Governor Pence has claimed the adoption of “new” standards in Indiana a victory for federalism and state control over education. However, the Indiana Department of Education and the Center for Education and Career Innovation didn’t perform an analysis on the final draft presented for adoption to verify that the new standards had met state law, leaving little reason for conservatives to cheer, in fact, they booed.
In 2014, Indiana passed SB91 which set forth six specific requirements for the new standards to meet. These requirements supplanted the previous ones set by HB1427, otherwise know as the “pause” bill.
1.) The first requirement was that the new standards be “internationally and nationally benchmarked.” In past adoptions, an international benchmarking study was offered for verification that the standards met this benchmark. The 2009 math standards were verified as internationally benchmarked by the National Center on Education and the Economy. Their report compared Indiana standards to Finland and Singapore. With the current adoption, there was no international benchmarking study performed, and opponents understand why- they couldn’t. The new standards are far below the standards of high-performing countries. In fact, several experts contracted by the state found the new standards were below the national benchmarks set by the Common Core.
Instead of a study, the Indiana Department of Education and the Center for Education and Career Innovation claimed the new standards had met national and international benchmarks because they used single standards from sets of standards that were considered benchmarked. Outside of the IN math standards, the other sets of standards, like the NCTM, do not meet this qualification. Additionally, the single standards can’t be randomly grouped in any order to achieve these benchmarks, they work as a set. You can’t claim international benchmarking by fiat, you have to prove it with a comparison and a study.
2.) The second requirement was that they use the “highest standards in the United States.” The Thomas B. Fordham Institute has rated state standards for several years and their analysis is considered an accurate reflection of how states compare. Before the Common Core, our state standards were in Fordham’s top three, with the Common Core we dropped down a few rungs, with the new standards we went off a cliff.
Kathleen Porter-Magee, who reviews standards for Fordham, was hired by Indiana to review the new standards. She ranked them below the expectations of Common Core in English. In Math, the state hired Professor Hung-Hsi Wu, one of the authors of the Common Core math standards, he found “the new Indiana standards are inferior to the Common Core standards.” Considering that 44 states have adopted the Common Core, Indiana’s standards are now in 45th place. How does this meet the requirement of being the highest in the United States?
3.) The third requirement was one that they did satisfy, “the new standards would comply with federal standards to receive a waiver from the federal government.” In doing so, they violated the fifth requirement “maintain Indiana sovereignty.” You can’t serve two masters, and the State Board of Education didn’t do so, they chose Uncle Sam.
4.) The fifth requirement is that the standards prepare students to take college entrance exams like the SAT and ACT. Letters from the College Board and ACT were NOT submitted to members of the State Board of Education as evidence that the new standards would prepare students for these tests, failing to prove this requirement of state law had been met.
The fear of students being unprepared to take the SAT and ACT was one of the major reasons those who supported the Common Core said we couldn’t veer from it. If national experts are telling us that the new standards are inferior to the Common Core standards, how will Hoosier students be prepared to take a Common Core aligned SAT? I don’t know, the question was never asked.
5.) Maintaining Indiana sovereignty was violated by number three above.
6.) The last requirement of SB91 wasn’t violated by the adoption of the new standards, it was violated by the creation of a new data hub created and controlled by Governor Pence. The sixth requirement was to ensure the new standards would protect student data privacy. Under the new agency, student level data can be shared with third parties without parental consent or even notification that their data has been shared. Children’s private data use to belong to their parents until they were 18, now it seems it is the property of the state.
The Indiana Department of Education and the Center for Education and Career Innovation haven’t performed their duty. Pertinent information and critical analysis to verify the adoption of the new standards satisfied SB91 was not presented.