How MAP Growth Data Drives Performance and Becomes Part of School Culture

How MAP Growth Data Drives Performance and Becomes Part of School Culture

If principals and teachers understand how to measure student growth and support students in reaching their potential and if they truly value the ability to deliver a measure that an interim assessment like MAP® Growth™ provides, then consistent data practices can become part of a school or district culture. So believes Cindy Keever, Director of Student Support at the Westfield Washington School District in Hamilton County, Indiana.

Since NWEA assessments and data practices have become an embedded, integrated system of evaluating, understanding, and educating throughout the past decade, Westfield Washington School educators feel confident about their ability to understand where students are in their learning process, no matter how their buildings, classrooms, or instructional groupings are reconfigured over time.

How did MAP Growth data come to be central to the culture of learning?

The district made a firm commitment to providing professional learning for teachers and administrators, to help all become more sophisticated users of data. To this end, they have taken all the Professional Learning (PL) workshops offered by NWEA and continue to deepen their practice. They also created buy-in for the NWEA growth model by making sure it was—and continues to be—completely visible to its entire learning community. Every student, teacher, and parent understands that MAP Growth data shows how kids are growing—and that each student knows where he or she can progress further.

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Indiana Department of Education Releases Statewide Teacher Survey

Indiana Department of Education Releases Statewide Teacher Survey

Adam Baker, Press Secretary, 

INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) recently released its statewide teacher survey. Aimed toward all K-12 classroom educators in Indiana, the survey will provide the necessary information to help guide future legislative priorities and professional development opportunities.

“Indiana is full of hard-working and dedicated teachers who spend every day devoted to the success of our students,” said Dr. Jennifer McCormick, Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction. “As a former classroom teacher, I know firsthand the importance of a great support system. This survey will allow us to hear directly from those serving in classrooms across our state and help guide what we do to support and uplift our teachers.”

Under the Office of Educator Effectiveness, IDOE worked to develop the statewide teacher survey. The survey will provide comprehensive data to help drive legislative priorities related to teacher compensation and employment factors. In addition, the information received will also help craft professional development opportunities at the local and state levels. The survey is open to all Indiana K-12 classroom teachers and closes June 15, 2018.

Please note: If you are a current K-12 classroom teacher and did not receive a participation email, please contact your district coordinator.

For more information regarding IDOE’s teacher survey, please visit: To learn more about Indiana’s current educator recruitment and retention efforts, please visit: and

Betsy DeVos Loves School Choice. But You Don’t See Much of It in ESSA Plans

Betsy DeVos Loves School Choice. But You Don’t See Much of It in ESSA Plans

Education Week logoU.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is a big cheerleader for school choice. And way before she came into office, states around the country were adopting tax-credit scholarships, education savings accounts, and more.

So has all that translated into a big bonanza for school choice in states’ Every Student Succeeds Act plans? Not really.

To be sure, ESSA isn’t a school choice law. School choice fans in Congress weren’t able to persuade their colleagues to include Title I portability in the law, which would have allowed federal funding to follow students to the public school of their choice.

However, the law does has some limited avenues for states to champion various types of school choice options. But only a handful of states are taking advantage of those opportunities, according to reviews of the plans by Education Week and the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

School Improvement: At least 12 states say they want schools that are perennially low-performing to consider reopening as charter schools to boost student achievement. Those states are Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Mexico, Nevada, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah.

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Districts Are Supposed to Use Evidence to Improve Schools Under ESSA. Will They?

Districts Are Supposed to Use Evidence to Improve Schools Under ESSA. Will They?

Education Week logoThe Every Student Succeeds Act is supposed to bring about a big change in school improvement. The law says states and districts can use any kind of interventions they want in low-performing schools, as long as they have evidence to back them up.

But the provision has some experts worried. They’re concerned that there just aren’t enough strategies with a big research base behind them for schools to choose from. These experts also worried that district officials may not have the capacity or expertise to figure out which interventions will actually work.

Districts, they’ve said, may end up doing the same things they have before, and may end up getting the same results.

“My guess is, you’ll see a lot of people doing the things they were already doing,” said Terra Wallin, who worked as a career staffer at the federal Education Department on school turnaround issues and is now a consultant with Education First, a policy organization that is working with states on ESSA implementation. “You’ll see a lot of providers approaching schools or districts to say, ‘Look, we meet the evidence standard,'” Wallin said…

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School Safety Forum Held by Florida Senators Highlights Prevention, Security

School Safety Forum Held by Florida Senators Highlights Prevention, Security

Education Week logoWashington, DC — A school safety forum on Capitol Hill hosted by Florida’s U.S. senators focused on how to help students head off threats from their peers, and on improving security measures for schools, among other topics.

Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, and Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican, also used the event here on Wednesday to tout their support for having the federal government offer states incentives to adopt “red flag” laws that prevent those who represent a threat to themselves or others from accessing or purchasing firearms, while preserving legal protetions for those individuals. Rubio and Nelson introduced a bill to this effect, the Extreme Risk Protection Order and Violence Prevention Act, last month, after the school shooting in Parkland, Fla.

