The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update

State News

November 10, 2013

For Indiana test score clamor, 'victory' relative

Of the many John F. Kennedy statements often repeated by both Democrats and Republicans, his declaration that "victory has a hundred fathers and defeat is an orphan" seemed apt for the release last week of national test scores showing solid gains by Indiana students.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress scores showed solid growth by Indiana's fourth- and eighth-graders, but the spin from both sides of Indiana's ongoing education battles left some questions about how much students had actually improved and who could claim to be a "father" to this "victory."

Scores jumped roughly the same as they had over previous years and through various policies in Indiana, noted Indiana University education professor Peter Kloosterman. But U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan placed the credit at the feet of former Gov. Mitch Daniels and former schools Superintendent Tony Bennett, who pushed through sweeping education changes championed by Duncan and others. Indiana's largest teachers union, meanwhile, said those gains should be credited to teachers who have excelled despite increasing burdens placed on them.

The playing up of the scores was enough to draw out Bennett, who recently moved back to Indiana but had kept a low-profile since his resignation as Florida's education chief following an Associated Press report that he oversaw changes to the state's school grading system in part to ensure a school run by a top GOP donor received an A. Bennett said the results "validate our long-held belief that given the right policy framework, Indiana teachers and students could achieve higher levels of academic achievement."

His comments spurred a quick rebuke from his successor, Democratic schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz, whose spokesman accused education reform supporters of playing politics with the scores.

But the level of improvement is itself up for question. Kloosterman, who studies student performance on NAEP, also dubbed the "nation's report card," pointed out two reasons not to invest too much in the new scores: The small sample size makes it hard to apply across all student populations, and the scores fluctuate from year-to-year.

The state has fluctuated between clocking in just a few points above the national average to more significant test results, he noted. Those numbers have varied greatly since 2000, when Indiana was run by Democratic Gov. Frank O'Bannon and Republican schools Superintendent SueEllen Reed, who opposed most of Daniels' education polices through his first four years in office.

"Indiana is consistently above the national average, but not at the level of the highest-performing states," Kloosterman said in a statement. "These trends have held throughout all the state and national education policy changes over this period."

Claiming victory, seemingly regardless of outcomes, is old hat for both Democrats and Republicans, especially in the early days of a new policy while the public is still assessing its merits. It's also equally hard for most leaders to publicly acknowledge the latter half of Kennedy's comment. (It took President Barack Obama weeks to apologize for widespread problems with the federal health exchange, even as the spectacle of the government shutdown drew public attention away from the problems.)

Jeff Butts, superintendent of Wayne Township Schools in Indianapolis, urged some moderation from all sides when asked about the reaction to the scores.

"Indiana teachers are the finest educators and people I have ever known. Their work with students and partnerships with families are what makes the difference," Butts said. "That being said, let us not forget this is one examination and one data point that we are able to use to determine if what we are doing is working."

1
Text Only
State News
  • HB0729 - state fair - MH Indiana State Fair gets underway for 17-day run

    The Indiana State Fair is getting underway with its usual confections and hearty treats as well as alcoholic drinks for the first time in nearly 70 years.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_teenpilot.jpg Teen pilot who died seeking record laid to rest

    A central Indiana teenager who died when his plane crashed in the Pacific Ocean during an around-the-world flight was laid to rest Thursday following a funeral service where he was remembered as a witty young man whose ambitious journey inspired others to pursue their dreams.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • NWS - HB0706 - scooter - 04 Police say new mo-ped law hard to enforce KOKOMO — With more and more mo-peds hitting the streets, police are having a hard time enforcing new restrictions encompassed in the new scooter law.Mo-ped drivers can still cruise the streets and roads on their two-wheel machines, but the new state

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Venue change granted for blast suspect A judge granted a change of venue Wednesday for the trial of one defendant in a deadly Indianapolis house explosion after prosecutors dropped their objection.

    July 31, 2014

  • No Child Left Behind request exposes rift A new critique of Indiana's efforts to maintain its exemptions from the No Child Left Behind requirements, written by top staff to Gov. Mike Pence, is widening a rift between state education leaders as federal officials near a decision on the waiver.

    July 30, 2014

  • Boyfriend of missing Shelbyville woman arrested Authorities searching for a missing central Indiana woman have discovered what they believe to be human remains and have arrested the woman's boyfriend.

    July 30, 2014

  • Pence pushes Medicaid alternative with HHS chief Gov. Mike Pence has told U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell that he wants to maintain Indiana's "freedom and flexibility" under any expansion of Medicaid.

    July 30, 2014

  • Indianapolis Violence-3 [Duplicate] Indy mayor backs tax to hire more officers Indianapolis' mayor proposed tax increases Wednesday to hire 280 additional police officers over the next four years and help respond to the city's surge in violence by targeting links between poverty and crime.

    July 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • Pence wants immigrant children taken out of state

    Gov. Mike Pence is asking that more than 200 immigrant children placed in Indiana be deported and chiding President Barack Obama for not alerting him of the placements.

    July 30, 2014

  • Indiana BMV asks court to delay vanity plate sales The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles has asked the state Supreme Court for permission to continue its suspension on sales of vanity plates until a court case is settled.

    July 29, 2014

Staff Photos


We're looking for your photos! Share your photos of your favorite people, places and Madison County events in our September reader photo gallery. Click here to upload your photos

Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide