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Indiana Releases Draft of New Academic Standards to Replace Common Core

The Indiana Department of Education has released a draft version of new content standards for English/language arts and math that would replace the Common Core State Standards that were adopted by the state in 2010. The drafting of the new standards was required under a law approved last year.  

According to what the state board has said, the new Indiana College and Career Ready Standards "represent Indiana sovereignty, demonstrate high levels of quality, and are aligned with nationally and internationally benchmarked definitions of college- and career-readiness and postsecondary expectations."

The state's Academic Standards Evaluation Panels, which oversaw the creation of the draft content standards following an earlier review of standards in the fall, had 27 members, including English and math teachers, as well as English and math professors and professors at schools of education in the state. These members compared the current common core standards to prior Indiana standards and held them up against aforementioned criteria for state standards, then "reconciled" them into a final set of draft standards.

It's still unclear how much and exactly where the draft standards deviate from the common core—at some level, the difference between the two sets of standards may become very minute or non-existent. And whatever set of standards the state board ultimately adopts, it will still have to select a state assessment aligned to their standards. 

Under the No Child Left Behind Act, the U.S. Department of Education requires states to have assessments that align to their standards. Even states with NCLB waivers still have to meet this requirement, but the federal Education Department's peer review guidance process to aid that alignment was recently suspended. That review by outside experts doesn't look at the assessments themselves, but rather at states' plans for reviewing and implementing high-quality assessments as they relate to their standards. It's unclear how much in-depth review the department is actually doing in terms of this alignment work without that peer-review process. 

Indiana distanced itself last year from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, one of two federally funded consortia developing common-core aligned tests. Although it's still technically a member of that consortium, it seems unlikely that Indiana will ultimately use a PARCC test. (It's easy to imagine common-core foes in the state being very unhappy if the state drops the common core but uses a common-core aligned test.) It remains to be seen if Indiana can find an existing assessment that's aligned to its new standards in the eyes of the peer-review process. If the draft standards are ultimately adopted, it might take some time before the state can field-test and then administer a new assessment that does. 

Common core supporters in the state have expressed the hope that the new Indiana standards will either match what common core offers or improve on it, while foes of the common core say the new standards shouldn't simply be a rebranded version of the common core.

In the background, there is a bill this year from GOP Sen. Scott Schneider that would nullify the state's 2010 adoption of the common core. The new standards would take their place. 

The standards will be up for review for several weeks, including at three meetings where the public can comment later this month. Next, the Indiana Education Roundtable—which is led by Gov. Mike Pence, a Republican, and Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz, a Democrat, and which includes business leaders and members of the education community—will vote on the draft standards March 31. Finally, the state school board will vote on the new standards April 9.

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