Education Roundtable to consider draft K-12 academic standards


schoolStaff report

INDIANAPOLIS – State education officials have released draft academic standards for grades K-12 that combine elements of Common Core, previous Indiana guidelines and recommendations from outside organizations.

The proposed standards – available online at – will be considered by the state’s Education Roundtable next week and then the State Board of Education on April 28.

State law requires the board to approve new standards before July 1 for use during the 2014-15 school year. That gives board members virtually no time for changes.

“This was a process led by our Hoosier experts and educators to develop standards for Indiana that were informed by the voices of Hoosier educators from around the state, as well as national evaluators, but ultimately it was up to the Indiana experts on our College and Career Ready panel to recommend the proposed academic standards for our schools and our students,” said Claire Fiddian-Green, co-director for the Center for Education and Career Innovation.

If approved, the guidelines will replace the controversial Common Core standards the State Board of Education adopted in 2010 and had been phasing in. Common Core is a set of standards originally written by officials from several states but adopted by the administration of President Barack Obama.

The General Assembly paused the Common Core implementation last year – in part out of concern about letting experts outside Indiana dictate the state’s educational guidelines – and ordered the board to reconsider. Then this year, lawmakers voted to ban Common Core.

“As the first state to withdraw from Common Core, Indiana had a unique responsibility to create new, high standards in an open and serious process that would serve our children and strengthen our schools,” Pence said in a statement. “Because of the hard work of our educators and parents, Indiana is leading the way on state academic standards that will challenge our students, guide our teachers, and give parents the confidence that our Indiana standards reflect the high expectations Hoosiers have for all our schools.”

Since then, panels of K-12 teachers, higher education faculty and subject matter experts have been crafting the new standards. The goal was to create what education officials call “college and career ready” standards, which are necessary for Indiana to continue to receive federal funding under the No Child Left Behind Law.

“We want Indiana to have the absolute best academic standards – standards that properly position students for college and career. We are cautiously optimistic that the standards ultimately decided on by the state board will meet the mark,” said Kevin Brinegar, president of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.

Education officials say the groups borrowed from Common Core as well as Indiana’s previous standards, recommendations from education groups and guidelines from other states. The panels used a blind evaluation process for narrowing and choosing the standards.

“To ensure this process was focused on our students, we relied on more than 2,000 Hoosiers—teachers, administrators and parents—who joined us for evaluation sessions and shared their input online. Every Hoosier also should be grateful to the more than 100 teachers from across the state who participated in the drafting process,” Pence said. “They, along with experts in higher education and business, spent more than 6,000 hours to develop standards that will be both unique to Indiana and will prepare our students for success in college and the workplace.”

“We’ve really just been focused on what are the learning outcomes and objectives that each student needs to know by content area by grade level, so that when they graduate high school they are actually prepared for the next step in their life, whether that’s college or a career,” Fiddian-Green said.

The standards guide the K-12 curriculum. They are considered “learning outcomes” and specify “what students should know by content area and by grade level,” education officials said.

“The body of knowledge that are in the standards, I don’t feel like they are great shifts. There are changes in some of the rigor and in some of the specific skills at a great level, but in my opinion this is the work that teachers are really good at doing and so this will not cause a huge transition,” said Danielle Shockey, Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction at the DOE.

Education officials hope the instructors’ reaction to the new set of regulations will be positive.

“We have worked really hard basically to clarify where standards were unclear, to make sure that everything was aligned very well across grade levels so that if you go from kindergarten to first grade and beyond, the teachers that get the incoming class of students say, ‘Yes, this child is prepared for what I’m teaching in my grade level,’” Fiddian-Green said.

Once new standards are approved, state Superintendent Glenda Ritz will lead an effort to develop new tests that measure achievement against the standards. Those tests will replace the current ISTEP exams.

The process for creating the standards began last fall and eventually involved more than 150 educators, higher education experts and business leaders. The state received more than 2,000 public comments, conducted three public hearings, and received feedback from 10 national evaluators.

Also, the newly established College and Career Ready Panel brought together subject matter experts from the higher education community as well as business and industry representatives to review the proposed drafts.

“A big part of this process that has never happened in the past is having the College and Career Panel look at this from an after-twelve perspective. Meaning looking backwards from twelfth to first grade to say, ‘If our students graduate with this skill set, are they going to enter into the workforce or to a college classroom prepared?’’’ Shockey said.