April 10, 2017

Indiana Ed Department Seeking Input On Federal Accountability Plan

Article origination IPBS-RJC
Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick, center, listens as educators discuss ways to help failing schools during a ESSA Community Meeting on Tuesday April 4, 2017 at the Indianapolis Urban League. State Board of Education member B.J. Watts, and Wayne Township Schools Superintendent Jeff Butts also listen. - Eric Weddle/WFYI

Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick, center, listens as educators discuss ways to help failing schools during a ESSA Community Meeting on Tuesday April 4, 2017 at the Indianapolis Urban League. State Board of Education member B.J. Watts, and Wayne Township Schools Superintendent Jeff Butts also listen.

Eric Weddle/WFYI

The federal Every Student Succeeds Act mandates how states’ hold their schools accountable.

This fall the Indiana Department of Education will submit its plan as required by the law for how to will improve graduation rates, increase English-language proficiency and offer help to the lowest-performing schools – among many other issues.

“ESSA is our moment to get some creative things done in Indiana,” says Schools Superintendent Jennifer McCormick. “Accountability is not going away but great flexibility to get some things done for our students.”

ESSA was signed into law in December 2015. It replaces the No Child Left Behind Act.

Part of the drafting includes, a series of meetings around the state to gather feedback from educators and community members. Participants are being asked to answer a few questions, including: how the state can better communicate the success and struggles off schools, provide support to all students, and identify schools in need.

The conversations are being filmed for later use by the education department to write their draft plan.

A few dozen people gathered at a meeting in Indianapolis for one meeting. Their concerns ranged from how to identify schools in need, addressing mental health needs of students and how the department can successfully help urban, rural and suburban schools facing different problems.

Wayne Township Superintendent Jeff Butts says school leaders needs assurances that if they seek help, the information would not be used punitively against them.

“Right now that conversation is not safe. We have built barriers and hunkered down,” he says. “That does not lend us to all the amazing things happening at schools across Indiana.”

A draft version of the plan is due June 30. The State Board of Education will review the first version of the plan July 12. After the boards approval, the plan will be submitted to Gov. Eric Holcomb on Aug. 15.

The plan is due to the federal Department of Education on Sept. 18

Meetings to gather public comment for the draft continue through April. All meetings are from 6:30-8 p.m.

April 11: Goshen College, Newcomer Center, Church-Chapel Building, South Entrance, 1700 South Main St., Goshen

April 12: Morrisson-Reeves Library, 80 North 6th St., Richmond

April 19: Tippecanoe County Public Library, 627 South St., Lafayette

April 20: Fort Wayne Urban League, 2135 Hanna St., Fort Wayne

April 24: Virtual Meeting via WebEx, details TBA

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