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Input from Hoosier educators needed on state’s education plan

The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) is submitting an amendment to the state’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan, including several significant changes affecting academic indicators and accountability. Public comment is open until Dec. 21.

The IDOE’s draft plan and summary of the changes can be found on the department’s website. Comments are being collected through IDOE’s online portal.

Submit your comments

We’ve highlighted important aspects of the amended draft below, but we encourage you to voice your individual concerns and offer input.

Some improvements from the ESSA plan changes would include:

  • Eliminating the two accountability systems (state and federal), resulting in two different accountability grades for schools.
  • Replacing federal A – F grades with a less punitive set of categories, such as: 1) Exceeds expectations; 2) Meets expectations; 3) Approaches expectations; and 4) Does not meet expectations.
  • Aligning more closely with the new Indiana diplomas that resulted from legislation last year.
  • Using multiple indicators and not just academic achievement.
  • Calculating academic growth indicators based on model accounting for peer comparisons that are fair and use a valid scale score system.
  • Measuring graduation rates, achievement gaps and English-language learner proficiency indicators long-term across the state to avoid penalizing certain subgroups or student cohorts.

However, there are also some shortfalls of the amended plan, which include:

  • The plan still heavily focuses on STEM and tested subjects such as English language arts and math.
  • Student academic achievement/proficiency is still heavily weighted, making it equal to growth.
  • The Indiana State Board of Education is currently considering changes to the state accountability system, which means that if changes are made in the next year then there could be implications for federal accountability.
  • While the ESSA plan is solely for federal accountability and not directly related to state accountability, it is disappointing that state A – F grades will continue without legislative changes, test scores remain linked to teacher evaluations and the state assessment relies on a standardized test.
  • Some of the goals and requirements related to increasing STEM teacher training and STEM-industry and business partnerships continue to shift from student preparation from education to workforce. Employer-driven outlets continue to shift focus away from classroom teachers.