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Education officials release draft of academic standards

April 15, 2014

State education officials have released draft academic standards for grades K-12 that combine elements of Common Core, previous Indiana guidelines and recommendations from outside organizations.

The proposed standards, available online, will be considered by the state’s Education Roundtable next week and then the State Board of Education on April 28.

State law requires the board to approve new standards before July 1 for use during the 2014-15 school year. That gives board members virtually no time for changes.

State education officials were scheduled to comment publicly on the standards at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.

If approved, the guidelines will replace the controversial Common Core standards the State Board of Education adopted in 2010 and had been phasing in. Common Core is a set of standards originally written by officials from several states but adopted by the administration of President Barack Obama.

The General Assembly paused the Common Core implementation last year – in part out of concern about letting experts outside Indiana dictate the state’s educational guidelines – and ordered the board to reconsider. Then, this year, lawmakers voted to ban Common Core.

Since then, panels of K-12 teachers, higher education faculty and subject-matter experts have been crafting the new standards. The goal was to create what education officials call “college and career-ready” standards, which are necessary for Indiana to continue to receive federal funding under the No Child Left Behind Law.

Education officials say the groups borrowed from Common Core as well as Indiana’s previous standards, recommendations from education groups and guidelines from other states. The panels used a blind evaluation process for narrowing and choosing the standards.

That meant “selecting the most rigorous standard in each category, without an identification of the origin of any standard,” according to information released jointly by the Department of Education and the Center for Education and Career Innovation.

The standards guide the K-12 curriculum. They are considered “learning outcomes” and specify “what students should know by content area and by grade level,” education officials said.

“Standards are not curriculum, lesson plans or textbooks,” according to a Q&A distributed with the standards. “Curriculum is what teachers use to apply standards in the classroom.”

Once new standards are approved, state Superintendent Glenda Ritz will lead an effort to develop new tests that measure achievement against the standards. Those tests will replace the current ISTEP exams.

The process for creating the standards began last fall and eventually involved more than 150 educators, higher education experts and business leaders. The state received more than 2,000 public comments, conducted three public hearings, and received feedback from 10 national evaluators.

Also, the newly established College and Career Ready Panel brought together subject matter experts from the higher education community as well as business and industry representatives to review the proposed drafts.

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