Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz released her quarterly message to Hoosier families Thursday.
“As a teacher, a mother and a grandmother, I know there is no greater priority than investing in our students and the future of our state,” Ritz said in her remarks.
Ritz recently submitted her budget proposal for the upcoming biennium. This budget would provide additional funding to classrooms and specifically promotes more equitable funding and distribution of resources. Interested residents can view the department’s budget priorities online.
“The top priority of my two-year budget proposal is ensuring that all 4-year-olds have the option to attend high-quality, state-funded pre-K no matter where they live,” Ritz said in her remarks. “My department has already identified several sources of existing state funds which could be reallocated to support the Hoosier Community Pre-K Grant Program. By building partnerships between new and existing public and private pre-K providers, we can create the infrastructure needed to ensure that Indiana’s 4-year-olds have the opportunity to attend high-quality pre-K programs.”
In 2014 the Indiana Department of Education pledged to increase communication with parents of Hoosier students through a quarterly message. Thursday’s message focused on the department’s budget priorities for the upcoming biennium. Those priorities included high-quality pre-kindergarten and a student-centered assessment system.
The message also provided an update on Indiana’s Every Student Succeeds Act and the department’s ongoing literacy initiative, the Hoosier Family of Readers.
“Additionally, my department remains focused on getting rid of ISTEP and the entire high-stakes, pass/fail testing system,” Ritz said in her remarks. “In its place, I am committed to implementing a student-centered assessment system that would provide you, your child and his or her teacher with quick feedback about how your child is performing, as well as how he or she has grown during a school year. As superintendent, and as a member of the ISTEP Replacement Panel, I will continue to advocate for this student-centered vision.”
The federal No Child Left Behind law was recently reauthorized and updated to ESSA. ESSA gives states new flexibility from federal requirements by allowing the state more control of education policy, the message said.
“To that end, my department is diligently working to develop the Indiana ESSA Plan,” Ritz said in her remarks. “As part of that work, we have created numerous stakeholder groups to provide expert insight in education policy.”
Moreover, Ritz said her department will be taking a statewide listening tour to garner feedback directly from families, educators and communities.
“Finally, I hope you and your child took advantage of the free access to thousands of online books through the Hoosier Family of Readers and myON Books this summer,” Ritz said in her remarks.
MyON are portable reading tablets that will be accessible until December 2016.
Ritz used her closing remarks to challenge Hoosiers to read 2 million books by the end of December.
“So keep on reading,” Ritz said.