INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
As the first state to drop the national Common Core learning standards,
Indiana is rushing to approve new state-crafted benchmarks in time for
teachers to use them this fall, and education leaders from across the nation
are closely watching.
Indiana Gov. Mike
Pence in March signed legislation requiring new standards to replace the
Common Core, even though the state was among 45 states that in recent years
adopted the national standards spelling out what students should be learning
in math and reading at each grade level.
have criticized the initiative as a top-down takeover of local schools, and
about 100 state bills were introduced this year to pause or repeal the
standards, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
“Since Indiana is
the very first state that has actually gone in this direction, I view this
situation as incredibly important to get it as right as they possibly can,”
said James Milgram, an emeritus professor of mathematics at Stanford
University and former Indiana resident who reviewed earlier versions of the
are scurrying to finish the guidelines by the end of June to meet a demand
from the Legislature, some have warned the stakes are too high to rush. The
approved standards will determine what Indiana public students will be
learning for the next six years.
Education Roundtable is scheduled to vote on the standards Monday before
sending them to the State Board of Education, which has final approval.
Monday’s meeting is the last chance to request changes to the proposed
standards before the state board meets April 28 to either approve or reject
If either the
roundtable or Board of Education rejects the standards, the process of
crafting the standards would start again. That could delay getting them to
teachers, who typically use their summers to prepare for the opening of the
school year in the fall.
And getting higher
institution leaders’ approval of those standards is vital for Indiana to
keep a waiver exempting the state from strict accountability measures in the
federal No Child Left Behind Act. The current draft already has the thumbs
The tight timeline
has frustrated some education officials, who note that the process already
has been delayed.
The public had four
weeks to digest the first draft and give input, which ultimately delayed the
final board meeting about three weeks as drafters sifted through nearly
2,000 online comments. Milgram said he took 10 days to do a complete review
of part of the math standards. Three weeks were devoted to finalizing the
Some experts and
board members say they’re still trying to assess what they’ll be voting on.
special assistant for education innovation and reform, Claire Fiddian-Green,
said the more than 6,000 hours spent revising the standards and including
expert advice mean the latest version is a “substantially different
document” compared with what one expert called “half-baked” standards that
were included in the last draft.
no analysis is planned to compare this version with the previous draft and
with Common Core.
Board member David
Freitas said he anticipates he’ll have enough time to review the standards
but said more questions could come up during the Education Roundtable and
final board meeting that could push things off course.
“There may be some
philosophical or conceptual disagreements on some particular components of
it,” Freitas said during a recent board meeting. “We have a responsibility
not to accept it carte blanche and just say, ‘People worked on it and
therefore we’re going to approve it.’”
Board member Andrea
Neal said she sent copies of the draft Tuesday night for a final expert
evaluation to guide any insight she might give the Education Roundtable.
“We’re doing way
too much, too rushed at the last minute,” Neal said. “I don’t think that’s
the appropriate (process) for developing world-class standards.”
The shift away from
Common Core has left many teachers confused and frustrated as they prepare
to work with their third set of standards since 2009, School City of Hammond
Superintendent Walter Watkins said. Though teachers will adjust, educators
say further delay would likely compound that frustration.
“Any delay past
that time really then puts the professionals in a compromised position,”
Indiana State Teachers Association Vice President Keith Gambill said. “At
some point in time, there has to be: This is it.”