On the Beat in Bluffton

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Mike Pence and Glenda Ritz Agree? Maybe.

Several times, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz has called for a "pause" in accountability ahead of an anticipated drop in ISTEP+ scores this year. Each time, she's been rebuffed by state lawmakers and Gov. Mike Pence.

Maybe things have changed.

This afternoon, Pence sent out a letter to Ritz and State Board of Education members saying "teachers should not be penalized for the decline" and indicated he's working with lawmakers to draft legislation that ensures lower grades do not affect teacher evaluations and performance bonuses.

"When states transition to new academic standards and a new assessment, test scores usually decrease, which occurred in the test scores you will review this week," Pence wrote. "Given the transition Indiana has undergone this year with our academic standards and assessment, our response should reflect fairness to our students, our teachers and our schools."

In the letter, Pence does not indicate what, exactly, would be included in the legislation.

The Indiana Department of Education released a statement saying it welcomes the move by the governor but also calling him out for waiting.

"This is a welcome first step from the Governor," IDOE spokeswoman Samantha Hart said." Unfortunately, it comes after a year and a half of uncertainty and worry for our students, teachers and schools that was entirely unnecessary. Superintendent Ritz supports strong accountability as long as it is fair, open and transparent. The Superintendent looks forward to working with Indiana’s leadership to take advantage of federal flexibility for both teacher evaluations and the assignment of A-F accountability grades for the 2014-15 school year.”

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