Indiana Daily Student

Board of Education releases draft of academic standards

Drafts of the new Indiana Academic standards for math and English/language arts were released to the public last week  for comment.

Last spring, the Indiana General Assembly passed House Enrolled Act 1427, which asked the State Board of Education to conduct a review and implement the new standards by July 1, 2014. The SBOE must review current standards as well as establish college and career readiness standards.

College and career ready panels have worked to revise the education standards and will look at them again once the public has had a chance to weigh in on the drafts.
SBOE member Brad Oliver said he thinks the panels did their job well but said he doesn’t think the standards are complete quite yet.

He said he doesn’t think some standards are fitting with their grade levels but said he does think the panels made each standard understandable and specific.

“The standards seem to be clear statements on what students should know and do,” Oliver said.

Standards are divided by grade level, then further by the different “strands” of the subject students must know.

Some of the math strands are number sense, geometry, measurement, calculus and discrete mathematics. Some of the English/language arts strands are reading, language, writing and speaking and listening.

Each strand is then divided up into a content area topic. The content area topics are specific to each grade level and what students at that age should be learning.

For example, under the reading strand, a content area topic for kindergarten states the students must understand the English language moves left to right across a page.

Under the same strand for fourth grade, a content area topic states the students must “apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding single words.”

The public has until March 12 to complete a survey online about these new standards.

Public input sessions will take place Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in different cities in Indiana.

After the public comment period, the standards will go back to the panels as well as the Indiana Education Roundtable.

Oliver said the board has also invited national experts such as James Milgram, a mathematics professor at Stanford University , to evaluate the standards.

SBOE member Andrea Neal said there are many solid parts of the new standards, but there are still some things she hopes to see changed. Neal teaches language arts and U.S. history at St. Richard’s Episcopal School in Indianapolis.

So far, Neal has read all the language arts standards up to eighth grade. She said she does not believe Indiana has drafted the best standards yet for Hoosier children.

She said there were places in the Common Core State Standards filled with jargon and some of that language is still prevalent in the new standards.

“To me, that is not understandable by a parent,” Neal said. “I find that unnecessarily confusing.”

She also said she believes some of the standards micromanage teachers and some are not developmentally appropriate for grade level.

One example of a speaking and listening standard for kindergarten is students must “participate in collaborative conversations with various partners about appropriately complex topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.” Neal said she thinks the college and career readiness standards are being forced on kindergartners.

She said she hopes parents look at these standards because if they don’t understand them, there is a problem.

Neal expressed happiness, though, that these standards have become a topic of conversation in Indiana.

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