(NOTE: Chalkbeat Indiana will publish on a reduced schedule after today until Jan. 5. We will be republishing some of our favorite stories from 2014, so check back during the break to revisit some of our most interesting reporting of the year. During the break, our daily Rise and Shine feature and morning newsletter will also be on hiatus. We hope you’ll continue to join us in 2015 as we work to bring you even broader and more in-depth coverage of education in Indiana.)
From political battles at the Indiana Statehouse to major moves at Indianapolis Public Schools, 2014 was a big year for education in Indiana.
Here’s a recap of five of the most influential education news events of the year as Chalkbeat sees them. Do you agree or disagree? Tell us in the comments below!
1. Indiana Junks Common Core:
Early in 2014, Indiana became the first state to back out of its plan to follow Common Core academic standards, which in 2010 it had adopted along with 45 other states. Indiana had been one the earliest and most enthusiastic supporters of Common Core. In four short years, everything changed. Common Core became embroiled in national politics and caught in the crossfire of decades-old philosophical debates about the best ways for children to learn. This spring, a bill to void the Common Core as the state’s standards passed the legislature and was signed by Gov. Mike Pence, earning praise for the governor from critics who distrusted the federal government’s endorsement of the standards. But the cheers subsided when drafts of the new standards were released. Common Core opponents complained that many of the standards were identical or nearly the same as Common Core. The quick change of direction on standards also knocked Indiana off schedule for connecting its new standards to state tests, creating new difficulties for schools trying to prepare students to pass those tests.
2. State launches first ever preschool pilot:
Pence pushed hard to get a small preschool pilot approved by the Indiana General Assembly in 2014. Most of the five counties participating — including Marion County — are poised to start serving children in January. Pence made beefing up state’s preschool investment the top priority on his education agenda for the legislative session, and got the program established despite serious doubts from some of his Republican allies in the legislature and a few setbacks that put the bill in peril. Meanwhile, the city of Indianapolis separately approved the framework for a $40 million public-private effort to expand preschool options for poor families in the city.