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State schools superintendent lauds newly adopted education standards

State Superintendent Public InstructiGlendRitz speaks Wednesday an East Chicago community PTA meeting. The Rev. Cheryl RiverNorthwest FederatiInterfaith Organizations is left.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz speaks Wednesday at an East Chicago community PTA meeting. The Rev. Cheryl Rivera of the Northwest Federation of Interfaith Organizations is at left. | Carole Carlson/Sun-Times Media

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Updated: June 9, 2014 6:03AM



EAST CHICAGO — Indiana schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz delivered an endorsement for the state’s newly minted curriculum standards on Wednesday night, saying it’s the first time the state has received input from colleges and career experts.

Ritz, who was elected superintendent in November 2012, spoke to educators and parents at an East Chicago Hope and Opportunity Community PTA meeting at East Chicago Central High School.

Next year will be the final year for the ISTEP Plus test, and it will be followed by a new assessment system that “follows the student,” Ritz said.

“Assessments, unfortunately, drive everything we do. ... I got into this (job) because we test too much and don’t teach enough,” she said. “Teachers know and can tell you who won’t pass, and we spend millions on it. What we need to know is where children are (academically).”

Ritz said the new assessment test won’t be multiple choice. Children will have to show how they solved problems and read passages and explain them.

Critics say Indiana’s new standards sound a lot like the national Common Core standards, which Indiana ditched in favor of its own education standards. Indiana is the first state to withdraw from Common Core.

On Tuesday, Ritz is scheduled to explain to the State Board of Education why the U.S. Department of Education has raised questions over the problems connected with a federal waiver that freed Indiana from the rules contained in the federal No Child Left Behind law. Under the waiver, Indiana pledged to follow Common Core standards in implementing its academic assessment system.

A federal monitor has raised issues including the handling of teacher and principal evaluations, the monitoring of college-and-career ready standards and technical assistance for local school districts. The Education Department contends that Indiana failed to keep promises it made in its initial waiver application.

Ritz also defended the teacher evaluation results announced last month that ranked only 2 percent of Indiana teachers as “needing improvement.” The evaluation system places teachers in four categories — highly effective, effective, needs improvement and ineffective.

Ritz said high-performing schools had 32 percent of the highly effective teachers and failing schools had about 11 percent.



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