Advocates and public officials also emphasized the importance of communication at various stages to help address school violence, from making it easier for students to share their concerns with adults, to helping law enforcement respond to violent incidents more quickly.

Nicole Hockley, whose son was murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in 2012, highlighted the “Start With Hello” training program that helps children communicate with each other about their difficulties. The program is run by Sandy Hook Promise, a nonprofit group led by Hockley that works to prevent children from violence. “It sounds so simple. But the best programs are,” Hockley said.

And Indiana officials attending the session pointed to a school that’s become a model for new security measures, from bullet-resistant classroom doors to smoke bombs that can fill a hallway and disorient a school shooter. (The latter clocks in at a cost of $400,000.) Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill said the state has emphasized “what we can do to harden our schools, but not make them a prison.”

In expressing interest in creating national school safety standards, Rubio pointed to the Americans With Disabilities Act that created national building standards to address the needs of people with disabilities. While he said the analogy to gun violence and school safety isn’t perfect, “It’s an indication of where federal policy could help over time.” He also expressed an interest in making it easier somehow for school leaders to discover “best practices” for safety, so that “they can hear from one another about what other places are doing…”

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Civil Rights Groups to Congress: Betsy DeVos is Approving Plans That Violate ESSA

Civil Rights Groups to Congress: Betsy DeVos is Approving Plans That Violate ESSA

Education Week logoU.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is approving plans that fly in the face of the Every Student Succeeds Act’s protections for vulnerable children, according to more than a dozen civil rights groups, including the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

The groups sent a letter Tuesday to Democratic and Republican leaders on the House and Senate education committees asking them to tell DeVos to stop approving “unlawful” plans.

“We call on you to fulfill your role in ESSA’s implementation and to correct the Department of Education’s flawed approval of state plans that do not comply core equity provisions of the law,” the groups wrote to Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., as well as Reps. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., and Bobby Scott, D-Va.

This is far from the first time that the civil rights community—and Democratic lawmakers—have questioned DeVos’ approach to plan approval. The Alliance for Excellent Education, one of the 17 groups that signed off on the letter, put together a legal brief questioning whether some of the plans that DeVos has approved meet ESSA’s requirements. And both Murray and Scott have written letters to DeVos saying she is flouting the law.

The four leaders plan to meet with DeVos at some point to discuss Democrats’ concerns with plan approval.

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Bill to weaken Gary School Board passes Senate

Bill to weaken Gary School Board passes Senate

Crusader Staff Report

Gary School Board members are on high alert as a bill aimed at weakening the board’s authority has cleared another hurdle in the Indiana General Assembly.

On Tuesday, March 6, the Senate passed the bill with a 35-14 vote, two months after it passed the Indiana House. The bill now goes to Governor Eric Holcomb who will most likely approve the bill by signing it into legislation.

The Senate Appropriations Committee in February heard testimony for more than four hours on the bill, which could reduce the Gary School Board to an advisory committee that would meet just four times a year.

Representative Tim Brown

The bill’s sponsor, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Tim Brown, R-Crawfordsville, believes the bill would give struggling school districts more clarity to avoid pitfalls that struck Gary and the Muncie Community Schools, which also has been taken over by the state.

Once the bill becomes a state law, Gary Schools Emergency Manager Peggy Hinckley would no longer be required to meet with the board or receive input from its members. The new law would require her to hold monthly public meetings to update citizens on her actions. Current school board members would remain until their terms expire. They could also elect their own officers and replace members who resign.

Last August, the state takeover law stripped the superintendent and school board of their authority. The board was limited to meeting just once per month. Since then, multiple board members have criticized Hinckley and expressed disappointment of their reduced role. Former Board President Rosie Washington resigned in December and School Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt’s last day was February 2.

The bill also affects Muncie Community Schools, another troubled school district that was taken over by the state. Under the bill, that district will be operated by Ball State University.

Under Hinckley, Gary Schools is struggling to reduce debts totaling over $100 million. Since Hinckley was appointed last July, she has been at odds with board members and some parents who don’t agree with her decisions as emergency manager. Hinckley says cuts are necessary to keep the district afloat.

Last month, Hinckley decided to close the 79-year old Wirt-Emerson School of Visual and Performing Arts in the Miller neighborhood. The Indiana State Board of Education approved the decision on March 2, making this year’s graduating class the last one in Wirt-Emerson’s history. Some 225 students are enrolled at Wirt-Emerson.

In a letter, Miller Citizens Corp. President George Rogge said the closing won’t represent a savings if students decide not to attend West Side or the recommended middle school, Bailly.

Hinckley said she is considering closing Gary’s storied Roosevelt College and Career Academy, which is managed by EdisonLearning Inc.

Last January, Hinckley appointed veteran member Nellie Moore as president of the Gary School Board, over the protests of three other board members, who walked out of the meeting.

Indiana Department of Education Announces 2016-2017 Four Star Schools

Indiana Department of Education Announces 2016-2017 Four Star Schools

INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Department of Education announced today the 2016-2017 Four Star Schools. The Four Star Schools designation is designed by the Department to recognize great schools in Indiana.

