Teachers, students facing new state standards

Indiana teachers and students starting the new school year will have to quickly get up to speed on the state's new academic standards, drafted only months ago to replace the national Common Core standards.

Indiana adopted the new standards in April after becoming the first state in the nation to pull out of Common Core. Some conservatives and Tea Party members had argued that Common Core standards cede too much power to the federal government.

The state Department of Education held 19 summer training sessions on the standards and produced teacher resource guides to help them adjust to the change, said Lou Ann Baker, spokeswoman for the Center for Education and Career Innovation.

But education consultant Schauna Findlay Relue, who was one of the experts who evaluated Indiana's new standards, said teachers and students will face a fast turnaround to teach and learn this year, including preparing for a new statewide student-assessment test.

"We don't even have samples for a new test that will be given in the spring. It will be a short turnaround window for what students have to do and how they will have to demonstrate what they've learned," Relue told The Times of Munster.

State Board of Education member Andrea Neal, who cast the lone vote against the new standards, said the Indiana Department of Education has issued guidance to schools for implementation during this school year.

Neal said the new standards are similar to Common Core, so it may not be too difficult for most teachers. The new assessment test given in spring 2015 will be aligned with those standards.

East Chicago schools Superintendent Youssef Yomtoob said he has reviewed Indiana's standards and that they are not vastly different from Common Core.

"It is good to have a standard that everyone agrees is the right thing and I hope they are the highest, and if they are, then we are responsible for teaching them," Yomtoob said.

Kevin Teasley, president and CEO of Indianapolis-based GEO Foundation that operates 21st Century Charter School, called this one of the most frustrating times in Indiana's history as it concerns curriculum and testing.

"We are providing a great deal of professional development in improving rigor and higher-level thinking in the standards and focusing on improving reading and comprehension as well as writing. This will help no matter what standards and testing are put in place," he said.

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