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Return of old school standards urged

Proposed overhaul called ‘step backwards’

– A State Board of Education member formally requested Friday that an education panel abandon a proposed overhaul of Indiana’s education standards and instead recommend that the state’s previous benchmarks be reinstated in classrooms this fall.

Board member Andrea Neal said state education leaders working to replace the contentious Common Core standards are considering an inadequate replacement. She instead wants to restore the benchmarks used before Indiana adopted the national standards in 2010.

The Education Roundtable, which includes many business and education leaders, is expected to vote Monday on the proposed new standards. A law signed by Republican Gov. Mike Pence in March gives the State Board of Education until July to approve new guidelines, but a final vote is scheduled for April 28.

Legislation passed last spring started the process of evaluating new standards.

Neal has been pushing for months to reinstate the previous Indiana benchmarks and admitted there’s been little support from other board members, but she said flaws in the current proposal are too substantial for it to be salvaged.

“If we approve these standards we will take a needless step backwards at a time when our children deserve better,” Neal wrote in an email to one Roundtable member. “We cannot say we want to build student preparedness for college and careers – especially in the increasingly valuable STEM fields – and then enact standards with mathematical errors and other glaring deficiencies.”

But board member Brad Oliver said although Indiana’s former standards were rated well, too many students needed remediation in college despite passing state tests. He also said Neal’s emails disregard the approval process meant to properly vet new benchmarks.

“I do not think at this stage in the process it’s appropriate for a board member to lobby the Education Roundtable one way or another,” Oliver said. “I respect work of the Roundtable. I respect them enough to wait and listen to what they have to say on Monday.”

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