Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Provides Update on 2016 Legislative Agenda

Tuesday, February 9, 2016
Samantha Hart
Press Secretary
(317) 232-0550

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana’s Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz provided an update on the legislative agenda of the Indiana Department of Education today, as Indiana’s General Assembly reached the mid-point of the 2016 legislative session. Superintendent Ritz focused on both legislative successes already achieved, as well as goals for the remainder of session.

“I am pleased to say that my agenda focused, on students and educators is moving forward through the legislative process. After more than 18 months spent advocating to hold our schools and teachers harmless for the transition to more rigorous academic standards and a more rigorous ISTEP+, the state legislature quickly implemented my proposal to give much needed flexibility to our schools and communities. I am thankful that the legislature passed this common sense solution so that schools and communities were not penalized for the state mandated transition to new standards and assessment.

“However, there is still work to be done to ensure that students and educators have what they need to be successful both in and outside the classroom. Since my campaign in 2012, I have called for an end to the costly, lengthy, pass/fail ISTEP+ assessment system currently in place in Indiana. Instead we should create a new student-centered assessment that provides students, families and educators with quick feedback about student growth and performance.

“I am pleased to see momentum towards the creation of a committee I called for to study the design of a new state assessment. As Indiana’s education leader, I call on the state legislature to amend the current legislation to make the elected Superintendent of Public Instruction a co-chair of this important committee. I will continue to work with legislative leadership on language to allow my Department to oversee the development of a new assessment that better meets the needs of our students.

“Additionally, I remain committed to addressing Indiana’s teacher shortage in a systemic and holistic manner. That is why I created a bi-partisan Blue Ribbon Commission last year to develop strategies to recruit and retain excellent educators for every student. Unfortunately, House Bill 1339 which reflected these educator developed recommendations is not moving forward at this time. I will continue to work with the legislature to revive this important legislation by inserting the recommendations into other bills. As Superintendent, I will implement those strategies that do not require legislative action in order to ensure that every student, no matter where they live in our state, has a great teacher in their classroom. Our children deserve nothing less.

“I am excited by the progress of legislation which will ensure that all students have access to every diploma type regardless of where they go school. This legislation has particular positive impact for students with special needs. Every student should be allowed to choose the pathway that best meets their education and career goals.

“While this is not a budget year, it is important that we consider the fiscal implications of every decision. For that reason, I am calling for a pause on the expansion of school vouchers. For too long Indiana has diverted funding from public schools without studying the impact on our traditional school system. It is time for our state legislature to fully study both the fiscal and academic impacts that the school voucher system is having on Indiana’s education system.”