Thursday, August 25, 2016
Samantha Hart
Press Secretary
(317) 232-0550

INDIANAPOLIS – Today, Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz released her quarterly message for Hoosier families.

In 2014, the Indiana Department of Education pledged to increase communication with parents of Hoosier students through a quarterly message.  Today’s message focuses on the Department’s budget priorities for the upcoming biennium, including high-quality pre-K and a student-centered assessment system.  The message also provides an update on Indiana’s ESSA State Plan and the Department’s ongoing literacy initiative, the Hoosier Family of Readers.

Text of the Superintendent’s remarks can be found below:

“As a teacher, a mother and a grandmother, I know there is no greater priority than investing in our students and the future of our state.  I recently submitted my budget proposal for the upcoming biennium.  This budget provides additional funding to our classrooms, and specifically promotes more equitable funding and distribution of resources.  You can view the Department’s budget priorities by visiting our website and downloading Imagine 2020.

“The top priority of my 2-year budget proposal is ensuring that all 4-year-olds have the option to attend high-quality, state-funded pre-K no matter where they live.  My Department has already identified several sources of existing state funds which could be reallocated to support the Hoosier Community Pre-K Grant Program.  By building partnerships between new and existing public and private pre-K providers, we can create the infrastructure needed to ensure that Indiana’s 4-year-olds have the opportunity to attend high-quality pre-K programs.

“Additionally, my Department remains focused on getting rid of ISTEP and the entire high-stakes, pass/fail testing system.  In its place, I am committed to implementing a student-centered assessment system that would provide you, your child and his or her teacher with quick feedback about how your child is performing as well as how he or she has grown during a school year.  As Superintendent, and as a member of the ISTEP Replacement Panel, I will continue to advocate for this student-centered vision.

“As you may know, the federal No Child Left Behind law was recently reauthorized and updated to the Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA.  ESSA gives states new flexibility from federal requirements, allowing the state to reclaim more control of education policy.  To that end, my Department is diligently working to develop the Indiana ESSA Plan.  As part of that work, we have created numerous stakeholder groups to provide expert insight in education policy.  Additionally, my Department will be hosting a statewide listening tour to garner feedback directly from families, educators and communities.  We have also created an online portal with information and resources as well as an online comment tool so that you can provide us with feedback.  I encourage you to stay engaged on this topic as we move through the school year.

“Finally, I hope you and your child took advantage of the free access to thousands of online books through the Hoosier Family of Readers and myON Books this summer.  These books are still accessible until December 2016 – so keep reading.  So far this year, students have read more than one million books, but in honor of Indiana’s bicentennial I am challenging Hoosier students to read 2 million books by the end of December.  Visit the Department’s Hoosier Family of Readers website to learn more.

“Have a great school year.”