Published: January 6, 2005
Standards and Accountability: Indiana is one of only six states with clear and specific standards in English, mathematics, science, and social studies/history in every grade span.
But the state could do more to align its tests with those standards.
Currently, Indiana has tests aligned with its standards in English and math in elementary, middle, and high school.
But it has aligned science tests solely at the elementary level. And it has no tests aligned with its social studies/history standards.
Indiana uses a variety of item types to measure students’ performance, including multiple-choice, short-answer, and extended-response questions.
The state has in place many features of a comprehensive accountability system. Test results appear on school report cards and feed into the state’s rating system. Schools that are rated low-performing receive help.
Schools that consistently are rated as low-performing or failing face sanctions. High-performing or improving schools earn monetary rewards.
Efforts to Improve Teacher Quality: Indiana is one of the top 10 states in its efforts to improve teacher quality.
Its comprehensive assessment requirements account for the state’s high grade.
Indiana requires all new teachers to pass the full set of basic-skills, subject-knowledge, and subject-specific-pedagogy tests for entry into the profession.
In a new requirement, novice teachers must complete portfolios, including videotapes of their classroom teaching, that are scored by trained assessors to determine whether the teachers should receive a more advanced stage of licensure.
The performance assessment is part of the Indiana Mentoring and Assessment Program (IMAP) for Teachers. This fiscal year, the state has budgeted approximately $3.75 million for the mentoring.
The state also finances professional development and has created professional-development standards.
But Indiana’s efforts to ensure accountability for teacher quality are more uneven.
The state does not include any of the teacher-qualification data that Education Week tracks on its latest school report cards.
The state does track the results from teacher-licensing tests, as well as the success rates of teachers in the mentoring program, by teacher-preparation institution. Indiana uses those scores to hold the institutions accountable for how well they’ve prepared their graduates.
School Climate: Indiana falls near the bottom on school climate this year. As rated by the Center for Education Reform, the grade for the state’s charter school law fell from an A to a B.
The state no longer provides funding for capital outlays or school construction. Furthermore, the state does not have a system for tracking the condition of school facilities.
Measures of both class size and school size place Indiana in the middle of the pack compared with other states. Moreover, 4th graders in Indiana are less likely than their peers in other states to attend schools where physical conflicts are considered to be not a problem or only a minor problem.
School report cards include information on school safety and class size, but not on parent involvement.
Equity: Indiana’s wealth-neutrality score is positive, meaning that, on average, wealthy districts still have slightly more revenue than property-poor districts.
Indiana ranks 44th on the McLoone Index, which compares the total amount spent on students in districts below the median with the amount that would be needed to ensure all districts spent at least at the median.
The state also has an 11.2 percent coefficient of variation, which indicates moderate disparities in spending across districts.
Spending: Though Indiana increased education spending from fiscal 2001 to 2002 by only 1.4 percent, the state still ranks 18th in the nation for education spending per student. Indiana spent $8,274 per pupil in the 2001-02 school year, compared with the $7,734 national average.
The state also ranks 18th on the spending index. The index is a comparative measure that captures the percent of students in districts spending at or above the national average per pupil and how far the rest fall below that average. Almost 82 percent of the state’s students attend schools in districts spending at least the national average. Indiana is well above the national average for the percentage of its total taxable resources spent on education, at 4.4 percent.
Vol. 24, Issue 17, Page 117