By ALEX BROWN
Multimedia Journalist, Inside Indiana Business
INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz outlined her 2016 legislative agenda Monday and a transition from the ISTEP+ test is among her top priorities. Ritz is also focusing on reversing the state’s teacher shortage and expanding pre-K infrastructure.
Ritz’s agenda focuses on holding schools and teachers harmless for the 2014-2015 ISTEP+ scores, an item that is already moving through the Indiana General Assembly. In a statement on her legislative agenda, Ritz said it is clear Indiana needs to reform its assessment system.
“Simply put, we need to move on from ISTEP+,” said Ritz. “Recently, the federal government reformed No Child Left Behind and gave states more control over their assessment systems. While annual student assessments are still required, the federal mandate has undergone substantial changes. Indiana must reclaim control over its assessment system and move towards a streamlined, student-centered assessment that provides students, families and educators with quick feedback about how a student is performing and how they have grown over the course of a school year.”
Ritz said Indiana should implement the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Commission on the Recruitment and Retention of Excellent Educators, which include increased mentoring opportunities for young teachers, increased local control over teacher evaluation and increased access to professional development. She said the recommendations will help to reverse the state’s 30 percent decrease in those receiving their teaching license over the last six years.
Ritz also outlined other pressing issues including expanding the state’s pre-kindergarten infrastructure, expanding resources for students with disabilities, streamlining school data collections, and working towards technological equity for all schools.