The Washington Times-Herald

December 6, 2013

Ritz talks education changes

By Lindsay Owens Times Herald
The Washington Times-Herald

---- — Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz stopped by Washington High School Thursday afternoon and discussed changes she hopes will be implemented to change the face of education in the state. Dr. Dan Roach, superintendent of Washington Schools, as well as other administrators from the corporation were on hand to meet with Ritz.

Ritz, who spent the morning in Boonville, said that what is being taught in Indiana is being reviewed. “It’s not about Common Core or not Common Core,” said Ritz. “In reality, we are re-evaluating what we are teaching.”

The way students are assessed will also be addressed. Ritz said while the new assessments would not be in place until the 2015-1016 school year, she does not want another pass or fail test implemented. “I don’t want to go near another pass/fail test,” she said. “We want to take the growth model approach and evaluate each student on their own growth.”

The plan is for a test to be given that would show eight “bands” of growth. “This way kids can see where they are passing lines and where they need to improve,” Ritz said.

Students will also have a slope line that will show where their individual growth should be and what was actually achieved. The data provided by this new concept will also help evaluate teachers.

“You’ll be able to look at all the students on one piece of paper and see how much a student in that particular teacher’s class grew,” she said.

Ritz also hopes to end the End of Course Assessment or ECA that are taken by high school students after completing English 10, Algebra I and Biology. In place of the ECA would be a math exam on a broad scale for all math concepts not just algebra.

The math exam would be administered to students in first through 10th grades. The ECA for English would also be eliminated and be replaced with an alternate exam that would also test the overall knowledge of the student. Science is not in the model for the 2015-2016 school year.

“Right now, we are trying to get growth data from an eighth grade ISTEP score and compare it to an ECA score,” she said. “It’s ridiculous.”

Comparing the ISTEP scores to those of the ECAs would be like comparing apples to oranges since ECAs test only on one topic such as algebra or biology whereas ISTEP focuses on multiple concepts for each subject.

While Ritz was unable to provide an exact date of when educators would learn for sure about the proposed changes, she was optimistic that the changes will be made. “It’s not ‘here’s what I’m going to do and here it is’,” said Ritz. “I have to have things signed off on.”

Ritz did not speak with the media following her visit. On Wednesday, she released a document revealing Gov. Mike Pence’s newly-created Center for Education and Career Innovation have planned to remove her as chair of the state Board of Education.