this year’s program include:

– The Role of Logistics in Attracting Indiana’s Mega Projects
– A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Logistics in Sports
– Closing the Skills Gap to Improve U.S. Competitiveness
– New Solutions for the National Transportation Infrastructure Crisis
– Emerging Technologies: Unmanned Systems, Smart Drones and What’s Next?

There will also be a special “Logistics U” program for high school students to learn about career and educational opportunities in logistics.

“This is a can’t-miss event for anyone interested in logistics, sports, drones or the future of our economy,” said Rich Cooper, CEO for the Ports of Indiana. “Logistics is something that Indiana knows very well. Our robust transportation infrastructure and central location create tremendous logistical advantages for businesses that move products by air, rail, truck and water. The Summit celebrates the importance of this industry and provides an important platform for informative discussions among businesses, leaders and transportation professionals. This year’s program will offer a diverse group of topics that will appeal to a broad audience.”

The Summit program opens with the Keynote Breakfast featuring a presentation titled “Grass to Glass Logistics” by Mike McCloskey, the CEO of Select Milk Producers and owner of Fair Oaks Farms, one of the nation’s largest dairies. The Northwest Indiana dairy recently announced a new partnership venture with Coca-Cola that is aimed at revolutionizing milk consumption across the country.

There will also be an inside look at the Indianapolis Colts’ ‘Midnight Move’ from Baltimore, the NCAA’s coordination of 90 national championships per year, and a preview of the ‘100th Running of the Indianapolis 500.’ Emerging technologies will be explored in a futuristic session focused on the development of drone delivery systems, the launch of the state’s first college major in unmanned vehicles and companies with real-world applications for drones in logistics. Top national experts will also share recommendations for how businesses, government and academia can help address two of the biggest challenges facing the logistics industry – aging transportation infrastructure and workforce development in closing the skills gap.