“Receiving designation as a Four Star School signifies a pursuit of academic excellence among students, educators, and the administration,” said Dr. Jennifer McCormick, Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction. “I am honored to recognize these Four Star Schools for their hard work and dedication in preparing their students for a bright and prosperous future.”

The Four Star School Award has been in existence for 30 years. To receive Four Star designation, a school must receive an “A” on the state’s A-F accountability system, have excellent ISTEP pass rates, carry an overall high graduation rate (if applicable), and show success in closing achievement gaps. A total of 238 schools received the award.

For more information regarding the Four Star School Award, please visit: View a complete list of recognized schools:

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Indiana Department of Education Announces Recipients of 2018 Digital Learning Grants

Indiana Department of Education Announces Recipients of 2018 Digital Learning Grants

INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Department of Education’s (IDOE) Office of eLearning announced today the recipients of the 2018 Digital Learning Grants. This year’s grants offer up to $75,000 in support for districts developing a new focus for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) instruction, or computer science, within their existing digital learning environment.

“Maintaining a focus on STEM activities in today’s educational environment is vital to preparing students for their future success,” said Dr. Jennifer McCormick, Superintendent of Public Instruction. “I congratulate the awarded districts as I know they will use this grant to continue making a positive impact in their communities.”

In line with IDOE’s 2018 Strategic Priorities, the 2018 Digital Learning Grants focused on proposals that included vetted STEM curriculum, devices for coding, robotics equipment, and professional development for teachers. Twenty-Seven districts were awarded Digital Learning Grants, totaling nearly $2 million in funding. Awarded grants ranged from just over $11,000, up to $75,000.

For more information on IDOE’s Office of eLearning, please visit: To learn more about the Digital Learning Grant, please visit:

The 2018 Digital Learning Grant recipients include:

Adams Central Community Schools

Blue River Valley Schools

Carmel Clay Schools

Decatur County Community Schools

East Noble School Corporation

Franklin Community Schools

Kankakee Valley School Corporation

Lakeland School Corporation

Milan Community School Corporation

Mississinewa Community Schools

Mooresville Consolidated School District

MSD Lawrence Township

MSD Wabash County Schools

North Harrison Community Schools

North Spencer County School Corporation

North Vermillion Community School Corporation

Porter Township Schools

Randolph Eastern School Corporation

Richmond Community Schools

River Forest Community School Corporation

School Town of Highland

Scott County School District 2

South Bend Community School Corporation

South Henry School Corporation

South Madison Community School Corporation

Triton School Corporation

Westfield Washington Schools

61 percent of Gary students in Charter schools

61 percent of Gary students in Charter schools

Crusader Staff Report

CHICAGO CRUSADER — Gary has lost the greatest amount of its school-aged students to private schools, according to a recent report by the Indiana Department of Education.

The report used data from the start of the 2017-2018 school year. It includes all public schools in Lake County. The report shows most districts lost students to private charter schools, but the district with the greatest loss is Gary. While a majority of students still attend public schools in neighboring cities, Gary students are leaving a district that’s mired in debt and low academic achievement.

This is the first year the department conducted the report.

According to the report, the city had 12,032 school-aged children in the fall, but only 4,681 or 39 percent attended the Gary Community Schools. About 61 percent or 7,354 students attended other schools. Of that amount some 5,466 of those students or 45.4 percent are in charter schools and 1,266 or 10.5 percent are attending public schools outside the city, while 578 attend private schools through state vouchers.

Gary’s biggest enrollment losses stem from elementary schools. Gary has not had a middle school since 2016 when the Williams Annex closed. To boost enrollment, Emergency Manager Peggy Hinckley is exploring the possibility of bringing back a middle school.

The state took over Gary’s public schools after the majority of the district scored an F grade on the Indiana Accountability Report. With over $100 million in debt, Hinckley was given full control to make academic and financial decisions to turn- around the district.

Elsewhere, in East Chicago only 988 of the city’s 5,329 students are in public charter schools and 367 attend private charter schools, according to the report. Approximately 70 percent (3,721) of the 5,329 children who attend school in East Chicago’s public School City District.

The report shows Hammond’s public school system is still preferred over public and private charter schools.

More than 85 percent (12,416) of Hammond’s 14,521 school-aged students remain in the city’s public schools. Approximately 2,109 students attend other schools, but of that group, only 926 are enrolled in a private school through a state voucher. Approximately 809 attend a public charter school.

Of all the school districts in Lake County, Munster and Lake Central had the highest percentage of students in public schools with 98 percent and 97 percent, respectively.

Other cities in Lake County show public districts are keeping a majority of their students. They include River Forest (97 percent), Crown Point (96.7), Tri-Creek (96 percent), Highland Creek (96 percent), Hanover (93.9 percent), Hobart (93.9 percent), Griffith (92.6 percent), Lake Ridge (91.9 percent), Lake Station (81 percent), Merrillville (89 percent), Whiting (88.6 percent).

Public schools in cities in Portage County have also kept a high majority of their students.

“We are pleased to compile and release the 2017-2018 transfer report, providing our schools with even more insight into the individual students they serve,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick said in a statement. “Having a great understanding of every aspect of our local districts will allow our educators to make important decisions and better plans.”