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Group OKs new academic standards

Versions for English, math to state board

– The Indiana Education Roundtable on Monday overwhelmingly approved new English and math academic standards, sending the final decision to the State Board of Education next week.

The roundtable is a mix of business and education officials from around the state. It has met infrequently in recent years but has the task of recommending new standards.

Only a few members opposed the new standards, including Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, who voted against both sets.

Kruse, the chairman of the Senate Education Committee, said he liked the process used to craft the new standards but declined to say anything else.

“It’s better for me to make no comment. Not today,” Kruse said.

The new standards process has involved Indiana experts and educators, with a goal of identifying the standards most closely aligned with the skills Hoosier students need for success in college and careers.

Those involved chose specific standards from versions used by the state in recent years or identified as high quality, including the recently abandoned Common Core.

Common Core is education standards crafted by the states that have become a political hot potato. Some residents believe the standards are being used to federalize education.

There was criticism after the second draft for Indiana was made public that many of the math and English standards were Common Core with slight tweaks. No state analysis on the final draft was released.

The process, handled by the Indiana Department of Education and the Center for Education and Career Innovation, involved hundreds of Indiana teachers, thousands of public comments and several national standards experts.

“I wanted an honest process with real integrity,” said Gov. Mike Pence, co-chair of the panel. “Standards written by Hoosiers, for Hoosiers and that are uncommonly high. I believe Indiana has accomplished this task.”

He and Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz tried to take the focus off Common Core, repeatedly referring to them as Indiana academic standards. They would not say how much of them are from the previous Common Core standards.

“I’ve always trusted the educators in Indiana to have the highest standards and they did the same thing this time,” Ritz said.

But a vocal group of Common Core opponents rallied beforehand and filled the room during the vote. They jeered, booed and laughed.

Heather Crossin, co-founder of Hoosiers Against Common Core, said lawmakers passed legislation ending Common Core, but it is getting ushered back in as new, rebranded standards.

“It is not what our children deserve,” she said.

If approved by the state board Monday, they go into effect July 1. Local school districts create their own curriculum and lesson plans using the standards.

The next step would be to craft an accountability test that aligns to the standards in the form of a new ISTEP test. It would be in place for the 2015-16 school year.

That new assessment is a concern for Fort Wayne Community Schools Superintendent Wendy Robinson. She is a member of the roundtable and voted for the standards.

“We use that one test to make lots of determinations of students, teachers, schools and districts,” she said. “I hope we don’t put ourselves in a box. Our children are not all going to stay in Indiana. Have we given our students the ability to think?”

nkelly@jg.net

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