Education laws frustrate local educators
CLOVERDALE -- Superintendent Carrie Milner showed some frustration with a few educational laws before the Senate during the school board meeting Monday.
She discussed Public Law 221, which is the state's comprehensive accountability system for kindergarten through 12th grade education. The Indiana General Assembly passed P.L. 221 in 1999, prior to the federal No Child Left Behind Act in 2001.
"It is just another frustration," Milner said.
The law uses five categories -- exemplary progress, commendable progress, academic progress, academic watch and academic probation --to measure Indiana school's progress based upon student performance and improvement data from standardized testing.
"It doesn't really compare apples to apples, which is what we want," Milner said.
Category placement is based on three factors:
* Performance -- percentage of all students who pass the state's English and math ISTEP+ tests (averaged across subjects and grade levels).
* Improvement -- improvement in the passing percentage of students passing ISTEP+ over a three-year period.
* Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) -- schools that do not make AYP under the federal No Child Left Behind Act for two consecutive years can place no higher than the "academic progress" category.
According the Indiana Department of Education's Web site, all Putnam County schools were on academic watch in 2008, even though Greencastle and South Putnam schools showed more improvement.
Since improvement and performance are valued equally by the law's category design, schools with lower performance but strong improvement may be placed in the same category as schools with higher performance and lower improvement.
However, Cloverdale schools reached exemplary progress in 2005 and 2007, but fell to the academic watch category in 2008.
In addition to P.L. 221, Milner discussed Senate Bill 150, which would move the annual school start date to after Labor Day. The legislation would maintain Indiana's 180-day requirement of instructional days and provide school districts with flexibility in deciding a school end day in June.
Milner said teachers who attend professional development classes would miss the opportunity should the school start date change. She also mentioned the athletic events, which take place in August, would be affected and Christmas vacations and other holidays would have to be shortened.
The main idea behind the bill is to extend student's summer vacation time to give families more of opportunity to take family trips.
"This legislation has an added benefit to economic development and tourism by extending the summer season..." said Senator Scott Schneider (R-Indianapolis), one of the authors of the bill.