Your View: More Choice in K-12 Schools

Education is once again among the dominant Indiana General Assembly topics. Our recent poll question asked your top priority among the following (all five options received between 11% and 30% of the vote):

  • Expand voucher opportunites (30%)
  • Increase overall funding (22%)
  • Leave Common Core standards alone (15%)
  • Preschool funding for students in need (22%)
  • Other (11%). Specifics focused on increasing accountability, restoring traditional public schools and ensuring high levels of learning for all students

A large number of K-12 education bills remain in play at the Statehouse, not to mention proposals on higher education and workforce development. It's promising to see the attention devoted to such important issues. We hope the end results match the intentions.

Check out the new poll question (top right) regarding potential enhancements at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Some Findings on Teacher Assessment

The latest newsletter from the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) includes an interesting piece on teacher assessment. It contends that while hostility is often lobbed at the concept of standards and testing, the greater issue is that teachers aren’t properly prepared for the assessment process.

Here is NCTQ’s study on teacher assessment. And a summary:

Our preview glimpse into what teacher candidates are learning about assessment quantifies (for the first time) the magnitude of a long suspected problem. Before going into the classroom, teacher candidates’ exposure to the task of assessing student learning, including how to interpret results and better plan instruction, is pretty thin–and that includes helping teachers do a better job designing their own pop quizzes, tests and exams.

Looking at 180 elementary and secondary undergraduate and graduate programs across the country, we found only six programs–that’s 3 percent–that appear to provide sufficient coverage of assessment–probably not a surprise to school superintendents or principals, nor apparently to the field of teacher education itself.

The only silver lining after examining syllabi for nearly 500 courses as well as "capstone" assignments required of student teachers was that at least some portion of institutions is exposing teachers to the language of assessment (21 percent). However, almost none of them is exposing candidates to the means of analyzing test results (2 percent) or, even more importantly, coming up with an instructional plan once they’ve done so (1 percent).

Next Up on Letters’ Agenda: Education

Tuesdays is Letters to Our Leaders day, and this week is no exception. You will have to come back tomorrow for this week’s release and the details, but when the topic is education you can be sure there will be plenty to say.

In fact, an early draft of this letter was critiqued by several for having everything in it but the proverbial kitchen sink. Not a good sign if all those contributing to the process came up with such a long list of improvements needed in our education input and outcomes.

There are positives to Indiana’s education efforts at all levels and many good people working for improvement. Like challenges in several other areas, it’s the system that is slowing the dramatic progress needed.

In the closest we’ll get to a sneak preview, look for these words and more — dropouts, parental options, cooperation, accountability, and teacher compensation and qualifications.

I’m confident education will be high on the next governor’s agenda. Tuesday’s letter from the Indiana Chamber board of directors will make an excellent starting point.